My Theology

ExPluribusUnum, or "one from many", is the Shortest Way to Describe My Theology.

I believe that we are all mere human beings trying to make sense of our existence; so we should keep that in mind when we interact with one another. We are one people, composed of many persons. "God" is found in the love we share. The only way to get to that holy place is to practice more love!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unitarian Universalists Believe What We Must

I'm tired of people claiming that Unitarian Universalists don't believe anything, or that we are just a social—or worse yet, political—club. Where does the notion come from, and why is it so easily perpetuated? Every Unitarian Universalist that I have ever met has either known precisely what they believe in, or have been somewhere on the path of discernment, discovering just which beliefs resonate with them and which do not. Mainly we are both of these types at the same time. I know this is just a shade of difference from that latter type of person, but I don't know anyone who believes in nothing. Who believes in nothing? How does one believe in nothing? Everyone believes something about the nature of reality and our existence in it, right?

I am also weary of people claiming that Unitarian Universalists can believe anything we want to. Although I find this to be a slightly less offensive position than the first, I find it to be equally untrue...or at the very least, ambiguous enough to warrant serious doubts. Unitarian Universalists don't believe just anything. True, we believe many different things, but is that really saying the same thing? There are other non-credal faiths out there. What makes us the ones that people just don't get? Let me try to explain non-credal: we are not required by any institution to accept any theological position as true and binding which does not resonate with and originate within our own spirit. Non-credal doesn't mean non-belief, and it doesn't mean belief in any- and everything. It means that Unitarian Universalists believe what we each must believe.

Yes, I believe what I must believe. I believe that God is present within everything that exists, and that we all exist within God. I believe that God is not a person, but that I am personally connected to, related to, indebted to, enamored with, and dependent on God. I believe that everyone else is, too, but that we each speak from our own experience and background, and thus use the words of our own language to describe what we can only describe very poorly, perhaps ineffectually. I believe that I, with God, can make a difference in people's lives, including and perhaps especially my own. I believe that many Unitarian Universalists who are not me will not believe any of the things I just listed and may bristle at all the "God-talk". I believe that that's OK. I believe that how we treat one another is more important — and a better indicator of the presence of God in our lives — than the differing beliefs we hold and the words we choose and use to express them.

Do I believe these things because I want to? No. I believe them because I have to. Life simply does not make sense to me if I don't believe these things. I would be in perpetual despair if these things were not true, because every fiber of my being tells me that they are. If I could believe in whatever I wanted, I would believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God the Father Almighty up in Heaven, that He is my Lord and Savior, and that He came to Earth, suffered, died for my sins, and rose from the dead to offer me eternal sanctuary with Him now and at the end of days. Why would I want to believe these things? Because that's what most of my family believes; and because I don't like conflict, I don't always enjoy being on the outside of the in-group (it gets lonesome here), and life in the United States of America might just be a little less rife with tension if I believed as many others claim to believe. Yes, I would believe these things if I could believe whatever I wanted. But I don't believe these things. And not just because I don't want to, but because I can't. My beliefs are not a matter of desire or volition.

Being a Unitarian Universalist is a tough job. We have to figure out what we must believe, many of us by learning from what others believe and sifting out the things that don't evoke in our spirits a sense of the Divine, while retaining those things that do. Our institutions do not determine or proscribe what those precise things might be, but we collectively share guidelines to help us along the way. We agree to walk with one another on the journey, in love. Sometimes that walk is exciting and filled with joyous discovery and revelation. Sometimes it can be boring and dull as anything—but the point is that we do it together. My boring jaunt on any given day with other souls might provide that life-changing and life-affirming moment that they need to make their own connection to the Divine. Who am I to deny them that opportunity? Who am I to deny it to myself?

Unitarian Universalism is a saving faith. The more ways and opportunities we have to connect to the Divine, the better. Hallelujah!

So no, we do not believe in nothing, and we do not believe in everything. Each of us struggles to uncover what it is that we absolutely must believe. How do we put an end to the perception that we are "just a club"? How can I stop being annoyed by these misconceptions?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why does this blog exist?

I created this blog years ago, purportedly to flesh out my interest in becoming a UU seminarian some day, and to just post my thoughts about religion and life in general. I had the idea that it would be a place where I could think my deepest thoughts, albeit in the open, and engage in conversation with other people with similar thoughts or interests. I have always been one to think deeply about things, or perhaps I have been one to obsess over things...I'm not sure what the difference is. When it comes to expressing my thoughts on profound, complex topics, I find that it is usually easier to get to the crux of things if I take the time to write it out. My brain seems to process things most clearly while in the act of writing them down.

However, I don't write as much as I ought to. Why? I can give any number of good, valid excuses. The lack of time, other priorities, and so on and so forth. But none of the excuses trumps the fact that I just need to write. I have felt so muddled and mentally confused for the past few years. My extreme identification with my social media personae and my incessant need to be connected to the internet - my feeling as though I will miss something if I look away for just one moment - all of that leaves me feeling overwhelmed, rudderless, lost.

You see? Until I wrote that, I couldn't even begin to articulate what the problem is. Too much too much too much - rotting my brain, clouding my mind, zapping my energy. Eating my soul?

So yeah, back to the question at hand. This blog was supposed to be a place for me to expose myself. For me to share my thoughts, and to clarify my thinking through conversations with those few of you who might read what I have to say. I still have hope that that might happen, which is why I keep it up and try to post from time to time. Perhaps my expectations are too high, or too low. I think I might be a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things like this, and I don't want to post anything "unrefined". But thinking like that keeps me from posting anything at I guess it's time to give that up.

I really miss the community of Unitarian Universalists that existed on Beliefnet ten or fifteen years ago. I miss having those conversations, and having a community that wanted to discuss the things I like discussing. I've learned that one of the ways I might in some small part re-create that era today is for me to follow other people's blogs and engage with them there. So, if you notice that I've started leaving comments on (and not just reading) other blogs, it's my way of trying to declutter my mind and rejoin the conversations that are going on out there. I need focus and clarity...and it looks like I'll have to get there by accepting where my unfocused, unclear mind is right now, and laying it bare. So here goes.

Perhaps this is part of discernment. Who knows? I just need to write more; it really is a spiritual practice for me. And it'll all figure itself out in the end. Right?

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