Along with the 7 Principles, another expression of the DNA of our liberal faith comes from Unitarian Universalist theologian James Luther Adams. In an essay titled Guiding Principles for a Free Faith he names five smooth stones of liberal religion. These five qualities have been informing my understandingof what it means to be a faithful Unitarian Universalist.
The first is that revelation is continuous.
The word revelation, used theologically, is an articulation of how we discern what we believe is the right way to live, what is good….or true….or beautiful. To say that revelation is continuous means that we are always, unrelentingly, called to engage with our surroundings, our own assumptions, our own foundations and be willing to adjust and learn and respond creatively and with integrity.
We were early embracers of feminism, of reimagining the role of women in our congregations. We have engaged with the expanding definitions and expressions of sexuality and gender. And we struggle with issues of oppression and racism that are embedded in our lives and institutions.
We are open to learning that even concepts like goodness, truth and beauty have different expressions depending on one’s culture and experience. Our faith communities must be intentional about being learning communities, enabling us to probe and question our assumptions and those of one another around questions both big and small.
I also believe continuous revelation is a call to radical hospitality, to invite and include all voices, especially those that have been at the margins.
Our creative interchange, our reaching toward our transcendent ideals, is enriched by diversity. Creative events like Annapolis’s Camp Beagle or summer family camps like SUUSI, SWUUSI or Ohio Meadville District’s Summer Institute, feel magical when people are able to contribute and collaborate with their diverse, inspired gifts with a high level of freedom directed toward a common purpose.
The challenge is to keep the creative energy going, making sure that we don’t allow today’s innovation to become tomorrow’s entrenched tradition. We–after all–are the living tradition.
Next: Our Relationships