You Might Be a Unitarian Universalist

Unitarian Universalist chalice from General Assembly 2009 (Photo by Nancy Pierce)

You might be a Unitarian Universalist and not even know it.  Now, that would be a pity, as the Unitarian Universalists are a fine association of folks.  Our numbers are modest (217,000 is the number I found kicking around on the web), but I suspect most UUs are simply not yet aware that they’re UUs. 

You might be a Unitarian Universalist if…

  • You believe in God, the Goddess, the power of the universe, a pantheon of gods, the goodness of humans, or nature.
  • You don’t know what you believe in, or you’re sure there is nothing at all beyond what can be known via science.
  • You once believed in a God, Goddess, nature, the universe, or nothing at all, but now you’re not so sure.
  • You ponder exactly what you do believe in or perhaps leave the door open, even if you’ve found an answer that works for you.
  • You were raised Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist, Hindu, Humanist, or nothing at all.
  • Your table in December contains a chalice, an advent wreath, a candle from a solstice celebration, and a menorah.  All lit.
  • Your idea of a la carte is picking and choosing the parts of the religions of the world that work for you.
  • You are always open to revise what is true and meaningful from those religions.
  • You support the rights of gay, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people, and you really don’t understand what all the fuss is about regarding gay marriage.
  • You pause when hearing the words, “Let us pray,” first considering to whom (if anyone) you would pray to then pondering what power prayer has. 
  • You pause even longer when folks ask you what’s up with that Unitarian Universalism, knowing its a long answer that will lead to many more question.
  • You believe in the dignity and worth of every person, even when your disagree with them. 
  • You respect the spiritual search of others, even when it leads them down paths that mystify and even anger you. 
  • You wonder why we’re here, where we’ve been, and where we’ll be next.  And wonder, and wonder, and wonder.
  • You’d like to be with other people who share a questioning look at the world and who care for humanity and the planet.

Want to find out more?  Explore the Unitarian Universalist seven principles and six sources,  or even visit a congregation.  Listen to sermons and messages.  Ask questions, read, and then ask some more questions.  After all, you might just be a Unitarian Universalist and not even know it.

Response: Best Practices for UU Bloggers

The following are my answers to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) Survey Questions on Best Practices for Unitarian Universalist Blogging, August 2008.  Yeah, I’m two years late.  Why bother now?  Admittedly, I’m trying to expand my readership, and being listed on the UUA site is a step in that direction. 

Why do you blog? What goals do you have for your blog?    I blog because it clears my head and clarifies issues.  Blogging allows me to explore a topic more fully, and, on this blog, pull the spiritual strings together.  I also write to share my spiritual journey with others, and growing readership is a goal.  

Who is your intended audience?    Other Unitarian Universalists and liberal religious seekers, parents, people going through and coming out the other side of divorce, and any other folks interested in following a spiritual journey. 

Who owns your blog? Does it belong to you as individual or to your congregation or other organization?   It’s mine, mine, all mine.
 

How frequently do you post?    I keep two blogs (quarksandquirks.wordpress.com is my homeschooling blog), and I try to post at least once a week on each. 
 

What is the tone of your blog?    Personal and reflective, although I’ll sometimes close with a question.  
 

What steps do you take to make sure that your blog is a safe space, both for you and for other participants? Do you have a code of conduct?    Although many of my regular readers know me and my kids, I keep my children’s names out of my blogs.  I don’t bad-mouth them, my ex, or anyone else.  I write with compassion towards myself and others in the front of my mind.
 

What kinds of boundaries do you observe around confidentiality?   I don’t post confidential information here. 
 

How do you respond to comments and email from readers?    I often respond to comments on my posts.  My email isn’t available on my blog in an effort to avoid spam.
 

What are the most challenging aspects of blogging in your experience?     Making time to blog regularly.  As a single, homeschooling mom, I tend to only have small pockets of time for writing.  While I’m working on longer writings, my available time to write is about one blog post long right now.
 

What are the most rewarding aspects of blogging in your experience?    Two rewarding aspects come to mind.  First, blogging often clarifies an issue for me, and this is personally satisfying.  Second, comments from folks who find resonance with their own journey from my posts reward me with connection. 
 

What advice would you give to Unitarian Universalists who are new to blogging and want to get started?    Dive in and write.  Write first for yourself, try to write regularly, and boldly hit the publish button.   Read blogs of other UUs, comment on their posts, and experience the conversation blogging can be.  Finally, if you’re labeling your blog as UU, remember the 7 principles in your writing, especially honoring the dignity and worth of others.  Be kind.

How do you evaluate the success of your blog? What have been your most successful blog posts or series?   Okay, I’m addicted to the stats on wordpress.com.  I love to see that graph shoot up.  Personally, I feel successful if I explored a topic and came to a new understanding of a situation, but I do like to see those numbers go up.  My most successful post was picked up.  My most successful post was Finding Friendship, Finding Religion, which was quoted and linked to the UU World blog round-up, Interdependent Web

What do you wish you had done differently in your blogging?   I wish I’d started sooner!
 

What other online tools do you use to promote your blog? (i.e. social networking sites, Twitter, social bookmarking tools, etc.)   Networked Blogs via Facebook is all for now.  I’m looking for more routes to promotion.
 

Do you use an Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed? How many subscribers do you have?    I’m on UUpdates.net and have no idea how many subscribers I have.  Now if I could only install the RSS button on my blog for that feed.  I do have the RSS feed from wordpress.com.
 

Do you track site traffic?   How many unique visitors do you have per day (on average)?  I watch my stats through wordpress.com, but I have no idea how many unique readers come by a day or per post.
 

Do you find Unitarian Universalist Association resources helpful to you as a blogger? What additional resources could we provide to Unitarian Universalist bloggers?    I’d like to find active UU blogs more simply.  Many of the lists online contain numerous inactive blogs, which is discouraging to the reader just looking for a place to start reading UU writings. 
 

 

Sharing Friendship, Sharing Religion

The piece  “The ‘it’ Church”  in the Spring 2010 UU World  led me to think about a dear friend and neighbor.  The article, by Peter Morales,  UUA president, focuses on the role of having ‘religion’ in a church versus the not having it, his description of friendship brought my thoughts away from my church and closer to home to my neighbor and friend.

I’m blessed with a number of friends I can call on when in tears of sorrow or joy.  Without these people, I’m not sure how I’d have weathered a failing marriage and subsequent divorce.  Most of those friends developed from my La Leche League leadership, church, and homeschooling.  With most, I share similar political and religious values.  Our lawn signs (Democrats)and radio station (NPR) are the same.  We can discuss politics, social issues, and spiritual issues without contention (not too much, anyway).

And then there’s my dear neighbor friend.  We share quite a bit in common.  We  homeschool our kids, and our children are friends.  We borrow needed ingredients from each other, care for each other’s pets and flowers when the other leaves town, and watch each other’s children on occasion. We count on each other as an ear for concerns and joys.  I can cry in her presence without shame and with assurance of support.  However, our politics and religious affiliation differ greatly.  Once, when borrowing a conservative Catholic publication from her to read an article on breastfeeding, her husband declared the magazine might burst into flames upon reaching my property.  I laughed, and the article survived the trip to our liberal, Unitarian Universalist home without so much as a scorch mark.  He and I exchange similar friendly barbs, often about media choices and the like.

But his wife and I don’t go there.  Not, I believe, because of fear of conflict.   As many of my friends can attest, I’m often a fan of informal debate.  While I can’t speak for her, I know I avoid those topics because they don’t enhance our friendship or our understanding of each other.  Beyond the names of our respective religious affiliations, beneath the different politics, we share the same religion, at least according the Peter Morales’ description.

Religion, our religion, is what we truly care about, what we want to preserve, embrace, and create.    . . . when we ask one another what we truly love, what we truly value, what we care about more than anything else in life, something amazing happens. We don’t argue. We listen. We connect. We discover that we love and want the same things. We care about one another.  We want honesty, depth, and intimacy in our relationships.  We want enduring friendships. We also discover that we realize that we are all in this life together. We want to help heal the world. We want compassion, understanding, and justice to guide our actions and our governments. We want to work together, hand in hand, to build a world beyond exploitation and violence.   (Morales )

We share love for our children and families along with a desire to preserve our children’s hearts and spirits, allowing them time to be young.  We believe in holding our small ones close, meeting their needs day and night, respecting the voice they bring to our families.  We share values of kindness, love, and peace in our lives.   While we call it by different names and nurture it in different ways, we share a belief in a force greater than ourselves, something that calls us to go beyond our immediate desires and concerns.    Morales says, ‘”Religion is much more about what we love than about what we think”  (Morales).   I like that definition and its emphasis on the heart rather than the head (and I’m a thinker to the end), and as a seeker of connection, I appreciate it’s focus on our shared loves. 

I shared the Morales piece with my friend, along with a rather awkward bit about what I felt we shared and why I appreciated her in my life.  In part, this post is a somewhat more elegant statement to her.  It’s also an invitation to broaden your definition of religion and connect to one another.  As always, feedback and thoughts are appreciated.

Source:

Morales, Peter. “The ‘it’ Church.”  UU World. N. p., 15  Feb. 2010.  Web.