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Thread: Uu q&a

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Uu q&a

    So...the hubby and I are officially UU now. As in, tithing, full members of a of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula. After attending fairly regularly for the past two years (at several different locations) and finally settling in at this one, going to their new member classes, etc...

    ...so if you have any Q's and I don't know an answer to them, I can definitely find one!
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    So...

    What is a Unitarian Universalist?
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    Well...a Unitarian Universalist is someone that follows the theologically diverse religion of Unitarian Universalism, which is a non-creedal religion (basically there are no theological tests of belief) that is guided instead by 7 principles.

    The 7 principles are:
    *The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
    *Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
    *Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
    *A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
    *The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
    *The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
    *Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

    The UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) is congregationalist (which means that individual congregations are independent and can determine their own ways in which to interpret and act upon the 7 principles) and formed with the merger of the Unitarian and Universalist chrurches in about 50 years ago. Both Unitarianism and Universalism are Christian doctrines, the first which rejects the Trinity and (usually) the divinity of Jesus as Christ and the second which believes in universal salvation, regardless of belief. Among UU congregations there are atheists, humanists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans and more...I forget the actual percentages, but in the last survey, I think of UU's are identify as Pagan and/or Earth based Spirituality.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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    Newbie sadodosah's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    What is the concept behind the tithe?

    Background: My idea of a tithe is a spiritual fee paid to a teacher for his guidance.

    So I am wondering if the tithe goes to your organisation as a whole or to your specific group's leader.

    Which further leads me to wonder, what function does UU have in your path?
    Giving is its own reward.

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    Well, that's the first time I've ever read a set of principles coming out of a religion where I can applaud every single one of them. It sounds like a very good way to go.

    When you get together with the group, what is it that you do? Is there a service of some kind? Speakers on different subjects? Would it be different in different groups, or do all the groups do similar things?

    I'm curious as to what a (possibly) very diverse group would focus on.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    Quote Originally Posted by sadodosah View Post
    What is the concept behind the tithe?

    Background: My idea of a tithe is a spiritual fee paid to a teacher for his guidance.

    So I am wondering if the tithe goes to your organisation as a whole or to your specific group's leader.
    So, the tithing is not a set amount or fee, but rather a pledge that you/your family think you can afford and feel committed to give. You can still go and participate in services and most of their activities without being a membership, so really, membership and tithing is as much a sign of commitment as it is a practical thing. Also, as a member, if you come on hard times, and *Can't* give, you can "suspend" your tithe till you get back on your feet. The real difference between a member and a non-member is your ability to vote, and hold positions on decision-making boards...basically to make decisions on the direction of the church. In my experience, this is pretty standard of the purpose of tithing--I was raised in the UCC (United Church of Christ), which is also a congregationalist organization (the UCC and UUs are actually related in a way, both stemming from the same church movements, the only difference being that the UCC stayed Christian)...though I've heard of churches that abuse the tithing system.

    In the practical sense, it goes to pay for the church building and grounds (which are nice, but modest and have a big yard) and utilities as well as salary for the church's staff, which includes the minister, the secretary and the RE (religious education) director (only the minister is full time staff though). Half of each weekly collection also goes to one of the charities that we support as well (we also send in-person volunteers when necessary), including a food bank and soup kitchen, a local conservation group, a local organization that offers free HIV tests and counseling (and uses our facilities as one of their mobile bases), etc. The church also uses that money to pay into an organizational fund that is paid into by all UU churches in the region, and are granted to individual congregations for repairs or projects they couldn't otherwise afford (for example, we received funding from them to make the office building handicapped accessible and to do some other major repairs/remodeling), to support a ministerial scholarship fund, etc.


    Which further leads me to wonder, what function does UU have in your path?
    Well, there are a couple of different things...
    1) RE. We have kids...its all well and good to teach them our individual beliefs, but (IMO) kids should be religiously literate. UU RE classes are a great environment for this. They teach about religion and spirituality without dogma, and they emphasize the 7 principles as a way to value each other and our surroundings, which I think are a fairly solid grounding for personal moral development and decision making. We are also trying to get a Spiral Scouts troop up and running.
    2) Fellowship. I keep calling it a "church", but (while there are UU churches), we are actually called a "fellowship" (its even in its official name)--the UU Fellowship of the Peninsula. But basically, a bunch of people on the same quest can be a nice thing to fall back on. Humans are inherently social creatures, having a space where you can be social in person without judgement, is a nice thing. Yes, there are Pagans around here, but its been my experience over the past 18 years, that some Pagan groups aren't all that stable of an entity, some are not family friendly, etc. The ideas that come from different individuals with different paths, when we share them and our time, is phenomenal.
    3) Organization. Being honest about the limitations of Pagans--we tend to suck at long term support and participation of local communities (and there are lots of reasons for this, its not meant to be derogatory--being unorganized has benefits in terms of openess, inclusiveness, freedom and creativity...but it has drawbacks). As part of an organization, there are goals, projects, etc that can be achieved as a group that can't be done as efficiently or as well I could as an individual.
    4) Spiritual and Intellectual Growth by encountering different ideas and perspectives. I may not agree with everything, but I never walk away without having learned something. For example, I participate in what the UU community calls "small group fellowship" or "fellowship circles"--small groups 7-8 people meeting together to discuss without judgement (using something called "deep listening") whatever the heck the topic is for the night...in my group, there is an aerospace engineer, a retired professor of German, a HR person that's worked in Antartica half a dozen times (its a seasonal job) and traveled the world the rest of the year, etc...and each and every one of them has a different religious philosophy and theological opinion and a different experience of the world and deity. There are also adult RE classes, for religious discussion among grown ups.
    5) Pagan-centered and Pagan-friendly ritual and discussion. Our UU has a Pagan group (we also have a Humanist group and at one time, there was a Christian one, but it suffered from lack of interested parties)...actually, there are a few groups that fit into the Pagan framework, though not all of them are exclusively Pagan. There is a Pagan groups that organizes and celebrates rituals for the Sabbats, there is also 'Goddess Circle' which explores different goddesses and different aspects of women's spirituality, there is a drum circle, and there is a bellydance group/class.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  7. #7
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    Quote Originally Posted by B. de Corbin View Post
    When you get together with the group, what is it that you do? Is there a service of some kind? Speakers on different subjects? Would it be different in different groups, or do all the groups do similar things?

    I'm curious as to what a (possibly) very diverse group would focus on.
    This is actually a bit from one of Andrew's sermons, which discussed everything from Dunbar's number to Psalm 133 (which it paraphrases):
    Ours is an experiential faith. An essential component of creating dynamic
    community that celebrates life and searches for truths is developing and deepening
    fellowship. Listening with compassion and without judgment, offering a safe space
    where people can truly share what is in their hearts, this is the greatest gift that we can
    give one another. This fellowship of those who meet together is indeed lovely, but our
    world is calling to us that it not be quite so rare.
    In terms of traditional worship, we really don't do that...the best way I've heard it put is that ""worship" in the UU context is not a verb but an adverb that describes how a group of people come together intentionally to communally connect with the sacred dimension of life." Many UU services are fairly intellectual, but others are very experiential. Format and topics vary because UU's are congregational and each group is different. Some UU congregations are more Christian leaning, others more secular. Ours is pretty eclectic, as a reflection of our congregational make up--Pagan, Christian, atheist, humanist, Jewish and Buddhist.

    In my experience though, many of them are set up in the same format as a mainline Protestant church (we have been discussing making some changes to that in our congregation). There are some noticeable differences--we have moments for "prayer, meditation or silent reflection" rather than a group led prayer (and we generally end our end of service moment of reflection with "Blessed be"); our services don't often contain Bible readings--we are just as likely (if not more) to have a reading from Emerson, Thomas Jefferson, Susan B Anthony, the Koran, Thoreau, Shakespeare, Steven Jay Gould, etc; and "sermons" don't make definitive statements about god. We do (at least half the time) have a "sermon" though sometimes we just have a big fat celebration (Yule and Midsummer) with a little reflection, occasionally we might have a more non-traditional service (our Memorial Day service for example, was almost entirely congregationally led), or a guest speaker or musician.

    Attend Sunday services at almost any Unitarian Universalist congregation and you’ll realize the variety of content unbound by doctrine or dogma: music from Bach to the Beatles, stories from Aesop to Shel Silverstein, topics from Resilience to Ecospirituality. Different people experience the world in different ways, finding meaning in different words and music and ideas, and Unitarian Universalists generally celebrate that reality as a good thing. Diversity is a blessing, and not only because it makes potlucks a lot more interesting: if everyone saw things the same way and agreed with everyone else on everything, nobody would ever grow in mind or spirit because there’d be no other perspectives to consider, no other opinions to try to understand. For anyone who thinks religion is all about belief, that to be a member of a particular religion requires believing the same particular things, Unitarian Universalism must be a bit of a puzzle. It’s not that we have anything to hide. We make no bones about the fact that we expect everyone to undertake the spiritual work of figuring out what they believe for themselves while together we figure out how to live in community with one another and the world around us. It’s right there in the words we speak at the
    start of each service: “All those of good will are welcome to join with us in our individual and collective search for truth and meaning, in a community where we commit ourselves daily to honoring the inherent worth and dignity of each person.”
    (snip)
    What comes between those opening and closing portions of a service generally depends on the purpose of the service and the traditions of the congregation. Here at the Fellowship, for instance, the body of the service includes what I think of as the “community sequence” consisting of the Children’s Focus, Joys and Concerns and the Offering. As well as emphasizing important aspects of this community, they take us deeper into sacred space, shifting the sense of busy-ness that we bring with us into awareness and openness. I don’t know about you, but I feel that shift most when we sing “Spirit of Life”*, in part because we sing it not as a hymn, but as the prayer it was intended to be.

    from one of the sermons over the summer
    Most services are build around inspiration, expression and celebration of the principles--how to live our beliefs...but sometimes they are about personal and group issues and transformations as well. Over the summer there have been a series of sermons on the theme of looking at our history (both as a religious movement, an organization and a congregation) and our future (what direction we want to take as a congregation)...some of which have been even a bit critical--"Similarly, we seem glued to our single definitions of words like “God,” “prayer,” “salvation,” and even “worship,” and thus a rejection of these words. Some people have found this church through realizing their previous faiths were not what they needed, in one way or another, which in some cases leads to a resentment of these words. But an unwillingness to take these words and define them according to our own identity sometimes translates to a rejection of those people who do attach themselves to them" (this one happens a lot among Pagans as well)...so there are some serious chats (and lectures) about our goals and our failings as a group from time to time. But I've also been to completely fun and funny, but still thought provoking services, including one on Drake's equation, including a two person reading of "Meat" by Terry Bisson, and a discussion of what humanity looks like from the outside...I've been to completely beautiful and fulfilling rituals for holidays, etc.




    *Spirit of Life (by Carolyn McDade) is sort of the UU hymn...every congregation I've been to sings it regularly--we sing it every week. The lyrics are as follows:

    Spirit of Life, come unto me.
    Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
    Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
    Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
    Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
    Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

    This is a version sang by All Souls Choir in DC (not sure who did the slide show)...we don't generally sing it that slowly, lol:
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  8. #8
    Copper Member Monk's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    hummmm, Sounds interesting. I think there is a church(?) like this not far from my home. Maybe I'll look into it and see what they have going on in regrades to the information you have provided.


    That made me jump. We must have hit the button at the same time. Kind of looked like the page had blown up.
    Last edited by Monk; 28 Sep 2011 at 06:23.
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    Thanks- that sounds very interesting.

    I'm also going to look into it. I'm not good at joining things, but my wife feels a need to belong to some sort of organization. This is actually something that might be fun to do along with her.

    Shoot - I just checked the phone book. There doesn't seem to be a group around here - two pages of every imaginable Christian variant, but nothing else. I'll try asking around... That's the trouble with living out in the boonies, I guess.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

  10. #10
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Uu q&a

    If you are interested in finding your local UU's, here's their handy-dandy congregation finder...Corbin, you are in the UP right? If so, it looks like there are only 3 in that region...
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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