‘It matters what we believe’—and more from the UU web

Belief: the enemy of faith?

The UU blogosphere was abuzz this week with reactions to a UU World article written by UUA President Peter Morales, in which he claimed that belief is the enemy of faith.

The Rev. Erik Martínez Resly urges, “Don’t stop believing!”

[The] solution must be additive, not subtractive. Instead of banning beliefs, broaden them. Get curious, and get honest: Why do you hold that belief? How have you struggled with that belief? How does that belief inform the rest of your life? (Rev. Erik, September 16)

Responding to Martinez Resly, the Rev. Tom Schade makes a distinction between beliefs and sects.

I think that he collapsed two different questions: one is whether we are sectarian and anti-sectarian and the other is whether we have a particular UU faith, or are a multi-faith spirituality. The more I thought about this, the more I saw them as a grid, which I offer for all of your exploration.  (The Lively Tradition, September 17)

Kim Hampton points to the words of Sophia Lyon Fahs: “It matters what we believe.”

At some point, my dear UU friends, UUism must stop being a negative religion and actually articulate a positive vision. When will we . . . start to celebrate/encourage belief in the same way that we celebrate/encourage doubt? . . . If doubt is an important companion to faith, why isn’t belief just as an important companion? (East of Midnight, September 17)

The Rev. Dawn Cooley concludes that the conversation is based on a false dichotomy.

Belief and faith are not opposites. They are in tension with one another, though. So if one is not the opposite of another, if one is not the enemy of the other, then where does this tension come from?

I think the answer is humility.  As I understand it, the difference between belief and faith is the level of humility or arrogance with which I hold an idea. (Speaking of, September 19)

Karen Johnston despises frays, but feels compelled to enter this one—embracing both sides.

Morales calls UUs to pivot and respond, using our “faith beyond belief” to play a historic role in “a new interfaith, multifaith spirituality [that] is struggling to be born.”  He is right to some degree—I do believe we, in the creative tension we have intentionally encountered in making home for theists and non-theists alike, we have something important to contribute. . . .

And in heeding the advice of Martinez-Resly to be additive, rather than subtractive, I encourage us to think beyond words/conceptions like inter- or multi-faith, since this impulse is trans-(scending)faith. (irrevspeckay, September 19)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein comments indirectly on the topic, recounting her history as someone whose beliefs and practices do not fit into neat little boxes, and noting how common this has become.

[Syncretism isn’t] weird any more. It’s quite ordinary, and many mainline Christian churches I have attended in the past decade would not think twice before incorporating elements of this ritual into their liturgy.  Some call that heresy; I call it progress. (PeaceBang, September 19)

Human connections

The Rev. Evin Carvill-Ziemer confesses that being neighborly is harder than it sounds.

I don’t really think calling the police is the answer, but I’m not doing so well on my own. So if you start seeing signs on my street like “Slow the f*ck down!” or “If you’re older than 12, ride your bike on the d*mn street” or in a few months “Shovel your sidewalk like a grownup!” blame me. I’m still trying to figure out how to be a good neighbor. (Wholehearted Spirit, September 13)

For new parent Christine Slocum, her daughter gives her a different perspective on the world’s news.

It seems that bravery is an under-discussed skill of parenting. I do not mean the sort of bravery that is featured in newspapers when feats of great valor are committed. I mean a banal bravery that requires claiming peace when the most precious facet of your life coexists with a very dangerous world. (Christine Slocum, September 14)

As she walks on the beach, Sarah MacLeod finds a metaphor in the beach grass that holds down the dunes.

During the too-many years of the disintegration of my marriage and changes on their other home front, the sands shifted, and my children needed overt stabilization from me.

I realized I was their beach grass. I did it overtly, keeping existing routines in place and creating new ones for our changed family. I did it silently, sleeping next to children weary of change. And like the beach grass, when I, too, was covered in sand and sorrow, three feet under, I survived, and so did they. (Finding My Ground, September 18)

Courageous congregations

The Rev. David Owen-O’Quill reviews a new book by Michael Durall.

The book paints a compelling choice that congregations encounter in the search process. The choice is between finding someone who “fits” the congregational culture as it has been versus choosing the minister that can lead the church into the future. I would agree with Durall’s analysis that for most established churches this tension between the comfort of what is, even if it’s apparent that it’s not working, and the choice to step boldly into a visionary future paralyzes most congregations. (News from the Underground, September 19)

The Rev. Dan Harper weighs the price and pleasure of being a growing congregation.

Kids are happier and think our congregation is more fun; that alone would be worth it. Parents and guardians are happier because their kids are happier. From my point of view, then, as someone who cares about kids and families with kids, as someone who thinks that one of the primary functions of a congregation is to help raise up the next generation—yes, growth is totally worth the inconvenience. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, September 16)

The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford writes that a church with heart “does not have a mission, a mission has [the] church.”

Mission takes you on adventure, and adventure is wild and joyous and thrilling, but the one thing adventure is not is “comfortable.” Mission shoves us out of our comfort zone because there’s something bigger, another place we need to get to, and Mission understands that life will be better for all of us once we get there, so just hang on to your hat and enjoy the ride. (Boots and Blessings, September 16)