Friday, July 10, 2020

Roaming Catholic Unitarian Univeralists: The Carl and Louise Story

Elderly Couple Clip Art - Royalty Free - GoGraph

Carl and Louise were both looking for a new church. They were in their late 50s, both had been raised Catholic, and had raised their 4 children as Catholic, but after the kids were grown and out of the house, their church attendance had slowly dwindled to nothing.

They used birth control to limit the size of their family after the birth of their last child when Louise was 34 which they knew was against the teachings of the church. And the pedophilia scandal hit and it became embarassing to explain to their non Catholic friends how the church covered it up transferring child abusing priests from parish to parish.

Carl and Louise struggled as parents to explain the virgin birth to their children and the ideas about venial and mortal sins never made much sense to either one of them let alone explain it to their children and now their little grandchildren.

Their children had not continued in their Catholic faith and two of them, now married, had not married in the church and had no intention of having their children baptized.

Carl and Louise though, did miss a faith community, and often, especially around the major holidays like Christmas and Easter, felt the desire to share some sense of religious reverence with a group of like minded people.

When they met Bob and Carol they learned about Unitarian Universalism and they referred them to the Unitarian Universalism: A Way Of Life Blog. Carl and Louise started reading the blog and learned that UU is a covenantal religion which is based on seven principles all of which they deeply appreciated and resonated with. They both experienced a sense of peace and new found joy in their lives and sought out a local congregation which they could visit.

When they visited and learned that these people celebrated love beyond belief and that people need not think alike to love alike, they felt as if this church was too good to be true.

Now when people ask if they have a church and a faith tradition, Carl and Louise laugh and say, “Yes, we’re Roamin Catholic Unitarian Universalists.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Moral Unitarian Universalist - Cardinal sin five: The unexamined life

The unexamined life is not worth living - Tom McCallum - Medium

Cardinal sin five - The unexamined life

The mission of UU A Way Of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive societal change. This article is another in  a series of articles on reducing immoral and sinful behavior. “Sinful” in the context of the UU A Way Of Life mission statement is defined as mistaken. The mission statement could read, “reducing immoral and mistaken behavior” but the mistakes being referred to are ones that cause spiritual injury and so we use the word “sinful.”.

The fifth component of spiritual health is mindfulness. What is the opposite of mindfulness? It is impulsiveness, compulsiveness, and playing the victim. Are we reactive or responsive? Do we have some idea of what makes us tick? Do we take responsibility for how we manage our thoughts, feelings and behavior or do we, like a leaf on the wind, go whichever way the wind blows?

Mindfulness is a sign of maturity. It is the ability of a person to witness, objectively, and nonjudgmentally, their own functioning cognitively, affectively, psychologically, socially, and behaviorally.

The bumper sticker reads, “The unlived life is not worth examining.” Are we living our lives or wasting them? Too many, unfortunately, are wasted and that’s a sin.

How does one cultivate mindfulness? A person needs to stop their business, or their lethargy. This kind of lethargy is what has been called in spiritual texts “acedia” which in everyday contemporary language is defined as “not giving a shit.” Acedia is a loss of faith and looks to the modern observer like depression, but it is a spiritual conditional more than a psychological condition.

Some people define “mindfulness” as meditation or contemplation. It is a practice of witnessing, objectively and nonjudgmentally our functioning. It is taking stock of our own functioning and works best with an attitude of curiosity where we just watch, review, and let go or surrender. Some people call it “centering.” It is a process of looking inward not outward. This can be done once a day for 15 minutes or every hour for 5 minutes or in an ongoing way as we go about our day.

We can sit on a cushion, find a quiet place, listen to music, take a walk, there are many methods of mediation. It has sometimes been called a “flow” state where we become one with the All.

Some people seem to be “driven.” They are impulsive and compulsive. They are not in control of their own functioning but triggered by external circumstances and phenomena. They are not in control of their own functioning, but are controlled by their environment. The primary ingredient of mindfulness is awareness. The bathroom graffiti reads, “Be alert! The world needs more lerts.”

And so in what do we put our faith? Do we want to know what makes us tick or are we too afraid to slow down, stop, and look within? Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. That truth and meaning is to be found not without but within. Our faith is in our own internal, intuitive wisdom which is part of the Universe of existence, not in the triggers on the path of the ego which populate our daily experience.

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Moral Unitarian Universalist - Cardinal sin four: separation and enhancement of the ego

THE GOSPEL - Bethsaida Baptist Church

Cardinal sin four: Separation and enhancement of the ego.

The mission of UU A Way Of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive societal change. This article is another in  a series of articles on reducing immoral and sinful behavior. “Sinful” in the context of the UU A Way Of Life mission statement is defined as mistaken. The mission statement could read, “reducing immoral and mistaken behavior” but the mistakes being referred to are ones that cause spiritual injury and so we use the word “sinful.”.

The fourth component of spiritual health is attunement to the non dualistic Oneness. What is the opposite of attunement to the non dualistic Oneness? It is separation and enhancement of the ego. When we separated ourselves from the non dualistic Oneness, it is written in A Course In Miracles, we forgot to laugh. The idea that we are the author of our own existence is ludicrous. It is a cosmic absurdity. It is the biggest mistake of all.

In religious theologies of the major world religions this denial of the ground of our being is called by many names such as pride, arrogance, hubris, vanity. In everyday language we call it bragging, being puffed up, having to be right, thinking one is “big stuff,” being pretentious, showing off, hogging the spotlight, etc.

Further, the sins of separation and enhancement of the ego manifest in racism, xenophobia, misogyny, bullying, oppression, subjugation, domination, enslavement, exploitation, and what, these days, we are calling implicit bias.

Whenever we put others down, see them as less than, dehumanize them by seeing and treating them as “the other” we are separating ourselves from the non dualistic Oneness of creation. To think that we know better, deserve more, can do things alone individually, we perpetuate the primordial sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden who made the decision to go it alone without God. They thought, “We have everything. Who needs God?” And a wise person, witnessing this act of separation from the non dualistic Oneness might ask, “How is that working for you?”

In Alcoholic Anonymous, one of the greatest spiritual development programs of all time, asks its participants, in step one of the twelve step program,  to admit that their lives have become unmanageable. In step two program participants are asked to come to the realization that a Power greater than themselves can restore them to sanity. In step three, participants are asked to turn their will and lives over to the care of the non dualistic Oneness however they understand it whether as God, as Tao, as the Universe, as the Ground of Being, as the Great Spirit, as the Spirit of Life. It is in this surrender of our will, and willfulness, to the will of the non dualistic Oneness that this willingness to surrender our own will attunes us to the non dualistic Oneness and decreases the separation and the preservation of our individual ego.

This surrender of our own will to the Tao takes mindfulness and repeated decisions throughout our day. We have to ask ourselves many times throughout the day, “What would love have me do?”

Meditation, centering, helps one escape the ego and its multitudinous demands for our attention, time, energy, and efforts to make us happy. The famous Christian prayer, the Our Father, has a phrase which reads, “....and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The temptation being referred to is the demands of the ego for separation and the eschewing of the attunement with the Oneness.

The choice is very simple, the ego or the Higher Power? The ego promises us conditional love and happiness while our Higher Power offers us Unconditional Love and bliss? Give up the things of the ego which are barriers and obstacles to awareness of unconditional love which is our natural inheritance. Put your faith in your Higher Power and leave your ego in the dust.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Moral Unitarian Univeralist - Cardinal sin three: blaming, attack, vengeance

Vengeance Word Cloud Concept. Vector Illustration Royalty Free ...

Cardinal sin three - blaming, attack, vengeance

The mission of UU A Way Of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive societal change. This article is another in  a series of articles on reducing immoral and sinful behavior. “Sinful” in the context of the UU A Way Of Life is defined as mistaken. The mission statement could read, “reducing immoral and mistaken behavior” but the mistakes being referred to are ones that cause spiritual injury and so we use the word “sinful.”.

The third component of spiritual health is forgiveness. What is the opposite of forgiveness? It is blaming, attack, and vengeance. If we are one with God, and with one another, when we blame, attack, and retaliate, we hurt ourselves.

Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes us both blind.”

Jesus taught us to “love your enemies.” What Jesus is alluding to is that our enemies are a part of us. They are partners in a marriage, members of a family, fellow citizens of a community, and fellow human beings on the planet we share. And yet, to preserve our ego, and what we consider to be our personal interests, we blame others for our own unhappiness and in so doing give our agency and our power away. It is in giving our agency and our power away that we make a huge mistake in forgetting who and what we are.

We forget that we are not our egos which are illusions. The ego is something that has been socially constructed. It is not real. To protect it is folly. To pretend that something illusional is real and worth protecting is a huge mistake.

Forgiveness is giving up making other people and things responsible for our own unhappiness. Forgiveness moves us out of the role of victim. Instead of a victim we become an agent of our own holiness and oneness with our Creator, the ground of our existence.

To protect our egos we make the same mistake, commit the same sin over and over again which is to attack, blame, and retaliate for what we perceive as harm to our egos. The admonition is to “rise above it,” “don’t let your goat get gotten,” “turn the other cheek,”  and move on.

To not blame, not attack, not seek vengeance is a choice. Is it in our best interest to harbor resentment, grievance, and a desire to retaliate? All the studies on health, physical, mental, and spiritual show that these negative desires, intentions, and behaviors have negative consequences. We can choose whether to blame, attack, and retaliate or whether to forgive, rise above, and move on to peace, joy, and bliss.

In which choice, forgiveness or blame, do we put our faith? One of the deficiencies in the Unitarian Universalist covenant is its failure to explicitly affirm and promote forgiveness and to prohibit attack. This fundamental principle of spiritual health and sin is overlooked and not explicitly articulated. And yet such a basic understanding of human spirituality which is so fundamental to other world religions, can be recognized and acknowledged when we consider the many sources from which our UU faith is drawn.

To blame is human. To forgive is divine.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Moral Unitarian Univeralist - Cardinal Sin Two: Meanness


From Meanness to Meaningful: Bullying Activity for Middle ...

Cardinal Sin Two - meanness

The mission of UU A Way Of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive societal change. This article is another in  a series of articles on reducing immoral and sinful behavior. “Sinful” in the context of the UU A Way Of Life is defined as mistaken. The mission statement could read, “reducing immoral and mistaken behavior” but the mistakes being referred to are ones that cause spiritual injury and so we use the word “sinful.”.

The second component of spiritual health is kindness. What is the opposite of kindness? It is meanness, and rejection and abandonment. A Course In Miracles teaches that the primordial sin is our separating ourselves from the Oneness of God thinking that we can be the author of our own lives. It is this separation, this rejection, this abandonment, this exclusion that the ego tells us will make us safe, secure, free, and happy when it does the opposite. It is separating ourselves from the Oneness, which includes each other, that is our greatest sin.

In our modern times this meanness takes many forms such as racism, xenophobia, misogyny, all kinds of “other isms.” We play the game of “me or you.” This game of “one or the other” is not kind and as even little  children we complain that it is “being mean.”

The human tendency is to hoard and not share. We laugh and say, “Hey, it’s numero uno first.” We are quick to project our guilt and blame on others for our own unhappiness. We love to excuse our immoral and sinful behavior by playing the victim or own desire to be “a winner.”.

The antidote for meanness is forgiveness. Forgiveness, in this context, is being willing to give up making other people and circumstances responsible for our unhappiness. Only we can decide who or what is responsible for our unhappiness. Will we blame others or will we take responsibility for our own well being and state of mind? When we blame others we are not being kind; we are being mean.

Our American culture, when you observe our social policies and safety net, and capitalistic and militaristic values is very mean spirited. The United States founded on the genocide of indigenous people and slavery, is based on a meanness to its very core and foundation.

Kindness does not come naturally to us as a people or as individuals. We have been exclusionary, subjugating, and oppressive since our founding as a country. It is only with awareness and intention that we can repent our sinful ways and choose a better way to live.

In what do we put our faith: kindness or meanness? As Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” We reap what we sow. What are we sowing? As Unitarian Universalists we covenant together to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equity, and compassion in our human relations. Anything less is what we are labeling immoral behavior and sin.

Frederick Douglass - What is the Fourth Of July to me?



Editor's note:

Not until we no longer have to make a point to say "Black Lives Matter" will all Americans be truly free and independent. Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. No exceptions.

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Moral Unitarian Universalist - Cardinal sin one: Destructive management of fear

Self-Defense IS a Defense in Maryland - Zirkin and Schmerling Law

Cardinal sin one - destructive management of fear

The mission of UU A Way Of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive societal change. Today we begin a series of articles on reducing immoral and sinful behavior. “Sinful” in the context of the UU A Way Of Life is defined as mistaken. The mission statement could read, “reducing immoral and mistaken behavior” but the mistakes being referred to are ones that cause spiritual injury and so we use the word “sinful.”.

The first component of spiritual health is peace and joy. What deprives us of peace and joy is what is being labeled as immoral and sinful behavior. The primary characteristic of this immoral and sinful behavior is fear. Fear is not our natural state and is induced by many factors; external and internal. Fear is the opposite of love and gives rise to anger, attack, resentment, grievance, and guilt. When anyone is angry at you or you are angry with someone or something else, the underlying shadow fueling the anger is fear. If one is to deal effectively with the anger and destructive behavior it is most helpful to ask, “What are they and/or what am I afraid of?” Managing the fear rather than the anger is the fastest route to peace and joy.

Managing one’s fear to reduce its influence in one’s life requires a lifetime of practice. Fear has survival value for the body, but is deadly for the soul. Learning to recognize, acknowledge, and manage fear requires self awareness. This self awareness arises from feedback, examining one’s own functioning, and intention in managing the fear in a constructive and not a destructive way. The primordial fear is a fear of punishment arising from our guilt of separating ourselves from the non dualistic Oneness and thinking we are the authors of our own lives.

The expectation in a civil society is that a person will mature enough to manage one’s own emotional expression so that they exhibit self control and self discipline. Lacking self control,  external controls are exerted by society such as increased supervision, incarceration, and on extreme occasions death.

Often people use chemicals and mood altering behaviors to assuage and repress their fears. These are temporary and superficial emotional management strategies, often unconsciously employed, which become bigger problems and have more destructive consequences than the original fears the person was attempting to quell.

When it comes to the immoral and sinful behaviors generated by fear one has to choose how to manage the fears. Will one employ the tactics the ego provides or the methods of the Spirit? Jesus tells us that we should love our enemies. Enemies usually trigger fear in us, and in what do we put our faith to quell that fear: attack or forgiveness? The choice is always ours to make no matter the circumstances. Attack is what we are labeling as immoral and sinful, and forgiveness is the path of virtue and holiness.