Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How is Unitarian Universalism a way of life?

Dear David:

Can you explain what you mean by the title of your blog, "UU A Way Of Life?"



Dear Mary:

Osho says that science deals with the external world and religion deals with the internal world. Sometimes I ask my clients in psychotherapy "What is your interior spiritual life like?" Unlike I had expected initially, I have never had a client object to the question and almost all try to answer it.

One of the criticisms of Unitarian Universalism is that it is like a civic organization or a social club. Just like people go to weekly meetings of Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, some people go to church for the fellowship and to work on social uplift. These are good motives and activities that deserve support, but for a bonifide religion there has to be more and that more is the spiritual nurturance to further develop an interior spiritual life.

If Unitarian Universalism is to grow and make a contribution to the world it needs to find ways to help people develop a philosophy of life, to help them figure out how to live the Good Life. At the end of our lives we all would like to take comfort in knowing that our life and time here was well spent. It's not a bad life if we know how to live it. And so, what does Unitarian Univeralism teach us about what the Good Life is? As a religion, it needs to be practical and give us ideas about how to live well and make good choices. UU is not a set of beliefs, but a way of life and this blog's purpose is to help people find ideas and apply them in living the Good Life.

There are so many principles and values that Unitarian Universalism espouses that I find it hard to pick any one as more important than the other, but at times, one of the principles becomes my focus. For today, for this discussion, one of the principles I find most important is the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." How many people do you know that lead examined lives? I would like to think that most UUs do and we support each other in doing the same. It is okay to ask questions and pursue truth and meaning wherever it takes you. We believe and behave, hopefully, in the idea that the truth will make us free even if it hurts in the short run. In other words, "honesty is the best policy". You will sleep better.

Living our lives based on the values and principles that we covenant to affirm and promote requires discipline, mindfulness, and commitment. It is not something we can only do occasionally at church. The values and principles of UU inform our consciousnesses and every minute of our lives. It we can do this, it is our belief that we will experience joy in living the Good Life.

Thank you for asking Mary. I hope that you and others will leave your ideas, further questions, concerns in the comments.



  1. Rodney DangerfieldMay 27, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    As far as living the good life goes, being bisexual helps because it immediately doubles your chance of finding a date on Saturday night.

  2. "Honesty is the best policy" and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning might make sense to UUs, but it has been my observation that while women can fake an orgasm, men can fake and entire relationship.

  3. "Honesty is the best" policy and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning might be fine for UUs but it has been my observation that while women can fake an orgasm, men can fake an entire relationship.

  4. When we examine our lives a lot of don't know what the problems are, but I'll bet you dimes to donuts that they are hard to pronounce.

  5. I have a lot more time to examine my life now that I am retired. I realize that I was tired yesterday and I am tired today and I will be retired again tomorrow.

  6. Cindy BettancourtMay 27, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    I like the jokes. The essays are great but sometimes I need a smile to relieve the heavy thinking.

    On a more serious note again, the well lived life is the purpose of philosophy too. The stoics devote a lot of effort to describing this. I noticed you have been quoting Seneca, one of the four best known stoic philosophers. I think Unitarian Universalism probably has a big debt to the stoics for their balanced, and nontheist view of the good life.