Saturday, May 24, 2014

Without a spirituality we die

"We must find some spiritual basis for living, else we die."

Bill Wilson, one of the founders along with Dr. Bob, of Alcoholics Anonymous

It is interesting that Bill Wilson says that we must find some spiritual basis for living, else we die and not a religious basis for living. The founders of AA were very clear that spirituality and religion are two different things and while they insisted on spirituality they did not insist on religion for the simple reason that when confronted with addiction religion doesn't work.

"Getting religion" is not the answer to addiction any more than "getting religion" is the answer to cancer, or diabetes, or Alzheimer's disease. And yet when wounded, when terrified, when on the edge of life as we know it, spirituality is the best place to turn because that is where God, our higher power, the Tao, the force in the universe is.

Walter Clark said that "One goes to church and gets a little something that then protects him or her against the real thing." Carl Jung said " of the main functions of formalized religion is to protect people from their direct experience of God."

Unitarian Universalism is wild. Its detractors accuse it of not even being a real religion because it doesn't have a creed and UUs can believe anything. Unitarian Universalism is a small religion because it doesn't offer the structure, the answers, the security of most religions, but on the contrary it does offer the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and it does offer the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within its congregations and in society at large. No popes, no kings, no grand poobahs to pronounce the infallible truth or off with your heads or consignment to hell for all eternity.

The spiritual basis for living in the Unitarian Universalist tradition comes from the 7 values or principles which Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm and promote. Having entered into such a covenant they go looking for inspiration both without and within.

The real spirituality of Unitarian Universalism occurs over coffee hour each week where we listen to each other's stories. It reminds me of the stories of early Christians when the non christians observed them they often remarked, "Look how they love one another."

Without our shared values, we would die, and yet with them, we live, in faith, hope, justice, peace, and joy.


  1. Sometimes people say that they are not religious or don't have a spirituality. John Buehrens, a former President of the UUA is said to have asked people when they said they were atheist, "What god is it that you don't believe in?"

    I sometimes say to people, "Answer this question - What matters the most to me in my life is ________________" Whatever they fill in the blank with is their spirituality. Most Americans, especially if they don't have enough of it, will say "money". Everybody wants to win the lottery. They have made mammon their god. Will money really make you happy? There is no evidence that it does other than anecdotally.

    What matters the most to you?

    What matters the most to me is social uplift for individuals, families, groups, communities, regions, states, countries, the planet. I get joy in working to make that happen. How you ask? The most important way is sharing my own state of being which in the last analysis is the most important and best thing we have to share. What condition is my condition in? On a scale of 0 - 10 I would say about 7.5. What would make it better? Having a few more kindred spirits in my life.

  2. Katie CarmichaelMay 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    What matters the most to me is my family, but I know that Jesus told his disciples they have to leave their family and come follow Him. I never quite got this. Can anyone explain it to me?