Over the last couple of years, the Unitarian Universalist Association commissioned a review of Article II. Admittedly, this doesn’t sound very sexy. But Article II contains the purpose of our Association, so it’s very important, at least theoretically (and, because congregations are the ultimate authority in our tradition, perhaps not as important as all that).
The team that put together a draft of Article 2 was charged with paying attention to love as a core theological value, identified as such by a vast majority of Unitarian Universalists. They were also tasked to take seriously our commitments to justice.
The draft – and that’s all it is at this stage, a draft – has been very controversial, in large part because it doesn’t incorporate the 7 principles and 6 sources, which, for about forty years now, have served as a poetic reminder of our values.
I think our 7 – soon to be 8, I hope – principles are valuable, and I expect they will survive in one form or anything. I don’t particularly care whether they are contained in our bylaws, but admittedly, I’ve never a bylaw type of person at heart. As such, I’d be the wrong person to serve on a bylaw committee. I know a lot of work went into this commission. Personally, I like the proposed Article 2 well enough, though it reads like a committee wrote it, and that’s never been my favorite form of prose. So I thought – more playfully than in earnest – I’d have a go at our Principles and Purposes, what I’d write. Here goes:
There is a power that Rosa Parks carried with her onto that bus, as she withstood the glares and threats, and sat for her people.
That same power was shared by children and clergy on the streets of Selma, shared by the proud drag queens of Stonewall, shared by the generations at Standing Rock.
This power could not be held by Robben Island prison or the jails of Birmingham and Concord. It was in those hands that washed the feet of the beloved in Judea, and in the hands that rescued a baby in a basket on the Nile. This power builds congregations, animates poets, nourishes the powerless, and wears down the machinery of empire upon the compost heap.
It is as close to us as breathing, and stronger than death.
We name this power as love. And we claim this love as our own calling – throughout our life, and with every day – to enliven our fundamental interdependence, to make our felt connection with the universe ever more beautiful, by engaging in the creative work of justice, kindness, and liberation.
Love is natural and sublime, an integral part of the makeup of the cosmos. Even the stars are attracted to one another.
But love, in human cast, is more than mere attraction. As part of the delicate balance of all live, we are called to use our powers in the service of the greatest good.
Love calls us to treat as worthy, every individual. Since every unique individual is to be cherished, diversity is essential, and holy. Love’s people are all people.
Because love wants its people fed, and safe, and free, and given every opportunity to blossom, love lives out loud as justice, acknowledging, and then dismantling, the oppressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and all of the various ways we systemically fail to cherish one another.
Love calls us to a generosity of spirit. As gardeners of the good, we cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope. Again and again, we let go of what holds us back, choosing forgiveness, charity, and humility, where these openhanded choices might lead to us being a part of something better and grander than any one of us can hold alone.
We, the inheritors of a living and evolving tradition, covenant together to boldly live out our lives, and give of ourselves, for love.