When people find out that I am Unitarian Universalist, the question I get asked most often (aside from “why the confusing name?”) is “Unitarian Universalist? What the heck is Unitarian Universalist?”
To which, my immediate answer is always: “Thanks for asking! Do you want the long answer? Or the longer answer?”
Unitarian Universalism is certainly not a easy faith to explain in just a few sentences or with a soundbite answer – but then again, is any faith? Nonetheless, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Unitarian Universalism for Michelle DeRusha’s site. I first “met” Michelle a few years ago and I am continually blown away by her grace, humility, faith, insight, and generosity of spirit. Despite the fact that we have different religious traditions, there seems to be a certain commonality of faith and mutual understanding that transcends words and theology – and isn’t that what spiritual community is all about, really?
In any event, since the post was published last month, life seemed to get in the way of my writing/blogging plans and I am, regrettably, just getting around to posting something about it here on my own site. Below is an excerpt of the post, but if you are interested in learning more about Unitarian Universalism you can read the full post here, visit 100 Questions that Non-Members Ask About Unitarian Universalism, or ask me any questions that you might have.
As a somewhat fringe religion – with a confusing mouthful of a name, no less – many people have never even heard of Unitarian Universalism. And even those people who have heard of it still might not really understand what it is. Heck, there are times when even I have a really hard time explaining just what it is.
Some people assume it’s a religion of atheists; others mistakenly call it “Christianity Lite.” And while there certainly are atheists and Christians who consider themselves to be Unitarian Universalists, both of these characterizations are, of course, vast over-generalizations of what Unitarian Universalism is and who Unitarian Universalists are.
So what is Unitarian Universalism? And who are we?
Despite the common assumption that it is a relatively new religion, Unitarian Universalism is actually the combination of two religious groups that have been around for hundreds of years – Unitarians who traditionally believed in a unified source (rather than the Trinity) and Universalists who traditionally were progressive Christians who believed that everyone was saved regardless of religious belief. Some of the more well-known historical Unitarians or Universalists include Louisa May Alcott, John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin, and e.e. cummings.
Today, Unitarian Universalism has evolved into something much wider and deeper and more amorphous than its traditional roots. Simply put, Unitarian Universalism is an open and accepting and seeking faith. And while there is no prescribed doctrine to which Unitarian Universalists must adhere, there is a commitment to encourage spiritual growth and honor each individual’s personal faith journey.
You can read the full post here to find out more about Unitarian Universalism and what it means to me. Thanks for reading.