Reflections on our UU Fifth Source

from Jane Everham

“Humanist teachings that counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.”

UUs read, study, learn, talk, debate, discuss, argue, challenge, question, interview, interrogate, deliberate – am I repeating myself? Yep, we do that, too. We are intellectual creatures and attend to our heads (sometimes more than our hearts), but it takes both to be a good UU, a good steward of the earth, a good human.

The 5th Source teaches us that in our UU faith, we maintain and nurture our respect for facts. We embrace reason as a verb, “to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic”- a key difference between reason and idolatry.

Idolatries of the mind and dogma offer a framework that may give followers an easy out from intellectual responsibility. Some people like being told what to believe because then they don’t have to think, wrestle with complex issues, and make tough decisions. Like climate change, for example – if you don’t believe in climate change you have no responsibility for thinking about or trying to solve such an overwhelming global issue. But climate change is based on scientific facts – you don’t believe in facts, you believe facts, or not.

UUs have an aversion to creeds and dogma, but our faith’s commitment to science and reason can serve to guide us in living ecologically, socially, and call us to engage in working through the messy challenges of the democratic way. As a longtime member of Foothills, I have witnessed and been officially engaged (once as President of the Board of Trustees) in events that have “rocked our boat,” but I stand proud of a congregation that is not afraid to stand up to a challenge and do the hard work required to resolve, mend, and move on.

I am so grateful for this covenantal faith that calls me to live the Seven Principles guided by our Six Sourcesa strong foundation for both heart and mind. I hope this 5th Source’s call to “heed the warning against the idolatries of mind and spirit” keeps us humble. This UU faith is not the one, true faith for all, it is just the one, true faith for UUs. Other faiths, including Humanism, have revealed truths and actions that serve the common good, truths that we have adopted as our own. I love that UUs know and embrace that “the Truth is always being revealed.”  We are a “living tradition” continually learning and evolving. Let us continue to use our voices and our actions as example for others for the betterment of our world. And let’s not be afraid to be big and loud!

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