Friday, February 26, 2010


I am part of a wonderful book club that discusses various theological books. We try to read a wide range of ideas from different faith traditions. Our last discussion centered around John Shelby Spong's book "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism". He writes in an easy style and, if you aren't familiar with the influences of time/place/agenda of writers of the bible, it will be quite interesting. Having read many books on this topic, it wasn't particularly new information, but one point of his, I am still pondering. One theme of his book is many mainstream church goers lack of biblical knowledge. He cites an experience of his in an Episcopal church. He asked the congregants if they hold the ten commandments as their moral compass. There was an enthusiastic yes! Then he asked if anyone could name all ten of them them. No one could. Not even as a group. Thus, how can you hold them in such high regard if you can't even name them? I am not really surprised by this. I was raised Catholic and certainly could not name them all. Obviously, this is one example, one congregation, and I am sure that there a plenty of people who could name them all, but it is sad to see people blindly believe in them without really understanding their true meaning and importance. How can you be authentically living them?

This bring me to Unitarian Universalism. If you are subscribe to our Seven Principles, can you name them all? Granted, they are very wordy, but could you at least name the basic idea of them? I think they are a great reflection of my values, and I try to live them. Unfortunately, I find them very hard to keep in my head. So, I have them posted in my home. Every time I open the refrigerator, there is a magnet reminding me of them. Do I need them to live a moral/value filled life? No. But I find them centering. They are a reminder of what I am living for. They are a written form of what I feel in my heart. They are a reminder to my children of our family values and how we choose to live our life. During the summer months, we discuss each principle for a week, committing it to memory. It is a way to connect our church, home, and living to what we consider important. I encourage all of you to sit down, either with the Seven Principles, or your own particular value statements, and really think about how you are expressing them in your daily life. Truly living your authentic self can be freeing and inspiring to those around you. Your life has meaning and how you choose to live it is one of the most important decision you can make.

The Seven Principles:
*The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
*Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
*Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
*A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
*The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
*The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
*Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.


Charlie Talbert said...

A way I use to recall the seven principles is by remembering the first letter of each one (other than the articles), IJAFRGR, and using it in my unimportant but often used applications needing a password, so I don’t forget this mnemonic.

I have a hunch the Commandments that people can best remember are the ones that they struggle most not to break, so in a sense their lack of total recall is really an efficient use of memory.

plaidshoes said...

Charlie - that is an awesome way to remember them! I will have to use it. Interesting observation about the Commandments. It would be fascinating to do a study on that theory.