We explicitly state that we promote and affirm a free and responsible search for truth and meaning and acceptance of one another. Therefore, within the context of our communities, each individual is free to explore the sources and principles of our faith in ways that best suite them. Each UU has different understandings of these, and ideally, work towards internalizing them and relating them to their daily lives. Like any other religion, you have those where participation is of convince (like Christmas and Easter Catholics) and those who seek the core(s) of the faith. From the surface this appears to be highly individualized religion akin to a philosophical and spiritual smorgasbord buffet. In fact for many people that is what it is, simply because that is what they want it to be. It is true many UU's cling to a western sense of individualism. However my drive to search deeper lead to discovering subtle nuances to the faith that challenge the way I see the world, live in that world, and forces me to continuously change.
Becouse of this I have had to question my base assumptions about individuality and community, question the meaning and role of religion in society, and I continue to find more questions. With humour, it is said the question mark is one of our most sacred symbols. A beautiful quilt hangs in the sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse in Moscow Idaho with the sacred question mark featured in the centre which reminds me to question everything. We find value in the questions we ask of each-other by participating and a gentle inquiry of the great mysteries and what little answered we get are held up to the consistency of reason and experience.
A good minister serves to direct this inquiry into new and exciting directions which will often challenge and even make people a little uncomfortable. They will respectfully push the congregation to consider new realities, thoughts, opinions and philosophies, and fire up discussion amongst the congregation. I have witness some Ministers who do this very well, and I have witnessed the mediocre minister who panders to the limited expectations of a stagnate congregation. I remember during a small group meeting that Sunday’s topic on our Unitarian Christian heritage and their concept of god made many of the group uncomfortable. To which I replied it was good that we were uncomfortable. I continued to tell them I am not a UU because it makes me comfortable all the time, but that it sometimes make me uncomfortable and challenges my world view. I said that it is good to be challenged by ideas of god, even if we personally do not hold that belief. It is questions which ideally keep us a living tradition.To remain relevant we must continually evaluate our assumptions on topics that make us uncomfortable and consider multiple perspectives and realities as being valid and interconnected.