Old Words – New Spirituality
Workshop Report contributed by Bruce Zanin
As an anthropologist, Dagmar experienced spiritualism among the Sioux (where she guided Sioux sweat lodge spiritual experiences), Tuareg, Vietnamese, and others. Now retired from working as a cleaner—during which time she had a lot of time to think—she has been a UU in Basel for 3 years. She based her talk on a sermon she gave to the Basel congregation where she spoke about the evolution of her views as a Unitarian Universalist.
When she got to looking at the 7 principles, she found them to be like a constitution, but the words don’t explain what we stand for. Their dualism did not speak to her. She explained that she came to a broader explanation of what UU is and offered it for discussion.
Unitarian Universalism is a strong and ever-changing belief system with the goal to bring the oneness of everything into our consciousness and into our lives.
- Every human being is endowed with spirituality.
- This inherent spirituality may lead to a yearning to overcome separation.
- Overcoming separation can be an individual as well as a communal effort. (Let us walk this road together.)
- Devotion and sacrifice of time to praying and doing good (helping) makes us walk the long and winding road.
- Move—don’t stop.
She noted her preference for ‘belief system’ over ‘religion’, because of the baggage ‘religion’ brings with it. She equated the ‘search for truth’ with ‘spiritual yearning’. Dagmar also said she believes we’re moving to a post-theist time, when the concept of ‘God’ is less and less relevant.
There was a lot of commentary. Many folks agreed with her premise, but wondered if by leaving behind the 7 principles, we would be abandoning an easily recognizable touchstone of what Unitarian Universalism is. Some felt that her language was too sophisticated and would be lost on many people who might be otherwise attracted to being a UU. There also was commentary on her 4th point that contained the word ‘good’. Dagmar agreed that good implied there was bad, so changed ‘doing good’ to ‘helping.’