It’s a UU Bake-Off!


Universalists are often asked where they stand. The only true answer to give to this question is that we do not stand at all, we move.“- Unitarian Universalist Minister, Lewis Beals Fisher

After the holidays, I’ve clearly still got food on the brain.

UUism is a flavor. A sensation you can roll over your tongue. It might be difficult to describe the ingredients, but for those who have tried it, identifying UUism is as easy as apple pie. So stop making up invisible rules and algebraic functions trying to exclude people from UUism. This is one of the most inclusive spiritual expressions on the planet.

You see, I recently cooked up an advertisement for Unitarian Universalism listing famous UU’s. (click here for a taste). This ad has generated some controversy about who should and should not be called a Unitarian and/or Universalist, namely, whether Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin belong on this list.

Here is the main ingredient to the “Famous UU” controversy: church membership.

Some say we can only list those with official Unitarian and/or Universalist church membership. Others say membership must be constrained to only official members after the two churches merged in 1961.Slow down Joe McCarthy! I’m talking about theological beliefs here, not membership rosters. The UU idea is so much bigger than names on a list. It’s just not an accurate depiction of the healthy UU movement to limit our concept of UUism in such a way.

A better way to find UU’s is to see if the person has laid out a clear theological position that embodies the UU spirit. Jefferson did that. (Click here) So did Franklin. (And here.) And so did a whole host of famous intellectuals, artists, and social leaders. Even if we use the most conservative definitions of Unitarianism or Universalism, many more people will fall into the UU food group.

The UUism of today is an ever-evolving and theologically expanding movement. Yet the UU flavor is as clear, just like an apple pie is an apple pie with or without raisins. Heck, who even needs the apples? I love pie! I’ll take them all. And why don’t we let in the strudels and tarts too. So long as other religions are serving their parishioners hot dogs and rump roast, one pastry is as good as another in my book.

As Unitarians, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were master chefs, and I am proud to have them as a part of our spiritual heritage.

Tired of having my food metaphor shoved down your throat?

The point is many like-minded people have never heard of Unitarian Universalism, yet they have a compatible spiritual diet. I want to help them find the words for what their putting in their mouths. Martin Luther King Jr. apparently considered Unitarian Universalism, but gave up the idea because he could “could never build a mass movement of black people if we were Unitarian.”

This has to stop. UUism is the best and most appropriate vehicle for the spiritual expression of compassionate and liberal ideals. If Barack Obama is any indication, the world is starving for a message of peace, hope, and unity.

Let’s get cooking.

My favorite UU recipe is a simple one: start with a liberal belief system spread over a layer of good works; top with love and respect; ad world religions to spice.

So gather your ingredients, find your favorite recipes, and share it with others.

Consider your spiritual bake-off!

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5 Responses to “It’s a UU Bake-Off!”

  1. Philocrites Says:

    There is a danger, though, of using “UU” (a denominational label) for “religious liberalism” (a temperament or worldview that is much broader and more widespread than Unitarian Universalism). UUs aren’t the only religious liberals; we’re not even the leading exponents of religious liberalism any more. Which isn’t to stamp out your enthusiasm for UU in any way: Bring it on! But it’s potentially disrespectful of other varieties of religious liberalism — everything from Franklin’s Deism to Obama’s UCC Christianity — to call them UU.

  2. Aaron Sawyer Says:

    UU is no longer a meaningful denominational label, as one doesn’t have to be Unitarian or Universalist to be a UU. The re-branding of UU allows other liberal religions to unify under the religiously pluralistic umbrella of UU as the organization of spiritual liberalism. That’s the idea anyway.
    Thanks for the reply!

  3. Philocrites Says:

    Who would agree with you that “UU” isn’t a denominational label, or at least a brand of religion tied substantially to Unitarian Universalist congregations and the UUA? That’s a startling suggestion to me.

  4. The Emerson Avenger Says:

    Well personally I think that U*U is a highly meaningful denominational label. . .

  5. Aaron Sawyer Says:

    A denomination of what?

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