Thursday, October 19, 2006

Freedom, Reason, Tolerance, and ...

Recently I've been trying to write something about the common beliefs and values shared by UU's. And so, of course, I went back to the well-known triumvirate of Freedom, Reason, and Tolerance. And it hit me like a ton of bricks that those three aren't enough. There's got to be more.

Why? Because none of the three will get you out of bed in the morning. Freedom opens up all kinds of possibilities for the people who do decide to get out bed. Reason tells you how you might achieve your goals, if only you had some goals. And Tolerance will keep you from wasting your energy trying to kill people who have different goals. All three are valuable, assuming that there is already some motive force in your life.

When we talk about Freedom, Reason, and Tolerance being the core our faith, we must be taking something else for granted. What could it be?

23 comments:

CK said...

Hope. Hope in, faith in and love for the human community and its potential. That gets worked out through concrete ways (I love people not 'humanity'), but I'd say that is it.

Paul Wilczynski said...

In addition to "common beliefs and values shared by UU's", I'd add the phrase "which aren't shared by other religions".

Otherwise, what's the point of the list?

The Emerson Avenger said...

I don't doubt that U*Us are taking a few other things for granted however I must point out that in my own experience U*Us are also taking Freedom for granted, taking Reason for granted, and taking Tolerance for granted when they are not actually going out of their way to flagrantly flaunt Freedom, Reason and Tolerance. . .

The Emerson Avenger said...

It does occur to me that Morality and Ethics are both missing from "mix" and that is all that I am going to say about that glaring omission for the time being. . .

PeaceBang said...

I like "hope" for its connection to our Universalism. You've reminded me that I wanted to preach on the notion of freedom this year. I think we really simplify the concept of religious and theological freedom. Freedom FROM what, we get. Freedom FOR what, we're not so clear about.

I like Calvin's idea that we are free to be obedient to God. Of course that makes me a very weird UU indeed.

Brett Keller said...

I like faith, hope, love, and ethics. But the strongest thing that can be offered by any faith is Purpose. You can get out of bed in the morning because you are working toward a higher reality-- something that transcends your petty needs. And from that Purpose flows love, and hope, and freedom, and reason, and tolerance.

kim said...

I would make the fourth one "love". Not just because the four banners in the Palo Alto UU church used to say "Love, reason. freedom and tolerance." I think the love thing is what holds us together, what motivates, what we are stumbling toward.
Do UUs focus on community or individual?

uuwonk said...

UUs are people who believe in the Christian tradition as interpreted by reason, meaning that they generally accept the morality articulated by Jesus but reject tradiional theology.

UUs also have a habit of publicly definiing themselves in terms of virtues widely supported thoughout American society. When UUs say, "we believe in tolerance", it sounds like they are saying, "We are more toleranct than those nasty Episcopalians down the street."

In my view this is unfair. My Episcopalian friends believe in freedom, reason and tolerance. They just don't push reason quite as far as we do.

The Emerson Avenger said...

Well said UUwonk although I would have to dispute your parting shot that Episcopalians "don't push reason quite as far as we do." I dare say that the U*Us of today can be remarkably irrational and unreasonable. There may have been a time when U*Us might have been able to claim Reason as a foundation for their beliefs but it seems to be long gone as far as I can see. . .

Anonymous said...

Justice, maybe?

I'd also disagree with Paul. Even if the list overlaps with another religion, it shows what unites us. We're already pretty clear on why we're not X, Y, or Z.

The Emerson Avenger said...

Good point Anonymous, including the "maybe" and question mark following the word "Justice". . . Unitarian Universalists "may" one day respond to my legitimate grievances with some genuine "justice, equity and compassion in human relations" but so far they have quite obstinately refused to do so and U*Us have seriously escalated and aggravated the injustices and abuses that I initially complained about by responding to them with further injustices and abuses, including unjust punitive expulsions for writing letters of grievance and publicly protesting against various U*U injustices and abuses. Until such a time as U*Us can demonstrate that they can actually make a reasonable effort to practice genuine justice, equity and compassion in their human relationships within the U*U religious community itself they lack the moral authority and integrity to pretend to be champions of Justice. Regrettably the same may be said about U*U Freedom, U*U Reason and U*U Tolerance as I have already demonstrated above. . .

Brett Keller said...

Mr. Avenger,
As an outsider, I don't know the details of your case, but you seem very angry. Maybe we should add forgiveness as one of our values? Are you really going to spend the rest of your life pursuing a vendetta instead of moving on to act positively for some good cause?

The Emerson Avenger said...

:Brett Keller said...
:Mr. Avenger,
:As an outsider, I don't know the details of your case, but you seem very angry.

Well perhaps you would do well to familiarize yourself with at least a few of the details of my case, and what I have written about it, before dismissively characterizing me as "very angry". Are you aware that a Monteal newspaper reporter who interviewed me quite extensively in personal meetings and in phone calls and emails described me as "even tempered and erudite"? Strongly worded criticism is not always an indication that someone is very angry and, even if they are very angry, it may be highly justified anger that in no way

:Maybe we should add forgiveness as one of our values?

Forgiveness was an still is one of my values. I repeatedly offered forgiveness in the past but U*Us have not only repeatedly rejected my offers of forgiveness but repeatedly subjected me to unjust punitive measures. I am quite prepared to forgive some U*U offences but I am now obliged to demand a considerable degree of genuine accountability since U*Us need to demonstrate that they are actually capable of justice and equity in human relations rather than repeatedly flaunting those claimed values of U*Uism. Genuine Justice needs to be done and it needs to be seen to be done by the U*U World.

:Are you really going to spend the rest of your life pursuing a vendetta instead of moving on to act positively for some good cause?

My my aren't we snooty and condescending tonight Mr. Keller. You seem to be totally blind to the possibility that the very "acts" of The Emerson Avenger are in fact "for some good cause" in every sense of the phrase. . . You are also quite judgmentally ass*uming that I am not otherwise acting positively for some other good causes. . . Characterizing my legitimate fight for some genuine justice and equity in U*U human relations with me, to say nothing of other victims of U*U injustices and abuses, as a "vendetta" is clearly an attempt to discredit the validity of my serious grievances. In any case a "vendetta" usually requires two parties and I can assure you that U*Us could just as justifiably be accused of carrying on a ludicrously prolonged "vendetta" as I am. U*Us are primarily responsible for the fact that this alleged "vendetta" is now over a decade old. I have repeatedly offered dialogue to U*Us in an effort to bring this "vendetta" to a genuinely just and equitable conclusion but my offers have been repeatedly ignored and rejected by U*Us who apparently don't know the meaning of the words justice, equity or indeed compassion and forgiveness. . .

The Emerson Avenger said...

My cut off statement should have said - Strongly worded criticism is not always an indication that someone is very angry and, even if they are very angry, it may be highly justified anger that in no way devalues or discredits the legitimacy of their grievances. If you think I sound "very angry" I suggest that you compare my usually fairly moderate and reasoned words with those of U*Us including U*U clergy. Try this on for starters. . .

Brett Keller said...

But see, your whole statement just reinforces my impression (which wasn't mean to be condescending- but you sure get defensive fast) that both you and whichever UU's are still fighting this battle must be missing the point on something. If this has been going on for well over a decade, do you really expect it to end 'in your favor'? Sometimes (and I would hope that years of arguing the same points about the same grievances would eventually prove it) battles cannot be "won" because everyone involved loses. It's just my (humble) thought that continuously posting negative comments on a thoughtful blog such as this merely gives the impression you and whoever has grieved you are talking past each other.

The Emerson Avenger said...

:But see, your whole statement just reinforces my impression (which wasn't mean to be condescending- but you sure get defensive fast)

Sorry Mr. Keller but saying, "Maybe we should add forgiveness as one of our values?"

Very condescendingly insuates that forgiveness is not one of my values. N'est-ce pas? If you don't see that I am confident that pretty much everyone else reading your words does. There were any number of ways that you could have raised the subject of forgiveness without snidely implying that I lacked it. . . Anyone who bothers to responsibly examine this ludicrously drawn-out conflict will quickly see that I have offered considerably more forgiveness to U*Us than they have ever offered to me. Au contraire, whenever I offered reconciliation following appropriate apologies and redress of my legitimate grievances U*Us not only ignored and rejected my offers but punished me for making them. . .

You also condescendingly insinuated that the cause of The Emerson Avenger was not a "good cause" and that I was not involved in any other good causes, neither of which is true.

:both you and whichever UU's are still fighting this battle must be missing the point on something.

I don't think that I am missing the point on all that much Mr. Keller but you can be assured that U*Us are willfully "missing the point" of my letters of grievance, picket sign slogans, and internet posts of various kinds. Indeed U*Us seem to be missing the point of most if not all of their claimed principles, ideals, bylaws and policies that are pertinent to this conflict. . .

:If this has been going on for well over a decade, do you really expect it to end 'in your favor'?

Yes as a matter of fact I do. And I am reasonably assured that it will within the next decade or so. . .

::Sometimes (and I would hope that years of arguing the same points about the same grievances would eventually prove it) battles cannot be "won" because everyone involved loses.

Oh I fully agree that both sides are losing in this war of words but I do expect to be largely if not fully vindicated one of these days.

:It's just my (humble) thought that continuously posting negative comments on a thoughtful blog such as this merely gives the impression you and whoever has grieved you are talking past each other.

Actually there only would have been two fewer Emeson Avenger posts on this thoughtful blog if you had held your tongue here and had commented on The Emerson Avenger blog instead. I regret that this particular thread has become something of a battle ground as a result of your condescending comments that I felt obliged to reply to. Feel free to move the conversation over to my blog.

I offer my apologies to Doug Muder for perhaps making a few posts too many on this particular thread, although I do believe that the first two or three were pertinent and justified commentary. I also want to express my sincere appreciation to Doug for being one of those U*Us who does not try to silence my criticism and dissent and also me to speak and to argue freely, according to my conscience, about U*U injustices, abuses and hypocristy without moderating or "memory holing" my problematic posts.

powderblue said...

Freedom, Reason, and Tolerance are important to me, but they do not power me out of bed most mornings the way Paycheck does.

Hope is important too, although for me not in a directly motivating way. Hope is an antidote for pessimism when Reason does not warrant optimism.

Justice is close to the word I’d suggest, because it implies helping others, and that’s where many find meaning in their lives. However, not everyone who needs help is the victim of injustice (e.g. a dog with a splinter in its paw).

So, I’d suggest Mercy, which my American Heritage dictionary defines as “Compassionate treatment, especially to those under one’s power; clemency.” Mercy ignites those who see unnecessary and preventable suffering in their midst.

kim said...

I reread "freedom reason and tolerance" not getting you up in the morning and it occurred to me that fr&t is peaceful, dull, unemotional compared with the passionate hatred, punishment and self-righteousness of the RR. It also sounds more like the traditional "heaven" -- dull. Would most people really choose peace? Would they be bored? Would they prefert eh excitement of "hell"? If you go by movie choices, they sure would....

"Father" Steev said...

Doug Muder critically reviews books by Sam Harris and separately by Daniel Dennett, and proclaims glory with Reza Aslan's book. First of all, I must say that raised catholic, I have had my fill of god, and I no longer intentionally read god-based literature. Mr. Muder doesn't "get" Harris. Harris is trying to show the reader that religion has gone wrong. Muder takes offense to this because he is a UU. But Harris does not include UU in his definition of religion. Religion was created by man because of evolutional needs at the time (see: Richard Dawkins). Religion could evolve, into something like UU. Tolerance of religion is tricky. On the one hand, it permits UU the "inside track" to counter the RR (important). On the other hand, it serves to legitimitize religion, which is mythos gone pathos. One sometimes must sleep with the enemy in order to convert him; I suggest keeping one eye open.
"Father" Steev
http://thechurchofsteev.tripod.com/
PS. great blog, Doug - maybe I can find the time to read it all someday!

The Emerson Avenger said...

Well I hate to have to say so Kim but I have seen plenty of passionate hatred, punishment and self-righteousness of U*Us. . .

kim said...

You "hate to say so"???!!!??? I don't think so....You don't sound like you hate saying that at all.

Steev -- I used to know someone else who spelled it Steev too.

Anonymous said...

"Common Sense"
And if'n you aren't sure what it is, ask me. If'n we all just acxted with CS, we would be better off. Let's see: someone cuts you off in the holiday traffic. Should you call 911 and report an agressive driver? should you flash him and beep your horn? should you speed up and attempt to cut him off? Or, just maybe he has his own problems and is doing the best he can... this hiliday season, lets all try to stop, take a deep breath, and think (not WWJD) what would Father Steev do?
thechurchofsteev.org

Anonymous said...

Peace?

SPAM wonderful SPAM!

In light of UUA President Rev. William G. Sinkford's Holiday Message of December 13th, 2006 the following email was just sent to UUA President William G. Sinkford aka Rev. Bill Sinkford by Robin Edgar aka The Emerson Avenger. It will be most interesting to see how President Sinkford responds to it or indeed *if* President Sinkford responds to it.


Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 19:44:19 -0500 (EST)
From: "Robin Edgar" robinedgar59@yahoo.ca
Subject: An Invitation To Dedicate Yourself To Waging Peace With Me In 2007
To: "Bill Sinkford" bsinkford@uua.org, "William Sinkford" wsinkford@uua.org
CC: AllOtherUUs@UUworld.org

Dear President Sinkford,

You And All Other Unitarian Universalists aka UUs Are Cordially Invited To Dedicate Yourselves To Waging Peace With Me In 2007

Sincerely,

Robin Edgar


R.S.V.P.*












* Répondez s’il vous plaît