From the Minister, Thu Feb 8

“All you need is love,” said the Beatles. Is this true? From an ethical and moral standpoint, will love alone guide us to do the right thing? Or do we also need something else -- a set of moral principles independent of love?

When deciding what to do, we take in the details of the situation, the reasons present in the case. Maybe we take in only a few “most relevant” factors and ignore the rest, or maybe we are attentive to a lot of factors, unsure of which ones are, or should be, relevant. The factors, as we interpret them, provide us with reasons – some factors constitute reasons to do X, some are reasons to do Y, some to do Z.

When those details – the reasons present in the case -- are seen in the light of love, including love for ourselves, then we are guided to respond in compassion and care. Empirically, human beings do not, by and large, follow principles much – though we are quite skilled at coming up with after-the-fact rationalizations that invoke principles. Some communities do more talking about principles and declaring allegiance to them than other communities, but studies find that this doesn’t seem to make much difference to whether people actually follow the principles. What does make a difference is love – caring about the people that will be affected by your decision.

We Unitarian Universalists have some principles: all people (or beings) have inherent worth and dignity; we are all part of an interdependent web of existence that we ought to respect; the quest for truth and meaning should be free and responsible; etc. But the most crucial part is in the preamble: We “covenant to affirm and promote…” It’s the covenant – our commitment to be bound together in love – that is the necessary driving engine. This doesn’t mean the content of the principles is irrelevant: whenever Unitarian Universalists gather, our principles are among the reasons present in the case. Increasingly, as we internalize the Unitarian Universalist way of being, our seven principles are among the reasons present in every case our lives encounter. Other factors may have greater salience in some cases, but the principles are always in there.

In love,

Check These Out!
  • The Common Reads for 2017-18 (yes, there are TWO): HERE
  • See the Statement of Conscience, "Escalating Economic Inequity" HERE. (This version does not reflect the supported amendments.) Further amendments still to be considered are posted as comments to the post HERE. You can also add a comment to this post to propose an amendment.
  • On the Journey: the February issue explores Love. Pick up a copy at CUUC, or view it HERE.
Let's Chat

The TCC (Tuesday Coffee Chat) takes me to a coffee shop (almost) every Tuesday from 3-5pm -- for anyone who might find that a convenient way to get together with their minister.
  • Feb 6, 13, 20, 27: The TCC comes to Irvington! Black Cat Cafe, 45 W. Main St., Irvington.
  • Mar: Rye, Starbucks. Apr: Eastchester, Barnes and Noble
Drop by if you can! You can also make an appointment to see me at CUUC, or invite me to visit your home. Call Pam at the church office (914-946-1660) to schedule either.

New on The Liberal Pulpit

This week's posts include all three parts of the Jan 28 sermon, "Reduce Waste"
Index, with links, of past sermons: HERE.
Index, with links, of other reflections: HERE.

Practice of the Week

Turn Away from Mindless Living. We are collectively addicted to consumerism and the maintenance of our lifestyle. Even if we personally do not have the means to live lavishly, we are still affected by the cultural mindset that encourages maximum consumption. We have been addicted to petroleum, to junk food, to quick fixes, to big cars, to bigger houses, to easy credit, to throw-away products, and to overspending. READ MORE

Your Moment of Zen

Discouraged. Grouse has been bumming a bit -- feeling kind of down on herself. Raven is her teacher, but that doesn't mean Raven is always helpful. Sometimes not being helpful is itself the perfect teaching. Yeah. And sometimes not.

Grouse was looking rather moody one evening, and as the group was breaking up at the end of the meeting, Raven called to her, "Hey, Grouse! How's it going?"
"Oh," said Grouse, "I don't know. Sometimes I feel discouraged. Why is it that I'm taking so long to understand anything?"
Raven said, "Everybody takes the same length of time."
"There are folks who came after I did," said Grouse, shaking her head. "They ask intelligent questions and seem to be moving along in their practice while I just sit and sit and wonder what is going on."
Raven said, "They say the Buddha Macaw is still sitting somewhere and she's only halfway."
Grouse said, "That's not very encouraging."
Raven said, "Come to think of it, it's not."
Breath in, breath out.
Blood out arteries, back in veins.
Food in, poop out.
Sun rises, and sets.
Winter to summer to winter.
Births, and deaths.
Mountains rise, wash away.
Did you think all of this was going somewhere?
Did you think there was anywhere for it to go?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Previous Moment of Zen
Saturday Zen Practice at CUUC: HERE

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