I was reading this long and rambly but really interesting monologue from a former First U of Rochester interim minister and decided she had a good recommendation. I have generally tried not to write too much about my beliefs on here for a variety of reasons, so I’m nervous about sharing them now. Nonetheless, I hope you will find them somewhat interesting to consider at least.
What follows are some various thoughts I think about big important topics Unitarian Universalism has led me to decide about for myself. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!
I think I’m usually pretty happy to talk with people about what they believe, as long as we are both clear on respecting where the other currently is in their beliefs. I’m often afraid to talk about my own beliefs because they are often misunderstood and attacked, but I’m very curious to learn about others’ beliefs even when sometimes they end up being inadvertently hurtful to me. I want to help people learn what they believe, and nurture them to find the most meaningful, loving beliefs for themselves. I want the phrase “love radically” to apply to this part of my life, but it often ends up getting me hurt by people I care about.
To me, people who don’t believe in a force beyond what we see, and don’t see a wonder and magic in the universe beyond what we understand, are uninspired and lack an ability to dream. They value pragmatism over poetry. That’s generally okay though, we are all people and plenty of people don’t think what I believe is the best way themselves. However, I’ve felt attacked when my beliefs are devalued (considering that I try not to push my beliefs on other people) because I prefer a world with unseen magic. But I suspect the atheists are probably right in the end, that our world just runs on science.
I believe a sense of spiritual connection and wonder is important to each human, regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof, to make us more conscious of those around us, more compassionate, more humble, and more inspired. The more lacking we are in these two things, I think, the more arrogant and divisive we risk becoming. The world is a pretty crazy wondrous place and deserves acknowledgement for that.
I believe people I disagree with are okay people too. Those who commit atrocities and genocide should feel the guilt according to the scale of what they’ve done, but there is no Hell. I would like to believe in a world where even bad people are loved and welcomed by a god that understands their pain, but I think at this point in my life I’m coming to the conclusion that this might be too naive for me to be comfortable with. I don’t want to believe they might get away with being insensible to their guilt.
I think killing can occasionally be justified. When the suffering outweighs the value of the life – perhaps in the case of a terminal illness. Or if it would end a genocide. I want to avoid humans damning each other too much though, because it’s not humanity’s place. An omnipotent, loving god as many people believe in, would know how to deal with wrongdoers most fairly and lovingly, the way a good parent can correct a child with love, and ideas like Hell and human judgement have no place in that, no more than domestic violence would be something God would condone.
I believe in secular prophets, divine only in the sense that they have been inspired to great wisdom that moved the human race forward. To me, Jesus was probably just as human and just as divine as Gandhi or any other great person in history who preached loving change and wisdom. I don’t believe these people were “sent” to us, but that they were regular people who received wisdom and ability to affect positive change beyond what most humans manage in their lifetimes. I think that to honor them as divine is perhaps a sort of idolatry and passes over their humanity – the idea that any of us can rise to their level. But it’s a good idea to learn from any wise person, so it’s not bad to follow prophets as divine as long as one is loving, and not closeminded, about it.
I believe in a metaphysical influence on our lives, whether an anthropomorphic higher power or just a connecting love that runs through the universe. “God” is the term we use to put a face on this metaphysical force, a more familiar anthropomorphization. I prefer “goddess” as a reflection of the way we are nurtured by the world around us, the way the world around us gives birth to amazing things, and the desire for a mother figure in the position of higher power. I also like the term goddess as a reminder of a much longer tradition of worship styles than our modern Judeochristian views. Earth-based religions have a lot of appeal for me because of the way they touch on very old roots of belief, and seem to place less emphasis on fighting over who’s right about beliefs. And I find a calendar of holidays based around astronomical phenomena more meaningful than one based around arbitrary days decided by mythology.
Love and connection bring us closer to a higher spiritual plane. The more connected we are to our world and community through love, the more a part of the flow of the universe we become. The more we work for change to love and nurture other people, the more nurtured we will be, metaphysically.
I find it comforting to believe in “a better land” beyond death, or the ability to join in a flow of loving energy beyond death. I think when we die we probably realistically just stop and decay thanks to worms – but as with most of my beliefs, I find it “makes life more bearable” to subscribe to some non-scientific ideas. When faced with death of someone I care about, I prefer to think that what made them them, went to a better place, and will continue to nurture the universe for the rest of time. Perhaps even if this is just their atoms returning to be recycled into stars. My beliefs might fluctuate a lot…
As part of that, I think an important part of death is to be returned to the Earth in some way, preferably in a symbolically significant way. I think symbolic traditions, rituals, and myths are important because of their role in joining us to the flow of humanity, and by extension, the universe.
I hope that when I die, I can say “nothing left to do.” Not so much because I will have run out of things I’m working on necessarily, but because I will have done all I “needed” to do in my life, and it will be others’ turns next.
I don’t really believe in “the answer” – I think even physics will only ever lead to more questions. Life would be boring without more questions and mystery and wonder. I do kind of like the idea of some dude at the end telling us who was right in their beliefs and patting them on the back though – but never sitting in judgement on our spiritual beliefs or lack thereof. It’s mostly because it’d be nice to know what “the answer” was once you’re dead, or something. Yeah I’m a little conflicted about my beliefs, but Unitarian Universalists are allowed…
I don’t really like the idea of being nothing more than a biological machine: I choose to believe we have something special inside of us, whether it’s a soul or something else. I don’t know that I make a big deal about “souls,” but the spark of life is something important and sacred, and makes each of us who we are rather than just a biological machine.
So I think those are some highlights of my beliefs. They’re a little vague and fluid, but that probably covers the main things that stay fairly consistent.