Sunday, January 15, 2017

Seven principles for inauguration week

My favorite lapel pin, still worn now and then, is a stylized version of this rose window, installed during 1961 in the meeting house chancel of First Unitarian Universalist Society, Syracuse, New York. It incorporates symbols that point to religious traditions that have been sources of inspiration --- and more than a little dissension --- during the course of human history.

You'll find the cross of Christianity, which also can be seen as a tree of life; the mystic rose, also a Christian symbol; the wheel of doctrine of Buddhism; the lotus of Hinduism; the menorah of Judaism; the sacred shield of Islam; a yin-yang representation of Taoism; and the Confucian double ladder of joy. The book represents revelations of the past; the torch, ongoing revelation as new truths become evident, including those that rise outside religious traditions, certainly those made evident by science.

The window --- and the pin --- are useful reminder of diversity and I use the symbolism to remind myself that whatever positive threads may be found in my own Christian tradition are present, too, in all of these other great religions. None have any basis for claims to be channels of exclusive truth.

The pin and its symbolism came to mind as I was poking around for something to post this morning that would be appropriate for inauguration week, during which a new president takes the oath of office. It's likely that these will be very contentious years and we'll need all the accumulated wisdom we can find to get through them safely.

The various creeds are inappropriate because they're all about right belief --- and not right action. And James, traditionally considered to be the brother of Jesus, pointed out in his epistle that faith without works --- right action --- is a dead and useless thing.

So I went back to my Unitarian Universalist friends for the following: The seven principles that, in lieu of a "right-belief" creed, are looked upon as essential to a "right-living" faith. 

1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Remove the "congregation" references and you have the necessary underpinnings for the week ahead and the work ahead.

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