In a living tradition like Unitarian Universalism, there are many sources that influence our spirituality, theology and way of living into our faith. The “Six Sources” try to capture, as concisely as possible, these influences.
We reflected on the first source, “Mystery and Wonder,” in November. For January let’s consider the second source: “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.”
Let’s go with “Prophecy” or “Prophetic Words and Deeds” for our Faith Development Theme for January.
Consider the heroes who challenge and inspire you… Remember that the role of prophet is not restricted to those vetted for the position, but to those who speak truth. Prophets can certainly religious leaders, but also poets, family members, social justice advocates, artists, etc.
It bears note that the 2nd Source is the only place in our Principles or Sources that “evil” is directly mentioned. This is very important, for while our faith is not so naïve or optimistic to pretend there is no such thing as evil, we rarely speak directly to it. I think this is because like the word “god”, “evil” can be a complex word used heavily in other religious traditions with various meanings and references.
I have many times been asked, “What do UUs believe about evil?” or “How do UUs answer the problem of evil?” Here is my answer: Capacity for evil is a potential we all have. It is tragically part of our struggle and existence as human beings. We live our faith by working to live into our best selves, and by “confronting powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.”
What prophetic words and deeds challenge and inspire you in this work?
Here’s some resources to consider:
– The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
– “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” — Fred Rogers
–“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
– “We cannot understand the moral Universe. The arc is a long one, and our eyes reach but a little way; we cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; but we can divine it by conscience, and we surely know that it bends toward justice.” –Theodore Parker, Unitarian Minister & Transcendentalist, 1871
–“Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really…. Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn’t care as long as it’s not personally inconvenienced.” –Jake Thoene, Shaiton’s Fire
– “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” ―Helen Keller
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” –Friedrich Nietzche, Beyond Good and Evil
Yours in faith, Michelle