One of the things I learned about myself many years ago was that there are certain things about how I see and understand the world that are central to who I am. I imagine there are things like this in your life that you know about yourself, too. Things about how each of us believes and how we act in the world. Frames that guide our decision making and our understanding of the most basic issues of our lives. Right and wrong. Good and evil. The question of where we turn to for answers is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the fundamental religious questions that bring us into community to seek both guidance and reminders of what we know already, but all too easily forget.

 

For me it’s clear that while the marketplace, the economic sphere in which we live our lives, offers useful resources, it isn’t sufficient. The answers that make another person wealthy are always at risk of being offered not as answers because they are good for me or for you, but because someone else benefits from convincing us that they are good for me or for you.

 

Similarly, while it’s clear to me that there is a place for religious engagement, it’s also clear that extraordinary claims call on extraordinary evidence. And in our western cultural heritage that arrives from Europe, being religious has often been understood to be about assenting to extraordinary claims, without commensurately extraordinary evidence. Claims of special revelations given only to one small group of people in one time, long ago, but to be accepted as true.

 

That’s not me, either. And yet, I’m a minister.

 

I long ago realized that I could only ever be a minister, likely only ever be religious by being a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation. Because our tradition has always, since day one, been one where reason has been seen as central, not antithetical, to what it means to be religious. There just aren’t many places like that.

 

Places that ask and seek answers to the big questions without a vested financial interest in the outcome. Places that value the gifts of the mind as tools to fuller, more human living. And that, my friends, is what humanism is about. And ours is a church where humanism lives.
Right in our list of sources you’ll find our fifth source- “Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;”
I hope you’ll join me in August, where each Sunday we’ll be digging deep into how it is possible that humanism came to find a home in our tradition, and what it’s teachings hold for us in our living for times such as this.