The 5 Jagged Rocks of Unitarian Universalism

Picture Yesterday, a colleague invited a question on the UU Evangelists Lab Facebook page, asking the group to share about our particular cultural context and how it shapes our core theological message.

Today, I have been preparing for a session with our youth group tomorrow morning, where we will be telling the story of David and Goliath(based on 1 Samuel 17), particularly emphasizing the 5 smooth stonesthat David carries with him, and which give him the confidence that he can defeat the fabled warrior (and that Unitarian theologian and ethicist James Luther Adams used as a central image in his essay, “Guiding Principles for a Free Faith”).

This story and session will set up the next few months of conversations around our Unitarian Universalist smooth stones and what we in theMountain Desert District call our Jagged Rocks – that is, what we believe are our saving tools and messages.  While David brought with him smooth stones, we have evolved this idea to recognize a faith that is dangerous and not always smooth-going – and to lift up how our tools must always be contextual and particular, even while they are rooted in our tradition.

In order to fully engage the question posed on the Evangelists Lab, or the questions with the youth tomorrow, we have to start by thinking about the particular struggles and challenges our community faces – those things which threaten abundant life in our particular time and place. Who or what are our Goliaths today? And then we can think about what tools give us the assurance that we will not be defeated….What are our jagged rocks or smooth stones?

These are the questions I will invite the youth tomorrow to answer – and then we’ll turn to consider what saving messages their faith community has offered them that could adequately address these threats.  What would your answers be? Who or what are our Goliaths today? And how would you describe the saving tools, values or messages that assure you of their defeat? I’ll share my own answers as well as some of what the youth came up with in future blog posts.

Picture5 Smooth Stones (James Luther Adams)

  • Truth is ever unfolding – revelation is not sealed.
  • We freely choose to enter in relationship.
  • We are morally obligated to work towards justice.
  • Good things don’t just happen – people make them happen.
  • We have what we need to bring about meaningful change – we can be hopeful.

5 Jagged Rocks (Originated w/Rev. Nancy Bowen; evolving through collegial conversation in the MDD)

  1. Truth is ever unfolding – revelation is not sealed.  We all hold a piece of the truth.
  2. We are made whole through relationships of trust and accountability.
  3. All are inherently worthy of love and belonging.
  4. Life’s beautiful diversity is held in a mysterious unity.
  5. We are called to be and become the Beloved Community, which we create through the practice of and partnership with the transformative power of courageous love.

About Rev. Gretchen Haley

Gretchen Haley serves as the Senior Minister of the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, CO. She's relentlessly curious about most things, especially the big stuff of theology, the beauty of creation and poetry, the magic of collaboration, and the great joy and often-great-depth of popular (and less popular) television and music. She and her partner of 17 years, Carri, have 2 children, Gracie (10) and Josef (8).
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