Our Principles as a House of Love

Our Principles as a House of Love

Karen G. Johnston

The following is written for two voices, but this Time for All Ages can be done in one or more voices.

Voice One: Did you know that LOVE is a really big deal in Unitarian Universalism? I bet you did. Because we just can’t stop talking about it.

Voice Two: Love this. Side with Love of that. Justice is what LOVE looks like in public. (We weren’t the first ones to say that. Dr. Cornel West was. But we love it so much that we sing it back to him and the universe all the time!)

Voice One: There was once a scientist guy who asked all kinds of people, not just Unitarian Universalists, what they thought of love and how important it was for them. His name was Robert Miller. It turns out that of all the groups he studied, whether religious or not, UUs rank LOVE as a core value more so than others do.

Voice Two: I guess LOVE really is a big deal for UUs.

Voice One: I want you to remember that because we are going to come back to that.

Voice Two: Another big deal in Unitarian Universalism is our Principles. They are a big part of our covenant with each other.

Voice One: We know they are a big deal because we have so many ways to talk about them to make sure all the different brains and bodies and ages understand them. There’s this way, which is really a list in English.

Voice Two: And this way, which is the list in Spanish!

Voice One: You can even see our Principles in languages like Arabic and Thai.

Voice Two: And there’s this way, which is in language for kids.

Voice One: And there’s this cool Principles wheel, by Reverends Ian Riddell and Kimberley Debus, which shows a not a linear way to think about the relationships between the different principles.

BOTH: SO MANY WAYS!

Voice Two: All of these ways are focused on the Seven Principles. When Unitarian Universalism first came into being in 1961, there were only six Principles. Our seventh Principle was proposed in 1985 and added in 1987.

One way to imagine our Principles was originally suggested by Reverend Barbara Wells ten Hove. It’s called a keystone arch (PDF). This is like a doorway through which we enter into what this faith calls us towards.

Voice One: It’s kind of cool because the 4th Principle – the free AND responsible search for truth and meaning is at the center, holding together the space for us to balance between each individual’s inherent worth and the needs of the great community of which we are a part. But do doorways or archways ever exist all by themselves, just floating in air?

Voice Two: Not really, right? They are usually stabilized on the ground, a part of a larger building or structure.

Voice One: So maybe there is a Principle that is still missing?

Voice Two: Just like we figured out 35 years ago when we decided that the 7th principle was missing. Maybe the missing Principle is the ground upon which the doorway is built?

Voice One: Maybe it’s the whole House of Love we are always trying to create for ourselves, each other, and the world?

Voice Two: Maybe, if we add an 8th Principle, we will get closer to the BeLOVEd Community we dream about, where there is no oppression of any kind, where we can say Black Lives Matter, but we don’t have to, because they already do.

BOTH: I want to be a part of building this House of Love. Do you?

Citation: Robert Miller, “Religious Value System of Unitarian Universalists,” Review of Religious Research, vol. 17, no. 3 (1976): 189-208, noted in Engaging Our Theological Diversity (PDF).