A Living Tradition for the Curious

by Robin Mitzcavitch, Director of Religious Exploration

I have mixed feelings regarding the titles of those popular books which claim to impart knowledge “for dummies.” However, I’ve read more than one. The most recent was “Mythology for Dummies.” Perhaps if I had a choice in what to title this book, it would be more like “Mythology for the Curious.”  

Often, to be curious and to get to know a subject matter a little better, it seems daunting to read through a textbook, a history, or an original draft of an amendment or a study. I understand the popularity of books “for dummies,” Wikipedia, and random Google searches. Who has all that luxurious reading time? For me, it’s refreshing to satisfy my curiosity and growing knowledge by reading or listening to information that is simply stated and relatable. If I’m intrigued, then I’ll go further and deeper into my study.

This past Sunday was “Potpourri Sunday.” These Sundays are times where we give opportunities for our congregants to be curious about programs and initiatives which our community supports like outreach, music, Religious Exploration, and fellowship. 

The Religious Exploration classes are focused on the theme of pluralism this month, so the Potpourri Sunday experience in RE was also based on this theme. I understood that people may not be clamoring to be a part of this class. To learn more about pluralism was not going to be a sell-out event. Alas, I did have a decent sized, multi-generational group join me. I hope that the way we explored pluralism was enjoyable. We acted out a tale and did an “altar building” activity to help the word “pluralism” come alive with relatable meaning.

            Pluralism:  a situation in which people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., are together in a society but continue to have their different traditions and interests. 

  • To see many views as parts of a whole.
  • To honor our differences and learn from one another.

For me, a person of the Unitarian Universalist faith community and inhabitant of this earth; I believe that everything that I do needs to be pluralistic. 

Speaking of curiosity and pluralism, the UUA’s Article II Study Commission process has been ongoing for the past 2 years and a final proposal has been offered and will go to General Assembly 2024 for voting. Religious educators have been tasked with trying to make this study and the reasons behind it relatable to children. If you take a look at the many pages on the UUA website devoted to the work of the commission, it’s easy to see the need to break things down and simplify.

For instance, let’s answer this curiosity: Why is our faith considering changing our 7 or 8 principles to 7 new values?  

The answer to that can be put simply: Since we are a living tradition, we believe our guiding values/principles must change so we can best serve a changing world.

Our religion is doing something really cool right now. Every 15 years or so, we challenge ourselves to review and possibly change our guiding values, which are currently the 7 Principles. We all love our 7 Principles, so you might be wondering why we would ever want to change them. The times we live in are always changing. The world of 15 years ago is different from the world we live in today. And in order to best address the challenges and opportunities of today’s world, we need to make sure we are picking out and “putting on” the values that “fit” this new world the best.”       

~Soul Matters RE

What are these proposed values?

Justice –  Use our voices to end racism and oppression and allow all to thrive. 

Equity – Value every person and make space for them to thrive. 

Transformation – Grow and change as the world changes. 

*Pluralism – Honor our differences and learn from one another. 

Interdependence – Revere the earth and all beings and treat them with care. 

Generosity – Be grateful and share freely with one another. 

How do we remember these values? I’m not going to tell you to read “A Living Tradition for the Curious,” but I am going to share an image which a very clever person came up with to help folks remember. Seeing this image was the best way I came to remember the proposed values. So, I know it works! Let me introduce you to JETPIG.

Now you’ll never forget.

Let us grow together, accept change, hold each other up, honor differences, and always be curious.

Always Learning,