Monday, October 10, 2016

To Grow Deeper and to Have a Wider Influence

To Grow Deeper and to Have a Wider Influence....

Unitarian Universalists must strengthen the covenant between them: to feel more responsible for each other, to expect more from each other, to offer each other more of our hearts and hands, and to be vulnerable to each other. 

To be in covenant, people must see themselves as a people.
To see themselves as a people, they need a story they share.

To have a story, they need storytellers. 

2 comments:

Beverly Boke said...

There must be more to this train of thought. Such as, who are the storytellers? What are the stories?

Peter Newport said...

Couldn't agree with you more, but I don't think that most UUs understand the concept.

We are (human beings) careless with promises; cautious with contracts and clueless about covenants. Most UUs wouldn't know a covenant if they tripped over one.

Covenants, unlike the other two variations are made with god who is self-constrained to be always faithful, in her/his fashion. Neither contracts nor promises offer that advantage, and in fact are drawn to protect either party from infidelity by the other. In a covenant, the "blessings and curses" inure only to the subject party. God makes covenants with humans, and holds them accountable, not the other way around.

So I guess I'm not clear about how covenant is supposed to work among UUs, many of whom cringe, a testament to their privilege, at any notion of accountability to one another; to their congregations; to "the least among" us; to god, or whatever. Who among us is really ready, In Winthrops words, "...to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others' necessities", that we might not be false to god?

Now, to be sure, my quibble is mostly about poorly defined language. The idea of covenant is very powerful. But one would be well advised not to construe the happy-slappy relationships that arise among a group of "like minded" individuals in a congregation as evidence of an operative covenant. Sooner or later, they will disappoint you and you will disappoint them. God doesn't disappoint. That's the difference.

Nor do I believe that a story all by itself forms a covenant. A story is a signifier, not the signified. A story can be about a covenant: how it was made; observed; broken; redeemed; forgotten; redacted; renegotiated, even. Then it might become a scripture.

At least that's how it seems to me. I'm looking forward to your further thoughts. How do we covenant among congregations? across generations? Keeping unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. All worthy topics, largely unexplored. More words are probably not going to cut it.

We would seem to require deeds of love.