What a great and engaging conversation we had at the Counterweight Values class last Wednesday. I am so grateful to those who were there and so enlivened by the conversation that I wanted to write about it this week for this blog.
The conversation we had was about covenant and we spoke about the different agreements that hold us together as a community. These include our mission statement, our Make It So goals, our Covenant of Right Relationship, our Safe Congregations practices, to name a few.
Because we are not a creedal faith – i.e. you don’t have to recite or believe a statement of belief to be among us—our covenants, or agreements about HOW we are together become, as one UUA posting puts it, “the silk” which binds us together. We had such a rich conversation about how this can be scary and remind people of religious dogma in other traditions. Yet two differences remain—dogma is about what you believe and while our beliefs are framed within the Unitarian and Universalist legacies, they are not a dogma or a creed. And rules handed down by a centralized religious authority rather than developed through our democratic process are not the same thing. A covenant implies a mutual development and that is why a covenantal tradition is so precious.
(This does not take away the difficulty of engaging when we are not all on the same page. We will be talking about the difficulties of a prophetic tradition at the next class on February 20. Please come and join us!)
For some all these ways of thinking about how we continue as a community while understanding and bridging our differences might seem odious. For me they are so important because we live in a time in which people are so divided and are avoiding conflict through trial by social media, by disengagement from anyone who thinks differently from them and by villainizing others. To have to step into the deep space of healthy conflict and mutual engagement is very important and I am grateful to all of you who have chosen to do so and have been part of this mutual exploration.
Engagement together is how we grow together in religious community.