Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Montessori and "liberal religion"?

All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church will recognize the Montessori School for Shreveport with its annual Ralph Waldo Emerson Award.

In the past that award has recognized "individuals or organizations in the wider Shreveport-Bossier community that best exemplifies the principles and practices of liberal religion." I'm not sure exactly what they mean by liberal religion, but recipients have included Sister Margaret McCaffery of Christian Services, Dr. Peter Huff of Centenary College, Shreveport civil rights attorney John Hodge and the Rev. Mack McCarter of Community Renewal International.

The Montessori school is not at all connected to any faith tradition but it does promote individuality, diversity, respect for children and the belief that “the path to world peace is through children.”

Head of the School, Angie Day will accepting the award at the 11 a.m. church service on Sunday, 9449 Ellerbe Road, Shreveport.


John said...

I wouldn't be flattered by this award, nor would I hope to ever get to the point that I would be considered.

From what I've studied of it, the UU church believes that a person can believe whatever he or she wants and still make it to "heaven". They are truly not set on any doctrine, as far as I can tell. The problem is that the Bible does have some doctrines that are non-negotiable, starting with the one that states Jesus Christ is THE only way. I'm not sure the UU can even admit that. Maybe some can, but I don't know if the leadership would.

Kathryn Usher said...

John -- you are very wrong about your statements about the Unitarian Universalist Church and you have deeply offended me and my religion. Additionally my feelings are hurt by your being so rude in your outright mean spiritedness. What would Jesus do? Not be mean like this.

I invite you to study UU more before you make such non-informed misstatements. Since I am on my way to work I will think over your comments so I can better craft a response.

In the meantime I leave you with the definition of liberal: not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views or dogmas; free from bigotry.

With this definition applied, in his day Jesus was truly a liberal.

Katee Blayne said...

In response to John's comment:

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

If you'd like to study more, please go to http://www.uua.org/visitors/. We actually have a Bible Study at All Souls that meets on Wednesdays, so we are aware of what the doctrines of the Bible state. Some of us just happen to disagree with it.

And by the way, good sir, how would you feel if someone attacked your belief system with mean-spirited falsehoods? It's not a very Christian thing to do at all. And may I say, I've never met a fellow UU who didn't strive follow Christ's teachings of love and tolerance, yet you have blatantly ignored both. Please educate yourself next time before you make such unfair, rude judgment.

Diane Haag said...

Kathryn, Katee -- Thanks for the clarifications and explanations. I found the Emerson award intereting since it had gone to so many people who are part of more conservative religious traditions and that the principles could also be found a secular setting.

John said...

Hi Kathryn and Katee:

I am sorry that my post came across as it did, but I certainly didn't post it with the "mean spirit" I am being accused of having. I posted it with the understanding I have of the UU beliefs. Nothing more, nothing less.

katee asked, "how would you feel if someone attacked your belief system with mean-spirited falsehoods? Well, I've had this done many, many times, katee, and my response is always the same: everyone is entitled to their opinion. But since I can take God's word and put my finger on what I have come to believe AND on what I have experienced (which is more than those who attack can usually say), their opinion doesn't sway me or make me angry. In the end, it's the Lord's opinion of me and whether I am in line with His word that matters, not their opinion....no matter what spirit they convey it with. :)

Which leads me to ask each of you:
1. Does the UU believe that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to heaven? What about each of you?
2. Would you tell someone they could make it to heaven without going through the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior?
3. Is the Bible the only authority the UU (and you) use in regards to doctrinal beliefs?

Thank you both. I pray this post does not come across as my first and that this will open up some discussion about the UU beliefs, if there are more that weren't listed. :)

John said...

I guess I don't get the courtesy of a response from either of the above?

Steve Caldwell said...

John asked the following questions about Unitarian Universalism:
"Which leads me to ask each of you:

1. Does the UU believe that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to heaven? What about each of you?

2. Would you tell someone they could make it to heaven without going through the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior?

3. Is the Bible the only authority the UU (and you) use in regards to doctrinal beliefs?


First, I need to say a disclaimer before I can answer any of your questions.

Unitarian Universalism as a denomination is the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism. Over time, Unitarianism and Universalism moved away from the literal meanings of the respective religious terms to become a non-creedal religious community.

Because we are non-creedal, we place a very strong emphasis on individual freedom of belief.

This is so important in our faith tradition that one of the few limits to our congregational polity is that our congregations cannot impose a creedal membership test.

Since we are non-creedal, we do not have a universal denominational belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven?

Speaking personally, I don't hold this belief either and I suspect that most other Unitarian Universalists do not hold this belief. However, I haven't met all Unitarian Universalists and there may be some who hold this belief as a personal article of faith.

Regarding your second question, I'll remind you about the non-creedal disclaimer mentioned above.

Personally, I believe that the heavens or hells that we experience ones that we create in this life. Salvatation is a matter of here and now -- not an afterlife concern.

Historically, the Universalist tradition originally started out as a belief that Jesus' sacrifice was for everyone. In the 1770s, the answer to your question would have been "yes."

By the 20th century, the salvation offered by Jesus moved away from his death on the cross to his ethical example about how we should live. And Jesus had moved from THE source of salvation to A source of salvation.

The Bible isn't the only source of religious authority for Unitarian Universalists. We formally acknowledge six sources that we draw religious inspiration and the Bible is one of those sources:

** Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.

** Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.

** Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life.

** Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

** Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.

** Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Finally, I would address a common misconception that Unitarian Universalists "can believe anything they want."

One of our religious duties is to engage in a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning." We are not totally free to believe whatever we want. We are constrained to be responsible and reasonable in our search for truth and meaning.