Monday, September 01, 2008

Please, say it ain't so...

A pdf of the Principles, revised, has been released through Scott Wells. You can find that blog post and pdf here, at Scott's blog.

I've read the pdf once, and am referring back... but my initial reaction is one of disappointment.

Our principles (and related predecessor documents for the Unitarians and Universalists both) have been open to significant revision in the past, both as called for in bylaws and when the spirit moved. Given the effort put into this project by the CoA, I had expected (and heard things that led me to expect) significant revisions and changes--in reaction to the comments and criticisms that had been heard and collected.

What we got was some very slight editing (very) and a bunch of explication of the principles.

Nothing in the new material (or the editing) appears to even attempt to address the very serious critique of "inherent" in inherent worth and dignity of every person. Yet I heard it raised in my home congregation from a life-long, third-generation UU on philosophical, moral and practical grounds as well as reading Bill Schulz's blistering critique in UU World. (I also got to hear him, in person, dismantle the argument for inherency and found it devastatingly persuasive--and haven't seen anyone put up any counter-argument other than that it's a historical nod to universalism... which (historical nod) is thin stuff as far as arguing for a moral statement.)

Nothing makes this appreciably more inspirational--I doubt that this will increase the number of UUs who want the principles read to them on their deathbeds by even 1/10th of 1 percent. The language of the principles wasn't poetic, still isn't, and the explication certainly isn't. It reads like the output of a committee.

Nothing is new. This is warmed over leftovers. This is not a bold statement, reframing UU principles in new and insightful ways nor does it boldly assert a new vision of a farther horizon of the faith.

At the moment I'd urge a vote against, simply on the grounds that we should not indulge in deluding ourselves that this revision is.. well... a revision. The General Assembly's time in Salt Lake (and beyond) would be better spent on other matters. Just declare this a false start. Let others try again.


ScottMGS said...

Ogre, did you ever get a chance to read the related essays in _Reverend X_?

ogre said...

Nope, not yet. It's still on the coffee table at home. I was busy plowing through 17th and 19th century stuff... and writing... and will be for some time to come.

Why? What did the Rev. X essays say (to you) about this?

Robin Edgar said...

Meet the new PPs, same as the old PPs.

Sort of. . .

Looks like some may even have been watered down or otherwise compromised.

That being said, I personally think that the basic principles of any religion should be fundamental principles and ideals that can stand the test of time and do not require being revised and changed every decade or two. Imagine if Judaism or Christianity revised and changed the Ten Commandments every few decades. . . So I think your desire for, or expectation of, a "bold statement, reframing UU principles in new and insightful ways" or boldly asserting "a new vision of a farther horizon of the faith" is a bit misplaced.

ScottMGS said...

Well, I'd have to revisit the book. Maybe I can get L. to bring it back for me.