This week Maureen Fiedler, host and creator of the public radio program Interfaith Voices, attempted to probe the heart of Unitarian Universalism – which is no small task given the 30-minute interview format. Her guests were two UU ministers – Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, a practicing Hindu who was recently named senior minister of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Maryland, and Rob Hardies, senior minister of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C. While the interview goes some distance toward answering the question of what happens when you extract dogma, doctrine and even (for some) a belief in God from religion, the host’s choice of language in her introduction as well as the framing of some of her questions left me unsettled. Her introduction (which was – oh joy – uttered again after a commercial break) describes UUism as “a movement… a kind of experiment” into what happens when you remove doctrine and creeds from religion – she never once clearly framed Unitarian Universalism as a religion or faith tradition in its own right. She also described UU’s common search for meaning and spiritual truth as “truth with a lower-case ‘t'” – I have no idea what she meant by that and wondered why neither of the interviewee’s took the opportunity to help clarify. Both ministers were articulate and represented our tradition beautifully – the interview is well worth the listen . . . I know, I should be celebrating this UU moment in the spotlight – I’m just left puzzled and disappointed that Unitarian Universalism was allowed to be depicted as an “experiment” aiming for small “t” truth.
2 thoughts on “No creed, no God, no problem (?)”
Dawn, this is great. I suspect by “small t,” they mean that UU’s don’t allow the sort of final answers that creeds allow. Did the ministers frame it as a tradition with its own institutions, etc?
The ministers did a fine job . . . it was the host’s framing that bugged me. Perhaps you’re right about the intention with the small “t” comment. She should have clarified what she meant by the term. It made us seem shallow, like we don’t wrestle with the big questions.