OUR Covenant and The City

Like rivers from places near and far, we come together again. And we do this as Unitarian Universalists, meaning that we are atheists and we are theists in community together. We are atheists and theists and Buddhists and Pagans and Jews and Christians and New Agers and star-bellied Sneetches and plain-bellied Sneetches and I-don’t-know-what-I-am-but-I–know-what-I-don’t-like and on and on and on. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of our diversity….

Whaaaat? says most of humanity. Whaaaat?

How does it all hang together? How does anything get done?

The answer is: our covenant. It’s one of our Unitarian Universalist essentials. It says that we belong together not because we all believe the same things but because we all promise to treat each other with respect, and when we fall short, we say we’re sorry and do better next time. Thinking alike is not the point, but loving alike is.

Some time today or this week, read through our UUCA Covenant of Healthy Relationships, which is one of the inserts in your order of service. Ask yourself, what parts really speak to me? What parts do I really want to do better with, this year?

These are timely questions to be asking ourselves, especially with the advent of the City. They say that technology is a force multiplier, and that’s exactly so with the City: a form of communication technology that will enable greater richness and interactivity in our large community, and we want to use this force-multiplying power well….

As wonderful as it is, there have been some concerns raised. The creators of the City are conservative evangelical Christians, and while we have tried to adjust it to fit our more liberal context, still, sometimes you might bump up against language that will feel uncomfortable. Perhaps the most uncomfortable thing of all is how, when you register, the software gives you only two gender choices, male and female—even though we know there’s way more than that. Facebook offers 58 choices. The software is just not tracking reality, and this does not feel good. We’ve asked them to change it, and they can’t—it’s hardwired in.

I’m saying all this in the spirit of our congregational covenant that asks us to (1) seek to understand the perspectives and opinions of others, and to (2) check the accuracy of our perceptions and assumptions….

So why use the City? Well, the other comparable software alternatives—and trust me, we’ve reviewed them all—will not give us the OOMPH we’re looking for. Fact is, it’s the evangelical Christians who are creating church-related cutting-edge technologies. They have big numbers behind then; they have big money. If we want to be cutting edge, (and we do) we just can’t avoid the technologies they’re churning out. We can’t stay hermetically sealed off. To do that is shooting ourselves in the foot.

That’s the reality we find ourselves in.

So I want to suggest a way of reframing this that can make things feel better. Essentially, I want to ask, What if we Unitarian Universalists had a big enough presence in the world that WE were the ones with the big numbers and big money creating the cutting edge technologies? What if it was OUR inclusive spiritual language out there and our vision of reality that says God creates people in way more than just two genders and that’s beautiful? What if THAT was what reality looked like?

I think that when you sign up and it asks you, WHICH GENDER ARE YOU MALE OR FEMALE, we should all identify as female. A small gesture of protest. I mean, do what you like, but if that forced gender polarity of female or male bugs you like it does me, protest.

Living in the City WILL bring great things to UUCA. Despite the downside, I firmly believe that the upside is amazing enough to justify us proceeding. So, as you start living in the city, if you bump up against language that feels uncomfortable, or anything else that feels way too conservative, take your sense of discomfort and channel it into passion for growing Unitarian Universalism so that it’s a bigger force in this world. It starts here, with UUCA. Increase your pledge. Volunteer. Support how we are trying to extend our influence in the world. There’s a saying that goes, “When you were born in a world you don’t fit in, it’s because you were born to help create a new one.” People, that’s a mission statement. Let’s help create a new world. You and me.

Now, let’s listen to a word from our youth: