This past week in the April newsletter, I posted the following, discussing how this time of putting our whole lives online will prove to be a valuable period to see what other faith traditions are doing:
“…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.”
Among the six sources of inspiration described by the Unitarian Universalist Association for our shared living tradition are the words above. The role of the world’s religions has become a hallmark of what differentiates the UU tradition from other religious traditions in America. Who else prizes ALL of the religious traditions that we can possibly learn from, and makes learning about them and understanding them PART of exploring our spiritual lives? As much as humanistic learning and the emphasis on human dignity, the interconnected web and our work toward a just world, UU spirituality is built around the idea of learning from the spiritualities of other religious traditions.
The difficulty, though, is that we can’t always just join these traditions or observe them whenever we like. I wish we lived in a world where our communities were more connected and interconnected. But the reality is that it is difficult to engage with other religious traditions because religious difference is still a very real part of our world. I have hoped to build programs (and will continue to do so!) that would allow UUs to visit different religious communities and meet those who make them up. But it’s tricky to organize because it takes a long time to build relationships and trust that allows that kind of shared intimacy among religious communities, which of course is also why it is important work to do.
And yet, here we are in the midst of a global and paradigm shifting pandemic that has completely changed how people interact with one another and how institutions of all kinds serve people. Simply put, this new state of affairs has changed the game entirely. There has never been a better time to learn about other faiths, to participate in the worship and spiritual practices of other faiths and to learn about communities that are not your own than right now. Because religious communities of various kinds are ALL trying to figure out a world where the technologies that we’ve created can serve the spiritualities that we have been fostering for millennia by being in physical presence of one another, connecting and creating community.
I’ve put together the beginnings of an online resource for finding resources from communities that are currently meeting online or who have brought digital resources online that are worth exploring. Of course, not all traditions worship in the same way, and some do not have mechanisms to allow online worship in the sense that others do. Still, there is much to learn, and now is a perfect time to do it!