Theological diversity

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By The Staff

“Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion has more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” The Dalai Lama

Below is a sampling of The Golden Rule, or Ethic of Reciprocity, as expressed in several different religions.

•Baha’ii: “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.” Baha’ul’lah

•Christianity: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

•Confucianism: “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you” Analects 15:23

•Ancient Egyptian: “Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do.” Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, Original dates — 1970 to 1640 BCE

•Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517

•Humanism: “Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity.”

•Islam: “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.”

•Jainism: “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.” Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

•Judaism: “...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”, Leviticus 19:18

•Native American Spirituality: “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself.” Pima proverb.

•Yoruba: (Nigeria): “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.”

Unitarian Universalists do not have a single statement/proverb/verse that expresses this common idea. Rather, as UU’s respond to the call of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) Principles: “to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person; the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all” and to promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; they join other religions in pursuing these goals.

With our shared belief that no one culture or people or religion has the whole Truth, the Las Vegas area UU group is running a series of discussions on various religions. In order to respect the range of religions operating in today’s world, we must first understand them. We have heard programs about Sufism, Baha’ii, Islam and Buddhism. Sunday, April 13, Sandy Poppers will speak about Taoism. Scheduled programs in this series of interfaith understanding include Gnosticism, Judaism, Shamanism, the Society of Friends, Mormonism, and Hinduism. We continue to seek presenters in other belief systems/faiths. We meet at Faith Hall, St. Paul’s Peace Church, Eighth and National at 4 pm. All are invited and welcome to attend.

UU’s are in a unique position to embrace theological diversity because we respect the right to pursue one’s individual (unique) spiritual path. We can be a bridge of common values to increase interfaith work on building solutions to global crises. We can be a bridge of hospitality that can create wholeness in our communities. We can be a bridge of shared humanity that will disperse forever “the other” and leave only “us.”

UU’s are often accused of selecting beliefs from other faiths ee. like picking appetizers from a menu at the World Religions Restaurant. There are also those who misunderstand our faith to the point of saying “As a UU, you can believe anything you want to believe.” Yes, UU’s do develop their own beliefs/faith/spiritual path from many 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.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

Therefore, — Let’s celebrate our diversity, let’s get to know people of different religions and different backgrounds, respect them, maybe even love them. It’s a simple message, and an old one. “Many end up deepening their own faith when they have encounters with other faiths. This is what has to happen if the human race is going to survive.”

Sonya Berg is a Las Vegas, Unitarian Universalist. She may be reached at ssberg@kitcarson.net