The following was delivered to the congregation of UUFLB Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, as part of an occasional series "UU Voices":
I didn't come to Unitarian Universalism as some of you may have, finding it as an adult. I followed my parents and a couple of siblings to UUism as a child. So, for me, there wasn't that revelation of freedom to be whatever I wanted. Instead, I found that there wasn't anything to hide behind.
If someone asked what, as a UU, I believed, it was my responsibility to explain my beliefs, not those of my religion. When trying to come to grips with some of life's biggest questions, I couldn't just ask: What would Jesus do? I had to ask, what will I, a UU, Jodi Thompson, do.
When [UUFLB consulting minister the Rev.] Libby [Smith] asked me to present this week's UU Voices I teased her, saying I would quote Amelia Lee Jackson Holmes, who when asked why she was a Unitarian replied: "Because it's the least you can be." Libby, of course, was appalled and forbade me to do so. Hmm.
The reason I'm drawn to such a response isn't because, as some hold, that it represents religion ‘lite.' Rather, it is religion the more ambitious way. Unitarian Universalism doesn't allow me to hide behind the skirts of a dogma, a creed or even a standard. We aren't instructed how to pray. Although there are books and advice aplenty, we must decide for ourselves what works as worship.
We aren't offered absolution if we confess a sin, we may even argue over what constitutes sin or if there is such a thing. We can't feel content at performing a required mitzvah, there is no such requirement. Performing salah five times a day won't allow us to sleep better at night.
We must form our own framework of the sacred. We must decide for ourselves what is holy. I reject the concept of angels, but welcome prayer and meditation. I don't accept the concept of God, but don't mind behaving as though there is a God watching. Worship and ritual are soothing and fulfilling to me, but not at the expense of people's emotional, physical and intellectual comfort.
Amelia's husband, Oliver Wendell Holmes, may have loved to have that "little plant called reverence in the corner of [his] soul's garden" watered once a week. But I tend to be quite irreverent, so I make the effort to nurture my scraggly vine at every opportunity.
Unitarian Universalism doesn't lay the harvest out in front of me, but instead provides me with seven, or eight, principles to grow my garden and then it allows me, forces me, encourages me to seek my own truth.
Causes Jodi Thompson Supports
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee