The Heart of Pluralism

“To see the other side, to defend another people- not despite your tradition but because of it- is the heart of pluralism.”

– Eboo Patel

“Pluralism isn’t just diversity; it’s something we create out of this diversity.”

– Diana Eck

Photo of a pink flower in bloomOne way to explain Unitarian Universalism is that it is a syncretistic kind of religion.  In other words, we tend to combine- or bring together side by side- different forms of belief or practice. Ask any UU what ethical, spiritual or religious sources inspire them and you will get different answers.  One person might say they are influenced by Judaism and Buddhism, another might say paganism and Catholicism, another might say Humanism, science and nature-based religions– the list goes on.  Hopefully all would include Unitarian Universalist thinkers and communities.

The influence of all these various belief systems is welcome under our Meeting House roof.  They are included in our list of Wisdom Sources and can contribute to the richness of who we are and how we act in the world. We may be counter-cultural to most “organized religions” thanks to this pluralistic approach, but I suspect we are in line with many secular or “spiritual but not religious” folks who have also been inspired by various teachers, traditions and experiences.

The Soul Matters theme for May is “The Gifts of Pluralism”. It is interesting to be part of a religious tradition that has pluralism within it as well as a commitment to interfaith connections and living in a religiously pluralistic society. We introduce our youth to our “Neighboring Faiths” to help them learn about cultural and religious differences as well as the practice of interfaith openness and humility. This matters especially at a time when Christian nationalism is on the rise in our nation.

Here are a few Soul Matters reflection questions for this month:

-What were you taught in your family of origin about pluralism and religious differences?

-Have you ever been treated like a “category” instead of a person with multiple identities and influences?

-If you could go back and change a moment of being excluded- or excluding someone else- what would it be?

-Are there certain kinds of people whom you talk a lot about, but almost never talk with?

Healthy pluralism takes some work.  As professor of religion Dr. Diana Eck writes, “Pluralism isn’t just diversity; it’s something we create out of this diversity.”

Here’s to another month of creating something syncretistic, pluralistic and fantastic together!
Yours, Rev. Lee