Monthly Archives: October 2008

Creedless Creeds: A Buddhist Example

Creeds are a fraught issue for liberal religionists, especially Unitarian-Universalists.  It is interesting to note how a rather different form of religion, which nonetheless has many liberal elements in the North American situation, approaches creeds.  Jodo Shinshu Buddhists are the oldest organized form of Buddhism in America and Canada, based on traditions brought originally by Japanese immigrants.

Here is the Jodo Shinshu Creed from the main service book of the Buddhist Churches of America:

Entrusting the Vow of the Buddha and reciting the Sacred Name, I shall proceed through the journey of life with strength and joy.

Revering the Light of the Buddha, reflecting upon my imperfect self, I shall strive to live a life of gratitude.

Following the Teachings of the Buddha, discerning the Right Path, I shall spread the True Dharma.

Rejoicing in the Compassion of the Buddha, respecting and aiding one another, I shall do my best to work towards the welfare of society.

Usually, we think of creeds as being statements of belief.  But this Buddhist denomination has created a creed which nowhere declares the community’s adherence to dogma.  Rather, in general terms that leave plenty of room for individual interpretation, their creed is about what practices they commit themselves to as followers of the faith.  Is this then actually a creed, no matter what label they have given it?  Could this be a model in some way for other denominations?



Filed under Buddhism, Liberal Religious History

Are You Out at Work as a UU?

Have you made your work colleagues/boss aware that you are Unitarian-Universalist (or some other variety of liberal religion)?  How do you do so?  Why?  How did they take it?  Has it been a positive or negative experience?  Or, if you’re not out, why not?  Do you have fears of reprecussions?  Have you seen other people experience religious discrimination (or favoritism) at work?


Filed under Unitarian-Universalism

Are Ministers Who Wear Robes Somehow Wrong?

Responses to yesterday’s post on robed choirs suggested that robes cut the choir off from the congregation, turning them into a show or making them somehow not part of the congregation.  The natural follow-up would seem to be ministers, the other group that (besides choirs) often wear robes.  Are ministers who wear robes somehow improperly cutting themselves off from the congregation?  Do they somehow not seem like they are “one of us?”  Is this a problem, or should they indeed somehow be differentiated?  What if they just wear a stole?  Or wear robes and a stole?  Is it more acceptable for the minister to be robed than the choir, and if so, why precisely?  Do you think you might you feel more comforable if your robed minister wore more normal clothes, or, for that matter, if your casual minister took to wearing robes?  Why?  What is the reason that some ministers wear robes, anyway?


Filed under Unitarian-Universalism

Does Your Church Choir Wear Robes?

Are there patterns in robe-wearing within Unitarian-Universalism?  For instance, do New England churches tend to favor them, while newer fellowships do not?  Is it a matter of economics, with larger churches able to afford a little bit more pomp?  Are robes more common in historically Unitarian or Universalist congregations?  How do you feel about choirs that do or do not wear robes?  Although choirs are of course about the music, the actual religious experience is affected on some level when you compare a robed choir processing through the sanctuary and up to the choir loft accompanied by organ music vs. a motley assortment of uncoordinated jeans, slacks, and skirts assembling at the front with the piano playing.  The music may be similar, but the aesthetic, and perhaps the message, may differ in intriguing ways.


Filed under Unitarian-Universalism

Universalist Quote of the Day #120

“Love is the spirit of this church, and service its law.
This is our great covenant;
To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love,
and to help one another.”

–affirmation of the Universalist Church of West Hartford

Love is the spirit of this church, and service its law.
This is our great covenant;
To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love, and to help one another.

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Filed under Universalism