Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology


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Opening the answer to the Inquisitive Question “So, can you tell me a little about Unitarian Universalism?” and drawing more questions.

This may come as a shock to those brave and committed souls who read the long blog articles at Celestial Lands, but the two keys to answering the inquisitive version of the question well are brevity and mystery. Not brevity in giving an overall answer, because when answering the inquisitive version of THE QUESTION you should commit to staying in the conversation as long as the questioner wishes. We do not seek to contain all of Unitarian Universalism in a sixty-second exposition, but rather to provide just enough interesting mystery to draw some more questions.

The goal should be to use brevity and mystery in crafting individual portions of the answer to THE QUESTION, while also allowing for space and time for the questioner to process what is often some very new ideas. I have found that the process works best if I can engage them in asking deepening questions about Unitarian Universalism, and then move towards asking deepening questions of them about their own faith journey. The questioner is not always willing to go that far in sharing, and in that case it is our responsibility to model this behavior by being willing to be as open as possible about our own faith journey.

After inviting the questioner to sit, offering some kind of hospitality, and asking a question or two about their own faith journey, I always begin with one of several “opening statements” about Unitarian Universalism. Which direction I go depends on the individual, and is a matter of subjective judgment. Here are a couple of examples of what I might say to begin:

“Unitarian Universalism is different than some of the other faiths you mentioned, because we are a covenantal faith, not a creedal faith. What that means is that beliefs are important to us not because of what they are, but because of how your beliefs call you to live and behave in the world. You might find people of many different sets of beliefs in a Unitarian Universalist Church, but what we share in common is that those beliefs call us to certain ways of living together, caring for others, and caring for our world. Because of this, we find truth and guidance of how to live justly in this world in many different religious traditions, and together we seek to learn from one another and grow together spiritually. What binds us together is that our differing beliefs call us to live, care for others, and care for our world in similar ways.”


“One of the key differences between the faiths you mentioned and Unitarian Universalism is that we understand that revelation is continuous. For us, there is much still for us to understand about what is divine within ourselves and within the universe, just as there is still much to understand about the world we live in and what our purpose is. We do not find that truth is contained fully in any one book, or even in all the religious scriptures combined. We find some of truth in many places, and in the experiences of our lives, and we come together in church communities to learn from one another and to grow together. We are responsible for each other, and for the world that we all share.”


“What is the similar way that you all live together and with the world?”

“How can revelation be continuous? Do you think God is still writing scripture? Where?”

“So, are there people who believe in (fill in the blank) in your church?”

“So, who is “God” in your church?”

“What does “living justly” mean?

“What would your church say about my (being/believing/doing) (fill in the blank)?”

These are all just a few of the questions that I have drawn from questioners when using this approach to answer THE QUESTION. Remember, they control the amount of time that you stay committed to the conversation, and you have asked them to ask these questions of you. Seek to stay open and engaged, even when some of the questions might make you feel defensive. Don’t try for agreement; try for openness and honesty, in yourself and from the questioner.

Remember, the goal is not, it is never to “convert” someone to Unitarian Universalism, but simply to introduce liberal faith in a respectful, open, and welcoming way, while at the same time “planting a seed” that may sprout at sometime in the questioner’s life.

Yours in Faith,


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