January 26, 2009

Are “UUism” and “Depth” Antonyms?

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:19 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

The Panel on UU Lay Education has begun a conversation about depth in UU theology. See this site:  http://uulte.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-is-more-what-is-deeper.html

It is an essential question, what would UU depth look like, and deeper than that, is UU depth even possible? I was first challenged with this question at least fifteen years ago when a UU friend of mine began to become more explicitly Christian. When I asked him about it he told me, “UUism has great breadth, but I needed depth.”

For my friend spiritual and theological depth went hand and hand. Perhaps the first step then in developing theological depth’ is to distinguish it from ‘spiritual depth’ and clarifiy the purpose of theology. In my nomenclature spirituality has to do more with feeling and intuition, theology more to do with clarity of language and integrity of thinking, but it may not be so for everyone.

One of our perennial problems is that we are rather fuzzy on the use of religious language. We often borrow and reinterpret words from traditional Christianity, and sometimes from Hinduism or Native American traditions, but with little clarity about what they mean traditionally and we give them rather vague and fuzzy definitions for our own use. Instead, theological depth demands clarity of language.

We need to be clearer about why we are seeking “depth” in order to determine how to get it. I think one of the goals that may be behind this drive for theological education in a UU context is to gain an ability to respond to family members, co-workers, and people in our communities who speak so assuredly of God or Truth or the Bible. Instead of responding with vague questions we need to know which questions to ask, and were to go with responses to our questions. But this purpose is different than engaging with depth in interfaith conversation or spiritual direction for our people.

I have lots more to say about theological depth, but this is enough for now.

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1 Comment »

  1. Robin Edgar said,

    Is it really Rev. Perchlik?

    Some might think that you are just scratching the surface of the subject of depth in U*U theology here. 😉

    Well it’s a start anyway. . .

    Regards,

    Robin Edgar


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