Yesterday I mentioned that I completed my first class in grad school. It was a great experience. However, I did run into a typical UU situation. In addition to my being the only male in the class, I was also the only Unitarian. This isn’t surprising. I was actually expecting it. What I forgot to do was prepare my elevator speech.
An elevator speech is a 10-15 second answer that you’d give to a person if you were in an elevator. It’s meant to be quick and precise. It’s better when it’s rehearsed. I have an elevator speech for when people ask me what a peace and justice center does: “We are a small non-profit that engages issues of peace and justice through education and systemic change. We use corporate responsibility, lobbying, retreats, leadership training, workshops and publications to engage issues of environmental, social and economic change that furthers humanity’s respect for the Earth and each other.”
Unfortunately, I don’t have an elevator speech for Unitarian Universalism. While a lot of people don’t know the denominational details of a particular church, there is a general understanding. “Oh, you’re a Christian.” Even Mormons and Scientologists usually don’t have to answer questions like “What is that?” It seems as of late I have been travelling in too tight of circles. Everybody in my class came from a major Christian religion, but there was some confusion as to where UU fit in the puzzle.
I also had a hard time explaining what it was. In a deer in the headlights moment, I fumbled my way through using words like “liberal” and “progressive” and “individuality.” I confess I didn’t do the religion justice. The problem is there is just too much to talk about and not many definitive answers. My answers to questions were mostly “sometimes.” “Do you read the bible?” Sometimes. “Is UU Christian?” Sometimes. “Do UU’s believe in God?” Sometimes.
It’s all very complicated and from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff. Or maybe I’m misquoting? The point is I need an elevator speech. So here it is:
“Unitarian Universalism is rooted in liberal Christianity and developed out of the reformation. It is now a pluralistic, non-creedal religion that believes truth resides in the individual as informed by experience, tradition, family, culture and history. We have seven principles which guide our congregations, all of which boil down to ‘there is one love and nobody is left behind.’”