High on my list of the Unitarian Universalist characteristics I find particularly repugnant is the attempt to uncover vain distinctives. Coupled with this is a tendency to believe our own propaganda (which, I believe, is why the “sixth largest denomination fact” persists; Universalists past were keen to talk up their inevitable progress) and draw strange conclusions.
Thus this tidbit from page 48 of Engaging Our Theological Diversity:
Loving was also valued highly. With little variation by congregation, 82 percent of laypersons and 87 percent of ministers assigned high importance to being people who love.
Now I have that mawkish Sting song Russians running through my head: the one that introduced the West to the notion that “the Russians [might] love their children too.”
Is human love that strange? If the report had said “fifty-five percent of laypersons, and thirty-nine percent of ministers prefer to eat human flesh, but the later group finds it too expensive for anything other than holiday meals” — well, that would be news.
Or is it that we’re supposed to make note that Unitarian Universalists own up to being loving? The COA report makes me wonder if “freedom” “eating” or “breathing air” is equally highly valued. Seeing as this revelation is followed in the next paragraph by the heretics canard (“we choose”), is the implication that non-Unitarian Universalist choose to be unloving, or lacking the other featured virtues like using reason, or being “interconnected”? I rather doubt it, but that the impression one gets from our own words, here and in published sermons.
Perhaps people in other religious groups put other answers before “loving” it is too well assumed to be highlighted.