I screwed up, I think, with you. Because I began giving you information, little explanations that you could have just as easily found on Wikipedia. I got busy explaining "what" instead of "why."
I am a Unitarian Universalist because this religion gives me a history and a theology that I can have faith in, and part of that includes the fact that it has faith in me. Unitarian Universalism says that I -- even on my bad days -- am worthy to be treated with respect and dignity. And it teaches me that I have both the capability and the responsibility to determine and define my own creed by which I will live.
To do that, I need tools, I need encouragement, and I need relationship. And that's why I am a Unitarian Universalist in faith and in practice. That's why I go to a Unitarian Universalist church, and would whether I was a minister or a member.
My church gives me tools, and this is one of the great, beautiful things about this religion -- it opens up a library, a research lab, the size of the universe, and says, "Go. Look. See. Test everything. Hold fast to what is good." Writings on the world's religions, philosophy ancient and modern, science, culture, art, the thoughts of others, my own experience ... all of these are tools as I struggle with forming a creed that is a bit beyond where I am now, a creed that I can live by, with effort. And when I walked into this place, I walked in to a religion with a history, a people, a systematic theology and point of view. I study, I wrestle with them all, to see how they inform what I hold to be true. The core teachings on hope in humanity, and hope in the forces that guide and sustain us, lift me up. This is a hope-full religion.
It takes encouragement, to keep going. Some days, I just want to pick the easy way out. Or I want to have a creed brimming with fancy flourishes that I can frame and look at, without actually having to live. My church encourages me to delve deeper, try harder, be the authentic person I aspire to be. They hold me accountable.
And they hold me. We are in relationship, in church. We take care of each other. We love one another. When I am broken down, my spirit crumbling, church echoes our Universalist theological belief that there is still love, and I am still worthy. We learn how to be in relationship even through the hard times. We disagree ... but we do the work to stay in the relationship. We get angry with each other ... and we stay in relationship. And as we stay in relationship with each other, so we are learning how to stay in relationship with the whole rest of the world, even those whose politics and creeds are so different from ours. We stay connected. We re-engage. We love. We find joy in each other.