It’s been a year of new beginnings.
The winter was harsh this year. Spring and summer have seemed especially nice this time around. With the advent of those seasons has come a willingness to allow a new start in myself. Toward some new beliefs, a new community in the Unitarian Universalist faith, and toward a new involvement in ministry.
I used to be a Lutheran pastor. In my Lutheran tradition, being good was about responding to something God has done. We are all born sinners and are completely dependent on God’s work through the sacrifice of Jesus to be saved. God is the initiating actor, who lovingly provides His grace in creating and sustaining us. Goodness was defined as those actions instructed or inspired by God, received through the sacred texts of scripture and through the preaching heard in church.
“Good” means something different to me now. Goodness for me is no longer based in sacred text, or in revelation, or in the actions of a heroic figure on my behalf, or in the creedal codes or commandments of a church. Goodness is based in a grounded view of the real world, the one we actually observe in the present moment, and in how our actions in that real world affect others. (My actions have not always affected others in the best way, but looking to another world for forgiveness does not solve that problem, it only takes our focus off of really understanding our own actions.) Goodness is not based in something that comes from the outside in, but is based in the way we interact and adapt to our world.
Goodness is a way we make meaning for ourselves. We are generative beings, each of us as humans are good in that sense, that we are part of the vital natural world. Goodness comes from within us as we live out our lives, choose actions, and reason over those choices.
Goodness is about being happy, about finding our true potential. It is about being honest and self-expressive. It is about finding the best in every belief, every tradition, and every person. It is about becoming empathic, about caring for those who are Other, especially those who are less privileged or who are abused by those in power.
I believe this to be a more self-expressive definition of The Good. It is creative, loving, and genuinely pluralist.
In this blog I would like to share more about that journey toward a new goodness. I appreciate the chance to explore this new sense of goodness, to unpack what I have said here, to say more about why I have found myself in a different place spiritually. I also want share more about Unitarian Universalism and its faith and practices. My engagement with that community has been a large part of my recovery from my own harsh winter, of discontent with what I had formerly believed.
Winter may be harsh, but it makes spring seem all the more lovely. Thanks for joining me on this journey of self-discovery. I hope that it opens up new vistas of what is “good” for you as well.