Weekly Message from T. J.

Asking for a Raise

Yesterday I received a question by email:

Who/What raises UUs up?

And I took a little while to think about it. The question was inspired by the song You Raise Me Up which was written by a little-known folk duo in Europe in 2002. But Josh Groban made it a hit in 2003. It’s a beautiful song, which isn’t surprising because it borrows its harmonic progression and a lot of its melody directly from Danny Boy, a widely loved song itself. And this is part of how I responded:

…One view might be that our individual understandings/expressions of faith would tell us that different things raise different UUs up: nature, music, the belief in a faith tradition that is expressed privately or elsewhere. Different things might even raise up the same UU at different times.

Another more playful answer might be that UUs might be better served by searching out ways of growing and developing spiritual and intellectual humility, rather than trying to raise themselves up any higher.

But my personal sense is that history, many UUs I know, and even our neighbors would say that the ways we connect our justice work, our intellectual curiosity, and our outward expressions of faith directly to our hopes for the world is what raises UUs up. And I might add that when this work seeks to raise up the voices of the silenced and to raise the power of the powerless, then we are really at our best–maybe feeling the most raised-up, if you will.

But all this is to say, I’m not sure there is one thing we could identify as lifting up UUs in the way that a christian community could point to the hope of resurrection (being raised up) and the victory over death tied so closely to their identity. But these are important questions. I’m always happy to speak more about them. Many thanks!

Mahalo – T. J.

One of the great strengths of our tradition is our way of asking questions. Many of us come from faiths, or homes, or countries, or other formative cultures, where asking questions was unwelcome or unwanted. And thinking more on my response, I wonder if some more of the answer lay right in the question or the questioning itself. Because when we ask a question, what do we do? We raise a question. Maybe a piece of this answer is that in a UU setting, it’s not the follower, a person, who would be singing the song, You Raise Me Up. It might be the question, the mystery itself at the center of so many of our beings that is so grateful after so long for being asked, for being addressed, for being raised finally at long last.

What raises UUs up? Keep asking questions. Keep sitting with questions. Keep raising questions up. And we might just find out together.

And may it always be so.

Rev. T. J.

2 Responses to “Weekly Message from T. J.

  1. The Buddha and other sages, including Jesus, have said in various ways that waking up is what raises us up.

  2. Really beautiful, T. J. I sometimes get the question, “What do UUs believe in?” and I’m going to point to this post. It says it all.

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