Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

how many Unitarians ~

Today a student in one of my classes sent me a Unitarian joke (thanks, Terry!). I’ve heard variations on it before, but this one — the best — struck me as worth sharing. Here it is:

How many Unitarian Universalists does it take to change a light bulb?
We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb.
However, if in your own journey, you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine.
You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal
relationship with your light bulb and present it next month at our annual Light Bulb Sunday
Service. We will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent,
fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to


Of course I posted this on my FB page :). And of course my friends — many of whom are UU — responded with the worst puns: planting bulbs, a little child shall LED them, etc. You can imagine.

The joke is worth sharing (and discussing) in part because of the truth of it. We (Unitarians) do feel that way about faith, about religion, about belief, about divinity, about a lot of things. And that’s the reason I tell people I’m not only a Buddhist, but also a Unitarian. Actually I think they’re kind of the same thing… Except that all UUs don’t follow all Buddhist principles, although they respect them.

But the two systems of belief do share one important tenet: respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. I think I’m safe saying (because who am I to speak for either religion??) that’s a common point. In Buddhism you’d call it ‘ dependent arising.’


I’m not sure about the chicken/ egg of faith: do we choose our belief(s) based on who we are? Do we believe and then find a faith that fits our beliefs? Or do our beliefs render us unable to change? Shape us as Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists…Unitarians?

I’ve always believed in the web — if you’ve read this blog more than once, you’ve heard me talk about it. :) So did I choose my belief based on that? Or did my ecumenical polyglot childhood shape me into a Buddhist and Unitarian — seeing and loving the web long before I had the words for it?

It’s a light bulb I’m still debating :). With the help of my community of Light Bulb Service attendees, I may eventually get it screwed in, turned on, and providing light :).

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