What We Choose: Ethics for Unitarian Universalists

Sunday, May 24, 2020
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Jan 19th                Workshop 1: The Locus of Moral Authority

Feb 2nd                 Workshop 2: Unchanging Truths

Feb 16th                Workshop 3: The Collective Good

Mar 1st                  Workshop 4: Cultivating a Virtuous Character

Mar 15th                Workshop 5: Natural, Legal, and Human Rights

Apr 5th                   Workshop 6: The Story of Our Lives: Narrative Ethics

Apr 19th                 Workshop 7: Relational Ethics

May 3rd                  Workshop 8: Understanding Ethics from the Margins

May 17th                Workshop 9: An Ethic of Risk

June 7th                 Workshop 10: Locus of Moral Authority Revisited

A people and their religion must be judged by social standards based on social ethics. No other standard would have any meaning if religion is held to be a necessary good for the well-being of the people. — B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian jurist, philosopher, writer, orator, and civil rights activist who fought against the Hindu caste system.

Unitarian Universalism is grounded in the understanding that our actions speak louder than our words or beliefs. Faithful living for us includes discerning the course of action that best reflects our beliefs and values and then acting or choosing accordingly. As inheritors of a faith tradition that honors a wide variety of sources of religious understanding and authority, our big questions are: How do we discern the moral course of action in a particular circumstance? To what source(s) of authority do we turn for help—personal experience, community wisdom, conscience, religious texts, the words and deeds of prophetic people, reason, science, God? If we are intentional in developing a personal ethical framework to live by, then the behavioral choices we make and the actions we do or do not take can reflect our most deeply held values.

Development, clarification, refinement, and expansion of our ethical thinking often occur in the midst of crisis or in response to an event or relationship that calls our world view into question. However, this program offers an intentional process of engagement with others in examining ethical concepts, dilemmas, and questions to help participants clarify and expand their ethical understanding independent of a personal crisis. Participants examine how they have arrived at ethical positions that they hold dear. They explore new perspectives, identify areas for further questions and exploration, and perhaps more fully embrace ethical positions they reach through careful discernment. This program will deepen and expand participants’ knowledge and skills for a process of ethical reflection that is central to living our Unitarian Universalist faith.

This program uses the words ethics and morality. While often used interchangeably, the two words point to different ways of describing the choices we make. Morality has to do with adherence to behavioral codes that come from religion or philosophy. Ethics describes the obligations we have to one another and to the natural world and the behaviors dictated by those obligations. Morality refers to rules of right conduct while ethics refers to a system of moral principles.

Goals

  • Introduce different philosophical frameworks for ethics
  • Engage participants to work with ethical dilemmas as presented in scenarios and stories
  • Guide participants to examine their own ethical and moral frameworks and clarify and expand them after reflecting on different perspectives
  • Deeply ground participants in their faith through exploration of Unitarian Universalist values and ethical ideas
  • Build participants’ capacity to live more fully as Unitarian Universalists by enhancing their understanding and skills for applying ethical frameworks to their lives.

Location: Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church

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