Would You Pass the Marshmallow Test?

The experiment is simple.  Leave a five year-old in a room with a marshmallow sitting on the table in front of him or her, with the following instructions: “I’m going to leave the room for fifteen minutes.  If you eat the marshmallow while I’m gone, that’s the only marshmallow you’ll get.  If you can wait the whole fifteen minutes, and don’t eat the marshmallow until I get back, you’ll get a second marshmallow.”  While this sounds quaint, and perhaps even a little trite, this experiment was indeed run in a highly scientific manner by Stanford professor Walter Mischel in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  The focus of the experiment, of course, is to measure individual children’s ability to employ delayed gratification, and the long-term follow up was to see how predictive their behavior was of long-term success in life.  The results were startling. A person’s five year-old response to the experiment, the level of delayed gratification they were able to demonstrate even back then, was a higher predictor of future success in life than any other measure, including IQ tests, SAT test, and anything else.  For all the fancy results and analysis those and other tests provide us, they are less predictive of success in life than whether your five year-old self can successfully delay gratification long enough to get the second marshmallow. This experiment, and others like it, speak to the power and importance of emotional intelligence.  For a very long time in our country, our focus was strictly intellectual
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Linda Gregory

"I believe we come to church to be a service to others. Yes, we'll benefit personally, but what a joy we may be to others we encounter, just be being there and making them feel welcome and a part of our UU community."
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Our Beliefs

We are an intentionally diverse religious community, welcoming all people without regard to age, race, national origin, ableness, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We embrace freedom of belief for those beliefs that are unknowable and unprovable, with our members holding a variety of beliefs about the existence  of God, what happens to us after we die, and beliefs of that kind. We share beliefs about how to live together on this planet:
  • We believe in living our lives with love, compassion and kindness.
  • We are inclusive, we seek justice, we promote equal rights and equal treatment for all.
  • We honor individual autonomy while recognizing the interdependent nature of existence.
We are actively engaged in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Seven Principles

As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm and promote these Seven Principles:
  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
We invite you to explore these Principles in more depth at the UUA web site.

Exploring Faith

We define faith as the process of finding and making meaning out of our lives and the world, understanding that we all find and make meaning in different ways.  Our fourth principle calls us to “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” and we intentionally draw upon a diverse body of wisdom, as we explore our Six Sources.  As we continue ever forward on our spiritual, ethical and religious journeys, the Sources ask us to examine the wisdom of the world religions, results of science, personal experience of life’s mystery, and the words and deeds of those who exemplify compassion, justice, and the transforming power of love. We embrace the use of reason on our free and responsible search for truth and meaning.  Unitarian minister Ralph Waldo Emerson said of preaching that a minister should share of his life – “life passed through the fire of thought.”  The same can be said of the Unitarian Universalist journey as whole; ours is an examined faith, one that includes many doubts and questions and a commitment to growth and learning on the journey. We don’t view faith and reason as opposites, but instead consider them as complementing and supporting one another.  Similarly, while acknowledgment of and respect for each individual’s beliefs is of high importance to us, we also recognize and value the power and importance of religious community.  New thoughts, ideas and perspectives shared between us help each of us to deeper understanding.  Indeed, our time together is enriched
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Practicing Inclusivity

Our church welcomes all people without regard to age, race, national origin, ableness, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We welcome people of diverse theological perspectives, including atheists, agnostics, theists, and polytheists.  We welcome those who identify as Pagan, secular humanist, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Hindu, religious humanist, Muslim, Jewish, and more.  We draw the line at theologies that encourage violence, harm or oppression towards other people – we believe each individual’s right to safety, security and happiness trumps other people’s right to beliefs of their choice. When we say we practice inclusivity, we mean it.  We do our best to welcome everybody, and, we are also aware we are imperfect.  When we recognize that we are falling short, we do our best to change our attitudes and behaviors.  It is for this reason that our national organization, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), created the Welcoming Congregation program.   Unitarian Universalist congregations were saying we were welcoming to the LGBTQ community, but unfortunately folks who were attending found us falling short of our of ideals, despite our professed support.  The UUA thus created a program to help each congregation who elected to participate do a better job of actually living into the verbal proclamations we were making, and become more truly welcoming to the LGBTQ community.  Our church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Muncie, is proud to have completed this program and officially be a Welcoming Congregation since 2003. You are welcome here.
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Living Justice

Our second principle calls us to “justice, equity and compassion in human relations.”  We are strongly committed to putting our beliefs and values into action, and so we work hard to effect change and bring justice and healing to our hurting world. The picture of our flaming chalice, the unofficial adopted symbol of Unitarian Universalism, may seem like an odd choice at first glance for living justice – but the flaming chalice as a symbol actually has its roots in social justice.  The Unitarian Service Committee (USC), prior to the merger with Universalism (see Our History for more background information), was very active in trying to ferry Jewish people to safety during World War II.  Part of the necessary logistics, during this time of intense spying and betrayal, was ensuring that written communications and documents were authentic, and so the USC asked Austrian artist Hans Deutsch to create a symbol that could be used to verify that communications were authentic.  Deutsch created the flaming chalice, and while no official vote was ever taken, Unitarian Universalists nationwide have adopted it as the symbol of our faith.  Read a more detailed version of the history of the flaming chalice here. Locally, our church is very engaged with social justice issues, and have chosen to focus our efforts on hunger, environmental justice, LGBTQ equality, and racism.  Those are only the official task forces of the congregation though – as a community of individuals, our social justice work spreads
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The Hunt for Humility

An English teacher of mine, at some point in my schooling, asked our class a great question – “what is the definition of irony?”  She asked this in follow up after checking to see if we all understood what irony was, and the whole class had nodded yes, we did understand.  And yet when she posed this question, none of us could come up with a definition of irony in the moment.  We could name ironic moments or experiences, but we couldn’t actually come up with a workable definition.  Her point to us was that we don’t truly know what a word means until we can articulate its definition.  And I’ll admit, I still can’t define irony off the top of my head – I had to go look its meaning up again just now.  My teacher’s question though returned to me as I’ve been thinking about this October’s theme of Humility – what does humility actually mean? I’m not the only one to struggle with this question.  In the introduction to his book, Humility: The Quite Virtue, Everett L. Worthington, Jr. notes: “writing a book on humility is fraught with difficulties… I cannot tell you a definitive description of humility revealed by science… I can only invite you to consider people you know.  Who are your heroes of humility?”  He suggests that instead of a definition, the best way to understand humility is to list the characteristics of people you know who you think are humble. Figuring it was worth a
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Our History

uua-logoThe Unitarians and the Universalists were two separate Christian denominations with a long history in the United States, going all the way back to the 1600 and 1700's.  The Unitarians derived their name from being primarily identified theologically as believing in the unity of god, as opposed to the more common Christian doctrine of the trinity.  They still believed Jesus was divine and the son of god, just not part of a co-equal trinity.  The Universalists believed that everyone was saved, that no one goes to hell.  A common Universalist perspective was "God is love."  Both denominations gradually evolved over time towards being less and less creedal - meaning there were fewer and fewer beliefs you had to say you agreed with to be able to become a member. Both denominations were also slowly becoming more theologically similar over time, and finally decided to merge in 1961, forming the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, or UUA for short.  Thus Unitarian Universalism in its current form has been around for a little over fifty years. Unitarian Universalism clearly emerged out of Christianity - it's why we still call ourselves church and congregations, it's why we still have ministers and not rabbis or imams, and it's why we still sing hymns and have a sermon on Sunday mornings.  Since we have congregational polity - meaning there is no hierarchy and each church makes its own decisions - our theology is not uniform across
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Change: Hard, Challenging & Scary

A good friend of mine got engaged to his girlfriend about ten years ago– both of them were wonderful people, and they were a great match.  About six months after their engagement though, he began to exhibit a bizarre string of behaviors that were totally out of character for him. He began to do and say disrespectful – and sometimes outright mean – things to his fiancé. His fiancé didn’t get it, and we his friends didn’t get it either.  We all knew this guy to be a thoughtful considerate person, and he clearly loved his fiancé. So why was he all of a sudden acting like such a jerk? When some of us tried to talk to him about it, he couldn’t explain it or understand it either.  He told us he still loved his fiancé, that he was excited to marry her, he just kept having these inexplicable bursts of anger at her. Finally, thankfully, one of our more insightful friends figured out that his acting out started right after the couple had begun intensive work on planning their wedding, and a lightbulb went off. This realization allowed our friend to become aware of and name some of the deep fears and anxieties he had about marriage. Once he was able to be with and feel those feelings, the destructive and sabotaging behaviors melted away, and he and his fiancé were able to move forward with the wedding planning in a way that was meaningful to them both. Their
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