Along the Way – October 2018 – Rev. Steve Cook

Along the Way

The Hasidic Rabbi Zusya once said: “When I am called to give a final account before the Heavenly Throne, I am not afraid of being asked, ‘Why were you not like Abraham?’ for then I will answer, ‘Because I am not Abraham.’ And if I am asked why was I not like Moses, I can answer, ‘Because I am not Moses.’ But if I am asked, ‘Why were you not like Zusya?’ what then will I say?”

Let me recast this classic. If the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst was called to give a final account, you might say you are not afraid of being asked, “Why were you not like the Christian church?” for you would then answer, “Because we are not the Christian church.” You would not be afraid to be asked, “Why were you not like the left wing of the Democratic Party?” for you can answer, “Because we are not the left wing of the Democratic Party.” But if you were asked, “Why were you not like the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst?” what then would you say?

As of a person, the most radical demand that can be made of any institution is that it live up to its own founding principles and purposes. That is the standard, the beginning and the end, of institutional accountability. Are you, in fact, doing what you said you were going to do? Have you kept faith? And if not, why not?

Those are demanding questions. They are all the more demanding because the standards against which the institution is being judged are not externally imposed or unfair. They are the standards upon which the institution itself has decided that it ought to be judged. There is no begging off by saying it has nothing to do with us. These are the choices you made, the work you said you were going to do, the goals you set for ourselves. Part of my work with you in this interim year will be to encourage you to ask yourselves, “How is it that we have not been like the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst; yet how is it that we have, indeed, been like the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst?” There is both challenge and joy in discerning the answers to those questions; I look forward to helping you in that discernment.

Rev. Steve

Leave a Reply