This post is dedicated to the wonderful Rev. Dr. Carol Hepokoski, who introduced me to the work of Sharon Welch.
It's hard to be a theologian who doesn't believe in much. I'm always grasping for language. I don't like salvation (see two posts below), good, evil... god is iffy in the best of contexts.
I don't use "morality", to give enother example; I think it implies absolutes of Right and Wrong (um, and who decides what those are?) Unlike so much other church language--darn, that stuff gets welded right onto the framework!--I can accept "ethics" as a reasonable substitute. Which is a piece of luck. Let's talk ethics.
In our house we talk a lot about being In Relationship. With each other, with friends, with strangers, with the innumerable aspects of the earth. I perceive us in a constant dynamic with the world around us--whether we like it or not. We strive to be in balanced and fulfilled relationship. I wouldn't call it a faith, but rather a pagan and buddhist inspired ecological worldview. We are all a part of each other. When we hurt someone else, we diminish ourselves.
I don't care for rules much, and that applies to the Golden Rule as well. Different people like and care and are hurt by different things. I'm a bigger fan of its inverse: don't do things to others that you wouldn't want done to you! (Unless explicitly requested. We won't go there.)
Applying my standard to others doesn't take their individual quirks and cultural influences into account. Again, I don't think in terms of there being a "right" way to do things, but ways that work or work somewhat or don't work.
I don't stay centred in relation. I hurt people. I waste resources. I stumble out of balance, again and again.
And I learn from my imbalances, at a depth that I never experienced while caught up in my former perceptions of "right" and "wrong". Judgement blocks understanding. Never more so than when I judge myself.
This unschooly, UUish perspective of mine may best be termed a situational ethic, rather than a rule-bound one. It calls for bringing my perception, caring for others, and mindfulness into every aspect of daily life. It's an ethic of joy. So... yay!
Curious to read further about situational ethics? I recommend A Feminist Ethic of Risk by UU ethicist Sharon Welch. I credit Sharon with moving me considerably along the unschooling path. When I was assigned this book in seminary, the first chapter challenged my (then) framework so strongly that I couldn't bring myself to read further. I denounced it as "boring" in class. As if.