Have you noticed stars popping up in
email messages and articles? Have you wondered, What’s
with the stars?
At a CUC annual meeting a number of years ago, there
was a resolution to change the name to "Canadian
Unitarian Universalist Association". The motion was
defeated, but in response to the issues presented, the
CUC started using, wherever possible, the phrase
"Unitarian and Universalist". This followed the lead of
the International Council of Unitarians and
Universalists—a naming that took much time and effort in
order to be inclusive of U*Us worldwide!
However, some responded, "I’m a Unitarian
Universalist—adjective and noun. This doesn’t include
me." Also, the Universalist Unitarian Church of
Halifax--uses both words, but in reverse order, in
honour of their origins as the first Universalist
congregation in Canada.
I started using an "asterisk" to mean:"both/and/or/or
reversed" and it started catching on. When I say aloud
Unitarian*Universalist or U*U the star is silent, since
You, Asterisk You! Sounds like an insult, although You,
Star, You! Is a compliment indeed!
The CUC Board’s Statement of Principles Task Force (
has adopted this as their "shortcut". Samantha Magnus,
youth member, has written an article in the CUC’s Youth
Newsletter Busking on the Causeway, that was sent to all
congregations, and is also on the web (
Kalvin Drake, also on the Statement of Principles
Task Force says, "As well as being visually intriguing,
I personally find the "*" useful. When talking about
matters U*U, sometimes it's convenient just to say "UU";
other times the "*" provides an excuse to actually talk
about the interplay between Unitarianism and
Universalism. There are really three (and, I would
argue, almost independent) issues:
1. How do we brand/label ourselves as a
distinct philosophical and religious
2. What is historically accurate for the
3. What is theologically accurate for the
current state of the Canadian movement?
I would argue that #1 should be driven as much by
"ease of recognition" and "ease of pronunciation" as by
the answers to #2 and #3! "U*U" works for me on
that score. Perhaps it's for the "*" between the "U" and
the "U" that people join us.
A popular reading from Singing the Living Tradition
at this time of year is #621—Why Not a Star? It says,
"Who knows what uncommon life may yet again unfold, if
we but give it a chance!"
As we enter this season of both light and darkness,
let us give "uncommon life" a chance to again unfold. In
the way we use language—with intention and inclusiveness
in mind—as well in the way we allow mystery and awe and
surprise into our lives.
Take care of yourselves and each other, you stars