What does “self” mean, anyhow, when our bodies are colonies of semi-autonomous cells that turn over throughout our lives, and when our personalities and sense of “self” undergo dramatic transformations throughout our lives, and when our health depends on a diverse array of billions of symbiotic organisms? What about our dependence on and identification with and ability to shape specific groups of people, or specific ecological landscapes? Are those parts of our extended selves? Where does self-hood end and interdependence begin, and is there really any distinction, and what are the implications of these “gray areas” of self-hood for our faith and lives as Unitarian Universalists?
Thomas Raffel, PhD is an Associate Professor of Biology at Oakland University and a member of Birmingham Unitarian Church. For this Sunday service, we joined the Birmingham Unitarian Church of Bloomfield Hills, MI over Zoom at their service.