Thursday, March 16, 2017

Want to change the world? Let love be your energy.

Want to change the world?
Let love be your energy.

A better world is possible when we're powered by love.
Find the love within.
And let love be your guide.

We are Unitarians.

"Never lose a holy curiosity."

"Never lose a holy curiosity."

So said Albert Einstein.

For us, curiosity is holy.
We never stop questioning, never stop seeking.
The universe is too big to think we have all the answers.
We believe in curiosity.
We believe there is more to life than we can know.
We believe faith should open your mind, not close it down.
We believe we will always have more questions than answers.
Ours is the religion of curiosity.

We are Unitarians.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

We love Jesus. We love Buddha too.

We love Jesus. We love Buddha too.
And Muhammad and Krishna and Moses and Guru Nanak and Julian of Norwich.
And lots of other folks.
We find that when you look for it, you find spiritual wisdom in lots of places.
And why should wisdom only come from one place?
Why should God only care about one religion?

What if God's love is bigger than any one religion?
What if God speaks in a thousand different voices? Shouldn't we listen?

We believe truth is bigger than any one religion.
We believe love is bigger than any one belief.
Love beyond belief.

We are Unitarians.

Wake up! And smell the God.

Spirituality has one simple purpose: to get us to wake up.
We usually live half-asleep, half-blind, half-dead.
Wake up! Wake up to the simple truth that there is so much to experience in life.
You are surrounded by so much love and so much beauty.
You are surrounded by so much God.
God is not a man in the sky.
God is a way of seeing the world when you're fully awake. So wake up, open your eyes, and take it all in.

We are Unitarians.

If God wanted gay marriage she would have created love

And she did.

And so we celebrate that love by offering marriages to all couples.

We are a religion that believes that love makes a marriage.

We are a religion that believes that love makes a church.

God is love.

When we say that, we really meant it.

God doesn't care that much what we believe.

She cares that we love.

And so we do.

We are Unitarians.

Jesus said love one another. Let's stick to that.

Jesus said love one another. Love your neighbour. Love your self. Love your God.

What if he actually meant it? What if it's like, that simple? We love. That's it. We love our neighbours. We love Muslims. We love gay people. We love atheists. We love immigrants. We love all sorts of people.

And how about we don't make it any more complicated than that? How about we forget about believing impossible things? How about we forget about heaven and hell and rising from the dead and a thousand other things we're supposed to believe?

How about we just concentrate on LOVE, and maybe worry about those other things if we have time?

We have decided to stick to one commandment: love. And when we get that one right, we'll start worrying about other things.

If you want a religion that cares more about love than doctrine, maybe you could join us.

If you want a religion that is more interested in getting heaven into people than getting people into heaven maybe you could join us.

If you want a religion that keeps things simple, if you want a religion that's committed to the simple idea we should love one another, you're most welcome to join us.

We are Unitarians.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Will Unitarians disinvest in fossil fuels?

I was pleasantly surprised last week when my Annual Meetings pack landed through my letter box and I discovered that there are no wordy social justice motions this year.

Every year I hope and pray for that, but it's never happened before. Most years we have five wordy motions calling for this and that that we debate, pass and then promptly forget. It's an annual ritual that convinces us we're doing social justice when in fact we're just talking to ourselves. It's an easy social justice that doesn't actually require any work from us.

But no, this year we don't have that. Thank God.

Perhaps now we have an opportunity not to forget about what we did last year. Last year we passed a resolution calling for us to respond to combat climate change. Of course the resolution did not call us to any concrete action, but perhaps now we can walk towards that concrete action.

One concrete thing we can do is disinvest Unitarian shares from fossil fuel companies.

Climate change is the biggest issue we face. If the world is to stay below the 2C temperature rise then we need to move urgently to a low-carbon economy. If we are to stay below 2C then companies need to leave nearly all fossil fuels we know about in the ground. We cannot afford to burn them. And yet fossil fuel companies are basing their business plans on more extraction and more exploration for further sources of fuels.

There is a growing movement to disinvest from such companies to demonstrate that these companies are having a negative impact on the world, and to refuse to profit from that impact.

The Quakers and the United Reform Church in Scotland have already committed to this. And pressure is building for the Church of England to do the same.

Now I have no idea what shares the Unitarian General Assembly has (who does?) but it seems to me this is something we should do as well. I know we're not as rich at the Church of England, but neither are we poor. There are considerable Unitarian investments.

Are we prepared to use the power and wealth we do possess to actually do what we say we're about -building a better world? Are we actually prepared to do something concrete to move the world in the right direction? Can we walk the walk and not just talk the talk for once?

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Largest Unitarian congregations by membership 2016

Posted without comment to bookmark for future research and reflection.

Membership numbers:

1. London New Unity:  83 (=)
2. London Hampstead: 79 (=)
3. Birmingham Hollywood (Kingswood): 63 (-2)
4. Dean Row: 60 (+8)
4. Edinburgh: 60 (=)
5. Bolton Bank Street: 58 (=)
6. Mansfield: 57 (=)
6. London Kensington: 57 (+7)
7. Kendal: 55 (=)
8. Portsmouth: 53 (=)
9. Norwich: 50 (-5)
9. London Golders Green: 50 (-4)
10. Bury 48 (-6)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


The Annual Report is out. And here's the first number I look for. And it's 2966.

The membership of Unitarian churches in Britain is down once again. Down by 129 people. 

Here's what the numbers look like over the last few years I've been counting: 

2005: 3952 
2006: 3754
2007: 3711
2008: 3642
2009: 3658
2010: 3672
2011: 3560
2012: 3468
2013: 3384
2014: 3179
2015: 3095
2016: 2966

No comment for now. I'm just book marking the numbers.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What if I told you that we live in paradise?

In some ways I am more pessimistic and frightened about the state of the world than ever before. And yet I feel more than ever rooted in a clearer vision of my self and my ministry. And that vision fills me with joy. It is expressed most beautifully by the great Unitarian poet e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

I have been on three protests already this year, and I see the need for resistance more than ever. But that resistance must be rooted, I think, not just in protest, but in an alternative vision of the way the world could be.

But not just the way the world could be, but in fact the way the world is. I'm hearing a lot from my American co-religionists about resistance and protest, and that's all good. I support them and hope they are effective. But the message (in sermons and articles) doesn't go any further than "this is wrong." Which is fine as far as it goes, but it is just ethics.

I'm not convinced ethics alone provides enough energy to power resistance. I think it burns out. I think it fails to give hope.

What is needed, and what (in some form at least) I think we have, is faith in a real saving reality. What is needed is the faith that the world is in fact ontologically rooted in beauty, truth and goodness. It's not just that the powers of oppression and division in the world are wrong. It's that they are a lie. The truth is beauty and love are the foundational realities of this universe. I don't think we can fight the good fight unless we believe in that.

What if I told you that we live in paradise? Such a statement seems almost like a sick joke. The world seems to refute it at every turn. And yet poets and mystics declare it again and again. And I believe it. It is what is at the heart of my Unitarian faith.

It's not just that we have to create paradise on earth by our actions. Though that is a good description of our mission. But it's more than that. It's that we have to create paradise on earth by realising the truth that we already live in paradise. That a reality of exquisite beauty and overwhelming love surround us at every turn, shouting and waving at us and begging to be noticed.

Buried deep in reality, sometimes invisible but always there, are the seeds of paradise. We only have to notice them and they begin to sprout.

You live in paradise. When you begin to pay attention to it you begin to notice it more and more. You become more aware. Your ears awake and your eyes are opened. You begin to see beauty. You begin to feel a universal love that surrounds you and all things. You become more joyful.

Resistance is needed right now. But we must become not merely activists, but mystical activists. That is our good news and our calling.