Sunday, January 04, 2009

Latest from Bill

While I was writing the last post I was listening to the latest sermon from Bill Darlison. Much worth chewing on as usual. How about this definition of Unitarianism:

"Liberal in politics;
Humanist in philosophy;
Agnostic with regard to God and life after death."


Now I think about it, it seems familiar, is that from somewhere?

And here's another one:

"The only scholars we have are historians."

There's a very perceptive observation. Very important thing to note, and to be concerned about.


Blogger Robin Edgar said...

:Liberal in politics

This pretty much confirms my comparatively recent epiphany that contemporary U*Uism is not so much a "liberal religion" as a "religions" for "liberals". . .

:Humanist in philosophy

This is certainly true of 20th century Unitarianism but may prove to be less true of 21st century U*Uism.


Try on anti-religious. . .


Yup. Those who have the gold make the rules in contemporary U*Uism. . .

:Agnostic with regard to God and life after death

How about antagonistic with regard to God? This is certainly true of the Atheist Supremacist faction of "Humanist" U*Us.

7:46 pm  
Anonymous Tim (S Manc) said...

I've just had a listen to Bill Darlison's sermon. A few thoughts:

1. "The only scholars we have are historians"

Is this entirely true? What about "Faith and Freedom"? I grew up in the United Reformed Church, which has no distinct scholarly community or journal attached to it; historical, theological or otherwise. This has impacted severely on the URC's identity and direction and has consequently created a lot of problems for its present and long term future.

By contrast, I reckon most Unitarians could name at least a few famous Unitarians from its history (Gaskell, Dickens, Darwin, etc). Most URC members, however, have no idea about any historically significant people from its present or parent churches' history (except perhaps Patricia Routledge!).

2. "Unwritten Orthodoxies". I think it's a widespread phenomenon where initially radical/dissenting movements become normalised and "settle down", even becoming stagnant or conservative. It can be seen in political movements, like Green Parties in many European countries, 20th century Communism, or nationalist parties like Ireland's Fianna Fáil.

Religious movements, like the Quakers and Mormonism, started out as radical movements subject to persecution, but latterly, while not quite mainstream, have established internal norms and practices, have a membership broadly assimilated in society, and a more conventional social agenda (yet differing tremendously between those two groups). Perhaps society has moved to accommodate these groups, the groups have set the agenda for society, or the groups have moved more towards society's norms. I think the reality contains bits of all three, with more of the latter.

I don't think the Unitarian movement in the UK should kick itself too much for having not been immune to this trend of establishing an "unwritten orthodoxy". Yet perhaps now that it's been said, and if Unitarians have an awareness of their history deeper than famous members, then something can be done to reinvigorate some of that "old" radicalism. How that'll be expressed is another debate entirely, and I've typed more than enough.

12:40 am  

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