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Showing posts from June, 2006

The Silence of Reverence

This is inspired by the conversation over at Peacebang . I decided to post here rather than put another comment into a big conversation. I don't think the answer, fundamentally, is to put the word 'God' into the principles/purposes/covenant of the American UUA. In the UK, we do have the word 'God' in the General Assembly Object, but this doesn't really make a difference to anything. The First Source, as currently defined by the UUA, is this: Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life. The answer, in my humble opinion, is to take this statement seriously. Whether you say the above or 'direct experience of God' is not the issue. The issue is whether you really do live and worship as if a source of your life and faith is direct experience of ___. Direct experience, not preaching about it, not discussing it, exp

Taking back the Word

Here's something fantastic about Unitarianism: we're reingaging with the Bible. But not only that, we're offering an alternative way of interpreting the Bible. When I listen to Bill Darlison in Dublin or Robert Hardies in Washington, D.C. I hear Unitarians engaging with the Bible, and offering intepretations of biblical stories based on allegory rather than literalism. Insteading of seeing stories as literal and historical these people are showing how stories can be metaphors for spiritual truths. This is offering the world a different way of engaging with the Bible. And restoring a practice that was very much used in the early Christian church. Previously Unitarians would have been embarrassed by stories like Jesus walking on water, and would try to explain them away or edit them out ( a la Thomas Jefferson). But today we're seeing these stories as deeply important and worth engaging in. This offers a real alternative to fundamentalism, which is something to be cel

The British Seven Principles?

Here's a statement of 'Unitarian Ethos' just produced by the new directly elected Executive Committee: OUR UNITARIAN ETHOS We Unitarians and Free Christians are united by our ethos and values. We aspire to create a loving, caring, religious community within which we: · Value people in their diversity and uniqueness · Encourage freedom of thought and speech · Support spiritual exploration · Create celebratory worship · Advocate justice, liberty, honesty, integrity, peace and love Hence we strive to: · Make the best of the life we have · Be democratic in our practice · Celebrate life in its many forms · Respect people whose beliefs and attitudes are different from our own Hmm, at the moment my thought is 'slightly better than the Object.' Anyone else have any thoughts? By the way, today I brought by tickets to Greenbelt . Yay!

Language of reverence

At the risk of sounding terribly out of date (this conversation started three years ago in the States)... I never though that the 'language of reverence' conversation applied much to Unitarians in the UK, but now I think it does. I've just been looking again at a post-GA edition of The Inquirer . I've come to the conclusion that there is hardly any religious language in any of the articles reporting on events at GA. There are sometimes vague words like 'spiritual' and 'values' but that's about it. There is no sense of us naming the sacred or even having any sense of connection to the sacred. I sometimes think Unitarians look like a sort of pseudo-religious organisation like the Women's Institute, an organisation that has some connections to religion, sings hymns and may say the occasional prayer, but it does not see religious reality as it's raison d'etre. But we do not exist as an organisation for ourselves, we exist as a manifestation

Identity groups

"Straights and 'bisexuals' should never be admitted into a gay consciousness raising group; otherwise the whole procedure is a sham." Steve Gavin, 1971 At the beginning of gay liberation, a lot of the thinking was about liberating everyone from sexual roles for sexual freedom. During the seventies this shifted into building a gay separatist identity, gay men (and even more so lesbians) wanted to define their own space, excluding 'nonhomosexuals.' The effect of this was to exclude bisexuals leaving them outside the group or forcing them to remain closeted as bisexuals. To some extent this is still true today. I struggle with this. I can understand that there are times when 'I need to be with my people.' A lot of people don't understand this. I know some people struggled with this at the anti-racism/anti-oppression work at Opus last year. Some people couldn't understand the need for identity groups, for people of colour to go off in an identi

Knowing and Unknowing

Is Unitarianism too rational a religion? What does 'reason' mean in anycase? I have never quite understood people putting reason and spirituality at odds. For me they are deeply intertwined. My prayer often gives me insights into ideas. Thinking can often become prayer and prayer can become thinking. Coming to an understanding or creating an idea is a spiritual experience for me. There is revelation in words and ideas, but there is also revelation in silence. We need the words, because they give us insight into the Truth. But we also need the place where we dare not speak the words because we know they cannot possibly approach the Truth. Sometimes I wrestle with ideas, and succeed or fail in coming to an understanding. Sometimes I simply give up trying to understand the reality that is so much beyond me. There are times when I give up, submit, and retreat into my soul. But I find comfort there too. There is something important about falling into the stream and letting it tak

LGCM Action Alert

A message from Richard Kirker, General Secretary URGENT ACTION ALERT Please respond by 5 JUNE to the Government’s Proposals to Outlaw Discrimination on Sexual Orientation Grounds in Access to Goods, Facilities and Services Background The Government’s proposals for banning such discrimination, ‘Getting Equal’, ask whether the public agree that wide-ranging protection should be given against it, how far there should be exceptions (eg for “faith schools” and religious bodies/charities), and how far this protection should extend. The anti-gay and fundamentalist Christian Institute, Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, Association of Christian Teachers, etc. are trying to organise a mass write-in against the purposes of the proposed Regulations and in favour of huge exceptions allegedly to respect the conscience of the individual believer, as well as of religious organisations (including commercial businesses). It is urgent that as many as possible who support LGCM and its aims should wri