... In the English and Welsh local elections tomorrow. I'm in danger of forgetting as I'm off to London for my final interview to be accepted on the Roll of Ministers. I must try to go to the polling station before I leave.
"The old watchwords of liberalism – freedom, reason and tolerance – worthy though they be, are simply not catching the imagination of the contemporary world. They describe a process for approaching the religious depths, but they testify to no intimate acquaintance with the depths themselves. If we are ever to speak to a new age, we must supplement our seeking with some profound religious findings." O. Eugene Pickett OK, ya'll have helped me articulate what it is I really want to say. The foundation, and central purpose, of religion is for people to go deeper within themselves. To live a transformed life through our acquaintance with the religious depths. Committing to this process involves learning to pay attention, to quieten our busyness, to open to something greater than our ordinary selves. I accept, joyfully, a diversity of experiences and languages in these religious depths. I'm happy for any atheist to join in a Unitarian community dedicated to this purpose.
Steve Caldwell says "The problem here isn't humanism vs. theism for theist Unitarian Universalists -- it's the non-creedal nature of Unitarian Universalism" This is a good point. We need to think much more deeply about what it means to be a non-creedal religion. The first thing I want to say is that there is more than one possible understanding of non-creedalism. The Disciples of Christ are a non-creedal church, they say here : " Freedom of belief. Disciples are called together around one essential of faith: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Persons are free to follow their consciences guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit study and prayer, and are expected to extend that freedom to others." Quakers are also non-creedal and say here : Quakers have no set creed or dogma - that means we do not have any declared statements which you have to believe to be a Quaker. There are, however, some commonly held views which unite us. One accepted view is that
OK, well this might be controversial, but I feel the need to say it. Is humanist tolerant? Please note I'm not asking about humanism within society. Clearly humanism certainly believes in tolerance within society and I'm forever glad they are often the only people in the media calling for a separation of church and state. No, what I'm talking about is descriptions of Unitarianism like this and adverts like this , discussed at Peacebang here , which say that humanism is one option, Christianity is another, God is one option among many. The trouble is, humanism, by definition is theologically opposed to theism. This is very different from the relationship between Christianity and Buddhism. These two traditions may be vastly different, but Buddhism, by definition , is not opposed to Christianity, and Christianity, by definition , is not opposed to Buddhism. But humanism is consciously defined in opposition to Christianity and theism. So to say that humanism and theism can
I've been putting off reporting this on here because I wanted to make sure I'd contacted people before hand. If you do know me in real life, and this is the first you're hearing about this, accept my apologies for not telling you earlier. I've been appointed as minister of Bank Street Unitarian Chapel in the town centre of Bolton (just outside Manchester for Americans and southerners with no sense of geography). I start in September. It's a good congregation and there's lots of potential for some interesting ministry. I hope it goes without saying that the opinions expressed in this blog will remain mine, and not the congregation's in any way. I was almost tempted not to even reveal the name of the congregation on here but this is really silly because if you're a British Unitarian you'll either already know or be able to look it up very easily, and if you're not you could still look it up easily in a Google search. I'm really happy for the
Bless them, Essex Hall staff have actually got up the results of the Annual Meetings soon afterwards. Good good. So have a look at the Resolutions , Growth and Renewal Day outcomes and the Anniversary Sermon . Worth having a look at.
Well, it's been a long time coming, but my book, the Unitarian Life, has finally been published. The first 50 copies made it to the Annual Meetings and sold out, which I'm really happy about. What is it? Well, it's an anthology of short texts 99% of which were written by Unitarians, Universalists or Unitarian Universalists. It's not a historical book, although it does contain writing going back five centuries. It's a book that helps people to answer the question - what is Unitarianism? - not by giving one answer, but by giving 300 answers! And it answers the question not only by trying to define Unitarianism but also by talking about Unitarian attitudes to sex, death, God, friendship, justice, love, spirituality, peace - in other words, life . It comes out of a conviction that Unitarianism is not just a blank slate onto which we can paint anything, but a living, breathing spiritual tradition that it worth celebrating. You can get copies from Essex Hall , Amazon UK