Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fixing Unitarian Universalism

Chalice Chick started the thread here and others have picked up on it: A People So Bold!, Scot Wells, and Liberal Faith Development (who conservatively advises caution).

Fausto commented here ...most UUs who don't find much worthwhile in the UUA simply ignore it most of the time, but the online ones happen to be talking about it right now. In a couple of months we'll probably be talking about something else.

He could be right but I wonder if the rise of the bloggers has changed that.

But I just finished Douglas A. Sweeny's The American Evangelical Story. Sweeny noted,
They [Evangelicals] accomplished these things [the evangelical movement] with the help of a new communications network that linked evangelicals living in Europe and North America. Historians refer to the eighteenth century as the great age of letter writing. In God's providence, evangelicals could now stay in touch with one another quite easily, and they did, exchanging tens of thousands of pieces of correspondence. This was also the time of the rise of British magazines and newspapers, media used by Christians both to promote the cause of revival and to inform interested parties about God's work around the world. In fact, several Protestant leaders founded their own periodicals to convey intelligence regarding the progress of the gospel. Famous examples include George Whitefield's Evangelical Magazine, Thomas Prince's Christian History, Jabes Robe's Christian Monthly History, and John Wesley's Arminian Magazine.
Maybe a Great Awakening among UUs is at hand.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I need someone to say ‘thank you’ to

St. Thomas Aquinas called beauty "the splendor of order," and the church father St. Gregory of Nyssa saw beauty as God's uncreated energy. But there is nothing exclusively Christian about the insight that God and beauty are inseparable, and that creating beauty is one of humanity’s most noble endeavors. “Whichever way I turn I see the face of God,” says the Koran referring to nature’s loveliness. As a journalist covering the burgeoning dialogue between theology and science I found that, of all scientists, astrophysicists from every culture were most inclined to acknowledge God’s existence.

When asked about this phenomenon they usually respond that the breathtaking beauty of the universe leaves them no option. “Why do I believe in the Creator?” a Hindu cosmologist asked rhetorically. “Because,” he went on, “I need someone to say ‘thank you’ to.”

From Uwe Siemon-Netto's new blog. I've wondered why Physics seemed excempt from America's Science vs God debates and thought the Calculus requirement for Physics just weeded out most players in the debate (it got me). But I like the Hindu cosmologists response above. I know for certain I have a need to say 'thank you' for much.

cross posted to Bill Baar's West Side

Monday, January 02, 2006

Jonathon Last: God on the Internet

Last in First Things writing on God Blogs and the internet.

Long esasy I've read and will reread, but two quick quotes on authority and the disappearance mystery because of the net,
Another concern is how the Internet is demystifying religion. One of Joseph de Maistre’s pet theories was that the authority of the Church depended in large part on mystery. Blogger Mickey Kaus recently wondered if the notion of mysterious silence on the part of religious institutions has become outmoded: “If you were a respected authority you used to be able to get away with maintaining a meaningful silence. Now you’ve got to be blogging in your own ‘unique voice’ about every little thing that comes up, or else some ambitious lesser authority who posts more frequently will steal your flock.”
[***]
Whether or not authority suffers from the disappearance of mystery, certainly the power of ritual is diminished by having every conversation in the sacristy broadcast for public consumption.
And his conclusion on the internet and its lure towards thinner and thinner air.
A tool for co-laboring. That’s the most we might hope for. And in the days of Pope Pius XIII and ceaseless politicking and Spiritual Weightloss, even that much seems a pipe dream. The great blessing of the Internet is that it lets people find each other. Of course, this is the great curse of the Internet as well—for not only can model-train collectors share their joint enthusiasm, but so can anti-Semites, child molesters, and gang members. But even at its best, the Internet is a weakening of reality, and with its consumer satisfactions, politicizing impulses, and substitutions for the body, it constantly lures us up into thinner and thinner air. Isn’t religion supposed to enrich the world around us instead? Shut off your computer. Take a deep breath. Go to church.

Taft on Unitarian Faith

Taft on Unitarian Faith, below true for me but I would drop the word Christian. An interesting perspective from a Unitarian, former US President, and guy who did indeed in the Phillipines serve as chief executive for four years of an Oriental people more than seven millions in number-Christians, Mohammedans, and Pagans.

Taft was writing of a faith triumphent, and success can be one's worst foe.

I think Unitarianism was successful, and it's the wrestling with the aftermath of success, where it's fallen.

Now UU's now find themselves struggling with this post.

Anyways, here's Taft's closing paragraph.
I have come to the close of my remarks. The creeds and dogmas that attached themselves to the religion of Jesus, needed perhaps in securing its spread among the nations and its triumphal march to a better civilization, have encountered the searching freedom of scientific intellectual inquiry, and have shaken in the minds of many, not, the essential principles of the Christian faith as we Unitarians believe them to be, but the incidental tenets of a rigid theology. In order that the craving for religion and a study of man's relation to God should still act as an inspiration to human self-elevation and moral progress, Unitarianism offers a broad Christian religious faith that can be reconciled with scientific freedom of thought and inquiry into the truth, and rescues from religious atrophy and indifference an element of society that must be influential. Indirectly, too, it has liberalized the requirements of other churches so that they retain in their laity and under elevating religious influence an important part of the community that otherwise might drift away. These are the good things that Unitarianism has done and is continuing to do.

Paths to God

This isn't the Roman Catholicism shown me in the 1960's growing in south Oak Park, Illinois. Not sure what it means for Liberal Religion when the Grand Inquisitor talked like this,
How many ways are there to God?

As many as there are people. For even within the same faith each man's way is an entirely personal one. We have Christ's word: I am the way. In that respect, there is ultimately one way, and everyone who is on the way to God is therefore in some sense also on the way of Jesus Christ. But this does not mean that all ways are identical in terms of consciousness and will, but, on the contrary, the one way is so big that it becomes a personal way for each man.
p32, Salt of the Earth