Showing posts from October, 2013

The Humanist Pilgrimage

We went to Paris.  No reason, except for fun and relaxation.  Sue, my spouse, works incredibly hard.

When I say that travel is now the great humanist pilgrimage, I am not referring to humanism as atheism, but as the great humanist turn in Western thought when ordinary life was placed at the center of consciousness and thought.

We looked at the Italian, Spanish, Flemish and Dutch paintings in the Louvre.  Most of the Renaissance paintings were about Christian subjects, depictions of Biblical scenes and the lives of the saints.  They were theologically rich; they illustrate doctrine.

You could, if you wanted, classify and curate these paintings on the basis of their theological content.  You could sort them into Protestant and Catholic paintings, or paintings about Mary in one room and paintings about the Passion in another.  The title cards could have learned commentary about the doctrine the paintings illustrated, and even where the paintings had heretical content.

But that is not h…

Universalism is a Process

While you were watching the shutdown/debt limit situation in Washington DC, you may have noticed that I had nothing to say here.  You shouldn't expect to hear from me at times like that.  It is not that I am not interested; in reality, I am completely absorbed in the those events.  October before an election is the same thing.  
I don't have anything particularly unique to say during periods of heightened political conflict.  Calling out the political desperadoes of the House GOP is a task already made light by the work of many hands. Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow do it smarter; Josh Marshall does it quicker; Charles P. Pierce does it with more style; Wonkette does it dirtier; and Andrew Sullivan meep-meeps it more portentously.  What would I have to add?
Anyway, my focus has been on the intersection of liberal religion and current events.  What are the implications of our liberal theologies for the political, social and economic conflicts of the day?  
Some thoughts: what we are…

Liberal Religion and False Consciousness

Unitarian Universalism, in general, has turned from defending "individualism" to critiquing it.   It is a shift in our theological anthropology -- our theory of the human being -- breaking from the myth that isolated individuals at some point in pre-history voluntarily created communities.  No, people were always in communities (packs, herds, clans and tribes), even back into pre-human history.  Isolated individuals -- people who live alone -- is a recent phenomenon, and their existence depends on well developed community structure to support them.  One couldn't live alone without a grocery store around the corner, and a broadband internet connection.

Many a UU minister these days is preaching against the mythology of individualism.  To which I say: quit beating that horse and bury it.  

Once UUism started talking about the "beloved community" as the goal of the religious life, it should have recognized that the opposite of the "beloved community" is…

Help me understand something?

Over the last month, nearly 4000 people looked at a blog post of mine United or Untied?.  This is way out of line with the rest of my humble blog.   Of course, I am gratified, but I don't understand where these readers are coming from.  Anybody have any insight?

Majority Rule in Danger?

Many commentators have correctly identified the GOP Shutdown of the federal government and the threat to drive the government into default as being a threat to majority rule.  And it is; it is an attempt to thwart the will of the majority with the tactic of taking the basic operations of government as hostage.

The quibble that I have is this:  the United States has never had majority rule.  In the beginning, whole sectors of the population were excluded from democratic participation and voting, and even now that situation persists: convicted felons, non-citizens (11 million undocumented people, many of them adults, live and work and pay taxes in the United States but cannot vote), etc.  In addition, complicated registration procedures and regulations, including weekday voting, further restrict participation.

The point is that the nation is moving slowly toward democracy and majority rule.  And when the will of the majority actually drives public policy, the country will operate in a…