The Mission of Liberal Religion (2013)


The mission of liberal religion is .....

to save the world from disaster by inspiring more people to be liberal.

It's that simple.

Some definitions are in order:  What I call liberal religion could also be called human-centered spirituality, or religious humanism or humanistic theism.   In the West, it was born in the Enlightenment, and as part of the Christian theological tradition.

Liberal Religion understood the purpose of life is human (and now, planetary) well-being.  It is universalistic in that understood the entire human race as the scope of its mission. It began in the turn from theology to science as the best way to know reality. 

LIberal Religion is a distinctive conception of humanity, and it draws moral and ethical implications from that to daily life.

Liberal Religion is larger than its Christian and Enlightenment roots. It is now one of the world's great religions, although it shies away from calling itself a religion.  It has been subverting other world religions from within and without for centuries. It appears as "the religion of no religion", the "religion of life", as liberal or universalized forms of other religions, as secular movements, as Unitarian Universalism.  

The virtues of liberal religion are reverence, self-possession, the gemini twins of gratitude and generosity, honesty, humility, solidarity, and openness.
The well-being of the planet and all who live on it depends on each of us making these values the cornerstones of our lives.  These virtues are the ethical implications of the way we religious liberals understand the world. 

Our mission is to embody these virtues, persuade others of their necessity, and convert the world to living in accordance with them. 

A planetary disaster is in the making because current ideologies institutionalize indifference to human suffering as a necessary evil for others to prosper.  Our mission as religious liberals is to confront that thinking in a thousand ways, within ourselves and in the wider world.

Our mission is to remake ourselves, and challenge others to such remaking, and thus save the world.

It's that simple.

And that hard.

2 comments:

Mary Shaw said...

I appreciate this summary. As a former Catholic, I sometimes have a hard time defining what about being a UU is religious.

Keith Wilkinson said...

I'm a little late to the table with this (by about 3 years) but I like this position a lot and it will be timely for a long time. In Canada we recently ended a 9-year political period that was decidedly NOT liberal, and the return to power of a liberal (and Liberal) federal party in 2016 was a tangible relief for so many Unitarian Universalists. We had forgotten what government with a mean-spirited, pessimistic world view had been doing to us, eroding hope and generosity. The return of a liberal political regime that listens, shows respect and generosity, and takes seriously the teachings of science and compassion is a huge relief. We had let it happen by not being outspoken enough about the manipulative, cynical, ethically eroding practices to which we were being subjected by some politicians. Looking at the USA in this election year I see you facing the same forces. Someone in a covenant group I am in said recently that they really admired American UUs because American society is so much less liberal than Canadian society. UUs everywhere -- Canada, USA, Burundi, Hong Kong -- have an opportunity and a moral obligation to advance a liberal way of being in the world. "Our interdependence calls us to love and justice."