Reading the Same Text Differently with Jews & Christians

martin

This post is about the ways Christians have often appropriated Jewish scripture in a way that does not fully appreciate the ways that Jews understand their own texts in very differently. In my next post, I will turn the tables to consider Jewish readings of Christian scripture. Isaiah's Context (8th-century B.C.E.) Imagine that you are atttending a Jewish Saturday morning services. A young woman, who is becoming a bat mizvah (“a daughter of the covenant”), ascends the steps to the bimah (the el … [Read more...]

The Meaning of the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) for Today

Palmer

Parker Palmer, in his modern spiritual classic A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life relates the classic Daoist tale known as “The Woodcarver”:A master carver, made a bell stand of precious wood. When it was finished, all who saw it were astounded. They said it must be the work of spirits. The Prince of Lu said to the master carver: “What is your secret?” He replied: “I am only a workman: I have no secret. There is only this: When I began to think about the work you co … [Read more...]

Eve Was Framed, the Serpent Was Right!

Position

On August 13, 1971, the cover of LIFE Magazine featured an image of two women standing side-by-side. On the right, an classical painted image of a tall naked woman stands head-and-shoulders above a modern woman, who is fully dressed. The figure on the right is clearly the biblical figure of Eve, as she is covered only by a strategically-placed fig leaf and is holding an apple. The modern feminist beside her holds a sign that says, “EVE WAS FRAMED.” Eve was framed. But in this post, I would like t … [Read more...]

The Sacred in Music

Blacwell

Poetry and music engage us in ways beyond what can be contained in prose alone. Poetry uses language playfully to gesture beyond the more straightforward meaning of most texts, offering the possibility of breaking open fixed ideas to new possibilities. As Emily Dickinson once mused about the power of poetry:Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth's superb surprise As Lightning to the Children eased With explanation k … [Read more...]

Tectonic Shifts in the Global Religious Landscape since WWI

Jenkins

The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism set a high bar. To list only a few examples:the inherent worth and dignity of every person; the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; respect for the interdependent web of all existence.One of the reasons for such high goals is that many of the theological ancestors of contemporary UUs had an optimistic view of human potential. Whereas some theological conservatives preached a pessimistic view of human na … [Read more...]

Why Does Unitarian Universalism Have Such a Long Name?

Ross

This post is the final entry in a four-part series on Unitarian  Universalist history. In part one, I explored the question, “Why Unitarianism?” The Unitarian half  of Unitarian Universalism emerged out of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, and has roots stretching back to the beginning of the Jewish and Christian traditions. And, in short, my answer to “Why Unitarianism?” is that its foundation in six diverse sources makes it a religious movement that is particularly suited for the plural … [Read more...]

The Secret Six:  Violence & Nonviolence in Unitarianism & Universalism

Six

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait" has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is ju … [Read more...]

Why Universalism? “Loving the Hell Out of the World?”

Last week I posted my response to the question “Why Unitarianism?” This week, I will explore the related question, “Why Universalism?” Comparing these two philosophically liberal religious traditions, the most famous quote comes from Thomas Appleton, who said, “The Universalists think that God is too good to damn them forever, the Unitarians think that they are too good to be damned forever” (Buehrens 228). More constructively, the Rev. Forrest Church said, “In a sweeping answer to creeds tha … [Read more...]

Scientific Rigor and Spiritual Evolution: The Work of Jeffrey Kripal

Comparing

This post is part of a summer-long Patheos series on 2014 Religious Trends. This week, the focus is the Spirituality Channel on “Is the Veil Thinning? Time, Consciousness, and Spiritual Evolution” This topic is timely for me because last week, I began teaching a 6-session course in my congregation based on Jeffrey Kripal’s new book "Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms." I have posted about Kripal previously (“Religious Mystic & Rational Humanist: The Mystical Humanism of Jeffrey Kripal”), … [Read more...]

Why Unitarianism?

This post is the first in a two-part series reflecting on Unitarian Universalism. Next week, I plan to write about "Why Universalism?" For me, the move from Liberal Christianity to Unitarianism Universalism has been an important paradigm shift in our multi-religious, multi-polar, postmodern world. Before the advent of modern technology, which has made us increasingly globalized and interconnected, it was easier to justify a belief that there is One, Unchanging, Right Way of Believing and Being … [Read more...]


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