Unitarian Universalism and Pacifism


When I spent my sabbatical last year as minister-in-residence at Meadville Lombard, our Unitarian Universalist seminary in Chicago I met two seminarians who were in process of preparing for the military chaplaincy.

I found I admired both of them, considerably. And, one of them, David Pyle, has become a friend. David maintains a fascinating blog which I follow.

This post is mainly a pointer to his most recent entry, “Unitarian Universalism and Military Chaplaincy.”

But also a thought or two of my own on the subject. I brood over the issue of pacifism. A lot.

I often describe myself as a near-pacifist. I wish it more, but I don’t come closer than “near.”

While I believe violence is a terrible thing, nearly impossible to control once unleashed, and always leaves a wake of sorrow, a flood of unintended consequences: we also have a right of self-protection.

Actually I’m inclined to the belief that if we do not formally opt out through something along the lines of monastic vows, we probably have a moral obligation to protect our loved ones, certainly relatives. And through my sense of interconnection, that obligation of protection extends out pretty far…

I weigh these things and I find myself so, so close to embracing the pacifist way, but never quite making it there.

It is a conundrum I’ve not been able to resolve, a personal koan of our communal life…

So, back to David’s essay. He makes some interesting points, and particularly situates the questions within the scope of Unitarian Universalism.

Well worth the read…

And the ponder…