Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

One More Thing...

A sequel to this post...

(Thank you, Crystal S. Lewis!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I've Always Been One

I don't have anything really profound to say on this day of standing up for Universalism -- certainly nothing so profound as what I've read elsewhere today. I'm not studying for the ministry, I am not a pastor or theologian, I cannot point to a moving, transcendent experience that affirmed the beliefs I hold.

I'm just a layperson mumbling in the corner, thinking out loud, sorting out what I believe and how that might inform the way I live my life.

As I've noted before, I didn't grow up UU, but rather in the Mainline Christian church. I heard at an early age about the concept of Hell, and when I learned the Nicene creed, saw that it was embedded therein ("he descended into Hell..."). Yet the notion that Jesus's death and resurrection were specifically aimed at atoning for Original Sin and saving people from eternal Hell, and that belief in that atonement was mandatory to avoid that punishment, were always alien to me.

At one point I recall asking my mother something about Hell -- I was probably at least 10 and could have been as old as 14 -- and her definition was "separation from God."

But when I heard about the violent doctrines of eternal torture from Fundamentalists I knew, I was simply flabbergasted. God and Jesus were about love, I knew. Those other doctrines simply didn't compute. I rejected them out of hand.

So I've never felt wounded by the church of my upbringing -- although I've certainly been angry on behalf of others for the doctrines of fear they've been taught and have believed.

I will probably take a look at Rob Bell's book when I'm next in a bookstore or library and can find it. I am intellectually interested in what he has to say, whether he is or isn't a strict Universalist. But what I am especially interested in is, Then what? What does he say about what one does with the insight that God's love is far, far bigger than the pinched and wrathful deity of the Fundamentalists?

Because what I believe I need most deeply in the spiritual realm has nothing to do with what happens after I die. What I know I need most is to learn how to live, with myself and with others, in this world.

We do need salvation from Hell. But it's the Hell on Earth we need to save ourselves, and each other, from.

Why It's Fun to Have a Blog

Because sometimes you can just share all those goofy YouTube videos you just discovered even if they're so old everyone already knows about them.

Like this one:

Or this one:

I thought about putting up the one of Kermit singing "Dancing in the Dark," but it wasn't as funny.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Serious Question about Godwin's Law (updated)

Godwin's Law is the humorous maxim that asserts that, the longer an Internet discussion continues, the probability of someone raising the Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

As I noted over on Will's blog, its more serious purpose, as I understand it, is to rein in hyperbolic warnings of looming fascism.

So, back when the Nazis were rising to power, what (besides thuggery, of course) was used to shut up the anti-Nazis?


Steve Caldwell points out that my question has been anticipated previously.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jesus, the Anti-Literalist

From Anne Robertson's "Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally":

No matter where Jesus turns, his efforts to communicate are hampered by those who want to interpret his words literally, and by doing so miss the entire point.

(Thank you, Crystal S. Lewis, who put this on her FB page.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

American Grace

I've been hearing about this book and will add it to my ever-growing list of books I want to read:

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, by David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam.

One little data point in the review caught my attention, though:

Half of all married Americans have spouses of a different faith.

That's something that demands unpacking, it seems to me. "Have" implies in the current day. Could that be really true? Or does it mean they married someone of another faith but don't necessarily practice both in the home? I'll definitely have to find that book.

And I'll bet Susan Katz Miller might have something very interesting to say about this...