Monday, December 1, 2008

Universalism

This week's Wellspring group centered on the history of Universalism, specifically a reading from Universalism in America: A Documentary History of a Liberal Faith and a lecture on "Hospitality and Grace" by Rev. Robert Hardies at 2006 GA.

I found this whole bit quite fascinating. My first UU was extremely Unitarian. Very intellectual, above the neck sermons and people. Certainly there was social justice work and things that often moved my heart and soul, but I still see it as primarily working from a Unitarian tradition.

First Unitarian Church of Rochester, at least with its current ministers, seems much more Universalist to me. (I really must go and visit the other 3 churches in my area this year to get more perspective). There is so much work toward the heart and spirit. I go home from each sermon with homework, a mission, an action item. I feel impassioned and my spirit is moved to show up for life and make a difference.

In Hardies' lecture, he says that the one great miracle of Universalism is Radical Hospitality. I have been to a radical hospitality workshop at my church, and I have to say that putting Universalism, or the idea that we will all be saved, and are all welcome, in the framework of Radical Hospitality, turned on a very bright lightbulb for me.

I really think that it has given me a new twist in my path - UUs are sworn heretics. We are thoughtful and action-oriented (at our best) and smug and self-congratulating at our worst. I really see a need in our faith to highlight the heart of who we are - the Universalism. Whether you believe in universal salvation or not, I can believe in filling up someone's bowl. I can believe in showing up for life, and for holding out the welcome mat to UU. I can be evangelistic about our faith in that way, without witnessing or praying for someone, or being pushy. I can just be ready to welcome whoever shows up in my life, to what my faith means in my daily life.

I can be the change - I can be open and welcoming to those who cross my path, and if they show up at my church, I can shake their hand and look them in the eye, and make sure they get what they need (even if that is just a quiet corner from which to observe and experience).

I believe that for UUism to grow and thrive, we need to truly learn how to practice radical hospitality - that is action that we can all get behind. It's the butterfly effect - why does evil exist? Why do bad things happen? How can one believe in a God who "lets" that sort of thing go on? I don't know...I believe that spirit is neutral, but I also believe that we can act out of our own free will in ways that can potentially ward off evil, and that we have a responsibility to live out our values to the best of our abilities and to show up to life with open arms.

There's a couple of Rumi quotes:
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you….

Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.



There's a strange frenzy in my head,
of birds flying,
each particle circulating on its own.
Is the One I love everywhere?

and

Well, I can't find the second one, but I'll post it later.

In other news, I had my ML admissions interview today. Now let the waiting begin.

2 comments:

ogre said...

Waiting?

Oh, wait... that's right. I did things in a rather non-standard way, and the interview was the last thing in the process for me--threw me out of the room for five minutes at the end of it, and then came out, welcomed me and apologized for the delay--apparently several of them had been needing to meet and this was the first time they were in the same place at the same time....

I imagine you'll do fine, from what I've read.

As for the actual post topic... Hardies is fun in person--GA 2006 was my first encounter with him, and only at the Sunday worship service which he preached. Which was enough (find the recording online and watch it. That man is a dangerous evangelist!).

Kelly KH said...

I had a phone interview; I do think it went fine, but it was hard to prepare so I just was myself and honest in my answers. They said I'd have an answer within a week.

I'll definitely check out the recording! I'm all about dangerous evangelism. I was tickled pink when my favorite professor from college was named one of the top most dangerous professors in the country!

http://books.google.com/books?id=CYqZjtVp00AC&pg=PA304&lpg=PA304&dq=sam+richards+penn+state+dangerous&source=bl&ots=xD6zpVRwtB&sig=OcIesHNTbEHNYnFH2rWaTpUGwrI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result#PPA305,M1