Saturday, April 25, 2009

"What do you believe?"

From its conception, Unitarianism has been labeled a negative religion, a religion based on reaction to and criticism of "orthodoxy." And the label is often just-for a tradition that is so based on "tolerance" we spend an awful powerful amount of time in criticizing-and even ridiculing-certain other religious expressions. This is, of course, hurtful to others, but its greatest damage is to ourselves as spiritual beings. Cyrus Barol speaks today on:

"Positive Faith"

"Paul was in Athens, and Athens was another name for a place of philosophic and religious speculation...The apostle, with his characteristic ardor, plunges into the midst of every little gathering swarm of debaters in the synagogue and the market; and, either by the superiority of his power or the singularity of his views, soon attracts general attention, and becomes the central figure in that motley, many-tongued group...The take him, carry him to their high court of Areopagus, and ask of him a fuller exposition of his faith...The calm utterance of his unwavering convictions in that scene of scepticism, contradiction, and intellectual curiosity, suggests to us the importance of a positive religious faith; and to this subject I invite your attention...

Passing in review the various forms of opinion that have prevailed from age to age, or that now have dominion in one or another section of the church or the world, it is easy to see how much they express which we do not believe..But, meantime, amid all this negation and contempt, the question comes back and thunders upon us,-What do you believe? What is your true substitute for the supposed erroneous ideas of past centuries or present millions?...

A positive faith, though alloyed with superstition and error, is better than dull apathy or a negative unbelief; for it at least brings the eternal world near to move with luminous, attractive weight on the soul, however it may be misjudged in some of its features. And who of us can judge aright the whole height and depth, length and breadth of those features?...

Let us lay aside, then, as of inferior import, our doubts, disbeliefs, denials, and questionings, upon which we may have falsely prided ourselves; and let us gather up our convictions, as wheat sifted from the chaff. Let us positively establish our faith and enthrone it over our life."


Blessings

5 comments:

Steve Caldwell said...

Boston Unitarian wrote:
-snip-
"From its conception, Unitarianism has been labeled a negative religion, a religion based on reaction to and criticism of 'orthodoxy.' And the label is often just-for a tradition that is so based on 'tolerance' we spend an awful powerful amount of time in criticizing-and even ridiculing-certain other religious expressions."A similar thing could be said about Amnesty International -- they are a "negative" organization which is grounded in their criticism of "torture." Their criticism certainly isn't very "tolerant."

Apparently, being "negative" is a bad thing in all cases.

No offense intended here, but why should one sub-set of ideologies (e.g. religious ideologies) be treated as immune from critical analysis? Given the social and economic power that many religions have, a failure to critically examine religions seems foolish.

Bill Baar said...

Thank you... a sorely needed message.

SC Universalist said...

for Steve C: I'm not so sure that you're looking at the words the same way BostonU is. "Amnesty International" has a clearly articulated positive image: "Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all."

Another negative religious message would be: "God Hates Fags"
or to show a classic UU example "There is no Hell" vs "God is Love". Defining ourselves as who we are not is a negative, defining ourselves as who we are is a positive.

Bill Baar said...

Negation is usually easier.

It's not wrong; just easier.

Taking the easy path almost without fail means we never know what we are save the occasional slogan we take cover behind to avoid the thoughtful, postive, statement about what we mean.

boston unitarian said...

Many thanks to all for commenting-it is much appreciated. Without question, criticism is sometimes a necessary response. I question its value, however, as a basis for living a religious life.
I very much believe that the tradition that I celebrate in this blog has much of positive value to offer the world and it is my honor to share a bit of that value...
Thanks again for your comments and many blessings. BU