Rev. Pam briefly quoted from the late Rev. A. Powell Davies at the August 18 church service. This reminded me to write a blog post highlighting some online resources on this remarkable man.
Davies (1902-1957) was one of the most important and influential Unitarian ministers of the 20th century. His biography and various links at Wikipedia are worth reading.
Davies was influential in part because of how well he used the opportunities afforded by his 1943-57 ministry at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. Both personal memories and a perusal of his sermons testify to his great skills as an orator. Davies was a powerful opponent of McCarthyism and a proponent of Civil Rights on a national stage. He was friends with many prominent Washington political figures, including U.S. Supreme Court justices Hugo Black and William Douglas
What is most striking to me in reading his sermons was how powerful Davies was in articulating Unitarianism as a positive philosophy. According to Davies:
“…It simply is not true that one can believe anything and be a Unitarian. This is not what creedlessness means. One cannot be a racist and a Unitarian;… a bigot and a Unitarian. In our zeal for growth, we must not sacrifice the character of our movement as a rational, idealistic, ethical religion. Everybody is not, and cannot be a Unitarian regardless of their unethical behavior or prejudicial beliefs.”
Many of his sermons are available online at the website of the Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church. They are very much worth reading. Of the ones I have read, I was particularly struck by “People Ask About God” , “Unitarianism—What is It?” , and “The Unitarian Faith”. I think the latter two would still be a very good introduction to a positive philosophy of UUism.
Any religion or philosophy needs orators and writers who can articulate with emotional power the rationale for that religion or philosophy as a way of life. A. Powell Davies was a powerful and fervent advocate for a liberal religious philosophy that could provide both personal meaning and the basis for social activism.