As Anna mentioned, I will be trying to provide exposure to some ongoing debates about religious issues and UUism out in in the world of the internet and blogs. There are some interesting discussions going on about the future of UUism, from a wide variety of perspectives. I have found reading those debates, and sometimes engaging in the discussion, to be important to my own religious and spiritual life. I think debate and reflection is essential to the liberal religious life. While this is perhaps best done in person, the internet does enable exposure to many additional opinions. And perhaps it is an item of our faith that engaging with diverse opinions is essential to the search for truth.
I will try to highlight a variety of perspectives. But I can’t pretend to be unbiased. I have particular interests that may not match all tastes. Your mileage may vary. And I will make some comments that reflect my own perspective.
Therefore, it is important to note that we welcome other input for this blog. If you have seen interesting ideas out on the internet that are relevant to UUism, please bring them to my attention, and I will try to post the relevant links. Or you could do your own blog post.
To begin with, I should reveal my sources. I regularly check the UU blog feed from http://uupdates.net/ . This is a blog aggregator that posts snippets of every post from just about every UU related blog on the internet. It probably has about 20 new posts per day.
Second, on a weekly basis, I check the UUA’s blog that highlights internet discussions about UUism, the Interdependent Web. On a weekly basis, this blog highlights 10 or so blog entries from the previous week that are thought to be of particular interest.
I will try to link to some interesting blog post of interest to UUs at least once per week. For this week, I want to point you to an interesting blog post by the Rev. James Ishmael Ford. Rev. Ford is a UU minister in Providence, Rhode Island. He also is a very prominent North American Zen Buddhist. His blog, “Monkeymind“, is perhaps one of the consistently best UU blogs on the internet, at least from my perspective.
Earlier this week, he wrote a thought-provoking blog post on one of the toughest issues in UUism, which is the issue of how we approach traditional religious notions such as God. (From previous blog posts, it is apparent that Rev. Ford is a Zen Buddhist who takes a relatively non-theistic approach to Buddhism.) The post is accurately titled “God as Prose, God as Poetry: Unitarian Universalism Faces A New Age”.
As I understand Rev. Ford’s point, he is open to religion that addresses big spiritual issues, and uses inspiring language to address that issues. And there has been a movement in UUism to reclaim religious language. But he is worried that in doing so, we may sometimes be tempted to retreat to notions of religion that view God as a larger version of our human selves, and as a God who will intervene to solve problems.
In other words, he is more interested in God as a poetic symbol of ultimate reality than in God as a humanlike actor.
I think Rev. Ford is courageous in raising some controversial issues that potentially divide UUs, because we have many different perspectives. But I do think engaging in some discussion of what we have in common is important for UUism to move forward. And in order to decide what we have in common, we first have to discuss our concerns over what might divide us. In this case, what might divide us are very different notions of God.
What do you think? Feel free to respond here, or at Rev. Ford’s blog, or both.