Saturday, 29 January 2011

Why am I a Unitarian?

Post by Ian.

I was brought up as a Methodist and attended regular Sunday school classes as a child. Christianity, as taught, never resounded in my heart though; and the older I got, the more questions and inconsistencies I found. The biggest questions in my youth were about the Trinity and why Christians didn't seem to do what Jesus was teaching. The most vocal of Christians seemed to be those who paid the least attention to Jesus' teachings. I never got satisfactory responses to questions, no matter who I asked. The Trinity especially was something I could not believe in. How could God be three persons in one essence. How could God be a "person" at all. God was everywhere - no person or being could be everywhere at once. Hence, at the age of 13, before confirmation, I left the church.

In my journey toward faith, I read the Bible, the Qur'an, the Noble Eightfold Path. I explored Wicca and other pagan faiths. In the end I just considered what I believed in my heart, looked around at what I'd seen and started referring to myself as an animist, I considered myself not quite an atheist, though I have certainly had atheistic tendencies. I retained an interest in Christianity, especially early Christianity and have read extensively in to early Christian history and biblical textual criticism.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

We walk in beauty

Post by Ian
`The world doesn't belong to us, we belong to it. Always have, always will. We belong to the world. We belong to the community of life on this planet - it doesn't belong to us. We got confused about that, now it's time to set the record straight.`~ Daniel Quinn, Providence
`Remember that your tracks are one strand of the web woven endlessly in the hand of god. They're tied to those of the mouse in the field, the eagle on the mountain, the crab in its hold, the lizard beneath its rock. The leaf that falls to the ground a thousand miles away touches your life. The impress of your foot in the soil is felt through a thousand generations.` ~ Daniel Quinn, The Tales of Adam

The poem,
Leisure, starts: `What is this world if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare`. In the modern world, we have very little time to stand and stare - time to appreciate and reflect on what we have. All too often, the refrain of our lives is now ... we do not have the time. How did this happen? We have numerous time-saving devices that are meant to free us to enjoy more time, not less. Yet, we now spend more time in doing than ever before. We spend so much time on social interaction by proxy that we can suffer withdrawal effects should someone take our Blackberry, or iPhone, or other communication device away from us. We do not now have the time to stand and stare.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

What price peace ?

Post by Ash
It was depressing to read of more acts of violence carried out in recent weeks in the name of religion. Two weeks ago 60 people were killed in an attack on a church in Baghdad, contributing further no doubt to what the UN Refugee Agency described as a `slow but steady exodus` of Christians from Iraq. On New Year`s Eve in Alexandria, 21 were killed in a similar act of carnage against a Coptic Church. On Tuesday last the `liberal -minded` muslim Governor of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered by his own bodyguard.He had been attempting to change his country`s blaspemy laws in an effort to spare the life of a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for insulting Islam.

That fact that these are examples of attacks by alleged Muslims upon Christians is almost incidental. We all know of examples of Christian intolerance and violence toward other Christians.The advantage of historic hindsight also reminds that the Crusades were hardly the most glorious moment in European religious history. More currently it`s hard not to be acutely aware of the negative perception of the `Christian` west by Afghani`s and Iraqi`s affected by the odd stray warhead. Not for them the rationale of `collateral damage`.

All right-thinking people know that to persecute others, let alone commit atrocity in the name of religion is quite simply an abomination.Individuals and groups that carry out such despicable acts often do so quoting scriptures and mantra as justification. They conveniently ignore the overwhelming and noble truths in all the great religious texts about peace, love and justice.

Contemporary critics of religion frequently use such excesses to remind of the irrelevance, indeed latent dangers of `belief`. Hopefully those of us who accept that there is an important spiritual aspect to all life will counter this. We have a responsibility to condemn such irrational acts of violence and to help keep some sense of perspective. The perpetrators are not representative in any way of their majority communities.They seek bloodshed, mayhem and division for selfish, one-eyed gain. We must seek benevolence, mutual acceptance and peaceful co-existence.

The United Nations Declaration On Religious Tolerance (1981), subscribed to by over 300 nations , states that "everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" . It would be hard for any caring person,and in particular for an individual true to their particular faith, to disagree with this.