R&E Newsweekly: Expulsion of Iraqi Christians

It’s been a hard week in the news. Central American children in the borderlands. The deaths in Gaza. The Malaysian flight downing. Frightening news — let’s hope not all true — from ISIS/ISIL. You’d be forgiven for being overwhelmed.

But please spare a prayer for the Christian minority of Iraq, and particularly of Mosul
, an ancient community that’s been extirpated. Remember them, as they take refuge, mainly in Iraqi Kurdistan.

This interview on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly is of Syrian Catholic (that is, in union with Rome) Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan.

Universalist Register 1912: Cross and Crown!

Selection_007Another advertisement from the 1912 Universalist Register was for the “Cross and Crown” system of pins and accessories, to award Sunday School participation. You still see these for sale in old-fashioned church supply stores, but while there used to be named versions for all major denominations, you hardly see any other than Baptists today; the generic “attendance” variety prevail today. And they’re not nearly so refined as the one I saw some years ago: the treasured possessions of elder Universalists, kept from childhood. bitb_cross-and-crown

Back in 2002, I bought up the last of the Universalist “Cross and Crown” pins from Whittemore’s, a much loved but now defunct New England church supply house.

An unexpected source of Universalist prayers

Selection_004The Optimist’s Good Morning is a book of prayers and written selections, published by Little, Brown in 1907 but it’s also a Universalist Publishing House title, and so not-surprisingly full of Universalist authors (and a few who aren’t, like Confucius.)

Florence Hobart Perin, the compiler, was herself a Universalist leader, and presumably the same Florence Hobart who was the clerk of the old Boston Association in the late 1890s.

George L. Perin
(link to picture), is the most cited author, was something of a denominational celebrity and former missionaries to Japan. (I’ve had a devilish time connecting Florence and George.) You might recognize some of the other names in it, like Quillen Shinn, Henry Nehemiah Dodge, Mary Livermore, Charles R. Tenney, Edwin C. Sweetser, Frederick A. Bisbee, Frederic Perkins and Wilburn D. Potter.

It speaks to an upbeat kind of Universalism that I’ve seen little written about, but for which each of these Perins were long-time proponents, if the print record is correct.

The New Testament and Psalter is in

I wrote about a New Testament with psalter I ordered; it arrived last Wednesday.

It could be worse. I can imagine furtive looks about the “faith sharing” helps, and I might agree with you. But they’re moderate evangelical and are easy enough to ignore, in part because they assume a particular insider’s attitude to scripture and the Christian faith. Nothing offensive (if you accept that Christianity is an evangelizing religion) but I may use those pages to paste my prayers.

The bigger problem is the combination of a soft (non-leather) cover and thin India paper, typical for Bibles. The binding slumps in my day bag, and the thin corners dog-ear.

The translation in NRSV, which is a decently middle-of-the-road. The type is slightly larger and more legible than I feared, so that’s good and the price was good. It weighs 165 grams — less than 6 ounces — and fits easily in the hand.

A modest endorsement.

Universalist Register 1912: Dining with the Universalists

Selection_006The 1912 copy of the Universalist Register I wrote about had illustrations and advertising in the back. Such fun. One of the images was of one of the locations of the Universalist Publishing House, then on Boylston Street, very close to the Arlington Street Church.

The building is still there, perhaps incorporated into the building next door, thus throwing off the street numbers. And I gather the street-front cafe is this restaurant: Parish Cafe.

Can any Boston readers confirm? Have any eaten there?

Selected parts from “Universalist Momement in America” available gratis

Ann Lee Bressler’s The Universalist Movement in America is an important resource in understanding Universalist history — and it’s incredibly expensive. A hard copy is now $90. (I got a reader’s copy ages ago.)

The good news is that you can read a “Free sample” — the introduction and chapter one; which are incredibly important — in Google Play, to help you decide if you want to buy the epub ($68!) or rent it ($34!) … or read it at a theological library.

Brooks: We do not belong to ourselves

Another passage from Elbridge Gerry Brooks’s Our New Departure, pages 74 and 75.

Although the language sounds like ransom theory, this is an exposition of the moral influence view of atonement (also loved in antiquity), and a modern view of sin in human relationships. For this reason, it’s worth muscling past language that would place this in another, inaccesible time. (The race bit, for instance; but since it’s at the end of a widening band of human relationships, I assume he means “human race”. But the idea that God has an ownership claim on us might be harder to digest.)

Even in our mere human relations, considering the vast net-work in which we are woven, we are not our own. We belong to the Past, as the heirs of its blessings; to the Present, as the stewards of its responsibilities; to the Future, as the guardians of its welfare. We belong to our parents; to our brothers and sisters, if we have them; to our families and homes; to our associates and friends; to every human being who has done us a kindness, or who needs our aid; to our country; to our race. How much more, then, to Christ and to God! We have not a faculty — of body or of mind, we have not a gift. This is the central fact of which God, through Christianity, is seeking to make us aware. This is the meaning of His Fatherhood. It is equally the meaning of our Brotherhood. The cross is the consummate proclamation of this fact, in concrete. It is God’s sense of ownership and His great consequent interest in us, — it is Christ’s marvellous love, willing at any price to gain possession of us, put into sensible form; and in whomsoever its power is at all felt, self-assertion is so far vanquished, and the will of God, as expressed in Christ, becomes supreme.

My sympathy

Last night, the Unitarian Universalist ministerial college openly lamented the death of Unitarian Universalist minister Jennifer Slade, who died on Tuesday and who was discovered Thursday.

I want to express my sympathy to her family, and to her congregations. I am praying for you and her, and for others — including a number of ministers — shaken and feeling vulnerable by her death. I trust the “better angels” to mutual care and the communion of the churches to help.

The news of her death was reported by the Unitarian Church of Norfolk (Virginia) (Unitarian Universalist), where she was the development minister for about a year. There are, to date, few details and none about any service.

Before that, she served ministries in Clinton, North Carolina and (for more than a decade) at Greenville, S.C. I knew her, or rather of her, in passing and by reputation when I lived and ministered in the South.

Be good to one another.

Universalist Register 1912

There are many years of the Universalist Register, the denominational directory, on either side of the turn of the twentieth century available from Google Books. But there’s a catch. The most useful part (I think) is the set of charts identifying the location of parishes and churches, their membership, minister, clerk and how often they meet for worship. These are printed at ninety degrees to the running text, and the Google’s scanning treated them like images, and lifted them out of the text. Not helpful.

I found a single issue of the Registerthe 1912 edition — scanned by and from the Library of Congress. A touch of irony: the charts are printed right way up, so it wouldn’t have mattered.

Lots of fun things therein.