Go-slow on blogging

As we re-enter the church year, the blogging will slow down to those posts which help church life, and the occasional quotation. Plus, what time I might use for blogging will be directed to getting the blogs at UUChristian.net humming like a top.

Have you seen Fish Bowl, The Aerie, Prophet Motive yet?

[2009-08-13. Don’t bother. Fish Bowl is long defunct.]

A change of venue

Well, it took long enough but I was able to

(1) learn Movable Type, and

(2) get it loaded onto one of the hosts I have, but clearly not the one that supports uuchristian.org. (Lesson to self: keep all your websites hosted through one, convenient service.)

So welcome to all of those who have read “boy in the bands” before. There are a few things that need to be cleaned up, and I need to get my links finished.

And get enough entries to push the right-hand column over into the right-hand space.

What to profess?

I never thought so many people would take an interest in this humble blog. Thank you.

Some of the well-wishing inquiries came with the question, “how do I get one of my own?” I’m not using any web-logging software; just this CSS (thanks, free-of-charge, to Firda Beka at bookofstyles.org [site defunct], modified a bit).

In time, I hope to “power it” with MovableType, but that’s a learning curve I’ve no time to climb.

Much after Sunday worship.

I read a section from Leo Tolstoy’s My Confession in worship, and led it with
a review of Adin Ballou’s influence on him. I should have gone to Friends of Adin Ballou first! This site keeps growing, and is clearly one to watch.

What to Profess? My friend Derek Parker, an Earlham seminarian and the lay pastor of the Universalist Church of Eldorado, Ohio asked me (and I post here with his permission)

If you were building a new Universalist church from the ground-up, what are 3 or 4 essential theological convictions you would like to see in a contemporary Universalist profession? Or would you just repeat the Winchester Profession with updated language?

What a tantalizing question, and one that I hope to spill into this blog and the pulpit in months to come. But first things first. I wouldn’t reject, update, or adopt wholesale the Winchester
Profession in a new church, no matter how much I love it. (And I do.)

Instead, the Winchester Profession deserves its role as the foundational theological standard for Universalism, and one can build on it.

I have sometimes been criticized for not “correcting” the gender language of the Winchester Profession. For the record, I’m trying to uphold the letter and the spirit of what the 1803 Convention asked of future generations in its adopted Plan of the General Assocation:

Section 10th. The Association reserves to itself, under the direction of that divine wisdom which was to accompany the followers of Christ to the end of the world, the right of making hereafter such alterations of this General Plan of the Association, as circumstances may require. But there is no alteration of any part of the three Articles that contain the Profession of our Belief ever to be made at any future period.

(You can see the whole document and much more at www.winchesterprofession.org/eddy1876.html.) [22 April 2005: I let that site lapse in 2003.]

The 1899 and 1935 documents (a “declaration” and a “avowal” respectively) recall “encapsulated” that which came before it.

Thus the Winchester Profession had official standing, not just pious sentiment, until the Universalists consolidated with the Unitarians.

But there are examples — I’ll have to see if I can dig them up — of local churches and state conventions before 1899
(and perhaps after) adopting theological symbols for the fellowship of ministers and churches (locally, I assume the members, too) which stated more but never less than the Winchester Profession. (Of course, there is also the 1903 composite creed, which though it had no official standing, did make it into a denominationally published
prayerbook for more than a generation.)

This might be the theologically appropriate approach to composing a new theological symbol for Universalists. But this also begs a reading of the Unitarian Universalist Association bylaws:

Section C-2.3. Non-discrimination. The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member congregations and organizations, to promote the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, or national origin and without requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed.

Section C-2.4. Freedom of Belief. Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any congregation unless such is used as a creedal test.

So, what constitutes a creedal test? And who decides?

Why this blog?

Let me be clear why I’m starting this blog: it is in part a positive response to the call by Bill Sinkford, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association to reclaim a “vocabulary of reverence.” First he preached a sermon he gave a while back in Fort Worth, and a few days article in the New York Times appeared highlighting his feelings and alluding to some hard feelings on the humanist and atheist edge of Unitarian Universalism. Again, to the positive, it is amazing, after more than a decade within institutional Unitarian Universalism to see the shift from latent hostility towards Christianity and theism to, well, qualified curiosity.

The Religion News Service contacted me — they wanted a story of their own — and I gave them a quote:

“For us to be more effective in that realm, we have to be comfortable with people for whom religious language is where they live,” he said. The Rev. Scott Wells, pastor of Universalist National Memorial Church in Washington, agreed. Without religious language, he said, it is impossible to be a religious voice. “If we’re not willing to step up to the ecumenical and interfaith table, then we will find ourselves increasingly marginalized and could go the way of the Shakers,” he said.

Day One

God forbid I should think myself one of those theologians who never has an unpublished thought. There are days that I have a hard enough time to come up with a cogent thought. So for now, let it be enough to try and record my best idea to share.

Almighty God, uphold in my ministry every good thing, and guide those who labor and struggle in your name. Upbuild us, so we may grow in your likeness. This I pray in Jesus’ name.