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Universal salvation

January 14, 2012

Although it is secretly implied by the religious identity of my choice of theological school, mentioned in the “About” section of this site, I may as well be up front about this. I am a Unitarian Universalist. What this tells you about me, really, is almost nothing at all. Okay, yes, it means the odds are better than average that I am a white, professional woman with greying hair, an advanced degree, and a pair of Birkenstocks somewhere in the back of my closet. (Guilty on all counts here.) But it doesn’t tell you nearly as much about my religious worldview as it does about the history of my denomination.

Quick, skippable history lesson: Unitarians, once upon a time, were folks who rejected the idea of the Trinity – they were the monotheists’ monotheists. The Universalists were folks who couldn’t make peace with the idea that a loving God would condemn anyone to an afterlife of eternal damnation, and believed that everyone is, or at least could be, saved. Both these denominations evolved, in the United States, into liberal Christian denominations whose national organizations merged in 1961. Even then, the seeds of religious anarchy were taking root and beginning to flourish in soil made fertile by the rejection of any creedal statements.

It’s true. We are the God-optional church. When I sit down in my congregation to worship, I am in the company of Christians, Buddhists, Jews, pagans, humanists, atheists, pantheists, theologically indifferent people seeking community, and, contrary to popular opinion, even a handful of Republicans. I personally show up there every Sunday because I harbor, deep in the fiber of my being, a belief in the idea that it is my highest calling as a human being to love my neighbor and to welcome the stranger. Couple this with frequent, compelling evidence that people are idiots, and there you have it. My highest calling is difficult, ongoing spiritual work – and I need all the help I can get.

Since this is my blog, I will have all the opportunity I want to hold forth on that which saves me from despair, and although God will enter into it, so will chocolate and Post-It notes. I am equally interested in what saves others, and hope that this will be an expanding conversation, not a monologue dutifully read by a couple of my most patient friends. I thank you for reading this far, and invite you to chime in!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura Eldridge permalink
    January 14, 2012 12:48 pm

    I am happy to see that you are still sharing your thoughts with us, Lynn. I wish that we had had more time together prior to my leaving Bradford, as I believe we’d have had wonderful conversations about belief and such. As a mostly introverted Taoist with some Buddhist and indifferent tendencies, coupled with overwork and children, I have little time or focus to practice my salvation-yoga and meditation. I am trying to find the time without neglecting my children, so far without success. Because of this, I look for salvation in places like a kind act (for kindness sake), children’s laughter, and a day in which I don’t have to hear a single person complain or talk about someone else behind their back (these days are few and far between, I’m afraid). When these events don’t present themselves, I find myself feeling drained and sort of “gray” in thought.

    I also find salvation in an intelligent conversation, which no one I work with has the time for. This is why I keep going to school and getting degree after degree, certification after certification. Salvation can also come in the form of sharing the knowledge and experiences I have had with folks who are going into the teaching profession (especially early childhood). They seem to be the most appreciative of the people I present workshops for, as their education tends to be limited to what they can afford-which is not much on their pittance of a wage (This is the point at which I could digress for several pages on the inadequacies of our education system in the US and what needs to happen to change it, even though every teacher in the country knows this and can do nothing about it because there aren’t any on the Boards of Education and no one pays attention to the most important formative years of infancy through preschool-the very foundation of education for each child-sorry for th runon sentence!).

    Anyhow, I shall continue to read your blog and chime in when I have the time and brain power to do so. It’ll be great to get to know you better through this venue, as I write far more elloquently than I speak (remember-introvert). Perhaps when things slow down a bit we can meet for tea?

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