A few months ago we had an auction to raise money for A Better Chance. The ABC program has been up and running for a couple of years. We bought a house in Westport for the scholars and house parents, not far from Staples High School, where they are studying.
For the fund-raising auction someone suggested that I ask Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward to donate a visit with them while they are working, and to ask the same of Christopher Reeve.
Neither of them wanted to have someone visit while they’re working, but Joanne and Paul sent a poster of Our Town with Paul’s autograph. His autograph is rare. Bids were high.
Christopher suggested a visit in his home. His wife Dana arranged an afternoon tea. David and Pam Driscoll, founders of ABC in Westport, made the top bid. A couple of weeks ago I took them to Chris and Dana’s home, and we had a delightful three-hour visit with tea and animated conversation all around.
Chris told us about two exciting and challenging film projects that are in the beginning stages.
During the conversation he said, “People often ask me about my religion, saying it must be very important to me. I like to tell them that I agree with the way Abraham Lincoln summarized his religion: When I do good I feel good. When I do bad I feel bad.”
When Bill Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, was here in November I took him to meet Christopher. We talked about the need for our voice to be heard in the public square around issues that come under the heading of ‘religion and science.’
As a result of that conversation I introduced Bill to John Hooper and Charles Reed, two of our members who are accomplished scientists and who are devoted to the religious-spiritual quest.
There have been follow-up meetings to look at ways we can create a network of UU’s and others who are committed to the match making task of marrying science and religion. It’s not that there’s anything new about this effort-it’s just that it has become increasingly important to offer a balance to the one-sided notion that science and religion are somehow mortal enemies.
A narrow-brand of religion is now working against progress in medical research––-namely stem cell research, which holds out hope for healing spinal cord injuries, as well as a myriad of diseases that are now fatal or extremely debilitating. The discussion about stem cell research has been contaminated by an extremely narrow notion that it’s about the aspect of cloning that has to do with making multiple copies of a DNA sequence. Efforts in the name of religion that prevent science from finding cures have the paradoxical effect of turning thoughtful people away from religion altogether.
You’ll be hearing more about the science-and-religion effort, and ways in which you might get involved. I hope things are okay with you, and I look forward to seeing you soon.