“Religion is the birth-to-death process of re-connecting with other people, with an ever-changing, aging, failing, growing self, and with Nature.”
I call it ‘generic religion,’ as opposed to ‘a religion.’ All the religions of the world—and there are thousands of them and more being invented every day—are human-made.
Our Unitarian Universalist approach to religion is built on three pillars: freedom, reason and tolerance. I repeat my definition of religion, derived from the etymology of the word itself, rooted in the Latin verb ligare, to bind, connect, tie fast; so re-ligare is to re-connect; re-bind.
We were literally bound, connected, tied to mother until birth. Birthing is the sudden, traumatic process of separating. We need to re-connect, continuously, for our physical survival and for the nurturing of the spiritual life, which is, after all, another way of saying ‘the will to live,’ or that which makes life worth living.
This brief summary is my response to newcomers to our congregation, as it was on Saturday morning this past weekend. The longer version traces the 2000-year history of Unitarianism, as distinguished from Trinitarian, and Universalism, as opposed to the ideas about hellfire. Folks new to our congregation ask the basic questions.
I went from that early Saturday morning meeting to an interview with a candidate for our DRE position—the person we’re looking for to support our religious education program—our effort to help our young people to be informed about the religions of the world and to encourage the development of their own spiritual lives.
Following the interview I met with Bill Bell’s family prior to the noontime memorial service; I encourage families to come to my office before the service to have some private time, so the reception doesn’t begin before the service. Bill’s daughters, Amanda and Sarah, prepared moving tributes to their beloved dad. The service was extraordinary, just like Bill Bell!
Saturday night we had a wonderful pot-luck supper at Jamie Forbes’ home with dozens of folks who volunteered in the religious education program in a variety of ways this year.
On Sunday morning we had our annual R. E. Sunday service, featuring a Service of Dedication of Parents and Children—Scott and Jodi Bryce brought their seven-month old son Jackson who tugged at the microphone while I spoke the words of blessing and then tugged at my beard as I introduced him to the congregation. His parents are professional actors, so he’s already trying to stake out his place on stage—and his paternal grandfather, Ed Bryce, was my dear friend who served on the Search Committee that called me here 23 years ago.
The seventh-grade Neighboring Faiths class reported on their visits to a wide variety of houses of worship: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Native American. The service concluded with a Bridging ceremony for our 31 high school graduates. It’s all about connecting and re-connecting, from birth to death. It’s all about the sacredness of Life.