The Reverend Mark DeWolfe Sermon
THE WRONG UNIVERSALISM
September 27, 1987
In front of the posts of religion. To seek new truth. As we venerate old wisdom. To establish a special place for the learning of compassion. Do not come to this house to protest too much a delicacy of learning or superiority of merit. Come with a mind open to authenticity. With the hearts open to faith. Come with a soul open to grace. This is a house of high religion. Come in the yearning for meaning to worship. In spirit. And in truth. Good morning. It’s a pleasure to welcome you all here this morning specially to see some faces. The new year and and I’m familiar. Yesterday after the fall fair I went home and listened to the tape of last Sunday’s service and realized that surely had asked all the newcomers to stand and identify themselves I want to do that backwards this time I want all the members to stand in and so we can see who they are and all the people who’ve attended at least 5 times before to stand so do you do that now. Now you can see who the newcomers are. And I expect you all all of you who are standing to be especially nice to them. Have a seat yeah. Those are the words. Welcome everyone in fact this is an open community we’re always glad to see new faces and to feel at home with those who’ve been with us for awhile of course the invitation is open to join in the fellowship of our coffee hour after the service and I hope that you all take an opportunity to grab my I’m wearing long sleeves today so they can be easily grab right that’s what these are for to say hello to me and get my attention for a few minutes my name is marketable and it’s been my pleasure the last 5 almost 6 years to serve this country Asian minister. And I invite invite you to join in singing our first 10 which is in number 14 and morning so fair to say. The. The. Me. The. Sure. I’d like you to join in reading with me the unison affirmation. We gather this community in St. State that we live within a larger fabric is being which supports us as we supported and which we violate to our own loss. Hey that wider circles of love await expression in our lives. Stated that new understanding dawns with each moment of growth. In such faith we commit ourselves to ethical living. To celebrating truths found in the deep and steady search enter realizing dreams of justice in the light of the war. Just come off yes. Right right. All good morning folks. Good morning. Thank you bye. Last week after I read a little story about and some of you would hear me remember that Maxie Bianca I’m that I’m that. The a few people mention that they have. They’re going to. A few people mention that they couldn’t hear me the back of the hall and. And others agreed but didn’t feel it was a disadvantage. Well I’m going to try the the mark this time and see if it’s an improvement our I did have 2 stories and just pick one of the last moment because Yvonne said you’re not going to read that sexist when are you. Well. I’m not sure whether I pick the right one to read the other one next week anyway just to cover up both options. I do have a story we do have some young people here who would like to come and help me. Who I’m not front. .com. What. No no. Nobody coming. Well I have to struggle along by myself and. Well this is a story haha hello who. We definitely need them right now because nobody can see us right and your young ones can see pictures probably. Well this is a story packed with passion and desire and power struggles. In the overthrow of the older generation by the younger generation who. It does look just like your vehicles just like my room to a. And it’s got enough material on it for about 10 episodes of Dallas. It’s entitled Thomas associate. It’s a little slower but never mind. We’ll have to plan ahead. One day. Thomas his mother bought him a nice new ground slow shoot. When Thomas saw that snow should he said. That’s the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life. If you think I’m going to waive that activation issue you’re crazy. Thomas his mother said we will see our back. The next day when it was time to go to school. The mother said. Thomas please put on your swimsuit. And Thomas said. S. Thomas saying note. It is an association who. Adam Laxalt. His mother jumped up and down. But this is like that sometimes and **** yes. All. Chip Thomas put on that snow suit and Thomas said no. So Thomas’s mother picked up Thomas in one hand. Picked up the service using the other hand and she tried to stick them together. They had an enormous fight history. Who. Yes. Well. Thank you all and when it was done Thomas was in his late shift and you can see how happy looks about that. For almost went off to school and hung up he says you. When it was time to go outside all the other kids jumped into this huge and ran out the door. But not Thomas. The teacher up to Thomas all set. How much. Please put on your. Thomas said. No. All right. He said no. The teacher jumped up and down and said Thomas puts on that show shoot and Thomas said no. So what happens then is rather amazing actually. So the teacher picked up Thomas in one hand and picked up the snow suit in the other hand and she tried to stick them together. They had an enormous fight. And when they were done the teacher was wearing Thomas is nice. And Thomas was wearing the teachers stress. It gets worse. When the teacher saw that she what she was wearing she picked up Thomas in one hand and try to get him back into a snow suit. They had an enormous fight. When they were done. The snow is huge and address were tied in a great big knocks on the floor. And Thomas and the teacher we’re in there under coach. All. Just then the door opens and in walks for principal. The teacher said. Its purpose. He will put on a show shoot. That’s what women like in the circumstances. Right. Cool the principal gave his very best principal look. The first step. And said Thomas get ready. Put on your snowsuit and Thomas said yeah. There is the principal stern look. 36. So the principal Thomas in one hand. I do pick up the teacher in the other hand. And he tried to get them back into their clothes. When he was done the principal was wearing the teachers stress. Yeah it was wearing the principal suit. And Thomas was still in his underwear. Then from far out in the playground. Somebody out Thomas comply. Thomas ran across the room jumped into a snow suit but he’s responding to seconds and run out the door. That. Leaving the principal and the teacher and what might be described as a compromising situation. The principal look to the future. Posted 8. Do you have on my suit take it off right now global. The teacher said knows you have on my address you take off my dress first. Well they argued and argued and argued. Doctor who neither one wanted to change. The struggle between 7. Finally. Thomas came in from recess he looked at the principal and he looked at the teacher. Thomas picked up the principal in one hand. He picked up the teacher in the other end. They had an enormous fight. Thomas brought everyone back into their clothes. At the very next day the principal quit your job. I understand the business. I moved over to unicamp. West snow suits are optional. The end of the story. I actually believe that ending you know. Because. Robert Munch who wrote that story is a Unitarianism perfect well fellowship. With that it’s time for a younger person to go downstairs for that program. Well this congregation is a community that runs on the energy of its members and therefore there is a lot to be communicated energetically now between members and it’s time for the announcement. One of the best ways for the minister to postpone writing the sermons to spend Saturday with the congregation of the fall fair and we had a fabulous time yesterday the weather could not have been better I take no credit for that. The results in fact our work quite pleasing we managed to raise $2204 at last count and we believe all the results are in. So thanks are are to be extended particularly to everyone who came out everyone who helped and particularly to Ken noble and surely beckons with coordinated the entire affair. Yes newsletter week and the newsletter is available for you to pick up at the back of the hall as you know we have a postal strike looming. One of those things that makes life in Canada so interesting. V. we hope to have the mails tomorrow in hopes that they will be delivered before the mail stops we’d like you to help us though if you see a friend or a neighbor on that you can drop by their newsletter by on the way home please help us out with that one and please help us by taking yours to like keep the information moving within our community. As I surely told you last week last week I was in San Francisco as the keynote speaker for the Pacific central districts conference on aids our own district the St Lawrence district which unites Unitarian universalist churches and New York state Ontario and Quebec is holding its aids conference next Saturday in Rochester and that it will be very much along the format of the when I was at last last week we’ll talk about the way the church can respond to this very important crisis in both public health and in the spirit of our of our nation and our people around the world if you’d like more information about it you can get that from Charlie Dickens who also has more information about the youth conference next week in Ottawa the youth conference planned for all the youth of our district being held in Ottawa surely and Pat Webber have the information on that also coming up in the middle of October the weekend of the sixteens the eighteenth is our district fall conference and it’s being held in Binghamton the scene is evolving creatively and 13 speakers the revenue CV Hitchcock director of extension ministry programs for the U. UA Lucy was 3 years ahead of me in seminary and with a long standing friend of mine. Eaker very intelligent and inspiring woman the person’s name the program is posted for that conference is hosted downstairs and more information about it is available in the office. Upcoming of course before that conference is thanksgiving and with thanksgiving of course is the extra push on to raise food for our food bank project here health food path as you’ll receive a special bag for you to load non perishable groceries and in the Toronto Star if you don’t get the star regularly out plain brown bags or plastic bag I’m sure we’ll do the fireballs will be collecting food you can also bring it here I would like to make a special effort we also need a special effort to get volunteers into that at this time because what’s interesting is that you know hungry people are hungry all year round but it’s funny how people who donate think about it at thanksgiving Christmas and Easter. So you get 3 square meals a year. There is a lot of food coming in now and that means there’s an extra need for volunteers so if you’re available in the next few weeks path could certainly you could use the help. What we’re talking about volunteers I’d like to talk about volunteering in the church this is an interesting congregation because of how much it’s grown in the last 5 years V. congregation is half again the size it was before and we’re doing about somewhere between 2 and 3 times as much. One thing I’ve learned about churches is that at no time yes every single part of its programs operating at peak efficiency there’s always one area that you’re just a little worried about it’s not organized as quickly or as thoroughly as it should be. And interestingly enough this church which 5 years ago was well known for the wonderful parties that gays it’s not party giving function that seems to have fallen behind this year. So this is a plea for those of you would think that you are off your gift of the spirit is in not in organizing parties to speak to me or to surely after church and see if we can enlist you in in the job of keeping the fellowship aspects of our congregation going. We now have to break the jobs down a lot more because of the changing congregation first of all the jobs have that things come along more often so we do try to do things in small discrete chunks so that we are asking people to take on massive responsibilities and more than I can handle so please if you have a few hours to get them this is your your interest free speech to us. Or speak to someone who will speak to us if you’re too shy to do it yourself where we’re very understanding people. Are there any further announcements. Can. For. For my hearing last week again this week Thursday October 1 St yeah. The handled started meeting information product marketing strategy are very much in the news do acts that are being discussed in parliament. The topic sponsored by the university of refugee and immigration correlation causation. How are you all that information where 9 people this will be your turn on 9 years later. Earlier about yeah right now there’s so. I’m all right. Cycle are a lot of. Someone or some sort of Oct 30. That’s right we’re going. Right. Right the. Or is on the or. Hello. Is in the Easter party public photograph. Right here and I’m. All. Right also one. The other is a complete copy that we might have. Major problem this church happy. Actually yeah the second in the evening of course the right product has a walk in the woods yeah thank you and your child. On the national Billboard. The children of war one day we will possibly happen in this circle and the formation of the 6 nations and I mean yeah yeah. Okay but what if you’re wrong and I was just asking how how strong it is the. He will be a part of the workshop. Your name. Our citizens and volunteer organized. John Mayer. They have a lot of people to help us in this and I would like to hear anybody say anything about this get all the people in this church everyone in the home and he. Hold. I didn’t get. From. This is a work party out here working working working around property twice a year. All of all of course on the. We have a full board this is often the doing the whitewater people or people that worked for you personally and a lot of a lot of the same time we really do appreciate the people deciding what it is you think you’re going to resolve. And the reason that you’re using if you are going to do some special meeting are you with me while others or. Yeah. All that this congregation is has and does is what we bring to it our time our talents our love and our money gifts for the work of this congregation will not be received. And by you to join me in reading responsibly responsibly. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Reading responsibly the selection from Walt empire her co they need diversity is. Ancient as the home is the temple engine does the work bench is the alter. Or. Older than written language is spoken prayer older than painting is the image of a nameless one. For half. Different words to describe the outward appearance diverse symbols represent that which stands beyond and within. Okay. Our. Ever division liaison with many guards are with one with a holy land washed by ocean waters or holy lands within the hearts. Error. Yeah. Okay. Hi that we share. Because we are human we shall ever build our alters because each has your earnings we offer everywhere our prayers and our hands. Hi. Right. Yeah. I advise you to join me in the spirit of meditation and prayer. The warmth of this fellowship. One for this autumn day. We join hands and hearts this morning. We come with all of who we are. Our bodies our souls. Heartened mind. Here with your name. With questions. Here to see company. Here to see. Answers. Here to see. He’s. In the quiet of this morning we remember we are not alone. The brothers and sisters around us. That all around the earth. Are people who dream. As we dream. Streams of justice of love. A piece. We would seek healing and we would seek to be healers. The profits. G. agents. Of that whole mess. That we know lies in the diversity. He joined here together. To lift up heart heart in hope. Sing out joyously in love. To proclaim together. The truth is fine. In daily living. Let us be agents of healing. Agents of P.. Agents of love. As we grieve together in the quiet at this hour. Let our conspiracy grow. The healing we offer ourselves and our world may blossom. In our time. And in all our days. Comments. Reading from inclusion exclusion among you use by Alice there were 3. The reference to Meadville is actually Meadville Lombard theological school are unitarians for the seminary in Chicago. In the reading it mentioned that fail and I’d be in the M. L.. In the body. First a story a true story. One Friday afternoon at Meadville several years ago it was the team’s turn to lead the chapel service. Gathered we sang in opening him. Then as we remain standing the team for the invocation beginning dear god. Or maybe he said those 2 words later. Maybe they began the pastoral prayer after the homeowner the point is that the gene set them at all in public prayer in the worship service to the community with all the blessing I needed that day. It was more than enough. I can’t remember anything else some are said. All I could contain was this for me wonderfully inclusive and liberating word educate Christian humanist may sometimes once in a Blue Moon even speak in the midst of you use in his or her own idiom without endlessly tedious qualification or translation. Hearing that word I felt included in the M. L. community as they never had before. Until the service was over. I was reminded just how caring and spontaneity I would have to be at least until I achieved something like the 10 year. I happened to walk out with one of the capital H. humanist students I indicate with a capital H. what the Austin my **** here the fierce intolerance of some among us who call themselves human. Spelled with a lowercase H. humanist means something quite other than these prices. Did you hear what he said my companion fairly exploded the minute we were outside dear god. Doesn’t he know service our humanness how could you use that language and exclude at. I think I said nothing. In response remains. I had heard a personal threat the harshest the community dinner free fellowship the threat. If your faith different from mine in a way important to me you will exclude any sample mention of it from our common worship our island guide you with the heresy of excluding me. Censor yourself or we shall see how long you can stay in touch. Secondly. From the Occidental controversy by Reverend Charles A. and it’s 1968. There’s a great difference between religious synthesis and synthetic religion. He had cancer in our midst to make the best ingredients in the historic world religions into some higher Malone’s are misguided and departed. Living faith is no artificial creation. It is synthesis it is true. All the being paid is no artificial I’m sorry all religions are syntheses. But there are Danny pearl syntheses **** have genuine encounters and dialogue. Born out of the dialectic our historical existence not out of our minds. We simply cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps into a new religious synthesis of our own imagination our own making. The synthesis must make us must terrace to and fro in its dialectic until we are shaped into something new. The dialectic of the encounter of the world religions simply is not in our soul. Its resolution therefore plainly cannot come from them we are much closer to the danger of being spectators dilettante who can Snoop around cake on comprehending peaks here in there without having anything much to contribute without having our own point of view to add to the discussion and without understanding ourselves let alone anyone else. But some may say what can be more objective than having no point of view of one ‘s own is this not the ideal position. If only we could play the part of god. Such a modest unpretentious grow to so much more modest than having a police. An opinion. Modesty of course has its rewards only the modest can arbitrate between those who get hurt say what is right in the position of each because only the modest person can see what is true and right where everything from. Don’t bear with the shackles of your exclusive face a minute longer hours is the alternative an inclusive one. Don’t be misled by arranging me anymore they are false. Come to us. Enjoy our religious truth. In genesis 11. Persist 129. Now the whole earth had one language in few words and as people migrated from me they found a plane in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another come let us make brick and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone the chairman for marketers then they said come let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and let us make a name for ourselves lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the cardio while he came down to see the city and the tower which the people have no idea what I said behold they are one people and they have all one language and this is only the beginning of what they will do and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them come let us go down and there confuse their language that they may not understand one another speech so you’re always scared them abroad from there over the face of all the years. And they left off building the city. Therefore it’s name was called Babel because they’re young what confused the language of all the years I’m from there you’re always scattered them abroad over the face of the earth. It was quite a challenge to get from the sarcasm of Charles right back into the. Holy town of genesis appreciate your work. The next him number 248 and it sounds along the ages I invite you to join in singing.
2 wrongs don’t make a right. You may even remember when some stage gave you that advice and you learn that revenge while we left the world a poorer place than it was before. I won’t contradict that advice today. It is still sound ethical and. But I will talk today about what I consider to be too wrong and one right. 2 wrong ways of looking at our religious tradition. And the right one. 2 ways I consider wrong and the way I consider right. The opinions I present are my own not necessarily those of the management and as always are subject to our mutual discussion. And the opinions I present are just that my opinion. I have no institutional authority to claim that my version of Unitarianism personal with them is the one others must follow up I am no infallible pro. Rather I stand here because you called me to be your minister to give thought to our religious traditions and share that with you that you make yourself think and feel and love. And hope and share. That is Unitarianism. I would be keeping from you my thought I did not tell you that there are some versions of Unitarianism wrestle with them which I think are misguided and misleading. In fact I think they are religious mistakes. They are promoted by well intentioned and thoughtful people with whom I disagree and it is very very Unitarian universalist that we should be disagreeing publicly in this way. Sometime in my childhood I learned a rather wicked retort to the observation that the truth hurts. It ran like that. The truth only hurt. And it shows. I first heard it as a childish retort when someone who had been told a nasty bit of revelation about themselves and it seems to apply to some kinds of self knowledge we received. Sometimes we learn things about ourselves which do in fact hurt. But that hurts can be turns to grow. So even though it’s nasty and nice to say to someone else the truth only hurt when it showed. If we find a piece of truth about ourselves with hurt and if indeed it is true and perhaps we can be better people are acting on that truth. Well a few weeks ago I heard the truth about Unitarian universalism hold in such a way that it hurt. And I believe it hurts because it should have heard. That it was something why to make us look at ourselves. I was in a group of people most of whom were known to me. But not all and as we talked it became obvious to those who didn’t know me that I was in fact a minister of some kind of church. So newcomers to our group asked about my church and having never heard about Unitarian universalism he asks what it was. Before I could give my usual explanation another person in the group that I call that the beg borrow and steal what religion. What I asked a little stunned by the comment sure few people take a little bit of this a little bit of that and try to make a few of it right. Beg borrow and steal. Somewhere along the line my friend had heard one of the usual explanations of unitarians and Ursula them which ran like that we are open to all human experience we have no fix canon of scripture. And also. She might possibly have heard the idea that we dream of unifying all the religions of the world into one global phase for the global village. And she did used to promise. Why we in some cases that we take a little bit of that a little bit of that never anything whole hog never anything complete in its contract and make a quilt of it. Perhaps he was right this approach to religion affirmed by many unitarians into restlessness found among. Freed from an imperialistic Christianity which believes itself to be superior to other religions they now window shop among world safe. Taking up and Analects of Confucius a Jewish ritual of Koranic saying a pagan idea I doubt with the ball. Thank caramelized them in their own minds make them fit the religion they wish they had. May have as my friend pointed out bags borrowed and stolen along the way. Well begging is an honorable practice among certain monastic groups both in the Christian Weston the booted feet. But such begging is never part of this kind of Unitarianism Ursula and borrowing it’s nice if you can return it afterwards in good condition. And that doesn’t seem appropriate religious terms. Do you know what might be the better term taking what belongs to someone else oh sure in this case like with borrowing what we’ve taken they still have so it’s not like feeling really. But in the words of the black American poet into stocky chante in her play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf there’s a fabulous insight. A character cries out someone came and stole all my stuff. But just because you stole it doesn’t make it yours itself makes it hello. Borrowed religion isn’t ours perhaps borrowing is the right word after all for it implies that what we have taken isn’t really hours it’s appropriated and applied to our lives. But it stems from someone else’s experience it thoroughly be long to them. Religions are not built in a day and they’re building blocks are not easily moved from one architectural styles to another. You cannot remove one of those red sandstone blocks from the legislature at queen’s park and inserted into the glass and concrete of Roy Thomson hall. Those 2 buildings convey radically different architectural ideas. They are temple the 2 very different religions. Arthur Erickson had no interest in borrowing sandstone from H. H. Richard. The medium belongs to a different idea. Just as you cannot remove the building block of one structure and insert it in another so you cannot remove the building block of one faith and inserted in another. Perhaps it’s a mistake to think of relations as buildings at all they’re more like reading grown out of time through generations by women and men out of their experience. The parts of a weaving are interdependent. If you remove a threat all you have is a threat and your weaving has a hole in it on rival removing a thread from a weaving and mixing it with friends from other weaving is a difficult task. But the thread you move remove has lost some of its power when you remove it. Much of what it conveyed came through its relationship with the parts you’ve left out she gains new meaning from the new threads you combine it with but they’re not the ones that it. Had had when it was embedded with it with that person like. It loses something in the translation and this can be both good and bad if you remove a piece of religion from the wealth of associations that had been in some culture it is impoverishing and by inserting it in others there is no guarantee that it will acquire actual wealth or equal well. So here’s my first kind of wrong universalism. If the belief that you can pick and choose among the world’s religions and have a face with any real power. Religions are creatures that are created out of the mind alone on a shopping spree tend to be short lived. In the eighteenth century a French philosopher tried to create a culture of reason he built a temple created ritual accomplished a holy calendar into priesthood all to celebrate the role reason played in your life because he was certain Christianity was dead and outmoded and his was a religion for the emerging modern civilization. His religion lasted less than a generation. Because it was simply the creation of one mind. That mind assumes that we would need a religion to replace Christianity and proceeded to invent one but that’s not the way religion happened that’s not how they come about they come about over many years. They evolved to fit you and experience and their many part. Stories meant the ology ritual inter relate like the threads in the tapestry when you borrow a thread you have only a threat not a cloth and certainly not a garment. Borrowed relation depends on the assumption on an assumption about which I have some doubt. It is an honorable thing for unitary universal to have that. The assumption is that all religions are somehow the same. Or that the amounts to the same thing. But I can’t be sure about that I’m struck by how different religions are in their ideas their practices their social conventions and consequences. 8 years ago I was privileged to take part in a study group of Japanese religion within 4 weeks traveling in Japan and we visited one of the most important Shinto shrines and naked sheep creek the 30 on the motor. The 90 fourth Yamamoto to serve as chief priest at the bottom. Yeah Morten bay is a thoughtful educated man who wouldn’t ever defines the theological meaning behind ancient Shinto practices. He’s been active in inter religious dialogue both in Japan and in the larger world through the international association for religious freedom. When the I. A. R. F. met in Montreal in 1975 Yamamoto since they went first to the United Nations. And performed an ancient Shinto piece ritual there. He is an intelligent educated and globally aware man. And in talking with us he used to this image for inter religious dialogue he said god this is like the top of a mountain and there are many paths up that mountain. So there are many religions. The goal in inter religious dialogue is to learn more about the top of the mountain. I wish I were so confident. That all religions lead to the pain and. I frankly don’t see it that way in its impact on human lives fundamentalist Christianity is very different from liberal religion one provides the prison of certain answers. The other a windy prairie of doubt. One religions like Buddhism seeks to end suffering by extinguishing individual desire. Another like Judaism response to suffering with a courageous affirmation of light and hope for the future hence the higher is a good thing. The Buddhist desire is bad because it leads to suffering to the Jews desire is good because it leads to a whole. I’m sorry I’m about to say but I just can’t be so sure that we’re all headed in the same direction or towards the same goal. There’s a kind of universalism which focuses on Yamamoto synthase goal and ignores the process of getting there. It’s the kind of universalism with some inherent among today’s unitarians Ursula and is appealing because of its idealistic possibilities. This is a universalism which assumes that all religions are at least about the same thing and therefore they can be harmonized into a universal church which will be the church of all nations the church of one or. It also assumes that this can be done in the matter of one generation like that French philosopher with his religion of reason. Frankly I think that’s assuming an awful lot. The medical story of the tower of Babel he always seems to punish humankind for arrogance. Usually understood this is the arrogance of thinking we could build a hot shower to happen you get closer to god and so to put it in our place your wife scattered across the earth and made to speak in different languages. A simplistic interpretation of the story and then also very pretty in a junk yard away a god who is so jealous of his distance from humankind that he would keep us from becoming neighbors. What colour surmise that the story was told to explain to different things why were there so many different people trying to live in the earth and where did they all come from and by the way pathetic ruined over there that seems to be a tower that almost gets to a point but doesn’t quite make it well somebody must’ve stopped building and there must have been a reason and therefore we have to start. Well I like the story because it is about arrogance and I think we should hold on to the story because it is about arrogant but not be arrogant toward god the usual theological explanation get this rather an arrogant toward each other. Have you ever been in a situation where someone said I know exactly how you feel and you knew perfectly well that they weren’t anywhere close to where you work. Or someone hears your story and says that’s exactly like what happened to me but you fail to see the connection. There’s an error of arrogance there and like most of our more shadowy attitude the person who has it is really stable the. That attitude shows up in religion when someone expect me to follow their path because we we we are the same after all and what fits him or her should surely fit me. In this week’s broadcast week magazine the TV radio in certain the globe and mail recluse who points out how watching the Phil Donahue show features Canadians about ourselves by teaching us more about the United States. The example used with an audience member who answered the question what time with that program you were objecting to on by saying it was on the channel 3 news. Assuming that the news is broadcast at the same hour everywhere and the British television expert who was answering would know when the channel 3 news is on in New York City. There’s an unconscious arrogance. In that assumption the assumption that everyone is like me or wants to be. Now I don’t mean to imply like that arrogance is an American commodity and that there are no arrogance Canadians if you ever want to meet some listen to some of our nationalist talking about the virtues of our mosaic over there melting pot or AFP are supposedly non interventionist foreign policy or the benefits of our health care system. It is easy for Canadians to put down the grocer injustices of American society and ignore some of our own because they are different or smaller or less visible or because they are our only shadows they are there for difficult for us C.. They are nonetheless real and here I am chief among sinners there being no eventually for Canadian society like a recent convert. And I confess you now that arrogance is arrogance wherever it shows up. So here’s my second kind of wrong universalism it’s a mistake to politely assume that we are all the same before we have even listened respectfully to our differences. It’s a matter of making a mistake in leap of faith of jumping the tracks before you’ve written and ending up the rails. It’s a mistake to assume that we can easily come to understand each other when we have barely begun the hard work and it will be hard work to understand the many cultures present in contemporary Canada alone let alone the rest of the world. The mistakes you make if you approach someone saying we are really the same if you assume the differences aren’t important. And they may be very important vitally important to them. There may be things vitally important to you would you assume are important to them but which don’t amount to a hill of beans in their view. An example. Somewhere between the time of Saint Augustine and the renaissance the biblical stories of creation and the fall of Adam became the dominant myths of western society the people of the Middle Ages saw themselves as characters in a great drama which had its beginning in the creation and what and in the apocalypse. And they were in the middle acting out the important part. By the time of Queen Victoria western scholars assumes that religion around the world musky appropriation and fall and the end time so nineteenth century anthropologists went around the world collecting creation. The problem was in many of the societies that were studied they were studying the creation myth wasn’t very important at all yeah we have the story around just in case anybody ever ask but well thank you for asking and excuse me but I’ve got something more important to get to. The nineteenth century scholars argued for religion by asking the first question of the catechism who made you. They came across cultures from that question was simply not very important. They got answers 31 important question they did not understand that the societies they were observing. They did not understand the society they were observing because their framework distorted what they were looking at they missed the important questions. Saying the differences are unimportant does violence to the integrity of people who get her cars from myself a coop them into being just like us whether they want to be or not I disabled person once said to me that while he would never choose to be born with a disability he certainly wouldn’t want to be like all those ignorant able bodied people who try to pretend that she didn’t accept. Don’t offer me a religion which explains the way the differences in the way we see the world. Don’t tell me. As a Jehovah’s witness missionaries did when I told her I was a minister in my church well we all believe in one god. I thank her and close the door it was a nice way to end the conversation and that’s exactly what it does it ends the conversation he will tell you that all religions really believe in the same god haven’t done much reading in religion or talking to people whose guards are different from theirs the god of the Koran is not the god of the upon a shot or if he is he certainly shows up in different costumes in different places. You can monitor what the Ojibwe does not greatly resemble capsule collider will be asked. And very few of them represent the our way of Jesus. Or the our way of Moses. Who don’t resemble each other either. They’re being roughly 1000 years between them. No I believe these religions have something in common but I think I’m almost motor sensei and his western counterparts are looking in the wrong direction. Religions are heading towards the same goal the thing mountaintop. Rather they spring from the same source the same elements in our human nature. Forrester church minister of the unitarians of all hold Manhattan said it well when he defines religion as the human response to being born and having to die. Humans we’ve religion out of the stories we tell the songs we sing the rituals we perform to put our hearts and minds that he we filled the ology says we try to understand the mystery of human life of suffering of purpose and meaning and in gathering ourselves over the earth we have done this in more ways than any one person could come to understand in one lifetime. The job for a man is to work toward understanding. So here is what I believe to be the right universalism that seriously put faith not across the tracks the cultural difference but upon. The right universalism says to the world our fate affirms that you and I share the common human mystery that means that if I listened long enough and well I can begin to see what it means to be you. Listen to me as well together we can come to understand more of the world than we could separately. Listening to each other together we will both be changed not into the same thing not into a homogenized world religion but more richly into new and different cell you will be what you become and I will be what I become difference richer and wiser. I want to universalism which is brave enough to affirm human dignity without having to ignore human difference. I want to universalism which is brave enough to stop preaching and start listening. I wanna universalism which because it affirms human dignity has learned to listen to human different because it is a vital source of religious wrote. Can we listen for the experience behind language within our own ranks can we even listen when I talk to god to find out what she needs. Can we listen when a Jew or a Christian uses a Bible story to learn what he sees in the book we might otherwise the project when a few minutes speaks of wisdom gleaned from experience what we shot our years. If we can do that we can get beyond that we can begin to listen in wider circles for the insight born in relation carried with them when religions of non western peoples as well as our own. Then move Buddhism might begin to make a bigger difference to us Hinduism could mean more than a misappropriated doctrine of karma. Or the mystifying practice of sati. Then we might be universal worthy of the name. So here’s to our different languages let’s be grateful for that story of the tower of Babel that old man from the eastern Mediterranean health about how we were scattered and how our languages were confused and it says we experience different places and learn to speak different languages now we must learn to listen and let our listening change us I don’t expect that the one you’re working global religion in my lifetime or even a lifetime of my niece and nephew or even the generation that follows them. What I do expect it to the CVC evolve into a different the the west into a different way. I expect it to become not less Christian not left western but more Unitarianism Ursula in new ways and different ones. What will become will be turned determined by how. We need to speak from the tradition of the free church in the west Hey Kim what comes not only from other cultures but from within our own tradition long as it is. It only listening to canning and Martineau to Jose a balloon merry Livermore to Janet and Amerson and Margaret fuller as well as listening to the profits among us now. And speaking back to the world. From the path of our traditions from our religion from our inside. Greens. And we find in our room very. But. Hi. Okay yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah. Okay okay. I don’t. Point your. Documentary so that he is very happy and have yet because he wanted to marry yeah healthcare dialysis yeah. Yeah. 1848 background okay yeah. Okay who is that I think like nothing happened here right. For the day. God doesn’t mean it would probably need authorization.
Reverend Mark DeWolfe