Monday, January 21, 2013

Reading Buehrens/Parker - The roof, salvation

I am way behind on the discussion of Buehrens and Parker's book, A House Of Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-first Century. We are on part three "The roof" where the topic is salvation. This topic entails interesting questions like what is evil, how are we to be spared it, and if it occurs, or god forbid we perpetrate it, how are we to be exonerated, redeemed, how is the sin to be atoned?

Parker points out that much of Christianity has been crucifixion centered, the idea that God put His Son, Jesus, to death to expiate our sins. It's a crazy idea but one which works well for us when we feel full of shame and guilt. It's like the belief in Santa Claus. Jesus came to give us the gift of expiation for our sins washing away our guilt, pooooof, just like that if we believe it, that He is our Lord and Savior. Sure, I'll believe that. What a deal. I can put my responsibility and the responsibility of others who have sinned with me into a figment of my imagination reinforced by the manipulation of charlatans who benefit from my allegiance to their insane theology and giving them power and money.

Further, as Parker points out, crucifixion centered theology provides us with the idea of redemptive violence, the idea that inflicting pain and death on people somehow provides a sense of justice and exoneration and is redeeming. This idea has caused tremendous pain and suffering in our sorry world where fear of pain, torture, attack and execution runs deeply in our psyches.

Parker asks the question, "what is evil?" and she answers "Evil is that which exploits the lives of some to benefit the lives of others." She goes on and writes:

"It chooses ways of living that destroy rather than sustain the delicate web of relationships that make life possible. Evil's accomplice is anesthetization. When the senses have been numbed, and feelings have been stifled, responsive reverence is dulled, and love has no air to breathe. p.68

I would add that evil is often unconscious, it is stupid, it lacks empathic understanding of the karma that destructive actions precipitate.

If evil is a lack of consciousness, then consciousnesses need to be raised. We need to have consciousness raising groups, activities, relationships where we are continually calling ourselves and others to become our better selves. It is this witnessing and advocacy for growth and transformation stemming from loving concern and kindness which is the antidote to evil and which is so easily mocked in our cynical world.

Parker writes; "Love is protected and saved by those who embody presence, wisdom, resistance, gratitude, and humility." p. 71

Parker goes on:

"Do you want to know how I believe we are saved?" my grandmother once asked me. "We aren't saved by Jesus's death on the cross. People believe that focus on hocus-pocus and avoid having to live out the teachings of Jesus. We are saved by every person in every time and place that has stood up for what is true in spite of threat. Like Socrates did. Like Jesus did. Like many others have done." We are saved by a communion of saints. They shelter us, and we have the opportunity to be in their number, here and now. p. 75

Indeed we are saved by courageous men and women who stand up for truth, justice, and the highest ideals of humanity. By providing an enlightened witness and advocacy slowly cultural consciousness changes for the better. It is an organic process that takes minutes or days for individuals and  years if not decades for societies. The courageous men and women need a place of refuge and support. That refuge and support hopefully comes from the church but even the church can be corrupt as we can see from history, and so authentic refuge and hope comes from faith. Faith in our better nature, faith in possibilities of a better world, faith in the goodness of humanity and the world. Our salvation comes from many traditions and understandings, and as Unitarian Universalists is comes from living according to the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism drawn from the Six Sources on a daily basis which is a practical manifestation of Love which surpasses all understanding.


  1. Very good! What a great message. It deserves wide circulation. It is our faith which sustains us.

  2. Most human caused evil can be attributed to human error. People tend to blame God when people do stupid things to other people and beings. They whine like children, "How could God let this happen?" Think of the Newtown killings for example. It wasn't God at all. It was stupid human beings and their guns, a survivalist, paranoid philosophy, and shit happens. If people were wiser, more aware, less stupid and ignorant, then perhaps we would have a happier, healthier society.

  3. "We are saved by every person in every time and place that has stood up for what is true in spite of threat."

    I can't imagine that the Unitarian Universalist Association aka UUA is very happy about me standing up for what is True in spite of its ludicrous "threat" to have me charged with the archaic crime of "blasphemous libel" for blogging about UU sex offenders. . .

    1. Why be a Buddhist when you can be a Buddha? Why be a Christian when you can be a Christ? Hang in there Robin.

  4. Don't worry Jed, not only am I hanging in there, but it seems that UUA leaders have given themselves more than enough rope to hang themselves several times over now. . . ;-)