And this new post is just to start this new year with an admission.
For a long time I have thought and claimed that isolation was highly unproductive for Christian Unitarians, that it was just a way to close ourselves into a self made ghetto, to cut ourselves off from any form of growth coming from exchanging perspectives with other Unitarians from different backgrounds, that, in a way, it was a sort of insult to the idea of tolerance which should lead any liberal Christian oriented mind.
Well … I was wrong and I must honestly admit it! To get apart from the rest of the worldwide Unitarian movement is, for a Christian Unitarian, not a form of self-imposed seclusion but the only legitimate form of self defense left to us in this historical moment.
What do I mean with this? I mean that I don’t think that what I used to claim was wrong in itself: I do believe in the necessity for any Christian to be open to any discussion, to have a faith able to face other opinions and to grow also thanks to them, not to be a monolith in front of other visions. I really do believe in all this.
But not now, not in the frame of a nowadays Unitarian Universalism led by a winning humanist/atheist vision no more representing the spiritual needs and the religious convictions of those who find their denominational roots in the teachings of theologians like Servetus, David, Channing or Parker and, mainly, in the immense human vision of our relation with God pointed out by our Master Jesus Christ.
Why does it happen? Why is atheism the winning position in a Denomination born from the union of two Christian movements like the Unitarian and the Universalist ones? Personally I don’t think the answer is so difficult to find and that it can be articulated at three levels:
1) simply, a humanist position is, so to say, less engaging. It could involve the presence of an ethic level (and nobody denies Humanists can be as ethic as Christians, sometimes even more) but, not needing the passage from an ethic to a morality or, in other words, from a pure horizontal way of “acting well” to a horizontal way which involves a source and a goal that transcends that plan to find its final perspective in a vertical level, it doesn’t imply a pure, total, all-encompassing trust which leads us towards that direction. We could say that ethic is a choice, compared to religious morality which is, on the contrary, a law, an inner law for all the believers. And that’s the point: we want to be free from any law, even from the laws of God, we prefer to choose (also because to choose to be good makes us feel much better than to have the inner obligation to be good) and to have the possibility not to choose, we want to get engaged if we feel like doing it not as it is our must as human beings. That’s the trend worldwide and U*U world is just a mirror of that trend;
2) it’s not so surprising that humanists lead the majority of congregations in the world. Given that the social element is the absolute priority for them, while it is a priority a Christian must share with a second priority of “vertical” path (the relation with God), it is quite obvious that the political engagement of the humanists is superior (being their unique level of interaction) to the one of the Christians who tend to be more interested in a real “religious” relation within a Church. Consequently, what’s strange if they manage to emerge in community leadership, national leadership, international leadership?
3) Moreover, at community level, their emersion is consolidated by the fact that community is not a mean for them, but a goal, “the Goal”, while the opposite happens if we speak about the Christians. I have often asked to myself the reason for which an atheist should join a church, which, to me, looks like being just an absurd oxymoron. Well, the only answer I can get is just the need to share a sort of spiritual level to avoid the desperation of a totally mechanistic life, hijacking the sense of the community from being, as said, a mean to walk a path towards God to being a sort of spiritual association having an end in itself.
And so they have led (and go on leading more and more) U*Uism so far from its premises, so far from its deep meaning that it is not only unrecognizable to any other Christian Denomination (in fact not recognizing U*Uism as Christian anymore) but also to its Christian adherents, who feel betrayed, feel like being victims of a theft. But in case they complain… well, they are not only the underdeveloped ones, the fall guys (which is what stands behind 90% of the humanist claims although not openly expressed for a matter of political correctness): they … we become the intolerants, the ones betraying the real spirit of openness, the disturbing ones to push aside … That’s the unbearable part of the story: to add insult to injury!
It’s high time to clearly state, on the contrary, that the only insult is the presence of atheists into a Church, an insult to logic, to faith, to intelligence!
I’ll try to explain my point.
Let’s start from definitions.
What is a religion? It’s the combination of beliefs and manifestations thanks to which the human being tries to relate to the supernatural, to the divinity, to the ierophany.
What is atheism? It is the doctrine denying the existence of God.
Pardon me if I ask but … how can these two positions even lightly match?
Let’s be clear: atheism is something completely different from agnosticism. The second is the position of those who, though being in constant quest, humbly declare their impossibility to clearly claim the existence or inexistence of God, of a transcendent level which remains, anyway, a mystery. The first one is the position of the ones superbly declaring their total, clear certitude of the lack of any transcendent level, finally contradicting themselves in the moment in which in so doing, they end up creating a faith in the “non-faith”, a dogmatic certitude closing any possibility to the free, constant, never-ending quest for a meaning in life. Therefore atheism, as religion, becomes a way of life, an optic to know the world but, in a sort of opposite mirroring of religion, it is an optic denying the possibility to find a meaning for our existence, to find any hope. Is it possible to live without hope? Probably yes, though I can’t even imagine the abyss of sadness coming from such a vision, but, as far as I am concerned, I dare to say that this process of denial of any transcendence never historically succeeded, ending up with the creation of “alternative cults”: the cult of science and progress in Positivism, the cult of social justice in Marxism, the cult of a sort of unexpressed entity called love in humanistic U*Uism…
It even hurts me to list U*Uism together with Positivism and Marxism also because this kind of vision of U*Uism is, historically speaking, just an aberration! I really hope it is clear to everybody that both Unitarianism and Universalism were born as something totally opposed to Atheism: Unitarianism roots in the quest for a pure, uncontaminated cult of the Only God, far from any idolatry while Universalism in the search for an element of hope for any human being. How distant are both these ideas from the desperate lack of transcendence characterizing atheism!
Anyway, a U*U atheism has come to light and, as said, is diffusing more and more. I will not indulge to the idea that it is just a devastating fruit of modern relativism making any line of thought equivalent or of the egocentrism of the contemporary human being, denying, in his total myopia and in his arrogance, anything he can’t manage to understand. Simply, I affirm that it is totally nonsense to define atheism a natural evolution of the Unitarian Universalism as, very clearly, it is something spurious in respect to Unitarian Universalism and logically and semantically we can’t speak about an evolution in front of something which is clearly not a result of the source it should supposedly come from, being opposed to it. Period!
So, what should this “Humanist U*Uism” be? What should it be based on? As previously outlined its core belief, its meaning should be a sort of “cult of mutual love”: a wonderful concept is correctly framed, a silly romantic-hippy molasses if seen as a target in itself.
Is the “act of love” the object of cult of this “evolution”? Ok but any act of love must have a subject and an object. I suppose this “act of love” should be, if I well understand, a sort of reflexive act of the humans on themselves, in a endless net of reciprocity whose goal should be just to live better here and now. Cool! Actually I am not, according to empiric experience, so sure that a generalized and undetermined love towards any other could make one live so much better here and now (which is the only level for an atheist), but, even given that this wonderful dream could be true, should this love be a sort of inner natural instinct, part of the human nature? Obviously it must be so in the moment in which we deny any transcendence: it makes no sense to think about an act that should need a trans-human effort if we accept only the materialistic level of life and so we are forced to think that such an act must forcibly be a natural instinct. Is it a natural instinct? Well, even not mentioning the fact that naturally speaking the basic law is the one of selfishness and of the alimentary chain, could anyone affirm that to reach the point to sacrifice your life for the others is a natural act and not an act totally opposed to the natural law of self-preservation? I don’t think so!
Therefore, this “love” can’t be transcendent as transcendence doesn’t exist and is not natural not being part of this chemical melt we call human being: is it a product of the union of all human being? Well, is it possible that these ultra-logic atheists forget that summing up an even infinite series of 0 you can never obtain a 1?
Is, therefore, this “love” an “ingenerated miracle”? Come on! Not even this primitive believer in God can accept the idea of miracles and, well, though I’d like not to mention the Aquinas, if these atheist and humanist U*Us believe that the “ex nihilo nihil” law is wrong they must be really too intelligent to know things nobody else knows!
Let’s close this logical-theological parenthesis and let’s go back to semantics.
If a Church is based on the common, communitarian cult of a manifestation of the Transcendence, I just ask to myself what are these deniers of any transcendence doing in a Church, what do they give cult to. To their rationality? To this presumed “love” whose source they deny to define? To the friendship of a nice chat or to a philosophical discussion? Can’t they see that their presence in a Christian function is equivalent to a blasphemy in the moment in which we believe in the presence of God during the cult and they deny Him (what would they think if they introduced their father to me and I said I don’t think he exists)? How do they consider a Church? A cultural circle, a humanitarian association, a collective analytic session, a club of friends? Words have a meaning and Church means something different from all these things! That’s it!
I could go on for hours and hours, but I know it would be useless! I am the primitive fall guy, they are the ones leading the liberal Church to the future and who cares if their liberalism becomes only anarchic unengaged libertinism melting any instance to a zero level degree …
Is this the church I want? Definitely no! But that’s the way it works, that’s the way it looks, that’s the way it is going to be.
It is for this reason that I was wrong: there is no possibility to work from within the existing international U*U leading organizations to defend the Christian identity of our Church, our Christian identities they are stealing from us!
For a Christian Unitarian to get apart is, therefore, the only possible remaining defense, not of the rights of God, as God doesn’t need us to defend His rights, but of the rights of our soul, the rights which is our must to defend!