To Question Is An Answer – Seth FisherWednesday, November 13, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I led a service that I felt pretty unprepared for. The catch was that I couldn’t really prepare, because the sermon portion of the service was based on questions written by people attending the service. They were written on little slips paper and collected by the ushers just before my “sermon”. I tried not to get too lost in rambling and boring explanations of church history or in my own philosophizing, and I think I did OK for the most part. I took questions that I hoped would be interesting for everyone at the service. This might have been a decent strategy for the service, but we can’t always just pick the questions we like the best. Sometimes the hardest questions are the ones that we really need to try and answer the most. In the interest of giving some more of the many good questions that were collected their due, I’ll try to answer a few more as best I can. I should also point out, that I’m answering these from my own personal perspective.
Are there evil people or just people who do evil acts?
A preschooler who was playing with a couple of action figures once told me that there are good guys and there are bad guys. He went on to explain that a bad guy is a good guy who makes bad choices. He was just passing this on from one of his teachers at school, but I was still impressed. And I think he was right. I know there are differences of opinion on this, but I would point to people that we think of as evil and the fact that they never seem happy. Even when people who are supposedly evil are incredibly successful in their evil endeavors they don’t seem to be whole. They seem to be missing something that they need and to be desperately searching for it. I think we’re all born essentially good, or basically neutral, and we act in evil ways when something goes wrong and we lose the ability to see ourselves as good. I think evil is a form of ignorance.
Given our message of joy, inclusiveness, and universal salvation, why do you think our movement is not growing by leaps and bounds?
I think a lot of it has to do with our culture. A lot of people agree with the seven principles and with religious liberalism and want to work together with others to make the world a better place, but they don’t know how that’s connected with getting up early on a Sunday and singing hymns, and they don’t see people in our congregations that look like they do or share their experiences. It’s not uncommon to hear someone make an offhand comment that would alienate a conservative, a Christian, an atheist, someone living in poverty… I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve done this myself. We end up being theologically diverse but culturally and politically homogenous, and I think that’s what’s holding us back. It seems to me that answer is in living out our principles – especially the first and seventh.
How do you feel about war, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan? How do you feel about the fellowship and minister growth within the military and in Afghanistan? Do you feel that these people are UU?
I think the recent success in growing UU ministry within the military is a great example of where our denomination is doing things right. I heard a military chaplain tell the story of someone who was raised UU and was overjoyed to find him. This young man thought that he had to give up his faith when he joined the military, so he was ecstatic to find a UU chaplain. I think that it is necessary to fight some wars, but that all of them represent some failing of humanity. Whether or not our country’s wars in the Middle East are justified, the men and women who fight them should not be shunned. To do so would not only deny them a place in our churches, but it would also mean falling far short of our own principles of inclusiveness. Of course they are UU, and we make a place for them in our community because we’re UU too.
There are a lot more questions that I hope to get to, but I may not. Of course, you can also send an email directly to one of the ministers, stop by the office, bring it up at coffee hour in conversation with other members… Let’s keep exploring these questions and keep learning together!
Keep the faith,