Friday, December 14, 2012

Eschatology - purpose of human life in the universe



In part one of A House For Hope Rebecca Parker, in Chapter one, This Holy Ground, discusses eschatology which is the theological term for “last things”, “end times”, ultimate hopes. Most religions inject fear into their adherents speaking not only of personal death, but the final stage of humanity. I was taught as a young boy that I would go to hell if I did not accept the moral precepts and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Parker writes on page 5,
“Scripts about the end of the world tend to become compulsive, self-serving prophecies. They feed what theologian Catherine Keller calls the West’s ‘apocalyptic habit’, predilection to see the impending end of history in one’s own time and to act it out.”
Christians have been waiting for Jesus’ return since he died. Predictions of the “Second Coming” abound and as I write this many people are expecting the end of the world in December of 2012 because of superstitious beliefs about the Mayan calendar.
Parker writes further, “Journalist and commentator Bill Moyers notes that ‘people under the spell of such potent prophecies’ represent a significant voting bloc in U.S. politics. As one leading U.S. senator aligned with this theological perspective put it, people cannot be expected ‘to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of apocalypse foretold in the Bible?’”
This kind of apocalyptic thinking is quite different from the Unitarian Universalist view which is captured in the seventh principle which is “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part” as well as the view of Native American spirituality as when Chief Seattle said, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
And so I wonder what UUs should tell the world about the destiny of human evolution? What does Unitarian Universalism teach about the nature of the world and the destiny of human beings in it? Is the Unitarian Universalist theology about the purpose of existence unique in any way and different than other mainstream religions? If so, what is the framework of meaning that Unitarian Universalists propose that humankind consider as they wonder about their purpose in the Universe?

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