Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading Beuhrens/Parker - The three progessive eschatologies

Rebecca Parker describes in the first chapter of A House For Hope entitled "On Holy Ground" the progressive eschatologies three major forms. The first is the Social Gospel promulgated by Walter Rauschenbursch who believed ardently in social justice as being God's work on earth. This Social Gospel fueled the Civil Rights struggle of the 60s and its theme song might well be "We Shall Overcome."

The second eschatology is the universalist belief that we all will get to heaven, the only question is when and how. The Universalist Belief is  in the compassionate, unconditional love of God which is all inclusive. Parker writes on p.10

"In the early nineteenth century, the universalist preacher Hosea Ballou noted that if people imagine a divisive and punishing God whose desire for justice is satisfied by the crucifixion of his own son, they will model themselves after this God and feel justified in being cruel themselves." 

Universalism does not believe in a vengeful God and has rejected a belief in redemptive violence which has permeated the cultural Christianity of the United States, in particular, the most powerful county in the world which still practices the death penalty, alone among developed nations, and has supported pre-emptive wars and torture as an acceptable practice to satisfy its own interests.

The third progressive eschatology which Parker describes is what she calls "radically realized eschatology" which affirms that we already stand on holy ground, that we could be aware that we are standing in heaven if only we could only overcome the blocks to the awareness of Love's presence. This radically realized eschatology practices gratitude and strives to experience heaven on earth as is prayed in the Our Father "....Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Bringing our wills into alignment with God's will for us is what contributes to peace and joy.

The first progressive eschatology, the social gospel, is best exemplified in the second and sixth principles of Unitarian Universalism. The second principle is to covenant to affirm and promote, justice, equity, and compassion in human relations and the sixth principle is to covenant to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

The second progressive eschatology, universalist faith,  is best exemplified by the first, third, and the fifth principle which are to covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations, and to covenant to affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.

The third progressive eschatology, radically realized eschatology, is best exemplified by the fourth and seventh principles which are to covenant to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

In my new, young church, the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, it seems that all three eschatologies are present, but it being a new church there is seems to be a greater emphasis on the inclusiveness of the Unitarian Universalist faith and a commitment to the social gospel without naming it such.

The purpose of church is to promote the "Good News" that there is hope for humanity in spite of the problems which plague us and the suffering we endure as individuals, families, communities, nations, and the whole world.

The major questions of what is the purpose of life, why do we suffer, why do bad things happen, where are we going as a species on this planet, and for what can we, should we hope are all answered in our eschatologies.

At the present time in our culture, in 2012, in the United States most people seem to think that money and guns will save them and keep them safe. Amercia, as a nation, has lost its way, it is a very small denomination which keeps the light a flame, weak as it is, that there is a better way and a more substantial foundation on which to base our hopes for a better experience of ourselves and others on this planet, earth.

7 comments:

  1. Sadly, I would have to say that Unitarian Universalism, as a "religion"*, has lost its way, it is a very small denomination aka "a tiny, declining, fringe religion"** which has repeatedly and quite continuously betrayed every principle and ideal that it *pretends* to affirm and promote. The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism don't "exemplify" anything when Unitarian Universalists willfully disregard them, and repeatedly betray them, at the drop of a Big Fat U*U Hat. . . In fact I have very reasonable grounds to believe that Unitarian Universalism is "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" today precisely because so many U*U hypocrites abjectly fail, and even obstinately refuse, to genuinely practice what Unitarian Universalism "less than sincerely" preaches. . .


    * To borrow some "scare quotes" from a 'Beyond Belief' blog post of UUA President Peter Morales.

    ** To borrow some words from Rev. Peter Morales' "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for President of the UUA.

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    1. Dear Robin:

      We, unfortunately, break our covenant with each other repeatly, as John Buehrens writes in a later chapter in this book which we will get to.

      Observing, recognizing, and acknowledging the breaking of our covenant with each other, it would seem that forgiveness and redemption is a critical part of any eschatology and in my reading of Parker's analysis I don't see any mention of this in the three progressive eschatologies which she describes.

      What thoughts might you have about forgiveness and redemption? What might make it possible for you to forgive those who have harmed you?

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  2. I quite regularly forgive those people who have harmed me, especially if they responsibly acknowledge the harm that they have done and seek to make amends in one way or another, or otherwise seek genuine reconciliation with me. Sadly, and to their apparently non-existent shame. . . most of the Unitarian Universalists I know are apparently pathologically averse to accepting ANY personal responsibility for their own harmful and damaging behavior, or responsibly acknowledging the wrongdoing of their fellow Unitarian Universalists. Unitarian Universalists have not only done absolutely nothing to provide even the slightest restorative justice to me and numerous other people who they have harmed, but they have repeatedly and quite continuously engaged in additional harmful behavior that has only served to escalate and aggravate and prolong our conflict. Rev. Dr. John A. Beuhrens, amongst numerous other hypocritical U*Us who bear considerable personal responsibility for the harm that I have suffered in the wake of my clergy misconduct complaint arising from Rev. Ray Drennan's intolerant and abusive behavior, has never done anything to seek reconciliation with me and he pressured the Unitarian Church of Montreal to expel me and misuse the "secular authorities" against me.

    I do not believe that egregious institutional stonewalling and denial should be forgiven, if only because the whole purpose of institutional stonewalling and denial is to ensure that no one ever faces the slightest accountability for their wrongdoing. No, I demand real and tangible accountability for those leaders of the Unitarian Church of Montreal and those UUA administrators who bear responsibility for the institutional stonewalling and related injustices and abuses of these U*U institutions and, furthermore, I demand some real and tangible restorative justice for ALL victims of all forms of U*U clergy misconduct. The UUA pretends to be creating a "culture of accountability", and UUA President Peter Morales ran on a platform that included a pledge to create the most transparent and accountable UUA administration to date, but not only have I not seen anyone face the slightest accountability for their involvement in the various injustices and abuses that I have brought to the attention of the Morales administration, but President Morales himself has turned a blind eye to a clergy misconduct complaint that I sent to him almost two years ago now and he has obviously approved of the UUA's attempt to intimidate me into silence.

    I can be reasonably lenient when it comes to accountability but I believe that the Unitarian Church of Montreal, and the Unitarian Universalist Association, need to clearly demonstrate that they actually are ready, willing and able to hold U*U clergy and U*U lay leaders accountable for their wrongful and harmful behavior towards me and other people. The Second Principle of Unitarian Universalism calls for justice, equity and compassion in human relations. If U*Us want compassion from me and other people they have harmed they need to work on the justice and equity part of that equation. . . To date I have seen no justice, no equity, and precious little compassion coming from Unitarian Universalist clergy and lay leaders. If Unitarian Universalists wanted forgiveness from me they should have sought it years ago after confessing to their various sins of commission and sins of omission, instead of repeatedly seeking to punish me for seeking justice, equity and compassion for myself and other victims of U*U clergy misconduct. As they are doing to this very day.

    Unitarian Universalists talk about transparency and accountability.

    Well let's see some. . .



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    1. Very well stated Robin. I, as a Unitarian Universalist, am sorry for the harm that as been done to you. If there is anything I can do to repair it, I am open to your suggestions.

      Unlike other bloggers, I have always provided a place for discussion of the harm that has been done to you and I will continue to do so. Perhaps, like the Bishops of the Catholic church who hid the crimes of their clergy to protect the institution, you see the same self serving dynamic at work in the UU church of Montreal and the UUA in the United States which I don't think has anything any longer to do with churches in Canada, does it?

      At any rate, it seems like a Truth and Reconciliation hearing would be appropriate where the stories on all sides could be told with the goal of restoring some sense of mutuality between the parties who have grown more adversarial over time.

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  3. Very well stated David. ;-)

    And a happy & healthy 2013 to you and yours.

    I was afraid that my fairly blunt "plain speaking" above might come across as "angry" and almost posted a follow-up comment to the effect that I was just fairly dispassionately speaking Truth to power as it were.

    I genuinely appreciate your providing a place for discussion of the harm that has been done to me, to say nothing of numerous other victims of U*U clergy misconduct and other U*U injustices and abuses and I thank you for continuing to do so.

    There is really very little question that the UUA, is indeed very much "like the Bishops of the Catholic church who hid the crimes of their clergy to protect the institution" as you put it. Of course not all of the U*U clergy misconduct that I am exposing and denouncing are actual crimes, indeed only a small percentage of U*U clergy abuse is of an outright criminal nature. Still, I expect that even The Vatican would have the good sense not to falsely and foolishly accuse a Roman Catholic clergy abuse critic of the archaic crime of blasphemous libel for blogging about Roman Catholics who were actually convicted of "such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape". . . The UUA's recent legal bullying quite evidently seeks to have my blog posts about Unitarian Universalists who have actually been convicted of "such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape" removed from The Emerson Avenger blog aka "memory-holed". . .

    Read it and weep for UUA hypocrisy and hubris.

    The UUA is still responsible for "oversight" of U*U ministers serving Canadian Unitarian Universalist congregations and, above and beyond that fact, it seems that a significant number of individual Canadian U*U congregations have reaffiliated with the UUA dumped the CUC after it no longer needed it to redirect the funds from charitable trusts back to its coffers.

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    1. I agree that something similar to a Truth and Reconciliation hearing would be an appropriate means of moving towards resolution of this conflict however I am adamant that certain Unitarian Church of Montreal leaders and UUA leaders and staff must face some real accountability for the harm that they have caused me and other people. The Reston Unitarian Universalist congregation recently dealt with its legacy of clergy sexual misconduct in a manner that can serve as a model for similar Truth and Reconciliation proceedings. I highly recommend browsing through this archived material -

      http://www.uureston.org/sermon-archive/tag/safe-congregation

      I have repeatedly told Unitarian Church Of Montreal leaders that I am willing to suspend my protest outside the church as long as they agree to enter into viable conflict resolution dialogue with me. They have always ignored these offers. I have repeatedly demanded that the UUA must reopen and reexamine my clergy misconduct complaints and how they were (mis)handled by the UUA and MFC, but the UUA has always failed, or even bluntly refused, to do so. During a break in the April 2010 UUA Board meetings I personally asked UUA President Peter Morales to take steps to ensure that my complaints were responsibly reexamined by the UUA. He tersely responded -

      "We're not reopening something that's years and years and years old."

      Funny how he has apparently changed his mind about reopening things that are "years and years and years old". Not to mention reopening something that is centuries and centuries and centuries old. . . It seems to me that if the UUA can repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery they can, and should, responsibly repudiate the UUA's own legacy of injustices and abuses that include, but are by no means limited to, the UUA's shameful track record of negligence towards, and complicity in, all manner of U*U clergy abuse. No?

      Thank you for your thoughtful offer to do what you can to help repair the harm that has been done. There are some things that you can do and I will provide some suggestions soon. As it is I am running a bit late for church as it were. ;-)

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  4. Correcting an omission -

    it seems that a significant number of individual Canadian U*U congregations have reaffiliated with the UUA since it dumped the CUC after it no longer needed it to redirect the funds from charitable trusts back to its coffers.

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