Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: God

[BLOG] Sorry, We’re Not Done With God Yet

Anyone that has ever stepped in to a Unitarian Universalist church and spent some time there will know the age old debate:  The Humanists vs. The Theists.  It’s the most anti-climactic battle of philosophies and one I’ve found few people truly want to engage.  Keep in mind that many “un-churched” and millenial folks find the whole debate to be baffling in the first place.  But it’s a discussion, an argument, a heated exchange that I am familiar with as a minister.  I remember I once responded to the question “What do I wish someone told me before I entered seminary?” with “Trust in God.”  A fellow seminarian chimed in:  “If anyone had told me that I would’ve thought I mistakenly went to a Christian seminary.”  I almost feel like that little exchange there highlights the problem and nothing else needs to be said.

It is true that most Unitarian Universalists do not affirm a traditional “God” figure.  Whether or not they use the word itself is another discussion for another day.  The short answer is that our use of religious language is all over the map — and that’s a good thing.  But for many Unitarian Universalists, such as myself, the image of God as a wholly benevolent, almighty, loving, and ever-present being that rules the Universe simply does not compute.  Where we go from that viewpoint is truly up to the person:  agnostic, atheist, naturalist, humanist, choose your label and there are many.  However, there is one aspect of this discussion that frustrates me.  Often times it feels that we are “beyond God” in the life of our congregations.  I find this to be so completely misguided. Read the rest of this entry »

Bending Toward Justice

Our reading today comes to us from the Unitarian theologian and minister, Theodore Parker:

The proverbs of the nations tell us this:
“The mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind to powder;”
“Ill got, ill spent.”
“The triumphing of the wicked is but for a moment;”
“What the Devil gives he also takes;”
“Honesty is the best policy;”
“No butter will stick to a bad man’s bread.”

Sometimes these sayings come from the instinct of justice in [humankind], and have a little ethical exaggeration about them, but yet more often they represent the world’s experience of facts more than its consciousness of ideas.

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. Things refuse to be mismanaged long.

Ellen and William Craft were married. And on December 21st, 1848, they went to the train station intending to go just a few counties over to visit family for the holidays, instead, they fled the South. They fled the 1000 miles to the North from Macon, Georgia by train and steamboat in disguises, up the coasts of South and North Carolina, Virginia, D.C., and Maryland.

Four days later, on Christmas Day, they arrived in Philadelphia to spend three weeks with a Quaker family and then they travelled to Boston after the New Year. There they found a home. William spent his days from then on out making cabinets, Ellen worked as a seamstress, and they were Unitarians, and so they joined the congregation being served by that great minister of old, Theodore Parker. Read the rest of this entry »