Sunday 27 January 2013

Active Tolerance

I did not wonder if the forebears of the Hull Unitarian congregation, trinitarian 'extremists' all, were spinning in their graves. I know they were. As good Protestant Puritans, they have been revolving rapidly for some time, but I'm talking about a speed at which bits fly off, the sort of speed that dries clothes before going on any radiator. It was my service and Unitarian churches do as they please. I nearly chose Die Gedanken Sind Frei as a hymn. This was never their intention...

To avoid faffing with matches, I had a candle prelit. To signify 'more fire' for Imbolc I had a 5 stem candelabra already lit. The chalice lighting got another flame going (a candle stub on a tee-light, for a better flame). The liturgy to past, present and future lit three more. The four elements liturgy lit another flame and got some good incense smoke going. That's eleven candles plus incense. Plus, against forebears who refused to celebrate Christmas on the basis that it was Pagan, thus was Pagan neat, including a reading from a book about how to be a witch in thirteen months. Unfortunately the law was passed in 1844 by which other denominations cannot grab the money, and having been there (in and out) for 27 years I am myself within the stipulations of the act about occupation and continuous change. Though I have done these before, if not together.

As in discussion afterwards, we can but we don't have to take the whole packages, nor do we have to believe them in the way that some of their adherents do - though, also, individuals can and the Unitarian denomination is a means to meet adherents of other ways. I also made a parallel about being a "Pretend Pagan" according to one accuser and a postmodern liberal Christian - there are indeed postliberal Christians for whom Christianity is a drama and identity rather than a base for truth. For someone leading a U3A course on Philosophy my liturgy had in it Plato and Aristotle - he said afterwards, "Not their best moments," in that they believed in a four elements that we regard as purely mythic. Indeed the science, proper science, was in my sermon, and I am no dealer in Astrology - the midwife exerts more gravitational pull at birth than even the nearest planet (and what is the causal connection anyway between heavenly bodies and personalities?). None of this is sillier than virgin births or resurrections of the body, however, and as someone said afterwards, no we don't have to take the whole package as demanded by the Pope of Catholic Christianity.

So in that lot, then, the different views of toleration within Unitarianism - my 'raiding party' approach, for liturgical content and spiritual result, or the true believers who'd rather meet those of other true believers.. One of ours went and closed the magical circle because I'd left the powers swirling and active.

Unitarians really do 'meet people where they are', the slogan used by liberal Christians, but then Unitarians are not trying to take them somewhere else. They go where they want to go.

Next week the theme is, oh, Imbolc and Candlemass - again. But it will be very different.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Midwives? Gravitational pull? Good Lord.

“Since there is no conceivable causal relation between the planets and the events, astrology is therefore ripe for synchronistic occurrences.”

“In conclusion, the ultimate foundations of astrology are almost certainly not causal … Scientific methodologies very often, contrary to popular opinion, are not confined to causal, linear models.”