Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Liberty and the Soul

The religious question finds its solution in liberty. … The liberal principle preeminently is that humankind has a soul, that we are to be reached only through the soul, that nothing is of value save as it effects a change in the soul. An inflexible justice, granting with inexorable firmness liberty to all, even to those who, were they masters, would refuse it to their adversaries, is the only issue that reason discovers for the grave problems raised in our time.

Ernest Renan (born February 28, 1823)

Gentle, Upright and Kind

The worst of errors is to believe that any one religion has the monopoly of goodness. For every person, that religion is good which makes them gentle, upright and kind. But to govern humankind is a difficult task. The ideal is very high and the earth is very low. Outside the sterile province of philosophy, what we meet at every step is unreason, folly and passion. The wise people of antiquity succeeded in winning to themselves some little authority only by impostures, which gave them a hold upon the imagination, in their lack of physical force.

Ernest Renan (born February 28, 1823)

The Need for Religious Community

During my growing up years in a small village in Maryland, the local Methodist Church was central in my life. But in my high school years, questions and doubts about my religious beliefs began to surface. Feelings of isolation began to grow, for there was no one with whom I could discuss my changing beliefs and experiences, no one to share my yearning and searching. My high school and early college days and my time in the Navy were deeply lonely times. I still recall with painful intensity those early months in the Navy when I was just eighteen, frightened, and alone. At the end of the day, I would crawl into my bunk, and pull the blankets over my head, and pray that God or someone would help me in my loneliness, and then I would cry myself to sleep —fearful that someone in a nearby bunk would hear me. Praying didn't seem to help, but I think the crying did. How much I needed someone to share my religious search. How great was my need for someone to care. The need for a supportive and searching religious community has never left me. That, in part, is why I became a minister; that, in part, is why I am committed to building a strong Unitarian Universalist movement.

O. Eugene Pickett (ordained February 28, 1953)

Experience and Impressions

The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implication of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life, in general, so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it — this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience, and they occur in country and in town, and in the most differing stages of education. If experience consists of impressions, it may be said that impressions are experience, just as (have we not seen it?) they are the very air we breathe. Therefore, if I should certainly say to a novice, "Write from experience, and experience only," I should feel that this was a rather tantalizing monition if I were not careful immediately to add, "Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!"

Henry James (died February 28, 1916)

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