27 July 2014 – Rev. Ernest Baker and “Joseph Priestly”

By considering the apparent contradictions that one man may encapsulate in a lifetime, Rev. Ernest Baker encouraged us to seek out the whole truth in any topic we look at. Joseph Priestly spoke of the need to show compassion to our fellow man, yet was called to task for the lack of compassion to animals he experimented on. He was a man of reason, yet believed in miracles; his was not a cold-hearted rationalist, but rather someone in awe of nature’s grandeur.  His was an example of the need to look at the real nature of the world, admitting the whole truth of science, rather than simply using only that part of science that satisfies our world view.

We need great souls to inspire, guide and teach us, to show us that we do not know ‘it’ all, even when we think we do. Rev. Baker ended with a quote by R.M. Rilke, in a letter to a young poet, considering the importance of trusting in Nature:  “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

2014 July 27, Rev. Ernest Baker and “Joseph Priestly”

By considering the apparent contradictions that one man may encapsulate in a lifetime, Rev. Ernest Baker encouraged us to seek out the whole truth in any topic we look at. Joseph Priestly spoke of the need to show compassion to our fellow man, yet was called to task for the lack of compassion to animals he experimented on. He was a man of reason, yet believed in miracles; his was not a cold-hearted rationalist, but rather someone in awe of nature’s grandeur. His was an example of the need to look at the real nature of the world, admitting the whole truth of science, rather than simply using only that part of science that satisfies our world view.

We need great souls to inspire, guide and teach us, to show us that we do not know ‘it’ all, even when we think we do. Rev. Baker ended with a quote by R.M. Rilke, in a letter to a young poet, considering the importance of trusting in Nature: “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

20 July 2014 – David Venus and “Humanistic Religious Naturalism”

David Venus shared with us his thoughts on the emerging emphasis in Unitarian Universalism, of a non-theistic faith: Humanistic Religious Naturalism. It seeks to link the rationalism of a Humanistic approach with the reverence and awe of Religious Naturalism. The role of ritual was a particular focus: for the structure it gives our lives; the comfort of acts often repeated; as a means of preparing the mind for what is to come.

“Religious humanism is a life stance that exults in being alive in this unimaginably vast and breathtakingly beautiful universe and that finds joy and satisfaction in contributing to human betterment. Without a creed but with an emphasis on reason, compassion, community, nature and social responsibility, it is a way of living that answers the religious and spiritual needs of people today…..

“Religious naturalism is a perspective that finds religious meaning in the natural world and rejects the notion of a supernatural realm…but (rather) understand God as belonging to the natural universe rather than a supernatural deity….Integrating the two results in a greater spiritual depth and a language of reverence….Humanistic religious naturalism promotes an ethical life in which one thinks and acts from a larger perspective than one’s own interests; a life that affirms the worth and dignity of each person; a life filled with wonder and reverence  for the extraordinary magnificence of the natural world and human creations. It includes gratitude for the gift of life itself and the capacity to enjoy it.”   William R Murray, 2006, UUA website

2014 July 20, David Venus and “Humanistic Religious Naturalism”

David Venus shared with us his thoughts on the emerging emphasis in Unitarian Universalism, of a non-theistic faith: Humanistic Religious Naturalism. It seeks to link the rationalism of a Humanistic approach with the reverence and awe of Religious Naturalism. The role of ritual was a particular focus: for the structure it gives our lives; the comfort of acts often repeated; as a means of preparing the mind for what is to come.

“Religious humanism is a life stance that exults in being alive in this unimaginably vast and breathtakingly beautiful universe and that finds joy and satisfaction in contributing to human betterment. Without a creed but with an emphasis on reason, compassion, community, nature and social responsibility, it is a way of living that answers the religious and spiritual needs of people today…..Religious naturalism is a perspective that finds religious meaning in the natural world and rejects the notion of a supernatural realm…but (rather) understand God as belonging to the natural universe rather than a supernatural deity….Integrating the two results in a greater spiritual depth and a language of reverence….Humanistic religious naturalism promotes an ethical life in which one thinks and acts from a larger perspective than one’s own interests; a life that affirms the worth and dignity of each person; a life filled with wonder and reverence for the extraordinary magnificence of the natural world and human creations. It includes gratitude for the gift of life itself and the capacity to enjoy it.”

William R Murray, 2006, UUA website

13 July 2014 – Rev. Margaret Kirk and “Unitarian Journeys”

Rev. Margaret Kirk invited members of the congregation to speak about the route that had brought them to Unitarianism and then spoke about her own personal journey.

She reminded us that the Unitarian faith has undergone a fundamental change in the last few decades, on a journey of its own. Where it would once have described itself as a non-Trinitarian Christian church, it is now a church that seeks to have a broader base. This has not been an easy journey, causing considerable internal division. However, Margaret feels that while there is a place for historical context, it can be a barrier to talking about inclusivity.

Truth is best served when the mind and heart are free and other beliefs can be gateways to further knowledge. We do not need to know what each other’s personal theology is, but simply that, in this church, we are all seekers. These are the values that hold us together: love and inclusivity. These are the strands that are woven together, that connect us and strengthen us.  From a Persian text: “Whatever road I take joins the highway that leads to God. Broad is the carpet God has spread and beautiful are its colours.”

2014 July 13, Rev. Margaret Kirk and “Unitarian Journeys”

Rev. Margaret Kirk invited members of the congregation to speak about the route that had brought them to Unitarianism and then spoke about her own personal journey. She reminded us that the Unitarian faith has undergone a fundamental change in the last few decades, on a journey of its own. Where it would once have described itself as a non-Trinitarian Christian church, it is now a church that seeks to have a broader base. This has not been an easy journey, causing considerable internal division. However, Margaret feels that while there is a place for historical context, it can be a barrier to talking about inclusivity.

Truth is best served when the mind and heart are free and other beliefs can be gateways to further knowledge. We do not need to know what each other’s personal theology is, but simply that, in this church, we are all seekers. These are the values that hold us together: love and inclusivity. These are the strands that are woven together, that connect us and strengthen us. From a Persian text: “Whatever road I take joins the highway that leads to God. Broad is the carpet God has spread and beautiful are its colours.”

6 July 2014 – David Venus and “Balancing the soul and the spirit”

Our thanks go to David Venus for taking this service at short notice. David suggested that the life of the spirit is one of information gathering; of rapid growth and living in the present, as typified by the modern delight in technology and social media. In comparison, the life of the soul is one that seeks love and meaning in connection with others; it is about wisdom and essential stability. Human progress may be said to be currently unbalanced, with too much emphasis placed on the ‘scientific’ training of the spirit, and little care given to feeding the soul, as, for instance, we cut essential funding to the Arts.

The soul and the spirit need to be balanced before we can be well rounded individuals, where knowledge and imagination can complement and support each other. An essential imbalance has dangerous repercussions for society, as proposed by Caroline Baker, a writer who predicts a cataclysmic collapse of society under current circumstances. David simply called upon us to take some simple steps to replenish the soul: seeking out and making time for solitude and silence; taking exercise, especially outside within a natural setting; doing things for others within our community. He reminded us that joy, with its spiritual undertones of gratitude, demands awareness and a state of quiet mindfulness to be experienced. Practicing mindfulness may lead us closer to finding joy in our interior world and in our interactions with others.

2014 July 6, David Venus and “Balancing the Soul and the Spirit”

Our thanks go to David Venus for taking this service at short notice. David suggested that the life of the spirit is one of information gathering; of rapid growth and living in the present, as typified by the modern delight in technology and social media. In comparison, the life of the soul is one that seeks love and meaning in connection with others; it is about wisdom and essential stability. Human progress may be said to be currently unbalanced, with too much emphasis placed on the ‘scientific’ training of the spirit, and little care given to feeding the soul, as, for instance, we cut essential funding to the Arts.

The soul and the spirit need to be balanced before we can be well rounded individuals, where knowledge and imagination can complement and support each other. An essential imbalance has dangerous repercussions for society, as proposed by Caroline Baker, a writer who predicts a cataclysmic collapse of society under current circumstances. David simply called upon us to take some simple steps to replenish the soul: seeking out and making time for solitude and silence; taking exercise, especially outside within a natural setting; doing things for others within our community. He reminded us that joy, with its spiritual undertones of gratitude, demands awareness and a state of quiet mindfulness to be experienced. Practicing mindfulness may lead us closer to finding