27 September 2015 – Rev. Joan Cooke: “Wisdom, Her Name is Woman”

Rev. Joan Cooke returned to our church to introduce us to how Wisdom has been represented in theology. Her address considered several books (Sirach, Wisdom) from the Apocrypha, which are not deemed part of the biblical canon, but which some scholars consider to form part of the “Wisdom” books of the Bible, including Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. Here we find Wisdom personified as female; how many of us know that she is the female figure embraced by God in the famous Sistine Ceiling painting by Michelangelo? This led us into to a reflection on how wisdom has been viewed by religious traditions throughout the ages.

13 September 2015 – Stephen Jackson: “Iconoclasm – good or bad?”

Stephen Jackson led us through a consideration of how the human appetite for violence and destruction; as he pointed out, the history of religion involves a lot of smashing things up! We live in an era when tolerance and turbulence are all around us, and when religious ideas are being challenged on all sides. As Unitarians, we must consider how we have adapted to this new world. Our own faith has long involved the questioning of established ideas and the creation of new ones. Do we find it hard to discuss our faith with others, and if so, can we overcome this, to create as well as destroy?

6 September 2015 – Harvest Festival: David Venus and the impact of cash upon society

Leading our Harvest Festival service, David Venus gave a thought-provoking discussion of the effects of money on society. He asked us to consider the questions: “to live simply, or to leave things as they are?” and “is happiness found in the pursuit of something else?” We must always ask ourselves if, in a society which believes that our needs are met by our ability to purchase, the way in which we are living devalues or adds value to our lives. We considered earlier societies’ approaches to money and transferable credit, including Pacific societies which represented a person’s credit status by their possession of a large, immovable stone, showing that money is not the same as the things which represent it. Jesus’ “camel and the eye of the needle” story of the rich man shows that it is not so much money itself, as our attitudes to it, that matter. Is Heaven a state of mind within us? More recent history, such as the miners’ strike, show how societies can manage without money, if there is mutual aid for the welfare of the community. Is the current time of austerity one in which we should re-evaluate our lives? Many rich people, such as Karl Rabeder, have chosen to give away much or all of their money, seeing it as a burden. Ultimately, we hope that our harvest may be what we need, not what we want.