One Definition of Liberal Religion

Here’s a definition I found in the good old Wikipedia. It’s by a Unitarian Universalist (UU) minister named Kimi Riegel who is minister of the UU church in Southfield, Michigan.

To be a liberal according to my favorite scripture, Merriam-Webster, is be open minded, is to be free from the constraints of dogmatism and authority, is to be generous and to believe in the basic goodness of humankind. Religion is defined as that which binds us back or reconnects us to that which is ultimately important. Thus religious liberals are those that are connected, through generosity and openness, to the most important aspects of life. And there in lies the challenge. If we are open minded and not bound by authority who or what decides those matters of ultimate importance?

I like this definition because it ends with a question. UUs are nothing if not questioners, although sometimes we are accused of preferring discussions about heaven to heaven itself. James Luther Adams, the UU theologian, has deeper analyses of liberal religion from the UU standpoint, but this one says it all in a nutshell.

  1. Danielle’s avatar

    Joseph Campbell was a maverick in the field of comparative mythology and spoke of the essential elementary forces within our psyche and how they relate to our belief systems. I tend to believe that religion can be traced back to our animal origins. Desmond Morris who wrote the Naked Ape describes this phenomenon very well. As we evolved it was no longer practical to have an alpha member to submit to since we need social cooperation in order to survive so perhaps we found our first alternative in nature due to her extreme powers and mysteries and as societies developed so did our religious focus. Myths are found in all religions and these myths serve to explain the unexplainable, and provide social cohesion through taboos and rituals. I tend to be all encompassing in my spirituality seeking out those elementary truths found in all religions and mainly in nature.
    On our age difference my dear Marde, it’s all elementary and I definitely honor your life experience and one of the reasons I return is to glean what wisdom I can from your stores. Once again Happy Birthday to the little lady.

  2. Mardé’s avatar

    Thanks, Danielle! Yes, I’m taking the little lady out to dinner this evening along with our daughter and her S.O.. (You might see a photo of our daughter here under nom-de-plum SleepyLaKate.)

    Ah, to have wisdom! Would be nice. I’m still working on it. One hopes for progress but is always uncertain. Age is no guarantee but thank you.

    There was a time that I read a lot of Joseph Campbell, including his thoughts on the power of myth. The Naked Ape sounds very interesting; I haven’t read that. Many UUs seek common truths in all religions and nature.

    At the moment, though, I’m trying to read up on arguments for Theism and Atheism to see once more where I, as an professed agnostic, come down on these. It’s proving interesting and I’ll likely drop a post on it.

  3. Tisha’s avatar

    Very enlightening Mardé! I would like to read a post about Theism and Atheism myself :)

  4. Mardé’s avatar

    Thanks Tisha! I hope I can make that post soon. :smile:


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