Henry David Thoreau Quote

IN THE STREET AND IN SOCIETY I AM ALMOST INVARIABLY CHEAP AND DISSIPATED, my life is unspeakably mean. No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it — dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!! But alone in distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even on a black and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that the cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home… It is as if I always met in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging, though invisible, companion, and walked with him.

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian and leading transcendentalist. He has long been an inspiration to Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists. The piece above comes from his diary January, 1857

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_David_Thoreau

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Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalism arose out of the joining together of Unitarian and Universalist Churches in the US. Here is how they describe themselves.

In Unitarian Universalism, you can bring your whole self: your full identity, your questioning mind, your expansive heart.

Together, we create a force more powerful than one person or one belief system. As Unitarian Universalists, we do not have to check our personal background and beliefs at the door: we join together on a journey that honors everywhere we’ve been before.

Our beliefs are diverse and inclusive. We have no shared creed. Our shared covenant (our seven Principles) supports “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Though Unitarianism and Universalism were both liberal Christian traditions, this responsible search has led us to embrace diverse teachings from Eastern and Western religions and philosophies.

Unitarian Universalists believe more than one thing. We think for ourselves, and reflect together, about important questions:

The existence of a Higher Power
Life and Death
Sacred Texts
Inspiration and Guidance
Prayer and Spiritual Practices
We are united in our broad and inclusive outlook, and in our values, as expressed in our seven Principles. We are united in shared experience: our open and stirring worship services, religious education, and rites of passage; our work for social justice; our quest to include the marginalized; our expressions of love.

A more detailed explanation can be found here.

 

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Quote for our Post-truth Times

The further  a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.

George Orwell.

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The God of the Gaps

Sermon delivered to Spirit of Life Unitarian Fellowship on Sunday 18 March 2018 by the Rev Geoffrey Usher.

At the meeting of the London Group of the Society on 15 September 1994, the speaker was the Rev Dr David Wilkinson, a Methodist minister and Chaplain to Liverpool University. Rev Dr Wilkinson held a PhD in astro-physics, and was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. In 1993 his book was published: God, the Big Bang and Stephen Hawkins. The title of his talk to the Alister Hardy Society was “Spirituality and Modern Cosmology”.
He began by emphasising that he had come prepared to learn, since no-one knows all the answers to cosmic questions. Important, that:- no-one knows all the answers to cosmic questions.
However, he said, modern cosmology – the study of the world around us – modern cosmology had forced many people to consider religious questions in relation to science itself. They had been forced to consider those religious questions, even if they had no particular religious axe to grind, no particular dogma to defend.It seemed that, the more we discover, the more religious questions we face – particularly questions about the emergence of spirituality in modern cosmologies.

The full sermon on the influence of modern cosmology on the concept of God can be read here.

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Idealism in a Crazy World – The case of Cervantes’ The Adventures of Don Quixote

by Dr Max Lawson

The Adventures of Don Quixote was written in two parts: the first part published in December 1604 or January 1605 and the second part was not published till 1615 – not long before Cervantes’ death.
Not only is The Adventures of Don Quixote considered the first novel but is often considered the greatest comic novel. At the simple plot level it is a series of adventures and episodes involving the delusions of the madman Don Quixote and his so-called squire “The rustic” Sancho Panza. The second part of the
novel is more serious with Don Quixote becoming more lucid and Sancho Panza becoming as mad as his master.
Don Quixote became mad by reading himself into insanity immersing himself in his veritable library of books about chivalry and knight errantry. Part of the ironic drollery of the novel is that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are “absurdly unsuited for their roles(1) – in fact in the romances, books on chivalry, knights-errants were always rich young men of high birth and their squires of similar  background were serving their apprenticeship before coming knights-errant themselves.  Unlike the models in the romances, Don Quixote, with his broken down Rosinale, his horse, and his patch-work thread-bare armour and
the pot-bellied Sancho Panza riding on his ass are parodies of the chivalric tradition. The fun of the novel is all, the absurd situations the decrepit pair get into – the famous, indeed archtypal episode being that of tilting at windmills, thinking them enemies.

Dr Lawson discusses the relevance of this story to the modern world. The complete talk can be found here.

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