in the history of human egotism.' William James.
I’m not sure whether I am religious or not. That’s a strange thing coming from me---a minister of religion … albeit a minister of a very liberal religion [Unitarian Universalism] … assuming for the moment it is a single religion, or even a religion at all, but that’s another matter.
Good religion unites, that is, it binds together not just the adherents of the particular religion but all persons in the sense that it recognizes the existence of a larger family of persons who, though they may not be followers of the religion in question, are nevertheless worthy of the same respect and love shown to adherents of the religion. Good religion recognizes the interconnectedness of all life and all persons. On May 18, 1966 the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr [pictured left] delivered an important lecture at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly at Hollywood, Florida. Among the important things Dr King said was this:
Of course, I am showing a certain prejudice or bias in all that I have written, for I have aligned myself with all that I see as ‘good’ religion, and strenuously reject all that I see as ‘bad’ religion, but I must and will say this in self-defence---I have used reason. If ‘truth’ is truth---that is, if the word has any meaning at all---then truth must be universal. It cannot be the exclusive preserve of some people but not others, or of one religion but not others. I like what Oscar Wilde said, 'Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.' That's funny, but Wilde is wrong. Truth, in all matters, is never a matter of opinion. Truth is a matter of what is.
Now, I must be careful here. I am not saying that all religions teach the same thing, although I do hold the view that, at a certain level, there are certain teachings that are more-or-less common to most, if not all, of the world’s major religions. Also, I am not saying that one religion is as good, or as bad, as another, because all of them are flawed in various ways … including the one of which I am a minister. What I do say is this---some religions are more silly, and (even worse) more dangerous, than others, and some religions have few redeeming features. I will leave it at that for the time being.
'[A] person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value.'
A true ‘religious’ response to life---displayed as a sense of awe, reverence, and respect to all persons, indeed all life---is of ultimate importance.