We should do what we can to stick together.
Published January 25, 2017
It my last newsletter I talked about the various approaches to Universalist Christianity people take and now I’d like to talk about the way we can put this into practice.
As many of you know, I live in Washington, D.C. On January 21, about a half a million people participated in the Women’s March, with possibly three million (or more) in total in hundreds of marches across the country and around the world. I was proud to march that day, and it strengthened my resolve for a just and accountable government. It reminded me of another large march I attended, the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. They both inspire me and encourage me when the odds looked poor.
In each case, the downbeat reply came: what good are these marches? What are you going to do with it? Those are reasonable questions, but only to a point. Coming together provides a context and an energy that working alone cannot do. It is evidence that each of us is not alone in our own opinions, and if there are others who share similar feelings and experiences. Gathering together gives strength,and is a foundation for work apart from the inspiration they inspire and the message they send.
Of course, at this point in our history, Universalist Christianity has a very small constituency. We would be hard-pressed to draw together hundreds, much less hundreds of thousands, of people. And so even though the news focused on the large marches in the major cities, I’m equally heartened by the small marches with several or perhaps a dozen people in out-of-the-way places (like Longville, Minnesota) organized against all hope of success and yet, in their marching, found success.
They were successful because of a leader who found it necessary to start something even if it was small, opposed and perhaps seemingly futile. That alone made it a success. Any other accomplishment was a bonus.
Another, more modest example is applicable to Universalist Christians. I speak and read Esperanto, the international auxiliary language, if badly. It’s common in Europe for Esperantists to meet for extended conferences and camps, but long distances and short vacations in the United States mean that Esperantists here can’t do the same thing. So an enterprising Esperantist suggested that self-organizing groups all over North America meet for lightly-programmed one-day events, known as Paralela Universo, or Parallel Universe.(Google Translate does a decent job to translate the site from Esperanto to English.)
Again, Washington had one of the largest meetings but this time it was 24 rather than 500,000 people, a much more Universalist scale, if truth be told. Parallel Universe used off-the-shelf tools like Google spreadsheets and Facebook pages to organize. A site was developed only when a few dozen groups had resolved to meet. What each model of organizing had was a name, a brand, a set date, an interest to act, identifiable symbols and permission for people to gather without a central authorizing body, be it marching in one case, or visiting and talking in a learned language in the other.
And, as they say, it’s a beginning, and I think a model for Universalist Christians who too often have no local church to attend.
We could do likewise.
Also: if you know someone who would like to join the Universalist Christian Initiative, please direct them to http://www.universalistchristian.org/join/. Thanks.
(The Rev.) Scott Wells