One of the goals I had for the Universalist Christian Initiative, underscored in the last newsletter, was to produce resources for the Universalist community. Today, the Universalist community is only faintly an ecclesial community, and its members are found in many churches and none. We need to be realistic about the resources we have, while being broad-minded about the resources we need.
My experience we respect and crave the written word. It add depth to our thinking and praying, and encourages us against loneliness. We have a huge legacy of writing, but lack of guidance in choosing the best elements. Sometimes we lack resources as simple as clean electronic texts, useful for scanning and reproducing. I’ve already done this once with Hosea Ballou II’s The Ancient History of Universalism, not to mention other smaller projects over the last twenty years.
In two years, 2020, we will celebrate the 250th anniversary of John Murray’s 1770 landing in America, which are spiritual ancestors are just the beginning of universalism in America. I know there are stirrings afoot to mark this important anniversary.
Perhaps we can contribute in a way so well-loved to Universalist past call them through the written word, brought to life and shared. A few years ago a group of individuals led by the Reverend Dan Harper transcribed Hosea Ballou’s Treatise on Atonement. John Murray’s three-volume Letters and Sketches on Sermons is easy enough to find online if you know where to look, but again is locked up and hard-to-read PDFs, crudely converted to text by computer. I certainly would have a clean text available; would you? We would not have to invent a work plan. Wikisource project volunteers cleans up documents like these, and we could add these texts (or others) to the body of work they make available to the world.
My experience is that there’s no better way to engage with the text then to closely edit it. I suspect we would recover that bits of wisdom, lost through neglect or change of taste, to share. We already know that inspirational quotations (like “not hell, but hope and courage”) falsely attributed to our spiritual ancestors are popular; why not real ones?
I am appealing to you for help. Does this concept make sense to you? Would it benefit you? Would you be able to contribute a few hours to editing or clean up? If the idea appeals but not the titles, what would you prefer?
Please email me at wells@Universalistchristian.org to share your thoughts for this plan, or express your willingness to help.
Remember the conference in April 27-29 in Providence, Rhode Island at First Universalist Church. A Door Standing Open: Christian Universalism Reconsidered has featured speakers include Thomas Talbott (The Inescapable Love of God) and the Rev. W. Scott Axford, the church’s pastor, who has long explored these issues in a high-level ecumenical setting. See more at doorstandingopen.com, Also, the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship is hosting its next Revival conference in Richmond, Virginia on March 16 and 17. Learn more about it at uuchristian.org/revival2018
Please tell your friends and associates about the Universalist Christian Initiative. They can sign up for these updates at http://universalistchristian.org/join/.
(The Rev.) Scott Wells