Most days when I read letters in the Readers' Forum that I don't agree with, I'm able to sigh, remind myself that my theology affirms that we need not think alike to love alike, and move on.
However, a recent letter (12/20/11) coupled with the resurgence of hateful, threatening letters delivered to my church (I make no claim that these are in any way connected; these two unrelated events simply have inspired me to write to the Forum), have made it impossible for me to ignore the rising tide of intolerance in our community.
In a letter published in The P-J on 12/20, a writer draws a clear line in the theological sand around the doctrine of the Trinity - or at least of his understanding of that doctrine. I will not argue points of doctrine - that is almost universally a fruitless endeavor - and will simply recommend the excellent and biblically sound, "A Treatise on Atonement" by the 18th century Universalist, Hosea Ballou.
My purpose in writing today is to urge my clerical colleagues and, indeed, all people of faith, to set aside the urge to further separate ourselves - wheat from chaff, sheep from goats, saved from unsaved - and seek (and find) our commonalities.
It's time to realize that my faith does not invalidate your faith. My source of hope does not wrench hope away from you. We are all products of the same process that swirled the galaxies into being. We are all interconnected; the well being of one cannot be separated from the well being of the whole. We spring from the same source and, I believe, journey to the same ultimate destiny. Our lives are finite expressions of the Source of Life, Love, and Goodness. You may name that Source, God, while another names that Source, Life. The Source remains unchanged despite our differing understanding of it.
What is gained by dividing people and creating a climate of fear and intolerance? What is gained by dismissing other theological explorations and interpretations as a 'cult'? What can possibly be gained by turning neighbors against one another - all in the name of religion?
If our religions do not make us more loving, thoughtful, tolerant, respectful people - what can save us from ourselves?
Let us make a resolution - yes, a New Year's Resolution - to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another. Let us resolve to live the essence of faith: Love. Let us hold one another accountable to love our neighbors as ourselves.
God help us to make it so.
Michelle Buhite of Jamestown is a Unitarian Universalist.