So, for nostalgiac reasons if nothing else, I'm pleased to hear two items about the UC of C that came to my attention this week.
Item #1: The denominational magazine The United Church Observer is helping sponsor the travelling Darwin exhibit that opened this month at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. From the official press release:
"We were dismayed to learn that the exhibit had been unable to secure corporate sponsorship in Toronto or in any of the other North American cities where it has been mounted," said Editor/Publisher David Wilson. "Our support is modest but symbolic. If a small church-based operation such as The Observer doesn't fear a backlash from those who oppose Darwin's theory of evolution, then secular corporate entities with much greater resources shouldn't fear it either."Good on them, I say; and shame on all the chicken-$#!* big corporations that were afraid of bad PR. (BTW: the Humanist Association of Canada, of which we are members, is also a sponsor).
As to the Darwin exhibit itself: we saw it at the Field Museum in Chicago, and highly recomend it. We may even make the trip to TO to see it again, if say there were to be a get-together of like-minded folks, with beer....
Item #2: Some of the most liberal folks in the UC of C seem to be trying to do away with God:
There is no authoritative Big-Godism, as Rev. Gretta Vosper, West Hill's minister for the past 10 years, puts it. No petitionary prayers (“Dear God, step into the world and do good things about global warming and the poor”). No miracles-performing magic Jesus given birth by a virgin and coming back to life. No references to salvation, Christianity's teaching of the final victory over death through belief in Jesus's death as an atonement for sin and the omnipotent love of God. For that matter, no omnipotent God, or god.In place of all that, Vosper wants to rework the traditional language and ritual into very human, down-to-earth values:
She wants salvation redefined to mean new life through removing the causes of suffering in the world. She wants the church to define resurrection as “starting over,” “new chances.” She wants an end to the image of God as an intervening all-powerful authority who must be appeased to avoid divine wrath; rather she would have congregations work together as communities to define God – or god – according to their own worked-out definitions of what is holy and sacred. She wants the eucharist – the symbolic eating and drinking of Jesus's body and blood to make the congregation part of Jesus's body – to be instead a symbolic experience of community love.Of course, this does prompt me to wonder why they don't all just go off and join the Unitarians, whom it seems to me have been there for years. Or even more: it sounds a lot like secular humanism dressed up in traditional religious language.
Nonetheless, if they keep this up, I might have to rejoin the place in about 20 or so years ;-).