Our spiritual theme for February is Good and Evil. If Unitarian Universalists can be rightly criticized for anything (hard to believe I know), it might be for not dealing theologically with the existence of evil in the world. Part of that comes from our Congregationalist heritage born of the best of 19th century sensibilities. After all, before the horror of the civil war, most Unitarians and just about all Universalists (who believed that all people go to heaven), looked at the world through optimistic eyes. "Onward and upward forever" cried the Unitarian James Freeman Clark as he surveyed the endless possibilities of the Great Western Expansion. (Of course, not so optimistic for the American Indians we uprooted or massacred as white imperialists).
Our first brush with evil as a faith tradition came with the American Civil War. Here was carnage on an unimaginable scale, brother against brother, blood spilled over self determination and the national evil of slavery. Still we managed to keep the concept of evil in the closet until we faced the twin horrors of the Holocaust and Nuclear War. Now, we were forced to face our human capacity for industrial destruction both as a nation and as a faith.
Attempts were made in the early 20th century by Unitarian theologians to understand evil as the absence of good. However, the perpetuation of willful harm in the face of goodness has made this position largely untenable. Evil, I and others have come to believe, is the dark side of our capacity as moral beings, driven as it may be by pain, fear, greed or neglect. Evil is, I contend, an equal force in the human heart and one that must be actively resisted through protest, education, and help.
Through out this month we will be exploring good and evil. I hope you will come to church and participate in the conversation. On Sunday February 15th and 22nd after services I will be leading a two part series on "The Problem of Evil". I hope to see you there.
With Grace and Grit,