“The promise of all bogus religion is the promise of a peaceful life without pain.” — William H. Willimon
We Unitarian Universalists do not believe in the prosperity gospel that purports that God rewards those who are faithful with wealth and material possessions, or its corollary, that those who are poor are disliked by God, or otherwise less worthy. It is a horrible and inhumane theology that sadly does have its roots in our forebears, Puritans, who brought a theology in which only those deemed “elect” or “saved” were members of the church — the effective ruling body. A major identifier of those saved, or held in God’s favor, was having material wealth. Wealth ruled. The poor were disdained. Sadly, that theology lingers in our country, but there have always been those who disagreed and tried to change it. Most notably, our Universalist ancestors.
Universalism insisted that God loves everyone, every single person ever born, and wants the best for each and every one of us. The litmus test for identifying a good person, is the one the prophets and Jesus set forth: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, the widow, the orphan, the prisoner.
As we live through this pandemic, I see people who have internalized the prosperity gospel in a new, insidious way…suggesting that the ones who survive are the chosen of God, and those who do not, were dispensable, not important to God, nor therefore, should they be, to us.
We need Unitarian Universalism, now, as much as we have ever needed it. We need it to affirm the value of the poor, the disenfranchised, the vulnerable, in the face of anxiety. There is abundance, even in the midst of experienced deprivation. The abundance of value. We all are precious and beloved; we all are fragile in ways we know and ways we don’t. And surely sometimes, whether we admit it or not, we feel like we are holding on by our fingernails.
Let us remember that the angst we experience does not separate us from the love of God, from the divine embrace, from the wholeness of the blessed universe.
These are hard times. We are getting tender, even brittle. We may not always feel loved or loving. Isolation can do that. How important, that we continue to reach out, via Zoom participation, phone calls, texts, cards, and notes. We belong to each other, sharing our sorrows and our joys, our laughter, and our tears.
We have our own prosperity gospel — insisting that we will get through this because we are in this together, and together, we thrive.
Holding you tenderly,