A God Who Cannot Love
Once, God was a Being. Now God is a concept. UU and other liberal churches have not come to grips with that change
I suggest instead a "radical" definition of these words, getting down to their root meanings.
o Religion comes from the Latin religare, and means reconnection. (Re- means "to do again"; -lig is the root found in words like "ligament" and "ligature," and refers to a connective.)
o Salvation comes from the same Latin root as the word salve; it refers to a healthy kind of wholeness.
Putting them together (I think they must go together): Religion is the search for a feeling of reconnection to a healthy kind of wholeness.
Not all religious paths require intellectual integrity. In fact, most don't. When I was in graduate school, I had a classmate who was a brilliant student, took his Ph.D. with honors--and was a Moonie. My cognitive dissonance finally got so loud, I asked him over lunch one day how he could possibly keep the things he learned in his Ph.D. program in the same head with the things the Moonies taught him without splitting in half. "Oh, that," he replied without missing a beat. "That's easy. You just have to keep what you know and what you believe separated." As I gagged on my calamari, he added, "There's a lot of that going on, you know."
There is indeed. That's a key difference between the broader conservative religious paths and the narrower liberal paths. The kind of "peace" religious liberals seek may surpass understanding, but it can't bypass it. By keeping what he knew and what he believed separated, my classmate lost any possibility for achieving the kind of integrity that is a non-negotiable component of liberal religion. If we're going to check our brains at the church door, almost any faith will do. Ours is, and has always been, a much harder and more demanding route. The quality of integrity it offers can lead us to a personal authenticity forever beyond the reach of those who keep what they know and what they believe separated.
Today, we need to unload, re-examine, and rethink the religious symbols we use to express our deepest hopes and yearnings--especially the symbol "God." This task falls, by definition and tradition, to religious liberals. It is one of the most sacred responsibilities we owe to ourselves and to the future of religion.
Once "God"--the quotation marks have been necessary since at least the Enlightenment--is merely a concept, new questions arise: