The Religious Naturalism website religiousnaturalism.org has just been beautifully updated. Its subtitle clearly sets out what religious naturalism essentially is: "a worldview grounded in the sciences, humanities, and arts." Ursula Goodenough, president of the Religious Naturalist Association, further explains her testimony:
"I profess my Faith. For me, the existence of all this complexity and awareness and intent and beauty, and my ability to apprehend it, serves as the ultimate meaning and the ultimate value. The continuation of life reaches around, grabs its own tail, and forms a sacred circle that requires no further justification, no Creator, no super-ordinate meaning of meaning, no purpose other than that the continuation continue until the sun collapses or the final meteor collides. I confess a credo of continuation. And in so doing, I confess as well a credo of human continuation."
"If religious emotions can be elicited by natural reality—and I believe that they can—then the story of Nature has the potential to serve as the cosmos for the global ethos that we need to articulate."
The front page of the website also provides a straight-forward answer to the often-asked question: why bother with "religion"/"religious" at all?
Why "Religious" Naturalism?
"Religious," as it is used here, is not based on belief in a deity or involvement with an organized religion. It refers to personal attitudes, values, and ways of living that reflect a deep reverence for life, a sense of awe at the wonder of nature, and a desire to act in ways that reflect this.
Recently the global banking giant Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has put up two replicas of their pair of mascot lions in rainbow colors outside their headquarters in Hong Kong to celebrate the coming holidays in Winter.
The pair of lions are the creation of a local artist made for the bank in a move to express it's corporate citizenship in the 21st century, in a modern and diverse society, where people, regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity are to be treated with respect and fairness.
Apparently the colorful big cats have drawn the ire of some anti-LGBT groups who claimed that the display of the artwork, at the bank's own property, "offended the customers and shareholders."
Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong (UUHK) thought that it is great to have a bank which has its roots in Hong Kong to express their support of diversity, inclusion, compassion and be good to one another, which are the core values of this holiday season.
UUHK found the idea of the artwork being "offensive" absurd and supports HSBC's genuine initiative to express tolerance, inclusion and diversity.
Regardless of your faith, or the lack of it, we should commend HSBC's action and disapprove that of those anti-LGBT groups.
The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), shares this pastoral message:
The horrific terrorist attacks in France fill all good people with the deepest sadness. May we all rededicate ourselves to waging peace based on compassion and respect. Hatred must not triumph.
I share the following prayer written by the Rev. Eric Cherry, director of the UUA’s International Office:
Holy One, our hearts are torn, broken, and battered.
Even across an ocean
from the City of Light;
Such pain, such violence, such suffering.
The trauma is immense, nearly unspeakable.
We know that we are called to feel the pain of humanity,
to hear the cry of the soul,
the innocent soul.
So we shall.
May it help us turn to love in spite of hate.
May it help us turn to trust in spite of fear.
May it help us turn to each other, people of all faiths and none, in spite of intolerance.
May it help us turn to our neighbors in need.
May it help us turn our care to the vulnerable near us.
May it help us turn our spirits to the grieving, the injured, and the traumatized.
May it help us turn to the recovery,
And to our work of becoming a world of justice and compassion.
Turn us. Guide our feet and hands. Bring us to peace.
by Rev Silas Wong, Treasurer, UUHK
This is the article I shared with the Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship (BMCF) lately. The content relates to my trip to the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) Conference in New York (as delegate for UUHK) and the history of Unitarian Universalism. Sorry, only in Chinese language.
紐約的天氣雪冷時晴，冬日之美景盡現。剛巧舊曆新年來至，我就如遊子般書寫今次家書，以慰藉在遠方的親友。這次來美參加尋道會的國際會議（ICUU ), 遇到不少友善同志的牧者及信徒領袖，也遇上了同志的弟兄牧友，實在喜出望外。UU (Unitarian Universalist) 起源於特蘭西瓦尼亞（Transylvania），現為羅馬尼亞的一部份，卻為昔日匈牙利的領土。由於十六世紀宗教改革，他們卻因自成一派（不接受三位一體，祗信獨一的上帝）地不受天主教甚至抗羅宗（Protestant), 亦即改革派的基督徒的接納而被迫逼。然時至今日，全世界各地都有UU的成立。我在離開傳統教會服事後，便遇到在港成立尋道會的前宣道會弟兄，於是便與他們結緣。他們的存在對我而言便是如LGBT信徒受排斥和傷害，甚至被判為異端，重則被火燒死，輕則打入冷宮。然他們視同志及跨性人士卻情同手足，令我動容。若果要我說三位一體重要抑或獨一真神重要，後者無疑才是信仰的重心，不過透過主耶穌貫通新舊約的時代和聖靈的入住及更新。我想三位一體這教義充滿著奧秘，連神學家也不易理解，我們卻去對不接受者大反特反，如對耶和華見證會及猶太教等的討伐，這是否有點矯枉過正？！
A tragic ferry accident in Hong Kong killed more than 30! CNN's report here. It was supposed to be a happy day. It was the 63rd anniversary of the People's Republic of China, a public holiday. It was an "open day" of the Hong Kong Electric, one of the two major local power suppliers. The electric company arranged a family day for her staff. More than one hundred and twenty staff and family, many being children, had visited the power facilities on Lamma Island. After dinner, the ferry was carrying them back to Victoria Harbor to watch the firework show there. Just 5 minutes after departure, however, the ferry was hit at one side of her tail by another public ferry. She sank within 2 minutes, with her tail hitting the sea bed vertically. All passengers fell into water. Many were rescued swiftly but still more than 30 were registered dead! UUHK mourns with the whole city.
Starting 3 September, we are very pleased to have the interfaith minister Peter Lloyd to lead a series of monthly UU worships for us. The theme of the first one is Forgiveness. I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks Peter for putting together this fantastic worship service.
Only after the worship did I find out that, incidentally, the theme of the September issue of Quest is forgiveness!
Quest is a monthly publication of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, a "church" serving isolated UUs worldwide.
The format of Quest is two sermons followed by other content. Needless to say, both sermons are on forgiveness. What struck me most, however, is a short story told by Kate Braestrup. Kate's two children were badly burnt in an explosion caused by the gasoline Kate's cousin George, an adult, used to ignite a pile of backyard brush. Those few simple yet astounding words from one of her burnt child Zach to George, who was blaming himself, fully illustrates the divine quality of forgiveness: "It's all right, George. We love you."
Kate's final remark is so true: "If you are living in love, you are in heaven no matter where you are. May heaven hold you. May you always, always, live in love."
This story and the two sermons in this issue of Quest beautifully complete our worship service.
Read Quest September 2011 here
跨宗教牧師 Peter Lloyd 開始為尋道會帶領一系列 UU 崇拜。第一次崇拜的主題是「寬恕」。我十分有得著；感謝 Peter。無獨有偶，Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) 出版的月刊 Quest 九月份的主題也是「寬恕」。CLF 專為世界各地沒有教會可去的 UU 個人及家庭而設。它的月刊都有兩篇很好的講道。今次最令我感受深刻的反而是 Kate Braestrup 牧師鈙述的事件。她的表親喬治，大人，用汽油點燃後院樹枝堆時，發生爆炸，燒傷她的兩名孩子。當喬治非常自責的時候，她兒子的一句話最令人明白寬恕的神聖，他以燒傷了的手搭在喬治的肩上，安慰說：「沒事的。我們都愛您！」
讓我們記取 Braestrup 牧師的一番話：只要你心中有愛，無論身處何方，你就是在天國裡。願你常活在愛中，願天國擁抱你。
East Africa, especially Somalia, is in a devastating famine. This is the world's worst food security crisis in the last 20 years. Lives, especially children, are loss every second right now. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has just launched a UUSC Somalia and East Africa Relief Fund. Please help. Details here.
Progressive Christian Fellowship (PCF) gathering May 21: "church-state relations in HK" by radio host "Fast Beat" (Cantonese). Video recording can be found in "Videos" section of our website.
香港的「全球禱告日」承傳自南非。快必以南非八五年批判種族隔離政策的基督教《契機文件》（Kairos Document）切入，剖析香港的政教關係。文件批評，國家神學協助維持國家極權主義現狀。這仍然適用於當今香港教會。例子包括：播道會港褔堂吳宗文引用羅馬書十三章叫人順服掌權者。馬時亨與「全球禱告日」強調法律與秩序（law & order），保護建制秩序，無視法律與秩序也可以不公義。《時代論壇》李錦洪鼓吹中立討論國民教育，便容許了政權以洗腦教育壓迫人民。明光社蔡志森對民主存戒心，認為性小眾打著民主旗號爭取權益。相對地，基督徒民主教室（秘書處性文化學會（關啟文））更支持民主，但這亦意味教室須容忍性文化學會打壓性小眾（這是性政治）。
上年「五區公投」時，播道會港褔堂吳宗文叫人「投白票」打壓，快必於是在港褔堂外搞了個露天崇拜，更寫公開信問播道會吳宗文有否違反會章中之政教分離原則。播道會陳黔開等與快必對話，說吳宗文講的是道德問題，趕不禮貌出議會。這樣，教會以為堅持保守道德，無形中與建制合作。第二件事。回歸基督精神同盟去了兩次「全球禱告日」。第二次和平靜默參與也被暴力驅趕，保安施行暴力時還不斷喊著「耶穌愛你」。事後快必與主辦單位全城更新對話，對方只重申法律與秩序（law & order），快必則指出法律與秩序也可以不公義地保護政權。從以上兩件事顯示，香港政教關係是一種折衷式的政教分離，以道德秩序為名，維護建制政權，拒絕負起信徒責任批評政府之不義。教會應自問，在替人民充權，或在支持統治者把人民去權。
Extremely sad! On March 11, a terrible magnitude 9 earthquake, followed by a devastating 10-m high tsunami, mercilessly destroyed most of North-Eastern coast of Japan. Over ten thousand were killed. Many more have lost their families, homes, and all they have. Those in relief camps are facing shortage of electricity, food, water, and shivering in sub-zero temperatures; some of the victims actually died in the camps! The deadly nuclear disaster in the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues to unfold. Radioactive contaminants were detected in vegetables, milk, other foods, and even in the tap water of Tokyo. The catastrophes are still going on, countless Japanese are still suffering. Japan, our hearts are with you, we support you!
The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee have jointly set up a UUA/UUSC Japan Relief Fund, click here for details and to donate. Thank you!
by Rev Silas Wong 黃國堯牧師
Progressive Christian Fellowship (PCF) 進思基督徒團契
Alex from UUHK