This was a religion of radical and overpowering love. Universal Salvation insists that no matter what we do, God so loves us that she will not and cannot consign even a single human individual to eternal damnation. Universal salvation is the consequence of Universal love.
Why use the language of love to describe this? How else to describe that which created, under grids and sustains us? How else are we to speak of the idealized parent behind every parent - the archetypal Mother and Father of us all?
Many contemporary Unitarian Universalism dismiss this. Our God is more abstract and less personal, more a symbol and less a felt presence, more in our heads and less in our hearts, an idea we argue about rather than an intuition we reply upon.
But what is God really? God is the un-begun and unknowable, the unfathomable and ineffable that is as close as the next heart beat, as ordinary as a mote of dust and as precious as a newborn. God is the transcendent mystery at the core of all things. God is the mask we place upon the infinite and the grab we drape over the sacred so that we might enter into relationship with it. For we, of all the manifestations of the eternally unfolding creation, are blest to awaken to and knowingly witness and savor this miracle of life. Then in transmitting and building upon the creation with our own lives, we seek to address the divine mystery that is both parent and partner. We say: "Our Father and Kami. Hail Mary and Gaia, Jesus, Abba, Siva, Allah, Brahma."
We made Her in ours. Why? So that we can identify with and relate to Her, we can address and be spoken to, can love and be loved by. That is the way we are built. God, which is how we speak of experiencing the mystery behind all things, must be relational because we are relational. The connection we feel to another human being, which is what we learnt in our mother's arms, is the prototype for all our relationships. I talk with God because I need to relate to the world that is within and beyond me. It is a personification of the Most Holy rooted in a powerful, sometimes overwhelming, feeling. What a relief to feel that ultimately there is nothing I can do to alienate myself from God's loving embrace - the almighty but tender arms of the creative force that upholds and sustains all life.
No one has ever or will ever draw true love out of another with punishment. God's love is given to all and is more a positive force for good than fear ever will be. Behind this is a simple truth: in being loved we learn to love. Those who are loved will in turn love others.
The "Gospel of the Larger Hope" is a gospel of inclusion that proclaims God's enduring and undaunted love. Why is it easier to believe the unbelievable than to believe we are one human family beloved by God?
What we yearn for is unconditional love but it is contradicted by our experience. Instead, the principle message each of us received over and over again was this: behave and be loved, behave and be loved. The implication is: those who are good and compliant are loved, all others not. Universalism calls this "partialism." In other words, people have taken their own experience of conditional, judgmental, imperfect human love and ascribed it to God.
The world needs to hear about this faith that soothes wounded hearts and shapes attitudes that embody the Spirit of Love rather than that of wrath. In the face of neo-tribalism we need a message that challenges the "axis of evil" rhetoric, contradicts the 'us' versus 'them' mentalitiy and proclaims the oneness of the human family. God who, dismissing free will, drags Hitler into heaven, as well. This is a truth almost too shocking for us to assimilate, but "... beneath all our diversity and behind all our differences there is a unity which makes us one and binds us forever together in spite of time and death and the space between the stars." (David Bumbaugh).
Die ganze Predigt von Mark Morrison-Reed (Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago) kann unter Dragged Kicking and Screaming Into Heaven nachgelesen werden.
there is a luminous field. I'll meet you there. Rumi
entails not so much a discovery of the supernatural,
when two or more gather,
that the spirit is moving among us.