In a time of horror, fresh theology
The magazine you are holding contains some of the finest articles UU World has ever published but, sadly, they're the wrong ones for this issue.
As we were about to send this issue to the printer, the terrorists attacked. Not only did they attack landmarks that symbolize American culture, killing thousands, they attacked our sense of safety and our identities, both personal and national. They attacked our souls.
I worked in daily newspapers for three decades, so my instincts screamed at me to leap on the story, to immediately deploy our writers to create articles that would help us, as religious people, come to grips with this challenge to our understanding of ourselves, of justice, of our principles, of the ultimate forces in our lives and universe. Addressing these questions is exactly why we publish this magazine, and we will indeed deliver such stories but unfortunately this won't be possible till our January/February issue.
Unlike the newsmagazines and other big weeklies that have resources and publishing processes that allowed them to create immediate issues about the attacks, UU World publishes every two months with a process that, as we rush only three revised pages into this issue instead of the wholly revised magazine I wish we could be sending you, seems glacially slow. In addition to replacing our Opening Words with In Memoriam, all we had time to do was rush in this rewritten column and a new column from William G. Sinkford, the new UUA president. It's the first to run under the column name he has chosen, Our Calling. To see it, click here.
And to see far more new of the impact of the terrorist attacks on UUs, and on the response of Unitarian Universalism, please check our Web site, www.uua.org. There are more than 100 pages of information, including pastoral letters from Sinkford, resources for worship and religious education, first-person reports from ministers in affected cities, and a wide selection of sermons.
The stories we are working on for January/February will tell of extraordinary responses to the tragedy by UU congregations and by individual UUs and about tragedy in UU families. And they will dig deep into religious questions, such as how UUs deal with evil what about terrorists whose actions, even after taking global attitudes about American economic, military, and cultural power into consideration, can be understood only as atrocities? Do they have inherent worth and dignity?
While waiting for these articles the next time around, please take some time with this issue. As I said, it contains some of the best articles we've ever published.
Forrest Church's cover story, proclaiming a theology for the 21st century, takes on new relevance since the attacks. Church, minister of the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, tested this theological message at the General Assembly in Cleveland in June, speaking for an hour and ten minutes to hundreds of people who crowded a large meeting room and the hallway outside. That he got a standing ovation after talking long enough to make a 19th-century preacher proud is a measure of just how thirsty UUs were then for relevant theological thinking. I suspect that we're thirstier now.