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Thursday, 16 October 2008 23:00

Amendment Two: a Window into Hell Rev. Gregory Wilson, 10/17/08

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Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one women as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.

Amendment Two is part of a world view that honors religious intolerance, scapegoats to centralize power, imposes a power narrative on those who do not wish to be part of that story, and creates laws against nature. Spiritually speaking Amendment Two is both religiously and politically oppressive. This strategy has taken many forms throughout history, however the intent is always the same: maintaining and gathering power. For the observer the narrative truths may seem preposterous, yet in the case of Charles Kingsley below you will see how power narratives blind those within the story to the absurd meanness disguised as neutral truths.

What can we understand about our spiritual nature as humans when attempts to create laws that discriminate against our fellow citizens take the form of a constitutional adjustment? When reviewing the definition of constitutional - proceeding from the basic structure or nature of a person or thing; inherent, or sanctioned by or consistent with or operating under the law determining the fundamental political principles of a government or basic and fundamental; "the essential feature" - we realize that we are seeing something that reveals the heart of how we as a people see ourselves. We create a law against nature when we discriminate against others for who they are as humans. Imagine the spiritual implications of creating a law against nature. It seems odd to say it out loud. However it is nothing new for us humans to do such a thing, to regard others as less than ourselves so that we can claim and maintain power and a sense of superiority. In 1861 Victorian historian Charles Kingsley, a member of the colonizing class from England, observes the Irish with complete confidence in the truth of it, ?I am daunted by the human chimpanzees I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country. I don?t believe they are our fault. I believe that there are not only many more of them than of old, but that they are happier, better and more comfortably fed and lodged under our rule than they ever were. But to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black, one would not feel it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours.? The complete honest justification of slavery and dominance must have an effect on a culture's spiritual life. The sense of cultural superiority is contrary to nature itself. Therefore we are at odds with our truest being.

I wonder, do we confuse our need to comfort our woundedness with spiritual growth? We live in a society that sees everything in terms of economics and interprets reality through the lens of perpetual economic growth to determine good and bad. Do we equate spiritual growth with escape from the realities of our culture's value system? Reviewing some of the spiritual texts from history we find the prophets in the Hebrew Sacred text speaking against and dealing with a legal structure that oppressed the poor and maintained wealth in the hands of the few. Jesus was executed by the state for his teachings and disruption of the religious and social status balance. Buddha walked away from from his role as future king because he realized that even as king he could not reorganize society to alleviate the suffering of the citizens under his rule because of the political structure he witnessed as his father ruled. Our spiritual heritage sought no escape from oppression but stood and worked for transformation. Gandhi, King, the Kennedys all seem to be people working for the betterment of all citizens. Is there a hard spirituality,
when we stand in the face of tyranny as the above mentioned did, and a soft spirituality, finding an emotionally safe place to work through our personal woundedness and spiritual transformation? How do I find the balance between the two? Jesus often separated himself from the crowds that were asking him to heal them to the dismay of his disciples. He inevitably returned to the task at hand. Who can forget the song in Jesus Christ Superstar encouraging him to let go of the things of the world and rest.

In the Unitarian Universalist community,
persons are also called to use their gifts and talents to construct a place where their values can become a way of life. Listen to one of the fore-parents of Unitarian Universalism, William Ellery Channing: ?I now proceed, as I proposed, to show, that civil or political liberty is of little worth, but as it springs from, expresses, and invigorates this spiritual freedom. I account civil liberty as the chief good of states, because it accords with, and ministers to, energy and elevation of mind? Liberty which does not minister to action and the growth of power, is only a name, is no better than slavery? We may learn, that the chief good and the most precious fruit of civil liberty, is spiritual freedom and power, by considering what is the chief evil of tyranny . I know that tyranny does evil by invading men?s outward interests, by making property and life insecure, by robbing the laborer to pamper the noble and King. But its worst influence is ?within?. Its chief curse is, that it breaks and tames the spirit, sinks man in his own eyes, takes away vigor of thought and action, substitutes for conscience an outward rule, makes him abject, cowardly, a parasite and a cringing slave. This is the curse of tyranny. It wars with the soul, and thus it wars with God. ... We here see the chief curse of tyranny; and this should teach us that civil freedom is a blessing, chiefly as it reverences the human soul, and ministers to its growth and power. Without this inward, spiritual freedom, outward liberty is of little worth.? (William Ellery Channing, excerpts from "Spiritual Freedom," preached May 26, 1830.) How can a religious community such as the Unitarian Universalists separate themselves from participation in societal struggle to shape a space where spiritual freedom thrives?

In the fifth principle of the seven that guide the Unitarian Universalist community, UUs commit to using ?the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large? and in the sixth principle they commit to working for "justice for all." In a time when there is much anxiety about potential changes in our form of government, we need to attend to our individual anxieties and fears and at the same time address those who wish to shift our government away from a democratic process. Shifting a society away from citizen participation almost always occurs in the darkness and this has been true for thousands of years, as we hear from the prophet Micah: "Those who devise sinful plans in the evening because they have the power to do so, they confiscate field after field after field. They seize house after house after house. They deprive the person of the land they inherited. You hate justice, and you do not do what is right. Her leaders (Israel's) take bribes when they decide legal cases." ( Does this sound familiar? The laws were changed by those in power to centralize money in the hands of a few. Micah challenged this governmental legislation in 777-717 BCE. Sounds like Bernie Sanders. However even more insidious is when a group of people use the law to create laws against the very nature of persons. Both forms of oppression create a great woundedness in the collective spirit of a culture. Channing warns of the possible outcome of this type of tyranny, "Its chief curse is, that it breaks and tames the spirit, sinks man in his own eyes, takes away vigor of thought and action, substitutes for conscience an outward rule, makes him abject, cowardly, a parasite and a cringing slave. This is the curse of tyranny. It wars with the soul, and thus it wars with God. ...". The very fact Amendment Two exists is frightening and is a window into the larger picture of an oppressive dark movement in our land. Remembering our history in that justice is the light in the land all of us are called to seek justice and bring light into the darkness. This is the spiritual work of all citizens. Where there is no darkness, there are no secret meetings where the powerful create plans to take advantage of people, nor to create laws against nature for the purpose of scapegoating others to ever increase power in the hands of a few.

Rev. Gregory Wilson

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