September 20, 2015

Crypto-Unitarian

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 2:19 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

Following is a quote from Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber and her interview on the NPR show Fresh Air. 

For me these words show that there are people in mainline religion who stay there, even though they are really Unitarian in theology, and thus are crypto-Unitarians.  It also reveals that there are people, like Bolz-Weber, who consciously reject following our way, even if they are OK with who and what we are.  

The prefix “crypto” means secret or hidden. 

“”””

I just don’t think that belief should be the basis of belonging to a community like this, and so we don’t sort of make that the central reason why somebody belongs. So we don’t even talk about belief that often in my church, strangely. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that I don’tfeel responsible for what people believe. I feel very responsible for what they hear, as their preacher, as their pastor

. …

We have people who are atheist, agnostic, people who are very evangelical in their faith; somehow it’s a space where people who believe a lot of different things can come together, but that doesn’t mean I’m like a crypto-Unitarian. So I’m not just quoting Thich Nhat Hanh in my sermon; I mean, I’m actually a very orthodox Lutheran theologian, and it’s a very sort of Christo-centric community, but it’s one in which really everyone is welcome to come and participate.”

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May 2, 2014

Lego Movie Theology

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 10:09 am by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

Did you notice the religious themes in The Lego Movie? There is nothing very deep, nothing one could call systematic theology. But the movie makers were consciously playing with religious ideas.

Obviously the movie begins with the now well worn messiah theme; there is a mysterious prophecy (which, the prophet says, “is true because it rhymes”) about a chosen hero who is “the most special, most talented, most extraordinary person in the universe”. I have heard UUs repeat this very American ideal that everyone is the most amazing, special and even prophecy fulfilling person in the universe. For example, think of Sophia Fahs’ words, “Every night a child is born is a holy night…”. Also, I must admit that I have heard UU sermons extolling the idea, stated by Emmet late in the movie, that a prophecy, or religious story, can be both completely made-up and completely true.

Then, as the characters are sailing on a sea of Lego bricks, “Wildstyle” says something about “The Man Upstairs”. We can assume (until the big reveal near the end) that this is a reference to the kid who plays with the Legos. But it is also an obvious insertion of God language. As a UU minister my ears perked up. I first wondered if there was some traditional Christian theology being slipped in. Then I thought about the Hindu notion of Lila where the entire universe is an expression of divine play. I wondered, where are they going with this?

The central theme of the movie is about control and creativity, the tension between “fitting in” and “being special.” At the beginning the main character, Emmet, is trying to “be part of the team” by conforming. In the end, his ability to follow directions is what makes him a unique part of a team. This theme takes on theological tones especially after Emmet “dies” and passes through a tunnel of light to a meta universe, where the greater truth of reality is revealed.

My impression of the movie as vaguely religious was reinforced when I came across an article titled Lego Movie’s Got Religion. The authors note that the name Emmet, in Hebrew, means ‘truth’. Also the name of Emmet’s guide and inspiration is Lucy, which means ‘light’ (as in Saint Lucy, or Santa Lucia).

The “truth” that Emmet uncovers is pretty humanistic, especially when the man upstairs turns out (spoiler alert)to be an actual man with a big Lego set and alienated from his son. Only vague echoes of the Christian Father and Son here. I could argue that through the reconciliation between father and son, and between Emmet and Mr. Business, that the movie sides with a theology of God as Inclusive Love, or agape.

In the end the Lego Movie is simply a bunch of animated fun and silliness, and an hour and half advertisement for plastic building toys. I liked it, and the Movie’s light religion added to my enjoyment.