Free and Responsible Search Means Going Beyond Wikipedia

It’s interesting to see non-Christian UUs actually talking about the Universalism in Unitarian Universalism. Most of this talk has started recently because of a clip floating around featuring Rob Bell, minister at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it to you. And his book, Love Wins, comes out on March 15th–so buy it and support him if you can.

Anyway…I was going through the front pages of UUpdates and  came across a title that struck my interest: “A few religious beliefs, and I’m not a Calvinist.” Well, I’m thinking as an Unitarian Universalist, it’s good to know that you’re not a Calvinist. So I decide to read the post. The first paragraph says this:

So, did some reading up online.  (Books?  Psh.  If I can’t get the basics of it from wikipedia, then I don’t have the time to delve into it with actual books.)

Hold up…wait a minute…

Seriously?!?!?!?!??! If you can’t get the basics from Wikipedia then you’re not going to go and read a book about a subject????? Wikipedia???

Don’t get me wrong…I like Wikipedia. I go to it when I need to know somebody’s birth or death date. Or, when I was writing up a piece on the Scottsboro boys, I went to Wikipedia to make sure that I had the name of an organization right. I even look to Wikipedia to see what references a particular article uses.

But on a subject like Calvin and Calvinism, is it really responsible to base what you think about him and it on an article that you read on Wikipedia?

As fundamental as Calvin and Calvinism are to Unitarianism and Universalism, shouldn’t you at least take a passing look at a biography of him or read some of the Institutes before coming to some major conclusion about him?

Wikipedia has it uses. It is a great online encyclopedia. But honestly, how many of us would have chosen Unitarianism, Universalism or Unitarian Universalism based on an encyclopedia article? So if you wouldn’t choose something based on an encyclopedia article, why would you say that you’re NOT something based on a similar article?

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning means going beyond Wikipedia.


Rev. Peter Gomes, 1942-2011

Rev. Peter Gomes died last night.

For those of you who don’t know of him, he was the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and the Pusey Minister at the Memorial Church, Harvard University.

I never got the opportunity to meet him in person (although it almost happened twice), but he truly touched me through his words.

He, and his voice, will be missed.