Unitarian Sunday Readings
(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)
15 August 2021
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous
than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.
We light our chalice, this candle,
as a sign of our connectedness, our community, and of our journey on this spiritual quest called life….
We take a moment to reflect on our life and living of this week… as we reflect…. explore and ask of yourself….
What was good? Healthy?
What was not good? Unhealthy?
What moments, events, conversations, time alone
that allowed me to connect to another, to life,
to that which may be called Divine.
In taking the time to explore, ask, reflect, and finally to name what was good, what wasn’t, and those important connections for you, there is a release for you to grow, to change what needs to be changed, and to reflect-fully live your life.
May the Great Spirit of the Journey walk with us today.
DEFINITION: Cambridge English Dictionary
“lack of knowledge, understanding, or information about something:”
“not having enough knowledge, understanding, or information about something”
bewilderment; disregard; illiteracy; insensitivity
illiterate; innocent; naive; oblivious; obtuse; uneducated; uninformed
cognisance; understanding; competence; cultivation; education; experience; intelligence; knowledge; literacy; talent; wisdom;
educated; experienced; intelligent; learned; taught; aware; competent; knowledgeable; literate; talented; wise
What other words or ideas would you use for ignorance or ignorant?
What stories, readings, traditions do you know of that actually use ignorance as a virtue? Are these positive use, or negative use?
Or use laughter and being a fool to deliver a message?
THOUGHTS FROM THE BIBLE
How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
Those who trouble their households will inherit wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools suffers harm.
Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not find words of knowledge.
It is the wisdom of the clever to understand where they go,
but the folly of fools misleads.
Wisdom is at home in the mind of one who has understanding,
but it is not known in the heart of fools.
The mind of one who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
The wise have eyes in their head,
but fools walk in darkness.
Do not subject yourself to a fool,
or show partiality to a ruler.
But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire.
‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise one who built their house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish one who built their house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’
1st Corinthians 13.8-12
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
QUOTES FOR THOUGHT
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
~ Issac Asimov
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“It’s an universal law– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”
~ Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”
~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
(American Unitarian Author)
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” ~ Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”
~ George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara
“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.”
~ Isaac Newton
“There is nothing in the record of the past two years when both Houses of Congress have been controlled by the Republican Party which can lead any person to believe that those promises will be fulfilled in the future. They follow the Hitler line – no matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as truth.”
~ John F. Kennedy
“To know that you do not know is the best.
To think you know when you do not is a disease.
Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”
~ Kofi Annan
“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears.”
~ Alice Walker
TWO DESERT WISDOM STORIES
both translated by Thomas Merton
An Elder said: Cut off from yourself rash confidence, and control your tongue and your belly, and abstain from wine. And if anyone speak to you about any matter do not argue with them.
If they speak rightly, say: Yes.
If they speak wrongly say: You know what you are saying.
But do not argue with them about the things they say.
Thus your mind will be at peace.
Once there was a disciple of a Greek philosopher who was commanded by his master for three years to give money to everyone who insulted him.
When this period of trial was over, the Master said: “Now you can go to Athens and learn wisdom.”
When the disciple was entering Athens he met a certain wise man who sat at the gate insulting everybody who came and went. He also insulted the disciple who immediately burst out laughing.
“Why do you laugh when I insult you?” Asked the wise man.
“Beacause for three years I have been paying for this kind of thing and now you give it to me for nothing.!”
“Enter the city, it is all yours.”
Abbot John use to tell the above story, saying
“This is the door of God by which our Mothers and Fathers rejoicing in many tribulations enter into the City of Heaven.”
Ignorance can mean so many things.
When I first came out as Gay, I was greeted with an ignorance that was more denial of obvious behavioural truth. As far as I could ascertain there was a level sub consciously knowing but not public knowing, coming out moved it to the public arena.
At the church I served in Chicago, when this came up in a business meeting, one of the members raised it, not as attack but for clarity and how we as a church would move forward. Immediately one woman was outraged and started in on the I did not know this argument, when her youngest stood up and said Yes you did, Mom, we talked about it around the kitchen table several times, without seeing it as a problem.
She stopped and sat down, but it illustrates the difference between private and public knowing. Was this ignorance, I would say yes, not from a lack of knowledge but from fear, or denial, or an unwillingness to engage in the praxis (action) of knowing.
Public knowledge pushes for individual and or corporate response. You can’t hide anymore or ride the fence.
I think a lot of the ignorance I see, is based in a denial zone, and combined with lazy research all we have are people whose opinion is based not of knowledge but of self centred absolutism.
I am right and you cannot tell me otherwise.
Which works really well for political discourse on Social Media, and often winds up as essential hate speech, sometimes as a result of this a person takes their own life.
Is the lack of proper self esteem a form of ignorance?
We also know of the issues of illiteracy, especially as it pertains to basic study skills of reading, writing, maths, science, geology, even social and political philosophies. Yet many are not concerned about the religious illiteracy of our day. Lack of knowledge of religion as a generic human behaviour, then the lack of knowledge of the various faith traditions.
In the 1980s I saw a research document that was responding to the then popular opinion that people shouldn’t study humanities or even do university course work but should focus on studies that can earn you a job.
In this study they discovered that many tech and research firms hired graduates in the humanities because they found that they were train in critical thinking that allowed them to solve problems out side the box instead of being bound to tried and well used formulas.
Paulo Freire in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed argues that rote learning, focusing on the fundamentals of education without helping a student formulate critical reflection of material, and inquisitive exploration of that material which is necessary for development and creating positive change and action.
I do think we all have places where we have blinders, or intentional blocks against information. It isn’t easy to admit, nor to live with, but in time and our individual practice we can overcome the majority of negatives that ignorance causes. Hopefully in our honest struggle we may help others to see the need.
That to me feels like another conversation, which of course, I recognise may happen.
by Reinhold Niebuhr
The Long Version:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
words by John Carter
We know what humanity is capable of
We know what is at stake…
Have we listened?
Have we learned?
Each day this great task is set us
How do we learn from our history?
What do we need to do?
Are we committed to the good of all,
or are we willing to let all flow as it has for ages?
On this day of reflection
The one great blessing we may need
Is the willingness to be open to the question…
Are we willing to commit to the good of all?
Are we willing to commit to a way of peaceful living?
Are we willing?
(Pause and reflect)
May Good guide us
May Love sustain us
May life empower us….
As we live out our answering of these questions in our quest to be faithful to the task set us.
Details of new exhibition celebrates Hull’s LGBTQ+ history and communities