One thousand years is about 30 generations of human beings.
We are now near the beginning of the third millennium of our calendar.
Our years begin with the number 2 —as in the present year 2012.
One thousand years ago, Unitarian Universalism did
But, of course, there were lots of other religions all over the Earth.
One thousand years from now
—when the years will begin with the
there will still be many
religions all over the Earth.
And Unitarian Universalism will likely be one of them.
(However, I expect that the name "Unitarian
will not survive for a thousand years.
It is too tied to controversies that are now 200 years old:
the Christian doctrines of the trinity and hell.)
The most important reason that UUism is likely to
is precisely that it is not
tied to doctrines rooted in the past.
Most other religions are more focused on the past than the future.
Judaism has been around for several thousand years.
It is based in the Hebrew Bible, some parts of which
were originally composed several thousand years ago.
In fact, the oldest parts are so old,
we do not know when they were written.
Christianity is 2,000 years old.
And most branches of Christianity still focus on the New Testament
which was written 2,000 years ago
—shortly after the life and death
of Jesus of Nazareth,
who after his crucifixion was called the Christ,
which is Greek for the Hebrew title "Messiah".
Islam is the youngest of the great religions of the
It is about 1,300 years old.
It was founded by the prophet Mohammed about the year 700.
Islam too is based on a holy book—the Koran—
which was dictated by Mohammed, written down by his scribes,
and later organized into a book.
Of course, each of these world religions has evolved
since its creation.
And various divisions have occurred within each tradition.
We can expect further such changes in the future.
If the scientific world-view continues to spread,
we can expect the traditional religions to weaken
whenever their world-views are not compatible with science.
The forms of religious belief that are not too closely tied
to some holy book or person permanently fixed in the past
will be able to move into the future.
But those religions too closely identified with out-dated world-views
will probably decline as the people of the Earth become more educated.
I. UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM IS NOT TIED
However, Unitarian Universalism will not share the
because we are not tied to a text from the past
or to any world-view that is destined to be replaced
by ever-more scientific explanations of the universe.
We do have an historical past,
which we are free to re-visit at any time.
These religious traditions can enrich our future,
but we are completely free
to criticize anything in the past
—and to replace it with better
when new insights make more sense.
When new information is discovered by the sciences,
the older religions have problems.
Some will try to re-interpret their sacred texts
to be compatible with the discoveries of science.
But some are so tied to
their outdated world-views
that they are doomed to die out
—at least as far as educated people
II. UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM WILL
PERSONS OF SPIRIT
WHO ARE OPEN TO NEW FORMS OF SPIRITUALITY.
Many things have been offered under the name
And some of these have come into the Unitarian Universalist movement.
However, in addition to being
open to new forms of spirituality,
we are also critical thinkers.
So, if a new 'truth' does not stand up to rational examination,
it will be left behind as our movement evolves.
Actually, new forms of spirituality usually do not
take over our whole movement.
Rather, a few people within our movement
decide to explore Buddhist spirituality, for example.
In such cases, they are not really creating new forms of
as much as attempting to extract
from ancient traditions from the East
some forms of spirituality that can still be embraced
by modern, educated Westerners.
Individual spiritual innovators are welcome within
They will only have to explain their beliefs
in ways that make sense to very skeptical minds.
UUism has gathered many intelligent persons.
We have the highest levels of education of any religious group.
So simple-minded "new age" spirituality
usually does not last long within our movement.
And because we are a collection of people
most of whom were raised in
we already know what we do not
And we will be wary of any 'new' beliefs
that look like the old, rejected beliefs—slightly warmed over.
In the next 1,000 years,
there will be even more
refugees from other religions.
And some of the most innovative thinkers in the realm of the spirit
will be joining our ranks
—precisely because we welcome creative religious
III. WHAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL QUESTIONS
UPON WHICH WE CAN MAKE PROGRESS?
Usually when we hear the word "spiritual",
we think of beliefs about supernatural beings or gods.
But spirituality can also focus on
the development of a few special capacities within ourselves.
The traditional religions from which many of us came
almost always discussed God or gods
as the main subject of spiritual concern.
One notable exception is Buddhism,
which at least in some of its manifestations
does not focus on the Buddha as a god
as much as on him as an enlightened
And then the good Buddhist would be someone
who makes similar spiritual progress.
Because we UUs embrace the scientific method,
progress in psychology and psychotherapy
will also have a strong impact on any new forms of spirituality.
For example, the deeper exploration of the human
will give us better explanations of human feelings and emotions.
In the past, we have not been very clear about
where 'emotion' leaves off and 'spirituality' begins.
In the next 1,000 years, there will be remarkable
in understanding the human mind and psyche.
This progress will dispose of much of what passes for 'spirituality'
—especially the more popular forms.
Pop spirituality amounts to believing whatever makes you feel good.
'Feel good' religious beliefs will be explained psychologically.
A. Personal Freedom.
One of the most important questions for exploring
our human spirits
is the question of 'free will'.
Perhaps we should call this the mystery of human freedom.
Reductionist psychology will necessarily
try to explain away
'freedom' as an illusion,
perhaps a necessary illusion to make societies run smoothly.
Such thinkers would say the same about all religions:
None of the human religions is literally true,
but most of them serve good social functions,
especially in the form of supporting moral standards,
which are very good for social order.
admits the possibility of genuine human freedom.
Here are some of the questions and approaches worth pursuing:
When and how does human freedom emerge in each human person?
Are there some ways we can encourage our children
to develop their capacity to make free choices earlier in life?
Why are some persons more
free than others?
Why do some people resist and deny the idea of freedom?
Another manifestation of the human spirit,
which will merit further exploration in the next 1,000 years is human
It is clear that some human individuals are much more creative than
What accounts for these great differences?
Why are some persons creative
whereas others seldom have
an original thought?
What can we do to enhance our creative abilities?
C. Awareness of Our Existential Malaise.
One dark side of our human spirits worth exploring
is the whole phenomenon called our Existential Malaise
or our Existential Predicament.
This includes things like existential anxiety,
meaninglessness, depression, & despair.
Here again, some individuals are much more sensitive
to our Malaise than others.
What explains these differences?
How can we become more fully aware of our deepest problem?
D. Freedom from Our Existential Predicament.
As future centuries become more clear about our
there might be glimpses of life beyond this deep problem of spirit.
At least for those who are strongly gripped by our Existential
any possible liberation from this deep condition-of-being
would be of supreme spiritual concern.
How do moments of Existential Freedom happen?
VI. FIVE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE.
The religious impulse of the human spirit
has led to many forms of religious belief since the dawning of
We can reject the answers
offered by the world's religions
while still honoring the religious
Where did we come from?
How real is our guilt?
How shall we give meaning to our lives?
How deep is our anxiety?
How shall we deal with death?
Unitarian Universalism should remain open to all
forms of spirituality.
This will allow persons of spirit to find a home among us.
And during the next 1,000 years some remarkable discoveries might
Will we be open to new answers to the old questions?
At the same time, we will carefully examine the new answers.
Spiritual creativity examined by disciplined
can take place within our open-minded, non-dogmatic movement.
If we stay open and ready for new insights,
what progress will we make in the next 1,000 years?
Let us commit ourselves to creating a community
for creative, free, innovative thinking
about the deep matters of the human spirit.
Are we open and ready for the next steps in spiritual progress?
2003; revised 1-29-2004; 2-2-2004; 3-24-2004; 5-28-2005;
11-3-2006; 3-8-2008; 3-13-2008; 3-28-2008; 5-28-2009;
10-29-2010; 12-4-2010; 3-9-2011; 3-24-2011; 4-5-2011; 8-11-2012
James Park is an example of a person
who has been drawn to the UU movement
because of the possibility of free spiritual explorations,
not fettered by any traditions that must be interpreted and/or
He calls his own form of spirituality "existential".
Here is a profile of existential spirituality
in answer to 11 standard questions:
And here is another cyber-sermon entitled:
"Introducing Existential Spirituality":
another cyber-sermon entitled: Asking Ultimate
a bibliography called "Books on Existential Spirituality":
This bibliography reviews a dozen books,
mostly by Søren Kierkegaard & James Park.