Proud to be known as liberal
March 6, 2011 by Bill
I have often heard myself referred to as “liberal.” I cannot tell you how proud I am to be known by that classification. It is one of the most beautiful and cherished words in our language. It has nothing to do with whether you are a Republican or Democrat, a Unitarian, Presbyterian or Congregationalist. It has to do with an attitude…a frame of mind…an orientation to life and events…a philosophy…a concept having to do with freedom.
Liberal and liberty both have the same root, defined in “Webster’s Dictionary” as, “The quality or state of being free…as a freeman…a free person, as opposed to slavery, bondage and subjection…worthy of a person of free birth…not servile or mean…a noble way…generous…open-handed…free from bigotry…inclined to welcome new ideas.”
If liberalism is that which liberates, which sets free the minds, spirits and bodies of human beings, then how proud I am to be known as one who is dedicated to such a noble concept.
The object of liberalism is to free those caught in the chains of political, social and religious bondage. At the heart of a liberal religion is something called faith. A person demonstrates faith not by believing anything, but by living. In a liberal religion a person arrives at his position through his own reason and experiences and not because of some outside authority. We live our faith in our freedom. In the words of that great poem by James Russell Lowell, “Time makes ancient good vulgar; they must upward and onward who would keep ABREAST OF TRUTH.”
This attitude threatens those who want to deify the past and live there and keep trying like ventriloquists to speak for a 2,000 year old age in which they never lived. They reject all contemporary and biblical scholarship and any discovery that cuts the ground out from under their traditional religious beliefs. Like schizophrenics they want all the benefits of contemporary knowledge and science in those areas that save their lives and heal their bodies.
They do not reject the joys of telephones, television, jet plane travel or antibiotics. Those wanting ancient and archaic religious beliefs are more than eager to accept the contemporary scholarship that saves their lives in hospital beds, while at the same time denouncing all research that throws too blinding a light on their bible and religious belief. If it seems that God is calling them to heaven, but antibiotics would keep them on earth a little longer, they show an eager preference for the pagan and heathen benefits of antibiotics.
They do not want to die under a medieval, archaic King James doctor. But they would ask us to live by medieval King James religious beliefs. If science provides them with healing drugs they say that is “God’s will” working through science and the doctors. But when that same wicked scholarship indicates that their bible is archaic and not true, then, all of a sudden that same science and scholarship becomes the work of the devil, humanists, and liberals.
Truth is more holy than any creed, more sacred than any dogma. The true religious liberal respects only that theology that can hold up in the forum of unsheltered truth and can be justified in the light of all contemporary academic and scholastic research regardless of where it leads, and regardless of what cherished convictions must be relinquished. Any system other than this, is to keep human minds and spirits in chains and fetters…in other words…BONDAGE.
It is worth being redundant to define liberalism again: “To set free from bondage and subjection, that which liberates…devotion to freedom.”
There is a religion that allows freedom from ignorance and superstition…freedom to seek truth wherever it leads…freedom to follow honest thought…freedom to seek the holy dimensions of human existence with minds and spirits unimpaired by paralyzing authoritarianism and indoctrination.
I am very proud to represent freedom…and the future…and to be known as liberal.
“He who looks back is not fit for the Kingdom. God is God of the living, not the dead.” once said a nomadic teacher whose name was Jesus.
James Russell Lowell reminded us of that truth with these words, “Time makes ancient good vulgar…they must upward and onward, who would KEEP ABREAST OF TRUTH.”