A smaller segment today of Rev. Robert Hardies’ essay, “Love the Contradictions,” printed in the UUWorld’s summer 2007 issue, from The Seven Principles in Word and Worship, edited by Ellen Brandenburg (Skinner House Books, 2007). Part one can be found here, and part three here.
Here, Rev. Hardies brings in the concept of size in spirituality and faith, an idea in language that I find fascinating. What is big? What is big enough? What capacity do we really have as human beings?
contradiction, deepening, faith, love, process theology, Robert Hardies
Love the Contradictions, pt. 2
by Rev. Robert Hardies
Not long after divinity school, I stumbled upon the work of theologian Bernard Loomer, who began to point me in the right direction. Loomer is an important figure in process theology, a movement that contends that the universe is always growing in size and complexity, and that as the universe grows, so does God and so must we. Loomer saw the increasing complexity of creation as a glorious blossoming that God was delighted to behold. Late in life, Loomer was a member of the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley, California, where on Sundays after church he would lead thought-provoking theological conversations. After describing his vision of the complexity of creation, he often asked the group, “What is the size of your soul?” By which he meant, “What is your soul’s ability to grow and expand, to stretch when life throws more contradictions your way?”
Size was the defining concept in Loomer’s spirituality. He almost always wrote the word S-I-Z-E, with capital letters and dashes, to better convey the spaciousness that he intended by using the word. Loomer describes the concept this way:
By S-I-Z-E I mean the capacity of a person’s soul, the range and depth of his love, his capacity for relationships. I mean the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality, the intensity and variety of outlook you can entertain in the unity of your being without feeling defensive or insecure. I mean the strength of your spirit to encourage others to become freer in the development of their diversity and uniqueness. I mean the power to sustain more complex and enriching tensions. I mean the magnanimity of concern to provide conditions that enable others to increase in stature.