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Yes Gets the Last Word

April 21, 10:00 am12:00 pm

Tulips outside of Ponzio Campus Center

The Idea of Salvation

What do you do when all seems lost?  When the diagnosis is bleak and the forecast calls for doom, when you’re at wit’s end and the world seems like it’s going to hell in a hand basket, where do you turn?  When you feel like you need to be saved, where do you find a life boat?

That’s the stuff of religion.  University of Chicago scholar Martin Riesebrodt has argued that the longing for salvation defines the common core of the world’s religions.  Traditions and myths from aboriginal, tribal religions all the way to the global, missionary religions from East to West all share a common search for salvation.  From the certainty of our own mortality to the mass calamities that afflict our world, religions have historically tried to answer the question of suffering and catastrophe with visions of salvation.  Christians, for example, celebrate Easter as the divine drama of salvation with their story of Jesus overcoming sin and death by his resurrection.  Early Christians believed that the cruel and violent suffering imposed by the massive powers of religious and political empire were overturned by the story of resurrection.  They also concluded that Jesus’ vindication became the believer’s vicarious victory —the Easter story became the believer’s redemption.  For the believer, the Jesus story became God’s “Yes” to a world of “Nos”.

I want to explore the idea of “salvation” together.  Our fellowship has used Easter Sunday gatherings to explore alternative interpretations of the Christian story.  In the past we have explored other resurrection narratives, from the Egyptian Osiris to the Greek’s Orpheus and Eurydice.  We have examined the ambiguities in the Christian Gospels to arrive at alternatives to evangelical dogma.  We have also framed the Easter story around the common human anxiety over death as an existential threat to our search for meaning.

This year our Easter Sunday talk takes up the idea of salvation.  What does it mean to be saved, and in what sense does one need a savior?  When all seems lost, what in the world does a Unitarian do?  Apart from the magical story of the dead coming back to life, a reconstruction of the Easter narrative seems to offer a life-affirming “Yes” to all of life’s “Nos”.  Finding that “Yes” is what a Unitarian (or anyone else) needs to do.  Our Easter service is dedicated to celebrating that affirming word that encourages us to live into the fullness of our lives.

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April 21
10:00 am–12:00 pm


Alvord Theatre
1411 Ellis Ave


Chequamegon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship