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I went to a service at the [Unitarian Church on Emmanuel Road] this Sunday.

Very good sermon.

The only other church I've been to that gave me the same feeling of "These people sincerely believe in God but they really are not going to go out and kill people because of thier beliefs" are the Quakers.

This is an interesting post.  I've been mulling it over all morning.  My musing/question (and it's hopefully not asked with the expectation of a "no" answer) is this: is the Quaker / Unitarian sincere belief in God worth dying for?  If one is not going to kill people because of one's beliefs, then I reckon one must live in expectation that one might be on the receiving end of death through other peoples' beliefs. --AR
Many people take their belief that far.  Many more will abandon it in the face of such pressure.  Neither is wrong, though the latter is obviously fickle.  I don't think you can have an objective 'is this worth dying for' really...  --Vitenka
Well as far as I can see, you either kill for your belief or you die for it.  I'd want to (very broadly) say that killing for it was wrong, and dying for it was right.  It does make running away sound quite tempting though!! :-)  You may or may not be able to have an objective "is this worth dying for?", but the question remains nonetheless.  Perhaps you are faced with a subjective "is this worth dying for?", or perhaps you simply don't ask the question.  --AR
"Well as far as I can see, you either kill for your belief or you die for it." Hmm.... the majority of people around the world seem to get by without doing either ^^; - MoonShadow
They're just dying slowly.  (Ah crud, I can even DevilsAdvocate justify that, by pointing to the 'atheists are committing suicide by denying eternal life' canard)  --Vitenka
That's why we don't often ask the question. --AR
I fear that in more cases than either, people would instead choose to abandon the belief rather than die for it. Or would you say that's then not really a belief? --AlexChurchill
Pah.  You're more interested in the answer than the question :-)...  I think most people would fail to die for their belief.  I don't know that they'd then abandon the belief.  One still believes something, whether or not one dies for it.  In order to ensure that one is better disciplined to die for one's belief, one must have undergone a certain amount of practice.  --AR
Oh, just thought of another one. Can you really think of it as "dying for one's belief" if one is convinced that one isn't really going to die, but wake up in heaven instead? Or should it only count if someone who *really* believes that once they're dead they're dead is still prepared to fight to the death to defend their convictions? And what counts as a "belief that's worth dying for"? Is "I'm prepared to go die because I'm convinced my death will stop my family dying" a belief in the sense you mean? - MoonShadow
It is dying in one sense of the word.  Since none of us are absolutely certain of our destination, I don't see why it should only count for somebody who believes that "dead" means entirely "dead". --AR
I disagree. I think there's a very important difference between increasing what you perceive your belief as being worth and reducing what you perceive dying as being likely to cost you or anyone else. The latter leads to rather more death all around than the former. I don't think I can justify that easily, though - I've come to see it as something that's pretty much self-evident, so if you don't agree we're stuck. - MoonShadow
I understand what you are saying if you are suggesting that those who believe in eternal life are more likely to not mind dying than they otherwise might be.  I don't know any way of determining whether that is the case.  However, I don't think that it lessens the magnitude of dying for one's belief.  It is still a leap into the unknown, even if a more known unknown.
Could you rephrase the second part.  I can't work out if it's one question or two. --AR
It's one question. Religious convictions are not the only reasons people fight or die. I provide an example of a different reason. Does it still count as "a belief that's worth dying for"? - MoonShadow
It is the question that I find most interesting.  I don't know yet that I've got a good way of answering.  If Vitenka is correct in his suggestion that there is no objective measure to judge by, then one is going to have to answer judging from what one currently values.  Personally I think that if something's worth dying for, it's worth one's family dying for too, which somewhat empties your question.  (Maybe I'm just scary like that, but faced with the situation, you're either going to have to kill, die, or be more imaginative...) --AR
It does? "My family is being attacked by all these religious fanatics saying stuff about dying for their beliefs that I don't really understand or care about. I just want my family to be left alone, to live and be happy, and I think that's worth me dying for while trying to defend them." How precisely does anything you've said "empty" this? - MoonShadow
I think we're speaking at slightly crossed purposes.  I was attempting to explain that I can't answer that question because I was talking about being martyred, as opposed to actually defending my family.  Defending one's family raises the question "is it worth killing for?".  Since I don't think anything's worth killing for, but some things are worth dying for, I can't answer.  I'm not too convinced that I'm not somehow missing the point still.  But keep going, we've got all the time we need. --AR
I'm sure we do. I'm not convinced I can put my point across any more clearly than I have done already, so I will gracefully back out.
If you die in support of your belief that your family should live, isn't that martyrdom? Equal rights for atheists to be martyrs! :) - CorkScrew
PeterTaylor wonders how one gets said practice in dying. Seems to be rather a circular situation.
I think that's a superb question.  I would say that one gets practice in dying, through faithfully living the Christian calendar (daily, monthly and yearly), through a continual repentance for sin, through going to Mass and to confession, by making vows on behalf of others in baptism, and perhaps more than any other way, through raising a family.  --AR
Yeah, families can be like that. My little sister gives me regular practice in dying vis-a-vis my supposedly inevitable descent into Hell... - CorkScrew
Depends - whose life is worth more?  --Vitenka
Whose life is worth more to whom?  If you can't have an objective answer to "is this worthing dying for?", then you're going to be even harder pushed to answer "whose life is worth more?"  <tongue in cheek> Obviously, being a self-centred individual, convinced of my own rightness at all times, my life is extremely valuable.  It's certainly more valuable than the uneducated, ignorant fanatic who is poking the barrel of her gun at me.  What's more, I'm trained in the dubious and questionable work of theology and I must pass on the skill to others after me.  I've had more money spent on me than she has.  I'll educate more people than she will.  All I have to do is pull the trigger of my gun before she does.  Oh yes, she's also pregnant...</tongue in cheek> --AR
Nah, you can put an objective value on a life ;)  --Vitenka
Sure, engineers do it on a daily basis.--King DJ
That's interesting.  Could you expand on what you mean King DJ? --AR
An engineer is designing a project.  He can build it for 3 Million, in which case one person may get killed every 100 years by his construction, or for 300 Million, in which case one person may get killed every 100,000 years by it.  How does he choose which to build?  By putting an objective value on a life. --M-A
Right on!--King DJ (Who should really be working).
I think there is probably a distinction between "going out and killing for ones beliefs" and "going out and killing because that seems the right thing to do at the time". In particular I would categorise the crusades, various sectarian activities in Ireland, various clases in India and Israel as being the former. Whereas if you kill to defend your family (or indeed for most other reasons), while that may be compatible with your religious believes or even advocated by them, it isn't something you are doing primarily _for_ your faith.  I havn't put that very well, can anyone put this clearer? --DR
No one dies for their beliefs. But some people are killed for them. --Edith

What exactly do they sincerely believe in?  --PlasmonPerson
I'm guessing PlasmonPerson meant Unitarians, since the free space between this and our own discussion might refer to the top of the page. --AR
To promote a free and inquiring religion through the worship of God and the celebration of life; the service of humanity and respect for all creation; and the upholding of the liberal Christian tradition.
To this end, the Assembly may: Encourage and unite in fellowship bodies which uphold the religious liberty of their members, unconstrained by the imposition of creeds;
Affirm the liberal religious heritage and learn from the spiritual, cultural and intellectual insights of all humanity --[The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches]
But what, exactly, do they believe in? Rather than what they want to do.  --PlasmonPerson
It's Christianity, like every other flavour of Christianty.  This flavour tends to be a little more on the humorous side - [Grab a pew and read up if you want] - it's basically "personal god" stuff rather than strict creed.  --Vitenka
Note also that Quakers lead directly to the creation of puritans...  Quite how that happenned, we may never understand.  And edit again to mention that I have no idea what, if any, difference there is between unitarian and quaker - the two terms appear interchangeable.  --Vitenka

Theologically they're very simelar, but they're two entirely seperate churches. The Quakers put a lot of emphasis on pacifism, and their style of worship is different, but they're alike in terms of beliefs. -- Xarak

I thought Unitarian meant non-Trinitarian - ie, they don't believe in the Trinity, but in one God - SunKitten
Mmm, I think that may be how they started out.  Apparently they wrote long tracts on the subject in the 1500s and got involved in long arguments.  Then, at some point, they decided "Hmm, this arguing about creeds thing isn't really achieving much that Jesus would approve of, is it?". --DR

So what is it they actually believe in? --PlasmonPerson
Unitarians as a whole believe [all sorts of different things]. AIUI, they choose to unite themselves within a single association because they believe people searching for God should seek to unite, not be divided; observing the many intolerant people and factions within the Christian church, I for one can very much agree with the sentiment if not necessarily the scope. The particular church the original poster went to where he was impressed by the sermon would appear to believe in God (as the attentive might even spot him saying at the top of this page). Perhaps Pallando could tell us more about the content of the service he attended? - MoonShadow
Having got the address wrong, I arrived a bit late, just in time for the first hymn.  I picked up a pile of leaflets and sat down quietly at the back.  There were some notices and a reading.  Then the minister did a 5 minute talk addressed to the children in the congregation on the difference between a minister and a priest.  At this point the children left to go to the play area in the church hall.  We has some more hymns and readings, followed by the sermon.  The minister has tied all the hymns and reading into the same theme, providing support for his sermon which was based on a metaphor of the church's history being like a journey, marked with cairns along the way, and that it was important to put stones on the cairns as you went past to keep them in good repair, not because they mark where you are going, but to help those behind you who have still to travel where you have been (the journey being the liberal tradition of the church, moving from strict interpretation of the bible to a more liberal tolerant stance).  This was followed by a good pause for meditation, then prayer, then more readings and a last hymn, before music while people went over to the church hall for coffee, biscuits, a fair trade stall and chat (where I got to talk with the minister, and also a nice couple who are due to marry there in 4 weeks are were writing the text of their own wedding vows). --TheMysteryPallando??
[Please don't kill me for posting this link] --Edith
Hmmm. Why would I kill you for a blank white rectangle with four similar ones below it? - SunKitten (the rest of the page loaded....)
Welcome to keenspace, kitten - they serve their images on a seperate server, and refuse requests without the proper referer header.  Which is annoying as all getout.  But now you know how to fix, anyway.  --Vitenka
Hmm... it seems to be talking about some sect called "Uniterians" ;) - MoonShadow
Doubtless evil people.  --Vitenka

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