Sin: Brokenness or Delusion?
Sam Trumbore | Aug 19, 2016

The state of the world testifies on a daily basis to the inhumanity of man against man. Violence, hatred, and cruelty scream from the front pages of the newspaper and our social media feeds. Suffering is everywhere, even in the quiet, secluded homes of the privileged elite.

Yet I serve a tradition that claims the inherent worth and dignity of all people as our first principle.

The Unitarian Universalist tradition I serve gathers each year for a General Assembly.  We renew our connections, do the business of the UU Association, and have many, many workshops. These workshops are a place I watch for trends in the growth and development of our young faith, the merger of two traditions that is just 55 years old.  We are actively striving to understand the Spirit working within us, exploring ideas and language to communicate an identity that has yet to take full form.  That originality and beauty can be experienced as a felt sense … but bringing it into words is challenging.

That first principle is very generous and optimistic about the possibility of humanity.  Yet it may not acknowledge well enough the wretchedness of the way people behave on a day to day basis, especially when under stress.  We are frequently criticized for not having a strong enough theology of evil.  Another word for that human propensity to act in harmful and destructive ways is sin.

One word I hear more and more to reference this distressing aspect of the human condition is the word “brokenness.”  As I hear that language, I have mixed feelings about using brokenness as a code word for our sinfulness.

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