Writing about Universalism: could use your help

As you may well have noticed, I’ve written relatively little about Unitarian Universalism lately and almost nothing about Universalism. Of course others have written about Universalism and that makes me happy. If you’ll forgive me, I’ve been writing about Universalism online since 1995 and I could use some help.

  • What themes and topics would be helpful to consider?
  • What resources — I have quite a few but not all online — would be worth the effort to gussy up for web publication?

Please comment.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Hi Scott, namaste.

    As someone who does not believe in an after-life, I like to frame the discussion on Universalism in terms of what it means in this life: no one is saved unless everyone is saved.

    Even if one does believe in an after-life, it would not preclude this approach. As someone once said (I don’t remember who), Universalists believe that we’re all going to end up in the same place so we might as well learn to get along now.

    Don’t know if this helps. *shrug*


  2. I must admit that my Universalist interests are focused upon ancient times. I think that Universalism has an escathology that Unitarianism has usually lacked, and I am particularly fascinated by Origen’s apokatastasis (the cycle of descent and ascent of all souls). What I have read from 19th-century Universalism seems to me less profound, and perhaps your wisdom can help me appreciate better what our recent Universalist forebears can say that goes beyond the “no hell” motto and the trivial anecdotes that are usually found in UU texts and sermons.

  3. From Jaume’s profound question, I go to ask much less so. With the Georgia Universalist Convention now inactive, I wonder if you could talk about your experiences with that organization. I know the state conventions were much more important in the 19th century, but what if anything do you feel it offered at the time of your Georgia experiences?

  4. I have been reading A.J. Mattill’s A New Universalism For A New Century.

    It’s helped me appreciate Universalism’s emphasis on reverence for life, which is different than – and glossed over by – the interdependent web principle that Unitarian Universalists sometimes use to justify cruelty to others.

    Mattill writes:

    “If, then, a New Universalism for a New Century is to include reverence for life, it must include a vegetarian/fruitarian diet as a religious practice… And probably more than any other practice, vegetarianism would bring about attitudes which are conducive to harmonious and peaceful relations among individuals and ultimately among nations. On the other hand, cruelty to animals brutalizes the perpetrators and results in cruelty to humans. If we act inhumanely toward other species for our own amusement, clothing, food, greed, and profit, we cannot sustain compassion for our own species, for cruelty is indivisible, and cannot be turned off like a faucet when we turn from animals to humans…The slaughterhouse is a prelude to the battlefield.”

    I’d like to see your thoughts about this and others aspects of Universalism’s relevance for those of us who do not subscribe to a creed.

  5. I hadn’t heard of A.J. Mattill’s A NEW UNIVERSALISM FOR A NEW CENTURY. It’s a category of literature for which I’ve been searching. Many thanks for the word on that. I hope it will be among the books that will help us launch a movement. (I guess I’ll be open about my grandiosity today.)

    Scott, I’d like to see articles that bring to light all of the books on universalism that have been written in the last decade or so. Those of us who are universalists need to somehow become more aware of each other.



  6. Things I’m focused on right now:

    Our cumbersome name and how well or not it describes the nature of modern congregations
    Affirming and articulating our identity as a vision and not a reaction
    Unity in a divided congregation
    Embodiment of universal love
    Individual vs. congregational UUism

  7. Currently, he second printing of A NEW UNIVERSALISM FOR A NEW CENTURY
    is available from the folks at the Universalist Herald (see http://www.universalist-herald.net)
    I do hope they get it on Amazon and Powells, etc.
    I havent read it yet, but plan to get a copy at the Universalist Convocation in two weeks. (a new greatly revised edition of A HISTORY OF UNIVERSALISM IN NORTH CAROLINA has also been released – and I hear there’s a new book out on Inman’s Chapel).
    In a more grandiose moment, I started a list on PBWiki where I was to feature all the Universalist books – with my commentary. A shorter version of this – maybe the Universalist books since, say, the bicentennial of the Universalists. or around 1990 – with short reviews might indeed serve a need.

  8. @Steven. Amazon is a nightmare to work with and I doubt Powell’s would be that interested. Does the new edition have a ISBN, I wonder?

    And where is this PBWiki? Readers want to know!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.