“In our creation myths,” says David Leeming, “we tell the world, or at least ourselves, who we are. We describe our ancestry, our conception, our first home, our early relationships with our progenitors, our place in the first world. In the process, we reveal our real priorities, our real fears, our real aspirations, and sometimes our real prejudices and neuroses.”
With this in mind, listen to this important comment about the historical milieu in which early American Unitarianism developed. It comes from Peter Tufts Richardson’s 2005 Minn’s Lectures:
“Unitaranism in Boston and coastal New England grew its strength from a maritime base. There is a certain openness, a restlessness, a larger embrace among populations oriented to global trading. Awareness of Arabic, Indian or Chinese influences broadens one’s comprehension beyond the fencerows and forested hills of one’s immediate landscape. A certain confidence builds with the capacity to outfit global voyages, time appearances in faraway markets, manage the sustenance and survival of crews ands ships for long-distance travel over the horizon from home port (all this long before the invention of the radio). Cosmopolitan awareness and confidence in individual judgment entered into the meeting house mix when Unitarianism was fermenting in coastal congregations.”
The implicit creation myth here is that we come from a courageous, seafaring, cosmopolitan, self-reliant people. The seeds are already planted for a William Ellery Channing, a Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Margaret Fuller, an Olympia Brown (I’ll include Olympia Brown here, even though she’s a Universalist)….
No wonder Peter Mayer’s song “Blue Boat Home” is so terrifically apt a description of the Unitarian Universalist spirit!