One of our great Unitarian Universalist leaders, Rev. Jack Mendelsohn, recently died at the age of 94. I’d like to share a bit of his writing on the subject of “Immortality for Skeptics” in his seminal work, Being Liberal in an Illiberal Age: Why I Am a Unitarian Universalist.
When we reason together about the truths and mysteries of life, there is one all-powerful reality: The humanity of which we are individual expressions is a product of the sense and nonsense of our forebears. We are the living immortality of those who came before us. In like manner, those who come after us will be the harvest of the wisdom and folly we ourselves are sowing. To let this reality permeate and drench our consciousness is to introduce ourselves to the grand conception of immortality which makes yearnings for some form of personal afterlife seem less consequential. So long as there is an ongoing stream of humanity I have life. This is my certain immortality. I am a renewed and renewing link in the chain of humanity. My memory and particularity are personal, transitory, finite; my substance is boundless and infinite. The immortality in which I believe affirms first and foremost my unity with humankind. My unity with humankind gives meaning to my desire to practice reverence for life. It is pride in being and pride in belonging to all being.
While this may have been published in the 1960′s, the book has current revelance and is worth reading. He was a man who worked for social justice across its spectrum of issues. He served his faith with an engaged heart and keen mind. May we be inspired by his dedication.