Sunday, June 03, 2007

Norbert Capek and Unitarian Universalism

Today's church service was special to me. It was the day that I, among a group of 10, was recognized in front of my congregation as a new member. As I've mentioned before, I attend First Unitarian Church in Louisville, Ky--the only church I've found where I can both participate fully and remain true to my own beliefs.

It was also a very inspiring service, honoring Norbert Capek, whose birthday was today. He was a Unitarian minister from Czechoslovak who founded a Unitarian church there. He had aspired to the Catholic priesthood but later as a Baptist minister. He had problems with the creeds and symbolism of each of these churches. So he left both of them in turn and joined the Unitarian church, eventually becoming a minister there. And he came up with the Flower Communion, which we celebrated at my church this morning.

"It is my ideal," he wrote, "that unitarian religion in our country should mean a higher culture. . . new attitudes toward life and practically a new race. . . . In short, unitarian religion should mean the next advanced cultural level of a certain people." The church's task, he felt,"must be to place truth above any tradition, spirit above any scripture, freedom above authority, and progress above all reaction."


Tragically, he was arrested by the Nazi's and ended up spending the last years of his life in Dachau prison. He wrote this before he died, attesting to the strength of the hope he had found:

It is worthwhile to live
and fight courageously
for sacred ideals.

O blow ye evil winds
into my body's fire
my soul you'll never unravel.

Even though disappointed a thousand times
or fallen in the fight
and everything would worthless seem,

I have lived amidst eternity --
Be grateful, my soul --
My life was worth living.

He who was pressed from all sides
but remained victorious in spirit
is welcomed into the choir of heroes.

He who overcame the fetters
giving wings to his mind
is entering into the golden age of
the victorious.

You can read more about Capek at:

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