It is somewhat common for universalists to argue that, when it comes to the various religions of the world, “all roads up the mountain lead to the same summit.”
Yet, as Douglas V. Steere in Mutual Irradiation: A Quaker View of Ecumenism writes, “we should regard the great world religions as a row of summits[, and] mountains never meet.”
Looking out over the horizon of ecumenical optimism, Steere’s assessment seems to be the truer challenge. Religionists have enough difficulty navigating their own particular mountain to seriously think that they can go mountain hopping (lumping?), let alone benefit from such a high-flying venture.
If the way to ecumenical fraternity, or universalism, is not looking up and out, then how about down and in? Do not the various and separate summits have the same source and grounding in the ocean floor? Have they, though at different times and places, not all churned and erupted onto the scene in cataclysmic fashion? And are they not looked to and treasured by their own, as well as others who have traveled to be indulged by them?
The spiritual horizon of disparate mountain-peak experiences makes a pretty, but daunting, picture of both ecumenism and universalism. Is it time to look below the surface to the fathomless mystery supporting and fostering the growth of spirituality in the world? Can we also rise to the occasion, rather than presume that we are simply on different paths of the same mountain?
In the manner of a Universalist Friend,