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" If the world is a tree,

we are the blossoms "

Novalis

A Universalist Temple

July 7th, 2008

I used to think that the Bahai’i faith was the religious equivalent of Esperanto – combining all the world’s faiths into one universal religion that united all humanity. In reality Bahai’ism is a religion that is essentially Abrahamic, with Baha’Ullah being seen as the next great world saviour.

An attempt at a more universal approach was made by the Universalist Church, which originated in the 18th century, but even then it was decidedly Christian in its approach. In 1961 it became absorbed into the Unitarian Church, but when it was still a separate organisation it was championed in England by the founder of the Ancient Druid Order, George Watson MacGregor Reid. He was an eccentric and a maverick, and injected a more egalitarian approach – trying hard to amalgamate concepts and texts from all the world’s religions into their religious services. And since MacGregor Reid also held Druid ceremonies at Stonehenge, aspects of this approach slipped into his version of Druidry, and as a result of this one can still  find Buddhist ideas in Druid ceremonies being used today, for example.

London Universalists used to meet for their ‘Esperanto-like’ services in MacGregor Reid’s house in Clapham, and Dr Adam Stout recently unearthed a fascinating planning application while researching the old Chief’s life for the Mount Haemus award. The house had been destroyed by a bomb during the blitz, but a phoenix was designed to rise from its ashes – a temple or church that combined elements from many faiths. Have a look at the drawing below. I think it looks splendid! Imagine walking around a corner in Clapham and discovering half of the inner circle at Stonehenge inviting you to walk towards a building that combined elements of mosque, church, synagogue and temple architecture.

I love the Art Deco typeface used too! Click on the image to see it in full. Click on that image and you can enlarge it.