Hello and welcome to this Special Edition of Street Prophets.
This is an invitation to you to share your words which will be shared at NN13 through the Interfaith Service:
For the past few years, loggersbrat and I have been organizing the Sunday morning interfaith service at Netroots Nation. The service is open to everyone, of all faiths and of no faith. Some of us find it a centering after such a full conference, some use it to fix their resolve to work for change, some for a sense of communal meditation and affirmation. Each year we have chosen a theme and asked the community for their thoughts and inspiration on that theme.This years theme:
I have been thinking about a theme for the NN13 Sunday Service, and I wondered about doing something about belief and nature, belief and science.
As far as I can tell, science and religion began as our attempt to learn about and have some effect on our world; for a long time they were the same thing. The divergence came only a few hundred years ago for the west; I don't know enough about eastern religions. But in this country the religious right (and perhaps other fundamentalist versions of faith) lead to a general feeling that religion is opposed to science, and this perhaps has encouraged the fundamentalist version of atheism.
In any event, the idea of learning about the world and the universe, to understand as much as we can about them, and to take better care of them, are deeply felt by some to be religious values. So I was thinking about asking people for ideas from their belief systems about our relation to nature, and our duty to nature, both in terms of understanding and conserving. Scientists like Newton and Darwin were deeply religious, and Einstein was spiritual in his ideas about harmony in the universe.
Another side of the issue is ethics. Technology in these days tends to develop faster than we are able to consider its ethical application, which leads to such things as atomic weapons, genetically modified foods, lots of other genetic concerns, matters like biological and chemical weapons, etc.
This is kind of free associating, but I would like to hear what everyone working on the service thinks about the general theme, other suggestions, and your own associations if we take this theme and ask for contributions from others.
It's a (fairly loose) starting point.
I shared my invitation with some of you already to help get the ball rolling:
Living a good life, one free from sickness and conflict, requires that one strive to maintain social and spiritual harmony and balance.
Societies are made up of people, and like individuals, societies must also maintain harmony if they are to provide a good life for the people. Social harmony and balance is necessary among the people and this allows them to work and live together.
Harmony begins with words: words are living things and continue to live long after they have been spoken. Most people can reach into their backpack of memories and pull out words which were spoken to them many years, perhaps many decades earlier, which caused hurt. Pulling these words out bring back the old hurts just like they were new.
Words which are spoken in anger do not bring about harmony: such words do not bring about healing, but rather they create long-lasting pain. Similarly, words which reflect sexism, homophobia, ageism, racism, ethnocentrism, deism separate us, disrupt harmony, and create social discord.
I feel a little awkward writing about faith for an interfaith group when the fact is, when it comes to a Supreme Being, I have no real faith. I usually classify myself as an atheist, but that has more to do with the popular definition of God rather than a lack of belief in any kind of a "higher power."
Some of you (but not many, I suspect) may have read a couple of recent diaries I did for the New Day series. One was called "The Meaning of Life" and one was called "Is God Unreasonable?" If you read them, you will see that I am still wrestling with the "big" questions and I suspect I always will. In the "Unreasonable" diary (pun intended) Kossack mimi made the following comment:
You know, a God I can believe in ... is nice to have.
It suddenly hit me. That's exactly what I have been searching for: A God I can believe in. And as you might conclude from the title of the diary, for me, God has to be reasonable. For that reason, I reject many of the Gods described by organized religion.
One thing I realized over twenty years ago--and I suppose it's the closest thing I have to a religion--is that the smart thing to do and the right thing to do are always the same thing. From that, I have come to believe that God is closely related to--if not the same as--reason and intelligence tempered by compassion. A popular paraphrase of something the Buddha said sums it up for me:Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.I do not agree with Jesus because I think he was the Son of God but because what he says is smart, reasonable, and compassionate. It is smart to follow the Golden Rule, to take care of the poor and sick, and to forgive. As I often tell my students, "Think it through." What kind of world would it be if murder were OK? I don't follow commandments because they are commanded; I follow them because it's smart not to lie, steal, or cheat on my wife.
I'm not sure what my message is to you today. I guess it's to urge you to think critically about your faith. Is it well-founded? I have faith that the airplane I board will fly. But my faith is not in some mystical God but in the unseen but real process of rational thought. Would you rather fly on an airplane built by someone who had faith in an irrational God or one built by an aeronautical engineer?
So for me, it all comes down to how one defines God. It's not that I reject the idea of God, it's just that I see God as residing in reason and intelligence tempered by compassion.
Thanks for listening. I hope you all have a wonderful time at NN13. Wish I were there.
From Oregon Gal:
Now I can move on with my walk with God.
Aloha all and God bless
This was posted on the Facebook page of a new FB friend about ten days ago. He had been struggling with a question of his own faith and had asked for some advice from the several thousand friends he had on FB. His friends included staff at McMurdo Station in Antarctica to me the little goat farmer in Oregon. He was an old school surfer born and raised in Hawaii and from the pictures he posted of old surfers and the days of his youth, he was the real deal.
Several days after getting advice that he could live with and posting this message above, he died suddenly. Wow. That's all I can say. Wow. And Mahalo, Les. Walk with God.
From your diarist:
Balance, harmony, cooperation, respect and love
A bit of history~I would like to add love. I was taught to accept and to love others. Acceptance and Love does so much for the human Spirit. I love loving.
The Cherokees looked to the guiding and protective spirits of the Upper World to help keep balance and harmony on the Earth. They also maintained order on the Earth by participating in daily prayers, rituals, and seasonal ceremonies.
Native American peoples did not use a word such as “religion,” but, as you have read, every part of their world had a sacred connection or religious meaning. Their ideas of religion were everything to them. They believed the world should have balance, harmony, cooperation, and respect within the community and between people and the rest of nature.
Cherokee myths and legends taught the lessons and practices necessary to maintain natural balance, harmony, and health.
Love says it all.This is an invitation to you. Please share your words, a favorite quote on Religion, Belief Systems, Nature, Science for the NN13 Sunday Service.
All photos ©BlueJessamine