Showing posts from December, 2008

Atheist spirituality

I was delighted to receive an email from an atheist who found my blog, espouses atheist spirituality, and disagrees with atheists who vilify everything religious. You can read his own words at The Case for 'Spiritual Atheism I recommend Asylum for Broken Rabble if you like to examine ideas in depth, whether you agree or disagree. For ddjango's site, I wrote a guest post On Enlightenment reflecting on common ground between enlightened Christians and enlightened atheists—how we agree, how we differ. I quoted the statement, “He is a spirit,” to show how exclusively male language not only distorts gender relationships, it distorts our ideas of what we call God. And the word “a” disturbs me even more than “he.” As the little word "a" indicates, this deity is an object, something out there, an individual separate from the other individual things and persons in the universe. Worshipping such an object is a form of idolatry. If Christian leaders would add God-She and God-H

Mystic atheist & theologian

Mysticism is the direct experience of what we call God. Children experience it. Persons of every possible age, place, and condition feel it. Philosophers and theologians in the past felt it and wrote and spoke about it, and in some cases their expressions of the transporting experience birthed new religions or spiritual movements, or just added to the fund of thinking in a certain religion. Christianity has had many such, Thomas Aquinas, for instance. The apostle Paul was a mystic. His mystical experience with the crucified Jesus produced the new religion of Christianity. Mystical experience is universal, which is why atheists experience it and might go so far as to use words like “grand” and “mysterious” if they shy away from “spiritual.” Rare is the atheist today who recognizes his or her experience as a cousin of Christian piety, though that’s what I think it is. Jesus of Nazareth was a mystic who strove to console his needy fellows—the poor, the lowly, those who hunger and thirst,

Atheist mystic

Atheists and agnostics help me to clarify my ideas about spirituality. Their beliefs are closer to mine than the beliefs of most Christians—well, those dominating the media, not those close to me. But my atheist friends reject the word “spiritual,” unable to separate it from religions, to which they direct a mix of contempt, pity, frustration, and anger, assuming that all religious people believe literally and naïvely in religious myths. I confess to having similar feelings as I grew in awareness of the myth of Christ, and I also identify with those who, as one atheist wrote, “have become open about their atheism at personal cost but out of a feeling of moral necessity.” Personal cost and moral necessity. Yes. Moral necessity because going along with “lies,” as they see it, violates their conscience. Personal cost flamed into view recently in a local paper’s guest editorial. It suggested that pagans and atheists “strip naked and dance around in the moonlight,” and “face life devoid

Trinity & idolatry

The Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) tell us, “You shall not have other gods besides me.” This prohibits idolatry or worshipping idols. I see idolatry whenever I go to a Christian church, where the God-talk never fails to conjure up images of male gods. Christians defend the Father-Son language by saying they need the comfort of a personal Spirit. But if this were all, Mother-Daughter language would be accepted. Well, goes the argument, we respect the tradition. So let’s look at the patriarchal tradition. Relentlessly we are assailed by the liturgy’s “He,” “Him,” and “His” references to individual male figures. More damaging than nouns such as “king,” “lord,” and “father” are the masculine pronouns, “He,” “Him,” and “His.” Insidiously they drip into us, conditioning us to feel that ultimate divine power is male and that male power is natural, normal, proper and right, while female power is unnatural, abnormal, improper and wrong. The pronouns’ deep effect was revealed by the theol