Shuck and Jive

Monday, February 06, 2012

Religion For {this} Life

I like to switch religions every now and then just to keep things fresh.  Here is my latest.  I call it a Religion For {this} Life.   The astute observer will notice that the title of my new religion echoes the title of my new radio program.   Here are a few of its non-doctrines.

It comes from Christianity.  I call it Christian Naturalism.  It is a religion.  It is not science.  It is not atheism or agnosticism.   It has beliefs.  The basic belief of my version of Christian Naturalism is that this universe is cool enough for me.   I have no care to speculate about what is outside the universe.   My belief is that there is probably nothing outside of it at least that can affect me (or the universe for that matter).   I am sure that thinkers who speculate on these things will keep me informed.

I cannot prove this belief is true.  My religion operates by trust.  I trust that this universe is fine for me.  My religion believes that the scientific method is pretty good and that public knowledge is more trustworthy than private revelation. 

I think human beings are special and unique.  We are the only beings we know of so far that exhibit a level of consciousness that can comprehend the universe.   I think it is good for humans to stay around and it would be wise if we learned to live compatibly with our environment so that we can do so for millions of years into the future.

God and the gods function in my religion as human creations.  They are products of the human imagination which is a product of the universe as is consciousness, love, art, and everything else.   Of course, I like to read and reflect on the Bible as a human creation and to reflect on other human works as well.  

Jesus is there.  He plays a large role in my religion.  He is an historical person that I have reconstructed with the help of others.  He is also a fictional character.  When I see him as a fictional character, I am mostly interested in the authors who created him.   I love Jesus.  I love Buddha, too, and Krishna, even Gilgamesh.   But at the end of the day, Jesus is my man.   That is probably because I feel at home with him. 

I love church.   My religion is happy with church, even with Presbyterians.  I like Presbyterians as on the whole they are pretty tolerant and they do have that freedom of conscience thing going for them.   Presbyterians have changed for the better.  They used to be pretty intolerant.   Now, rather than burn heretics and witches they prefer to form committees to study the issue.

I believe in goodness.  I believe in justice.  I like the concept of what Joanna Macy calls The Great Ball of Merit.  That gives me hope. 

I think religion has important tasks.  One of which is to help people cope with the contingencies of life.  Another task is to provide permission and resources so people can create their own religion.  Yet another task is to help people develop an internal moral compass in order to live well and to engage the powers.   And potlucks.  Always potlucks.

My religion also affirms the Great Peace.  I trust that after my brain ceases to function I will drop into unconsciousness like I experienced before birth (which was no experience at all).  There is nothing I need to do to earn the Great Peace or anything I can do to miss out on the Great Peace.   I don't have to worry about being good enough.  I do not need to fear hell.    I learned this oddly enough from Presbyterians.  It is my understanding of justification by grace.   Knowing that one day I will experience the Great Peace whenever that time comes gives me the freedom to live and love today. 

My religion even has a hymn.  There are other hymns in my loose-leaf hymnbook.  This one is delightful and sung beautifully by Iris Dement.

I could change my religion again next week.

So...stay tuned.


  1. I love your definition of the Great Peace as "justification by grace."

  2. Preach it, bro! Lots of food for thought here. Just Like yours, my religion could change next week.