I write this in response to a challenge to my use of the term "non-theistic" to describe myself. Here is clarification. Words are brittle prickly things poorly suited to a thing so tender as our spirits! Perhaps the following will make it all worse. Speaking of spirit is like trying to force butterflies to march in time.
Why call myself non-theistic if I am a spiritual person? Well, I do so because I don't like the other choices. I don't like the word agnostic because it always strikes me as a kind of noncommittal sort of word. To call myself an agnostic would be a strong distortion of the centrality of Spirit to my experience.
I don't use the word atheist because it indicates a lack of belief not merely in "God" but in divinity and spirit. I do not think that spirituality is delusional. I think it has been and is central to the human experience even if it is merely "a byproduct of brain function."
I choose the term "non-theist" because I am not theistic. That is I do not emphasize "God" or "gods" as central in my spirituality. I see these as metaphors and when we grow too comfortable and set in them to the point at which we honor our definition of "God" above the Ineffable itself, we are idolatrous.
I don't feel a relationship to "God" as defined by monotheistic traditions. My experience of the Divine is in the plural and diffuse sense. I experience the Divine not as a singular Being with whom I have a personal relationship but as a network, a process, a pattern, an inundation, a multiplicity, an immanence. I don't like the singular term because I experience the Divine almost as an effervescence of spirits surrounding me, enveloping me, welling up inside me.
I feel not only the Oneness of all things but the distinctions within the Oneness that allow for a million stories to be told. I don't reject the Christian message but I reject the notion that it stands alone or as the best. For me the Universe is electric with these messages. Do you ever look for fractals in nature? Once you start looking, they're everywhere! The Divine Message is like that too.
I don't feel a connection to an organized "theistic" Being but perhaps to a series of elevated, familial and familiar spirits as well as an almost heartbreaking and tangible throb of spirit in everything around me. When I say the Universe is ensouled, I mean the individual atoms, the dance of light and dark, of life and death, mourning and exultation, creation and destruction. I mean a paradox of Reason and Chaos, Consciousness and Blind Impulse all working together in patterns too exquisite for my brain to survive the knowledge. I am a child and only given tiny sips.
I am also thankful for your experience and for your ability to share it with me. I am infinitely richer for it. I believe we are given to each other, we humans, to share our stories. There is a light only I can bear. I believe that we are each uniquely beloved, each a messenger of a light only we can bear. When we gather together, each with our own particular beauty, we multiply our appreciation for the Divine a thousand fold. It doesn't make sense to me that two different souls would have exactly the same experience of the Divine anymore than I would expect my children, who share the same mother, to have the same experience of me. Nor am I the Singular Source of their existence. Each of us is the product of the yearning of Life for Itself, of millions of lovers seeking one another. We are the children not merely of our parents but of the Joy without which the Universe is nothing more than Nothingness. We are a product of the Unfolding Process that is as distant as the origins of Time and as immediate as our Love for each other. And that is "God" to me.
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