Saturday, August 22, 2009

Does it Matter? You Bet your Donuts!

A friend sent me an email about a donut shop in Wichita, Kansas yesterday, and I was at first dismissive. But being, well, somewhat bored I clicked the links and immediately found out what makes a Blog interesting... it has to speak to the interest of the reader! Well, I like donuts, and odd donuts sold from an avant-guard shop in Wichita, Ks. (usually not avant-guard) was pretty good, and that the Blog author was on a mission to blog about donuts in an interesting manner was also a plus. But that the blogger talked about my home-town of Burns, a town of fewer than 300 folks in the middle of nowhere Kansas, certainly caused my interest to go up!
Now, the blog problem here is, there are only so many interesting donut shops in the world, and limited ways to make them sound different and exciting... so even with good, interesting writing the audience here tends towards the eclectic donut snob. And there are only so many folks from a town of 300 out there who are interested in reading about the small town... as my wife pointed out with her "I'm reading this why?" on both accounts.

So I'm awake at 2AM with this thought rolling around in my head... who's interested in a liberal religion Blog except those who are looking for a fight, looking to be vindicated (hey, he's on MY side!), or are from the small town that gets mentioned in passing? So what am I doing this for?

Well, what I'm doing this for is to clarify stuff that rolls around in my head in this business called religion, so that someone can disagree (hopefully with more thought and less malice), or find kindred in spirit (so we can work on the interest together), and so some small town folks can read the name of their burg mentioned in passing with a bit of relevance... evoking either of the first two reactions, or "I'm reading this why?" All are legit!

So to tonight's sleepless clarification! My first post was about Unitarian Universalist theology... in which I introduce Rev. David Bumbaugh's theological statement as a baseline UU theological frame to work from. One result of the statement is the realization that we, humankind, are related and dependent upon each other, and that this relationship extends to our ecology... the environment that we live in. And frankly, we live in most of the ecologies available on this planet due to our big brains, where most other creatures had to do some rigorous evolutionary stuff just to fill their cozy niche. We just waltzed out of Africa some 50,000 years ago, and adapted our way around the planet!
How did we do that? By using our brains to understand the environment we were moving into, and by cooperating with each other - recognizing and exploiting our fellow human's strengths/gifts in adapting to the land/environment. You see, our ancestors did not discard any tribal members because they were odd... no one was defined as outcast if what they brought to the tribe was a skill that added to the wisdom or technology of the group!
Let me explain... the world was big and challenging, everyone was needed that could add to the knowledge and muscle of a tribe for survival, and religion... yep, religion was about surviving together. Truly in sync with the meaning of the word... "to bind," to bring together as human in a world that we were physically ill-equipped to handle. We needed everyone... everyone's ideas, viewpoints, and talents to survive. There is no discarding of "different" if that difference adds to the collective wisdom.
In Carol Lee Flinder's book The Values of Belonging, she points out that in hunter/gatherer languages we know of, the closest equivalent word or words for "religion" are "the way we live." The way we live is to understand our world through many, many eyes and brains... take in as many opinions and thoughts and needs as there are "tribal" members, and work together to make our way in the world. The most important question is... who have we not asked?

In a conversation I had recently, I was reminded that our global economy is being run by corporate conglomerates and governments (and supported by corporate religions) using economic theories that have little to do with human mutual survival (and with this ecological survival), but all to do with enrichment of a few.
Our world is thought to be "conquered" and submissive, yet many of our "tribe" of humankind are in trouble... trouble even within the most supposedly successful economies of the world. I submit this is because we seem to have forgotten our original "religion." The religion of humankind says that no one is apart and can be discarded, says that the ecology where you live is important and must be understood in the many ways only listening to even the "least" of us can say, or it will kill you.
I think we are killing ourselves. Oh, not permanently, humankind will survive somehow. But the present way we live, without our "natural religion" that engenders affection for even rival tribes (because we know they fill an important niche), will continue to exploit the environment and enrich the few until it collapses... failing again and again, either economically or ecologically or spiritually. Our false human construct on top of the real ecology of cooperation with the ecology and each other is an engine for greed, racism and war.

I see our corporate religions supporting this eventual death, even promoting it. Thinking in the supernatural, removing us from ourselves and our ecology. Most of the religious structures of today promote being in "tribes" that are insular and self aggrandizing, sometimes charitable to the "other," but never listening to their wisdom, only looking for self promotion. What we take for religion today rarely challenges the toxic corporate structure they belong to... too worried about the proper worshipping of the unknown god to really care for humanity and its relatives, the earth and our fellow travelers upon it.

It seems humankind needs to look at what it means to be religious very seriously again, to look at which "religions" or philosophies actually allow more of us to be human within its structures, and which cull out those who are "not good enough" as part of a nationalist/corporate creed. We need to rally around the natural religions, those that give all of humanity a place in the universe, as a natural part of it and not standing apart. I believe Unitarian Universalism can be part of this (as it is a melting pot of natural religion), as can aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Natural Humanism, Humanist Christianity and others that recognize our relationship to each other, and to the world around us.

Dang, didn't work someone's home town in did I...


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