True Piety Toward the Universe


I serve on the organizing committee for a forming interfaith organization in Rhode Island.

Last night we had a planning session with a host of folk, mostly Protestant & Episcopal Christians, largely clergy, a small handful of rabbis, a Quaker, two Bahai, two muslims, one an imam, someone from a New Thought church, me, and, what I found kind of wonderful, they’d asked a representative of a local Humanist organization to come, and he did.

It set me to thinking god thoughts.

Generally I consider myself a nontheist. But, I also know, folk who come to church might take a couple of months or even a year of two to notice – as I freely use traditional Western spiritual language. I think it a good thing that my call to the depths can be heard from a variety of spiritual perspectives.

But, and…

I have to admit nothing like spending a couple of hours among the godly to bring out the atheist in me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a couple of the people at that meeting I count as dear friends. And I don’t mean Facebook friends. I mean real friends, help move a body friends.

But… And…

My problem with most of god talk as we get it from the theistic community, is the ingrained assumption there is an entity that acts within history and in particular interferes with our individual lives.

For the life of me I cannot figure out how people can look at their lives and think that.

Or, think that and assume the deity involved is benign…

And… But…

This is too bad, because God is a perfectly good word to point to the great mess…

As Santayana has been said to say, “My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is a true piety toward the universe, and denies only the gods fashioned in men’s own image, to be servants of their human interests.”

So…

Why do people want such a smaller god?

Why would piety be aimed in any lesser direction?

I know, I know, more of those unanswerable questions…

Or, maybe not.

Maybe our little interfaith and non-faith group might take this up someday.

I’d pay to be there for that conversation…

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  • Chris Amirault

    Someday I’m going to get you to explain this category of move-a-body friends.

  • http://www.boundlesswayzen.org jamesford

    HI Chris, A Facebook friend is as a general rule an acquaintance, not a friend. A friend is someone who will help you move. A real friend is someone who will help you move a body…

  • Stephen Slottow

    Unmon interrupted him and said “aren’t those the words of John Tarrant?”

  • http://www.boundlesswayzen.org jamesford

    Nope, Stephen. He just said them first…

  • Cushing

    I’m pretty sure John Tarrant also borrowed those words. Whom one chooses to tell the location of a dead body or help transport it, as a measure of friendship or trust, has long been a common expression among us attorneys, which in itself might render it inherently offensive to many people. Aside from who uses it, I find the expression uncomfortably ghoulish, evoking the sorrowful image of the endless trenches that have been dug to search for Whitey Bulger’s victims, and inapposite to the subject at hand (friendship) in somewhat the same way as are admonitions to murder the Buddha as skillful means toward attaining enlightenment (whatever that is).


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