The other day I got a subscription offer from a magazine called Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism. I’d been thinking about ordering the magazine. Well, here was my chance: a “special introductory offer for blasphemers only.” Got to love the marketing department. That’s no magazine for me. Though I am “godless”–in the sense that I doubt the existence of anything that human beings would wish to call “god” and I don’t think a religion is a place any decent god would be caught dead in–I’m neither “blasphemous” nor “sacrilegious.” If I don’t believe in “god,” how could I be? Those are words with meaning only in God Land. See, I’m a “humanist.” But a “religious” one, not a “secular” one. (What the heck does that mean?) Oh, that labeling thing! Why do we have to be an “ist” this or an “ist” that? I don’t want to be an “ist.” Being an “ist” is about being a follower. I don’t have any interest in that. Sure, I get it: some religious people don’t like what I believe. Some even insist upon forcing their isty god on me. I get it. But to somehow think that I’m blaspheming about it makes me a reflection in their mirror. I don’t want to live in that musty old antique shop. There’s just too much out under the blue sky to enjoy. Which makes me a Transcendtal-ist! Except when I’m in a Logical Positiv-ist frame of mind. And then there’s always . . . You get the idea. The Twentieth Century was the Age of Labels. Perhaps in the mobile societies created by industrialization labels made some sense, with so many people displaced and wandering the earth to find work. Just in the art world there were Futurists, Fauvists, Voticists, Imagists, and Capitalists. Labels don’t make sense anymore. Isn’t everyone displaced now? Seriously, folks: why does anyone need to be an “ist” at all? There’s just too much fun stuff to think. Therefore, pietists and sacrilegists, listen up! Lose the labels and get a life. If I’ve got to be something, I’ll take “everythingist.”
Here an Ist, There an Ist, Everywhere an Ist-Ist
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The Rev. Dr. David Breeden is Senior Minister at First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He became a minister after a career as a university professor, teaching creative writing and literature. He has written several books on theological topics and translates the writings of philosophers of classical antiquity. More information is available at www.wayofoneness.com.