Author Topic: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense  (Read 599 times)

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Offline nogodsforme

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Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« on: October 04, 2013, 08:19:39 PM »
Yesterday I was at a presentation by three Native American women on "two-spirit" people. That term is how about 150 different US tribes have chosen to designate people with both male and female gender characteristics.  It was very interesting, because these tribes have terms in their language for various types of "two-spirit" folks. Usually the term translates as that way, as in "those two men are married-- they are that way." The point is to be embracing of different orientations and gender identities.

But what really caught my attention was when one woman said that her tribe (Lakota) had held two-spirit people in high regard until the arrival of Christian missionaries. The Christians freaked out at the idea of a feminine man living with a masculine man as a married couple, or masculine women sitting in council. The Christians determined to stomp out these savage perversions of god's  natural order.

The woman said, "So, they took away our spirituality and gave us religion instead." She saw religion as a rigid set of rules that don't make sense with how people naturally are.  By spirituality she meant the way that people are connected to each other, to the natural world and to their ancestors. It did not seem that supernatural magic was necessarily a part of what she was talking about.

It was the first time that I heard that expressed in a way that I could get my atheist mind around.

Here is the only pop culture two-spirit portrayal I could find. Watch the guy flirting with Dustin at the very start of the clip:

Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline wright

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2013, 08:49:30 PM »
Great clip; Little Big Man is one of my favorites. That two-spirit fellow is a memorable character.

Popular definitions vs. official ones is an endless, murky war. When someone says "spiritual" I usually think of a much more general category than when they say "religious". The second I associate with churches / temples, holy books, hierarchies of clergy and so on.
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Offline Dr H

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 07:08:47 PM »
I am starting to think that on-line atheists form something of a incestuous community... I get pointed to IGI from ATT, and then here from IGI, and who do I find?  nogodsforme; Hal; Nam; Emily; Mr. Blackwell; and  a host of others from the other two sites?  Every one with thousands of posts on each site.  Where do you people find the time?  ;)

This site was harder to connect with than the other two... hell, I had to go through 9 versions of the captcha before I found one I could read... three posts before I can post an introduction (?? what's up with that?) ... locked threads ... no access to "forum profile" for avatars and such (I assume that will appear, eventually).

Be that as it may, here I am.  Perhaps I am not properly spiritually attuned, but here I am, nonetheless.

The spirituality/religion question is an old one for me.  It's come up repeatedly in one of my longest-running discussion fora outside of Usenet -- a listserve involving a bunch of skeptics, paranormalists, and one hardcore Christian apologist.  The paranormalists in particular insist that there is a significant difference between religion and spirituality.  Frankly, the only difference I perceive is that religion is more communally organized, whereas those laying claim to mere spirituality seem to feel free to pick and choose from various religious traditions to construct their own individual religious beliefs.

Not to be too cynical, but most of the self-proclaimed "spiritual" people with whom I have interacted have all struck me as "new age" dilettantes, blithely pushing their metaphysical shopping carts down the aisles of the supermarket of world religions, snagging a bit of pantheism here; a bit of Judaic tradition there; some freeze-dried Sermon on the Mount; and maybe a little Timothy Leary or Carlos Castaneda in from the spice section.

What results is usually riddled with it's own sort of mysticism, it's just sometimes better concealed than it is in more communally organized religions.

My 2¢.
Dr H

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Offline Nam

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 07:42:19 PM »
Dr H,

This website crashed in 2008, and IGI, ATT, and probably other minor sites were sprung to life but we all, mainly, originated from here (or the old wwgha forum).

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

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Offline Nam

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 07:47:05 PM »
When I think of "mysticism", I think of the author Alice Brown. She was heavy into it, and a lot her novels are written from such point-of-view. She's an average writer but hung out with many of the greats.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline Dr H

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 08:15:32 PM »
Dr H,

This website crashed in 2008, and IGI, ATT, and probably other minor sites were sprung to life but we all, mainly, originated from here (or the old wwgha forum).

-Nam

So this site is sort of the ur-singularity from which came the Big Web Bang, spawning the other atheist web fora?  :)
Dr H

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Offline Nam

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2013, 08:45:21 PM »
Dr H,

This website crashed in 2008, and IGI, ATT, and probably other minor sites were sprung to life but we all, mainly, originated from here (or the old wwgha forum).

-Nam

So this site is sort of the ur-singularity from which came the Big Web Bang, spawning the other atheist web fora?  :)

Sure...

;)

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline wright

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2013, 08:53:49 PM »
The spirituality/religion question is an old one for me.  It's come up repeatedly in one of my longest-running discussion fora outside of Usenet -- a listserve involving a bunch of skeptics, paranormalists, and one hardcore Christian apologist.  The paranormalists in particular insist that there is a significant difference between religion and spirituality.  Frankly, the only difference I perceive is that religion is more communally organized, whereas those laying claim to mere spirituality seem to feel free to pick and choose from various religious traditions to construct their own individual religious beliefs.

Welcome to the forum, Dr H.

Interesting point about communal vs. individual doctrine. That's a useful way to make the distinction.

Not to be too cynical, but most of the self-proclaimed "spiritual" people with whom I have interacted have all struck me as "new age" dilettantes, blithely pushing their metaphysical shopping carts down the aisles of the supermarket of world religions, snagging a bit of pantheism here; a bit of Judaic tradition there; some freeze-dried Sermon on the Mount; and maybe a little Timothy Leary or Carlos Castaneda in from the spice section.

What results is usually riddled with it's own sort of mysticism, it's just sometimes better concealed than it is in more communally organized religions.

My 2¢.

Pshaw, that's not cynical by local standards. Look to Nam for that, though it's more like he tore through cynical at terminal velocity and came out the far side not slowed at all  ;).

The kind of cafeteria / supermarket mysticism you describe I also regard as usually less harmful than the communally organized reactionaries. Not always; I've noticed the anti-vaccination / Big Pharma conspiracy types sometimes overlap with the ostensibly "progressive" spiritualists.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 08:55:43 PM by wright »
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Nam

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2013, 08:57:54 PM »
I'm cynical? I think I'm equally optimistic/cynical.

;)

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Online screwtape

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 10:28:32 PM »
Where do you people find the time?

A lax work ethic

This site was harder to connect with than the other two... hell, I had to go through 9 versions of the captcha before I found one I could read... three posts before I can post an introduction (?? what's up with that?) ... locked threads ... no access to "forum profile" for avatars and such (I assume that will appear, eventually).

defenses against relentless spammers, drive by xians and other fleabitten curs.

Not to be too cynical, but most of the self-proclaimed "spiritual" people with whom I have interacted have all struck me as "new age" dilettantes,

nicely put.

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Offline Dr H

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2013, 05:37:01 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Dr H.

Thank you.

Quote
The kind of cafeteria / supermarket mysticism you describe I also regard as usually less harmful than the communally organized reactionaries. Not always; I've noticed the anti-vaccination / Big Pharma conspiracy types sometimes overlap with the ostensibly "progressive" spiritualists.

True enough.

I probably should mention that I'm generally pretty laid back about people believing whatever floats their boat, with the notable exception of medical quackery, which is something of a hot-button issue for me.

« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 05:39:04 PM by Dr H »
Dr H

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Offline Dr H

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2013, 05:38:43 PM »
drive by xians

LOL.  First time I've seen that phrase.
Dr H

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Offline wright

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2013, 06:37:37 PM »
Thank you.

NP. Please post a bit about yourself in the Intro or Testimonials section if you're so inclined.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2013, 04:02:34 AM »
The woman said, "So, they took away our spirituality and gave us religion instead." She saw religion as a rigid set of rules that don't make sense with how people naturally are.  By spirituality she meant the way that people are connected to each other, to the natural world and to their ancestors. It did not seem that supernatural magic was necessarily a part of what she was talking about.

I could grok that.  I can sit and watch a sunset and feel a connection to the world.  Doesn't mean that god is tickling me, or that my guardian angel is massaging my neck, just that I see the world that I am in, and it is beautiful and that beauty makes me feel good.  I can go with that as being spiritual. Just a shame the word too often has to be accompanied with a belief in tree spirits and a desire for drum circles.   :D
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Offline wright

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2013, 12:59:16 PM »
I could grok that.  I can sit and watch a sunset and feel a connection to the world.  Doesn't mean that god is tickling me, or that my guardian angel is massaging my neck, just that I see the world that I am in, and it is beautiful and that beauty makes me feel good.

Here, here. Knowing that my reaction to a sunrise, or my nephew's happiness, or surfing can be explained in purely physical terms in no way takes away from those things. That's something some theists have a hard time grasping.

Quote
I can go with that as being spiritual. Just a shame the word too often has to be accompanied with a belief in tree spirits and a desire for drum circles.   :D

As long as the believers in tree spirits aren't insisting I stop using wood products because it's disrespectful, and the drummers aren't keeping my neighborhood up all night, I don't see a problem.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Dr H

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2013, 04:05:52 PM »
Thank you.

NP. Please post a bit about yourself in the Intro or Testimonials section if you're so inclined.

It seems redundant, since I did so in ATT and IGI and half the people here seem to also be in those fora... but OK. 
This last summer I was telling my story on so many fora that I finally put it into cut-n-paste format.  And you did ask for it...  ;D
Dr H

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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Finally spiritual, not religious makes sense
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2013, 07:30:37 AM »
Yesterday I was at a presentation by three Native American women on "two-spirit" people.

It was the first time that I heard that expressed in a way that I could get my atheist mind around.

It would be interesting to know what other tenets and customs Lakota spirituality/religion had.

In India, there are the Hijra see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_themes_in_Hindu_mythology and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijra_%28South_Asia%29 I've seen these people in India and they are not quite as pleasant as is made out - they basically operate a protection racket - and the view of the population is a little ambiguous but accepting as part of life.
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