I’m an ex-cradle-born-Unitarian Universalist for good reasons. I’m politically moderate. I converted to sparkly Roman Catholicism at age 21. I am Jewish-curious, and am deeply attracted by their cohesive peoplehood and long, honorable struggle with a crazy God. When I was 22, I did something like animism and nature-based rites of passage in a community, but that community didn’t stick, even though the spirituality sure did. I don’t believe in fairies, I believe in birds. I don’t believe in unicorns, I believe in equines. I don’t believe in dragons, I believe in reptiles. The World is what’s real. Prayers and spells don’t save you; human research and evidence-based practices do, but a really grounded spirituality makes it all worth living through. Now I’m a scientific panentheist (is it really necessary to differentiate between pantheist and panentheist? Really?) who believes in a Creator that lives, breathes and moves in all created beings. I don’t claim that this Creator is always or ever going to do as we wish, or can even be trusted the conventional sense, though it can be greatly loved in its wildness. Nature is violent, insane and unjust, and we have every reason to think that any Creator who wrought it might be the same way. But Nature is also, simultaneously, beautiful, life-giving and deeply good. And so the same must be for this mysterious Creator. Such is life on earth. Sometimes I wish I were born in an Animist hunter-gatherer tribe of 30,000 years ago. Then again, I’m grateful for the gift of reason, evidence, vaccines, the internet and refrigerators. What I want most of all is a real tribe I can belong to. I wander, but I am not lost.
Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash
The + sign means “together with”.
Together with God, with each other,
with the strings
of the atom.
crosses and circles.
“Adding a negative
is the same
is the same
image source: Creative Commons CC0
Found some great reading by David G. Myers today in my psychology class…
[In counseling psychology] another area of potential value conflict is religion. Highly religious people may prefer and benefit from religiously similar therapists (Smith et al., 2007; Wade et al., 2006; Worthington et al., 1996). They may have trouble establishing an emotional bond with a therapist who does not share their values. Albert Ellis, who advocated an aggressive rational-emotive therapy, and Allen Bergin, co-editor of the Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change, illustrated how sharply such differences can affect a therapist’s view of a healthy person. Ellis (1980) assumed that “no one and nothing is supreme,” that “self-gratification” should be encouraged, and that “unequivocal love, commitment, service, and…fidelity to any interpersonal commitment, especially marriage, leads to harmful consequences.” Bergin (1980) assumed the opposite—that “because God is supreme, humility and the acceptance of divine authority are virtues,” that “self-control and committed love and self-sacrifice are to be encouraged,” and that “infidelity to any interpersonal commitment, especially marriage, leads to harmful consequences.”
– from Psychology in Everyday Life
That lesson is being applied by Stephen Ilardi and his colleagues (2008) in their training seminars promoting therapeutic lifestyle change. Human brains and bodies were designed for physical activity and social engagement, they note. Our ancestors hunted, gathered, and built in groups, with little evidence of disabling depression. Indeed, those whose way of life entails strenuous physical activity, strong community ties, sunlight exposure, and plenty of sleep (think of foraging bands in Papua New Guinea, or Amish farming communities in North America) rarely experience major depression. “Simply put: Humans were never designed for the sedentary, disengaged, socially isolated, poorly nourished, sleep-deprived pace of twenty-first-century American life.”
– from Exploring Psychology, Eight Edition
This little ditty was written for three magical, enlivening, frankly beautiful and soulful philosophy classes I was privileged to be a young student in. Every day I absolutely loved coming to these classes, because they were instructed by Professor Bill Graves at City College of San Francisco in the months around the date on which this post is noted as published, the date when I wrote this. I wish I saved all my notes from these classes. I often remember Mr Graves warmly and I wish I could see him and talk with him again. His bright mind, compassionate disposition, elderly life perspective and hilarious life stories spanning many decades, and soulful reverence of the interior life of the human heart all resonated with me, as if he was one of “my kind” of humans. He even had a curious bit of gentlemanly charm, shall I lightheartedly call it, for an old bloke. Maybe that’s how they formed the philosophical men of his generation. He was a dear mentor to me, one of many I have already been blessed to be guided by. Many good hours were spent talking together in his sunny cubicle about the meaning of life and the world, me crawling my amateur way through symbolic logic while he patiently smiled me along; it began my appreciation for mathematics I’d never known in my schooling heretofore. Mr Graves was one of those people you look back on and know they had a special influence on your intellectual and spiritual life. They don’t make real professors like Bill Graves anymore.
–Gentle J. Pine 7.31.2017
The Logician’s Prayer
To whom it may concern
may I not in perturbation burn
may I wisely use my reason
to return to the occasion
concluding in my weary mind
which by logic I am led to:
That first movement at the cosmos’ start
evident among us and in the heart
of all existence;
There undoubtedly exists a Something
even if a little bit;
Therefore, ex nihilo, nihil fit.
image source: Creative Commons CC0