Transitions

Hello Blogging Friends,

It’s been a tough couple of months for me.  My mother passed away on July 14th, and I flew my father out to live in our city and I’ve been trying to get him settled at a place where they can properly care for someone with dementia.

My mother was an amazing woman.  Mere words are not capable of describing the amount of care and love she showered on all of her family.  She was an amazing role model, and many of the ways in which I raise my children come from her example, as well as my father’s.

Things have been very busy and it’s not clear right now how much time I’ll have for blogging.  I want to thank everyone who I’ve interacted with through blogging for a great experience, and I hope I can find time in the future to get back in the groove.

-Howie

Bridging a Great Divide

I had a post about morality planned for February but it’s taking longer than I thought to write.  Instead, I’d like to share a video which to me relates very much to morality.

I found the video on one of Eva’s posts and I was very moved by it:

In the video, Naomi Feil, a Jewish woman, makes a connection with a woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s by singing Christian songs.  I think this made an even deeper impact on me given that I know of the aversion to Christianity that exists in the Jewish community.  This was very clear to me growing up in a Jewish home, and I also found it to be true, albeit to a lesser extent, in a more liberal Jewish congregation I attended several years ago.  There’s a lot of history causing that aversion, but happily I believe it is dissipating.

To me this is just one example of someone crossing over the boundaries of religion to make a beautiful connection with another human being.  I have always highly valued all human beings no matter what their beliefs are and my beliefs about ultimate questions have never changed that.  This was one of the things that attracted me to Christianity back in college – I believed that it represented true goodness and that it matched this value that I had within my heart.  That strong value didn’t go away after I left Christianity though, and no matter what my beliefs are about the existence of gods, that value of mine will remain unchanged.  To me this is an important part of what morality is all about.

Other groups I explored – I liked Unitarian Universalists the most

In my previous post I mentioned a couple of groups I had explored after leaving Christianity.  I also tried out a few other groups, but these groups relied much less on dogma and doctrine.  I tried an Atheist group, an Ethical Culture Society and a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church.  I felt very comfortable in all 3 of these different groups, but felt by far the most comfortable in the UU church.  I spent about a year or so attending a UU church and even took a couple of classes with them.  I only went once to the atheist group and once to the Ethical Culture Society – I didn’t stop going because I didn’t like them but they weren’t big enough for me to blend into without being noticed (my introverted nature! 😉 )

Everyone’s preferences are different, but I would highly recommend the UU churches to people who are open minded, seekers, possibilians at heart like myself, and also wanting to feel like a part of a community.  What I loved about them was their tolerance of all different worldviews (as long as those worldviews were also tolerant).  I felt comfortable there even though I no longer believed in revealed religion.  Freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, as well as religious people of all persuasions are welcome at UU churches (at least the UU churches I’ve heard of).  In fact I distinctly remember there being one Sunday service where several people of different beliefs got up on the podium to teach what they believed to the congregation.  I remember there being an agnostic (I got the most out of his talk), a Christian, and a couple of others get up to speak (I think one was delving into New Age ideas).

All three of these groups talked about humanist and ethical ideas which was and still is very important to me, but the atheist group seemed much less about this and much more about talking about why they didn’t believe in Christianity (not that there is no need for that).  I liked the Ethical Culture group a bit more than the atheist group because it was more about talking about what they did believe rather than what they didn’t.  It also had a bit more of a naturalistic flavor than the UU churches.  Although the naturalism fits my beliefs a little better, to be frank I kind of like the pluralism of UU a little more, and besides I only lean a little bit toward a naturalist worldview anyways.  I don’t have to agree with the methods or conclusions of everyone in the group but I like learning about what others believe as long as tolerance and a spirit of learning is involved.

Anyway, wanted to take a little breather from all the deeper stuff and this post was a bit on the lighter side.  Writing about epistemology takes a whole lot more time and effort!