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I thought this was well worth sharing — Thanks David. See — there’s beauty right in your backyard, especially this one.
Do we need God because the universe is just too strange, empty and frightening without Him? Do we know enough to decide about what created the universe? Isn’t the discovery of the cause of creation a continuous process for us?
Eric Stetson, a Facebook friend, entrepreneur and visionary, wrote a stimulating post the other day. It was Eric’s reaction to this article.
Eric wrote: Thoughts upon reading this article:
1. These people need to start calling themselves Unitarian Universalists, rather than Christians.
2. That realization just reminded me of what the UU brand has become — i.e. “the church for people who don’t believe anything religious” — and why I’m somewhat uncomfortable identifying with it, just as I also have mixed feelings about identifying with the “Christian” brand as it’s defined today.
The article quotes Rev Klass Hendrikse:
“Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death,” Mr Hendrikse says. “No, for me our life, our task, is before death.”
Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.
“When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that’s where it can happen. God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.”
I believe some members of UU, maybe most, do not believe in God the way more traditional Christians do. UU is much less a Christian organization that it was years ago. What I find interesting is that many people feel they need to pick either belief in God or atheism. Faith or no faith. For me the question of God is unanswerable. We simply don’t have enough knowledge or insight to know. That’s why belief in God depends on Faith. Defined by Mark Twain Faith is believing in something you know ain’t true. At the very least its believing when you have doubts or not enough information. So people choose Faith or no faith. Of course lots of folks don’t care where we came from, why we are here or where we are going so they don’t raise these questions for themselves. (Do you think there are many people like that?)
Here is what I posted on Eric’s FB page:
“God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.”
Some people experience something they call God. The creative force of the universe some call it. Or the echo of the big bang. Or our Father in Heaven. But whatever we call it it is a phenomenon for some people — an observable occurrence. The infinite – anti-chance – the first cause. Science and art seek to understand these terms. Abstract terms that we can’t get our minds around because we are finite (at least I think we are!). This phenomenon, whatever word we use to describe it, is a reflection of the mystery of creation and existence. Striving to grasp a small measure of understanding of this mystery is included in the work or art and science as well as religion and philosophy. In this striving we have two extremes — those who say they know God and can therefore know the unknowable (the paradox of some Western religions) — and the atheists who say they’ve got it all figured out — there is nothing beyond what our 5 senses tell us nothing transcendental nothing super-natural. Any time I read that there is no more mystery no more to discover in any field including religion I reject the notion. We are born from mystery, die in mystery, and are surrounded by mystery during our lives. If we try to cap that mystery and put it in a ‘NO’ bottle I think we shut off an important part of being human. Religion claims that periodically the mystery around us speaks. Emerson wrote “God has not spoken — He speaks” now and continuously. I don’t know God or god but I do feel surrounded by mystery and I sometimes pay attention.”
So that’s my answer — its a mystery. Sounds lame — like what a priest tells a parishioner when the priest is stumped. But it works for me. No religion speaks to me very well right now. The traditions and dogma of religion makes them confusing to me. But they all have wisdom and beauty as well as dogma so I might change my mind at some point. I am sure that in the next few hundred years people will learn much more about the mysteries. I think learning about black holes and the holographic universe may reveal much about the nature of creation and reality. Meanwhile the importance of staying in touch with Nature if you are a human being presses on us to a greater extent as we put pressure on Nature. Thoreau had it right — “In wildness is preservation of the world.” Nature is the tool of creation as well as the result of it. Nature is also where the clues to the mysteries lie. Let’s not calcify our thinking with dogma or emptiness.
People (John Hanson Mitchell for one) have walked to Walden. Today we walked around Walden, as millions of others have done. The spirit of Henry David Thoreau was palpable as always. Because of his life and his writings this insignificant pond is one of the world’s famous bodies of water. Amazing! He wrote:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
To live deliberately means to be aware of one’s life each minute, every day I think. Are you? Am I? Probably not but its an idea worth remembering and striving for. Henry started the movement to save the planet when it was not obvious that it was in danger — “In wildness is preservation of the world.” What a concept — one we need more than ever now.
Here is some of what we saw today:
Gary Synder wrote that the wildness of Nature is everywhere.
From “The Etiquette of Freedom,” an essay in Synder’s book “The Practice of the Wild” –
“But wildness is not limited to (places formally set aside on public lands). Shifting scales, it is everywhere: ineradicable population of fungi, moss, mold, yeasts, and such that surround and inhabit us. Deer mice on our back porch, deer bounding across the freeway, pigeons in the park, spiders in the corners. There were crickets in the paint locker of the Sappa Creek oil tanker, as I worked as a wiper in the engine room out in mid-Pacific, cleaning brushes. Exquisite complex beings in their energy webs inhabiting the ferile corners of the urban world in accord with the rules of wild systems, the visible hardy stalks and stems of vacant lots and railroads, the persistent raccoon squads, bacteria in the loam of our yogurt……Civilization is permeable, and could be as inhabited as the wild is.”
Nature, wild Nature is the culture we swim in — it supports us even as we try to destroy it. We try to weed it out and debug it. But it persists. People move into cities looking for a better life and often they bring Nature with them because of old habits and ways of life. Many Chinese people and other orientals have moved into the Gravesend section of Brooklyn where my in-laws have lived for over 60 years. If they have a few feet of ground many plant squash and other crops. This is natural habitat for lots of wildlife including many sorts of insects. I’m guessing that my friend the praying mantis called the nearby squash patch home. But for some reason he was standing on the painted cement of the backyard (the whole yard is cement).
An even less natural section of Brooklyn is Sunset park near the docks. 53rd street and 1st avenue is where I took the photo above. Railroad tracks and warehouses, factories and stone — the doorway attracted my photographer’s eye but I didn’t pay much attention to the green sprouts coming up, as they always do, through the cracks below. Given time they would cover the building. Abandoned towns and cities soon are recovered by wild Nature.
The disease of European civilization came across the ocean during the age of exploration. Looking for natural resources the explorers started the ruin of North America’s Nature. But the resistance persists. Unbridled civilization will not work. Nature will out. If not we are doomed, I think.