Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sharing is Caring

I love when I catch my kids sharing their toys. It warms my heart. I love it even more when those lessons of sharing are carried into adulthood, I melt into a puddle when I witness it first hand. So I'm sharing with you this clever illustration which I'm sure like everything else in the interwebs has been shared repeatedly (Thanks Andrew for sharing this). The thing is I absolutely love it when others share their beliefs with me no matter how much I may disagree with them. What I love is conversation and not being treated like I'm a potential convert. There have been times where I've had incredible conversations with people who hold beliefs entirely different from me as we focus on our differences and less so on our commonalities. Sharing what we have in common is great starting point but that should branch into our differences, which I believe when shared can create something new and beautiful.  Sadly most of these conversations are found to be more productive online than in person. As a non-Christian living in Tennessee it's difficult to come across anyone who shares a passion for religion and spirituality who isn't (ain't) going to tell me I better get right with God. Which is why I continue blogging, because I love to share, interact, and converse.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Universe is in Us

I simply can't get enough of this video. It's been a couple weeks since this video has been posted and is almost up to 2 million views! Of course whenever a video like this gets posted and shared there are some which bring up religion into the conversation. And that's okay, it's very human of us to see, reflect, and respond through our own specific personal view. That's the reason why I shared this video on my Facebook page and here as well. It echoes what is important to me.

 (Via Unreasonable Faith)

This video is not commenting on religion, God, or faith but the reflection of one astrophysicist, one fellow human being on our relationship to each other and the universe. Whether you believe in evolution or intelligent design is not important, what is astounding is the FACT that we are connected to each other. This astounding fact of our interconnection is what has guided me as a human being, a father, a husband, and neighbor more so than any other belief system. Of course the background music makes the video that much more beautiful.

My spirituality is not based on any religious background but on the sheer experience of being. I don't follow a creation myth nor do I have an infallible book with an infallible god to back up my spirituality. But as a very fallible human being with very fallible human thoughts I seek only to eat, drink and be merry. I travel through this life to love, be loved, and not prevent love for anyone else. Videos like these remind me that even if you and I don't share the same beliefs or views we share the same origin at the atomic level. Some theist would say that we are built with a drive to seek God, I would say that we have an inner drive to seek each other, to seek connectedness. You can see that by simply following the trend of people switching to smartphones to stay connected with the world (and yes I work for one of those smartphone companies). How can we ignore our global interconnectedness to neighbors suffering halfway around the world, or even down the street, when we have the world pouring into our living rooms through our TVs and phones? We can't ignore it. Those who want the good ole' days when gays, Muslims, and Atheists were out of sight out of mind will never reach their goal. The space between ourselves and our neighbors is evaporating and unless you're willing to live in a community out in the country secluded from the wilds of an increasingly interconnected world then have at it, the world is not going to go back to a time with less diversity and interconnectedness. But we can have so much more, we can be so much more, by accepting the fact that we are connected to and need each other.

Now that I finish this post I remember I posted a similar video (with the same exact title) back in September 2010 here. It was exciting then and now.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Not Anybody's Fault

 Doug B. over at Groping The Elephant has written a couple of posts (here and here) on the recent outbreak of tornadoes in our area in the South and Midwest. I wasn't going to comment about the storms until after reading Doug's comments and stumbling upon the following video.

As a former Christian, most Christians reading this will probably think I was never a "true" Christian, but in my former life I held tight to the comfort in the belief that God watched over me. The only change between then and now is that I no longer believe in a Divine creator, and yet my family and I were unscathed by the storm. It's videos like these that break my heart not because I believe that they're stupid to pray a storm away but that in the aftermath while believers share their survival story with others those who don't survive are often forgotten or even blamed for their own deaths. I believe that prayer does bring comfort to the believer but after the storm settles most believers don't wrestle with the question of why. As Doug brought up in his post good ol' defender of the faith Pat Robertson stated that it is our fault that people died. Our fault. God is blameless and we brought our own demise upon ourselves because we failed to pray. As families across my county huddled in their basements and shelters I'm certain that the vast majority of people were praying their hearts out, and the storms didn't miraculously stop.

I am thankful that my family avoided the storms but I understand and accept that it was probability and not divine protection. It is nobody's fault that that the storms brought death and destruction. Prayer doesn't protect but I admit that it may bring comfort, yet what we should be doing is helping instead of damning our fellow man. My heart goes out to those that didn't make it and I hope that the local communities affected by the storms will help each other rebuild and recover.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Reason

Since the birth of this blog I've stated that its main purpose is for reflection and not as a pulpit to put down the beliefs of others. And as far as I can recall I don't go out of my way bashing the beliefs of others except when it comes to acts of clear injustices. Just by looking back on my own personal growth I've moved from Seventh Day Adventist-> Theist -> almost Muslim convert-> Theist again -> Pantheist/Agnostic/Humanist. I can't really decide what I am now cause a) I don't really care for titles and b) I don't want to be pinned down to another tribal group again. When it comes to questions about God and the afterlife although I find the questions intriguing at the end of the day I'm not comfortable accepting ANY of the answers provided by any faith. I don't believe our existence in this reality is meant to be spent thinking/praying/hoping for safe passage into the next reality (i.e. Heaven). I just don't find any of the answers believable or even useful in my life. Religious answers can still be useful to others even if I find them useless. If a Muslim finds peace in his daily prayers to Allah who am I to take that peace away from him, and the same goes for anyone else from any faith. I'm not out to convert others to my point of view simply because I understand that the journey I took to get to where I am is something that can take years of reflection and thought. To get to where I am you can't just offer a statement of faith or offer a prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, (Praise his Noodliness, R'amen) it is a lifetime of wrestling with unanswered questions and understanding how that struggle makes us human. THAT is what drew me away from religion and towards spirituality. 

I know I posted this video before in my series on Atheist Spirituality but this video captures the beauty of being human, and accepting the mystery and joy of simply being. But just because I'm not a religious man means I'm disgusted or even against religion. I absolutely love listening to testimonials, to simply listen to another person's journey is foundational towards loving our fellow man. I may not accept your beliefs but I respect its importance to you. Your story is a part of who you are, so who am I to destroy your identity? But I do see religion as language and story, but even if I don't accept the story as truth I love listening to a good tale because it describes the struggle of being human. The only thing I am against is whenever story (religion) taken as literal truth causes pain, suffering, and injustice to others. THAT is what I am against, not the religion itself but the pain caused to others. To simply be, love, and experience my humanity is more than enough for me.