The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Fellowship: Fundamental Idea and Principles

November 1st, 2011 · No Comments · fellowship

I would like to start something big and ambitious, something that just might save the world. Before I go into detail about what I’m visualizing as the full fruition of the idea, I will first share the fundamental reasons for even considering going down this path.

The Principles

Between my personal explorations and the work I did researching my book, I have long known that religion and spirituality encompass vastly richer and more powerful tools and benefits to the human mind and psyche than most modern expressions of religion provide. My fundamental goal in this project is to provide an easy means for modern urban and suburban and rural people to learn and practice a significantly deeper and more meaningful religion that could potentially encompass and greatly extend the religion they have now.

My view is that religion is a set of techniques and practices that we use to encounter and experience the sacred in our lives. Additionally, the sacred is much more than mythology and authority: it includes all things true and right that we most admire — our relationships with family and friends, our memories of pride and success, and those places where we realize the vast majesty of the world around us. We naturally attend to sacred things today without necessarily recognizing them in a religious context, such as: patriotism, hiking clubs, interest groups, sports contests, movies, and rock concerts.

People today naturally seek out and yearn for the feelings and experiences provided by religion, and can often suffer from cruel addictions, depression, and suicide when these feelings prove unattainable. When people practice doing something in their imagination before they do it, they perform that task better. Religion can provide another dimension of this same process, enabling people to perform their tasks with pride and care.

Hope and optimism don’t grow out of the dismal depths of despair, but require a spark of light to reach the heart. The fullness of religion shows people the way to create their own sparks of light whenever needed. It creates a lattice along which we can climb from sadness into joy. Most importantly, religion applies equally to everyone and can provide to each person a sense of location, of belonging, of love, and of life.

The Idea

The goal of this project is to build an educational organization that brings an expanded understanding of religion and spirituality to a general American audience.

This expanded understanding would come from participatory ritual, workshops, classes, and individualized guidance. Books, podcasts, DVDs, and workbooks would be available to teach specific as needed. Several “pathways”, or guided initiatory sequences, would provide a quick, compressed introduction into the various techniques and tools used in the various rituals and workshops. Extended apprenticeships would bring the lay practitioner into the fold of anointed teachers.

Participants would gather periodically to celebrate the spirit of the city and state, the spirits of the land and water, and the spirits of the participating families. From the larger body of participants, smaller groups would regularly meet to celebrate a specific spirit: a common family, a common watershed or neighborhood, or a common vocation. In their homes, participants would create memorial hearths for the perpetual celebration of the house spirit, the ancestor spirits, and the favored group spirits (such as state and local spirits, sports teams, welcome guests, and so on).  At these memorial hearths, participants would perform daily and weekly ceremonies to honor and celebrate these guiding lights.

Ultimately, the goal of the organization would be to provide for each participant the expectation of finding the sacred in all places, the understanding of how to discern and communicate with the sacred, and tools for honoring, or making sacred, any location, activity, or gathering of people. More fundamentally, the purpose of doing all of this is to shift general public expectation from looking to an external authority to name and honor the sacred, to anticipating that each person should and must name and honor the sacred in their own way and their own time.

In principle and organization, this organization should be open and accepting of people all other religious and non-religious backgrounds. In execution, this takes the form of honoring mythology without adopting theology or accepting the authority of any other system of religion.

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