Today, I am going to discuss a topic that I have long avoided posting about: Spirituality.
The reason that I have avoided it is because I know that there are a diversity of opinions and beliefs about religion and spirituality, even among people who agree on progressive principles politically. I have not only friends, but family members who are atheist, agnostic, Christian, and perhaps other belief systems as well.
However, I feel that I do respect all of these belief, or non-belief, systems, and I mean that very sincerely. I do not think that writing about this topic will change that. After all, my wife Zunliang is a devout Christian although I am not, and we get along well.
In the past few weeks, there has been a surge in religious proselytizers knocking on our door. First, it was Jehovah’s Witlesses – oops, I mean Witnesses – with whom Zunliang has been friendly although she does not agree with them. Then it was Mormons (like Morons with an extra M in the name). They first knocked on my door when I was somewhat expecting my neighbor “Rio” to come over. (Rio is our next-door neighbor from mainland China who was recently arrested for growing 1000 marijuana plants without a license on his property. I posted about this on my timeline.). Instead of “Rio,” it was two young Mormon missionary dudes. (Mormons send all young Mormon men on a 2-year mission – I think when they reach the age of 18.) Apparently, I was too friendly with them. (That seems to be a pattern here.) They have been here twice more since then – different people, actually, but with the same purpose. The most recent time was last Thursday. I came home late from fishing locally, exhausted, only to find two of them talking to Zunliang, who was trying to shoo them away. Then they latched onto me again. I finally told them that I was not going to become a Mormon, and that I consider myself a Unitarian-Universalist, which is true, with the caveat that just about anyone can consider him or herself to be a Unitarian-Universalist, which is one of the things that I like the most about Unitarian-Universalism. I don’t think they really knew what that is, but hopefully it has convinced them not to return again.
Consequently, I have decided that the current topic would be ideal for “The Heart is On The Left.” You see, both the UU church, and my personal thinking regarding spirituality, are connected to progressive political thinking. (Unitarian-Universalists are well-known for being progressive activists throughout their history.) This brings me to the topic of PLURISM, or calling myself a PLURIST.
I have thought a lot about religion and spirituality over the years, since when I was a pre-teen or young teenager. I give my parents credit for this in the sense that they never took me to church or pushed any religion on me, but encouraged me to think for myself. Naturally, the “big questions” like “The God Question,” and “What Is This Universe All About,” were often on my mind (along with how to get the gal in the next row over in fourth period class to notice me, etc.) Zooming forward quite a few years, I came upon up with the idea of PLURISM. Actually, this was around the time that I started blogging, around 2008, but I have always put off writing about it.
PLURISM stands for something that I think most liberal-minded people, at least, can relate to. It means Peace, Love and Understanding, Rational Intuitive Spiritual Mentality. Similarly, calling myself a PLURIST means Peace, Love and Understanding, Rational Intuitive Spiritual Thinker. Thus, I advocate peace, love and understanding, with an approach to spirituality which emphasizes a combination of rationality and intuition. Since my friend Doug just posted the song “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding” in the Thom Hartmann Bloggers Group – a song which I had posted myself years ago in the group, I thought it was clearly time to present my PLURIST idea. (Thanks, Doug.)
Data about religious affiliation and spirituality indicates that non-religious, and “spiritual but not religious” populations have been rapidly increasing in the United States. PLURISM fits nicely into this “spiritual but not religious” category (More Americans now say they’re spiritual but not religious | Pew Research Center).
Notice that I am putting this spiritual concept in the most general, basic conceptual terms at this time. (I may actually be more specific about “The God Question” or “The Purpose of the Universe Question” in upcoming posts, but not here.) I am not talking going to say that anyone is spiritually more blessed or “chosen” than anyone else. I am not going to talk about anyone receiving messages from “God himself,” (as if a male would have given birth to the Universe), because I do not believe in that, nor in people suddenly “feeling the spirit of Jesus,” or whatever divine entity. Nor would I ever claim to have “the answers.” My eyes roll and I start thinking “Schizophrenia” when people do that. I fastidiously avoid gobbledygook and hocus pocus. My approach is primarily intellectual, and for me, it needs to be. I am sick of hearing self-serving nonsense passed off as having been “inspired by God.” Furthermore, I believe that we all can be spiritual without the nonsense. To me, spirituality is a human capacity which is inherent to being a sentient being. To ask the “big questions,” such as those previously mentioned in this post, and more, is to be spiritual.
To ask “the big questions,” is something that I think we all can, and probably do, engage in. Finally, I think that we can all agree that “peace, love and understanding” is something that we all need to move society forward in a progressive and/or evolutionary sense, and that will help us to answer ‘”the big questions.”