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On Religion

Posted by Cyn | Posted in NaBloPoMo, Spirituality | Posted on 15-03-2012

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Plinky asked, “Do you con­sid­er your­self reli­gious?”

Anti-Abor­tion and Pro-Life Teapot Athe­ist Protest Ful­ton Street Octo­ber 13, 20101

Not at all. I was always more spir­i­tu­al than reli­gious, but I was raised in a very reli­gious fam­i­ly in which I was forced to par­tic­i­pate in their South­ern Bap­tist church. I start­ed ques­tion­ing the con­tra­dic­tions in the Bible at an ear­ly age and did my best to rec­on­cile my intel­lec­tu­al objec­tions with the emo­tion­al com­fort reli­gion can offer.

After inves­ti­gat­ing many oth­er denom­i­na­tions of Chris­tian­i­ty, I final­ly left it alto­geth­er in my ear­ly 20’s. I dab­bled in pagan­ism and researched many oth­er faiths before arriv­ing at my cur­rent stance, which is tech­ni­cal­ly agnos­ti­cism while prac­ti­cal­ly athe­ism.

I still find the Uni­tar­i­an Uni­ver­sal­ist Asso­ci­a­tion to be a good spir­i­tu­al home, as it is as wel­com­ing to agnostics/​atheists as it is to any­one else. Dif­fer­ent con­gre­ga­tions vary, of course, as they do in any oth­er respect.

Powered by Plinky

Diane Duane Rocks

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Blogging, College, CYLC, Love, Reading, Spirituality | Posted on 23-05-2008

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The Sword and the DragonBack when the Meisha Mer­lin ware­house was being cleaned out, Sam picked up a copy of The Sword and the Drag­on, first vol­ume of the Epic Tales of the Five by Diane Duane that MM put out. It con­tains The Door Into Fire and The Door Into Shad­ow.

The Door Into FireI’ve want­ed my own copies of the first three Tales of the Five books for decades, since read­ing an old friend’s copies. I’m still dis­ap­point­ed that MM nev­er put out the next vol­ume, which should have includ­ed The Door Into Sun­set and the nev­er-before-pub­lished The Door Into Starlight. But then, there are oth­er peo­ple who have far more rea­son to be dis­ap­point­ed about MM mat­ters than I do, so I can’t fuss too much. And I have this vol­ume, and will con­tin­ue to hold out hope that Duane will find a new pub­lish­er who will bring out the oth­ers some­time in my life­time.

The Door Into ShadowAny­way, I had to stop read­ing to show this bit to Sam. It sums up much of what I love about Duane’s phi­los­o­phy.

…death is inevitable. But we have one pow­er, as men and beasts and crea­tures of oth­er planes. We can slow down the Death, we can die hard, and help all the worlds die hard. To live with vig­or, to love pow­er­ful­ly and with­out car­ing whether we’re loved back, to let loose build­ing and teach­ing and heal­ing and all the arts that try to slow down the great Death. Espe­cial­ly joy, just joy itself. A joy flares bright and goes out like the stars that fall, but the lit­tle flare it makes slows down the great Death ever so slight­ly. That’s a tri­umph, that it can be slowed down at all, and by such a sim­ple thing.

The Door Into Sunset

Thanksgiving

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Holidays, Spirituality | Posted on 22-11-2007

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Let us give thanks for chaos and logos
and impli­cate order;
for dark mat­ter, bright galax­ies,
and non­lo­cal con­nec­tions; for crys­tals and con­ti­nents;
for Lucy’s skull and Mary Leakey’s
foot­prints in vol­canic ash; for Thales’ water,
Her­a­cli­tus’ fire, and Pythagore­an forms; for the
Indi­an zero, alge­bra, and algo­rithms; for the
oscil­la­tions of the Yin and the Yang; for
acupunc­ture, Su Sung’s astro­nom­i­cal clock, and
Huang Tao P’i’s tex­tile tech­nol­o­gy; for Ara­bic
alchemists on the Old Silk Road and Ibn Sina’s
Canon of Med­i­cine; for Euclid and New­ton and “God
play­ing dice”; for Kepler’s snowflake and Kekule’s
dream; for Mendel’s monastery peas and the genet­ic
Tetra­gram­ma­ton on the spi­ral stair­case of life;
for frac­tals, ferns and fall foliage; for
cater­pil­lars and cocoons; for the infant’s first cry;
for Pachebel’s canon; for stained glass win­dows,
Leeuwenhoek’s micro­scope, and the Galileo
probe; for the World Wide Web to help us become
con­scious of cos­mic inter­con­nect­ed­ness; but most
of all, let us give thanks for the twin pas­sions
which make us ful­ly human – the yearn­ing to
tran­scend the bound­aries of time and space by
learn­ing and by lov­ing.

Invo­ca­tion, by Ingrid Shafer
For the open­ing of the Okla­homa Acad­e­my of Sci­ence on 7 Novem­ber 1997

A friend emailed the piece to me sev­er­al years ago. I want­ed to link to it, but couldn’t find a copy of it on the web, so I made one (with Dr. Shafer’s per­mis­sion, of course). Today seems a good time to move it from the old ver­sion of my site into Word­Press.

R.I.P. Madeleine L’Engle

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading, Spirituality | Posted on 05-11-2007

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I start­ed this post on Sep­tem­ber 7, the day after the grand lady moved on to find out what’s next. I find myself cer­tain that she wasn’t afraid, that she looked for­ward to a reunion with her hus­band Hugh and oth­ers who had gone before. And yet I, who nev­er even met her in per­son, was too upset to fin­ish the post or even look at it again for two months.

Is there a pentagram badge?

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Girl Scouts, Spirituality | Posted on 09-06-2006

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In an intro­duc­to­ry post to a news­group, I men­tioned at one point that my part­ner and I have been active in start­ing a CUUPs (Covenant of Uni­tar­i­an Uni­ver­sal­ist Pagans) chap­ter in our area, and also that I had just start­ed train­ing to be a Girl Scout leader. The com­bi­na­tion of those two state­ments result­ed in quite a bit of dis­cus­sion from peo­ple say­ing “Isn’t Scout­ing a Chris­t­ian thing? How are you get­ting to do that?” I soon real­ized that there’s a lot of con­fu­sion going on, and fig­ured I’d try to dis­pel it.

I think some of this con­fu­sion is com­ing from the per­cep­tion that there’s one big Scout­ing orga­ni­za­tion some­where, and all the pub­lic­i­ty in recent­ly years over the Boy Scouts of America’s poli­cies regard­ing homo­sex­u­al mem­bers. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have always been sep­a­rate orga­ni­za­tions. The BSA was found­ed in 1910. The Girl Scouts of the USA were found­ed in 1912. They are not the same, and the deci­sions of the BSA do not reflect the poli­cies of the GSUSA.

Yes, I’m open­ly pagan. Yes, I have been a Girl Scout leader while being open­ly pagan. The pri­ma­ry troop leader each year knew that I’m not Chris­t­ian, and didn’t express any con­cern about it. There’s not a word in the screen­ing and recruit­ment process about any require­ment that lead­ers or scouts be Chris­tians. One year there were two pagan, one Bud­dhist, and five Chris­t­ian girls in our troop. There was anoth­er who didn’t express any kind of reli­gious views her­self, but whose moth­er described their fam­i­ly as “most­ly athe­ist.” There wasn’t any trou­ble due to that diver­si­ty between the girls or the par­ents in the troop as far as I know.

From the offi­cial GSUSA web site:

The “moti­vat­ing force in Girl Scout­ing” is spir­i­tu­al. Girl Scouts respects the spir­i­tu­al val­ues and beliefs of its mem­bers, leav­ing the inter­pre­ta­tion of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty to each indi­vid­ual and the fam­i­ly.

The Girl Scout Law embod­ies the core val­ues of Girl Scout­ing. Our “moti­vat­ing force,” described by the con­sti­tu­tion as “spir­i­tu­al,” is con­sis­tent with the val­ues of many reli­gions. Reli­gious lead­ers have often praised the “rules for liv­ing” con­tained in the Girl Scout Promise and Law, which are so com­pat­i­ble with the val­ues they bring to young peo­ple through their own reli­gious edu­ca­tion pro­grams.

And lat­er:

Girl Scout poli­cies, sum­ma­rized below, ensure that all Girl Scouts are treat­ed equal­ly in regard to their reli­gious beliefs:

–Every Girl Scout group shall respect the vary­ing reli­gious opin­ions and prac­tices of its mem­ber­ship in plan­ning and con­duct­ing activ­i­ties.

–When a Girl Scout troop is spon­sored by one reli­gious group, mem­bers of dif­fer­ent faiths or reli­gious affil­i­a­tions with­in the troop shall not be required to take part in reli­gious obser­vance of the spon­sor­ing group.

The Girl Scout Promise and Con­sti­tu­tion do men­tion “God.” The leader’s guide* says:

In the Girl Scout Promise, the word “God” is used to rep­re­sent the spir­i­tu­al foun­da­tion of the Girl Scout move­ment. “On my hon­or, I will try to serve God” is how the Promise appears in print, the same as it has been since the begin­ning of the move­ment over eighty years ago. Most girls when say­ing the Promise will use the word “God.” For some girls, how­ev­er, words oth­er than “God” may be used to express their spir­i­tu­al beliefs. Because Girl Scout­ing encour­ages respect for the beliefs of oth­ers, girls may sub­sti­tute for the word “God” in the Girl Scout Promise the word that most close­ly express­es their per­son­al spir­i­tu­al beliefs.

It goes on to explain that the leader should work with a scout, her fam­i­ly and her reli­gious lead­ers to find the appro­pri­ate word or phrase for that scout if “God” isn’t right for her.

I’ve found noth­ing in the Girl Scout mate­ri­als that’s offen­sive to me as a pagan or a Uni­tar­i­an Uni­ver­sal­ist. I can­not, in fact, find any­thing that I could see as being offen­sive to any­one of any spir­i­tu­al path. There are reli­gious awards for scouts from var­i­ous reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions — you can find some of them list­ed at Pro­grams of Reli­gious Activ­i­ties with Youth. One that isn’t list­ed there but is of spe­cial inter­est to pagans is the Covenant of the God­dess’ Hart and Cres­cent Award (The Hart & Cres­cent mate­ri­als are also avail­able online, with the CoG’s per­mis­sion.)

I have seen men­tion of Chris­t­ian Girl Scout troops. I imag­ine those troops wouldn’t be as accept­ing of me or my daugh­ter, but then I wouldn’t seek them out. If I did have a per­son­al encounter with a troop that wasn’t sup­port­ive of spir­i­tu­al diver­si­ty, I’d try to work things out with the troop’s lead­ers, then go to the local GS Coun­cil of nec­es­sary, as it would clear­ly vio­late the GSUSA’s poli­cies. There’s no place in Girl Scout­ing for any kind of pros­e­ly­tiz­ing by any­one of any faith.

And yes, I do strong­ly encour­age oth­er pagans to be involved with Girl Scout­ing and open about their beliefs. The GSUSA has a real prob­lem in some areas with get­ting enough adults involved to serve the num­ber of girls who want to be scouts, and this is one of the ways we can serve our daugh­ters and com­mu­ni­ties and do a lit­tle activism to improve people’s aware­ness and atti­tudes regard­ing pagans. Need I men­tion that it’s fun, too?

As for sex­u­al pref­er­ence, I can’t speak for the expe­ri­ence of any open­ly homo­sex­u­al or bisex­u­al peo­ple with the GSUSA, but I’ve found absolute­ly no overt or covert mes­sages in any GSUSA pub­li­ca­tions regard­ing homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, bisex­u­al­i­ty or het­ero­sex­u­al­i­ty — and I’ve looked. Appar­ent­ly the GSUSA just con­sid­er sex­u­al­i­ty to be a pri­vate mat­ter. There’s cer­tain­ly no place for any overt­ly sex­u­al activ­i­ty at any offi­cial scout­ing activ­i­ty, so that’s a per­fect­ly rea­son­able stance as far as I’m con­cerned.**

*The Guide for Junior Girl Scout Lead­ers, page 6, copy­right 1994 Girl Scouts of the USA
**In May 2001, after this arti­cle was writ­ten, I came across a mar­velous pin at the Badge and Sash — the offi­cial Girl Scout store. It’s a gay pride flag with the words Girl Scouts Cel­e­brate Diver­si­ty on it.

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 23, 2001