Fox News (.com) ran an article yesterday about a new phenomena taking place across parts of Europe, and now in the U.S., that involves atheists in larger metropolitan areas getting together for music, reflection, and inspirational talk. Some may say that this all smacks of the same trappings used by organized religion in the form of ritual and imagery. Others say that it serves to tear down the walls of false perceptions that atheists are evil and untrustworthy. The group in L.A. also took donations for community service projects planned in the near future. I believe it is a good thing to positively promote the atheist movement but I also want to avoid any misconceptions that result from these types of services. It is an interesting development nonetheless and I hope it serves as an indication that our culture is finally moving forward and away from the handcuffing philosophy of religion.
Are these mega-gatherings to be applauded or looked at with suspicion? Your thoughts....
Ahh 'community'. As I have matured, much of the reason I have had rather serious mis-givings about religion was from the 'community'. I am just a maturing, wide eyed child of the universe, trying to figure things out, asking questions, wondering about the deep questions, exploring the boundaries, and sometimes tasting the local flavors.
The answers offered, sometimes implied some very weird demands, with the most common being 'you must stop thinking'. Thinking makes demands on the human mind, and can be a boundary breaker. While religion seems to demand a premature certainty, thinking can break walls, kill sacred cows, and make the 'weaker argument appear stronger'.
Can a 'community', from a theist view point, of 'thinkers', be stable enough to have a future? The most similar model would be from colleges and universities. Maybe atheists need to be 'Friends of Education', not 'thorns in the side' of theists. Sadly, without some degree of challenge to theist over reach, the larger culture might decay to a web of sicking pettyness, and fake truth.
My own feeling is that part of maturing, not just age-wise but psychologically, is becoming good company for oneself. If you just can't bear to be alone and without the company of others, you have issues.
"theist over reach" - the desire/ability to control and subjugate those that disagree with your invisible philosophy.
Over the years I have joined churches so I can get a more direct understanding of the society, and ideology.
Most times it appears that members, new & established, get both physical and emotional support once the 'inside(in-group) VS outside(out-group)' effects drop off. Most time acceptence is easy if you reduce the degree of personal independence, and increase the feeling of 'commonality/conformity'.
I have recently joined a local Lutherian church, but made it clear to both the minister and some members that I come from a science/math background, and might not always agree on 'details'. I think that a little social 'tension' is good, for both my own mind, and that of others. I am set to deliver a presentation for their 'Stewardship' program on environmental concerns this next week, sadly I have not been able to find a good way to play Sagan's 'Pale Blue Dot' on their computer system..;p(. I am half looking forward to my first tar a feathering..;p).
A few of my Philosophy profs. were real promoters of 'Confrontational education'. Sadly, it has not always worked out well for me.
My own feeling is that part of maturing, not just age-wise but psychologically, is becoming good company for oneself. If you just can't bear to be without the company of others, you have issues.
Perhaps we could have meetings discussing not collecting stamps and not playing golf.
Sounds silly, although it seems all that atheists can do is discuss issues to defend against theists from trespassing on our right not to have to put up with their intrusions and infringements on our rights.
Orgies of kindness and common sense would be good enough!
A former Pentecostal minister in Louisiana is serving up old fashioned church style meetings for atheists in the Baton Rouge area. One of his main points is that many former theists still long for the sense of community and togetherness that attending church services provided. Quoting Jerry DeWitt:
“There are many people that even though they come to this realization, they miss the way the church works in a way that very few other communities can duplicate,” he said in a phone interview. “The secular can learn that just because we value critical thinking and the scientific method, that doesn’t mean we suddenly become disembodied and we can no longer benefit from our emotional lives.”
That seems to be a valid point that probably rings true with many of today's converted atheists. It is still just a little disquieting to see the singing and clapping that brings back the memories of attending organized church. Perhaps it is an unfounded fear.