December 26, 2020
I wanted to start the blog off with some details about the process of making this podcast.
It's probably not surprising that my wanting to do this now has a lot to do with the end of the 2020 election season. Millions of people not only voted in ways that I find bizarre and unexpected, but so many of them also fell into a series of beliefs that were obviously and demonstrably. Court challenges were made and then rejected repeatedly for lack of evidence and standing.
It seems clear that the election challenge lawsuits were part of their overall strategy that started with crippling and maligning absentee voting, included the last-minute effort to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, and ended with a series of invalid and ill-prepared legal challenges, which were expected to be appealed so that their packed court could award them a victory.
And it might have worked, if not for the dedication to democracy shown by those who helped the Blue Wave achieve a victory by over seven million votes, and by the many defenders of liberty that continue to keep their heads down and do the work of the people.
That they tried this scheme was not surprising. It's what one would expect from a criminal empire with its hands on the levers of so much power.
But what always surprised me was that so many people were willing to accept and defend such obvious lies.
What has happened to us that this could ever be even close to possible?
The fact that there was an evangelical river running through it is a part of the key.
If you teach people to detach themselves from evidence and to hold faith above all else, you can then pretty much tell them anything. The fact that the so-called base is more of a cult than a political movement is obvious and widely noted, but the extent and effectiveness is still surprising.
While this moment in time was the catalyst for releasing the podcast, the ideas behind this actually started over a year ago.
Episode four of the pod cast, Religious Realities, is actually the second version of this episode. I recorded a similar version in the summer of 2019, but it wasn't until later in 2020 that I decided to remake it as part of this series.
A couple years ago, Melissa and I made a commitment to write in a journal every day throughout the summer.
My journal entries often explored the details around an idea that I have been nurturing for a long time. The idea is that for our civilization to continue to grow and advance, we are going to need new paradigms to support our efforts.
I've been an atheist for several decades now, but I have always disliked the label, which focuses on what not to believe rather than providing a new approach to the subject of how to thrive in our interconnected and interdependent human cultures. We don't need a term for not believing in gnomes. Nobody would label themselves as agnomic, so why focus on being non-theistic.
This effort actually goes back quite a while to an online essay in the nineties (when we called them web-zines instead of web-logs) that I titled meta-religion, ideas about religion.
We can only focus on what not to believe for so long, and then we need apply what we have learned about science, psychology, and anthropolgy to improve upon the social fabric that traditional religions have provided and to eliminate the various cultural negatives that have emerged as their traditional views struggle with a changing world.
In other words: So, there is no god. Now what?
In looking at that question, I kept observing how deeply our spirituality is interwoven with our human experience. This realization is what led to an idea that is repeated in the podcast, about how some will want to take ownership of this natural aspect of our humanity and sell it back to us packaged with their history, rules, and expectations.
Being a good Christian, for example, sometimes has more to do with supporting the mission and prominence of the church organization itself, rather than on advancing one's own spiritual mission. These don't have to be separate and are often part of the same experience. There is comfort in validation from our tribes. We are primates, after all, and our social hierarchies are written in our genetics and in our primal instincts.
But when belief is abused, when it is used as a political weapon, it is necessary to jettison dogma and religious jingoism, and search for the common basis for what it means to be human together on a planet. It encourages us to examine how our psychology and genetics and experiences can be turned toward something more noble than the localized aggrandizement of an organization's prevalence and power.
I would hope that a new understanding of our spiritual truths would not need to completely replace our varied religious traditions, but could work along side them, tying them more closely together by appreciating the commonality in them all. As Joseph Campbell said, Thou Art That. Religions, like language, use different terms and imagery, but we are all humans together, and whatever the derivations of our beliefs, whether secular or traditional, we can choose to focus on that which unites us all, rather than on that which would divide us.
Whatever it is, or wherever it might lead, it starts with us individually, and the ways that we live in and relate to the world. It starts with our own perspective and how we live each day under the sun.
This is my small corner of trying to discover what this means and to learn from others who are already well ahead of me on these paths.