Chapter 6: Spirituality And Fairness

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 196

A: You’d have got a kick out of what Emma said today!  She went on and on about how she was this spiritual person.

M: I don’t have anything against spirituality.

A: But spirituality is all about the supernatural, and you don’t believe in the supernatural!

M: It doesn’t have to be.  Many people who don’t believe in the supernatural still have experiences that they consider spiritual.

A: I don’t think you understand what I’m saying.

M: Spirituality means different things to different people.  Being on a boat on a calm lake in the early morning feels spiritual to me.

A: I don’t think that’s what Emma meant!  She says that when she goes into a church, she feels the spirit of Jesus entering her.

M: When I walk into a church I get a similar feeling to being in a boat on a lake in the early morning.  There are many people who say that we should train to free our minds from stress and live in the moment.  Some people call that mindfulness.

A: Why do you keep twisting words?  This isn’t what Emma was talking about.

M: I think it’s important to recognize that the spiritual experiences that religions give people have a role.  I’d even say that they can make us fairer people.

A: Why would it make me fair to feel like the spirit of Jesus is entering me?  I thought you’d say there’s no way that the spirit of some person who lived 2000 years ago would enter anybody now!

M: I certainly haven’t had that specific spiritual experience.  Emma’s experience is one way of experiencing spirituality, mine is another.

A: But why do you say that spirituality could make people fairer?

M: You always see the world through one specific set of eyes.  You can try to put yourself into the position of somebody else, but that person is also subjective.  It is hard to just separate yourself from our day-to-day concerns.

A: You mean like a Buddhist monk?

M: Many religions and cultures have the concept of separating ourselves from our earthly desires.  I think it is good to recognize that there is something bigger than we are.

A: Like the universe.

M: That’s right.  We know there’s one thing for sure that’s bigger than all of us, and that’s the universe.

A: Are there people who have the universe as their religion?

M: There is pantheism.  Pantheists revere nature and the universe.  This goes back to somebody called Spinoza in the seventeenth century.  He thought that God includes everything that exists.  Einstein believed in a God the way Spinoza described him.

A: So are you a pantheist?

M: I like the idea of pantheism.  I wouldn’t say that that’s my one and only religion but I don’t have a problem with pantheism.  Modern-day pantheists typically say that their beliefs are consistent with science and atheism.  So it’s more of a movement than a religion.

A: So do pantheists have spirituality?

M: Everybody can have spirituality.  There’s a wonderful book written by the brain scientist Jill Bolte-Taylor.  She had a stroke when she was still relatively young.  Do you know what a stroke is?

A: It’s something happening in the brain and then people can’t think like normal, right?

M: Yes, during a stroke the brain doesn’t get enough blood, and then it doesn’t function normally.  In Jill’s case there was a bleeding in her brain, and for a while the left half of brain didn’t work at all.  The left half creates stories out of our experiences.  In her book she calls that her storyteller.  So when that part didn’t work she experienced life only with the right half of her brain.  She describes that as being surrounded by energy.  Her description is very similar to how religious people describe their spiritual experiences.

A: So is she religious?

M: I don’t think she is religious in the normal sense.  She rather tries to get people to understand what the world looks like if you only use the right half of your brain.  She thinks the world is a lot more peaceful that way.

A: I’m not quite seeing how this makes her a fairer person. 

M: Peacefulness is largely about realizing that we may be wrong.  I think that, for many people, their belief in God is a way of accepting that they don’t know and there’s knowledge out there, to which they don’t have access.

A: So are religious people better people?

M: Anybody can work on realizing this.  In fact, I see serious problems when the all-knowing being has values that are not compatible with the needs of our planet, like having lots of kids and subduing nature.

A: I know you don’t like God.

M: I think there are plenty of shared concepts that are nicer.  Much has been written about love.  Much has been written about peace.  My personal favorite is fairness, because it recognizes that things may be going wrong with the world.  Thinking of how quickly species are dying, I don’t think there is a question that things are going wrong with the world.

A: I think God more than love or peace or fairness!

M: What can be more?  I think there are already many people for whom God is one of those three, or some other common term.

A: How do you know whether a word is a God?

M: One way to look at it is to see how many books and songs are written about the word or concept.  Many religious people complain that money is treated as a god.  I think they are right, and it’s something I don’t like any more than religious people do.  I do like the others, love, peace, and fairness.

A: So why don’t you create a bible that way? 

M: People have done similar things, and a lot of atheists don’t like the idea of creating another God.  I do think we have to be very careful viewing anything as a God because of how intolerant religions tend to be.  I don’t think we want to consider anything a church with limited membership, but I like the idea of viewing love or peace or fairness as a God.

A: I think you are the only one with your religion!

M: You could say that blogs about works of fiction are a lot like sermons.  Harry Potter is about tolerance, and readers treat it that way.  The Lord of the Rings is about resisting the temptation of power.  Do you know any novel that doesn’t have some message like that?

A: I don’t think people read it because of that.

M: Maybe the authors wrote it because of that.

Submitted: March 28, 2015

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