Archive for July, 2012
I am a skeptic, a freethinker, and a humanist. I don’t believe these labels exclude theists of various kinds, yet that is how they are often used, at least by implication. Perhaps if I use them in lowercase, it makes it a little clearer that I am using them more broadly. A skeptic is one that does not accept claims without carefully scrutinizing them, and a freethinker is one who thinks for themselves, rather than rigidly following the dogmas of authority figures without question. (Said authorities can be religious, secular or political)
Humanist, on the other hand is a little trickier to define. In general, it is a philosophy of human dignity & independence from dogma, and reliance on reason and science. I don’t think that conflicts with a belief in some sort of divine being(s) While I am probably not 100% sure of the existence of God(s), I have a sense of the sacred, the power of ritual & community, and I seek the Divine, or more simply a connection to nature, the universe, my inner self, and others.
Here are some of my beliefs & ideas that I consider humanist:
- Humans are intrinsically morally neutral, not born sinful without commiting any wrong. Or as the Unitarians put it: “We affirm the inherent dignity and worth of every person”.
- The human body, and sexuality (if practiced between consenting adults) are beautiful, valuable, and we should be proud of our bodies and our sexual nature. There is nothing dirty or shameful about them.
- We can and should be moral & ethical, regardless of whether we are religious. We do not need the pressure of God(s) and/or clergy to spur us to ethical behavior. In fact, the idea that one only acts morally due to divine commands and/or rewards in the afterlife is in of itself immoral.
- It is important to focus on this life, and living it to the fullest, rather than an afterlife which may or may not exist.
- Humans can, and should try to make the world a better place, both for each other, and for the natural world as a whole.
- The scientific method is a good way of learning about the universe. Science does not conflict with religion, rather it complements it.
- We should all be allowed think and speak for ourselves, and engage in civil debate in public and private with others who disagree.
- God(s) may or may not exist, be if he/she/they do, humans reserve the right to not worship them without fear of punishment. Honoring and worshipping a divine entity should be done out of love and reverence, not out of fear.
Here’s a couple of nifty resources I discovered recently, of the audio variety. I went to a presentation & performance about Tobar an Dualchais or Kist o Riches (meaning Well of Heritage). It is a archive full of recordings of traditional Scottish Gaelic & Scots music, poetry, speeches on history, folklore, stories and traditions. Ethnic You can search for specific songs, artists, key words, etc. Folklorists have been collecting recordings since the 1930’s, and they are in the process of being digitized and uploaded to the website. I haven’t even explored it yet, but it sounds amazing!
Since most of what I know of Irish (and other Celtic) history is from the pre-Christian era, I wanted to learn more about later periods. But to a Yank, with only a 300-some year old country it is such a long history, I didn’t know where to start. When I searched “Irish history” in the St. Paul library catalog, I got hundreds of hits. So I poked around online and found a the Irish History Podcast. The fellow who does it, does a great job of explaining things- I particularly enjoy how he discusses what everyday life was like. For the next step in this journey, I will pick a time period or topic that especially interests me (women’s role in history for example) and read more on that.
I decided to do some re-vamping of this blog- I probably spent a half hour mulling over which background theme to use! I’m going to focus the blog less on politics, partly because I’ve started another, mainly on the subject of disability rights. I can never resist a pun, hence the new title 🙂 In the past, I’ve posted book reviews of various kinds on Roots Leaves & Threads, but I think it makes more sense to put religion, culture, history books here. I found some good Celtic Recon/Gaelic Polytheist blogs to add, and I’m also going to put up some pages of resources (books, links etc)