More things between heaven and earth

Please indulge me as I wax philosophical. If we define religious experience as experience of the spiritual plane, then it makes sense to explore it on its own terms. While our attitudes, expectations, and behaviors shape how we approach it, there is something distinctive to it that resists our expectations. That resistance demands some sort of response such that the understanding we develop about the spiritual world and how we behave toward it tell us something both about ourselves (individually and socially) and the spiritual world. Because the spiritual world isn’t just any way we want, but has its own substance, we can discern its reality ‘beneath’ the descriptions and rites. This makes it both possible and reasonable to compare one form of religious expression with another. The way in which we make that comparison, though, needs to keep those variables in mind and try to make sense of the different forms of religious expression ecologically rather than getting carried away with superficial similarities.

[For those who are fans of technical philosophical vocabulary, we might call this strategy critical, phenomenological, and pragmatic. If you don’t care about those terms, don’t worry. You don’t have to be connosieur to enjoy the wine.]

Continue reading “More things between heaven and earth”

What is(n’t) Religion?

This may be one of my favorite posts from John Michael Greer in a while (and he has had a few really good ones lately, so that says something). It and the comments have set me thinking. In general, I tend to agree with Greer almost as much as I disagree with him (I’m stubborn, ornery, and peculiar, so that says more about me than Greer). Some of that is temperamental, some of it philosophical. Like Thjis in the comments to this post, though, I think that accepting the sort of model Greer describes here makes it more difficult to accept some of his previous accounts of progress as a religion.

Continue reading “What is(n’t) Religion?”