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Monday, April 9, 2012

Religion for a New Millennium: A Manifesto

[This essay was originally posted to "The Third Tale," a blog on Weebly. In transferring it I have updated and made corrections where necessary.]

<-- The Quartered Circle, symbol of my "new religion"

Nearly 20 years ago I wrote a book (never published, like ALL my books so far) that encapsulated my spiritual point of view at the time.

As I look back on it, it's much more theistic than my current worldview, but much of it is still foundational to who I am today.

At the end of that book, I published a sort of a "manifesto" for a community that would gather to work out the principles in the book--in short, a "church."

Not all of the points in the manifesto necessarily "ping" with who I am now; still, I think it's worth presenting it as written. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

See the end for notes on the underlined words.

INTRO: Any religion which would help its adherents re-connect to the divine in the next millennium--and thus usher in a new millennium of spirituality--must have the following traits:

    1. It will spur its adherents to pursue an awareness of the mythic side of life, and increasingly to bring their thoughts, words, and actions into accordance with this awareness.
    2. It will nourish in its adherents an individualized understanding of the divine, including both "feminine" and "masculine" imagery, as well as a mystic vision beyond the idolatry of the metaphors to which we often cling.
    3. It will promote in its adherents the realization that all creation--from their own bodies to the earth itself--is sacred and must be approached with reverence and joy.
    4. It will help its adherents to understand the sacred nature of their daily work, and, should they find their work unsatisfying, help them to seek new opportunities that bring them a sense of fulfillment.
    5. It will urge its adherents to embrace those of other paths, realizing that ethnic differences in practice do not negate elementary similarities of belief.
    6. It will motivate its adherents to pursue the central goal of religion, which is reunion with the divine.
    7. It will encourage its adherents to realize that a decent provision for the poor is the true test, not only of a civilization, but of a religion; and to work tirelessly on behalf of the weak, the oppressed, and the disenfranchised, including women and people of color as well as the poor. Inequity is iniquity.
    8. It will recognize the individual nature of the spiritual quest, and will function as a gathering place and a resource to support the individual without limiting her or his development; furthermore, it will recognize its inherent expendability in the spiritual lives of its adherents.
    9. It will build in its adherents a sense of their intrinsic worth, including trust for their emotions, their creativity, and their faculty of reason.
    10. It will help its adherents to re-read their scriptures in new ways, to see their stories as mythic and elementary, and to relate these to their dreams and interior lives.
    11. It will re-examine any doctrine or dogma that inhibits the activities listed above, revise it if possible, and discard it if necessary, recognizing that religion is "poetry, not theology" and "metaphor, not doctrine" [Starhawk].


  • Intro and VI. "the divine": This begs the question a little; I would now say "the Absolute" or something less personalized.
  • I. "the mythic side of life": "That world" as opposed to (merely) "This"
  • V. "ethnic": of a particular culture; "elementary": universal
  • XI. "Starhawk": a well-known "pagan author and activist"

    Categories: Spirituality

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