What is “out there” beyond the “science of god” (the-ology called theo-logy by theo-logists)?
Science. Wonder. Knowledge. Wisdom. Cooperation. Health. Peace. Exquisite Delight. Meaning. Art. Poetry. Compassion. Love. Nature. . .need I go on?
On the other side of distraction and the fictionalization of life is. . . What Is and not What is Imagined.
On the other side of heaven (or “Eden,” east of Eden, and all other directions outside the gated garden), is Liberty and the Goodness that was once a god.
“Our religion is at fault, our saints have betrayed us, our theologians have blackened and defaced our earthly temple, and swapped it off for cloud mansions in the Land of Nowhere. The heavens embrace us always; the far-off is here, close at hand; the ground under your door-stone is a part of the morning star.”
~John Burroughs, Accepting the Universe (1920)
“The person who is concerned about the safety of their soul sustains quite a different relation to the world from the person who is concerned only about what is true, or what is beautiful, or what is good, in and of themselves.”
“It is this type of mind which fostered alchemy, astrology, sorcery, witchcraft and demonology. The air and the earth and the waters swarmed with spirits, good and evil; disease, pestilence, storms, fires and floods were the work of evil spirits; the more kindly motions of nature were the work of good spirits. . . . How has all this been changed! How completely the human mind now faces the other way, in everything except in theology–faces toward a natural explanation of all phenomena!”
“We are skeptical about the gods, but we are no longer skeptical about things, or about duty, or virtue, or humanity, or the need of well-ordered lives. The putting out of the candles on the altar has not put out the sun and stars too. We affirm more than we deny. . . .”
“The universe is going its own way with no thought of us; to keep in its currents is our life, to cross them is our death. This discovery sends the cosmic chill, with which so many of us are familiar in these days; it makes the religious mind gasp for breath, but we must face it, and still find life sweet under its influence. The world is not yet used to the open air of this thought. . . . We have been so long housed in our comfortable little anthropomorphic creeds, with their artificial warmth and light, that when we are suddenly turned out of doors by this thought, we experience, I say, the cosmic chill.”
“We cannot love God as our parents did, but we can love our neighbor much more. . . . The anger of the gods no longer threatens us; the displeasure of the chuch is no longer a dread; but we know that virtue alone brings satisfaction. We cannot read the Bible with the old eyes, but we read nature with new eyes.”
“Of all the great historical religions of the world, theology sees but one to be true and of divine origin; all the rest are of human invention, and for the most part mere masses of falsehood and superstition. Science recognizes the religious instinct in humanity as a permanent part of our nature, and looks upon the great systems of religion–Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, [Islam], the polytheism of Greece, Rome, and Egypt–as its legitimate outgrowth and flowering, just as much as the different floras and faunas of the earth are the expression of one principle of organic life. All these religions may be treated as false, or all of them treated as true; what we cannot say, speaking for science, is, that one is true and all the others are false. . . . They are like the constellations of the astronomical maps, wherein the only things that are true and real are the stars; all the rest–Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Orion, etc.–are the invention of the astronomers.”
~John Burroughs, The Light of Day (1904)
“There will soon be no more priests. Their work is done. They may wait awhile. . .perhaps a generation or two. . .dropping off by degrees. A superior breed shall take their place. . .the gangs of kosmos and prophets en masse shall take their place. A new order shall arise and they shall be the priests of [humanity], and every one shall be their own priest. The churches built under their umbrage shall be the churches of men and women. Through the divinity of themselves shall the kosmos and the new breed of poets be interpreters of men and women and of all events and things. They shall find their inspiration in real objects today, symptoms of the past and future. . . . They shall not deign [condescend] to defend immortality or God or the perfection of things or liberty or the exquisite beauty and reality of the soul.”
~Walt Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)
Comment I left on this Huffpost article by John Crossan
“Throughout college and seminary and across twenty-five years of ministry some of this mattered. While I was attached to a book, one book, that was the main source of life, belief and worldview, I really cared about textual criticism and theology. The latest “discovery” by “scholars” was so fascinating. Until I thought about it. Until I read other books. Until I left the “sacred” books to work with people who couldn’t care less about books and beliefs and another great God Idea by another “Giant of the Faith.” Therein is the point: Who has time for these theological textual games when there is so much to be done? The beheaded Paul is long dead. So is Jesus for that matter. We can either choose to be divided by the books of faith, or we can choose to work with diverse people in a pluralistic world to do what must be done. What an obviously mentally challenged Near Eastern preacher scribbled down in the name of his God two thousand years ago. . .has absolutely no relevance to life on earth here and now.”