1 of 12 | Monday is for Religion: The Art of Connecting What’s Not Really Separate
Hi lovely Earthlings!
Yours truly is back and she feels this sudden shift toward religion. What is religion? “Re-” for doing again something that was done before. “Ligion” for linking together. So it could be the art of connecting what was not separate but appears to be so.
For one who was raised atheist religion is not exactly an easy conversation. As a kid, I often felt the “god” we rejected was an entity of its own. We simply had to brave the desire to “believe” there was any power in that. Living a sling shot from the Vatican, we had no choice. It was either “religion,” and that meant Roman Catholicism, or “atheism,” and that meant pushing Catholicism away.
It was only as a student in California many years later that I realized people had different religions. They were ok with the religion of their neighbors. Did not try to convert them! Then, I thought, these deities are all inventions! They really don’t exist outside people’s imagination. There’s nothing out there that will get mad at you if you’re not afraid. Oh! What relaxation!
Yes, but how powerful the human imagination can be is something I was just becoming aware of. I was studying the play For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enough by African-American poet Ntozake Shange. And it ended with all the “girls” echoing for each other the phrase “and i found god in myself and i loved her, i loved her fiercely.”
How empowering, I thought. She’s using a masculine name for this deity, but the pronoun to refer to it is feminine. She’s talking about women who learn to love themselves. They love themselves “fiercely” because they’ve been told that it’s a bad idea to do so. They’ve been taught that the sacred is masculine. The feminine is what the sacred is not. The feminine is not lovable, it is “temptation”!
That’s when I realized that these deities created by the human imagination simply help different people have more courage. We invent deities that resemble us, and then we claim that they made us in their own image! We can love knowledge as much as we want. We can pursue it. When can believe that science, when in good faith, will help resolve problems. But we will never understand everything and must mask this mystery, this fear, with some invention of the imagination. Religion therefore is inevitable.
But given the choice of a number of belief systems to become affiliated with, why choose the ones that don’t help? As a woman I would rather choose a belief system that includes me in the sacred. A system where goddesses, or female deities, are important. But is that enough? Or is it just more of the same, namely, people invent deities who look like themselves.
There was a way to go beyond that. It was questioning another assumption that came with the idea of “god” my family rejected. It’s called monotheism. Why is monotheism so bad? Because it extracts the sacred from the material and places it in an abstract realm. Then it affords people a “license to kill” nature as if it was pure matter. Including their own nature as lovers of nature, lovers of love.
We need to re-sacralize nature, I thought. Yes, we need to practice the art of connecting again what appears to be separate–separate from us, separate from itself–and in reality is not. That’s “religion.” Literally! Yes. And it’s also Gaia, the planetary life that’s the ecology of love.
Love is the ecology of life, Gaia says. And what is love if not connecting, communion, the ecstasy of being together?
Chief Seattle’s Lament appeared on my Facebook thread today. I will blog it in a series of posts on Religion: The Art of Connecting What’s Not Really Separate.
The lament is so ominous, so clairvoyant, so attuned to the moment, that it really needs to be metabolized in small increments.
Here goes the first section:
“The Land Is Sacred to Us”
Chief Seattle’s Lament
Chief Sealth of the Duwamish League, known to us as Chief Seattle, delivered this speech in 1854—One year before a great treaty-making council between Indian tribes and the U.S. government. The government proposed that reservations be established, and although several tribes opposed this, treaties were signed: each of the tribes was to select its favorite home valley as its reservation. Three months later, war broke out.
The great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need for our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer. For we know that if we do not sell, the white man may come with guns and take our land.
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.
If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Did you notice the wisdom of these words? The Washington Chief assumes Chief Seattle thinks he owns the land. Chief Seattle knows better. And he is honest. Nobody really owns any land. The earth own itself. It is sovereign. And today we know, while seas raise and get warmer, and hurricanes get to the red people’s sacred island, Manhattan.
Stay tuned for the next step. We will post every Monday at noon.
Did you enjoy the post? Let us know! Yours truly appreciates your attention. The comments box is open.
Come back! And stay tuned for more wonders.
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
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