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“going beyond the surface understanding of life. . .”

Filed under: Reflections — Jess at 9:54 am on Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Religious naturalism offers additional insight into this exploration of the place of humanity in the natural world, and what meaning we can find in a more intentional approach to living in it. The Rev. Jerome A. Stone, Ph.D. wrote this piece (PDF) in the Meadville Lombard Theological School’s Journal of Liberal Religion in the Fall of 2000, explaining his own personal experiences and how they have informed his view of the world around him. Rev. Stone is Professor Emeritus at William Rainey Harper College, frequently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Meadville Lombard Theological School, and is the author of The Minimalist Vision of Transcendence: A Naturalists Philosophy of Religion.

from “What is Religious Naturalism?”

by Rev. Jerome A. Stone

The key word that I now use in articulating this approach [to religious naturalism] is “sacred.” I learned this word and how to use it by attending services as a child and early adolescent in a liberal Protestant church. We did not use this word often, but when we did it always carried a notion of respect. You held something sacred by treating it with respect. We referred to Sunday as a sacred day. Of course, we were explicitly taught that all days were holy, but that by observing one day a week as sacred it helped us realize that all days were holy. This non-dogmatic yet traditional upbringing is here noted, although its degree of importance calls for further reflection. Later through graduate study in both the Christian tradition and the major religions of the world I became familiar with the classical texts and theorists concerning the sacred.

Now I wish to select four events from my experience which I have learned to think of as sacred. I will briefly depict them. What I wish to emphasize is their overriding importance in my life.

I remember the day my father died. I was sitting in my apartment feeling rather sad when my daughter, at that time about eight years old, came home from school. When I told her what had happened, she said, “Oh, Dad” and put her arm around me. It was one of the most comforting and supportive moments of my life.

(Read on … )

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