Having kept up a personal blog for a few years, I'm now branching out for a couple of reasons. First, my other blog is intended to focus on personal lessons and my life as a composer. I know that other people get something from reading what I've learned, and I plan to keep it up. Although there have been some spiritual topics on there, I want to keep it to primarily personal lessons and more about my life as a composer, which I get distracted from writing about when something "more interesting" comes to mind.
Second, I've been told by several people on different occasions that the way I see and express spirituality has value to them. One person actually said, "Your ideas would be a gift to any faith community." After a recent blog post confronting Christian opposition to gay marriage, several people told me that I had put their own thoughts more clearly and eloquently than they could have done for themselves. Assuming that people aren't just being flattering, I believe it's important for me to continue to do something meaningful with that kind of feedback.
My purpose in The Divine Self is to encourage a reasoned awareness of how our beliefs impact the way we interact with the world around us, to foster intelligent and open dialogue, and to inspire a sense of spirituality that has real meaning in day-to-day life. It's no small task, but I also know that I'm not the only person doing it. At a very basic level, I want to develop even more clarity about my personal beliefs and get even better at articulating them.
So, what are my beliefs and what qualifies me to engage in these lofty goals? I was raised as a Christian, a mix of Methodist and Southern Baptist, and I worked in some area of ministry from the age of 15 through 36. I minored in religion in college and worked with a wide variety of denominations as a musician, and I was in the candidacy process for ordained ministry. However, my personal beliefs had already begun to outgrow the Christianity I saw being practiced around me when I was in my early 20s, and I started a long journey of religious exploration. I researched other world religions, the history of religion, I read theologians from the Christian church, and I wrestled with making sense of it in my own life. I found my way to Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and to a whole collective of hard-core atheist thinkers. They didn't actually convince me of anything; they just echoed my own conclusions from a different perspective.
Technically, I am an atheist. I believe that there is no intelligent external being, watching over or guiding our lives, waiting to reward or punish as appropriate. I believe that human beings don't need to be saved by anyone and they don't need to be fixed. At the same time, I believe that people are more than just their flesh and blood, that there is a very important connection with other people and with the world that is easiest to understand in spiritual terms. So I am an atheist and a theologian (and not the first, I dare say).
To be clear, I don't want to convince anyone away from spiritual beliefs that are important to them, I just want to encourage people to live in harmony with the beliefs they claim. Which is the same thing I want for myself: for my beliefs to be in harmony with how I live.
Now that those cards are out on the table, I am eager to see what unfolds in this new endeavor and where this journey leads.