Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sea Change

We've been taking part in a class -- a discussion group, really -- at our UU church about our spiritual biographies. Essentially, the participants write essays on the role of religion and spirituality in their lives at different stages - childhood, adolesence, adulthood -- and then read and talk about them.

I noticed in mine that I spent a lot of years dealing with the intellectual aspects of faith and religion. For a very long time, my primary concern about any religious claim was whether it could be shown, objectively, to be true or at least, probable. I spent a lot of my time as a Christian reading apologetics, more to convince myself than anyone else.

Over the past few years, though, I've adopted a more universalist approach to religion, with less concern about the objective truth of faith claims and more attention paid to how different beliefs inspire people to act and treat one another.

As I move deeper into ADF study, I'm finding a great deal of value in the ritual side of it. The forms of Christianity I grew up were more concerned with the intellectual side than the ritual, and so I was trained to think of religious observance as something to think about rather than something to do. (I know there are forms of Christianity much more about the "smells and bells," but that's not where I was.)

Unitarian Universalism is also a highly intellectualized religion, and that's ok by me because I do appreciate that. But I'm finding paganism to be fulfilling in a different way. ADF emphasizes the intellectual side in individual study, but the group observances are about ritual and everyone taking part in a ceremony set aside to share the presence of the gods.

I'm not sure I would have been comfortable with that 15 or 20 years ago. But these days, it feels just right.

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