Thursday, February 28, 2013

Table-talk -- 1


After a long wine-lubricated dinner the other evening, daughter Margaret got after me again for what she perceives as this blog's preoccupation with religion. "Get over it, Dad. You've been there, done that. It's finished. Kaput. It's not worth going on about."

In this, she is at one with the rest of my family, including my wife, who think religion is a benevolent fiction at best, and a dangerous delusion at most. "What’s this 'religious naturalism' stuff?" asks Margaret. "Stick with 'naturalism.' Why hang on to all that God talk?"

"I challenge you to show me a single place in my blog where I admit miracles or supernaturalism of any sort," I said.

"You're still hung up on Catholicism," she replied. "All this talk about 'sacraments' and 'grace.' Face it. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. 'Religion' means 'God.' You muddy the waters. You feed the beast."

"I'm constructing the narrative of my journey," I said. "Where I came from and where I've been is a part of the narrative. We are what we are."

"We are what we choose to be," she replied. "You're living in the past. All this talk about being a 'religious naturalist.' It's an oxymoron. You're either a naturalist or you're not."

So. So. What is a religious naturalist, which for want of a better term I have taken to calling myself? Is it an oxymoron? Am I wasting creative energy living in the past, dragging superstition into the present? What exactly am I trying to live that my family sees as a Neolithic conceit? Can I justify the tone and substance of this blog?

OK, Margaret, I'll give you "religion" as a noun, commonly understood. Can "religious" still have usefulness as an adjective? We'll see. I'll spend the next few days responding to your challenge.