Monday, April 4, 2005

About this blog

Welcome to Peaceful Turmoil, which is committed to "Advocating and encouraging the search for the sacred in the ordinary - the eternal in the everyday." Thanks for visiting!

Summary Version

To help get you acquainted, here are some of the goals of this site:

  • Highlighting a middle way between religious and irreligious fundamentalism, neither an "enemy of faith" nor an "enemy of reason" but as a champion of both.
  • Confirming the value of our own potential as a starting points on the way to opening ourselves to wisdom.
  • Reaffirming that this way is open to everyone, beyond spiritual materialism, beyond intellectual elitism, present in all circumstances and conditions.

Here is a sampling of my approach to spirituality, religion, and sacred traditions (for more info check here):

  • I don't shy away from the above terms nor from words like faith (see below in the detailed section), nor do I subscribe to a simplistic understanding of these terms. I love science as a tool, not as a substitute for the greater, stranger, more amazing reality that we use such tools to study.

  • Many of my views would be considered "liberal" in contemporary American politics, but I don't want to just hear from people who happen to agree with me. I don't have a problem with spirituality shaping someone's politics, I just don't care for it when political views are substituted as spiritual values.

  • I value what I have gained and lost during my time as an atheist, as a Buddhist, and as a Christian. I find the atheist-theist debate as it plays out on the internet too limiting, and while post-modernism can be a useful correction to modernism, and while modernism may have offered some useful additions to traditionalism, neither post-modernism nor modernism can stand on their own.

Who might be interested in this blog? I hope you will!

Detailed Version

This site is intended to serve as a platform for inspiration, edification, and education on topics connecting the personal journey of faith and the communities (religious, political, etc) in which this journey takes place; it emphasizes an appreciation of the strength of unity through diversity.  It is about principles and actions promoting the pursuit of knowledge, dignity, and purpose. We are all more than what people call us or what we choose to call ourselves.

It is my contention that all human beings have a spiritual side to their life, whether they call it that or not, whether they recognize it or not and whether or not this is pursued within a formal religious tradition. It is a non-negotiable aspect of humanity. Instead of seeing spirituality merely as religion or supernaturalism, neither of which are necessary components of (much less synonyms for) spirituality, I adopt the definition offered by the Christian contemplative Brother Wayne Teasdale, that "Spirituality is a way of life that affects and includes every moment of existence. It is at once a contemplative attitude, a disposition to a life of depth, and the search for ultimate meaning, direction, and belonging" (from The Mystic Heart).

Ironically this is consistent with the description put forward by Roy Wood Sellars, an original signatory of the first Humanist Manifesto (which lacked the hostility toward religion of later versions), as quoted by Jack Sechrest in the March/April 2003 issue of "The Humanist", specifically, "The spiritual must be seen to be the fine flower of living, which requires no other sanctions than its own inherent worth and appeal...The spiritual is man at his best, man loving, daring, creating, fighting loyally and courageously for causes dear to him."

I believe religion has a useful role to play in spirituality and that it shouldn't be scorned or abandoned as some skeptics might suggest. Yet it shouldn't be fanatically embraced as its own end. While many do not see formal religion is not a requirement of pursuing spirituality, and despite the well known and often cited human failing done in the name of one religion or another, sacred traditions still contain thousands of years of insight into human nature and the pursuit of the spiritual life.

Religious traditions should serve to mediate our intellectual and cultural knowledge with the insight from deep spiritual practice. This includes cultural knowledge produced through the ongoing endeavors of science and insights attributed to a Higher Power. When religions become too insulated and fail to incorporate and contextualize new information consistent with the spirit of their traditions, a conflict is created. In some cases people tend to move to new sects or denominations, perhaps new groups that err in moving too far away from the old forms of tradition, and in other cases they come to reject a personal involvement with any kind of religion altogether. This, as with all decisions involving spirituality, is a profoundly personal choice and I believe it should be respected.

Unfortunately some of those who choose to be non-religious are or become openly hostile to religion, rightly recognizing the failures of those religions who place strict adherence code of fanatical beliefs above all else. They focus on the conflicts (academic, social, political) such fundamentalism inspires and supports. This hostility creates an adversarial relationship in which the fundamentalist religionists and their secular counterparts can see little if any value to the other side's position. Hence those who do not migrate to one extreme or the other are caught in the middle.

I hope that this page offers some perspective for everyone and encouragement for politically moderate and progressive spiritualists, even if it's just confirmation that other like-minded individuals are out there. I also hope that it helps to dispel the myth that moderate and progressive people are automatically "enemies of faith".

Thanks again for visiting!


  1. Great Blog.

    Finding it has been a total affirmation for me. Your skillfulness in communication is very admirable.

    I'll be adding you to my blogroll very soon. I don't want to miss any of your posts. Great material here.


  2. I like your space. Thanks for this blog!

  3. You are all quite welcome. I hope that even if it is just by the example of my follies or mistakes you get something worthwhile out of this endeavor.

    Bless you.


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