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Living in and interested in a location with volcanism, glaciation, huge ice age floods, and surrounded by native cultures of  CayuseNez PercéOkanoganPalouseSpokaneWenatchee, and Yakima, I recognize geologic features and learned traditions of these different tribes. I hold the values of these people very highly, even as I realize that some of their beliefs enabled exploitation by European invaders. There is something that held these survivors together even as many were physically, mentally and emotionally defeated by people who believed themselves to be superior.

I experienced the Native spirituality far more evocative than any Christian sermon or lesson I ever heard or any retreat I attended. The tradition of the "Moon Lodge" for menstruating women, for example, revealed a respect for and acknowledgement of women's power. Using a ceremony of the four directions and the meaning of the circle gave me access to my thoughts and feelings about complex events in my life. I felt empowered.

Following the teachings of my Christian religion, I felt bound, mind-bound, much as the Chinese women who were foot-bound. The old Chinese woman I met in China told me it was a crime to deliberately cripple her feet in order to make her more attractive to a potential husband, she told me the real crime committed against her was binding her mind. 

The issue, for me, is flourishing! Is what I believe empowering me to flourish and do my relationships flourish as a consequence of my beliefs? 

I couldn't agree with you more Joan. The question " Does my what I believe empower me to flourish?" and "Do my relationships flourish as a consequence of my beliefs?"
Both of these questions are extremely important and the require answering.
yeah, well, I don't even know if there is a 'wholeness', but I value what exists as a whole ;)

Oh my goodness, ideas generated by science and quantum physic observations and hypotheses give me goosebumps. We can't look back to define our thinking. We need to imagine a preferred future and move, in the present, in that direction. What an exciting time to be alive. 

My father and mother "knew" it was normal to violently control women and children and women must submit. It surely feels good to have the ring taken out of my nose and the harness taken off my brain. 

lol spooky action it is. i like the language of 'the wholeness'. it fits.

I don't know how lightning can be controlled and neither could other human beings until some foolish bloke put a key on a string of a kite and the industry of electricity blossomed forward. 

I don't know how thunder makes its incredible sound but someone figured out a way to manage, create, explore and who knows what else, and we now have sonar sciences. 

I don't know how water falls downslope but some enterprising person made a water wheel and put falling water to work for the benefit of human beings. 

I don't know how water freezes but some person with an imagination figured out a way to manage water/ice and we now have refrigeration. 

I don't know how the sun heats up the house but some inquisitive person figured out a way to trap solar energy and we now have home heated from the sun. 

Obviously, I speak from hyperbole, but you get my meaning. There are laws of which I am not aware but someone is paying attention to such details. 

I wonder if some courageous person can harness an abstraction such as "peace" and put it to work? A peace college perhaps? or a peace language? or peace process? 

I think the first thing to do is get religion out of our heads and start thinking in terms of flourishing. 

Joan I enjoy reading your replies to this post. You have great wisdom!
I do think religious Atheist is a contradiction in terms.
I understand that life has no objective meaning. However, narratives can express (rather than dictate) shared values.

I could say I find meaning in the here and how, but it doesn't sustain me the way my religious tradition does, I enjoy life lived through that lens, but held in check my rational inquiry (so it doesn't become kool aid). I should also mention that as a racialized woman living in a post-colonial reality, exploring these traditions has an added personal value and meaning.

Peacemaker, I like your response and respect your caution to express, not dictate values. I also can relate to tradition as a way of expression of a sense of wonder. Looking through a telescope or microscope, watching the development of my great-grandchildren, seeing how my children became mentally healthy, mature, adult human beings with a sense of excitement about life and an eagerness to find better ways of parenting than I had, gives me great pleasure. 

Breaking cycles of violence in families is difficult and requires looking honestly at generations of attitudes, behaviors, customs, traditions and values, but that examination can lead to healthy living and is a heck of a lot more fun. 

Remember the book, "All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten?" For me, it was not like that at all, I had to unlearn blind obedience, submission to authority, don't question, and on and on. In order to be a mentally healthy, mature, adult, I had to learn how to be independent/interdependent, be self-directed and motivated and listen for meaning and feelings of others, to question authority, and to take a stand in my self interest and stand with others who feel a boot on their necks. 

Joan, this is very interesting to me. I appreciate very much you sharing your perspective on indigenous traditions. Thank you.

Peacemaker, and I appreciate your sharing and perspective. Those sweet memories of gentle times, of kind and compassionate relationships, the stories that come down through family, and see natural events through the eyes of another enriches as it empowers our own experiences. Thanks for sharing. 

For me the religious rites I value are related to family. Most of our observance was at home - our own or at extended family. That's why I participate still. I'm extremely fortunate to have fantastic memories of these. My twin niece and nephew are having their B'nai Mitzvah next week. It's at a Reconstructionist synagogue where belief in G-d is optional so I can participate openly. I look forward to seeing my elderly aunts, siblings, nieces and nephews, and many cousins. Some I haven't seen for years but it won't make a difference.

Everyone has written eloquently about their own experiences and I think that that the many different religious experiences will often determine someone's answer to this question.


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