Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be Spiritual - Episode 7

Imagine a warm Sunday afternoon, cooled by a light breeze, blue skies and puffy white clouds overhead, a view of Crotched Mountain, the ski runs vacant and lonely. The setting couldn't have been more bucolic for my conversation with Mike Deschenes.

The drive from Nashua was relaxed and inspired by the scenery of alternating countryside and quintessential New England towns. Perhaps that's why I found my conversation with Mike so spiritual. We weren't just talking about spirituality and religion, it felt spiritual as I listened to the word pictures Mike painted with his soft voice and heard the occasional bird and motorcycle sounds from outside. I haven't lost that sense while listening to and editing the recording, and I hope that also comes through as you listen.

When asked to describe his spiritual views, Mike recited the following poem, Flow, which he has written during the past 12 years. You may want to refer to this as Mike explains the journey that created it.
Flow

Ego sits
Raindrop on birch branch
Upside down
Aching for union with the sea.
Blue jay’s landing
Sets it free...

Eyes wide
flowing through nirvana
are all...

karma ripple stills...

watching self ascend
mirrored pool
snowflake returns...

drink deep
the well...
mist describes the surface
frog and lotus bud witness dawn...

known is the way through
awareness bay...

Abolish time
unify balance and negate
yin bliss with yang suffering.

Breathe,
In the unity of one circle.

Sat Nam.














Listen using the above audio player or you may download the mp3 file here. You may also listen and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

We welcome your feedback, which you may leave by posting a comment or sending an e-mail to comments at bespiritual dot info.

Our theme music is Floating Souls by Ambrish, courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network. The chalice artwork was created by Inga Johannesen, of the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

In Production: Mike Deschenes

Lotus blossom by Taifighta from www.flickr.com/photos/taimoo/2957433219/Our next episode will feature a conversation with Mike Deschenes, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Milford, New Hampshire.

Following a path we've heard before, Mike left the religion of his upbringing (Catholicism) when he found that his questioning wasn't encouraged and that he was expected to accept by faith. His sister introduced him to Unitarian Universalism, and his questions led him to study philosophy in college, with an intense and continuing exploration of most every religion.

Still exploring, Mike's spirituality today is largely inspired and informed by nature, Buddhism, other eastern philosophy, and Native American spirituality. All fit under the UU umbrella.

I had hoped to post Mike's interview this weekend, but I was out of town most of last week and didn't have access or time to do any audio production. Watch for the interview by next weekend.

More interviews are recorded and scheduled, and my aim is to produce two programs each month.

I am encouraged by the increasing number of downloads and welcome your feedback. Special thanks to those who have sent e-mail or spoken with me. Please consider leaving comments about the individual conversations on this blog, which is a way to share your own explorations and expand the conversation. If you have ideas for guests or topics, you may leave them as comments or send them by e-mail to comments at bespiritual dot info. Note that we are bespiritual.info — not bespiritual.com.

The photo of the lotus blossom is from Taifighta's flickr collection and used with appreciation under Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Be Spiritual - Episode 6

As noted in last weekend's post, Episode 6 features an interview with Robert Wright, author of the book The Evolution of God.

During our conversation, he outlined how human perceptions of God have evolved over the millennia, discussed the constructive role religion can play in modern society, and shared his own spiritual views. I wish we had more time to delve into each of these areas — but you can find much more in the book. You can also read excerpts and more about the author at The Evolution of God web site.

While not a Unitarian Universalist, Robert Wright is, I think it's fair to say, a fellow seeker and a good companion for the religious journey.














Listen using the above audio player or you may download the mp3 file here. You may also listen and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

We welcome your feedback, which you may leave by posting a comment or sending an e-mail to comments at bespiritual dot info.

Our theme music is Floating Souls by Ambrish, courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network. The chalice artwork was created by Inga Johannesen, of the UU Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

In Production: Robert Wright and The Evolution of God

Yesterday, I had the privilege of interviewing Robert Wright, the author of The Evolution of God. His book chronicles human perceptions of God since the hunter-gatherer era and the role religion has played in the development of society. Perhaps more importantly, he raises the question of what role religion and belief should play in civilization.

Raised Southern Baptist, Robert Wright now describes himself as agnostic, grounded in materialism and natural selection. However, he also sees evidence of a larger purpose unfolding, given the direction of evolution and human history. One of the challenging questions he poses is whether belief in God is the cause of this increasing moral order or an effect of evolution.

While Robert Wright is not a Unitarian Universalist, I find that his views align with our open-ended approach to religion. To wit,
  • Religion must continue to evolve as our knowledge and experience expand, and
  • Religion should be a positive force for love and justice in the world.
The interview will be online by next Sunday, August 9. I hope you will listen, as well as getting a copy of this fascinating book.

I sincerely appreciate Bob's willingness to speak with me, especially while he was on vacation.

Update, August 2: Read a review of The Evolution of God, written by Stephen Prothero, a religious studies professor at Boston University, and published by The Washington Post.

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