We say we aren’t attempting to change anyone’s mind.
We say we aren’t trying to start yet another group the world doesn’t need.
We say we are simply expressing our thoughts and if it resonates with someone then great.
- First of all, I think this is what sets us apart from the animals. What animal creates great works of art, muses on philosophical alternatives, encodes thoughts into printed symbols (writes) understood by others of its kind (reads)? Certainly there are some common things all creatures do, but these higher functions seem to be reserved for humans. Whether this evolved or was created to be this way we cannot know for certain and isn’t our concern. These are matters that go beyond “survival of the fittest” kinds of activities and elevate the human as something special (however that came about). We think, we express, we share – on levels that appear to exceed anything else in creation.
- Secondly, we aren’t trying to start another group because we suspect this group already exists anyway. Its members are floating around like us alone, isolated, misfits in the culture that bred us (or outcasts from it). We believe there are a number of people with whom these ideas resonate deeply, but they haven’t been able to find the words yet that articulate what they feel and think and have experienced. So we’re suggesting that if you feel the way we do, if these thoughts resonate within you, then maybe you (and we) won’t feel so alone in an oppressive, judgmental, intolerant religious world. And maybe you’ll find some peace that has been lacking as you take the leap of doubt into the freedom of uncertainty. It’s really OK to not have to have all the answers. Really.
- Third, maybe you’ll begin to enjoy the freedom of embracing truth wherever you find it. It doesn’t have to come from the Bible or from Church, Inc. (though if it does, that’s OK, too). No human has jurisdiction over your thoughts – especially not us. You’re even free to reject this idea – it’s your choice to honestly follow what you believe in your heart to be true. In the end this is what everyone does; it’s why people leave one church or denomination for another (or for none at all) – everybody makes up their own mind in the end, and that is GOOD. Just be honest with yourself – it’s OK.
- Fourth, putting our thoughts into writing provides a self-check for us. If you can’t write it down, then you don’t really know it. If you are unable to articulate it, then you haven’t really thought it through enough yet. And if once it’s written down people find massive holes in your logic, you have the opportunity for additional reflection, self-correction, re-direction, etc. In other words, putting it all out there exposes us, but we aren’t afraid of that because it will in the end only help sharpen us (when coming from friends) or give us opportunities to cultivate peace and grace (when dealing with enemies). We are pretty sure we’ve got some things wrong (like everybody else on the planet)… and that’s OK. We’re not afraid of being corrected in matters of truth or faulty logic, and we’re not afraid of saying “I don’t know” in matters that cannot be verified.
We distrust anyone who has gone their whole life completely certain of themselves; these are the kind of people who typically lack empathy and/or want to dominate others and/or are social jerks. We fully admit we’ve changed our minds, beliefs, practices, etc. many times in life and probably many more before we’re through.
We believe that we humans need to work together in gracious opposition to the natural order (“kill or be killed”). We believe the way of living that Jesus taught is a concise collection of attitudes and practices that help us rise above and cultivate harmony, peace, cooperation, shalom as we work together to repair this world that all too often operates under the natural order.
We don’t view ourselves as merely capitalistic animals who greedily consume to dominate others. Neither are we socialist or communist where we take from others and distribute equally among us all. We respect the rights and choice of each individual, and encourage all to be willing to voluntarily make the sacrifice of love on behalf of those in need. It’s when we resist dominance over others and instead share out of what we have for the good of others (not out of guilt but out of true compassion and good will) that we best emulate the way Jesus taught and lived.
Any religion or philosophical school of thought that includes this as part of their scaffolding is appreciated. Just be careful to not shift focus from the life you’re building over to the scaffolding used while building it; scaffolding is a tool to assist, not a master to serve. We believe there is only one master to serve, and helping people develop a society consistent with his design and wishes is ultimately the reason why we bother.