January 16, 2011 § 5 Comments
Ok, let’s get started. I already have some ideas about what the Alethian religion ought to look like. Obviously, I can’t do this all by myself, so I’m open to suggestions and discussion. But on the other hand, if we’re going to have a discussion, we need something to talk about, so let me describe my vision.
I see Alethianism as being founded on three principles: integrity, community, and purpose.
Integrity refers to the virtues we should pursue as individuals: as worshipers of the Truth, we ought to be true to ourselves and to those around us. We are only human, so of course we will be subject to superstitions, rationalizations, and other forms of self-deception. Our goal, however, is to strive to avoid such things, to confess them as sins, and repent (meaning “to turn away from,” not “to feel guilty about”).
Community refers to the virtues we pursue as a group, authentic family values such as tolerance, compassion, encouragement, education, and so on. And yes, I know some other religions use the phrase “family values” to mean different things, but unlike those other “values,” ours actually make a community stronger and healthier, because they’re not driven by irrational and superstitious fears.
And lastly, every good religion ought to offer its believers a sense of purpose in life. Our purpose is fairly simple: to make life better for ourselves and for those around us. We should see good works as a series of concentric circles, with ourselves at the center.
Right at the center, where we are, is where we can do the most good, and it’s only right and natural that we focus most of our energies there—after all, if we don’t look after ourselves, someone else is going to have to take care of us, and that’s a burden on them. Our “self-centeredness,” thus, is not self indulgence but personal responsibility: we start by taking care of ourselves, and then we’re in a good position to start the “ripples of goodness” moving out to those around us.
The same is true at the community level. A community of Alethian believers ought to strive to make life better for itself and for those around it, because that is our purpose, and because it means we’re helping to surround ourselves with a beneficial environment. This purpose comes to us from Alethea, who encourages it by rewarding us with consequences we find preferable to the alternatives. In other words, it’s a divine purpose as well as a personal one.
I think our society, and all societies, could benefit greatly from a community of believers who were dedicated to the three principles of integrity, community, and purpose, especially starting with the kind of personal integrity that renounces superstition and superstitious demands on other people. Alethea is the only True God, and Her demands are the only ones that ought to be respected. I mean, come on, life is hard enough already, eh?
That’s the theory, now what about the practice? We can practice individual integrity on our own, and follow some of the more personal aspects of our purpose. But we need the community as well. What would you like to see in an Alethian congregation? Do you think there is value in following the traditional sermon-and-hymn-centered weekly ritual, or would we be better off with an alternative, like, say, just a weekly common meal and fellowship time? Or something else?
The floor is open.