Free Spirit Alliance: education and celebration

Posted on: Wed, 03/02/2011 - 23:22 By: Tom Swiss

At the last Free Spirit Alliance meeting, we talked about coming up with a "mission statement" for FSA. We decided that that officers and trustees will discuss this further and come up with a proposal to bring to the membership.

During the original discussion at the meeting, the phrase "education and celebration" popped into my head. I sat down and worked up the following. To some degree it's aspirational rather than representative of what we currently do, but I think that's inherent in the nature of a mission statement. Your comments are welcome.

The Free Spirit Alliance provides opportunities for education and celebration for the Pantheist community.

What does this mean?

FSA presents events that feature expert teachers and presenters on a variety of topics of interest to the community, including ritual and ceremony, deep mythology, spirituality, magic, healing, art and music, and ecology. We also help facilitate communication within the community, so that we can learn from each other. And we promote religious tolerance by serving as an educational resource about Pantheism and Paganism for people outside the community.

FSA's events are celebrations! In our gatherings and rituals and Circles, we celebrate the seasons, we celebrate the world, we celebrate Spirit in all its forms, we celebrate our lives, and we celebrate each other. In the words of noted Pagan bard Billy Bardo, “We're also here to celebrate the best of us in you!”

FSA's articles of incorporation open our membership up to "self-professed pantheist[s]". What is a Pantheist? Since it is a matter of self-identification, our official stance is carefully mute on the subject: if you say you're a Pantheist, then you are. But here are some non-binding ideas for consideration:

  • "Pantheism is the deep theology of modern paganism." – Paul Harrison, Practice of scientific pantheism
  • "Pantheism is the view that the Universe (Nature) and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek: πᾶν (pan) meaning 'all' and θεός (theos) meaning 'God'. As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that 'God' is best seen as a way of relating to the Universe. Although there are divergences within Pantheism, the central ideas found in almost all versions are the Cosmos as an all-encompassing unity and the sacredness of Nature." – Wikipedia
  • "Pantheists are persons who derive their fundamental religious experience through their personal relationship with the Universe. They feel that Nature is the ultimate context for human existence, and seek to improve their relationship with the natural world as their fundamental religious responsibility.

    "Religion is seen as a system of reverent behavior toward the Earth rather than subscription to a particular creed. Because Pantheists identify God with Nature rather than an anthropomorphic being, Pantheists oppose the arrogant world-view of anthropocentrism"– Universal Pantheist Society

  • "Pantheism is a metaphysical and religious position. Broadly defined it is the view that (1) 'God is everything and everything is God ... the world is either identical with God or in some way a self-expression of his nature'.... Similarly, it is the view that (2) everything that exists constitutes a 'unity' and this all-inclusive unity is in some sense divine.... A slightly more specific definition ... says ... '“Pantheism” ... signifies the belief that every existing entity is, only one Being; and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it.' Even with these definitions there is dispute as to just how pantheism is to be understood and who is and is not a pantheist. Aside from Spinoza, other possible pantheists include some of the Presocratics; Plato; Lao Tzu; Plotinus; Schelling; Hegel; Bruno, Eriugena and Tillich. Possible pantheists among literary figures include Emerson, Walt Whitman, D.H. Lawrence, and Robinson Jeffers." – Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • "Pantheism is sexed-up atheism." – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion