As 2012 comes to an end, I hope all of our readers, subscribers, members, volunteers, and contributors have a Happy New Year! With our launch being just last September, 2013 will be our first full year and I am excited about what lies ahead.
Like many of us, when I first decided I didn’t share faith in the supernatural beliefs prevalent around me, I never thought for a moment that meant giving up hope, meaning, ethics, compassion, and happiness. The adventure I had before me, and which we all still have ahead of us, is the continual exploration of Socrates’ old question, “what is the best way to live”?
Over the years we have been moved and inspired by various sources of wisdom from a variety of traditions, religions, and philosophies; even if we didn’t always agree with every part of them. We naturalists have the opportunity to combine the best wisdom humanity has produced, with the latest scientific understanding to really heal the schism between the natural and the sacred – in the process, creating more happiness for ourselves and one another. This is why I am so passionate about the mission of the Society and hope you are too.
There are many naturalistic organizations, and there are many religious groups – even those that welcome naturalists. Therefore I will explain what makes the Spiritual Naturalist Society unique…
While some congregations and denominations can be found that welcome naturalists, there are few that are specifically for naturalists. While we seek applicable wisdom wherever it can be found, none of our materials will ever be faith-based or based on supernatural or paranormal claims.
Meanwhile, though we are a naturalist organization, we remain focused like a laser on practical and positive life practices that naturalists can use in their lives for greater happiness and inner growth. We do not spend time preaching to the choir with materials explaining why you should not believe this or that – we assume our readers and members are naturalists and focus on what is of use to them. We also do not spend time in religious criticism or ridicule, or in telling others what they ought to believe. We believe that living a virtuous and compassionate life as a naturalist is the best way to show, by example, the value of our views and lifestyle.
While we believe in love and tolerance for people of all beliefs, we do not disparage the value in social and political struggle for equal rights and fairness in society. Naturalists are a minority and these are important things which many other organizations fortunately already address. But here, the Society exists for other purposes – to be a spiritual community; a refuge from the political and religious rhetoric and conflict so common in our national discourse. In this way, we can focus more intently on a practice that cultivates compassion, wisdom, and inner character. It is from that hearty foundation that individuals can have the necessary fortitude and motivation to do good in the world.
And that brings me to the next challenge we’ll be getting more into the meat of in 2013. My hope is that the Society will mean more to our members than merely some website and some interesting or useful articles. We want to be a loving, supportive community fellowship.
Currently, we are hoping this year to inspire more activity on our member forums, which are still quite new. But there you will find a wide variety of categories in which members and contributors can discuss the concepts related to spiritual naturalist practice and philosophy. We will also be holding more online chats and discussions. And, I hope to eventually have some online courses or lectures. We may need to explore even more ways that the membership can become more interactive with one another as well. Lastly, of course, we are always trying to grow more local chapters – which is as simple as someone willing to meet at a local coffee or tea house once a month for interesting discussion. Then we list them as the local organizer on the meetup.com site and we take care of the rest! We have a few local chapters now, but plan to add more in 2013.
In addition to these aims, we will continue to put out helpful articles every month, and build our collection of educational and inspirational materials in the member archives. Did you know that, after just our first month of operation, if all the materials we had collected for members in the educational archives were put into paperback format, it would be a 102,494-word book of 403 pages? And that’s not even counting the images, video, and music resources we’re beginning to collect. In the months since then, we have continued to make impressive additions. If you are a member, please check out these resources and discuss them with other members in the member forums!
I hope this has helped to give you an idea why many of us are so excited about the prospects for our Society in 2013. If you’re not a member yet, please consider joining because we’d love to have you!
Sincerely and with warm wishes for a happy new year,
Spiritual Naturalist Society
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The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.