Thanks for your interest in being a writer for the Spiritual Naturalist Society! The following are some things that will be helpful to know if you would like to join our writing team…
1) Appearances: If you join our writing team, you will be writing some of our public articles. The Society also publishes exclusive educational materials for our members-only archives, and participates in other functions and projects, but this page refers specifically to writing for the public articles. When an article is published, it appears on our website, on patheos.com, and on the Houston Chronicle’s Belief page. There may be other websites in the future where these articles are syndicated. In addition, we alert our members, our Facebook fans, our Twitter followers, and link to the articles in our newsletter. When you write for us, you agree to let us use your article indefinitely, in whatever media channels, venues, or forms we deem appropriate. We will always make sure you are credited for your work.
2) Volunteer Basis: We are a volunteer non-profit organization, still very new and of little means. Those who write for us should share our enthusiasm for Spiritual Naturalism and have a desire to help share these ideas with others. This is the main reason for becoming a member of the Society, and it is also the main reason for contributing your writing or other assistance to our mission. No payment for your work should ever be expected, regardless of where or how we publish or use it.
3) Compatible views: While we have a great tolerance for those who wish to be subscribers, participants in events, or even members; it is important that the materials the Society publish are consistent with our Spiritual Naturalist views, and that includes the public articles. Many people think ‘naturalist’ means simply ‘lovers of nature’, but it entails a reason/evidence based approach that does not include the supernatural or paranormal. To be sure we are a good fit for you, you should make sure you have read “What is Spiritual Naturalism?” and that this description aligns with your views. You should not have a hostile attitude toward science or scientists or believe them to be in a conspiracy to deny or hide the ‘truth’. If your views depend on esoteric interpretations of quantum mechanics, or you believe in special powers, non-human intelligent beings living in unseen realms, etc; those are additional signs your worldview may not match ours. Variation on these views can work, but no practices we publish should ever require belief in these kinds of claims.
4) Non-exclusivity: We do not require exclusivity. This means that, if you have your own blog or want to publish the same articles you write for us elsewhere, that is acceptable. However, your SNS articles should not be to merely promote your own site or services, or be filled with links to them. We are looking for writers who genuinely want to be a part of the SNS community and take a sense of ownership in wanting it to thrive.
5) Frequency: There is no particular required frequency, but if you are planning to publish only once, or less than once per quarter (3 months), then it would probably be better for you to be a guest-writer rather than join our writing team. Other than that, we would like for you to tell us the frequency you plan on writing so that we can know what to expect.
6) Types of Articles: The Spiritual Naturalist Society aims to be more than a place for interesting or entertaining reading. Articles should not be merely a means of espousing some view, philosophy, opinion, or belief. Here are some of the hallmarks of our articles:
(a) Our articles are intended to be practical and applicable. The reader should be able to take the information in an article and apply it in their lives to improve their life experience, practice, or their character in some way; even if that information is a simple piece of advice or a perspective.
(b) The topics should be on a personal scale, rather than about grand social issues. They should focus on cultivating the self and pursuit of the good life. If there is a large-scale social issue to be addressed, we try to bring the focus down to the individual level, as in: “What can I do, in my life, and how/why is this also a wise way to live individually, improving myself and/or my life experience?” We put it in terms of personal life practice.
(c) We prefer accentuating the positive. One way we do this is by focusing on talking about what we do believe rather than what we don’t. This is a very tight focus. Meaning, we try to avoid even minor negative or critical comparative side notes when not necessary. We do not write criticisms of other people’s beliefs (whether ‘bashing’ or a technical/scholarly approach). Lastly, as a general helpful tip (not a rigid rule), we try to avoid negative language such as, “we don’t believe…”, or prefixes like “a-“, “non-“, “anti-“, “dis-” and so on – opting instead to challenge ourselves to find positive and compassionate ways to frame our beliefs.
(d) We do not ‘preach to the choir’. This is a place for naturalists looking for a spirituality that’s applicable to their worldview. Therefore, we assume that our audience does not need to be convinced of the importance of evidence, empiricism, or reason. We assume they do not need to be convinced of the problems with faith or supernaturalism. They do not need to be convinced that a naturalistic spirituality is possible or can work, or that people can be ‘good without God’. They know, and they are. Our articles and organization are not part of the culture wars and have no evangelical bent, so if you are writing something that’s trying to convince someone to become a naturalist, that would be a better piece for a wider audience elsewhere. For our articles, assume you are speaking with a rational naturalist and try to provide something useful for them in approaching a happier life (“Ok, I’m a Spiritual Naturalist – now what?”).
(e) Topics should be non-political and non-partisan. They should instead be about more fundamental, elemental, and foundational principles, character, virtues, and practices. While civic participation is a virtue and can be covered generally, we leave it to the reader to decide how these general values should play out in specific contentious, partisan issues of the day.
(f) Articles should not be overly technical or require high level study or education to understand. We prefer plain language and accessible content for a wide variety of reader. We do feature more involved, scholarly, and/or technical content in the Spiritual Naturalist Archives. If you have something like this, let us know.
(g) You should look at our page listing Articles by Category, and read several of our articles to get a feel for what we do. Some topic theme possibilities include: Love & Compassion, Science & Reason, Philosophy & Wisdom, Practice & Ritual, Daily Challenges, and Art & Myth.
If we select you to become one of our writers, we will need to get a photo and a 1-paragraph bio of you (examples can be seen on our Contributing Writers page). We will also set you up an author’s account on this site that you can log in to in order to make your posts. Posts should never be published, but ‘saved as draft’. The Editor will then check the articles for formatting and add in a few things such as standard footer info and the like before approving and publishing. There will be some other minor procedures you’ll be expected to follow in interacting with our publishing system. If this sounds like the kind of writing you’d like to do, please contact us! Thanks and best wishes 🙂
~~~~ Contributor Contract ~~~~
The IRS requires us to have a contract informing writers and other contributors of work of the following. If you have been approved to write for us, please copy/paste the contract below into an email and express your agreement…
Contract for authors, composers, and other contributors of works
to the Spiritual Naturalist Society’s publications
The Spiritual Naturalist Society, Inc. (“the Society”) publishes articles, music, artwork, and other media for the purposes of education and promotion of Spiritual Naturalism as a philosophy and a life practice; in accordance with its mission statement. These works are often contributions from original artists, writers, and other producers who volunteer their works to help the Society in its mission. We will refer to these individuals as “contributors”.
When donating media to the Society, the contributor guarantees that he or she is copyright holder of the media, and has rights to submit these media for publication. Once donated by a contributor, the Society may publish these works on its public website, in the private online member educational archives, in print, or any other means by which it publishes material. However, copyright remains with the contributor, and all publication rights of the Society are non-exclusive, unless otherwise agreed to as an exception in writing.
In some cases, the Society may profit from the media submitted by contributors; directly or indirectly. This may include: (a) the fact that free public articles may inspire readers to become members of the Society, (b) the fact that members who donate monthly dues or make other donations, will have access to member educational materials that include this media, and (c) any other print or online productions that include this media may be sold directly by the Society online, at events, or other means.
In the cases of such profit, the contributor acknowledges and agrees that these profits will go to the Society, to be used to further its mission. The Society will receive all proceeds from the sale of any contributed items or media sold at Society events or online which are not copyrighted or owned by the Society.
Contributor [print name]