Skepticism and Seeking …
I’m finding myself getting less hard-core skeptical than I used to be. On Monday, I’m helping a friend practice her tarot reading skills by getting her to do a reading for me (she asked for volunteers on Facebook.) Am I worried because it’s woo and has no basis in scientific fact? I used to be afraid of anything ‘woo’ but now I am honestly convinced it is fine as long as you remember that it is not scientific fact. The problems happen when people think woo can replace science, or that it is science. That’s when you have people dying of things like treatable cancers because they were bamboozled into some bullshit ‘natural’ remedy.
But things that are recognized correctly as metaphor and symbolism and ritual? I am up for that. I think.
After I realized that the church of my parents was unacceptable to me, I went searching for other churches. I visited a few Catholic services, Baptist, and a church of unnamed denomination near my home where they spoke in tongues. I slipped out during the opening prayer because I was freaked out, and never went back. I went to a Buddhist meditation circle on Sunday mornings for a while, though by that point I identified solely as an atheist. I enjoyed that and learned a lot and gained new perspectives, but after a while that was not for me either. I had doubts about it after I went to a New Year’s meditation retreat that I found though that group. While I enjoyed the still and quiet and reflection, I did not enjoy trying to sit still in a cross-legged position for an hour or so at a time. One of the organizers read a teaching that was something about a man who was tempted by a prostitute. It ended up saying that he should visualize her body as it would end up eventually — as a rotting corpse — and that seriously bothered me. It was a morbid denial of pleasure — a denial of everything physical or temporary really. And that seems very odd because the style of Buddhism I was used to emphasizes living in the present. I even read books on how one could practice secular Buddhism, but after a relatively brief period of being sure I had found THE WAY I decided it was not for me.
I’ve written previously in my blog about my experiences with yoga as well.
I also tried out the Unitarian church in downtown Louisville for a couple of years. At the time I went there, I was mostly looking for a community where I could own my atheism without being judged or preached at. There were one or two people who, when I told them I was an atheist, felt the need to explain to me what they believed and why. I hung out with the pagan group that meets at the church for a while, but after a while the talk about things like astrology clashed too strongly with my scientific skeptical mind. There was just too much of superstition and claims that clashed with scientific fact for me to stomach.
As my post opener implies, I am rethinking some of my previous attitudes. Can there be a place for things like astrology and tarot as long as one recognizes the difference between scientific fact and symbolism and imagery? I’m putting the “seeker” hat back on for a time to see what I can find out. I’ll be looking back into the Unitarian Universalist church to see if it may be a better fit for this point in my life.
It helps that they have childcare too.