Friday, June 03, 2005

Introducing the Free and Responsible Search

The title of this blog comes from the Fourth Principle of Unitarian Universalism: "A free and responsible search for truth and meaning." I created it to make a place for my philosophical and religious writings separate from my political writings (which you can find under the name Pericles at DailyKos or at my Open Source Journalism project).

So, who am I and what might you expect me to write about here? My name is Doug Muder. I'm 48 years old and live in Nashua, New Hampshire. I'm an ex-mathematician, an ex-Dummies-author, and an aspiring writer of all sorts of things. I'm a Unitarian Universalist (though for historical reasons I go to the Bedford, Massachusetts church rather than the Nashua UU church that is only a few blocks away). I have read and practiced promiscuously in religion, and used to think I was anything other than a Humanist -- a Pagan, a Buddhist, a ceremonial magician, a Western-tradition mystic, a Stoic, and several other things too obscure to mention. I've even been known to say a few good things about Christianity, which I know fairly well from my eight years of Lutheran grade school.

I had run into a number of Humanists in UU circles, and I was pretty sure I wasn't one of them. They were all rationalists, and as a mathematician I was far too familiar with reason to worship it the way they seemed to. And yet, I value human experience above revelation, believe in yielding to science within its domain, and think that any religion worth its salt needs to justify itself in human terms by making life better. Eventually I decided that's what true Humanism is, and the rationalists just have it wrong. So I guess I'm a Humanist reformer or something. A Full-Spectrum Humanist.

A question you can expect me to come back to again and again is: What is Humanism if not rationalism? One of my heroes is William James, and one of my favorite books is Varieties of Religious Experience. So in particular, I want to put forward a Humanism that values ALL human experience, not just the experience that you can reproduce in a laboratory or write up in the Euclidean theorem/proof style. I don't think I have to stop being a mystic to be a Humanist, though I recognize that I have a lot of explaining to do.

You'll eventually meet several other characters in this blog: my wife Deb, who has been battling two different cancers over the past eight years and is currently showing no evidence of disease; my friend Steve from high school, who is about to finish his second tour of duty in Iraq; numerous other-people's-kids, of whom there are many in my life; and a long list of anonymous or pseudonymous people from First Parish Bedford.

Mostly, what you're going to see on this blog is a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. As Michael Schneider wrote in A Beginners Guide to Constructing the Universe, "The Universe may be a mystery, but it's not a secret."

1 comment:

Stanley said...

Doug, I love your writings. And am reminded of David Steindl-Rast's comment to David Whyte: "the antidote to exhaustion isn't necessarity rest, it's wholeheartedness."

So, here I am, looking for rest and finding ways to open my heart.