Posts Tagged ‘atheist’

Pilgrimage Statistics
 Consecutive Days Riding:  120                                              Days Blogged: 102

New Mileage: 12                                                               Total Trip Mileage: 865

Circle of Offerings!

In my last posting I noted that my blog journey/pilgrimage had reached several significant milestones.  It’s been a little over four months since we started and I have posted along the way over one hundred times!   Those of you who have been following me for some time may remember that I started blogging on a daily basis.  About a month ago I decided I needed to take a break to get the new semester under way.  Things have fallen together nicely and I’ve decided as of today to resume the daily postings and to return to following our journey’s progress on a map.  People can once again follow my virtual bike ride  as we snaked across Florida and beyond.

Colorful Offerings!

 I was telling my partner Susan that part of a “healthy process” toward life is to at times step back and take stock of your journey, your destination, progress and goals.  Such “breaks” in our routine, like going on a retreat, gives us a chance to take a look at the “bigger picture.”  Reverting to a three times a week blog schedule afforded me the opportunity to do just that.  I’ve come to the realization that for me a daily blog has benefits that outweighed the negative aspects and demands associated with such an effort!  In particular, a daily blog is time consuming as it demands that one: identify daily topics, researching the topics, identify and research possible pilgrimage sites, make time to dictate and edit the posting, and dealing with admin duties of maintaining a blog like responding to comments.  However, I find that having the daily blogging ritual provides a great deal of structured focus on to my day.  I often ponder and ruminate over issues and events occurring both in the news and in my personal life.  I most often think them through like I would a blog posting.  In the past I would often call any of a number of “coffee buddies” to share my thoughts on the topic.  So I am already doing much of the mental work, why not share it with a larger audience?

 In addition, as with any good spiritual routine (e.g., daily prayer, meditation, yoga, and a regular mindful walk) once it’s under way it tends to produces benefits far greater than the simple acts.  The routine can provide a unifying connection with the spiritual dimension of our life.  The daily blog serves a kind of focusing function for me.

I’ve had considerable success in identifying retreat and pilgrimage sites, throughout Florida and beyond. It is my renewed goal to make more site visits; we have four such site visits in the coming week!  I am also going to try to keep my postings somewhat briefer.  My friends and students know that I am NOT a “man of few words!”  However, the effort to be more succinct and keep the topics simpler is a worthy challenge.  I am reminded of the scene from the movie “A River Runs Through It” when the father would continually send his son back to the editing process to cut the number of words he used to express a written opinion.   This is a worthy challenge, and of course I have my “Editor-in-Chief” (Susan) to help me meet the goal!

I set off on this blog pilgrimage journey with a joyful mindset and a sense of excitement.  I have marveled at the variety of people and experiences that have enfolded before me.  I feel that I’ve recently gotten caught up with current events that tend to pull people into the “my side versus your side” and “right versus wrong” dichotomous arguments.  I often found myself responding to or using words like demagogue, hypocrite, atheists and true believer which lead to circular arguments that end with everyone retreating to their corner.  While these discussions can be valuable in helping to understand other positions they seem to “pollute the well” of civil discourse.  It seems to me the airways (talk radio, and TV talking heads) and now the Internet is dominate by too much of this win-lose struggle that pushes people into extreme positions.

Why Not Non-dichotomous Thinking?

My journey through life, whether on the personal or social level, has always been about finding and exploring the middle ground. My Circle of friends and fellow pilgrims expands every day with new voices, new faces, new people spread around the globe!  I welcome one and all and I hope my journey and my word offerings will at times bring a smile to your face, will at times warm your heart, will at times make you go “I hadn’t thought of that,” and will at times give you a sense of not being alone!  I hope that by sharing my journey I might somehow help you on your journey.  I believe the most important and lasting gifts in life are those that lift us up towards the light, towards wisdom, towards the experience called “the divine.”

If for no other reason... think of the future!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 61                                Consecutive Days Blogging: 62

Today’s Mileage: 5                                           Total Trip Mileage: 535

The red line marks our progress.

As I ride the bike today we are preparing to pull into our twelfth pilgrimage site.  Today’s site is unique and some people might question why it warrants a designation as a spiritual pilgrimage site. We are stopping at the Edison Museum and Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida.  The roadways we have travelled are populated by a great many churches, but finding sites that speak to the wider array of expressions of spirituality can be more challenging.  I happened upon the Edison Winter Estate site at the same time I was researching the Koreshan Unity Village Site we visited last week. 

In the lab!

With the Koreshan movement we had a charismatic leader and followers who combined religious revelations with quasi- scientific thinking to create a utopian dream. At the same time just thirty miles up the road, we find Thomas Edison, who many would view as the archetypical inventor, solving the world’s problems in practical ways.  Through his innovations he created a new world of electrical lights, phonographs, and movies. He accomplished his feats with little formal education and a lot of hard work.  Edison is often cited as an example of ingenuity, perseverance, and a “get it done” practicality. Among his many quotes that adorn bumper stickers, t-shirts and office walls are: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” and “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” He was not theoretical like Einstein; he was practical, hardworking and no-nonsense. “”Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  He reframed the whole concept of failure: “I have not failed. I’ve just fond 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

First Banyan tree in the US planted by Edison in his garden.

His personal spirituality and approach to the divine is less clear. I’ve found references that labeled him as an atheist, an agnostic, a freethinker and a deist.  He attended a Congregational church near his home which in memorial to his membership changed it name to Thomas Edison Congregational Church.

 In a New York Times Magazine interview conducted in 1910 he stated: “Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving… nature made us – nature did it all – not the gods of the religions.”  These remark generated a great deal of controversy, and although he did not allow himself to be drawn into a public discussion he clarified himself in a private letter by stating: “You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God.  There is no such denial, what you call God I call nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter.”

Edison statue with Banyan tree.

His involvement with causes such as nonviolence and Civitan appears to attest to his belief in the importance of social action over professed beliefs. A visit to his winter home site also emphasizes the importance he placed on nature, with his beautiful gardens, dock into the bay and cherished Banyan trees. All of this make one wonder if he represents a scientific thinker who experienced moments of nature mysticism.

 Again I am struck by the synchronicity of my site visits. With one site we find a cult-like community, dreaming of changing the world based upon religious revelations and questionable scientific theory.  Its “New Jerusalem” is now a state park housing RVs and sun worshipers. Existing at the same time and just a few  miles away, we find an individual embedded in a practical science, who was described as logical, reasoning and creative.  He surrounded himself with the beauty and inspiration of nature and changed the world! 

Edison provided a source of light, helped capture visual and auditory memories for future generations, provided inspiring words and left us a pilgrimage site that attests to the power of perserverance, creativity and engagement with the world around us. 

Fort Myers' sunset.

To visit the Site please click on the tab at the top of this page labelled Pilgrimage Sites. A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.

 The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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