DioSpirit, mixes and merges the Spanish word for God, "DIOS" and Spirit, represented in human beliefs and experience concerning our existence and purpose.
Purpose of DioSpirit is to be a catalyst for the exploration and contemplation or our forms and expressions of spirituality as well as to foster greater tolerance in our diverse beliefs, myths, symbols and related spiritual practices.
DioSpirit relates to ExemplarWise by its incorporation of spiritual wisdom, gained from encountering those who have gone before and enlightened us.
Religion as a term of reference and point of debate Many say the etymology of religion lies with the Latin word religare, which means “to tie, to bind.” This seems to be favored on the assumption that it helps explain the power religion has.
Experience of a Church Misfit
While I'm no Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist, I share several of his self-described characteristics. Like Campbell, I engage in conversation with all kinds of religious, spiritual, new age as well as atheistic people. I'm always open to listening to and appreciating diverse spiritual myths, experiences and science-based perspectives. These conversations often teach me about our differences and the actions that flow from them.
Are we basing our worldview on a justified belief or merely an opinion or impression? How is it we make our claims to know what we know to be true? For most of us with beliefs or ideologies, we tend to use three primary positions: 1) external revelation (biblical, etc.); 2) empirical evidence or science; 3) or a mystical or subjective experience. While these points of reference are gross oversimplifications, they may provide a launching pad for discussion and refinement for the inquisitive person.
Ever since childhood I've been fascinated by how things worked mechanically and, in later life, discovering what purpose or meaning is being served by a belief or conviction. I remember as a child dismantling our egg beater. I think I was 6 or 7. I wondered how each piece functioned and in relation to other parts. What purpose could each part or the beater as a whole serve? Most times, like the egg beater, when I put the mechanical pieces back together, it worked. Not all my curiosity projects resulted in such a positive outcome. Sometimes I was just left with a mess. There were either errors in my reasoning or one of the mechanisms no longer functioned the way expected. Yet I always learned something, even if it was not to assume something or trust a perception.
I was raised in a secular public school in a lower-middle-class immigrant neighborhood. My childhood and early adult life were pretty much rooted in a Swedish Baptist church community in Winnipeg (the "Peg"). I participated in church activities and eventually became an intern minister at 19.
I would often break though conflicting ideas or personalities by using my rather twisted wit or sense of humour. Being mildly dyslexic helped here. Once I became aware that the way I said things was not normative, I had to learn to compensate some, by calibrating my sense of humour and wit to the particular audience or person. According to author Norman Cousins, a good sense of is a "train wreck of the mind". I find we can get so myopic and intolerant and sealed off in our convictions or ideas that a train wreck or disruptor is exactly what's needed. When we become closed to hearing other's ideas or belief's, no oxygen can get in and its harder for each of us to breath any fresh air. When we laugh because an unexpected brain fart, wit or joke, oxygen gets in and we can open up a bit. Of course, too much humour or poorly a timed joke, can leave recipients either nauseated or put off.
I was raised on a Swedish Baptist theology and accepted the Kool-Aid elixir blindly, as many uninformed or innocents do. Many of my core social attachments included close friends who drank the same elixir served up within this evangelical community. When you're raised as a child in these circumstances, what choice do you really have concerning core beliefs? You can be the benefactor or victim, depending. You either continue to drink the Kool-Aid or, if you stop, you offend the host church community that is serving it up and are overtly or covertly excommunicated.
After going through the church distillery, I remember my first proselytizing mission to evangelize others. We used what was then called "The Mechanics of Becoming a Christian" and the "Four Spiritual Laws". Sounded quite legal. Nothing entry level for me. I decided to approach a known biker gang that hung out in downtown Peg. Nothing like a challenge, right? It became a sort of David and Goliath story. I took on the task with the expected evangelical conviction, zeal, and focus. I had my pamphlet along with every chapter and verse memorized. I was a biblical gunslinger and was totally surprised when the leader of the gang got down on his knees and accepted Jesus into his heart. The rest of the gang fell into line and followed suit.
I recall how church ushers reacted. They were aghast when I showed up for the evening service with the entire biker gang in tow. There they were. Guys with open leather vests complete with hairy chests and their adoring, caressing biker mamas - voluptuous women with exposed midriffs. It was comedic in retrospect. The lesson I learned in the 70s from that reconnaissance operation was to convert the sinners, but then be sure to have them clean up first. Sinners apparently must be literally hosed down and smoke-free first, before having them stroll in through the church front door. I believe if the church foyer coat room had doors on it the ushers would've quickly stashed them there, complete with a deodorizer. This would ensure the gang could hear the sermon while remaining unseen or sniffed out by the congregation.
Despite my growing doubts about the church's core theological doctrines, and my eventual departure, I remain thankful for the many life lessons and a few key exemplary people I encountered. Their teachings provided me with a prescription for living an ethical life. Their lives often demonstrated a sense of fair play and morality in relation to others. Perhaps I would've been a truly lost soul without it.
My early childhood was marked by trauma, mistreatment, neglect and my father's alcoholism and his eventual suicide. Naturally, this had its own influence on me as suicide then was viewed as a sinful and cowardly act. I tended to gravitate to older people, often adults twice my age. I enjoyed stimulating conversations with people who'd lived a little, seemed wise and enjoyed contemplating life's larger questions. This may explain my later fascination with physics and cosmology. I tended to say things that were honest or truthful but often "slapped the air" in certain social contexts. I did have a certain social awkwardness from time to time. After I innocently but honestly pointing out whatever elephant was in the room, the ensuing silence could be deafening. Eventually, I learned how to filter that inside voice. Maintaining a self-imposed gag order usually comes with a psychological price tag. As such, I was a rather muzzled misfit at times.
By my early 20s, I came to realize I wasn't going to be able to maintain my differing beliefs and still be accepted by my formative evangelical community. When I did speak out concerning my developing and differing views, I stuck out like Trump in a monastery. So, it was time to move on. When you have had close friends you're attached to in a community, it often feels isolating at first and can hurt awhile. I noticed that the city zoo, as pictured above, had become my new sanctuary and provided me with a great deal of inner peace. I would often drive by my old church on the way to my new church — the zoo.
I had no long-lasting regret, as there was much to be gained from having had a covenant among people living in any community. They are there for each other in times of challenge, trouble or loss. I'm not hostile, resentful or anti-organized religion, as some others are who've left their churches. I simply embrace church communities as fellow human beings finding their own way of living in their world. Religion can clearly 'tie and bind' them to a community, receiving much support, compassion, and direction. It has been shown that long-term active church participants tend to live longer and navigate through adversity in a more supported way.
I haven't moved back toward any traditional church with any regularity since leaving in the mid-80s. However, I have a long-standing connection with Watershed, a unique community in the Peg. This group was disenfranchised or excommunicated by their own evangelical type Vatican in the early '90s. They created their own separate community. In their early days, when I attended semi-regularly, the group they created called "Watershed" studied various topics (enneagram, history of the tarot, etc), and after a time re-embraced their Christian roots, but with marked differences in viewpoint from their days as early believers. They are far more tolerant of those with significantly differing views and lifestyles than their own, but remain faithful to their covenant theologically and support and challenge each other in very real and practical ways.
The Watershed group has been together for over 30 years, with one principle leader. Their actions and support of one another in their personal and work lives and within their larger community or neighborhood is notable. I am referred to endearingly as their "Uncle Phil". You know, that uncle that drops by every once in a while.
I later founded DioSpirit much later in 2014 in order to encourage exploration of our human beliefs and to help act as a catalyst towards greater tolerance and respectful dialogue about our diverse beliefs, myths, symbols and related spiritual practices.
By P. R Hay Exemplar Institute, All Rights Reserved, 2017
An old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "We'll see," the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "We'll see," replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "We'll see," answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "We'll see" said the farmer.