I’m sometimes curious about the resolutely political nature of modern secular thought – self-proclaimed humanists tend to see political activism as an intrinsic part of their belief system, along with a refusal to believe in the supernatural. So too, in Yavanayāna Buddhism, a skepticism toward the supernatural tends to go hand in hand with political engagement.
The same is true at most Unitarian Universalist churches. I attended a UU church for two years, but this is among the major reasons I stopped going. The UU church appealed to me because it seemed open to seekers with a wide range of values; nevertheless, there are some values that typical UUs do share, among them a commitment to political activism for social justice as a central part of a good life. That’s something I’m skeptical of, at the least. And so while I found a great community there and made some lasting friendships, I ultimately found myself far out of sync spiritually with the church’s ethos.
To me, perhaps the most curious example of the close connection between politics and non-supernaturalism is Robert Hanrott‘s now-defunct Epicurus Blog. Hanrott claimed to devote the blog to the Epicurean philosophy of “moderation, enjoyment of life, tranquillity, friendship, lack of fear,” along with Epicurus’s rejection of gods and other supernatural forms of causation. Hanrott explicitly acknowledged that “those who try to follow Epicurus and his teachings are not supposed to involve themselves in politics.” And yet the majority of the posts on his Epicurus Blog wound up being about… politics. Continue reading