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Exploring Spiritual Naturalism, Year 1: An Anthology of Articles from the Spiritual Naturalist Society Paperback – June 27, 2014
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What I like most about the book, and this is what attracted me to the Spiritual Naturalist Society to begin with, is that it is neither preachy nor evangelical. It’s not trying to convert anyone, it’s just trying to introduce Spiritual Naturalism and explain it plainly. At no point does it try to convince the reader that they must become a Spiritual Naturalist. Rather, it simply lays out a number of topics from a SN perspective. The many contributors never say anything like “This is the right way” or “This is the only way” but rather simply “This is OUR way, and why it works for US”. The reader is welcome to take from it what works for them, and disregard what doesn’t.
For example, I personally feel no need for formalized ritual in my life, and while I found the writings on that subject to be interesting and informative, it is not something I will likely incorporate into my own routine. Conversely, what I read about meditation has convinced me to give it a try. To each their own! While I read the book cover to cover, a reader could skip essays that do not interest them and still get much out of the book, overall.
I also loved the very positive tone of the book. It takes pains not to devalue worldviews that almost surely would consider themselves the antithesis of SN. This isn’t to say that Spiritual Naturalists accept just anything, but they make it clear our purpose is not to dominate other traditions, but rather to live in peace with them, side by side, in mutual respect and harmony.
This dovetails in to a third thing I liked in that the book was about us, as individuals, and how we can make our lives better, ourselves happier, and thus become better members of society in the process. It is about transforming ourselves, not trying to transform others. It eschews politics and polemics, and teaches us, like Gandhi said, that the best way to improve the world is by improving ourselves, one person at a time.
Again, I highly recommend it to anyone. Even if you don’t by a word of Spiritual Naturalism, there is nothing in here to offend anyone, and much to potentially learn.
I hope there is a Year 2 book; I am already looking forward to it.