Saturday, March 18, 2017

for a humanistic politics of mindful belonging

My early March update turned out to be a two-part sketch (below the line or “Read more”), premised on the coincidence of a theology student’s performance just before I intended to write a note about politics. I don’t mind that a sense of spirituality is thought to background a sense of humanism. That’s fair to a reader not much interested in philosophy or public policy. But it was an improvisation. Presently, I don’t have time to get more insightful or useful; so, I’ve reproduced that two-part thing as two sections of this posting, looking forward to mid-April.

mindful belonging of us

To appreciate a rich “spirituality,” one doesn’t have to resort to the rhetoric of religious under-standing—a rhetoric of trans-worldly basis for values that are secured through worshipful faith. Indeed, I would argue that a good sense of humanistic engagement with life is the origin of religious rhetoric. But that involves a difficult discourse on evolution of religion.

Today, I commented on the thoughts of a student at Harvard Divinity School—Casper ter Kuile—who did a presentation for the PBS News Hour. My comment is appended there, but since I can’t directly link to it, I’ll reproduce it here. (What’s in quote marks are rubrics from Mr. ter Kuile’s performance):
Mr. ter Kuile’s heartfelt view is invested, evidently, in “religious life.” But the spirituality he renders requires no worshipfulness, nor faith, nor stance toward ultimacy. The spirituality is humanistic, valuing our humanity, trusting in this, and being there.

Feeling one’s humanity with others as ours is what family and friends do. It calls for no ultimacy beyond itself. We are enough.

So, looking to scale up that among more others is just good sense, feeling good in being one’s best. Valuing reflection, community, honest sharing, healing, and vistas of appreciation; helping each other, working for the good of others—there is “the center of soulful community” (which is nothing “new”).

It’s the heartfulness of whom each of us always already is. What’s “divine” is there being our ownmost potential. What’s “divine” is defined by being in our world as best we can: there being time for being well together.

Call it sacred, and it becomes so. There may easily be no need for some positing of “universal spirit” beyond being wholly. We are enough.

enowning humanistic politics

I want to offer a brief conception of humanism which satisfies my desire to develop a sense of American humanity that is at once non-provincial, yet inevitably American, as everyone is a creature of their region, no matter how trans-nationalist in thinking, and I am, after all, an American Earthling, albeit oriented by, so to speak, Ameri-European thinking, but not to be exclusive of the majority of humanity.

What kind of identity-in-difference can this best be understood to be?

I don’t know. But I’m working on it.

No brief discussion can be fair to the question without being obscurely abstract. So, what can be usefully said briefly that’s not trite?

Do the provincial constraints of actual life permit political administrations to turn away from dangers of climate change because we don’t have time to prevent it, and no one will have to live the implications of that for unborn children?

Genocide becomes a talking point because far-away horror is portioned between television commercials, and there are so many chores to do before going back to the job tomorrow? Let some future administration make global treaties and United Nations authority effective?

In my comment to Nicholas Kristof’s article, that I quoted last week, I noted that “2017 can be a year for Democrats to work for the future—pragmatic-ally, yet with Vision—not primarily working against the present circus.”

So, what’s the Vision to be? “Democrats must hustle to articulate vision that has bipartisan appeal.” It’s not for The Philosopher to presume to channel It (let alone me).

Might we Americans start with the Bipartisan Policy Center? That’s particularly American; so, can there also be trans-national exemplarity in that?

What can be emergent from all regions (“we” Americans as merely one regioning among regions) in some way that’s the same for all (thus finding exemplarity in each other), yet appropriate and progressive for one’s own region, one’s time-limited province, one’s finite life?