John Green On Religion

This video is a bit of a whirlwind, he talks so fast – you might want to watch with captions on.

Essentially he’s saying, “Look, the particular lens through which you view the important questions isn’t nearly as interesting to me as the questions themselves. How shall we occupy our consciousness? How will we perceive and experience meaning? How can and should we make the world a better place?”

I agree with what he has to say. I think mindfulness is the core of positive human endeavors, be they art, spirituality, philosophy, science, or sex. The drive to inquire, contemplate, create, explore, connect, and understand are more important than any particular conclusions we draw or the contextual frameworks we arrange them in to make sense of it all.

The fundamental reality is that the universe is just too big, too much, too complex, too old for us to ever fully understand it all, whether we call some of what we encounter in the process of exploring it “Gods” or not.

Which is why, unless I see people treating each other like shit over it, I really don’t think we need to be fighting over the differences in our conclusions.

Obviously my particular framework is very important to me, personally, and I absolutely enjoy sharing it with other people, connecting with other people on that basis, and even contrasting and comparing notes with others whose frameworks differ significantly from mine. So debating them for the sake of continuing to explore? Sure, have at and enjoy! But fighting, arguing, warring even? Fuck no.

I get it when people go to war over resources, although I think it’s cruel in contexts where there’s plenty enough to go around and some people are just being greedy powermongers over it. I get it when people feel a need to fight because they’re being treated poorly, especially by the aforementioned powermongers, who inevitably seem to exist in the world no matter how hard the rest of us try to avoid it. I do NOT understand why people think coming to different conclusions or seeing the universe through a different framework is grounds to treat other people poorly – to me it smacks of excuse to draw lines in the sand between “Us” and “Them” in order to decide more readily who it’s okay to short change when the resources run scarce. Most folks can’t really wrap their brains and hearts around caring personally about more than a few hundred people, and some people can’t wrap their brains and hearts around caring abstractly about people they don’t care about personally. Enlightened self-interest requires some amount of enlightenment, and a fair amount of education.

I know, I’m ranting. Look, just go ahead and ask your questions, explore, create, discover, connect. And if you get answers out of the process, be grateful any answers exist to be had, because the universe is a big, complicated, ineffable place, and most of our deepest questions are not going to get us real answers we know how to deal with, even when the gods do what They can to help us with them.

Maybe that’s as it should be.


About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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