I ended up choosing from two meetups yesterday afternoon. The Pagans were celebrating the March full moon at one Unitarian Church, while at the other, the Freethinkers were gathering to hear a presentation on a rational God.
The local Freethinking Community has two goals. One is to promote freethinking, the ability engage deep questions rather than thinking you have the one right answer, and the other is to build community, offering a kind of home to those questioners.
The group split off from the Atheists & Agnostics group when they realized that some atheists could be as fundamentalist and judgmental as any other believers. If you didn’t believe in their (absent) God, then you were condemned to hell, which they were happy to show you right now, because for atheists, the promise of a coming hell just doesn’t work so good.
There was a good proportion of women at the meeting last evening, which I suspect reflects the feminine urge to find connection between people rather than the instinct for hierarchy which separates and ranks.
I had to do an introduction, which is always hard. I started by joking that I knew from an early age that there was something profoundly different about me; I knew that I was a theologian.
Now, that’s a funny twist on knowing I’m trans, but it’s true. I went to confirmation class with the Rev. Etkins in 4th grade and my parents wondered how I was getting along. “Oooh!” he replied. “They are doing wonderfully!” The reverend, who chain smoked King Sanos, would soon be off for a “rest cure.” We moved, so when I knew the right answer to the confirmation class questions in 7th grade, the ex marine chaplain just assumed I was cheating because we used the same book. He couldn’t imagine the complicated theological discussions we had in the back room when I was 9.
“I prefer the questions to the answers,” I said, something I also said at a trans workshop in Northampton ten years ago. No one else liked that answer, as it didn’t fit the women’s studies, identity politics model of politically correct transgender that they swim in.
I ended up making a short comment on the presentation, talking about meaning and Jesus and Buddha and Joseph Campbell and such. After the session, I found that it was well received. A fellow said that it was cogent, a guy compliment, but many women just hoped I would come back and share more. A few even said that they were looking forward to me presenting, though with the schedule, that couldn’t happen before July. One gal, a UU minister, hoped I would come to her upcoming chat, on “Theology 101.”
I brought up some other points, talking about The Red Shoes And The Return Of The Handmade Life by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, how we are taught to relinquish our own meaning to substitute it with purchased meaning, which then leaves us empty deep down while taking over our life.
“If I think that my life will have meaning if I get a Coach pocketbook and that doesn’t work, then I get a Chanel bag and that doesn’t work, does that mean that a Hermès will give meaning to my life?” I joked, a joke that would only work with an audience of women smart enough to have considered a Birkin.
“You have done some work,” said the UU pastor as we left.
“Yeah, well,” I said, “I had some issues that I needed to understand.” She smiled.
It was interesting to find some women looking for meaning & understanding of the world. I’m not sure how their schedule fits in with my very limited budget, but if you know me, I’ll work the process.