Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Upside of Atheism

There was an article earlier this week in the New York Times about Atheists, and their growing desire to congregate for the purposes of camaraderie, community and connection.

I think this is a great idea, and was therefore surprised by the opposite reaction of so many around me.

On the surface, it's understandable why some people are wary of Atheism. Not only does it fundamentally conflict with most faiths and religions, the absolute rejection makes many people uncomfortable.

It's the second point that I'm particularly intrigued by, as I believe the rejection focus of the definition somewhat betrays the true meaning of the word. Consider synonyms for Atheists- Humanists and Freethinkers. By speaking to what subscribers do believe in, rather than what they do not, they evoke a much warmer and welcome reception, though the meaning of the three is the same.

By focusing on what Atheists do not believe, the definition completely ignores what they do believe in: the wonder, majesty, mystery, spirit and beauty of all that they feel can't be named, fathomed or comprehended.

The singing world has the same types of language 'blind spots'. By not subscribing to a specific method, many people assume that a singer or teacher is devoid of technique, and therefore, effectiveness.

But this completely ignores what they do subscribe to… having all of the tools and philosophies available depending on what is best for each client. Singing in a variety of styles as well as learning a variety of ways to implement them.

By not having a philosophy that's held to as implicitly true, both singers and teachers are constantly and willingly unconvinced that infallible truths exist, and therefore, are continually and open-mindedly searching…

… and we all are all looking for the same things, regardless of what you call them: Vocal freedom, confidence, predictability, health and joy.

The common themes of spirit far outweigh what separates us, as well: The desire for health, happiness and freedom. The desire to nurture and protect our families, to learn and grow with dignity and humility. To feel appreciated and special. To have a purpose and fulfillment.

Once you get beyond the names and labels and into the heart of the matter, you'll see we're not so different, after all…

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Anonymous Jim Ferrie said...

Yes. Indeed, Jen. Fear is the key to the naysayers and begrudgers dampening the spark of life in those who dare to live it. Sing fearlessly - you taught me that. Write fearlessly, as Pat Pattison told me. Fear means having to go outside of your comfort zone and I know many people who teach to a rigid format, exactly the opposite of what is required. Subsequently, their best students are only able to excel at what they have been taught and the inner "them" has not been nurtured. Rejection of fear is what is important and congregation is only natural among like-minded beings. If you're congregating to dispel fear, that's all to the good. Labels can change like supermarket brands, but it's still the same produce at the end of the day. I would state rather that the "fearless", no matter what organisation each of them prefers to belong, are not so different after all. Similarly are the naysayers, and between these categories one can define the real, true difference.

May 3, 2009 at 5:30 PM  

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