Starsight Cluster

August 31, 2015

The Numenous Way

Filed under: Uncategorized — by The Numenous Way @ 7:47 pm
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Amid all this talk of wars on religions, usually contrived by the religion claiming to be warred upon, I thought it would be pleasant to speak of a religion that isn’t aggressively forcing itself on others, bearing false witness, engaging in acts of violence, or otherwise acting in a manner that isn’t charitable or kind.

Numenism is a small religion. Some call it a way of life – but I feel that’s an oxymoron.  All religions are ways of living.

Others call it a “wiki” religion, or an “open source” religion, and that is truth. Our adherents help to update it and to keep it as close to true as is possible when faith and belief are involved. Through constant questioning and research, experimentation and peer review, Numenism stays current and in touch with its adherents.

It is not a religion for those who only show up on the Big Holy Days, although we have made some accommodation for those who are young, new, or are less able to be actively involved.

It is a religion for people who like control over their beliefs, like to question and explore, like to be actively involved.

This is perhaps why we have so few adherents.  The other is that we’ve kept a very low profile while the foundation was being built. Our Founders weren’t prosyletizers, didn’t belief in advertising, and were internet averse. They believed in small recruiting of one person at a time, and their family. Which is a truly stable and – as time has shown – stagnant way to grow a belief/lifestyle.

Progress within Numenism has also been slow and steady. Again, excellent for stability, not so good for growth, especially as the Founders have aged out of life itself.

This cautious approach has given us a solid foundation to stand on. This is good news for a religion that was intentionally built as this one has been.

A little brief history.  Numenism was formed in 1946 in Texas, USA. Specifically, in the DFW area, from Carswell Air Force Base. Several soldiers and their families got together because their beliefs at the time weren’t adequate to their experiences and they wanted something that could provide comfort, answers, and personal growth. At first, they were just a small study group, but when their children went off to college at UTAustin, it expanded and the focus changed from finding a religion that worked to creating one that worked.

These teens were the ones who made that difference. They were filled with the enthusiasm of the 50’s, and embraced the hippies, some of whom in turn embraced this fledgling religion. Some were lured off by Wicca and Witchcraft and Buddhism, but a few stayed and contributed to the bones of this new religion.

The mission of the religion, even before it had a name, was to become a religion of Americans for Americans by Americans, and indigenous belief system that accommodated modern ways from multiple peoples, a melting pot religion just as America was a melting pot country. That’s what we called it before the internet gave us more accurate terms like “wiki” and “open source”.

That’s what Numenism has tried to do – to be a religion created by Americans for Americans with Americans.

The few who stayed with Numenism have, as said earlier, aged out of life and our numbers have shrunk not just with the loss of those older adherents, many of the younger ones have also left for easier religions.

The number of adherents have fallen so far that I fear only a small handful of us are left.

And that’s the thing – Numenism was not an easy religion to adhere to in the firmative years.  There was a lot of discussion, a lot of probing, a lot of soul-searching and research and testing.  The foundation is there now, well-built, strong, and capable of bearing up under the changes and differences the future will inevitably bring.  Life is full of changes, and a living religion should be as adaptable as life. Just as a baby is still a human even when it’s a teen or a young adult or a mature adult or a senior and regardless of the way the body and mind change, it remains human from birth to grave. So should a religion remain true to its core foundations even as it changes through various maturation stages.

Personally, as an adherent of Numenism since 1956 (one of the Austinites who joined with the children of the original Founders), I feel Numenism has developed a strong foundation and is adaptable.

Now, it’s time for us to ask if others would like to also join the Numenous Way, to become Celebrants. I’d like to see Celebrants who want to explore and continue to expand the boundaries of Numenism, to add to the lore and contribute to the celebrations of Numenism, to invigorate and make Numenism more vibrant and accessible.

It starts with you – a Celebrant. You learn about the history and roots of Numenism, and explore the foundation and the celebrations, integrate into the community, and make Numenism your own.

Being a Celebrant is the most basic form of being a Numenist. It can be very satisfying, providing all an average person needs or wants in a religion:  community, comfort, support, traditions, joy, purpose.

Some people want more. And Numenism, being flexible like that, has more to offer.

There are two paths a person can take beyond Celebrant. One is the minister’s path and the other is the scholar’s path. Both paths eventually lead to becoming an Elder, if the person desires to progress that far.

Those on the ministerial path administer to the Celebrants, officiating over celebrations (such as births, namings, coming-of-age ceremonies, weddings, funerals, and such), advising people in Numenist spiritual matters, caring for the community as a whole and the individuals within it, arranging for assistance for adherents who need it, reminding people of helping one another out, officiating at the assemblies.

Those on the scholarly path do research and teach and explore in depth spiritual and religious and social matters. They can officiate at need in celebrations. They advise those on the ministerial path regarding information and methods of spiritual counseling but don’t usually engage in the counseling itself.

All three paths – celebrant, ministerial, scholarly – can offer suggestions and reasons for making changes in the procedures and beliefs of Numenism.

The fourth path in Numenism, the Elders, are the ones who make any final decisions on changes in orthodoxy regarding Numenism.  They studied it for a minimum of 40 years and have been quizzed and had to prove capable of making such decisions soundly – and it may take a few years before the change is made and disseminated among the known Numenists. The Elders will consult with the scholars and ministers before making changes, and there may be a few Moosemasses where the decision is presented to everyone who attends.

At all levels of Numenism, everyone is a Celebrant.  Some just give more service to Numenism than others, and work to know more. It’s how society works, and Numenism strives to emulate the best in society.

We do have some immutable ground rules upon which we are building the rest of the framework, and we’re pretty sure at this point that the foundation we’ve chosen is sparse but stable.

That foundation consists of these statements:

1. There is a generative, creative force that brought us and all we perceive into existence.
2. Immersing ourselves in this existence and questioning it is our purpose
3. Community, connections, family, and friends are important and to be cherished.

To elaborate a bit more:

1. That creative, generative force is not necessarily a god, a single entity, or even an entity. We call it, because we’re human and need labels and names and such and “creative, generative force” is long and unwieldy to say all the time, “Dea Nutrix” or the Good Nourisher” or the “Nourisher” or the “Great Good” or sometimes just “GG”. A few people enjoy calling it “the Force”, but it’s not really like the Force in Star Wars. There are no images, no anthropomorphization, of this, and we discourage anthropomorphizing until we know more about it. It would be kind of embarrassing, don’t you think, to assume this force looks one way (say, a bearded white guy) only to discover it’s really more like a Horta?

We do use symbols. Our favorite ones are Cookies, Moebius strips, Infinity loops, and cornucopias.

2. This universe exists. It’s full of wonders and marvels and mysteries. Denying it, transcending it, ignoring it – these all seem blasphemous to us. No, we study it, immerse ourselves in it, take joy in it, learn about it, play with it, and experiment with it. It’s amazing.

3. We aren’t in this alone. Our friends, family, neighbors, like-minded people, not-like-minded people, all of us are here. We are part of this and all of this is part of us. So immersing ourselves in other people – helping them, being helped by them, caring for them, being cared for by them, arguing, debating, testing – we do this together.

This is why we say Numenism is an open source religion – everyone who is Numenist contributes by sharing their observations, experiments, thoughts, ponderings, ideas, etc. With these three statements, we can build, rebuild, add on to and take away from, and alter, and grow Numenism to be what it needs to be. It’s a wiki religion with an editor (the elders). It’s a open source that works when things are balanced and honest. It’s a fusion of experiments, theories, and data.

If you want answers, Numenism doesn’t have them; but if you want to ask questions and explore possibilities, then Numenism might be a way to go.

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December 28, 2007

Bounty

Filed under: Uncategorized — by The Numenous Way @ 7:38 pm


Bug-Eyed Spaghetti

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Gospel of Prosperity as advocated by Pentacostal, charismatic, and dominionist churches is different in many ways from the Bounty Ministry of Numenism.

The preachers of the Gospel of Prosperity start with the premise that one is poor because one lacks faith in their God, and they say that by keeping the faith and by giving to the right churches (themselves, generally), they will find favor with God and thereby become wealthy. If they continue to be impoverished, it’s because they lack faith, sufficient faith.

They back this up with the judicious cherry picking of scriptural verses, like Corinthians II, where Paul writes that Jesus became poor so that by his poverty others could become rich. Their “Name it and Claim it” and “word of Faith” teachings all taught of the pressing needs of here and now with no thought for the spiritual ramifications of their teachings. Many of these preachers depend upon the fact that they’ve convinced their followers that they speak directly to God and they bear back the word of God, which, not surprisingly, always has to do with giving more money to their church (and through the church to them). Oral Roberts may be the best known evangelical to claim direct conversations with God that brought about personal profit for himself. And people, desperate people, believed that the wealth showered upon Oral Roberts would be showered upon themselves if they just believed hard enough and gave more of their own money t Oral Roberts and those like him. Pat Robertson, for example. And Rev. Dollar.

The followers of the Gospel of Prosperity believed – still believe, actually – that wealth comes directly from God as a reward for being faithful.

In our Bounty Ministry, we believe we already have all the wealth the gods will bestow upon us. It is already ours. We need to recognize that fact, accept it, and look to see what of the wealth we have is what we need. In many cases, people who look deeply into their own personal assets, spiritual, physical, and social, they find they have a surplus. They are encouraged to share that surplus around. We acknowledge that some people need more than others, so we’ve incorporated the concept of “rightsizing” into our Bounty Ministry. The Bounty Ministry I symbolized by a cornucopia, filled and overflowing. Each person is a cornucopia, a vessel that needs to be filled. What spills out flows into other cornucopias, whether that “cornucopia” is a friend, a pet, a stray animal, a homeless person, a supervisor, a wild animal, a plant.

We all have basic needs.

We require breathable air. The gods gave us – free of charge – a world full of breathable air.

We require potable water. The gods gave us – free of charge – lakes, rivers, and aquifers full of potable, sweet water.

We require shelter. The gods gave us – free of charge – caves, trees, rocks, mud, straw, and other materials from which to build suitable shelters. As part of shelter, we require protective clothing. The gods gave us – free of charge – plant materials and animal hides and the knowledge and skill to convert them into wearable items.

We require food. The gods gave us – free of charge – edible plants and prey animals.

We require companionship. The gods gave us – free of charge – family and friends, pets, and plants to keep us company and the skills and knowledge to communicate with them and interact with them on many levels. The reward of companionship is our ability to give and receive what we do with the gifts the gods bestowed upon us.

We require occupation. The only thing the gods gave us that requires no conscious effort on our part is breathable air. For everything else, the gods placed them in easy reach for us and them gave us the skills and knowledge of how to acquire them. To keep us occupied even after our basic needs were satisfied; the gods gave us three more gifts: creativity, passion, curiosity. It is with these gifts that we create a bounty from the basic gifts of the gods.

The gods gave us one last gift. Some may consider it a curse, but it is still ours, nonetheless. The gods gave us free will. They gave us these gifts and then left us to do with them as we will for so long as we live.

All this, the gods gave us. They have asked no payment for them except our death. That death comes through only two venues: illness and injury. Even death is mitigated by generous gods who gave us the skills and knowledge to cure most illnesses and heal most wounds. By those acts, we believe the gods would like us to live long, happy lives.

It is we, the people, who impose prices and payments on things. It is we who put words in the mouths of our gods to goad others into doing things for us. It is we who deprive others of the things the gods gave us. It is we who inflict the majority of our pain and suffering upon ourselves.

With the gift of creativity came intelligence and awareness. With intelligence and awareness come other, less pleasant gifts – like greed, selfishness, jealousy, covetousness, ego, and fear. The ability to make tools to pluck fruits, harvest grains, build shelters, hunt animals, and create clothing also gave us the ability to hoard, wound and kill.

Still, the gods demand no price from us for the bounty placed in this world along with us. They do not require us to be nice, to share the bounty, to care about one another. They do not require us to beat one another or kill in their name. They have given us all these gifts to do with as we please. Judging by our history, we please to hurt one another, to kill one another, to deny one another basic needs just because we can.

In our Bounty Ministry, we teach that we don’t have to impose pain and suffering upon ourselves or others. The gods gave us large and versatile brains, and many physical abilities. Combined, we have – for free – all we need to prosper, all we need to live long and happy lives. Yes, there are elements in our lives that aren’t “fair”: diseases, natural disasters, birth defects, and genetic mutations that mimic diseases, but the gods gave us the skills and knowledge to even the odds. Life isn’t always fair because we have the gifts we can use to alter that, to make it more fair, to ensure we all have all that we need.

That we can also use those blessings and tools as weapons is a choice we have been given the freedom to make for ourselves. There are no gods hanging over our shoulder, telling us we can’t hoard more than we need. There are no gods condemning us for killing others for what we think we need. No god will bless us for the good we do as we wend our way through our lives, for they have already given us all the blessings we need.

For some people, this freedom unbalances them – they react in fear and greed, hoarding, wounding, killing to snatch all they think they need and more. Others become timid and barely take the minimum they need to survive. Holiness and sanctity are interpreted in many different ways, as is evil and unholiness. What could be a balanced and peaceful system of barter, enhanced with a token system representing real goods (money) became a system of greed with some proclaiming power over others, including the right to control their basic needs.

This is the core of Bounty Ministry: we have all we need and more. The gods have given us blessings and tools and the ability to acquire knowledge to make our lives even better. We have each been given one life filled with passion and beauty, and the freedom to use it as we will.

It is possible we were meant to play a competitive zero-sum game like “King of the Hill” – where each of us fights and struggles to collect all the resources for just one person, and the last person left standing wins everything – life, the universe, godhood, the whole and all.

In the Bounty Ministry, we choose to believe the goal is not a competitive and violent game like “King of the Hill”, but closer to “Elf Chess” where each player adds to the game board to create a work of art; the final product is more than each piece and it means different things to each player – it is an accomplishment of both individual and communal joy and pride. The pieces can be anything – from a grain of sand to a mechanical device that uses or acts upon all the other contributed pieces. It may take weeks and ingenuity to create the perfect piece to add to the game board, or it may be a matter of finding the right thing to put it in the right place at the right time. It is a cooperative and intensely creative game that enriches the players and the observers.

We choose to believe we were meant to use the gifts we were give by the gods to transcend who and what we are, to be more than the sum of ourselves. In our spiritual worldview, we live lives of many layers, the numena live in layers beyond and interwoven with ours, with the gods encompassing all those layers and more. Using our gifts in selfish, violent, fearful ways contracts us down, limits us, makes us less, separates us out. The gifts we were freely given, used well, would allow us to expand beyond our limited layers and well into the divine spheres. We would become more: more powerful, more knowledgeable, more flexible, more wealthy, more healthy, more creative, more divine.

In the Bounty Ministry, we take the gifts of the gods, our basic needs, and combine them in ways that fulfill our longings and passions – from music to travel to beauteous things to things to make our lives more convenient. We advocate a concept we call “rightsizing” – each person has their own basic minimum needs, and the little extra that will make them feel secure and bounteous. This comprises their cornucopia, and anything that falls outside it is their bounty – to share, to put up for a future need, to give away as freely as the gods gave to us. We help people find their rightsize, help them learn to know when their cornucopia is full, and what to do with the overflow.

December 26, 2007

On handling a disaster:

Filed under: Uncategorized — by The Numenous Way @ 10:20 pm


Kegger’s New Best Friend

Originally uploaded by nodigio

1. Act immediately and forcefully. Say, “We are handling the matter. This is not a normal situation, and we are going to take action to see it doesn’t happen again.” Then, show you are actually doing something. Take responsibility. Acknowledge you have a responsibility for what happened and are taking an active part in fixing it.

2. Control the pictures by offering flattering ones. Whatever the situation, make sure you have lots of good, positive pictures to support your contention that you are in an aberrant situation and these pictures are what’s normal.

3. Create a structure, a visible structure that lets people know you are on top of the situation and results will be forthcoming. Create an investigative force who then conducts studies, offers information, issues reports, place ads. Don’t wait for others to force you.

4. You have to not only do the right thing, but show the people you are doing the right thing – transparency. Be open, be available, and don’t use mushy mealy-mouthed language.

5. Tell the story first. Make sure the story has personal interest, has a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end.

6. Apologize. Even if you’re not in the wrong, issuing an apology, a good, real, solid apology that makes no bones about your part in the problem without making any excuses or placing blame elsewhere, will do a tremendous amount of good for you.

December 24, 2007

Weather

Filed under: Uncategorized — by The Numenous Way @ 9:05 pm
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The day has warmed up considerably since Saturday, when we were blanketed in snow. Now, the only snow left has turned to ice and lurks in the deep shadows.

The sun is shining brightly and it’s warm enough that I’ve left the door open so the critters can enjoy the sunbeams.

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