Alan Moore on worship and religion

Alan Moore talks to Stewart Lee about worshipping a 2nd Century snake god (and hand puppet), and what religion and magic mean to him.

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Some thoughtful responses

unitarian

I just wanted to highlight a couple of interesting comments friends have made about the blog:

tricky word that ‘belief’. also, consider magic a psychological technology and spirituality a practice not an ideological position… i’ve taken to saying “i entertain the notion that…”. i dropped ‘i believe’ years ago as nonsense.

I think of this stuff more as a practice than as anything having to do with belief. Like, if you practice mindfulness meditation a lot, certain things will happen (according to scientists you’re likely to get less stressed out, reduce inflammation, etc). Or if you practice other kinds of meditation you might have an ecstatic experience. And some people mash belief into that, but it doesn’t have to be so (see: “buddhism without beliefs,” bokononism, the agnostic experience of the numinous). I see the obsession with belief as the primary agent of spirituality as something we inherit from dime-store Christianity.

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What I Believe (Steve, writer and publisher)

Steve's window

Steve is a writer and publisher in his forties. He lives in New England with his two (male) partners in a polyamorous triad and is an ordained pagan priest.

1. What are your spiritual beliefs?

My spiritual belief is summed up in the phrase “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” Technically, I’m a polytheistic panentheist, meaning I believe in many divinities and that divinity is both immanent in creation as well as outside/apart from it.

I suppose you could say that I’m a “pagan agnostic” as well since, essentially, I believe that spiritual Mysteries are, by their very nature, unprovable. Therefore theories about them are all equally untrue. That does not mean the same thing as false, however. It just means that we cannot know, in a certain, objective sense, that one spiritual belief is correct and others are incorrect. I say: wonderful! That means they all get to be right—for someone, somewhere, at least.

My belief is that belief itself is something we choose—or choose not—to have. We ultimately determine its shape and feel, even if we’re just “tailoring” something “off the rack” to fit (or embarking on a process of self-change in order to fit into it).
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What I Believe (Jack, writer)

Jack's window

Jack lives in Christchurch, New Zealand and is a writer.

1. What are your spiritual beliefs?

Is this where I put myself in a box, where others will leave me when they read certain words, terms pre-loaded with all sorts of associations? I’ll keep it wide for a while, like I don’t want to dam the river before it leaves its source. My beliefs concern eternity and immortality, certainly.

I experience temporal life daily and at the age of 65, I am more and more aware of my mortality, the brevity of my tenure in this body. Yet I know that time is never fully understood, even as we experience its nature. I am working at being present to myself and to the world; at being in the moment and exploring silence in meditation, and I am not the best student.
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On doubt

The most dangerous capacity humans possess is the power to convince ourselves we’re in the right.

Most of what most people have believed throughout most of human history has been wrong. A great deal of what most people believe now is wrong. These are not difficult statements to swallow. But get your mind around this: some of your own beliefs are wrong. Bound to be. Which ones? Pick three things it would kill you to be mistaken about, and imagine for a moment that you’re flat-out wrong on all of them. What’s best for your children. The morality of the hardest choice you ever made. Whether God exists.

Someone out there disagrees with you on all these things. It might be me. Suppose it is. Suppose I’m right. What should I do about it?

From David Larsen’s review of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (from the NZ Listener a few years ago). It’s well worth the few minutes it will take you to read the whole thing.

What I believe (Dylan, cartoonist)

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Dylan is a cartoonist, writer and illustrator in his mid-forties. He lives in New Zealand with his wife and two teenage sons, a dog and a cat. He is the initiator of this blog.

1. What are your spiritual beliefs?

In short, I don’t have any. I’m an atheist. I believe there is no such thing as spirit or soul, no God or supernatural beings. Magic and religion are myths – stories people have (collectively) made up. The universe is not conscious or self-aware; it does not care what happens to us or even itself, because there’s no “it” to care about anything. The universe is simply a vast, complex system of matter and energy that’s driven by the laws of physics. All human values (good, evil, love, fate, beauty, etc) are our own subjective constructions (shaped by biology and culture); they have no objective worth or meaning. Consciousness is an illusion created by the working of our brains and nervous systems. The illusion ends when our bodies die. Eventually, all cultures, species and – ultimately – all of life, the planet and the universe itself will cease to exist. We will not care, because we will no longer exist either. This is neither sad nor meaningful. It simply is.
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