The impulses that guide religious and spiritual traditions are like words written under the rocks, over which course the rapids of our lives. This image is lifted from the book, A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, wherein the narrator-fisherman employs a colloquial adage in order to press wisdom into the narrows of a parable.
And parables, like all enduring tales that fortify our lives with meaning, are intended to be shaped and crafted, heard and experienced, reformed and reconfigured, and reclaimed and retold by and within the community. Parables belong to all of us. These impulses are essential to our lives. Even when we no longer glimpse deep waters, we still unconsciously yearn for their undercurrent against our calves, to feel the undeniable vitality of their cold upon our faces, and to be restored by their irrepressible sense of direction around, by and even through us.
Sometimes we experience these waters in a religious service that offers a sense of eternity, or within the sinewy spiritual pathways and culturally specific exhortations to life, or in a good book, or in music, or in food, or in silence, and more. We also recognize how the impulses that inform religion are daily evident in our individual responses to suffering, in which we experience pain, refuse the too easy symmetry of cosmic answers, and yet continue to search ancient floors of mystery for depth and illumination. These deep impulses await the inner mystic blinking back at each of us from the mirror.
We are no strangers to the challenges of suffering, or to our existential pain and disappointment when we mistake a single rivulet for a deep wellspring. This too is a shared human rite of passage, which is why parables about personal transformation remind us that we are more than the sum total of both love and loss, or hunger and satiation. There is something both transitory and essential to all of this life-stuff that the original architects of religious and spiritual traditions hoped we would glimpse. And today, in a peculiar age where systemic cruelties are dismissed as normative, we have to be vigilant in not meeting the pains of others with an admissive shrug for paying rent to life. Vigilance can make us feel tired in our bones, but it does lead us forward to do the next right thing.
These were some of the thoughts that were evident to the group of professionals and friends, who first crafted a resource in the fall of 2017 as A Religious Response to Violence. Web designers, journalists, students, podcasters, educators, and more, determined to pay attention to the impulses I’m discussing here. I identified this process further In The Interfaith Observer’s December, 2018 edition, titled Bridging the Chasm of the Heart
What we call Religica is a place and an idea that belongs to all of us, where a post-cynical approach to the impulses that are under each religious and spiritual tradition, meant we would: Ask deeper questions about the search for meaning in daily life, place the human voice in front of institutions, draft blogs that invite new shoots of growth and buds of life, and seek wisdom in a series of video perspectives that we hope stir insight and courage.
Amid all the values that shape our lives we felt that sustained insight and resilient courage are essential to our shared future. What prevailed in our planning is this: Too many people feel powerless today. And, it is often in the rocky straits of powerlessness that our hearts are opened to hear the river again, its impulses bubbling and coursing, and calling us to the essential hopes that all parables reveal in us – if we will lean in, and listen anew.
Religica is a new beginning dedicated to listening to the impulses, to the river, in each of us. It is a start aimed at showing us that we belong deeply in essential ways to our own lives, to each other, and to the world. And, it is a post-cynical approach to an honest conversation between friends and family; this means that cynicism and its dystopian allies that are so entrenched in our global moment must themselves be transcended as the last vestiges of modern hubris, if we are to have a better future.
We are building plans in the months ahead, and this is where I’d like to make a suggestion. Your ideas, impassioned and insightful blogs and podcasts, and contributions to the Seeking Wisdom Series on this site, are all welcome.
Religica belongs to all of us, and we would like to hear from you. Contribute a blog by writing our Assistant Editor Stella Won Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, sign up for our newsletter. And feel free to write to me with your suggestions at Michael@religica.org.
Please join us in the time ahead. I promise that Religica has you and the communities you come from, in mind and heart. We’ll plan for this unfolding future ahead. Here’s to a new beginning.
With every good wish, I am
Michael Reid Trice Ph.D
Co-Founder and Co-Creator
Dr. Michael Reid Trice is a dad, husband, friend and colleague. He spends as much time as he can with his family. He has published and presented nationally and internationally in the field of religion for a good long while. He serves on numerous boards, is currently Secretary of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and is an Associate Professor in the glorious Pacific Northwest.