Earth Day and other observances, and community

A few weeks ago, an article in Time magazine discussed “The Case for Making Earth Day a Religious Holiday”. This prompted some rich online conversation at RNAnet, with several related themes. 

One thread looked at the purpose or focus of Earth Day, which, as it calls attention to the planet and natural ecosystems that sustain our lives and all forms of life, prompted the thought:  What better focus could there be as an annual holiday (holy day) for religious naturalists?  

A related discussion looked at an added plus in Earth Day celebrations. Since these have often involved local public gatherings, with food, music, talks, and informational booths where varied groups show the types of projects they are working toward, Earth Day has served as an occasion for people with varied perspectives, but a common interest, to gather, get to know one another, and find ways to work together. And, by gathering again the following year, and the next, and the next, it can serve a role, like Thanksgiving, in prompting families to regularly come together, and provide reason for ongoing contact that can help create and sustain a community.

These lines of conversation also spun off to some related topics. We considered how, in addition to Earth Day, natural cycles can also serve as points of religious naturalist observance: 

yearly solstices and equinoxes, 

monthly cycles of the moon, and 

daily sunrise and sunset. 

Many do this already with varied types of personal or group observance. Several articles and books have discussed approaches to this, including “Spinning in Place: A Secular Humanist Embraces the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year” by RNA member, Bart Everson.

Another line of discussion noted how, within RNA, a number of members also identify as Christian, Jewish, Humanist, UU, atheist, pagan, Pantheist, Gaian, and other orientations. Given this range of perspectives, “religious naturalist” might serve as an “umbrella“ term that conveys shared common ground, with personal focus perhaps aligning with some other groups as well. 

A common thread in all of this is finding a balance – where we each can have our own perspectives and do things in our own ways, and also have ways of joining together to enjoy and gain from things that, as a group, we all can share.

Todd Macalister