20 February 2008


Dear Drummers,

A word has been floating around in my mind lately: biospiritual. It is a word used by some to define our planet, and by extension, the universe. The word affirms the interplay between the physical (“bio”) and ephemeral parts of existence.

For much of the west’s religious history the physical and spiritual have been split apart and set in opposition to one another. Religion has viewed the physical world as fallen, unclean, sinful, or merely of no real importance. As science and religion came into increasing conflict during the Enlightenment (1700’s onward) the devout in both camps tended to preach that you must choose between poles.

Science told us that must grow up, become rational and intelligent and put away the absurd superstitions of religion. As the enlightenment wit Voltaire said: “It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge.”

Extremist religion told us that it is a sign of deep faith to resist any science that conflicts with the Bible, and to twist as much science as possible to fit the Biblical world view. For example, some biblical people accept the existence of atoms, but say that it is clear that the atoms are held together by Christ’s power. They go on to say that the atomic elements themselves are cursed by God because of Adam’s sin. The evidence is in the rocks that decay and give off deadly radiation.

Both sides agreed that there is and should be a split between bio and spiritual, and all of us must choose the right side or perish. But also, classically, both sides agree that that the material world is meaningless. Bible-wavers pine for the rapture to get us off this cursed plain. Physicists, who now know exponentially more about the universe than even only a few years ago, say things like “The more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless” (Dr. Steven Weinberg).

So we come now to that word, biospiritual, which recombines perhaps the two greatest gifts of humankind, our ability to reason, analyze and deduce, and our ability to dream, to speak in metaphor and symbol, and to create art – our seemingly inborn need to revere what we cannot see, touch or comprehend.

And that word, biospiritual, helps us to re-member what has been torn apart in us by the fight between science and faith – a wound that has so damaged our world both outer and inner. It is a good word, a word that perhaps could only come around to us at this time in history, a word that we are ready for now.

And this is why I love the drum! Anyone who has spent more than a few moments with the drum knows that it reminds you that you are biospiritual that you are an amalgam of physical and spiritual – because the drum is clearly this. And so is everything you can see and cannot see. When we gather together this Friday, we will explore our biospirituality with rhythmic exuberance!


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