Dear Members of Religious Naturalist Association,
What we three officers (Todd, Michael and I) think of ourselves as doing is trying to figure out what we ought to be doing. At first we spent some time on recruitment of new members, and we’ll do that again later, but right now we are enjoying seeing new members find us while we think about programs you may find interesting. (By the way, we are up to 246 members now, spread over 42 States and 16 countries, and we are confident there are thousands of us out there when we have time to find them – in the meantime please send your friends and associates our way. We’re fully aware that “spreading the word” is not for everyone; some find it awkward, or prefer to keep these things to themselves. But if some of you were able to direct, say, one person per month to the http://religious-naturalist-association.org site, that would make for the kind of steady long-term expansion we’re hoping for.)
The process of looking at options and activities for RNA has a trial and error component, and naturally it includes enhancements to the website. We’ve added some new links to things we think you’ll want to know about, including upcoming events – so go to the website at least once a month to see what’s happening. And of course, send your friends there.
Additionally, we are also tinkering with various “working groups,” and I encourage you to consider joining one of them. Our most successful group so far is the Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/323349644530093/), which we highlighted last newsletter, but there are others either started or on the drawing board (see below). The Facebook Group has not only allowed us to share personal opinions and get to know one another better, but it allows for the posting of links that are VERY interesting to religious naturalists. One good example features Bertrand Russell’s ideas (http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/02/03/bertrand-russell-immortality-good-life/), and the Facebook discussion is also exciting because it showcases interesting things our own members are doing. So, if you know of links that think may be of interest to RNA members, post them at Facebook or let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So now I want to turn to a major goal that we talk about a LOT, and that is the need for developing leaders to work on some of the projects we need to develop further. I can assure you that our 246 members include some awesome people with awesome experiences and abilities, but of course that means you are also busy, and may or may not have the time to give to RNA projects. However, for RNA to be active and able to share the types of talents group members have, it is crucial for at least some of you to find a project you want to work on. If you already let us know that when you joined, please remind us, since day-to-day challenges sometimes keep us from picking up on important clues when you join.
So what sorts of projects am I talking about? The ones we’ve talked about are myriad, and in some cases we’ve overtly decided to put them off until later. Usually we find ourselves saying “that would be a good idea, IF we find a leader or co-leaders to put it together.” Here are some of the ideas we are currently considering, with some notes to let you know our current thinking; in future newsletters we’ll talk about other possibilities.
- “Top Ten” groups. The idea here is that, for a number of topics related to religious naturalism, we could provide resources that would be available to anyone interested. This could include pages on the website with a list of “top ten” resources for clergy or philosophy professors, or poems with RN themes, or music, or books, or whatever.
- An additional listserv conversation besides Facebook. Some of our members just don’t like Facebook, and we are thinking we need one (or more) alternatives, perhaps focused on specific subjects like music, clergy interests, or religious naturalist ceremony. Those listserv discussions could also lead to website buildout pages.
- At least one “real world” project that we could support – some type of activity, such as encouraging explorations of nature (maybe including support for nature camps for children) that members could get enthusiastic about. We would love to hear any ideas you have.
Sorry for the length of the newsletter, but there are so many ideas, so little time . . .
Ursula Goodenough, President
Religious Naturalist Association