Thursday, February 17, 2011

Forum for Free Thinkers

I hosted a wonderful group of folks at my house last week. It's a group called the Arkadelphia Forum for Free Thinkers. It was only our second meeting but we grew by 200% after our first!

The point of getting this together, ala a French salon, was to bring a wide open variety of thinkers to the table to explore our beliefs on any number of issues. This meeting centered on how we feel about faith/religion/spirituality. I wanted to discover our thoughts on faith, or lack therof, in a non-church environment. I consider myself a student of all religions but a member of none, and I knew there were others in my community who think likewise. I miss the chance to commune with others about the big questions in life: why are we here, what connects us, what are we afraid of, is there a better way out there, etc. Church on Sunday used to be that community but since I no longer buy what the church is selling, I want another venue for that communion with others.

I did not have any real guidelines for our meeting. We brought wine and snacks and visited for a while, but then we went around the table and each shared our faith history: what faith we were raised in and where we are now and why we have splintered from our birth religion. We had all types at the table....atheists, Catholics, Baptists, secular humanists and people who would rather not be classified. The discussion tended toward where religion has failed us, but some lifted up the parts of religion that still resonate to this day. We all have a religion imprint on our brains; it's faded almost altogether for some, and what's left in its place is what I wanted to find out.

The Forum was a great success. We won't always talk about faith for sure, as there are other things that interest Free Thinkers that merit discussion too. But personal faith fascinates me, and I could listen (and blog!) about it for years.

I know the Forum had an impact and here's how: the church-going Baptist who came to the meeting just stopped by my house with a DVD of this week's sermon from his church. He knew I am keenly interested in learning about the different ways we worship, and he thought I would like to see it. I was really touched by this gesture. It meant that I got him thinking. It meant that he heard the voices at the Forum and went back more resolved in his own faith, enough so that he wanted to share what he believes with me. That is EXACTLY what I am looking for from the Forum. Learn and listen, and then make a decision about what you believe from a more informed position. He seconded my belief that you cannot hold your own belief with any tenacity unless you know what other people think too. He said if we just all got together and thought alike and talked alike and prayed alike, what a boring world that would be. He's great proof that a staunch Baptist can be devout and quite open minded at the same time.

So the fact that the Forum stayed in his mind long enough to travel to my house and give me a DVD was a compliment indeed.

We'll meet again at our house in March in Arkadelphia. If you would like to be included post your email address on this blog (or email me directly at and I will send you an invitation. Bring a beverage and an open mind.

Brimming with pride at having started a discussion that matters,


1 comment:

  1. I'm sending positive thoughts and energy your way for continued success!


God, to have these guys in a room together again....