Sharing Circle: Essence of the Divine

sharing-circle

On Wednesday, February 22, 2017, the start of the newest incarnation of Sharing Circle will commence. Sharing Circle has been a tradition in the Acadiana area since 1997. However, since August of 2016, Sharing Circle has been on hiatus due to lack of attendance. Acadiana Spiritual Association has made the decision to bring it back in a more interactive, less formal form. Join us at 6:30 p.m. at the main library downtown Lafayette and share with us your unique and distinct beliefs.

If it’s your first time, schedule a FREE tarot card reading session with one of our professional tarot readers on Thursday night.

Historically, Sharing Circle has been a monthly symposium on the anthropological, sociological, psychological, and philosophical study of specific topics in various tribal/indigenous, classical polythiestic, neopagan, and intrapersonal spiritualities. Originally, Sharing Circle covered specific topics in specific religions with a presenter, akin to a workshop. Today, Sharing Circle is much more discussion based. Participants focus on one question per gathering and share their experiences and perspectives with others. The experience is both challenging and informational. Many participants state that they are asked to evaluate their beliefs logically and to entertain ideas you may not have considered before.

February’s topic is “Essence of the Divine.” In other words, what is that which we call the divine? Do you call it God? Or, do you have many gods?

Various God Forms

What is Monotheism?

The term monotheism comes from the Greek monos, which means one, and theos, which means god. Thus, monotheism is the belief in the existence of a single god. Monotheism is typically contrasted with polytheism, which is a belief in many gods, and atheism, which is an absence of any belief in any gods.

What is Deism?

Deism is actually a form of monotheism, but it remains distinct enough in character and development to justify discussing separately. In addition to adopting general monotheism, deists also adopt the belief that the single existing god is personal in nature and transcendent from the created universe. However, they reject the belief, common among monotheists in the West, that this this god is immanent, which is to say presently active in the created universe.

What are Henotheism and Monolatry?

Henotheism is based upon the Greek roots heis or henos, which means one, and theos which means god. It’s not a synonym for monotheism, despite the fact that it has the same etymological meaning. The word monolatry is based upon the Greek roots monos, which means one and latreia, which means service or religious worship. It appears to have been first used by Julius Wellhausen to described a type of polytheism in which just a single god is worshipped, even though other gods are accepted as existing somewhere out there.

What is Polytheism?

The term polytheism is based on the Greek roots poly, which means many, and theos, which means god. Thus, the term polytheism is used where several gods are acknowledged and/or worshipped. Throughout the course of human history, polytheistic religions of one sort or another have been the dominant majority.

What is Pantheism?

The word pantheism is built from the Greek roots pan, which means all, and theos, which mens god; thus, pantheism is either a belief that the universe is God and worthy of worship, or that God is the sum total of all there is and that the combined substances, forces, and natural laws which we see around us are manifestations of God.

What is Panentheism?

The word panentheism is Greek for “all-in-God,” pan-en-theos. A panentheistic belief system posits the existence of a god that interpenetrates every part of nature, but which is nevertheless fully distinct from nature. This god is therefore part of nature, but at the same time still retains an independent identity.

What is Impersonal Idealism?

In the philosophy of Impersonal Idealism, universal ideals are identified with the concept of a god. One of this philosophy’s spokesmen, Edward Gleason Spaulding, explained his philosophy thus: “God is the totality of values, both existent and subsistent and of those agencies and efficiencies with which these values are identical.”

Transcendence versus Imminence

In religion, transcendence refers to the aspect of a god’s nature and power which is wholly independent of the material universe, beyond all physical laws. This is contrasted with immanence, where a god is said to be fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways. In religious experience transcendence is a state of being that has overcome the limitations of physical existence and by some definitions has also become independent of it. This is typically manifested in prayer, séance, meditation, psychedelics and paranormal “visions”.

It is affirmed in various religious traditions’ concept of the divine, which contrasts with the notion of a god (or, the Absolute) that exists exclusively in the physical order (immanentism), or indistinguishable from it (pantheism). Transcendence can be attributed to the divine not only in its being, but also in its knowledge. Thus, a god may transcend both the universe and knowledge (is beyond the grasp of the human mind).
Although transcendence is defined as the opposite of immanence, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Some theologians and metaphysicians of various religious traditions affirm that a god is both within and beyond the universe (panentheism); in it, but not of it; simultaneously pervading it and surpassing it.

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