Let’s Talk About God

Anne Mason and Thea Mason –– — with special guest Drake Mason-Koehler

To move beyond the limited options of agnostic spirituality, atheism, or fundamentalist religion––we need to talk about it. And before we can talk about it, we need to think about it.

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason discuss––with new guest Drake Mason-Koehler.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                           00:01                Okay. Here we are with a new guest Drake Mason-Koehler, my nephew, first and foremost Thea’s son. He’s home on break and he’s going to join the discussion. We’ve been having chats, discussions as we always do about some of the subjects that we’ve been talking about. And today we’re going to talk about God. And we’ve had a few discussions about this already, so we’re going to try to kind of just hit a couple of the points and go from there. I have lamented to these guys that––I live up in the Bay area in California and I don’t think people talk enough about God. I think that God, discussions about God, is met kind of with derision and suspicion. There is an atheist tendency up here and an emphasis on secularism that I think is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Anne:                           01:10                And I say this as someone who has gone through myriad perspectives and explorations and examinations. I was not raised in any particular clear tradition really. And I’ve come to my own faith very experientially. And as anyone who is familiar with Anthroposophy––I’m a homeschooler who follows a Waldorf Anthroposophic curriculum and Drake was raised in the Waldorf schools, Thea teaches in the Waldorf schools––we understand that religion, from the Anthroposophic perspective, all religions are valid and are a manifestation and expression of the consciousness of the time, the evolution of humanity. And no religion is regarded as––even the ancient myths––they’re not regarded as fables or misunderstandings, but an understanding of our connection to our source at the time. So that being said you know, both Drake and Thea brought some interesting points up. Drake, can you talk a little about your experience being raised in Southern California?

Drake:                          02:37                Yeah. Well, and this is because we’ve spoken about this a couple of times now. Just recalling that when you, initially were talking about the atheism that you’ve run into up in the Bay area, just in your experience, my immediate sort of complement to that growing up in Southern California ––and although I went to a school where we learned old Testament myths or old Testament stories in third grade, along with all the Greek and Norse and other myths that were part of the curriculum––I still have grown up with so much agnosticism and not even just agnosticism, but spiritual tendencies in the adults around me and gradually in many of my peers as well. And not that I think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but when it comes to discussions about God, I think that that led me to not even really start thinking about God until just towards the end of high school. And more lately.

Anne:                           03:45                Can I interrupt you just so that you can make it clear? I think what you’re saying is when you, when you talk about this kind of agnostic spiritualism or spirituality, sorry, you’re referring to a kind of nebulous spirituality that doesn’t follow any, certainly any organized religion or firm tradition. Yeah?

Drake:                          04:11                I feel like I’ve run into a lot of that. And then also a lot of, “well, I just don’t know. And I’m also not really interested in having a discussion about what I don’t know or what I do know.” So it’s kind of maybe, I don’t know what the, what the split would look like in terms of people who are going, you know, “I’m spiritual. This is my belief which is kind of hard to put your finger on exactly what it is. But they might, you know, hold it very precious and that might be very good for them. But I think the emphasis of my point would be that there hasn’t really been much on either end of the spectrum. I haven’t known a lot of people who are very religious and I haven’t known a lot of people who are very clear cut in their atheism. It’s all been somewhere in between. And the majority of that in between has also seen an unwillingness to stop and talk about it or to think about it because I think the thinking about before the talking about it. So, yeah, that was, that’s kind of where I came into this discussion.

Thea:                            05:10                And that came after also you articulating that we grew up in the Midwest where there were a lot of very fundamental religions around us. And while that was around us, we didn’t grow up with that in our home. Ours was sort of a nondescript sense of God and faith, but not any clear delineated path within that I guess.

Anne:                           05:35                Yes. We were raised by liberal academics so who were as you point out, I’ll let you speak to this, but I think who were, as many people from that generation, turned off to the hypocrisy of the organized religion that they had grown up around or even with.

Thea:                            06:02                Like, like a lack of breathing within it. I think, you know, I mean, and that was mirrored in a lot of aspects of the culture, too. I mean, the religious aspect kind of, and the structure and strictures of life in this country. I mean, just thinking of the social changes that were occurring in the fifties, sixties, you know, so all of that was a reflection of all of it in a way, too. And so there was this pushing away from that hard and fast structure and form because of the many injustices that were seen and condoned by religious practices one way or another. And that’s throughout all of history.

Drake:                          06:47                I remember, Anne, yesterday you were talking a little bit about sort of pendulum swings, like going all the way to the other end of an extreme. So wherever you might grow up you might go the other way, like both of you guys growing up in the Midwest and then coming out to California where it’s a very different consciousness than what you grew up in when it comes to spirituality and God. And my follow up thought to that has been, well, what if you grow up where it’s all agnostic? What if you grow up where there’s no, you’re not at any extreme to swing from. Right? You don’t have that, like, trajectory to go look for. Right? ‘Cause I think, needless to say, we live in a world where, you know, if you’re so blessed that you have the opportunity to, to go to college or to go and work in our world you get to forge your own path and you’re talking about this kind of like forging your own religion or your own outlook on religion or spirituality, whatever that might be.

Anne:                           07:51                Okay. We had a little technical difficulty. So Drake, would you just start from, you were talking about, you know, for those of us who are blessed to forge our own path I mean blessed to go to college, to forge our own path, that allows us to…go ahead.

Drake:                          08:09                Well, I was thinking even just looking back at the beginning of this discussion, you said your approach to religion or spirituality has been very experiential, right? Like throughout your life, it’s changed or you’ve done work with it based on your own experiences and what you’ve read, who you’ve talked to and where you’ve been. And I think similar for you. So those are kind of like individual trajectories that you guys have had and you’ve been able to come out from your upbringing growing up in a more religious place, a different type of environment, and then sort of forge your own way. So it almost, it seems like that upbringing gave you a momentum, and I know it wasn’t like, you didn’t grow up like super strict Catholic or anything like that. Also people don’t have to escape it, like they don’t have to swing away from it, but it seems like when it comes to coming to your own understanding of something or your own beliefs where do you get that movement that would make you want to establish beliefs in the first place? Is it just life happening to you that makes you want to, “okay, I need to figure out, you know, what I believe is right and wrong? How I think about children, marriage, grief, like all these other things and scriptures and religion has a lot to say on that. And it’s not necessarily all you need to be followed, but there’s a lot of good in it too.

Thea:                            09:34                Yeah. Well I don’t know if my thought quite follows precisely. I mean it still is in there, but it gives me a picture of, you know, he was speaking about the pendulum, that swinging and you were talking about earlier the streams. And with that pendulum swing you have this momentum kind of like you’re shot out of something, you know, so you have this force carrying you one way or another. And then I was thinking that when there’s this sort of work that’s coming from your individual experiences, it’s a little bit more like picking up a shovel and digging, and you don’t want to be too far from the stream ’cause you still need the current if you’re trying to create a channel. But it just gave me the picture, ’cause today we went for a walk and it rained a lot last night. So this path was just flooded and there were so many streams flowing. And I’m just thinking that sometimes to forge a new stream, you know, you do have to pick up a shovel for a bit and then it can kind of be filled in and have some of that carrying from, not the pendulum, but just from the movement of the stream itself. So that you can kind of, I don’t know, it’s not quite there, but a picture that came with that.

Anne:                           10:51                Well so drawing both on our conversation from yesterday and what you just, you both just said. So we talked a little bit about the fact that like, for example, especially the last couple of generations in this country, given the nature of the economy and the world more and more often people leave the places they grew up in, leave the traditions, the families intermarry, live abroad, live on the other side of the country. Meet, mingle and marry people who have come from widely different backgrounds. And so one is exposed to many different streams and traditions. At the same time, like Drake brings up scripture and these traditions that have come up throughout humanity’s development, understanding and need to figure out ways, codes guidelines and guideposts, those are also valuable. And the flip side of us all moving away and finding new streams is, the downside is that we also sometimes lose and abandon that which came before us. So I think that we kind of concluded when we were talking yesterday that what we’re starting to realize is that there needs to be––so we’re, we’re entering the age of Aquarius. I think I brought up the fact that, you know, as I see it, each epoch is about 2000 years long. And so we’ve come to that end of our current form of Christianity––do we need, I mean, I’m talking about in the Western tradition because we’ve all grown up in the Western tradition, so that’s all I can really speak to, right? So is what we’re seeing around us is that indicating a need to create a new stream, a new path that perhaps for the first time in recent human history is informed by our individualism as equally, if not more than our group…What’s, what’s the word I’m looking for, Drake?

Drake:                          13:53                I don’t know. Like our need for community or something like that?

Anne:                           13:57                Well, you know, we need, we need community, right? But, well, Thea and I had done a talk a while back on claiming our authority and we emphasized the fact that––certainly for us, we see the need to we have lived and, and strived to, be our own authority, rather than look to the experts, rather than look to the doctors the lawyers, the teachers, the priests. Not that that means we reject what they have to offer, but I will put my authority above them all in my final decisions about anything. And I think that this, there is a lot of that, there is a lot of that impulse in people and they’re finding that groove in different ways. Maybe one of them is simply and embrace of atheism, because they are rejecting everything that came before them. Because they’re saying, no, that didn’t work. But perhaps what needs to happen is we need to find something that doesn’t then throw the baby out with the bath water. Because we are spiritual beans, which I will say again only for my own personal, my own experience, but I believe we are spiritual beings or we have a spiritual impulse, a spirituality and we do need to speak to that. And materialism, reductivist materialism, doesn’t answer that need in us.

Thea:                            15:48                Well it doesn’t hold the space for that mystery that is always present in some way. But I’d like to go back just a moment, ’cause I think there was something you said yesterday in our conversation that was really important to distinguish when we’re talking about this sort of age of coming into this individual sense of seeing. I want to find a better way to say it. It is reclaiming our authority or claiming our authority, but also really the honoring of our own seeing is part of that. But what you said yesterday, was there’s a difference between individualism that is just self-serving and sort of narcissistic, as opposed to a group of individuals coming together––I mean maybe you want to say it––as opposed to a group of people who are all thinking the same or don’t have their own responsibility of self quite there. But when everyone is an individual and their work has been done through themselves to come to where they are, there’s more power in that group of people working together towards a shared goal than there is in a group of people following someone with a somewhat shared goal.

Anne:                           17:13                So, basically that, you know, there’s a difference between a group of individuals bringing their own unique skills, talents, perspectives, experience to the table toward a, a shared goal––the evolution of humanity, let’s say that––versus a collective of group think that is following one idea and path. And so I think the way we concluded, and we want to wrap it up just to keep this short, but we want to keep this going, I think, this is a good start. I think what we determined perhaps is that there’s gotta be, there has to be another path now. And so, you know, there’s, there’s a path beyond just the choices of atheism, fundamental religion, nebulous, agnostic, spirituality. Something else maybe needs to emerge and be formed. And new language must be found for a new, experiential understanding of God, or our connection to source, whatever that is for you. And the way to do that is to start talking about it more.

Thea:                            18:28                Thinking about it.

Anne:                           18:29                Well exactly. Like Drake says, you have to first want to even think about it before you can want to start talking about it.

Thea:                            18:36                Well, and then that’s where the conversations come ’cause you have to show up, you have to show up for the––now I’m thinking of baseball––show up for the game. You know, you have to be able to stand at the plate and be like, yeah, let’s bring this discussion up. Let’s bring this topic.

Drake:                          18:50                Yeah, ’cause I was going to say, if you don’t––and it can be totally reasonable to not want to be thinking about these things at certain times. But if you’re not wanting to think about it and people start, you know, asking you questions, pointed questions about your beliefs or what you think and presenting you with what they think and all of that. It can feel like an attack or sort of like a barrage of something coming in at you. And if you haven’t even wanted to start thinking about it, I mean it’s going to feel weird. It feels like people are trying to get you to think like them. Which is I think why discussions about this stuff can be like…it’s so vulnerable. It’s so vulnerable for people to say what they believe or that they don’t know what they believe and they’re like, it feels like it’s a difficult thing to get past that before you say, I want to figure out something for myself, whatever that might be. Because when you were talking about materialists, I mean, I feel like, there’s so many different types of people and there’s so much out there in terms of what people have thought about these things. Like, I know there are ancient authors that I haven’t read yet that don’t believe in God, but have a system of morals and ways of thinking about things that is beautiful and can totally work for someone to read and think about and be inspired and not necessarily adopted as a sort of creed, but to feed into their own understanding of what their work in the world is. So it’s like, yeah, starting to think about it.

Thea:                            20:27                Yeah, and if this ties in just a little bit. Yesterday we had briefly spoken about this, which led to that reflection you had about the normalcy of leaving one’s, place of birth and upbringing. And that came after us speaking about Arjuna and his quest towards his seeing…

Anne:                           20:52                For anyone who doesn’t know what you’re referring to. Arjuna from the Mahabharata epic tale of ancient India, right. As Krishna’s talking to him too, right?

Drake:                          21:04                Yeah. He’s about to, if I recall correctly, I think he’s about to fight his own family, he’s about to fight, you know, half of his family members and he’s like, how, how am I supposed to reconcile myself to this? Then I was remembering from, I think it’s Matthew in the Bible where Jesus says that he’s coming to take, you know, son from father and daughter from mother or something along those lines.

Thea:                            21:30                So those pictures of having to let go of that which is familiar, to forge one’s own path with honor and truth and dignity. And that is, you know, there’s a part that’s necessary to throw off these things so you can see what’s sort of left standing. And I feel like maybe that’s what epoch we are stepping into now. It’s like, what, what’s left standing? What is there, something that we can really protect and nurture and grow for humanity from this point? And what is that relationship with God, source, a structure of morals.

Drake:                          22:12                Well also all these situations that we keep bringing up, it seems like there’s something to do with, when you run into like, contradictions, like very irreconcilable things like Arjuna having to fight his family and wanting to be a virtuous person. Those seem to be impossible to reconcile those two things. So it’s like, what does he do in that situation? And whether you want to do exactly what he does is beside the point, but just getting to see what other people do in these stories? And if that leads to conversation too, with other people like, “Oh, what did they do when they ran into a super sticky moral scenario? Where did they turn? How did they get through it in a way that they thought benefited themselves and others?

Thea:                            23:01                Where the seemingly obvious gentle, compassionate route is actually the cowardly, unhonorable or dishonorable route. Not to not have compassion. That’s not what I’m trying to say, but what seems to be a general kindness may not truly be a kindness.

Anne:                           23:20                Absolutely. And, and the only way to really kind of push through those kind of black and white choices, and push through to, to understand, embrace the complexity, but still take action, one has to examine and explore that. And I think what Drake has brought up to some degree speaks to the fact that we should not throw all of that out in forging our new path, but take that, benefit from everyone’s experience from history, humanity’s experience. Take it, examine it, discuss it, discard, try it, try something different. And then form something new. Correct?

Drake:                          24:17                Yeah. I mean, it just seems like we’re going to have to take action, no matter what. Right? We can’t just hide in our rooms forever. We’re going to have to go do things. And so it seems like it might help us make better decisions as opposed to just going, “I don’t know.” ‘Cause if you just say, “I don’t know,” you’re going to find yourself in situations where you have to do things, anyway. So, at least trying to know might…

Anne:                           24:48                Because you can sit in your room or you can sit in your community, and you can say it’s all good and you know, and decide to not make a decision toward judgment, which leads to action. But if you do that, the world is going to eventually exert its influence on you and you’re going to have to then react. So let’s get out in front of it. Let’s start talking about this more in a new way and find some new language and new concepts to examine and discuss and go from there.

Thea:                            25:31                And I would even just say maybe they’re not new concepts, right? But maybe we do need to find a new language so that those old concepts that are probably timeless and ever present just need to be understood and digested and reused in a way that we can understand now more easily.

Anne:                           25:54                Because truth is eternal, right? So truth is eternal, but our consciousness is ever changing. And so we need to develop some new understandings, I think, in order to incorporate those truths and most beautifully, powerfully, and positively manifest them going forward into this new age. Into the Age of the Fifth Sun. So let’s wrap this up. It’s getting too long, but let’s keep going. Okay? All right. Thanks you guys.

Thea:                            26:35                Thanks. Bye.

Anne:                           26:35                Let me stop recording. Bye.

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