Mike, you have been on a holy roll in 2012. Your essay is provocative and evocative and substantive. Your love shines through! http://www.mikemorrell.org/2012/02/the-problem-with-pietism-why-nondualmystics-and-awestruck-atheists-get-it-right/#comment-4446
re: PIETISM - The affective aspect of religion is not a problem in and of itself. Neither is the euphoria of first fervor. Pietism, which is a problem, results from an overemphasis on both the kataphatic and affective. At the same time, it is no more insidious than rationalism (an overemphasis on the kataphatic and speculative), quietism (an overemphasis on the apophatic and affective) or encratism (an overemphasis on the apophatic and speculative).
Certainly, in the same way that first fervor and first naïveté have their rightful place in formative spirituality, in some sense, an a-theo-logical moment will always be indispensable for any who would hope to enjoy the second naïveté, who would hope to venture beyond the exoteric to the esoteric, from the literal to the mythical to the mystical?
re: MIRACLES and signs & wonders & such - From a nondual perspective, we can adopt a stance that eschews the distinction between natural and supernatural (i.e. it's ALL supernatural). Further, we can recognize that all human valuerealizations present in degrees (e.g. varying in how much we cooperate as created co-creators with the Spirit's promptings). And, we can still allow for miracles contra Hume because our emergentist perspective employs a modal ontology wherein the necessary has been replaced by the probable, which means that, even within the constraints of the universe's initial, boundary and limit conditions, reality remains open not only epistemologically but probably also ontologically (extraordinary events can and do happen). To a priori rule them out requires us to prove too much.
re: A/THEISMs - To live a profoundly upright and moral life, to realize truth, beauty and goodness in abundance, to love and be loved deeply, one should have no need of such hypotheses as address primal realities and ultimate concerns?
Such values require no apologetic, qualification, justification or defense, only our 1
embrace - "just because"?
At the same time, most people do provisionally close and live as if this or that hypothesis is indeed the case? There are many such competing hypotheses (onto-theological, theo-ontological, creedal, atheological & more), which are often held informally, inchoately and even subconsciously?
And, with no lack of epistemic virtue, many of these competing hypotheses can coexist as live options, even as one contradicts the next?
Perhaps most embrace this or that existential disjunctive, which means "living as if," aspiring to realize life's values in superabundance, hoping to sojourn more swiftly and with less hindrance along life's way, perhaps seeking ever sweeter consolations so as to gain the strength to lavish ever deeper compassion?
If so, it will be their compassion - their beauty, their goodness, their love - that will draw us, not the cleverness of their metaphysics, not the intuitive appeal of their apologetics, for the only thing those rational accounts can hope to establish (because, even if necessary, they're still not sufficient) is a mere equiplausibility between what can otherwise be wildly disparate meta-interpretations of reality?
In a nutshell, reality remains consistent with quite a few different metatautologies and it is really hard at this stage of humankind's journey to adjudicate between them all. To say which is the most taut, has the best fit, whether empirically, logically, rationally, morally, pragmatically or relationally, is to say more than we can possibly know. Those are just NOT the criteria available for those who wish to characterize this versus that account as "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and those who employ such apologetics are telling untellable stories.
For me, the Gospel of Jesus is, indeed, the greatest story I've ever heard because of its performative, not informative, significance and because I've been quite enamored with many of its performers, just because.