Writing Out of the Margins!

Speaking Philosophically ...



Owen Barfield
Theology in Science Fiction


My Religious Beliefs
God, Meaning & Morality
God, Ethics & Morality
Life Lessons
Respect for Life
On Determinism


The Dangers of Fundamentalism

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Creating a separate category for pages about "Philosophy" presents me with a problem. How do I define "philosophy", and what makes it different from everything else?

I have pages touching on spirituality and religion -- do those belong in here? I have many contemplative essays -- are they "philosophical"? Does "Theological Themes in Science Fiction" belong in the same category as the bibliography of Owen Barfield?

Thinking about this, I came up with my own description of the difference between spirituality, philosophy and religion.

  • Spirituality deals with what you feel about the world.
  • Philosophy deals with what you think about the world.
  • Religion deals with how you act toward the world.

I am using the most expansive definition of "world" -- the totality of existence.

These definitions help me to organize these pages, and I hope that you will appreciate that even if you don't approve the definitions.

I will index pages here that deal with all three -- spirituality, philosophy, and religion -- because they do relate to each other and overlap. Feeling, thought and action are all necessary, dealing with any subject. I will try to list them indicating their major emphasis.

"Thinking about" the world -- totality, existence -- or about any subject in a manner that qualifies as "philosophy" means, to me, a more rigorous type of "thinking" than considering whether to have the fish and chips or the veggie reuben for lunch at the Crocodile. Similarly, "spirituality" isn't the fondness I feel for a puppy, or even the pleasurable glow I get from eating chocolate. It is decisions of meaning, rightness, and love that go deeper than rational justification; it is transcendence that is greater than pride in knowing what transcendence is.

"Religion" has a bad rap in circles that prefer to be called "spiritual" than "religious." But in my opinion, "being spiritual" is as meaningless as "being Christian" unless you put it into action. That includes relating to other individuals, and to a community. It means developing the morality that holds a society together as well as the spiritual ethics that raise our sights higher than our own society. When you move from a transcendent feeling of unqualified love for all life to allying with others who feel that way in order to promote social and ecological justice, you have moved into the realm of religion. You've also begun to find out that the practice is harder than it seemed while you were meditating. Maybe that experience will make you more tolerant of Christians you have condemned as hypocrites because they "don't practice what they preach"?