>The Birth of Essentialism

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I had a wonderful experience recently. during a boring meeting at school, my mind started to wonder off. I was transported to a beautiful green location with a rushing waterfall and a trickling stream. It was some heavenly region- the stream was alive with intelligence and glistening with colour from the sun. A wise, kind angel was speaking to me, teaching me what to teach to you.

The first priority should be seeing that everyone has enough to eat and shelter over their heads. ‘Blessed are the Poor’ said Jesus- which to my mind says we should cherish and look after the poor, not scorn them as so many still do. The next step would be basic education and freedom from harm. After that would come higher education and spiritual education and so on- all prioritised according to the level of need. The world itself would of course be focusing enormous resources on helping the developing countries to at least have a decent level of stability and comfort. Such issues would be major issues, not side-issues.

He taught me that there is indeed a longing for more religion so as to give people meaning and a sense of purity in their lives- but as so often happens most of this was misdirected or even misguided. The large fundamentalist movements may seem dangerous but they stem from a real sense that something is wrong and our lifestyles should be corrected. But rather than fundamentalism, which bases itself on a return to being obedient to scriptures in a literal sense- why not move with the times but keep true to the essence of them? This could be called Essentialism- a movement which focuses first and foremost on what is most essential, prioritising in a good and decent manner. It also reads the essence of what is taught in the scriptures- loving one another, not getting jealous, making situations more peaceful- the feelings that the scriptures encourage us to nourish within ourselves. These feeling-values are more basic than the behavioural rules which mainly reinforce cultural identities these days, despite their religious underpinning.

It’s not so much about believing in God as in doing God’s will – a reluctance to reduce things to set doctrines that Jesus himself seems to demonstrate in his disputes with the literalistic and hence often sophistic Pharisees. Full of words but poor in sincerity, successful on the surface but poor when it came to the essential issues of life and hence unable to grasp the realities of Eternal Life.

This could in a sense be confused with socialism but it is friendly to religious feeling and also to the arts and accepting of the free market- above all, the main difference being that this comes from an expression of compassion rather than as a centralised source of politicised power, with all the problems that brings. Of course, it is to some extent socialistic, yet if a comparable form of organisation was wanted, it would be the charities.

But just imagine it- a whole world revolving around the teachings of Essentialism, reading religious texts not to find literal meanings, nor dark mystic secrets, but to find the spirit of doing the right thing at the right time and all being happier for it. This is the promise of Essentialism, as taught by a great angel, beside the glistening, laughing stream of life.

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