Last week I got an email saying that Newsday journalist Sylvia E. King-Cohen wanted to interview me for her regular Saturday feature, Asking The Clergy. I was happy to be interviewed and gave her a call. Turns out she wanted to include me in a panel of four religious leaders talking about reincarnation. Reincarnation, of course, doesn’t come up a lot around the Ethical Humanist ranch, but I was willing. The other clergy quoted were Joseph Bonomo, swami at the Hare Krishna temple in Freeport, Father Dimitrios Moralitis of the Greek Orthodox Church in Greenlawn and the Reverend Tom Goodhue of the Long Island Council of Churches.
Ms. King-Cohen is an engaging interviewer and accurately reported our conversation. Speaking as the Religious Director of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, here are my answers to her questions about Ethical Humanists and reincarnation.:
In the Humanist tradition, contrary to what some believe, folks are not necessarily atheists. What is important to understand is that humanist believe our most valuable relationships are with other people. You don’t have to look to a higher power to find the goodness of people. Goodness, which resides in each of us, is our natural state.
Humanists, by and large, are not so concerned with eternity or rewards in an afterlife, We concentrate on not leaving a lot of karma lying around. The one we are in now is the only life we know and are concerned about. Reincarnation really sits in the same category for us as eternity.
Personally, I’m not so excited about the concept of death, and, if my eyes were to blink open into another life, another chance, I would be delighted.
I would assume that the values you hold in this life would be the values you’d greet the next life with. Of course, there is nothing in my experience that indicates to me any sense of a past life. I respect those who say they do have that sense. I’m just not one of them.
It is impossible in a couple of paragraphs to adequately address complex historical religious concepts, but the article was a great opportunity to be part of a conversation and to get our name out there!