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From Confining to Spacious: Monocreedism vs. Lamplight



Craig Chalquist

 

Monocreedism is my term for a worldview in which monolithic unity dominates difference and diversity: one God, one dogma, one faith, one master race, one master gender, one ruling class, one nation, or one universal cause or substance behind everything. That all we know, that the universe itself, might well emanate from one primal energy or mystery is not inherently monolithic. Denying the importance of the many is.

 

Worldviews matter because they are the big stories that guide us through life. Who are we? What is our purpose? With whom do we belong? What is it all about? These are the sorts of basic questions our worldviews address.

 

Usually unthought and unspoken, the monocreedism worldview reaches back at least to the once-Fertile Crescent, where governing power hierarchies oversaw monocropping: single crops grown by themselves. Monocropping swelled into a mentality that assimilated people and resources. It still does.

 

The historical shift away from social collaboration to organizations led by rulers and priests (usually male) marks the rise of monocreedism. In early monotheism, other gods or divine powers exist, but one is singled out for worship. But at the emperor-convened Council of Nicaea of 325, where monotheism gives way to monocreedism, only one God can be worshipped, and only one creed believed in and obeyed.

 

Lamplight is a fictional religion appearing in my 2023 novel Soulmapper. Founded by Mariam Najjar, Lamplight does without creeds, clerics, holy books, or authorities claiming divine sanction. It is a religion of imagination, relationship, celebration, and play. Its story about the creation of an animate, sentient cosmos is just that: a story. Its ethics are inclusive and based on care and delight in difference. Its worldview overlaps with those called participatory, integral, pluralistic, and organic.

 

Lamplight is a modest example of enchantivism, which draws on imagination to envision new possibilities for how to live together on our troubled but still-beautiful planet. We can’t have just institutions, wise governance, or economic liberty until we imagine how first. Vivid imagining is not a push, but a lure; not a plan imposed from the top down, but one grown from the ground up.

 

Enchantivism works not through shaming, blaming, or force, but through inspiration, enthusiasm, and example. Instead of pushing, it beckons with visions spanning the gap between real and ideal. While learning from the wisdom of the past, enchantivism serves the new.

 

So far, enchantivism has been carried out in countless as-yet unconnected projects around the world. Nevertheless, enchantivism holds real potential for a participatory, pluralistic, and inspiring worldview.

 

Monocreedism

Lamplight (from Enchantivism)

Unity over diversity

Unity in diversity

Patriarchy and rigid gender roles

Egalitarianism with fluid gender roles

Literalism: one level of meaning

Pluralism: plurality of meanings

Absolute Truth

Relational truths and inspiring fictions

Power over: rulership

Power with: collaboration

Earth-destroying

Earth-appreciating

Emotion-disparaging

Emotion-enriching

Mental rigidity

Mental flexibility

Exclusivity

Inclusivity and plurality

Monoculture

Polyculture

Black-and-white binaries

Complexity and nuance

Seriousness and objectivity

Playfulness and participation

Authoritarian (whether openly or not)

Democratic

Ethics from externals like rules

Ethics from empathy and care

Obsession with certainty

Comfort with provisionality

Human nature seen as untrustworthy

Human nature seen as trustworthy

Control

Collaboration

Colonization

Conversation

Walls

Membranes

Legalism

Fairness

Fake equality

Real equity

The true or sacred is beyond experience

The true or sacred is around and within

Sorcery (propaganda, doctrine, legalese)

Reenchantment

 

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