me as mystical liberal and master of nealism

ONCE UPON A TIME, I was a member of a casual coffee klatch—is there any other kind of klatch, because the two words seem to be conjoined Siamesically?—that met every Saturday morning at the Crossroads Shopping Center in Bellevue, Washington, and chatted. The group basically revolved around Lynn, Don, and myself—primarily because we were always there and we were somewhat unstoppable once we got going. 1

It was a genderically mixed group and so topics as diverse as relationships, conspiracies, dating, dining, and especially the two big non-no’s, politics and religion (especially politics and religion), were covered regular. Hell’s Belles, we even talked some sports—especially when the Mariners, Seahawks, or Sonics were winning, which is the only time casual observers discuss sports. (And by East Coast standards, most West Coast sports fans are casual.) 2

(Unless it was baseball, upon which I can go on endlessly, so the topic tended to be sidestepped. And even then I constantly used baseball metaphorically to explain other topics; it’s amazing how useful the game is in that respect.) 3



If my memory is serving me well here, I recall Free Inquiry, a secular humanist magazine available on newsstands, regularly running a list of 35 beliefs or practices that define a secular humanist. I was in accord with #2 through 35 but not with their #1 requirement: atheism.

Dialectical materialism never dies

Among the five regulars, Don was the closest to a dialectical materialist that we had, the definition of which is “the Marxist theory that maintains the material basis of a reality constantly changing in a dialectical process, and the priority of matter over mind.” (Merriam-Webster)

Don was more the dialectic (“a method of examining and discussing opposing ideas in order to find the truth”) than Marxist, although most reasonable forms of socialism—especially those that could both coöperate with and temper the ravaging tendencies of capitalism—were certainly topics of conversation.

I am rather skeptical by nature and choice, skeptical being “an attitude of doubting the truth of something, such as a claim or statement.” I am also attracted to similar forms of beneficial socialism—as are almost all human beings who work for a living, although people are not as approving of such socialist concepts as welfare as corporations. 

I am also a borderline secular humanist but nonetheless was often at loggerheads with Don about a variety of life’s issues.  My experiences with those aspects of life not broached by science made the rejection of the unquestioned acceptance of materialism all but automatic. 4

So it was that while I was the one member of the klatch that most often agreed with Donnem and backed him up in arguments with others, I was the one most likely to disagree and argue with him on fundamental issues of the human life experience. For my having what he considered to be a massive case of philosophical cognitive dissonance, he dubbed me a “mystical liberal.”

He meant the term to be humorously condescending—any dialectical, materialistic, atheistic person would only ever use mystical in such a manner—but I was immediately taken by the term and have used it to describe myself and my set of beliefs as mystical liberal since! 5

I haven’t a clue as to what a practicing mystical liberal (ML?) would claim to believe, but I invite anyone who thinks they might be one to claim the mantle and come out of the ML closet today!



I refer the reader to Stephen Jay Gould’s book Rocks Of Ages (1999) and his concept of “Non-Overlapping Magisteria,” which explain how science and religion can co-exist peacefully as each keeps its nose out of the other’s business.

What about the politics?

Oh, yeah: that! The only thing that scares me more than the 45 Democrats  in Congress who voted for H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, are the 230 Rep*blicans who voted for it. In fact, the elected members of the GOP frighten me so much that I can’t even spell their name out any more, hence the asterisk (*) in the middle of their name on all my sites.

The rightwing assault on America is a very real and very growing threat, and one that most people who vote for Rep*blicans either don’t see or won’t acknowledge. So, if you are one of these folks, keep two things in mind: my barbs are usually pointed at either rightwing (I rarely use the term conservative, as its meaning has been usurped by the righties) leaders, both elected officials and media commentators.

My ideal ticket for the 2016 Presidential election would be Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren with Dennis Kucinich tagging along to become the first American Secretary of Peace.Nothing close to this will happen on the DNL ticket and I ain’t holding myb breath expecting an independent run at the White House . . . 


HEADER IMAGE: The wonderful caricature of Marx giving the world the peace sign is by German artist Braldt Bralds.

Finally, this article “Masters and Mistresses of Mysticism Part 1 (Me As Mystical Liberal” will be followed by a second, sillier article that addresses mysticism versus misticism. (Don’t look it up: I coined it just now. . .)





1   The Crossroads Shopping Center was owned by a gent who took umbrage at anyone referring to his place as a ‘mall,’ despite it being a mall in every way except that at one time most of the stores were independently owned. It was not a cookie-cutter mall with the same chain-stores in the same location as almost every other mall in America. It actually had some soul to it at one time.

Then, as the rent and CAM charges escalated year after year, the small mom-and-pop shops moved out and the faceless corporate facades moved in. Nonetheless, it remains a social hub for folks of Bellevue who too uncool to make the real mall scene at downtown Bellevue Square . . .

2   Yeah, I am playing with words today: Siamesically and genderically are coined for this piece and should probably not be bandied about without a considerable willingness to strut one’s aplombness.

3   “I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us—the Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology.


You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring—which makes it like sex. There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Makin’ love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I’d never sleep with a player hitting under .250, unless he had a lot of RBIs or was a great glove man up the middle.

You see, there’s a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone, I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him. And the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. Of course, a guy’ll listen to anything if he thinks it’s foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe – and pretty.

Of course, what I give them lasts a lifetime. What they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade, but bad trades are part of baseball. Now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake! It’s a long season, and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried them all, I really have. And the only church that truly feeds the soul day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.” (Annie Savoy)

4   My first psychedelic experience was a classic psychedelic experience, a ‘level four’ experience as described by Robert E. L. Masters and Jean Houston in their 1968 book Psychedlic Art.

5   And those beliefs, uncodified as they may be, are nonetheless taught the world over by my acolytes under the umbrella term nealism (with a small ‘n’—no room for unnecessary ego here).




5 Replies to “me as mystical liberal and master of nealism”

  1. Apropos of not much, but I have to fit it in somewhere: My son over the phone said recently, “Dad, you’re a non sequiturist,” then added, “… if there IS such a word.”– Said I, “There is now.”

    (Semi-timely trivia is SO much cheerier than noting right out loud that Benjamin Netanyahu got re-elected for a fourth term.)

    1. For my readers, a statement made by Ken to me in a telephone conversation was the inspiration for my addressing mysticism. This will be made manifest in the second part of this article.

  2. My friend Mark DeCoursey had some issues attempting to post a comment here. I had been using Disqus for running my Comment section, but as that service kept asking me—the bloody site operator and moderator!—to log in to reply on my own sites! So I dumped it.

    I then opted for the Jetpack Comments plugin, but Mark wasn’t able to breach that one either. So now I am back to the default Comments with WordPress and Ken made it through!

    So I am going to post Mark’s comment next in its own comment box and credit him there. I want the comment on this page as it is clever and rather lovely . . .

  3. FROM MARK DeCOURSEY: “The historical parade of Rousseau, Jefferson, Voltaire, Marx, and their successors march off into the cold gray fog of atheism. But from off to the side, the Mystical Liberal stands and watches. For somewhere in that fog with nets and tridents lurk the specters of BF Skinner, for whom freedom and dignity were illusions, and Vladimir Stalin, for whom freedom was heresy. And into that cold gray night, the Mystical Liberal goes not.

    For the Mystical Liberal believes that ‘That which is proved is true,’ but objects to the doctrine that ‘That is which is not proved is false.’ For it seems to the Mystical Liberal that one small part of history’s liberalism has been left behind, a part that defied the popes, that braved the inquisitors, and teased dear secrets from the earth. And that small seed, that sweet small voice, speaks yet to the Mystical Liberal, and it says, ‘Greater truths may yet be found’.”

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