The term observance has several meanings. As to our denominational doctrine it has two meanings: a fundamentalist besides a symbolist one. The fundamentalist meaning is that of act or instance of obeying, or conforming one's action or practise to, a rule. In this sense every adherent of the DNI has simply to observe three rules: the veridicalist principle of truth, the neutralist principle of relevance and the relevantist principle of neutrality. The symbolist meaning of observance, on the other hand, is customary practise or ceremony or act or instance of following a custom, of performing certain institutionalized actions or ceremonies, or of celebrating or solemnizing after a customary form. The tradition, custom or ceremony in this definition do not refer to a social or cultural norm of following a fundamental principle in general but to more specific systems of social or cultural norms. To the extent that such a system is symbolic, the performance of a traditional ceremony or action is not even a specific way of observing a fundamental rule in a direct sense. If contributing to fundamental values at all, symbolist observances only have such an effect indirectly.

When speaking of "denominational observances" in this book, we will refer to symbolic observances, such as the celebration of denominational feast-days and the solemnization of one's communion with nature and with other people. In our denominational doctrine these observances can be clearly distinguished from the fundamental ones, something that is often impossible with respect to a religious observance. Thus, when the purport of a religious feast is not just the commemoration of a certain event but the honoring of a particular deity, the observance of the rule to periodically honor that deity may be a fundamental, intrinsic duty in the religion concerned. The neutral-inclusivist position with regard to symbolic observances is that they must not, on the whole, promote unneutralism, exclusivism, supernaturalism or authoritarianism. Preferably they should contribute to the advancement of the Ananormative ideals to a noticeable degree, at least by enhancing the influence of the Norm itself.

Some early readers of this Model might find the attempt to introduce 'new traditions' self-contradictory, but the contradiction at issue is then merely one in terms. For what are introduced here are proposals for what symbolists should or can observe, not a prediction of what they will observe. It is only after neutralists have indeed observed one or more of these proposals on a certain scale and for a certain time that one can rightfully speak of "a tradition" or "custom". That, however, does not affect the coherence and the value of the original proposal.

Given that a symbolist proposal (whether it has to do with denominational observances or other forms of symbolism) is coherent and valuable, it may not yet be accepted in the course of time, because other, comparable suggestions may be made at a later moment which are also coherent and more valuable. This does not render the original proposal unacceptable, only unaccepted. Since the DNI's denominational symbolism is optional, nonacceptance is in itself nothing to be concerned about (providing that the nonacceptance of neutral-inclusivist symbols does not go with the acceptance or perpetuation of exclusivist or other incompatible symbols). The sole thing to be concerned about is that alternative proposals which are accepted, and which will become traditional in the future, are as good or better.

The kind of denominational observance which will be elaborated most in this chapter is the observance of suprapersonal, special days. We will treat of this form of nonfundamental symbolism in the next division. Suprapersonal special days must be distinguished from personal special days like the day someone is cremated or buried. A ceremony which can be held on such a day will be discussed in the last section of this division. In the two preceding sections we will first consider states of thought, nonthought and thoughtful action which are in a symbolic way 'deeper' than usual, or which are in a symbolic way 'closer' than usual to other living or existing beings, or to living beings that have died.

©MVVM, 41-58 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Symbols
Denominational Observances
Forms of Action and Nonaction, Thought and Nonthought