NOW AVAILABLE. My new book, 'The Apostate's Creed: Rethinking Christianity for the C21st'. A humanist-focused reworking of statements from the Apostles' Creed and a series of reflections inspired mainly by Luke's gospel.
Order from www.ypdbooks.com 170 pp. £10 + p/p.
'Honest and clear'. 'Really interesting'. 'Most enjoyable'
Copies for groups are also available from me at a 50% discount.
I will even send a sample copy FREE if you contact me with a postal address.
'Is it the gods who put this desire into our minds, or does every person's irresistible passion become their god'? (Virgil, CIst. BCE)
All religions have been created by us. So we can change them. Do you actively think about religious ideas, or just accept what you are told? Or did you give it all up years ago as nonsense? Here's something different. A humanist slant on the Christian story, because, in a sense, I cannot entirely escape it. It's my heritage. This isn't about assenting to certain doctrinal statements or to 'what the Bible says'. But it might be what any religion is actually supposed to be for: LIFE and how to live it. Behaving rationally is a far safer guide than doing what any 'faith' tells you to do.
All theology has a context. This is mine. I am not a 'Christian' as usually understood, just watching with interest from the sidelines. I still go to church now and then; to a multi-cultural inner city CofE with an inclusive and radical stance on community engagement. Its ministry to asylum-seekers challenges and encourages me. I can't affirm all of the normally-expected beliefs, but I am welcome anyway and still feel part of the community. Sometimes I just sit and reflect, or light a candle or share someone's joy or sadness.
I am also a 'cultural' Christian; I enjoy much of its art, architecture, music and literature. I am a life-long student of Christian history, though I'm not sure it has had all that much to do with the real Jesus! I might just be able to accept what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called 'religionless Christianity' but that's as far as I can go. I'm not interested in 'cheap grace' built around my own alleged 'salvation'. Or in a God who decides who gets it.
Such has been the impact of Christianity over the centuries that in one sense it is impossible for someone like me to avoid being part of it. (This seems to be the rather unsurprising point in Tom Holland's book 'Dominion'). But I see that as an entirely human process, not one with Divine sanction. It was largely a matter of luck and being in the right place at the right time. Obviously, with the enormous power that the Church gained came influence, but that doesn't mean that any of the beliefs and claims are necessarily true. Or unique to Christians.
I don't 'know' whether there is any reality beyond us. How can I? Everything we claim to know about a 'God' is mediated through the limits of our human perceptions. But, as Bonhoeffer concluded from his prison cell, I choose to live as if there is not, because that makes most sense in a rational world 'come of age' that has outgrown the old patriarchal and inteventionist ideas of a 'God'. Like all the other versions 'He' was just an idol of our own creation, reflecting its own time and place. All doctrines, scriptures and creeds have been devised by human minds, not handed down in some kind of 'revelation'. There is no pre-determined meaning to life. We have to make our own meanings and values. (See Richard Holloway's excellent new book, 'The stories we tell ourselves').
So I try to follow the 'Way' of Jesus because he seems to have affirmed essentially humanist values. But I don't share the C1st world-view which took a God for granted. Human creativity is capable of greatness on its own - like a Chopin Nocturne or Venice. A God is not required for beauty and love. Maybe this is no different from just hoping to live well and with a care for others, especially the oppressed and excluded. That may be enough. But is there still something here that can help us to be fully human, God or no God? Join me on the journey and see where it takes you!
I have now retired from my school attendance training role.
This website now reflects only my other interest: Can Christianity and its central figure mean anything to those who are not convinced that conventional ideas of 'God' and religion take us where we need to go as modern, thoughtful human beings?
On this page you'll find details of how to purchase my book 'The Apostate's Creed'.
NOT YOUR USUAL SERMON is a short humanist reflection on one of the following Sunday's Bible passages in the Common Lectionary.
Plus here you'll find a PowerPoint (with audio) on 'Who wrote the Bible'?; discussion notes on the classic book from the 1960s, ''Honest to God' and my own studies on the Psalms from 2011, 'Walking without God'. These are all free.
Friendly FEEDBACK is always very welcome. Please let me know if you have found my ideas interesting and helpful.
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