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'
Why not invite me to a Zoom group to discuss it? Copies for groups are available from me at a 50% discount. I will even send a sample copy FREE if you contact me with a postal address.
Let's have a grown-up conversation about a 'God'. All theology has a context. This is mine: the C21st!
All religions have been created by us. So we can change them in the light of what we now know that we didn't know before. 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.
I am not a 'Christian' as usually understood, just watching with interest from the sidelines. I do still go to church now and then; to a very diverse inner city CofE with an inclusive and radical stance on community engagement. Its care for asylum-seekers and the vulnerable challenges and encourages me. I can't affirm most of the normally-expected beliefs, but I am welcome anyway and still feel part of the family. Like an embarassing uncle at Christmas! Sometimes I just sit and reflect during the service, or light a candle or share someone's joy or sadness. I'm not interested in 'cheap grace' built around my own alleged 'salvation'. Or in a God we have created who decides who gets it and who doesn't.
I am also a 'cultural' Christian; I enjoy exploring much of its history, art, architecture, music and literature, and I'm always very happy to talk about it! But buildings are increasingly not needed and paid clergy are increasingly unaffordable. That is all just so C18th! What matters most? The preservation of the past or being a community that actually helps us to live well as human beings? Outside places of genuine beauty and with an aesthetic quality that people actually want to go to, perhaps 'church' should be in village halls, community centres and what used to be the vicarage! And led by the people themselves, not by some allegedly 'ordained' hierarchy.
When it comes to the content of 'faith', the theology, the doctrines, (which hardly anyone ever wants to discuss for fear of the changes it might mean), I don't 'know' whether there is any reality beyond us. How can I? How can anyone? It's just us talking. Everything we claim to know about a 'God' is mediated through the limits of our own human perceptions. All scriptures, beliefs and creeds have been devised by human minds. A 'religious 'experience is a human experience that we have defined as a 'religious' experience. It cannot be anything else.
So if I cannot know if there is such a 'God', and if any supposed 'relationship' with 'Him' or sense of 'God's will' are all of my own (or others') devising, then there is no pre-determined meaning or value to life. Using our ability to think rationally, we have to create our own meanings and values and make our own decisions, where we are now. We have come of age'. A 'God' cannot do it all for us. (See Richard Holloway's excellent new book, 'The stories we tell ourselves' for more on this idea).
I still try (and no doubt fail) to follow what I can discern of the 'Way' of Jesus because he seems to have embodied essentially humanist values, and, like many others, paid with his life. But I cannot 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. An interventionist and personal God is not required to affirm the importance of justice, beauty and love. Maybe this is all no different from just hoping to live well and with a care for others, especially the oppressed and excluded. 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?
In Study Resources 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 reflections 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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