NOW AVAILABLE. My new book:
The Apostate's Creed: Rethinking Christianity for the C21st.
A radical reworking of statements from the Apostles' Creed and a series of reflections inspired mainly by Luke's gospel.
'Honest and clear'. 'Really interesting'. 'Most enjoyable'
Why not invite me to a Zoom group to discuss it? 5 or more copies for groups are available with no added p/p. For a limited time I will even send individual copies FREE if you contact me with a postal address.
2500 years ago, the poet Virgil asked 'Do the gods create us to fulfil their desires and passions, or do we create them to fulfil ours'? To me the answer is obvious. All religions and beliefs are human creations. We decide what our 'gods' are like.
But that doesn't mean that the Christian tradition may have nothing to offer us. I see greater sense in the idea that what we have previously called 'Divine' is within us, part of our humanity, rather than an 'other' reality elsewhere. Of course those who do believe the traditional doctrines will disagree. But theirs is no longer the only point of view available. So let's at least have a grown-up conversation about it, before most people abandon the Jesus story altogether.
I am not therefore a 'Christian', or not as most people would understand the word. Admittedly, there are a lot of different 'Christianities' I could choose from. There may just be room for me somewhere, though some versions are frankly appalling. Some show shocking discrimination against people, based only on their sexuality, race or gender, that would be illegal in other settings. Some claim that only they are 'proper' Christians. But there has to be an acceptance of difference, even a celebration of it, if most people in our modern context are going to be at all interested.
I do still go to a church now and then; to a very diverse inner city CofE with an inclusive approach and a 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 am also a 'cultural' Christian; I can't really avoid it. I enjoy exploring much of its history, art, architecture, music and literature, and I'm always very happy to discuss it! However, many ancient beliefs no longer make sense. What matters most? The preservation of the past and its claims or being a community that actually helps us to live well together, now, as human beings? How you live surely matters far more than what you believe? So much of 'religion' seems to lead in the wrong direction.
When it comes to the content of 'faith', the theology, the doctrines, (which hardly anyone ever wants to talk about for fear of the changes it might mean), how can anyone claim to 'know' anything about a reality beyond us in such minute detail? It's just us talking, feeling our way into what, by definition, is unknowable. Everything we claim to know about a 'God' is mediated through the limits of our own human perceptions. All scriptures, images, 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. That is 'where all the ladders start' (WB Yeats).
I don't want to abandon my Christian heritage entirely. I'd like to be a bridge between most people's total disinterest and believers' total commitment. The trouble with being a bridge is you get walked over from both sides! Too atheist for Christians and too Christian for atheists. But that's where I am.
I still want to 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 as a result. But he also seems to have seen 'religion' as the problem, not as a solution. Jesus wasn't a 'Christian' either! I (and millions of others) cannot share the C1st world-view which took a God for granted. It is impossible for someone to have been conceived without sex and still be a human being. No dead person can possibly walk out of a tomb or get their body back. Heaven is not 'up'. These ideas cannot be literally 'true'. So let's say so and the modern world might listen. What else do we need to change if this story is not to virtually die out? Can the Christian community accept this degree of diversity or are we all just required to fall in line with what has always been believed?
Jesus is one of us, not a God-man hybrid. Our humanity is all we can know, of him or of ourselves. 'God' is in us; that creative spark that is part of the greatness of which we are capable - like a Chopin Nocturne or Venice. An interventionist and personal God is not required to affirm the importance of justice, beauty and love. They are all part of us.
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 our best, 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'. PLUS a link to a page that explains why I am not 'a Christian' and another which sums up my approach to the Way of Jesus. Is there another way to engage with the Jesus story that doesn't have to take it all literally? Can it still make sense in a different way today? Book reviews suggests some reading ideas which I've found helpful.
In Study Resources you'll find a PowerPoint (with audio) on 'Who wrote the Bible'? PLUS discussion notes on the classic book from the 1960s, ''Honest to God' which still raises so many key questions that have never been answered. 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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