SEE ATTENDANCE FOR MY CONTINUING WORK AS AN INDEPENDENT EDUCATION WELFARE CONSULTANT AND TRAINER
These weekly reflections, based on the Common Lectionary passages, are intended to support those who are still hanging on to attending (or even leading) Christian worship, if only just, because the conventional doctrines and beliefs no longer work for them. I also hope they will be an encouragement for those, like me, who hadn’t darkened the doors for years, to give it another try, if they can find an inclusive, open-minded and accepting welcome somewhere.
Imagine doing 'Christianity' differently. Is it still about a 'God' at all - or about us and the values we should stand up for? Like all religions, it was created by people like us to answer our fundamental human questions. What were they? Are we still asking the same questions now? Are the previous 'answers' still fit for purpose? I look upon it as a story about life and how best to live it - individually and together - with a focus on Jesus as a real person who lived the same human life as we do. The Bible may have some timeless insights to share, born out of human experience; but is not the final authority on everything, frozen in time forever. Beliefs and creeds hammered out 1600 years ago don't necessarily now say what needs saying. What's left? An exciting journey towards our full humanity that might actually make sense to modern minds, rather than being dismissed as an outdated superstition.
Here's where I'm coming from. Does it make me a 'Christian'? Probably not. Does it matter?
I also offer a Study Day on request in the Midlands area looking at John Robinson's classic book, 'Honest to God'.
Is there still an authentic 'Christian' faith without an interventionist personal God? Is it about life before death, not after? Have we missed something important here that might help people to see it all in a new, more C21st way? See below.
My reflections are like a film 'based on the book' or a screenplay 'inspired by real events', not just a carbon-copy of the original. They are a kind of 'midrash' - a commentary on and development of the original Judao-Christian texts and beliefs, not merely their repetition. So, for example, this contemporary image, from Sri Lanka after the dreadful bombings, means that for me Jesus stands with us, here on earth, in our suffering, pain, loss and violence, not up in heaven watching. My journey starts with Jesus when he was still remembered as a radical teacher, healer and prophet who lived on in people's personal/spiritual experience, not as the second member of an eternal Trinity. How might following him be re-interpreted in the light of what we now know to be true? We do not have to keep to the ancient path alone.
We have to be prepared to reassess the content of 'Christianity', not just its presentation. I am not attacking it; I'm trying to re-imagine how it could be. A creed should focus on how you live; on what difference a faith makes, not just be a list of required statements to which everyone is expected to assent without discussion. Fundamentalism and so-called 'Biblical' authority are not the way forward, in Christianity or any other religion. That's like asking people to use the internet based on a manual designed for a typewriter! It might work for a few who are willing to set aside everything else they know to be true, but it just digs a deeper and deeper hole for them to disappear into.
The overwhelming majority of people are not convinced. It's a stone when we asked for bread. Just the same old wine in recycled wineskins. We need something genuinely new.
I recently visited the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The centrepiece is a massive circular war memorial with two group sculptures. Each of them shows muddied and frightened figures gently bearing away a dead and naked man from the battlefield. A school party was there and one of the children asked her teacher, 'Is that Jesus'? The answer, of course, is 'Yes'. Indeed that was in the mind of the sculptor. That's how Jesus still lives, as we find that his human story echoes our own. That's the Way I try to follow.
I value the Christian past, especially its art, buildings and music. I find Christian history endlessly fascinating and probably know as much about the Bible as most clergy! This is my heritage and I am not ashamed of it. I don't want it to die. But it will, unless it changes. Christianity has never come to terms with the changed view of the world that came with science, Darwin etc. It still asks us to believe in a God who is now unbelievable. So let's say something different before it's too late!
Cathedrals are showing increased attendance because they offer such a range of high quality activities and styles. For me, the music in particular is an example of the generally more thoughtful and uplifting approach that I find there. But it's also a metaphor. The faith journey should be like great music, with a variety of ideas and insights alongside each other. It can be challenging. But what glorious synthesis can be achieved in the end!
Diversity, including of beliefs, is to be celebrated not discouraged. A range of voices should be heard. Trying to impose one set of beliefs on everyone might have worked in less enlightened times, but it cannot possibly work now.
We need to enjoy the complex harmony that comes from being different, not just expect everyone to sing in unison!
Make a loan. Change a life.
Support small businesses in developing countries with microloans. Then, when the loan is repaid, you can lend the same money again!
But my HOME PAGE now reflects my other main 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? Can faith be radical, rational and inclusive? I also WHITTER on issues of faith and life now and again: Current topic: 'The local parish church system is struggling. So let's find a better way of being Church'.
Friendly FEEDBACK is always very welcome. Please let me know if you have found my thoughts interesting and helpful.
ALL INFORMATION AND ADVICE PROVIDED ON THIS WEBSITE, AND IN RELATED RESOURCES, IS GIVEN IN GOOD FAITH AND IS TRUE AND ACCURATE TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF. HOWEVER NO LIABILTY IS ACCEPTED FOR ANY ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES ARISING THEREFROM OR FOR ANY IMPLICATIONS OF UNINTENDED ERRORS. I HAVE BOTH PUBLIC LIABILITY AND PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE.