NOW AVAILABLE. My book:
The Apostate's Creed:
Rethinking Christianity for the C21st.
A humanist reworking of statements from the Apostles' Creed and a series of reflections inspired mainly by Luke's gospel.
(free p/p with 5 or more copies)
'Honest and clear'. 'Really interesting'. 'Most enjoyable'
SPECIAL OFFER FOR LOCAL GROUPS OF THE
Up to 8 copies for group use FREE plus Discussion Notes
I am also happy to attend a follow-up Zoom meeting on request
Contact me with a postal address.
12th April 7.15
East Shropshire/Wolverhampton PCN Zoom meeting
to discuss Richard Holloway's book (see Book Reviews)
'Stories we Tell Ourselves'
Contact me if you would like to join us that evening
The Universe just is, and has been for billions of centuries. It runs itself. Any concept of a 'God' is a projection of ourselves. It is a response to that spark of creativity of which we are all capable - even if it's not a Chopin Nocturne or the Sistene Chapel! It reflects our deepest wishes. It's there when we love someone or sacrifice our own interests for the sake of others. Or when we bring people together and break down barriers. Or when justice and peace roll down like a mighty stream.
These are all human hopes that go back a very long way. But it's clearly up to us to decide both what they are and whether or not we make them a reality. Some will still want to use the word 'God' for the energising force that sustains everything. I'm OK with that as long as we don't turn it into a 'person'. So the patriarchal images, beliefs and doctrines we invented in ancient times have to go. Scriptures have to be reinterpreted. There is no Divine Plan. An interventionist God-Being is not available to tell us what is right. We have to work it out for ourselves and seek to be fully human while we can. That's 'humanist spirituality'.
But this doesn't mean that the Christian tradition has nothing to offer us in deciding how to live. For me, Jesus can still be seen as a portrait of our fullest, deepest humanity. He is 'God' made flesh, if you still want to use that language, (which was just assumed at that time). A real person embodying our full humanity, not some unique hybrid. And when it comes to following in his Way, deeds seem to have mattered much more to him than Creeds. They're all down to us later.
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. Some versions are all about exercising power over others, or place an excessive focus on your own 'salvation', no matter how carefully they are dressed up in 'loving' language. 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? 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), all scriptures, images, beliefs, liturgies 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. It's all about human perceptions. 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! 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 actual 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 expected to fall in line? It often feels like that.
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!
Can Christianity and its central human figure still mean anything to those who are not convinced by the usual ideas of a 'God'? This website offers a range of ways to explore this question.
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 require you to take it all literally or sign up to the religion that bears his name?
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 first book: humanist reflections on the Psalms from 2011: 'Walking without God'. These are all free.
Book Reviews suggests some reading which I've found helpful.
Friendly Feedback is always very welcome. Please let me know if you have found my ideas interesting.
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