Can religious believers and non-believers share in the human journey together and even learn from each other?
See my FREE books to download below. Feedback always welcome.
I don't believe in a 'God'. I'm not sure I ever have. It's not even clear to me what people mean when they use the word - nor, I suspect, is it always clear to them! I wouldn't therefore call myself a 'Christian'. But unlike most people, I have been immersed in the Christian community, its people and its theology since childhood. I have studied it for over 40 years. It is a part of who I am. But I'd like people to find a new, more honest kind of Christianity; maybe even one without a 'God' at all!
Humanists are wrong if they think that religions will just die out or can be ignored. They still matter to some people, if admittedly to fewer than in the past when there was little or no alternative. But for many more they still provide a kind of unspoken background to their lives and values, even if no-one has ever told them that religions are just a human creation, like any other idea. It may be time to let go of things they have always taken for granted and find a more modern 'faith', based not on what you have always been told, but on what you have actually discovered to be true. Questions, doubts and disagreements with those in authority are good things; not something to be ashamed of. The mind is like an umbrella or a parachute - best used open!
Believers and non-believers have a common humanity and each is entitled to respect, as long as they can also show it to others. So is it possible to engage with the Jesus story in a new way? All religions are a product of our collective history, sociology and psychology; these then determine our theology. We have discovered science and the rest of the Universe! We're not at the centre of creation after all. It's clear that we create our gods, not the other way round. Our Scriptures were written by people, not handed down from heaven. That doesn't mean religions are entirely worthless. But our systems of belief have to be understood for what they are. They're ours - so we can change them. Honestly, we can! We always have.
All claims about a 'God' are based on human concepts; they are all we have. A 'religious' experience is still an entirely human experience. It cannot be anything else. All our statements are metaphors and similes. Apparently God speaks and listens; he gets angry or loves us. Our idea of 'God' is that 'He' is a bit like us! Like a 'father', or indeed a mother. As the Greeks knew 2500 years ago, all our ideas of the gods are images and idols. Beyond that we have to be atheists, or highly cautious agnostics. It's those who seem to think they are exempt from this human process who worry me; those who claim to actually know all about God or to speak directly on his behalf. Those who effectively worship the Bible. That's idolatry. Then religions can become dangerous, authoritarian and oppressive; the very opposite of what is good for us.
I do still find some elements of the Christian story particularly intriguing and challenging. Not least the unjust killing, like so many others, that is at the heart of it; and that the things Jesus seems to have said about justice, forgiveness and care for others are surely central to how to live well - what he called 'seeking the Kingdom'. A 'Godlike' way to live, if you like, but all about this life, not a supposed next one.
These remain points of entry for me, if in a limited way. I also find the theatre of what goes on in my local Cathedral aesthetically uplifting, often giving me food for thought and offering an inclusive welcome - unlike what happens in many churches where I'm simply expected to toe the party line and believe what I'm told! I am simply trying to stimulate a dialogue, break down barriers and encourage a spirit of creative enquiry. Is there any value in Christianity if you strip away all the outdated supernatural and doctrinal assumptions about the way the world is? If not, then it's not for me. But are at least some believers willing to listen to the rest of us, not just tell us we are wrong? Can you be a 'Christian' and a humanist? Is there anything left if you approach it all in a different way? Maybe; maybe not. You decide.
The two FREE books below are my original thoughts on a humanist spirituality from a few years back. They are brief essays or sermons on two themes: The Psalms and the Parables. These parts of the Bible take us into human individual experience and our community life together so they still have plenty to say, even for those for whom there is no God.
For me 'spirituality' is not about some mystical feeling or 'other worldly' experience. It's much more about how we think about life and give it a rational meaning than about anything necessarily 'religious'. It's a deeper dimension to our humanity, not a wish to escape from it. Conventional faith may sometimes help - I can't entirely forget my heritage - but it may also get in the way. There are new places to go and so we need to travel in new directions to get there.
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Attendance and absence have to be managed, like any other aspect of school life. Everyone is involved. I am committed to promoting a welfare-based and strategic approach, not only a focus on improving the figures. I may not always tell you exactly what you think you want to hear or repeat what you always thought was true. But I will offer you an informed and independent voice that gives you real practical help in carrying out your statutory duties and which seeks to promote more effective solutions for those children and young people who most need them. I also WHITTER on current education welfare issues.
But there is more to life than work so you'll also find a page about humanism and spirituality where I write about whether Christianity can mean anything to those who are not convinced that conventional belief takes us where we need to go as modern, thoughtful human beings. Maybe we can help to re-invent it. I'm not a 'Christian' or even particularly 'religious' but I am human. It's life before death that matters, so how do we decide how to live it? Can we at least still walk the same road together?
Feedback and comment are always very welcome.
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