Feedback and opportunities to take part in friendly discussions always welcome. Can religious believers and non-believers share in the human journey together and even learn from each other? We're all just trying to do our best with the one life we have.
As well as my professional work, I also write and speak on the relationship between being human and Christianity; (see also ABOUT ME to read more about my journey to here). .
Our Universe is wonderfully complex, incredibly old and we are just a tiny part of it. So what is the meaning of life? Does it have one? The 'Lion Man' (above) is thought to be the oldest known ritual object in the world at 40,000 years. We don't know what it was for but it was created, like all 'religious' ideas, by us, or by people much like us. All systems of belief, their scriptures and their gods, are human attempts to help us to understand ourselves, individually and together.
Religions are an expression of our human potential for creativity, like music, art and literature. As Neil MacGregor's brilliant series on Radio 4 'Living with the Gods', and the accompanying exhibition at the British Museum clearly demonstrated, religious objects, stories and ideas have long been devised by us to express our deepest hopes and feelings. Religions are a product of our history, sociology and psychology; these then determine our theology. We create our gods, not the other way round. That doesn't mean religions are worthless; possibly quite the reverse. But they have to be understood for what they are.
I would not call myself a Christian but I can only talk about the tradition into which I was born and which I have studied to postgraduate degree level and thought about for over 40 years. Neither the Bible nor the Church can have the last word on everything. They are 'only' human too! You can't simply impose ideas from the past, as if they somehow have greater authority just because they are claimed to have come from a 'God'. They didn't. They came from us, just like everything else. Same journey, but a different map. Now, as then, we are each individually responsible for what we believe, think and do, as we have always been.
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. 'God' is a bit like us! Beyond that we have to be atheists, or highly cautious agnostics, and be content with the images and ideas that we have created and the truths that we have devised. It's those who seem to think they are exempt from this human process who worry me. Then religions can become dangerous, authoritarian and oppressive; the very opposite of what is good for us.
But I do still find many elements of the Christian story intriguing and challenging. Not least the idea that its 'God' was a real human being who was unjustly killed - like so many others - and that the things Jesus said and did about social justice, love and care for others are surely central to how to live well - what he called 'seeking the Kingdom'. A 'Godlike' way to live. He wasn't a Christian either! 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!
So let's concentrate on our common humanity and leave the rest as mere speculation. Above all I am trying to stimulate a dialogue and 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? Are believers willing to listen to the rest of us, not just tell us we are wrong? 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 Christian 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.
MY CHOSEN CHARITY
Make a loan. Change a life.
My website has had a makeover. You'll still find everything you need for my professional offer as an Independent Education Welfare Consultant and Trainer on the 'attendance' page.
I am committed to a welfare-based strategic approach to attendance and absence rather than a focus on fines. 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 seeks to promote more effective solutions for those children and young people who most need them. I don't do twitter but I do 'whitter' about education welfare issues. Currently: Are the holiday fines fair and are they working?
But there is more to life than work so you'll also find a page about my humanist approach to spirituality where I write about the dialogue between faith and life for those who are not convinced that conventional religions take us where we need to go as modern, thoughtful human beings. It's life before death that matters, so how do we decide how to live it?
Feedback and comment are always very welcome.
ALL INFORMATION AND ADVICE PROVIDED ON THIS WEBSITE, AND IN RELATED RESOURCES AND EVENTS, 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.