Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Susceptibility to Faith

This post originally appeared on another blog of mine in 2005, based on some earlier scribblings of mine in an (unfriendly/hostile) online Christian Forum

A Susceptibility to Faith?

After undergoing an evangelical conversion experience at the age of 19, there followed a spell of fervent evangelising (perhaps alienating rather than helping the victims of my outreach!). On experiencing the more conservative social values of my evangelical peers, I was forced, by the more "mature" Christians, to choose between Christ or social-activism.

At this point I tried hard to reject my Christian faith, even to the point of asking God to reveal the unforgivable sin to me! An involvement in political activism, an investigation of Eastern religions, and a later dabbling with drugs, somehow never managed to fill a God-shaped void in my life.

Eighteen months of born-again Christianity was followed by many years in the wilderness. Various apparent coincidences led me back to a Christian faith, sensing the prodigality of the Father's love as he came out to welcome me despite my aversion to many of his ardent followers.

My journey this time was via existential & linguistic philosophy, literature and biblical criticism, subsequently by degree and post-grad studies in Theology.

The secular homophobic attitude of many evangelicals saddens me, a reminder of the social conservatism that forced me to seek de-conversion nearly forty years ago. Although evangelicals now recognize the need for committed social action, their intolerance and fear of peoples sexuality can blind them to many real injustices in society at large.

Isn't it strange that issues of militarism, party politics, usury etc. do not bring the threat of schism to the Anglican communion! Arms dealing and legalised extortion are obviously insignificant when compared to the issue of gay clergy!

My theology is now more liberal /radical than formerly yet, I still read and study (contextually) the same scriptures, follow the same Lord and am prompted by what seems to to be the same Holy Spirit as my evangelical brothers & sisters.

Is it a psychological weakness on my part, that I need FAITH, or is Faith my necessary means to overcome the apparent impossibility of deriving an ought from an is?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Jesus and Me

originally published on my 'Mal's Murmurings' blog in September 2005

Jesus transformed my life but, perhaps, in turn I changed his. His
story has been transmitted to us via faith communities and, to
some extent, each believer adapts this person to their own needs.

The power of symbols is simply amazing. One time, I entered into
a personal relationship with Jesus and, my God, was it hard. It’s
strange how he expected me to take on the comfortable lower
middle-class lifestyle of my peers in the faith. Some of them knew
no better, they’d grown up with him as had I but, they’d never seen
the need to rebel.

Rebellion, now there’s a pain, one may even have to start asking
and, even worse, answering questions! Me and Jesus got along fine
for quite some time, we shared all these intimate conversations but,
no … he wasn’t prepared to back me whatever I chose to do; the
pastor knew best on that score. God, how I loved Jesus social
conscience and his love of the company of outsiders to the faith but,
according to the pastor, it was only because he was divine that he
couldn’t be tainted. It seems that somehow we poor fallen
creatures couldn’t take that risk so, we had to set ourselves apart.

It wasn’t long before we parted company, at least the church and
me; I don’t think the Jesus symbol ever let me go! My journey took
me a long way round after that, via Eastern religions, Trotskyist
politics, and experimentation with various substances, asking
uneasy questions and collapsing along the way.

All this time I remained under the spell of this divine symbol Jesus;
in him I found a voice and image of inclusivity, his demands may be
hard but ultimately that became part of the attraction. If no
demands were made how could one possibly grow? This time, the
demands weren’t to do with opposition to my working class status
but, more to do with caring about the people it was necessary to

On my return to the fold, even in a transitional state of charismatic
fervour, I was far less inclined to “preach at” non-believers; the
most important thing was that they should realize that I was there
for them. For some time, strangers would turn up at my doorstep
or, I would be granted an insight into someone’s need to be

It took so long for the realization to grow that, the most important
thing was quite simply to be there. Although full of doubts and
questions, regarding the Christian faith, the symbols of the faith
have well and truly grasped me. I am acceptable, tetchy human
that I may be.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

FAITH Matters

This posting was first published on my 'Mal's Murmurings' blog in January 2007

Faith Matters

FAITH is that set of values, and ultimate questions, by which we lead our lives. Questions and doubts are an integral component of faith, if we are not to become stuck in a rut of blind belief. I have been grasped by certain concepts and values of community and compassion, and much of the reported teachings of Jesus (acclaimed by many as the Christ), throughout my life, both those in which I have been unwittingly indoctrinated and, those which I have arrived at or returned to through a prolonged period of questioning.

It has always seemed a major mystery that some people seem to "need a faith", some "seek a faith" by which to measure their life’s course whilst others are quite simply "grasped" by an ultimate concern which they have neither sought nor been aware of a need for.

In my personal journey, I have at times embraced (or been embraced) by each of these modes yet, a deep rooted scepticism has proffered me a deep rooted intellectual and emotional resistance to making room for such a faith. That same stubborn resistance also occurs when anyone attempts to fob me off with multifarious scientific hypotheses disguising them as facts. I suppose I’m slightly averse to ‘fundamentalisms’ be they secular or religious.

Perhaps, with my low level reserves of physical and emotional stamina, I do not pro-actively fight for my beliefs as much as I should, but the mystery of LOVE (almost) always compels me to accept a transcendent reality.

I am "grasped" by the person and work of Jesus the Christ yet, am unable to accept much of the dogmatic doctrinal baggage with which he has been encumbered. Some emphasize his humanity, others his divinity, fully God and fully man proves a bit of a conundrum yet, in this myth of the Christ  many, including myself, have found the strength to challenge the social and economic injustices of our day.

In spite of my deeply rooted sceptical nature, it is far easier to accept the existence of God (all the flawed ontological/ teleological arguments for His/Her/Its existence notwithstanding) than it is to understand how it is possible that so much bigotry, intolerance and, upholding of the status quo can possibly be carried out in the name of Jesus Christ. It’s as if the ideological baggage of state blessed Christendom has blinded us to the truly radical nature of the Christ.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Sat to please

                            SAT TO PLEASE

Piper gently whines missing his mistress, and (the now back home) recuperating Beth; no matter how he laments these absences, regardless of duration, they never seem to affect his appetite. The prospect of a treat brings out his sunnier disposition, and his heart melting gaze of adoration; a non-stop supply of food would be his idea of paradise!

I can frequently be a miserable bugger, feeling totally emasculated as physical and emotional stamina rarely seems up to (e.g. furniture shifting / re-arranging) tasks that once would have been a doddle.

No matter how much I appreciate those activities that I can (and do) manage, an aggressive and anxiety laden self-pity, far too often, takes over. Our wonderful hound quite frequently alleviates these more morose moments, just by his close proximity and his readiness to please.