What place does ‘God’ really have in your life now?

I became a Christian as an adult over 60 years ago.
I stopped attending church in 2009 and a couple of years ago I decided to step back from all the divisive, denominational theology that had been part of my life for so long.
I’ve never had any formal theological training.
I have twice had to reconsider just about everything I had ever been taught.

My blog has effectively been a Work-In-Progress for over 20 years.

I’ve reached a point where I would like to be able to encourage anyone who is really interested, whatever their religious or academic background, to reconsider what they really understand about the place of God in their lives now.

I’ve been on a journey away from traditional Christianity (or Christendom) for over 50 years. Let me start the ball rolling. Please feel free to share any thoughts you might have.

It was in 2015 while talking about her book ‘Grounded’ that Diana Butler Bass suggested that “Where is God?” was one of the most consequential questions of our time – a question that we have to answer for ourselves.
She suggested that a three tier universe with God in heaven was a cornerstone of religious life that provided untold millions through the ages with meaningful comfort, but that a distant God in heaven is no longer acceptable to many who have left church, synagogue or other forms of conventional religion.

It was Richard Holloway the former leader of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, who suggested that the symbol ‘God’ is one of the most ambiguous of human inventions.
Richard had a big impact on my thinking – see “Broken Myths” that I wrote in 2010.

I was first introduced to the thoughts of Diana Butler Bass in 2012 when she wrote “Christianity After Religion” as a result of which I found myself with a faith that I could then hold on to ‘loosely’.
“Food for Thought” was a reflection of some of my thoughts at that time.

I left school when I was 16 and that was the end of my formal education. My parents never owned a Bible (they had left school at 13 and 14). I became a Christian as an adult but walked away from the Anglican Church in the UK in the early 1970’s after having been treasurer of the local church for 8 years in the 1960’s. I had become disillusioned by what I saw as a lack of ‘radical’ Christianity, and an inability to get answers to some of my questions. I later spent over 20 years with a Sabbath-keeping Christian church before a church split in 1995 destroyed our own family of 14 related by marriage. That is a very long story that I have written about elsewhere on the blog.

It was in 2013 when I was 78 that I joined the local branch of U3A – the University of the Third Age and attended classes in Philosophy, Psychology, Counselling, History of Christianity, History of Religion, Buddhism and Islam – just 2 or 3 hours a week for 4 years.
During that time I was introduced to Barbara Brown Taylor and Lunar Spirituality. Some of the other people who have influenced my thinking recently include Rob Bell, Richard Rohr, Bart Ehrman, Eckhart Tolle and Brian McLaren. Maybe the greatest impact has been the growing understanding of the Enneagram and the place of Spiral Dynamics.

It was in the Autumn of 2018 that I decided to step back from all of the divisive, denominational theology that had been so much part of my life for so long.
It was after listening to Barbara Brown Taylor talking about her new book, “Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others” early in 2019 that I realised that I had reached a point where I simply wanted to encourage even just a few people to reconsider what they really understood about the place of God in their lives now.

Please have a look at the next Post – “1. A New Starting Point”.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

1. A New Starting Point

Have you ever asked yourself:

  • How well do I really know God?
  • Do I really know what I believe?
  • How did I come to believe in this God?
  • To what extent have I been influenced by my own culture?
  • How would I describe the purpose of life?
  • Christian faith presupposes that we can talk to God, but what does that mean to you?
  • What place prayer and worship?

What impact if any has Covid made on your own beliefs?

I’m no scholar but I had been introduced to some of the thoughts of Paul Tillich and I latched on to The Ground of Being; God as Source; the Electricity of God that everyone can be plugged into.
This was reinforced by Rob Bell with his near 2 hour presentation of “Everything is Spiritual”.

What can we learn from other people’s thoughts?

It was in 2016 that Rob Bell and Pete Rollins got together for a 4 part discussion, “Let’s Talk About God” (Robcast 111). This was one of my starting points. The series gradually became rather more academic but I collected my own thoughts from the first part. This is what I wrote:
“Let’s Talk about God”.

Posted in General | Tagged , | 2 Comments

2. Moving through the Emerging and Emergent Church Scenes

How I moved on after 1995 through the Emerging, Emergent and House Church scene to the time when I finally stopped attending church in 2009 is a very long journey that I have tried to describe elsewhere on the blog.
By 2010 I was involved with a couple of para-church groups in Brighton where I live, including a church in a pub run by an Anglican priest. I was also introduced to the writings of Richard Holloway – the former leader of the Episcopalian church in Scotland. It was Richard who suggested that the symbol God is one of the most ambiguous of human inventions. He had a big impact on my thinking – see “Broken Myths”.

In 2012 I found a review of “Christianity After Religion” by Diana Butler Bass (see sidebar) that was another one of those light-bulb moments, as a result of which I found myself with a faith that I could hold on to ‘loosely’ despite no longer attending church.
It also made me realise that even at that time I had been an outside observer of American Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism with it’s emphasis on fear, guilt and shame for over 15 years.

It was after I had watched the interview with Barbara Brown Taylor in 2019 that I saw two posts on Facebook that really made me stop and think – see here.

I have commented elsewhere about the impact of Diana’s subsequent book “Grounded” in 2015. This has been a major influence on my thinking. Interestingly her subsequent books have shown how our paths were running in parallel but have now diverged.
That’s surely just a reflection of how we are all on unique journeys and are not necessarily being drawn in quite the same way?

Posted in General | Leave a comment