Updated on 13th April.
My blog is primarily addressed to Christians and former Christians who have been on a journey through Christendom (the Christian RELIGION as opposed to the Christian FAITH) and come out the other side with significant doubts about some or all of what they had been expected to believe.
I have no recollection of ever doubting the existence of God, but my understanding of what that means has changed enormously over the years.
I have never had any formal theological training.
It was over 45 years ago that I walked away from a traditional Anglican Church in the UK where I had been treasurer for 8 years.
What does Christianity mean to you now?
It was over 50 years ago while I was treasurer of the local Church that I was leading a Men’s discussion group and asked the question:
“What is the Purpose of Life?”
The immediate response of the Vicar was, “Peter, you can’t ask that. That is the 64,000 dollar question (a lot of money in those days). Let’s go on to your next question”.
With hindsight that was the beginning of my doubts about the place of ‘church’. I’ve never stopped asking questions. It was over 20 years ago that a very close friend said, “Peter, you have the knack of asking some of the awkward questions to which there are no easy answers”.
I created my first web site in 2000. This was a time when there was an enormous increase in online activity. I was active in a number of Newsgroups. It was the time of the emerging church, the emergent church, the house church movement and the out of church Christians. It was in 2003 that I found the book, “So you don’t want to go to church anymore” on the web when the authors had only written the first three chapters. I was learning so much about why people believe(d) what they believe(d), often as a result of divisive, denominational theology. I have ended up with quite a good understanding of many of the contentious Christian doctrines that divide denominations and why Christians are even unable to agree among themselves on the place of Jesus. Is it any wonder that as many as 4 million people every year are now leaving Christian churches in Europe and North America?
In the sidebar is a link to “Some Earlier Material” that I wrote around 2005, that was the foundation of an earlier blog. This formed the basis of numerous discussions amongst people who felt that they were being drawn away from churches that they had attended for many years.
I finally stopped attending ‘church’ in 2009. It was in 2012 when I was 76 that I became aware of the writings of Diana Butler Bass (an American Church Historian and Episcopal Priest) and her then latest book, “Christianity After Religion” (see sidebar). After what for me had been an intense period of study I sensed that I had a faith that I could hold on to ‘loosely‘ (see “My Story”). Around the same time I was significantly influenced by the work of another ‘Progressive Christian’ – Barbara Brown Taylor and “Lunar Spirituality” (see sidebar).
Diana Butler Bass wrote another book in 2015 entitled, “Grounded”. I’ve made some notes from three podcasts where she was discussing the content of the book that was really all about “Where is God?” (see sidebar). When I suggested to one of my friends that I wanted to make this question the new foundation of my blog, he suggested that I shouldn’t even be asking that question because it is unanswerable. The more I’ve thought about it the more I want to encourage people to consider this question.
I listened to a podcast in August 2018 entitled “The Invisible Church” that just summed up so many of my thoughts. Part of the introduction reads:
But what do we know about all the people who left? Why did they leave? And what are they doing now? I have written my own summary of that podcast here.
Are we witnessing the death of a way of thinking about a supreme being?
Are we moving from God up there somewhere to God as source or that from which everything flows?
If you are still with me please have a look at
“What do people understand by the word ‘God’?”.
I’ve spent a lifetime asking questions only to recognise later in life that there are very few definitive answers, and that we just don’t need all the answers!
Of course I’m biased, but one of my questions would be, “How much of the fear, guilt and shame created by Christendom is the result of misguided academic studies?
I’m now going to spend some time linking to additional material (including podcasts and blogs) that have been a significant part of my journey over recent years. In the Posts that follow I plan to link to specific aspects that are referred to elsewhere on the blog.
Please feel free to ask questions.