Stepping Stones

  • It was in April 2012 that I sensed that I had a faith that I could hold on to loosely and wrote “Christianity after Religion” as the extensive foundation of a previous blog.
  • Richard Holloway had earlier had a big impact on my thinking – see “Broken Myths”.
  • Towards the end of 2012 I watched a lengthy BBC TV series entitled “A History of the World” by Andrew Marr, that highlighted for me the reality that the universe has existed for some 13.8 billion years but that civilisation as we know it is no more than about 13,500 years old. It occurred to me that so much human history has been influenced in such a short time by the many world religions. Some might find my notes enlightening – see sidebar.
  • In 2013 I started attending local U3A (University of the Third Age) classes that have included some Philosophy, Psychology, Counselling, History of Christianity, History of Religion, Buddhism and Islam (just 2-3 hours a week in total). This raised so many more interesting questions.
  • In “Another Watershed – April 2016” I have described the impact of a lengthy podcast with Rob Bell and Richard Rohr. Even as I listened to this for the first time I just knew that this was another personal watershed. This is now one of the foundations of my blog.
  • It was in July 2016 that I read an article by a pastor I have known well for some 35 years. He wrote:
    True science, real mind-blowing science, comes from the endless birthing of new understanding by those who’ve caught on that life is full of surprises, and the surprises never stop coming to those who seek with an open mind. If only religion caught on to that in its search for God too, where instead of nailing God in a box and telling people that’s all there is to know about him, it would let God reveal himself in his way, with new and endless surprises. (my highlighting).
    He went on to say that science is now pushing boundaries into areas where no one has trodden before. Old concepts suddenly become antiquated and quaint, as new interpretations of the universe blow the old views to pieces.
  • Compare that with what John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal Bishop had written in December 2015:
    The explosion of knowledge over the last five hundred years in the West has rendered most of the biblical and creedal presuppositions to be unbelievable. They rise out of a world that no longer exists. Yet churches continue to operate as if eternal truth can be placed into these earthen vessels, proclaiming that in both the Bible and the creeds ultimate truth has been captured forever. The result is that Christianity seems less and less believable to more and more people. Can we separate the Christ experience from the dying explanations of the past? If we cannot then surely Christianity will continue its relentless journey into a declining irrelevance.
    This is an extract from “Charting a New Reformation: The Twelve Theses” – some very provocative and thoughtful material.
  • It was also in July 2016 that Paul Young, the author of ‘The Shack’ posted an article by Richard Rohr on his blog entitled, “Transformation is More Than a Change of Mind”. In the podcast with Rob Bell (see “Another Watershed – April 2016”) Richard had suggested that Christianity hasn’t made a very good job of exposing the ego. In this article there is an emphasis on the process of letting go. He writes:
    The Achilles heel of organised religion might be that we tend to tell people what to see instead of teaching them how to see, and the thing we often miss is that transformation is not merely a change of morals, group affiliation, or belief system – but a change at the very heart of the way you receive, hear, and pass on each moment.
    Do you use the moment to strengthen your own ego position or do you use the moment to enter into a much broader seeing and connecting? Two very different ways of seeing!
  • It was in April 2017 that I saw what for me became a significant article in the March Newsletter of the Progressive Christian Network in the UK entitled, “Where is Progressive Christianity Heading?” by Andy Vivian where he paints a picture of four separate but overlapping strands or paradigms of Progressive Christianity:
    • Evolutionary Spirituality
    • Emerging Church
    • Radical Theology
    • Atheistic Christianity

    He suggests that all four paradigms emphasise the role of religion in supporting humans to live generous and compassionate lives, and that all four place such a life above a particular set of religious beliefs about God.
    I have spent a significant amount of time with people who come from each of these strands, including a couple of Bible College students who subsequently became atheists.
    Radical Theology is said to be the one that stands out as the most open approach, while the other three all have an element of egotism about having found the True Path.

  • “Thinking Allowed” was the title of a Conference in May 2018 organised by one of the members of The Progressive Christian Network in the UK. It acted as a catalyst for me to collect my thoughts!
  • Diana Butler Bass – Diana has moved on since writing “Christianity After Religion”.
    This for me is still a work-in-progress.

There are a few more topics on which I would like to encourage discussion:
see “Collecting My Thoughts”