Safran. That’s him :) Thanks. I found the series wonderfully provocative, full of sarcasm, but honest and even handed in its approach.
I’m sure that Tangi was a good experience.
I should note that I don’t see evolution and the Genesis narratives as contradictory worldviews or understandings of the truth of life (obviously both atheists and literal 6 day creationists will strongly disagree with me) if we take into account the context and cultural expression that birthed the Genesis narratives first rather than our own cultural approach to such writings. I think I mentioned it earlier, but John Walton’s NIV Application Commentary is a good read for exploring this, rather than trying to explain it all here :)
I love it, Steven. That made me laugh :) For what it's worth I believe in both the Big Bang, followed by evolution, AND Genesis. Trying to explain that in this forum would take far too long though, so again I'll just point to John Walton's NIV Application Commentary on Genesis as worth a read.
PS is that John Saffron (spelling?)? I loved his television series looking at (and experiencing) different religions. Plenty of laughs but great insight as well.
Lee, firstly and genuinely, thank you for your honesty.
Allow me to address a couple of things:
Do I need to explain how this undermines your claim that your god exists “inside you”? Do I need to explain the massive social divisions this suggests is the purpose of your god? No, I do not.
The bit you’ve pointed out was me explaining the argument that some use in relation to questions that were asked early in the conversation after I said this:
I’m also not someone who thinks that anyone who doesn’t line up with my own worldview has no basis for an ethical or moral approach to life.
I have not claimed the bit you quoted as my own view.
You’ve also attributed a claim to me that I have not made; God being internal. Nor have I made a claim that he is external. My initial post is quite devoid, deliberately, of any argument for or against God and any major case on who God is and what God may be like (the closest I get to that is talking about I understand Jesus); though if I were to go there I would make a case for God being external AND internal… I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.
and because I do not want to be responsible for damaging your faith, even if you are responsible for perhaps inadvertently taunting those outside your faith – which may be why people have spat on you in the past.
Don’t worry, an internet comment won’t damage my faith. I’m a little more robust than that, having dealt with much heavier things in my life :)
I find it interesting that you would assume that someone may have spat on me because I might have taunted (deliberately or not) them. It happened once and was a random person in the street. I was walking down a busy street, minding my own business. I had not noticed the person walking past me until they spat on me and then they kept going.
I feel no animosity towards them. I choose to wear a clerical collar in public. This makes me a magnet for people’s positive and negative feelings towards the Church and the Christian community. Having experienced horrific things in my own life, I can understand why some people feel nothing but anger towards what I publicly represent. I have to deal with people’s assumptions all the time and whatever they choose to project onto me. I’ve chosen to take the good and the bad that come with that.
In terms of the rest of what you’ve said, that sounds like a rough journey. Somewhere in it, however it turns out, I hope you find peace. If you ever want to vent about it to a listening ear, let me know. I would gladly sit over a coffee and listen. It’s highly likely that I wouldn’t have any great answers and you could probably run rings around me philosophically, but I’m willing to listen and take whatever you might need to throw on the table.
For what it's worth I wholeheartedly agree with pretty much all of that comment. And far from having your receiver turned off, judging by that comment, it's functioning very well indeed ;)
Nice post Francis. I found myself nodding a lot as I read it (and not in a going to sleep way).
I'm glad you managed to stay awake! :)
Thanks, Oliver. As a fan of Lennon myself I loved that mention of him! I know many Christians dismiss his song, Imagine, but I find a lot in it that resonates with my faith.
Thanks for sharing about the warmth of what you encountered growing up as well, even though that's not where you are now. It would be easy, with a change in view, to become cynical and jaded about what you grew up with. I really appreciate your approach.
So while someone like Frances will argue all the smart bits about Jesus and Faith whole glossing over the weird/nasty bits
Simon, thanks for your comment. Allow me to note that it was never my intent to argue for Christianity here. Nor was my intent to explain everything related to the Christian faith or the Bible. I’m not here to make a case for Christianity. To do that adequately would take a very long time indeed and would necessarily grapple with everything you have mentioned.
Because of the intent of the original post and remaining in the conversation carrying the same intent, it’s not that I have tried to gloss over everything, it’s that I’m not here to deal with that stuff. After years of arguing around those issues on the internet, I’ve come to find it a woefully poor place to engage in such discussions. So you’ll have to forgive me for not going there if that’s what you would like to be discussing. I’m woefully aware that I would never be able to satisfy your problems with the Christian faith.
If you want to read a little more on how I understand the Bible, again, with the awareness that I’m not here to argue for what I believe as right, this might interest you (or not) The Bible: It’s Not a Rule Book. You’ll need to read it with the understanding that most of the people who read my blog are Christian, so I largely had them in mind.
To get a grasp on how I approach Genesis (sometimes differing from those Real Christians,) I would suggest reading John Walton’s NIV Application Commentary on that specific book within the Bible, with a focus on those first few chapters. I wouldn’t expect you to agree with it, but it’s worth a read.
See thats just frustratingly vague. Lets just all close our eyes for a minute and look to the heavens. But it seems that is what this thing called faith is, a whole lot of airy answers to questions that need clarity. Anyhoo good luck with all that.
Andin, please accept my sincere and genuine apology that I can’t give you the debate/answers you may want/need on that stuff. I’m sure someone more inclined towards debating such things could. It’s not my area of expertise so venturing down that lane is out of my depth and not where I wish to sink my time and efforts.
My concerns in life are for the well-being of people and as a public minister, what I spend my time doing is jumping into life with people over things as simple as coffee, hearing where they’re at and offering whatever I can into the reality of their life to let them know someone’s with them… whether we see eye to eye on the big stories or not.
In the street that means that not only do I sit down with people who seek out my listening ear, but I also end up praying for strangers (a clerical collar is a magnet for all sorts of things), listening to people vent their frustration and anger about church and their experiences of it in the past, being spat on… that’s happened once and I still don’t know why… and I’ve even had a colourful discussion with a drunk in an Irish pub as I was trying to have a quiet Guinness with a friend. I also get people simply asking for a blessing and so I offer a kind word of hope into the middle of their life when asked for such a thing.
Honestly, a lot of the time I’m just stumbling along doing my best to help in the middle of the ups and downs of life. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But succeed or fail, I hope those real encounters with people leave their lives enriched somewhat from the connection.
And good luck with your projects.
I see your childhood was spent amongst the “faithful” I wonder how that shaped what you are now, obviously a lot, but probably in ways you may not be fully aware of.
Firstly, it shaped me in many many ways. Some of the experiences I had in that context were horrific, but I won’t go into detail as it’s not necessary. Along with the wonder and beauty of experiencing such a life, it’s probably the horrible experiences I had that have left the deepest impression and shaped me in ways that make me resonate deeply with those who feel hurt and anger towards the Christian community.
In answer to the second part, you’re right, I’ll never be fully aware of how my context has shaped me. I don’t think any of us will ever be fully aware of that. We’re all products of our environment. Does that make me an ignorant fool who only believes as I do because of my context? Maybe (and most probably yes to a degree), but if it’s true of me then it can be as true of those who disagree with me. So hopefully we can all extend patience, empathy, humility etc towards one another.
but seems to be the majority view in the US, that atheists are fundamentally untrustworthy.
Because of US culture I wonder how many of the respondents have real live atheists in their lives ;) The beauty of living in New Zealand is the diversity of cultures and views.