Conclusion

After a long break, I finally began to read this book again. It is one of the best books I have ever read on Faith; a kind of anti Christopher Hitchens (I suspect that the 2 of them would have got on), but not in a humourless, aggressive apologetic way.

It has the most uses of the word ‘fuck’ in it of any book I have read. He ends with this tour de force that moved be:-

‘If, that is, there is a God. There may well not be. I don’t know whether there is. And neither do you, and neither does Richard bloody Dawkins, and neither does anyone. It not being… a knowable item. What I do know is that, when I am lucky, when I have managed to pay attention, when for once I have hushed my noise for a little while, it can feel as if there is one. And so it makes emotional sense to proceed as if He’s there: to dare the conditional. And not timid death-fearing emotional sense, or cowering craven master-seeking sense, or censorious holier-than-thou sense, either. Hopeful sense, Realistic sense. Battered-about-but-still-trying sense. The sense recommended by our awkward sky fairy, who says: don’t be careful. Don’t be surprised by any human cruelty. But don’t be afraid. Far more can be mended than you know’.

 Any quote is only a quote: read the book. Just as I enjoyed reading Christopher Hitchens ‘God is not Great’ and wish I could have met him, anyone with no faith or not sure but who can laugh & think would like (if not agree with) this book.

Anyway, today: at least for me:- ‘Don’t be afraid’. Amen.

 

Atheists v Christians

I really tire of debates such as ‘athiests v christians’ and comments like ‘So you are an atheist- so was Stalin: you are saying that human life has no value and you are a murderer’ or ‘You may as well believe in the Flying Spagheti Monster you who abuse children and give them made up stories’.

Frightenly, comments such as the above are uttered by intelligent, thinking people from both ‘camps’. It alawys feels so much better to set up a straw man and attack it than listen.

I came across this fascinatingly verbose,stream of consciousness article in the Guardian last week. I don’t agree with all of it, but it is fresh and it tries to playfully engage with the thought forms of the Guardian reader.

The writer has a new book out- I amy have to put it on my wish list as I have never seen someone take an angle like this before. This is from the conclusion, but the whole article is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/31/trouble-with-athiests-defence-of-faith?newsfeed=true

‘You can easily look up what Christians believe in. You can read any number of defences of Christian ideas. This, however, is a defence of Christian emotions – of their intelligibility, of their grown-up dignity. The book is called Unapologetic because it isn’t giving an “apologia”, the technical term for a defence of the ideas.

And also because I’m not sorry’.

 

Thoughts from snow.

walking_snow_1251602c

That was the longest time I can ever remember of continual snow coverage in Britain ever (I am just toying with that as an album cover should I ever learn to play the guitar well, have any talent, be offered a lot of money to sign for a major label and appear, modestly, on chat shows). I loved it. I loved how people spoke to each other; unlikely people and how people helped each other out.

Of course speaking to each other about the weather is a staple of the British way of conversation. So for us, quite literally, snow is manna (or at least….erm… snow) from heaven.

Last week a notice went out in the school newsletter if anyone could help with clearing the drive. It was, to use the lexicon of local radio, a ‘skating rink’ (if a skating rink was uneven, covered in frozen mud, with tarmac showing through and with loose slush). So 10 parents showed up.

Now here is the strange thing- 8 had faith connections: active members of churches, occasional attenders etc. Wherever I have been in Britain, the percentage of people involved in voluntary organisations/ community aid/charity etc who have an active faith or a faith connection has been disproportionate to their percentage of the general population.

I nearly understood that last sentence….depending on stats, around 8% attend a church on a regular basis and perhaps another 15-20% have some kind of connection. On my wanderings around Britain, I reckon around a third of all people involved in charity etc are active church goers and around three quarters have a loose faith connection.

My experience is not representative, but I remember an article in the Guardian- perhaps the most hostile of British papers to faith- from 12/09/05 by Roy Hattersley, himself an athiest, called ‘Faith does breed charity’.

He is talking about places and situations in the world that are far more in need than this corner of wealthy middle England, but this article made me think.

Here are two extracts:-

‘….Civilised people do not believe that drug addiction and male prostitution offend against divine ordinance. But those who do are the men and women most willing to change the fetid bandages, replace the sodden sleeping bags and – probably most difficult of all – argue, without a trace of impatience, that the time has come for some serious medical treatment. Good works, John Wesley insisted, are no guarantee of a place in heaven. But they are most likely to be performed by people who believe that heaven exists.

The correlation is so clear that it is impossible to doubt that faith and charity go hand in hand…..

….The only possible conclusion is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make them morally superior to atheists like me. The truth may make us free. But it has not made us as admirable as the average captain in the Salvation Army’.