This WordPress blog is a polemic, by which I mean some will find it very controversial and will want to dispute everything I am saying. Others may yawn as they have heard it before -after all I am not attempting to be original, I’m just bringing together in one place various ideas that have been floating around for a long time. (The library carpet is worn out by my shoes, and my Amazon bill is too huge to contemplate!)
I am not really doing this as a public service (though it could be) but to help me personally to focus my own view of Jesus. As to whether I personally am currently a believer or not (as if it matters!) there may be some clues in this blog and in the page entitled “Terminology“.
A short trip down memory lane so I can list a few stories showing the role religion and belief played in my life.
(1) At the age of 6 I could sing the whole of “There is a greenhill far away” (The evangelical case in a nutshell!)
(2) At 13 I asked to be baptised and confirmed in my local anglican church – to the consternation of my agnostic parents.
(3) I was soon a “server” at Holy Communion (i.e. an altar boy) and a Sunday School teacher.
(4) At 17 I won a place on the King Hussein Youth Camp, seeing the Holy Land sites, as well as visiting a Palestinian refugee camp where we heard first hand accounts of their expulsion from their homeland.
(5) At Oxford I was active in the SCM whose leader was Bishop Ambrose Reeves, exiled from South Africa for his opposition to apartheid. Through him I started to see that politics, ethics and religion were all closely linked.
(6) Travelling behind the iron curtain at the height of the cold war I made friends for life among a community of witnessing lutherans who were persecuted by the communist regime for their beliefs.
(7) Although my faith lapsed, and I didn’t go to church for decades, I had been influenced by Bishop John Robinson, whom I met, and his controversial book “Honest to God.” I continued to read radical christian and atheist writers.
(8) In Paris in May 1968 I took part in the occupation of the Sorbonne university where I worked in the press office . I smelled tear gas for the first time, and bullets were fired into the building we were sleeping in. “Tribune Libre” was set up in the Odeon theatre where crowds came every night to make and to hear speeches, mine included.
(9) While touring Latin America in the seventies I encountered support for the guerilla priest Camilo Torres and other intriguing traces of Liberation Theology.
(10) I resigned from the committee of the Christian Socialist Movement (led at that time by Rev Donald Soper) because they wouldn’t publish an ad from a gay christian group.
(11) I loved going to Gloucester Cathedral every Boxing Day to hear my mum, and the rest of the Choral Society, singing The Messiah.
(12) I have set up religious assemblies for ethnic minorites in the state schools in the UK where I have taught. A human rights issue, not a religious one. All it took was a little push.
(13) Responding to a challenge from some of my sixth-form pupils that I “was an atheist without knowing what I was attacking, because I hadn’t been to any religious services for so long” I duly sought out synagogues, temples and churches. I was not particularly impressed by what I found and they weren’t particularly impressed with me!
Related Zingcreed Posts:
I should have gone to the pub instead. Church and me.
Red Christians #2: Camilo Torres
Red christians #28: The Christian Socialist Movement
522: Is God subjective or objective? Why I left the church.