608: THE CHURCH AND GRETTA VOSPER

On her Wikipedia page, Rev Gretta Vosper is described as follows:

Her work bridges Progressive Christianity and atheism, exploring beyond the boundaries  of Christian thought.
“In 2001 I made it clear that I did not believe in a supernatural interventionist divine being. At first I identified as a non-theist as I do in my first book (i) published in 2008. Then in my second book (ii)  I felt the need to further distinguish myself from those who used the term non-theist but retained a belief in the supernatural aspects of god. I identified as a theological non-realist. In 2013 I embraced the term atheist which means literally no belief in a theistic supernatural being.” (Emphasis added)

In this post I want to examine her attitude to the church, as expressed in her first book. (For more background, check out Zingcreed posts
573: Rev Gretta Vosper under attack in Toronto
574: Revisioning the Bible by Gretta Vosper)

  • The church’s power structure is hierarchical, self-preserving, bigoted, chauvinistic, and dulled by successive generations of leaders whse circumcised intellect prevented them from exploring beyond their reiterated dogma and canonical laws. (p. 11)
  • The Vatican has been murdering, excommunicating and silencing its detractors for centuries. In the 20th century they ceased the first order of action, as far as we know, but they continue to silence theologians who do not conform to papal authority. (p. 41)
  • When we juxtapose saving the world with saving the church, the latter seems pretty trite. The time and energy put into religious obligation, as opposed to spiritual practice, and the maintenance of religious institutional structures, were it redirected to other humanitarian purposes, would go far toward making substantial inroads into the work of substantive change towards a sustainable future. (p. 288-9)
  • There are many now outside the church who have spoken and written about matters of faith, but it as if within the church their words have fallen on deaf ears. We must turn up the volume so that those many important voices can be heard. (p.164-5) (Hear, hear!)
  • Church leaders are fully aware that whatever god is, it is not described by the church’s doctrines. (p. 229)
  • The church the future needs is one of people gathering to share and recommit themselves to loving relationships with themselves, their families, the wider community and the planet. Such a church need not fear the discoveries of science, history, archaeology, psychology or literature; it will only be enhanced by such discoveries….Such a church could play a role in the future that is ….radically transformative and desperately needed. (p.4)
  • You can’t talk in church, swear in church, or wear your everyday clothes to church; the sermon, hymns and service are all foreign, weird, and incomprehensible….the stand-up, sit-down routine is embarrassingly unfamiliar; and of course, all they want is your money. (p. 293)
  • Faced with the choice between integrity and a continued presentation of Christian concepts in which they no longer believe, clergy will choose the latter. (p.190)

To find out more, like what she said when challenged by the church on whether she was fit to be a minster (it’s inspiring), go to grettavosper.ca/ and to see her church’s website go to westhill.net/minister-and-staff/. Their beautiful motto is “Seek truth, live fully, care deeply, make a difference.” (Postscript: see the next post on this blog 609: Gretta Vosper’s case for the defence.)

Get the drift? If you know any clergy like her in England, drop me a line – I would like to go to their services.


Sources:
(i) Vosper, G. “With or without God; Why the way we live is more important than what we believe.” Harper Perennial (2008)
(ii) Vosper, G. “Amen. What prayer can mean in a world beyond belief” HarperCollins (2013)

Other Related Zingcreed Posts:
101 alternatives to saying the word god
Fowler’s six stages of religious faith
Is God a mirage?
Prayers for atheists
607: Circular arguments
573 and 574 (listed in text)
609: Gretta Vosper’s case for the defence

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