The more I lose my loyalty to Christianity the more I believe. It’s not so paradoxical. I needn’t cite references to all the many theological books and articles I have read over the years to explain what I mean. I know what I mean.
Organisational religion is great at codifying things. As an institution that’s what it’s supposed to do. It claims to know the truth. It offers solutions to any problem of living and loving you might bring up. It offers healing for your hurt. Above all, it offers explanations.
In an age of meaninglessness that is important; seductive, even. It can also be dangerous. Some explanations are inflammatory, inhuman, terrifying.
But not unwelcome to some. To some people, religious ‘truth’ is unassailable. You can’t not believe it. If you do, you represent a danger. A potentially fatal one. That is why the man who is absolutely convinced about his god, his truth, may think it entirely justifiable to remove you, the unbeliever, the threat to the community. All this is made worse by religious leaders who claim to know the truth so well that nobody can contest them.
Here I can’t resist quoting at least one reviled thinker, that turbulent priest John Shelby Spong: “Religion almost inevitably tries to take our anxiety away from us by claiming that which religion can never deliver – absolute certainty. If religious systems succeed in giving us certainty, they have surely become idolatrous..”
My answer? Accept the obvious: that, for all their insights, all religions are flawed human constructs, culturally-specific systems based on partial perspectives of the world and our predicaments, and nurtured by exclusivity, narrow-mindedness and pietism. Whatever “God” is – and there is no god in any existential framework that we can imagine – the concept is this at least: the connectedness of all things, the “ground of all our being”, the dynamic of the universe, the source of all the energy and existence that ‘is’, the tao.
If I believe this – and I do – I have no right or reason to expect any fellow being to believe it with me. Still less will I try and kill them because they believe something else. And, yes, I still go to church. I try and keep to the Golden Rule: do as you would that others do to you.
I am an Anglican atheist. I believe.