Monday, September 18, 2006


It's a rocky road for the religious these days. I laughed aloud at this from youtube (thanks, Neil) the other day, and followed with some irritation the story of the Pope's supposed blunder - and yet I'd just been to church, and felt involved/affected/whatever it is we feel when faith is an active feature of our lives. I've always wondered if it were somehow feeble of me not to be a fervent door-banger or street-corner evangelist, but only in a detached sort of way. For in reality I always knew these activities made me cringe.

Today I had further thoughts on the matter, during a training session for lay leaders. While exploring just how much (or how little) we knew about the Old Testament (or indeed the entire Bible, but the OT more so, or less so) I came to the conclusion that I am a Christian despite the bible. Now that's an over-simplification, but there is so much written about which I feel sceptical or even - in the case of stories like Jael and Sisera - repelled that the outsider would wonder what remained for a faith to be built on.

And it's there that poetry comes to the rescue (again). I've just been quoting this over on Following Columba, and it gave me the third leg for today's thought to stand on. R.S.Thomas, in his poem "The Absence", talks about "a vacuum which he [God] may not abhor" - and that's it. Not so much something to build on, but something breathless which is kept alive by faith. No dogma, really, just emptiness. And the words of Christ to give form to the God who comes.

All a bit vague for bashing people with, really. And you should try explaining it to a fundamentalist ....


  1. Anonymous6:48 PM

    'And you should try explaining it to a fundamentalist ....'

    Indeed you should! Let me know how you get on. (if you're struggling to find one, maybe go for a coffee somewhere after swimming?)

  2. Anonymous9:12 PM

    Easy - Revelation 19:13
    I understand what your talking about in this post but then again it would be difficult to find a Christian who didn't.
    It's a kind of trap for educated people to look for God by their education. God is not revealed by human intellect but by revelation from the Holy Spirit.
    It's not that I despise education I'm all for as much education as a person can get but as you wrote that empty space in the human soul can only be touched and warmed by the breath of Christ and the breath of Christ is the word of God.

  3. I've always believed that the Books of the Bible were the Word of God, interpreted by the writers with all the 'baggage' of the culture within which they existed. This was especially true of the Old Testament, pre-Christ Books.

    From that intellectual perspective, I need to try to understand not the actuality of the story, but the message behind it - which can put me on very thin ice at times.

    Jimmy, I've no problem with what you've said, but spare a thought for those like me who don't doubt God is speaking to us, but who don't yet know how to understand the message.

  4. Anonymous1:21 PM

    A touch of unhelpful caricature here? Isn't putting people in little boxes just what God DOESN'T do?

  5. Morag, not sure I understand your point. Can you expand please?