Saturday, April 28, 2007

Overwhelming question

As a result of an interesting conversation with Neil yesterday, I've been thinking - again - about faith. We were discussing Richard Dawkins - no, I haven't read the book, but he has - and it struck me how impossible it is actually to defend religious belief. When faced with the fact that people blow other people up in the name of religion, it's only possible to point out that some faith systems are over 500 years behind Christianity in development, and that 500 years ago Christians were still burning each other at the stake for heresy. And while this is mildly interesting, it's hardly inspiring. It's also true that there are Christians today who seem not to have advanced much beyond this state of mind; they are high profile and outsiders assume we're all the same, so all that's left is dissociation - a case of "That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all".

There I go again. Poetry. But for me poetry holds the key to talking about God - the key of nuance and metaphor, of association and suggestion. Using prose is like pinning the butterfly - dead already - to the wall, for closer examination. And then there's music, opening the soul and enabling the senses. But not prose, at once too specific and too blunt. I'm just glad I don't have to preach every week.


  1. Anonymous1:30 AM

    Yes, I see, Chris. But, the Bible, best described as a library rather than a book, speaks in many modes. It is rife with poetry, and yet it also has one of the world’s great and highly sophisticated mostly prose stories in the account of Abraham, the prototype of one who is both saint and sinner. There is, in that library, also bald history and historical fiction and so much more. God, in his infinite wisdom, teaches us about himself in all sorts of ways through the words of those who were inspired to write and redact the Scriptures, or so it seems to me.

  2. I agree, Walter, but I'm thinking more about how we do this talking *now*. Perhaps our very use of language now makes it harder - that, and the insistence of sceptics that we're all fundamentalists and as such dangerously deluded.

  3. Anonymous4:44 PM

    And the sad thing is that many preachers are too scared to speak the truth about scripture and thereby many enlightened leaders do in fact collude with fundamentalism.

  4. It seems to me that the term 'fundamentalist' has, in recent years, become so pejorative that no one with any sense desires to be associated with it. I'm in the unfortunate position of being a 'fundamentalist' by faith in that I taken the bible seriously in a literal sense. This is not to say that I condone all that's said and and done in the name of fundamentalism but I believe it's possible to be a fundamentalist without being unenlightened or deluded.
    As far as Dawkins is concerned, I think many are in agreement (amongst non-believers also) that he is not merely an atheist rather atheism has become his religion and, if anything, he is certainly a fundamentalist.