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Theological certainty is less comforting than you’d think

One of the strangest things about looking back at the past is noticing how certain I was about everything. It’s hard to explain, and people often have a hard time understanding it, but during the period when I really, truly believed, I was absolutely certain that I was never going to change my mind. I felt that I’d finally found the truth, and that could never be undone.

Prayer 3It wasn’t as if I was moving in line with a different worldview, more as if I’d discovered a new fact. People can change their opinions, but why would I ever think that France wasn’t a country, now that I knew it was? I didn’t usually talk of knowing, but that’s what it comes down to – I had special knowledge, and I couldn’t imagine that ever changing. Read More…

The Curious Incident of the Herald in the Night-Time

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Disc jockey, TV presenter, charity fundraiser, knight of the realm, and now alleged rapist and paedophile, it seems everybody has an opinion on Sir Jimmy Savile. Or as I suppose I should call him, devout Catholic Sir Jimmy Savile. Read More…

Loss of Faith as modelled in Lord of the Rings

Faith – how do you lose yours?

We all try to sustain our existing beliefs. We assess our experiences and new evidence through the lens of what we currently believe, and if we feel that our beliefs are threatened in some way, we find ways to defend or reinforce them. That’s not a criticism, just a statement of fact – we all do it, in all sorts of situations.

I’ve seen and heard plenty of cases of what could be described as people losing their faith. I’m not entirely comfortable with that phrase, as it implies that the faith was a valuable thing (which is up for debate), and also conjures up a strange mental picture of people turning their houses upside down looking for this faith that they lost, but it’s probably the best phrase to describe what I’m talking about. Read More…

How can we change delusional beliefs?

That’s a fairly imposing title, isn’t it? I obviously don’t believe in making it easy for myself.

This all stems from my previous thoughts about how tenaciously we cling onto our existing beliefs, and a recent discussion about what that means for how we should go about convincing people to let go of beliefs that are clearly wrong and potentially damaging. This is meant to be about the process, not the beliefs, so to avoid discussion of the rights and wrongs of particular beliefs, let’s say you have a friend who belongs to a group called the Bargles, who believe that black is white, and (because sometimes we decide to let these things go for the sake of friendship) that for some reason it would be dangerous to just leave him to his beliefs. Read More…

Belonging, Confidence and Indoctrination – How the church drew me in

Hi all.

I’ve just had a guest post published on the Confessions of a Heretic Husband blog, about how I was drawn deeper into the church by the encouragement and support I received at a point in my life when I was feeling vulnerable. Heretic Husband’s got an interesting blog, and I’m sure he’d be very happy to see you over there.

Here’s the post.


Republican for a day

Bah humbug

I’m not really bothered about the monarchy. I think it’s a peculiar anachronism that our Head of State is decided by accident of birth, but as a constitutional monarch, the Queen has no real power, and when you consider the sort of people who tend to get elected as councillors, mayors, MPs and even Prime Ministers, it often seems like quite a relief that this is one position that isn’t going to be won by grubby political manoeuvring. But for at least one day next week, during the Jubilee celebrations, I will turn into a staunch republican. Read More…

Become like little children?

This is something I was trying to write a while back, before putting it aside for a while because I got distracted by an idea for a silly parody which seemed more fun to write. I’ve been thinking a lot about children, and how best to bring them up. No doubt I’ll post more on this subject in time.

It’s often assumed that children are naive conversion fodder who’ll believe anything they’re told. It’s true that young children haven’t developed the tools to evaluate claims for themselves, they believe lots of things before coming to realise they’re untrue as they grow up, and plenty of people have stories of how they were brought up with particular beliefs before finally rejecting their faith as an adult. But even so, I think this assumption might be an oversimplification of a rather more complex reality. Read More…

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