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In which I provoke a domestic disagreement about magic

I do my best to be honest and straightforward with my boys, and also to respect their ability to answer question for themselves. In religion, as in most things, it’s more important to me that they think, evaluate the evidence and reach their own considered conclusions than that they reach the same answer as me.

Magic Wand

No, you can’t have my miracle wand

So when my elder son wanted to know what a miracle was, I tried to give him a fair and balanced explanation that a six-year-old would be able to understand. A brief run through some basic details, claims and understandings wasn’t too bad, but when he asked how it worked, I briefly hesitated and then said it was a bit like magic.

This was a mistake. Read More…


The pain of a returning heathen

Christmas is over, I’m back home and I’m also back to bunking off while the rest of the family go off on Sunday mornings. It was a very strange experience to be back in church after quite a few months – I want to say “bittersweet”, but I’m not sure which bit would be bitter and which sweet.

It was nice to be with my family on an important occasion, and it was nice to be able to join in with the celebration, but it was improved for me by the knowledge that it was a temporary choice to be there, not a wearing, frustrating obligation. Maybe it’s just a psychological trick, but that sense of control made a huge difference.

I particularly appreciated the sense of community within the church, which is possibly the thing I miss most of all. A startling number of people said how lovely it was to see me, and how much I’d been missed. That was quite nice to hear, but also rather sad. I’m not really part of that community anymore, and I don’t think I can be. However friendly the people are, I just don’t believe what they do. Unfortunately, it seems I’m going to carry on longing for that community, and they’re going to carry on missing me. Read More…

Daddy, why aren’t you coming?

It’s a few months now since I walked away from the church, and it’s generally been quite an easy time. I’ve found that I’m more relaxed at weekends, because I’m not dreading Sunday mornings, and we’ve settled into a routine that works pretty well. But my boys aren’t prepared to make it all that easy.

Initially, they didn’t seem to be bothered that I was staying at home when they went to church, and for quite a while, they were surprisingly unquestioning of it. That suited me, as I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to explain it to them. That changed recently. First it was “Daddy, are you coming to church this week?” Then it was “You never come with us any more!” Finally, it was “Please come with us, please!” I couldn’t put it off any longer. Read More…

Confessions of a bigot

Don’t call him a bigot – he’s just equality-impaired

No one likes to be called a bigot. Lord Carey certainly doesn’t, and nor would I. It’s an uncomfortable judgement on someone’s impartiality and openness to persuasion. Above all, it suggests that they’re not just interested in holding or opposing a position, but actual hatred of a group. Unfortunately, it’s often an accurate description.

The problem, as I see it, is that there’s a tendency for both the people who use the word and their targets to view it as a boo-word, rather than a factual description or something to be considered and corrected. So it’s time for a confession – I used to be a bigot. Read More…

Diary of an Exile

Thanks to various events, today was the first time that my self-imposed exile from church required me to stay at home while my family went off without me. It’s a very strange feeling.

The first (and hardest) question was what to tell the boys about why Daddy isn’t coming with them. I wanted to say that I wasn’t enjoying church at the moment (which is simple and accurate), but that would invite the response that they don’t enjoy it, so they don’t want to go either. I’m not sure how I feel about them going to church to be taught things I don’t believe, but nor do I want to be responsible for them not going. At least, not like that. So we just told them I was busy doing things at home. We’ll need to come up with something better soon. Read More…

My letter to Rowan

I’m not generally the sort of person who goes quietly into the night, but more than that, I care about what the church is doing to gay people. So I wasn’t about to leave without making my point to the church hierarchy. Having already been in discussion with both my vicar and my bishop, I finally went right to the top to express my feelings. I don’t have any real hope that it will change anything, but I feel that it needs to be said, so I’ve said it. Here’s my letter.

To: Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear Archbishop,

I write this letter in some sorrow. I was brought up, baptised, confirmed and married in the Church of England, continue to be a member of the church, and have always considered the CofE as a whole to be a reasonable, thoughtful body, even if the broadness of the church meant that some of its individual members could be very wrong. Unfortunately, in the light of the church’s statement on same-sex marriage, I can no longer sustain such a belief, and feel I have no choice but to leave the church. Read More…


So I’ve walked away from the church after they said some nasty things about gay people. Which is odd, because it’s not exactly as if it’s the first time something like this has happened. I think the statement on same-sex marriage was different in some way, but that doesn’t exactly explain the severity of my reaction.

I remember the exact day of the statement. My mind was on it the whole day, thinking about what it meant, and what I should do. The intensity of feeling has faded with time, but not the certainty that things had changed, or that I had to do something. In many ways, it felt just like a spiritual epiphany. Read More…

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