What Would Jesus Do? Good question!

WWJDOnce, long ago, I picked up the habit of wearing a wristband – they were quite fashionable at the time, in a nerdy God Squad kind of way – with WWJD written on it. It stood, of course, for “What Would Jesus Do?” The idea was to control for my normal human weakness and inability to live up to my ideals, but it ended up being just another reason for feeling guilty, a constant reminder of my failure even with a constant reminder of what to do.

I liked the sentiment – What Would Jesus Do? What, indeed? It seemed so simple, but so profound. If Jesus was truly God incarnate, where else would I go to find an example of how to behave? He was the ultimate man, and therefore the ideal to aspire to. Even though I struggled to apply it to my life, it seemed obvious that the principle was sound. Read More…

Thanks and apologies to my readers

TypingAs you may have noticed, I tend to be a bit down on religion. Not entirely, and I hope not without good reason, but it’s largely due to the nature of my story. I’m still on a journey from my former conservative evangelical beliefs, with various stops along the way, and a lot of my thoughts are directed towards ideas I used to hold and am now questioning or rejecting.

I know that I have a number of followers who are religious in some form or another, generally with a sensible, progressive or liberal approach and an awareness of the various problems with the sort of beliefs I usually criticise. I respect them both for their beliefs (even if I disagree) and particularly for their interest in reading things that are often less than flattering about religion. They are a valuable addition here, and I’m grateful for that. Read More…

Want to protect Christians from persecution? Then ignore Douglas Alexander

Jerusalem RooftopsDouglas Alexander, a frontbench member of Her Majesty’s Opposition, has got into the news by speaking out about the treatment of Christians in the Middle East, and saying that politicians should “do God”. He says lots of people this Christmas will be risking their lives if they attend a church service, and that is both wrong and something that politicians should be opposing.

It’s clear that Mr Alexander feels the plight of Christians in certain parts of the world very keenly, as his faith leads him to identify closely with them. I don’t blame him for that in any way, but his words run the risk of exacerbating the very situation he wishes to correct. Read More…

A Critic Writes: The vital significance of Third Sheep in the Nativity

NativityWe consider that we know what makes a nativity, but do we really? Despite the apparent simplicity of the concept, it’s obvious to clever people like me that this story is a multi-layered intertextual phenomenon. There are layers upon layers, layers within layers, and layers next to layers but at a slight angle. There is nothing simple about it.

Every element of the story is vital to making it the enduring phenomenon it is. Some of these have a direct, functional role – Jesus needs parents, who in turn need transport and somewhere to stay, and no birth would be complete without people popping in uninvited and giving you impractical gifts you didn’t ask for. But other roles are far more significant and symbolic. Read More…

Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air, which doesn’t reflect well on the church

Pope FrancisBack at the start of the year, you’d have got pretty long odds on the Pope being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013, but that was before Ratzi hung up his blingtastic papal shoes and cleared the way for a younger (or rather, slightly less old) man.

Pope Francis has undoubtedly had a good year. He immediately had a profound impact on perceptions of the Roman Catholic Church with his obvious humility and simplicity in dress, and his softly spoken inclusivity in speech has also been very popular from the beginning. To be honest, though, he mostly benefits from comparison with his predecessor’s considerably more prickly character. Read More…

The true cost of gay marriage

Happy CoupleGay marriage is here. It’s legal in many countries, it’s been approved by an ever-increasing number of US states, and the UK has now announced the date when same-sex couples will be able to get properly married, instead of separate-but-equal not-really-marriage.

Unsurprisingly, the dire predictions of terrible consequences should people of the same sex be allowed to get married haven’t come to pass. Polygamy, incest and bestiality remain as illegal and taboo as ever, existing marriages have persisted despite the claim that this “redefinition” threatened them in some way, and society is yet to collapse. Read More…

Why I blog and what Descartes is all about

I’ve been neglecting this blog over the last few weeks. There have been a lot of things going on that I would have liked to cover, but a combination of pressures at work and at home have simply left me without the time or the energy to do so. Rather than fight a losing battle with real life or go through the motions for a while, I found it easiest just to drop everything until I could find a bit of time to really focus on it. Sorry for the sudden and unexplained absence.

One of the side-effects of this impromptu sabbatical was that the added distance led me to consider why I blog and what I get out of it. I like having a space for organising my thoughts, both serious and frivolous, and I like the back-and-forth exchange of ideas. But this morning, I realised that above all else, what motivates me is a desire to challenge and correct errors. Read More…

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