Tag Archive | Christianity

Everyone should be able to appreciate Rev

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I’ve waited a long time for this – on Monday, Rev returns to our screens, probably for the last time. It’s one of my very favourite shows, but I’ve always found it hard to summarise its appeal for the benefit of those who haven’t watched it. It’s very frustrating to like something without being able to explain why, so it’s about time I had a proper go here.

First, it’s easiest to say what it isn’t. Rev isn’t really a sitcom, although it is funny, but nor is it a straight drama. It walks a delicate line, portraying the reality of inner-city church life as accurately as any series I’ve seen and allowing the humour to flow naturally from the absurdity of situations that many churchgoers will recognise – the plots and ideas are meticulously researched and typically based on real events, however unlikely that may seem. 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…

Christianity doesn’t even meet its own moral standards

Cross SunlightFollowing on from my recent post about how Christianity falls into moral relativism, I was confronted with another well-worn apologist gambit that I was intending to address anyway – the claim that atheists don’t have any objective basis for morality, and therefore have no right to criticise Christianity. This is a bit different, as it rests on a claim about the subjectivity of atheism, not the objectivity of Christianity, so I thought it would be worth dealing with it separately.

In fact, for the sake of argument, I’m going to accept that atheism has no objective basis for morality, but Christianity does. I think I’ve pretty effectively demonstrated that this isn’t true, but you either agree or not, and there’s no point in rehashing those points. Even accepting these points, an atheist has a powerful response, by appealing not to his own morality, but Christianity’s. Read More…

The moral relativism of Christianity

ChainsHere comes another old favourite. Atheism, apologists claim, inevitably leads to moral relativism (assumed, but not demonstrated to be a bad thing), while Christianity has an objective and unchanging moral basis. Because Christianity has God’s teachings in the Big Old Book of Middle Eastern Tribal Behaviour, which opens a window directly onto the only true, objective basis for morality. That’s why we stone adulterers, keep slaves, sell our children… hang on! Read More…

Maybe I need to get down to basics

I’m not really interested in being obvious. I enjoy finding unusual angles and approaches, and I don’t want to waste my time proving that the world’s round, or grass is green. There’s nothing wrong with that in its place, but it’s not my thing.

That’s served me well enough until now, and it’s still true that if I’m ever reduced to posts with no more content than “What about those creationists, eh?” this blog will have passed its sell-by date. But then I experienced a sudden influx after being featured on Freshly Pressed (waves to new followers), and I found myself attracting sermons from people who didn’t know me, haven’t been following my story and in some cases, didn’t even convince me that they’d read and understood the post in question. Read More…

Preparing to come out

It all started with the best of intentions.

First, there were a lot of issues that were flying around my head. My previous beliefs were becoming ever less secure, but I’d been through this before. Most people find their beliefs wax and wane, so this wasn’t anything I was going to bring up out of nowhere to people who I wouldn’t normally be discussing my theological positions with. It was just business as usual.

Coming OutThen I started to drift away, losing my fear of unbelief and increasingly exploring those areas and imagining a life without religion. It was different, but possibly no more than increased empathy and openness to different arguments. I stayed put in the church, and nothing really changed. Still nothing that was worth specifically mentioning to anyone. Read More…

If you want to understand young atheists, don’t ask Larry Taunton

Larry Taunton, director of the Fixed Point Foundation, recently wrote an article for The Atlantic about what young atheists think. It’s been doing the rounds of forums and social media since it was published a couple of weeks ago, and it’s still prompting a lot of discussion about what it means, with Christians poring over it and fretting about whether their own children might catch the dreadful disease of atheism. I read it with interest when I heard about it, but despite a superficial appearance of objectivity and insight, I was very disappointed.

ChapelTaunton’s “surprising” findings really aren’t that surprising – in fact, they’re astonishingly self-evident, mainly products of selection bias that he either hasn’t noticed or chooses not to acknowledge. Any degree of thoughtful reflection reduces them to laughable statements of the bleedin’ obvious.

He finds that most of the atheists surveyed were brought up within Christianity. (What’s that? Brought up Christian? In America? Hold the front page!) Read More…

Book Review: Unapologetic by Francis Spufford

UnapologeticFirst, a confession. When I brought this book home after finally grabbing a copy from the library, my wife gave me one of those half-amused, half-offended looks and pointed out that not so long ago, I’d been dismissive and even scornful when she’d mentioned that it sounded interesting. I’d forgotten that, but she’s right – I think I’d previously read some comments by Francis Spufford that didn’t impress me, and a whole book of the same thing seemed less than appealing.

But when I got started (mainly, it has to be said, out of curiosity and with the intention of carefully dismantling it), I began to feel rather well-disposed towards both book and author. Spufford’s style is a disarmingly conversational faux-dialogue, answering questions he expects you to ask, waxing lyrical, spinning yarns and quoting liberally from sources as unlikely as Monty Python and Hannibal Lecter. If nothing else, it’s very readable. Read More…

Ten Hundred Word Purgatory

TortureMr Jesus talked a lot about what happens when we die. He warned people not to be bad, or they might not go to the nice place in the sky. He also said lots of things about people going to bad places where they get hurt after they die. Some God-liking people think this means all the other people always go to the bad place under the ground, but some think it’s a bit different.

Some of those people say that there’s a place where people go to get hurt, but when they have been hurt enough to make the bad things they did go away, they get to go to the nice place in the sky after that. Read More…

Is religious co-operation really all that liberal?

MinaretEcumenism and interfaith dialogue is big news these days. Last year Baroness Warsi, a Muslim, led a delegation from the UK, an officially Anglican state, to meet the Pope, and the result was a bit of a multifaith love-in. And just recently, I read about a new trend of Convergence Christianity, specifically described as not simply blending into a moderate middle, but rather being more open to discussion and adopting elements of each other’s practices, despite differences.

Ecumenical relations are often held to be a good thing, a sign of increasing religious liberalism and willingness to compromise. That’s a fairly obvious conclusion to draw when different religious traditions are prepared to talk and listen instead of condemning each other, but there’s another angle that may be worth considering. Read More…

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