Jun 26 2008

June 2008 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters

Sea of Faith                    Newsletter       


    Dunedin                                     June  2008



Bruce Spittle spoke on:
“Leaving Port on the Sea of Faith”

Bruce explained:
There are two broad positions one can be in: “in port” with a traditional theistic God, or on “the Sea of Faith” with non-realism but no supernatural theistic being. 
On the Sea of Faith the term God does not have any objective meaning, but has a subjective meaning such as:  what the individual regards as being their God or their highest values.  The process of leaving the traditional Church, in mind or in body, has been called for the purpose of this presentation “leaving port on the Sea of Faith” and some of the obstacles to doing this, the difficulties of going against traditional authorities, the costs and the rewards, are outlined.




Bruce would be very happy if people read his paper before they come on Thursday evening June 26th. So we’ve already put it on our branch website: (See other post of same date).  You can print it off, or read it online. If you want to read it but don’t have access to the Internet, ring Don [476-3268] and he will mail you a copy.
STOP PRESS:  Bruce has also just drawn my attention to a very interesting website containing a dozen essays on the question:  “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?”         Go to: the John Templeton Foundation
Page 2

“Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide ….”
For the first time in a long time, I found myself singing these words at a funeral recently.
They’ve always seemed too sentimental to appeal much to me, although I could understand that they might express or fit with the religious style and religious experience of some people.  
Then the hymn moves on to:
                  “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day
                  Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
                  Change and decay in all around I see ….”  
and later:
                  …. Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies,
                  Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee ….”

I used to feel that although this, too, was not to my taste, maybe “for those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like”. Now, however, I find myself less tolerant, more inclined to reject this approach as essentially out of line with the approach to life that Jesus spoke about, and set an example of.
I have never believed in any kind of after-life that would enable me to pick up again relationships that have been important to me in this life.   And I have never subscribed to the view that this life is essentially a preparation for, and therefore less important than, another life beyond death.  But I used to be able to say, broad-mindedly, that people who held to views like that had their idea of what Christianity was about, and I had mine.    Now, although I believe I am still not just tolerant, but respectful, of people who hold such views, I lean much more toward the opinion that such views distort Christianity –  that they are at odds with the values of Jesus, the way he himself lived, and the way he encouraged the people he met to live. 
As I see things now, when the Church talks (or sings) as though the only life we know should be secondary to a supposed life beyond death, it makes it very much harder for many people  – in the Western world at least  – not only to take the church and its message seriously, but worse,  to take the teaching of Jesus seriously.  I think it is urgent and important for the Church to be talking about relationships between people at every level  – within families, within organisations and institutions, and both nationally and globally.   I see it as equally urgent for the Church to be talking about caring for the earth and its resources  –  partly for the sake of people today and in the future, but also from a sense of responsibility for the Earth for its sown sake.  But judging or evaluating how we behave here and now in terms of an after-life, at the least undercuts, and maybe contradicts, saying what needs to be said about justice for all people and justice for the Earth.  
So, while I think that by and large I am more tolerant than I used to be in my younger days, I find I am now less tolerant of hymns like “Abide with me …” and “Rock of Ages … “.   I see them now as not merely harmlessly sentimental, but as positively harmful. 
–  Don
P.S.:  I would love to be able to print in a future Newsletter comments from any of you to this kite-flying of mine, or any other comments on any topic relevant to the Sea of Faith.  

Chairman:    Geoff Neilson   –    Phone 489-6727  –    Email:  geoff
Newsletter Editor:   Donald Feist  –   Phone 476-3268   –  Email:   Don 

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply