Jul 12 2009

July 2009 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters


Sea of Faith         Newsletter

 NETWORK N.Z.                 July  2009


Aelred Edmunds invited us to:


Aelred invited each of us to ask the following question:  Could I consider working with chosen religious symbols (any tradition) while consciously, deliberately, by-passing the doctrines and dogmas connected with those symbols? Could there possibly be major benefits available from doing this?

Or is the whole idea no more than a fancy – maybe even a fantasy? Well, Joseph Campbell did not think so. Gregory Salyer writes of Joseph Campbell: “[He] was such a lover of the symbols themselves that he could give himself to them only, and remain detached from the creeds and philosophies which would invariably try to claim priority over the symbols and pre-determine their meaning.”

Is there any religious symbol which you use in this manner? If there is, would you like to share with us on it?

“Who needs Jesus?”
The annual national Sea of Faith Conference will be held in fine new conference facilities at the Diocesan School for Girls in  Hamilton, Friday September 25 to Sunday September 27, with this as the theme. Speakers include David Boulton (from England, author of “Who on EARTH was Jesus?” and “The Trouble with God”), Lloyd Geering (“who needs no introduction”) and Greg Jenks (from Brisbane, a fellow of the Jesus Seminar), Margaret Mayman, minister of St Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington and Doug Sellman, a psychiatrist from Christchurch.
There will be more details and a registration form at next meeting.


‘”The Trouble With Jesus”

David Kitchingman has given us a list of the books he referred to in his presentation last month:
I’m sure several of them are in our local Sea of Faith Library  –  Ed.]

Who on Earth was Jesus? The Modern Quest for the Jesus of History – David Boulton (2008)
Women and the Historical Jesus: Feminist Myths of Christian Origins  – Kathleen Corley (2002)
Layman’s Answer: an Examination of the New Theology – E.M. Blaiklock (1968)
The Death of Socrates – Emily Wilson (2007)
Susan Manning, “Burns and God” in a collection of lectures entitled Robert Burns and Cultural Authority – ed. Robert Crawford (1997)
The Trouble with God: Building the Republic of Heaven  – David Boulton (2005)
The Vanishing Face of Gaia: a Final Warning  –  James Lovelock (2009)

Another Angle on “The Trouble with Jesus”:

For many years, it has bothered me [your Editor] that, although New Zealand used to be called “a Christian country” without the speaker being ironic or sarcastic, neither our laws nor our community ethics have ever had much connection with the teaching of Jesus as we have it in the Sermon on the Mount.      As I mentioned last month, I’ve recently read Karen Armstrong’s biography of Muhammad  – and ever since, several questions have been slowly festering away in my mind:
· Can any religion make a substantial contribution to a country’s laws and morals?
· Did Jesus succeed in offering something to individuals, but fail to provide for building a better society?
· Did Muhammad do better than Jesus in offering usable rules for a community?With those questions in mind  – what do you make of this passage from Karen Armstrong’s book?

“In the social legislation of the Qu’ran … Muhammad does not break with tribalism completely.  The Qu’ran sees revenge as a mark of virtue and a social and religious duty.   Muslims must retaliate exactly, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.  It is difficult for people who have been brought up on the Sermon on the Mount to accept this.    We find it abominable that a sacred book should recommend that a thief should have his hand chopped off, and we cannot understand why Muhammad does not outlaw revenge and preach a message of forgiveness.   But we must remember that Jesus was not head of state, as Muhammad [was] …. .    He[Jesus] did not have to concern himself with the maintenance of public order, a job carried out by the religious establishment that he is said to have reviled, and by the officials of Rome.   If he had been responsible for social legislation, he would in all probability have been forced to resort to similarly draconian methods because in most pre-modern societies the law has had to be enforced with a severity and brutality which seems horrific to us today.  Even in Britain until relatively recently we did not merely mutilate a thief; we either killed him for quite trivial offences or sent him off to the colonies as a slave.”                [p. 228]

I would love to have some comments or reactions to print next month.

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