76,559,103 words today

May 10, 2009

According to the admin page for wordpress.com, it hosts 215,944 bloggers, who wrote 238,126 new posts comprising 76,559,103 words today.  Interestingly, there are more posts than bloggers which means that some bloggers have been more than compensating for the fact that I haven’t posted here since the end of 2007.

It is odd looking back at things you have written in the past, especially for religion.  It isn’t that I necessarily disagree with what I have written, it seems plausible enough (I guess), but that I’m not sure how much it really matters in the scheme of things.

After all, true Christianity is first and foremost about the quality of relationships – everything else is hot air.

Anyway, an experiment.  Back to blogging for a little while at least to see what happens.  (And maybe some other stuff, but let’s keep that a surprise)

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God does not exist
        like a rock exists
        but God is my sure foundation.

God does not exist
        like a tree exists
        but God is life.

God does not exist
        like I exist
        but God was a man.

God does not exist
        like the number three exists
        but God is one.

God does not exist
        like love exists
        but God is love.

God is.

One of the things about WordPress is that you can see where people visiting your site are coming from, and what searches they use to get here.

The other day, someone vistited from the AOL search Carlton Pearson ask god to kill him.

That’s a big call, don’t you think?   OK, so you don’t agree with Carlton; but shouldn’t you pause just a little before asking God to kill him?

Jesus was very keen on the connection between thought and action; isn’t praying for Carlton Pearson’s death morally the same as killing him yourself?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Simple and Intelligible Redux

September 24, 2007

A while ago, I (mis)used an academic paper online at the Unitarian Christian Colloqium by Andrew Brown from the beautiful Cambridge Unitarian called ‘God, Jesus, Christ & Holy Spirit’ as a starting point for some comments of mine on the need for a simple and intelligible presentation of liberal faith. Andrew was nice enough to leave an excellent comment, which is worth highlighting:

[…] I think it is right to point out that liberal Christianity should be simple – at least in its everyday practice (whether in prayer or in social action). However, this does not mean we need to be simple minded when we reflect upon our faith. I think it is vital to explore how sound, intellectually and philosophically, liberal Christianity is. Liberal Christians got caught out after the First World War simply because many of them simply hadn’t done enough hard thinking and it left the door open for people like Karl Barth to set the theological agenda for the rest of the century (and beyond). Let’s not get caught out again. I don’t claim for one minute my own theology is good and sound enough to do the job but I am keen to encourage us all to think as deeply as we can. In between times as a regular kind of pastor I try to practice Christianity in its most simple and intelligble terms just by following the example of Jesus.

The older types of liberal protestantism, such as the Universalists’, with their belief in the perfectability of human society (one 1935 creed endorsing “the power of men of good will and sacrificial spirit to overcome all evil and progressively establish the kingdom of God”) were plainly inadequate in the face of the first half of the 20C – failing Rabbi Greenberg’s post-Shoah test that we should make no theological statement that could not be made in the presence of burning children.

We certainly should not forget that lesson.

So hard thinking is certainly needed. And clear words, too.

Christianity is about…

September 18, 2007

I was wondering the other day, what is this Christianity thing about? So I sat down to make some notes and came up with five key concepts which seem important to me. Because I like to show off, I arranged them into a cross:

  Failure  
Jesus Love God
  Victory  

Christianity is about… Jesus – an itinerant rabbi living in a small backwater of the Roman Empire, Jesus was the only founder of a major religion to be executed young, alone and powerless. He taught a new view of morality based on the ideal of love, and after his death his disciples became convinced that his story had not finished and that his life showed us the nature of God – that God is like Jesus.

Christianity is about… Failure – failure at all levels. If we should love one another as ourselves, it is obvious we don’t – personal failure. As communities we wage war, tolerate slavery and starvation. But Christianity is also about the failure of Jesus, crucified. And by proclaiming a God of love, Christianity raises the question of the failure of God by putting the problem of evil at its starkest – if God loves us, why do we suffer still?

Christianity is about… God – God the creator, maker and sustainer of the ongoing universe, working through it; but also God the lover, not merely transcendent but approachable – she who lives in love lives in God, and God in her.

Christianity is about… Love – charity, agape, love; the basis of true morality. Love is about relationships and the value we put on others; we are called to enter into relationships with each other, not to obey rules.

Christianity is about… Victory – through love, there is the present reality and hope for God’s victory. Called by many names: salvation, the kingdom, the Spirit of God, the new convenant, the resurrection, life in abundance; it is a vision and coming reality of the healing of relationships and the breaking in of love into our hearts and lives. The work of God; this victory is seen in Jesus, seen in our own lives, still coming. It provides the hope of a victory over death itself but is here, and now.

This isn’t everything – it’s probably wrong, too.

What do you think Christianity is about?

What is it not about? Things I think it isn’t about: the Bible, miracles, hell, commandments, sacrifice, atonement, purity.

A loveless Creation

March 8, 2007

Boy in the Bands hat tips Stephen Retherford writing at Sisyphus and points out CreationWiki and Conservapedia, ‘conservative’ alternatives to Wikipedia.

Scott rightly points out that these projects are doomed for lack of long term contributors – centrally enforced groupthink doesn’t wash in a networked pluralistic world where leaving is just a click away.

I’m less certain, however, that the Internet doesn’t have the ability to create self-enforcing groupthink: self selecting groups spinning in more and more radical ways. Look at the online political blogwars between increasingly strident sites such as DailyKos and Little Green Footballs for example.

In any case, I offer my condemnation of both these ‘Christian’ sites: although they claim to be about Christianity and Creation, neither CreationWiki nor Conservapaedia have thought it important to write a page about Love.

I haven’t checked these people out yet (beyond a quick scan of their website) so I’m not in any way endorsing them, but I thought I would highlight a post made by Eric Stetson:

I am in the process of organizing an ecumenical organization called the Universalist Churches Association. This will be a community of faith (churches, ministries, and individuals) representing and proclaiming a coherent theological Christian Universalism. We are essentially trying to resurrect the Universalist Church of America in a new form.

This organization is brand new — it was founded in January 2007. Several Christian Universalist ministers, evangelists, authors and scholars from a diversity of traditions have already gotten involved. Rev. Kalen Fristad, a Methodist minister, traveling evangelist, and author of the book “Destined For Salvation,” is chairman of our board of directors.

This is going to be a very serious, significant organization uniting Universalist Christians — or at least we hope and expect that this will prove to be the case, God willing.

Visit our website: www.universalistchurches.org

If you like what we are doing, please spread the word!

Eric Stetson
Executive Director,
The Universalist Churches Association

They have an online Statement of Belief, which seems to be freshly written (and somewhat longer than Winchester).  

I would be interested in the comments of anyone who has come across this group and knows who they are, what theological approach lies beneath their beliefs and so on.