Tuesday 29 May 2007

I'm spoiling you now...

I know this is a bit mad to have 2 entires in the space of an hour, but I did the 'What's your theological worldview?' quiz, as recommended on The Soapbox and thought I'd share the results. I'm pleased to see that I've been heavily influenced by 'the Methodists', but a little scared that a quarter of me is fundamentalist. Here you go:

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan, You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical


Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal






What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Several things....

So I am making progress with my list of 50 Things to Do (see a previous blog entry). I have spent time gardening (this was always going to be the easiest one to complete, since I spend a lot of time gardening, but I thought it best to have a few 'quick win' tasks, so I would feel better about myself). I have also made some additions to my Enid Blyton collection (courtesy of charity shops) and have added a few Booker winners to my bookshelves as well (charity shops again).

I have also spent some time on the Richard Dawkins website (this paragraph is not connected with the one above, by the way. I have now Changed The Subject). Apart from being appallingly slow, this is an amusing site. I have given up on trying to have profound thoughts about Richard Dawkins' writings (well, The God Delusion anyway) and decided it's just a pile of pants. This is an easier route, clearly, than considering it carefully and making philosophical and intellectual comments about it, but for that I make no apology. Life is hard enough without tying myself in knots over a pile of pants.

The difficulty with a lot of the posters (i.e. People Who Post) on Dawkins' site is that they seem to be defined almost exclusively by what they don't believe in. The site's header is 'a free-thinking oasis', but other than that, it's just one big rant against religion. And a lot of them have no sense of humour.

In Other News, I think I have discovered which of the latest 'Christian boxes' I fit into. I am a Post Evangelical. That means, I have Evangelical beliefs, but have reservations about some of the practices and 'dogmas' of traditional evangelicalism. I discovered this unexpectedly... I went to the library to get a book on how to make soft toys (for my church craft fair) and I saw Dave Tomlinson's book 'The Post-Evangelical'. It's really interesting.... written about 10 years ago, it talks about the struggles that a lot of evangelicals have with the evangelical church - the apparent shallowness of some of the worship, the dogmas of 'quiet time' and so on, and the tendency to focus on 'heaven when you die' rather than 'life here and now'. So it had me all a-pondering about the direction the church needs to take in the future. I may get round to turning these into coherent thoughts, I may not. If I do, I'll let you know.

Anyway, I had never yet found a box I fitted into and now I have. So I have climbed in and shut the lid so no one else can get in. If you'd like to join me, do our secret knock and I'll let you in.

Friday 18 May 2007

A distinct feeling of underwhelmedness

So I finished reading The God Delusion (having unexpectedly found it in paperback in Eason's, at least 3 weeks prior to its paperback release date. Go figure.).

I am left feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Richard Dawkins is a very, very excellent science writer, and some of that skill comes through in the final chapter, but as for the rest... well... it's just not very good, to be honest.

The trains of argument go like this:
Start of journey: 'Here is what I think and I will prove it to you in this chapter'
(*Choo-choo* - train trundles out of station)
Tea-lady appears with trolley of nice things (which you can't afford since you have no way of contacting your bank to remortgage your house while you're on the train): Here is a reasonably plausible argument for why what I think is true
Making headway towards destination: here are some illustrations of why this is true
Announcement: The Enterprise will enter Connolly Station in 5 minutes. Please take all your belongings with you: We'll now throw in some bad things religion has done, just to finish off
Train pulls into station: And now that we've proved that, here's what we'll look at in the next chapter
Announcement: Thank you for travelling with us on The Enterprise today. We apologise for the six and a half hour delay to today's journey, and trust that arriving in Dublin at 11.45pm instead of 5.15pm will not cause you too much inconvenience. We look forward to you travelling with us again.
And that's that.

There were significant chunks that I had to re-read because I thought I'd missed something. But no - there was simply no argument there.

Now, to be fair (oh all right then), there are some arguments in the book, many of which I agreed with. But they just seemed to be arguing against things that religious people don't generally believe in anyway (that the Bible provides a literal moral platform for us to copy, that Pascal's wager is a good bet (Pascal's wager being that if we don't know whether God exists then we might as well believe in Him because we've nothing to lose if we're wrong and everything to gain if we're right), literal 6-day creation, blah blah blah.) I know some Christians believe these things, but not all by any means. And some have simply never been exposed to anything else (I believed in literal 6 day creation when I was a teenager, but then someone explained evolution to me and I thought, ok, fair enough).

Anyway, I've only just finished it, and not really thought about it - hopefully once I compose some constructive thoughts on the matter, I'll blog again and share those.

Thursday 17 May 2007

Alex rocks as well

I have been severely admonished by Alex for the iPod competition. I failed to mention that Alex is the one who subscribes to the magazine it was in, that Alex followed it progress with no entrants, that Alex thought to herself (selflessly and without any regard for her own interests) 'oh, Sharon could win that'. She encouraged me all the way and I wouldn't have won it without her.

Alex rocks.

Thanks Alex!

Monday 14 May 2007

50 Things

I've made my list of 50 things I want to achieve in my lifetime. Go here to check it out and make your own!

Thursday 10 May 2007

I rock

I won the iPod competition! Yay! Go me! So my new nano is currently winging its merry way from Canada. :)

Monday 7 May 2007

Where shall we go tomorrow?

The world we live in in Britain and Ireland today is rapidly becoming post-post-modern. By that I mean that we're leaving postmodernism behind; the idea that 'there's no such thing as absolute truth' and 'all ideas are equally valid and to be tolerated' has been lived out, expressed, thrashed over and ultimately, found wanting. People are beginning to realise that not all ideas are equal, that not everything is OK. As homophobia and racism in particular grab headlines, society seems to be turning back to definite truths and looking for moral certainty again.

The question is, how should the church respond to this? Christianity and postmodernism were never comfortable bedfellows; should we be glad that postmodernism seems to be on its way out?

I think we need to be careful. It seems to me that ultimate truths are being rediscovered - people have realised that they do, after all, believe that certain ideas are right and others are wrong. The lines between good and bad are being re-drawn. The very real risk is, though, that the church, and religion in general, seems to be finding itself on the wrong side of the line - alongside homophobia, sexism and violence. People know that they don't need religion in order to be good; in addition, they are now suspicious of big establishments and of authority. Writers like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have launched full-on assaults on religion, describing it as 'evil', and although they have supplied little convincing evidence of this, it seems to be becoming accepted.

In light of this, where should the church go? What should we be doing to continue to be 'salt and light' in a world which is becoming more and more hostile? How should we, as Christians, live in this new society?

For some time now, we've heard a lot of talk about 'church in a postmodern world', and various movements have sprung up to try to bridge the increased gap between the church and popular culture. The church hasn't really moved with this though, as far as I can see, and to be honest, by the time it gets behind it, we could well have seen the end of the postmodern society anyway. In fact, I genuinely fear for what postmodernism may do to our churches. We cannot have 'postmodern Christians'. Before postmodernism, there was modernism; this was not compatible with Christianity either, but many Christians unthinkingly embraced it - and ultimately, it robbed much of the Western church of its integrity and uniqueness, as people bought into consumerism and materialism. 'Holy living' all but disappeared, to be replaced with either a pious, self-righteous pride or a bland blending in with the culture.

If we lost integrity to modernism, postmodernism has the potential to rob us of our truth. I've seen some attempts at reaching a postmodern audience with Christian truth, and it seems that the core beliefs of Christianity have been stripped out. The gospel presented is a kind of 'look what Jesus can do for you' message - an individualistic, 'here's what you get out of it' version of Christianity which contains some Biblical truths, but presents no real call to radical discipleship.

In his book 'The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience', Ron Sider gives statistics which show how few Christians (in the US at least) are living in ways which are different from those who are not Christians. It is unsurprising that the church, and Christianity, has little respect in the eyes of many people outside itself. In addition, the opening of creationist museums and arks and so on by certain members of the more fundamentalist churches does little to show that Christians are people who think things through and come to reasoned conclusions.

I believe that it is vital that we recapture both holy living (and integrity) and Biblical truth. We need to humble ourselves and remember what we're about. We need to live with authenticity and genuine love for one another. We need to bring our faith to bear on every aspect of our lives. We need to make sure that we oppose what is genuinely bad, and not merely what we superficially see as bad, and that we support and promote what is good and just. We need to remind ourselves of great Christian truths; we need to support those who seek to explore those more deeply and to teach them to the rest of us.

Furthermore, we need to enjoy life in all its fulness... not settling for the second-best of material comfort and success. We need to live as we are commanded, not as we please; enjoy the good things that are given to us, and seek to pass those on to others within our communities and beyond. We must question and explore the world around us.

Then, I believe, the church can stop playing catchup with the world we can begin to see Christians changing the world for the better again.

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Still doing the thing

I thought I'd better assure you all that I'm still alive. I've been doing lots of reading and listening (downloaded the Christians in Science talks from Zoomtard's site, and have been enjoying those). I'm currently composing some thoughts on the subject of atheism, but it is not yet ready to be shared (yes, this blog has standards). But soon.

In the meantime, please cross your fingers very hard for me... I have entered a competition to win a Nano; the closing date was yesterday, and last time I checked, I was the only entrant. It was a Photo Contest; you had to print off this poster thing and then take a photo of the poster in front of a famous landmark. Mine was the cranes at Harland and Wolff (not great, so if anyone else HAS entered, then I think my chances drop to nothing). It was a nice photo though.

I would be most pleased to win a nano, because then I could have my music on one iPod and my Christians in Science talks on the other (my little Shuffle, purchased for a bargain £14 from Amazon). That would be most pleasing.

Until we meet again,