Substitute Christianity

distorted cathedral wallWhat makes churches fail? So asks Andrew Brown in an article on the continuing threats of schism over same-sex marriage. This time it is the Church of Nigeria which is winding us up, though to be fair its concern about climate change comes before same-sex marriage, which is more than can be said of most British churches.

In this article I argue that opposition to same-sex partnerships functions as a substitute Christian content, occupying a space which would otherwise have been embarrassingly empty.

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What if Hitler had been killed?

Hitler as a baby, via Wikimedia Commons

Hitler as a baby, via Wikimedia Commons

Would you have killed Hitler, if you had had the chance? The conspirators who tried, but failed, in 1944 had hoped to save incomparably more lives; but the conspiracy failed and Hitler’s reprisals killed thousands, many of them nothing to do with the conspiracy.

Daniel Hill gave a fascinating lecture on this topic on Thursday evening. The conspirators thought they were doing the morally right thing, though one of the audience pointed out some of them also thought they would have made a better job of winning the war for the Germans, as Hitler wasn’t a good strategist. If they had succeeded, we just do not know what the result would have been.

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The Anglican Communion’s Bedrooms

bedNot so much a divorce, more ‘moving into separate bedrooms’ was how Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, described the latest proposals for the international Anglican Communion, suggesting that the different provinces could be in communion with Canterbury but not necessarily with each other.

Once again Canterbury has invited all the primates from around the world to a meeting, and once again hardliners have replied, as they did to his predecessor Rowan Williams, that they would not attend if the Americans were there. Thinking Anglicans lists many public responses. Personally I’m thinking not so much divorce, more school playground.

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Domesticating God

Marduk, god of Babylon

Marduk, god of Babylon

How much do we know about God? How much should we expect to know?

This post is about the tension between admitting what we don’t know, and affirming whatever is important to us. At one extreme we cannot know anything about God. At the other extreme, God gets reduced to what our minds can conceive of.

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TelevisionIf you keep deceiving people you will end up believing your own lies.

The Cor Blimey response is wearing off as people get used to the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming the Leader of the Labour Party. Support for him has surged far more than most Members of Parliament expected. Why didn’t they see it coming?

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Liberal theology and bishops’ beliefs

Bishop David Jenkins

Bishop David Jenkins

Should bishops publicly state their religious beliefs, even when they differ from church teachings?

Rowan Williams, when he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 2003, as an Anglican Catholic took the view that his duty was to represent the faith of the whole Anglican Communion. However he was faced with intense and well-organised opposition to his support for gay and lesbian relationships. To make matters worse they knew his views and were quite happy to manipulate his commitment to church unity by threatening schism. Continue reading

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The special and the beyond

What does it mean to call something special?

St CuthbertLast Sunday the main service at St Brides Liverpool was on the topic of pilgrimage. Many of the people there had been on the St Brides Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne. I hadn’t been myself but it was interesting to hear the stories and see the photos.

So we heard about acts of worship, meditations, the local church, the walk along St Cuthbert’s Way, watching the stars in the absence of street lighting. People kept affirming that such-and-such a thing, or event, or place, was special.

Special? What’s that about? You mean it produced a funny feeling in you?

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Corbyn voters: supporters or entryists?

ballot boxThe Labour MP Simon Danczuk has called on the Party to cancel the leadership elections , claiming ‘infiltration’ by those who were ‘not genuine party supporters’.

Apparently the Party has rejected 271 applications from people who in the May election were candidates for other parties, mainly the Green Party. Is the system so open to abuse by other parties that the election should be cancelled?

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Godless morality, empty or full

cartoon of puzzled dogPeople who don’t believe in God can live good moral lives every bit as well as believers can. Most people accept this. It’s not controversial. Indeed they can live better lives than believers who are only ‘good’ to avoid divine punishment.

The more difficult question is: how to justify it? Can unbelievers explain, rationally and convincingly, why they think they should live moral lives, and which actions are moral, without falling back on some kind of supernatural authority?

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Calais, migration and God

map of Calais and DoverHow do we respond to the information about the refugees at Calais? About Prime Minister David Cameron’s description of migrants as a ‘ swarm ‘? What feelings does immigration evoke?

This post relates the question to the declining influence of Christian morality, especially the idea that all the world’s people are equally created and loved by the same god.

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