Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


Today is Easter Sunday and I watched an impressive church service from Leicester Cathedral. I saw a large number of people to whom the Easter message – the resurrection – was real and inspiring.  Many of those people must be highly intelligent and sincere in their belief.  Where does that leave me? I was brought up in a traditional Christian manner and took the whole thing literally when I was a young man. I find collective witness such as I watched this morning moving and seductive.

Growing older, and partly as a result of reading Anthropology, I began to question my belief and to consider that as I had been given a mind to think with it was stupid to believe something just because I had been taught to. So today I believe in the message but doubt the supernatural details. It is, to me, a meaningful allegory.

Today’s experience has prompted the thought that Christianity looks different if you disregard the concept of a recognisable afterlife. In a way, that concept confuses the issue. If you embrace it then all the supernatural events are a part of the package and the package can be attacked as a fairy story. You get into arguments about a spiritual realm that is unprovable, for or against. You can’t disprove God, and if God is possible then there is nothing He can’t do. But however much we can believe, we can’t KNOW. So look at the teaching of Jesus Christ from a sceptical stance regarding the miracles (they may and may not have happened as stated) and ask “How does he recommend me to live?”

I believe that the resurrection story points to truth in some form, but not as a literal continuation of earthly life and not in a form that I can comprehend. The admission allows me to examine Christianity as guidance for this life. I find it outstanding. If it will somehow affect me after death then that may be an added bonus. I shall find out, if death leaves me with any conscious existence. It happens that I am studying the mediaeval poem Piers Plowman in which the writer seeks to ‘Save his soul’. After consulting the religious authorities of his day (some of them corrupt), and observing the world around him, and reflecting deeply, he concludes that charity is the best answer available. I think he got it right in the 1300’s and that the same answer is right now. I can hear it in the Church of England. 

I leave a few hours between finishing a post and publishing it. The habit brings me now to Monday morning and a letter to the press from 28 or so notable people attacking David Cameron for speaking about his faith. The letter includes the clause “We are a largely non-religious society”. I dispute that. I think that a great many people are religious in the sense of looking for guidance within one or other of the great faiths. What is it that the signatories to that letter really oppose? Perhaps they are just opposed to bigotry and extremism and denial of proven facts. Perhaps, rather, they are opposed to anybody who does not share their faith in he ability of human scientists to ultimately solve all problems. Sometimes it looks as if they have a religion of their own that they are desperate to defend.

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