The search for the real

A friend of mine  has asked me to talk to him about spirituality and his search for a better way of living.  We have agreed that I will provide some thoughts on this subject and he will teach me some music in return!  This is an excellent arrangement!  Our conversation involves a discussion of the nature and claims of religious faith.  This has got me pondering all this and wanting to put my own thinking in order.  Here’s my take on the basic theme: spirituality and religion – and how the Church fits in. Continue reading

On a green hill far away

Every year I sit in church on Good Friday hearing the story of the crucifixion and try to get my head and my heart around it. How are we to understand Christ’s death? We hear that he ‘died for us’. And that he dies for us because he loves us. But in what sense can a man die 2000 years ago ‘for us’? It is even suggested that Christ died ‘for me’. How could that be? Continue reading

Dawkins: superficially right but profoundly wrong

Richard Dawkins appeared on the Today programme recently to say that the finding of the 2001 census that 70% of the population identify themselves as Christian cannot be used to claim that Britain remains a Christian country.  He based his argument on the results of an Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by his Foundation.  This reveals that only a very small percentage of those who see themselves as Christian say it is because they believe in what Christianity teaches.  They say it is because they have Christian parents or were baptised or go to Church sometimes.  This leads Dawkins to say that the claim that we are a Christian country is false and that, therefore, the privileged place of Christianity in education, the House of Lords and so forth cannot be justified.  Nothing could better illustrate the one-dimensional nature of his thinking. Continue reading

Light shone all around

Happy Christmas! Why do we see Christmas as a unique time of hope and celebration?  I suppose that any opportunity for a midwinter party with a focus on family getting together has its obvious attractions but, beyond that, what is really special about Christmas? We celebrate the birth of Jesus, yes – but what does that signify that it should cause us to be happy?  What difference does it really make?

Another way of putting this is to ask what all the statements we hear in Christmas services add up to.  A couple of years ago I sat in Church on Christmas Eve (not the Church I am a member of I hasten to add!) listening to a rather unimaginative and, frankly, unengaging, exposition of the connection between Christmas and the forgiveness of sins, salvation and so forth and my mind wandered to what I would say if it were me up there (something I do a lot, I’m afraid).  This is what I thought and, at the time, it seemed so vivid, I wrote it down as soon as I got home.  It’s a bit sketchy maybe, but I reproduce it now almost exactly as I wrote it then.

For me the key theme is light.  Continue reading


I wrote this a while ago – but it still makes a lot of sense to me.  This is the first of an occasional series on the big Christian themes.

I get uneasy when we are asked to bewail our sins.  I get irritated about the assumption of wretchedness and taking the blame for it. But I think the way we think about this, maybe the way it is presented, is wrong.  The Bible is more nuanced.  On the one hand sin is our fault, on the other it is something we cannot help. The requirement on us is that we take responsibility, not that we wallow in blame.  And what is sin?  It is the state of being asleep and the things we do whilst we are asleep.  Continue reading