The Hero’s Journey

The three video clips used in the latest workshop were shown primarily to encourage participants to recognise that it is impossible to see and experience anything new if we continue simply to do everything we have always done in the same way as we have always done them. Continue reading

Making Connections in order to Perceive and Understand

There is an expectation when people express a desire to go and to delve further into their faith further than what can be offered in the context of the average Sunday morning service that what will be offered will immediately focus on detailed work on specific passages of the Bible. This is unlikely to happen because in order to do that we have to rid ourselves of our presuppositions, expectations, rigid beliefs about what it is we are going to find and indeed what it is that we wish to find there. There has to be a process of cleansing the palate before we can move from the very basic Sunday School, simple approach to what we are reading to something which will offer us something much deeper and more profound. Continue reading

Going Too Far and Sending Confusing Messages

The biggest temptation facing the leadership of a church or spiritual community is to cling to the familiar and the safe and the tried and tested. While it is the wish of most of us who are members of spiritual or faith communities, churches, to do precisely that, to be cocooned in a safe place, a zone which is defined and described by the absence of danger and the consequent or congruent peace, this is the antithesis of how things ought to be and how we are supposed to be. Continue reading

Understanding what it is that we are Reading

As soon as we move out of our comfort zone then we risk becoming uncomfortable. That is obvious and yet it takes us by surprise no matter how certain we are that it is going to happen. We are capable of failing to anticipate and expect the unexpected. In the Bible, revelation and truth tends to be revealed to those who are completely out of anything which could ever be described as comfort zone.

This creates a disconnect between the reader who imagines that religious faith means comfort and safety and material which comes out of situations and experiences of great danger and deep fear and anxiety.

The Bible is filled with passages and material which challenge us because they make no sense to us. And the important thing to grasp here is that they make no sense to us. It is not necessarily that they make no sense at all. Continue reading

Bart Eherman on Jesus, Who he was and Who he came to be

In a fortnightly workshop in which it is my privilege to participate we are looking seriously at what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the twenty first century. In fact what we are serious about is what it means to be a disciple, student, of Jesus’ teaching at any time.

Who Jesus was and who he claimed to be, who he thought he was and who his early followers thought he was are all vital questions. Bart Ehrman raises questions which have been asked at the workshops. His books are worth seeking out and reading and the talks and the interview below provide a good way into his thinking and conclusions. Continue reading

The Gospel of Thomas

It was my very great privilege to hear Elaine Pagels lecture on two separate occasions and to spend time in conversation and discussion with her. Her book, ‘Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas’ is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the Jesus of the gospels and ‘The Gnostic Gospels’ is one of the most accessible and useful ways into the subject of non canonical material about Jesus. Continue reading

The Garden of Eden and The Hero’s Journey

If you are reading the opening chapters of Genesis then the first thing you have to get into your head is that this is not history and it is not science. It is very deep and profound truth but you do have to let this ancient material speak to you.

Science is not your enemy. Listen to the scientists and weigh up the evidence but Genesis is not interested in telling you how the world was created. Continue reading

A New (and false) Shibboleth

The new Shibboleth in the church is the attitude we take on homosexuality. Even in a church which takes a fully inclusive view and in a Kirk Session which is waiting impatiently for the wider church to permit the celebration of same sex marriages there has been a minority of people who, although they voted for it and even spoke in favour of it, clearly struggled with the theology of inclusion and in the end left, usually citing other reasons. Continue reading