Thursday, March 27, 2008

Discussion Group

During our group discussion this week I posed the question… ‘What do you think the Church will look like one hundred years from now?’

The thoughts expressed went in two directions, first; if the Church continues to preach and teach a literal belief in a religion based on an ancient and obsolete worldview. And second; if the Church enters an era of intellectual honesty thus preaching and teaching a religion that is compatible with current knowledge.

In the first instance, most felt that the Church would either disappear or become only a fringe organization among the uneducated and uninformed of society. Other secular organizations would spring up to replace the need for community and altruism. Most likely the US would mirror the current religious environment of Europe.

In the second instance, it was felt that the Church, assuming it reforms its liturgy and teachings, could play as vital a role in the society of the future as it has in the past.; perhaps even greater. This, however, will require a great deal of change and effort on the part of both Church leaders and laity. The small part Progressive Christianity is currently playing in such a change would need to grow enormously over the next several decades.

Which direction will the Church go? Only time will tell, but to be sure, the actions of the current generations of believers will play a part in the decision either consciously or unconsciously.

barry e

Thursday, March 20, 2008

From the final page of Tim Callahan’s, ‘Secret Origins of the Bible’

…There are great mythic themes in the Bible and majestic moments, as when God descends upon Mt Siani in fire and smoke. It is a myth to be awed by. Many who are not sympathetic to religion would trivialize the Bible and in so doing discard such epiphanies. We do this at our peril. Failure to understand the power of those myths and their hold on people leads to nothing more than further division.

Those faithful to the myths – and those comprise far more than fundamentalists – sill simply ignore any critique of their beliefs if the critics are contemptuous of the Bible. Therefore one should respect the mythic material and understand that such myths endure, at least in part, because they resonate with deep psychological needs. Myths can also have a validity beyond that of literal truth.

…Yet if these tales are held to be sacrosanct, if we must accept them as literally true, if we are forbidden from looking beneath the surface of myths, they will almost surely be used by agents of repression, burdening society with unreasonable limitations and irrational directives, and in extreme cases inciting assassination and war.

Even if the forces of repression are held in check, they may alienate us from the myths they have so misused to the point that we will be robbed of the richness of mythic understanding and will lose the insights to be gained by seeing the human condition from the perspective of humanity’s collective yearnings and strivings through the millennia to comprehend what lies behind the surface, what is the true nature of the cosmos.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Religious education?

The inescapable conclusion for any relatively objective observer of religion is that all religions, especially the more fundamentalist Judeo-Christian sects, are opposed to true education, which starts from the premise that all suppositions are open to inquiry, all hypotheses tentative, all conclusions subject to continual review.

Pronouncements unsupported by the weight of logic and evidence are rejected. Hence there can be no dogmas.

Judging by these criteria, most religious teachings are a form of indoctrination, not education.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

More on… Age Appropriate Christian Education Material

(Note: If you haven't read last weeks entry on 'Age Appropriate Education Material', you may want to scroll down and read that entry first.)

Our study group (meets on Sunday Mornings) recently had a discussion on the subject of ‘age appropriate Christian education material’ and came up with some interesting observations.

One of our members, a retired United Church of Christ minister, mentioned that the UCC had introduced a version of age appropriate material for children, over thirty years ago. He presented it to his Sunday School teachers and it lasted three weeks. They (the teachers) didn’t like teaching it and the parents were beginning to get upset about some of the content.

This prompted a discussion about how such age appropriate material might ever make its way into the church curriculum. Our conclusion seemed to be; that it would never work if introduced to children whose parents were not first introduced to and educated on a more intellectual and honest understanding of religion and the Church.

This of course would require a complete reversal of our normal education process, i.e. educating the oldest members first and then moving down (rather than up) the age ladder.

Could this work? Well, one might observe that the attendees of lectures given by Spong, Borg, Crossan, Geering, and others, are predominately the older age group. Therefore, it might be said that the process has already started.

The questions then become; Who writes the material that allows for a wider broadcast of the Progressive message? What does the material contain? How does the message get out that it is available?

I would appreciate your input, either by comment to this blog or by email…… barry e