Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Next thing you know, Bush will be telling people not to be afraid...

I like to listen to the news on my way to work every morning, but most morning radio news gives me 2 minutes of headlines with no meat, and then rushes me off to sports, traffic, and (if lucky) entertainment news. I was glad to hear about BBC's NewsPod, a half-hour program featuring selections from the various BBC radio stations. Some of the news is unsurprisingly Britain-centric, but much of the news is international, and even the "local" news articles are interesting. One story from the program from Tuesday the 26th interviewed John Guille, Archdeacon of Winchester Cathedral, about the DaVinci Code. Nothing specifically intriguing there, but if I say that Winchester Cathedral was paid £20,000 to be used in the film, which they're now using to make the church more accessible - and by that I mean hold an exhibition designed to "debunk" Dan Brown's story. That's a little more interesting, and, if I may say so, laudable. But what absolutely floored me about this story was a quote from Guille, at approximately 30:28 of the program: "Look, think for yourselves, folks."

That's right: a prominent member of the Church of England telling people to think for themselves. Sure, it was out of context, but I nearly drove off the road in shock.


Justice said...

That is awesome. I wish more priests/pastors encouraged critical thinking in their churches!! It's important for me in my faith, for example, to come to the conclusions I have because I explored them myself, not because someone told me to. Not to pontificate too much about faith re: Christ, but the whole point of Christianity is that you are coming to Jesus of your own choice, not because someone told you it was a good idea or it seemed like everyone was doing it at the time!

megan said...

What has your experience with Anglicanism been, Dev? I was raised in the Church of England (went every week for 16 years) and the central message that I learnt was "think for yourself." I've always thought of Anglicanism as a more intellectual style of Christianity. From my experience, I am not at all surprised by that man's comments.

The Doc said...

Megan, I'll attempt to answer your question with as much honesty I can, and I hope I don't insult you or Justice by doing so. When I was young, I went to church (Anglican, as you likely know) pretty much every 2nd weekend or so, got confirmed (because I thought that was just something you did), taught Sunday school, and even worked "on stage". I lit candles, helped with the bread and the wine, and got to wear a cool white robe. But I was never really a believer. I tried my best, though; I read the Bible all the way through, and I asked my pastor questions about things that were troubling me.

My questions were never answered to my satisfaction, though, in either the book or in person. In fact, I think the moment my faith was severed was when I asked Father Robin why, if Adam and Eve were the first and only two people, why we weren't all inbred freaks like genetics would indicate. And he didn't know, but instead of saying that, he gave me a really long answer that was, in essence, "Because God said so." Decidedly NOT "think for yourself".

I wasn't disappointed that my question wasn't nswered to my satisfaction, but because if that was the answer religion gave to any hard question, then I didn't need to keep working for it. I can not know the answer to things without having an all-powerful deity in the mix.

Megan F said...

I grew up with some boys whose parents were (and still are) devout Lutherans. I, on the other hand, was brought up in a very secular household, with no religious influence whatsoever. I'd like to think that my parents did a good job with me, and taught me how to be a good person without taking me to church. Unfortunately, the mother of the aforementioned boys got it in her head that I was a heretic (or something to that effect) because I was not a practising Christian, AND because I wasn't baptized. At the time, I remember being mildly annoyed, but as I realized what that meant, I was pretty insulted.

But, in later experiences with attending church, I've found that for the most part, there's lots of open-mindedness, until you get to the hard questions, like "why does your denomination believe that abortion is so bad?" or "what's so wrong with same-sex marriage?" When the answer I get to that question is "because it goes against what is in the Bible", I get a bit annoyed. I wish there was a universal answer to every question. I think in my case it'd be "because the government said so."

Justice said...

I am offended!!


Justice said...

Just kidding!

Anyway, I understand that persepctive and can appreciate it Devin. I don't mind someone saying they don't know, or this isn't necessarily something that they think could be understood.
But I don't like pat answers about "God says so" for anything complicated either.

One note about Adam/Eve (because it does venture a little into the whole creationism/evolution debate)...not to dodge the question you had at all (and I don't know that answer...I always assumed there wasn't inbred craziness because of their purity as the initial of God's creatures in the garden, but I know that doesn't hold up when you think about their children. Of course, the Bible seems to indicate there were other people on the earth after they were booted out of the garden - or else why would the Lord have to guard Cain from being killed after killing Abel? But anyway...)

Anyway, I totally understand where you're coming from...I have actually been there previously. Before I type out another 5 essays I will shut up and post before you think I actually was offended in any way. ;)

Definitely interesting though! I'd love to discuss it further at a pub or something sometime if you are up for it - no proselytizing (sp?), I promise!!

Justice said...

A couple of other notes since I have some spare moments today:


I think a common misconception held by *both* non-Christians and many Christians is that church is intended to be a place that you go in order to become a better person (I'm admittedly making a *huge* assumption from reading your comment - please correct me if I'm wrong, I don't mean to offend or start a *huuuuge* debate!) It's actually (well, supposed to be from the Bible) a place where we gather in fellowship, because whenever we are gathered in a group, Christ is therefore with us. I know that this isn't a commonly held conception anymore for some reason (last survey I read said that 70% of people went to church explicity to be a better person). And "church" doesn't necessarily mean a literal church either.

*shrug* This is all good food for thought. I could talk all day about this stuff but I don't want to hijack the thread (plus I should get over to work ;) ).

Megan said...

I had no idea that you were raised as an Anglican, so I was just curious as to whether you arrived at your perspective from direct experience or from something else.

I appreciated your intelligent response - now I understand your perspecive better. I believe that religions are human creations and are therfore subject to the inherent flaws, hypocrisy and inconsistencies of the human condition. So I am not surprised that we had such different experiences.

When I asked my pastor about Adam and Eve, he told me that I needed to stop thinking about things so literally and to read the bible more figuratively, to see the spirit behind the old words. What a different experience we had!

Anglicanism left me with a healthy bout of agnosticism, haha.

Red-headed Dynamo said...

I think it's great that your pastor gave you permission to look at the bible the way it should be looked at--figuratively. Stories are powerful things and have made people what they are! I had a biology teacher in Catholic school who told us a neat way to look at the creation story: "The Bible says God created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. But what is a DAY to GOD?"

I was baptised Anglican and schooled in the Catholic system and raised by an agnostic and a rabid athist, so I was exposed to a few different views.

I went to Anglican Sunday School for a brief time as a kid. All I could think was "The adults must be doing something AMAZING and FUN that they dumped us in this boring place." When my mom (the rabid atheist who took me to church to please her mother) told me that they were in mass the whole time, I didn't believe her, because in my mind, adults could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and who would want to sit here being bored all morning? (Granted, I was five and probably oblivious to the subtlety of a church service.)

The thing I noticed about Catholicism that really made me angry as I hit puberty was the complete lack of wiggle room on ANYTHING. If you don't believe that Mary was a virgin--DAMNED. If you don't believe that Jesus was the ACTUAL PHYSICAL SON OF GOD--DAMNED. If you don't believe that the Holy Spirit came down and set the Disciples on fire and made them magically speak different languages--DAMNED. If you have sex while wearing white before Labour Day (married or not)--DAMNED.
Okay, I made the last one up. But still! If you don't TRULY believe--like in your soul where GOD sees--you go to Hell! (And again, this is Catholicism, not Christianity.) I had teachers that taught outside of those frustrating boundaries--the best sex-ed class I ever had was taught in my Grade 7 Religion Class--but the Faith itself? I think only children or people who genuinely are incapable of thinking for themselves could get into Heaven by THOSE standards.

The Doc said...

Nice discussion, folks.

Justice, I can see where you're coming from, and if you want to get together for beers and debate, it sounds good to me - at least it means I'll SEE you.

Megan F, wow, long time no see. Good to hear from you, and thanks for the input.

Megan, yeah, I'm an (ex-)Anglican boy. And while I appreciate liberal interpretations of the symbolism of the Bible stories - I do, after all, have a Spong book collection - I just can't grab a hold the whole thing, warts and all. And cherry-picking religious belief seems kind of cheap to me (especially considering how much of it I did for such a long time).

Morgoid, I don't think wiggle-room is what religions have in mind. In fact, the more wiggle room you have, the weaker the religion (in my admittedly small experience). So I feel much better wiggling outside that box!