The blog lives! Hopefully 2014 will see many more regular posts.
I must use this first input of the new year to address a very important issue, my relation to God. I promised my friend Neville that I would explain my views in detail, well, better late than never, I hope. This is also for my own personal "God Squad", wonderful people of faith who worry about my eternal soul, including but not limited to, Dee, Beryl, Zorina, Ferdi ... here then are my views, out in the open and sent out on the ether; a new version of Martin Luther's nailing on the church door.
First of all - do I believe in God? I have to say, I don't know! Oh dear ... so is that the closing of the book? Well, no. I was raised as a Christian and was a faithful one for many years. Today I am a Follower of Christ. But does that mean, Son of God, who came to take away our sins, died on the cross and on the third day, literally rose from the dead? As I see it now, no. A son of God - if there is a God, yes; but not the son. I no longer believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, a literal heaven and hell, and a literal Resurrection. (Well, most of the time!)
I have not found in all my readings and studies anyone to compare with Jesus. His doctrine of pure, un-judgemental love is unequalled in the whole canon of global knowledge and history. But I believe Jesus was not well-served by those who came after him, by St Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, et al. The Christian Church is a man-made creation, and has been responsible for so much unhappiness, death and division for so many centuries, that one cannot easily bond with it in our times. Which is not to say there are not great people, great elements in the Christian Church; but it is so often at odds with the basic teachings of the founder.
There are great elements in other religions as well, especially Buddhism; with doctrines closest to those of Christ. (Did he in fact go to study this faith in the "lost" years, before he was 30?) Islam, meaning many of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, also speaks wonderfully to us. But the Islamic Church, so to speak, has in some places strayed even further from the teachings of its founder (essentially a message of love); especially in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan.
"Religion" as such is perhaps the strongest motivator to lose one's faith in God. The actions of so many people identifying themselves as Christians are as far from the great commandments as they can possibly be. "Love thy neighbour as thyself" means you give your neighbour - your fellow man - the same freedoms you give yourself. You cannot selectively take a verse or two from the Bible and judge others as such; this is simply not the teaching of Christ. Believing in every word of the scriptures, so clearly manipulated and flawed, with so many "PR" touches, is not for me. The spirit of what is written is another matter, and offers great truths and lessons to live by.
But what about the central question, is there a God, to which I have already admitted I have no answer? Is all this God stuff just the "opium of the masses", something to comfort people as they struggle through the tough times in life, an instrument to control the people, to trick them into serving the secular, political ends of the governments, whilst not having any spiritual foundation at all?
What makes us still believe there is a God? Faith is not logical, and always comes and goes. Still, I often have a sense of a higher power, things happen which defy any logical, empirical explanation, one seems to be guided along a certain path (often only apparent with hindsight) ... so I doubt my doubts. I continue to apply as best I can the doctrines of the master teacher, master philosopher, our Jesus figure, and salute his followers across the ages who actually put them into practice. So many ... such as Francis the saint, Francis the pope, Desmond the bishop ... and the huge body of Christian people who are not public figures.
Genoeg! I could talk for days on this topic but (Neville and all), this is basically where I stand!