Monthly Archives: March 2009

The answer to why?

darwin1I have just watched a great programme on BBC2 it was called Has Darwin Killed God? and was fronted by Dr Conor Cunningham.There are some who believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution has weakened religion, fuelled in part by Richard Dawkins’ publishing phenomenon The God Delusion.  Cunningham argues that nothing could be further from the truth- he is a firm believer in the theory of evolution, but he is also a Christian. He believes that the clash between Darwin and God has been hijacked by extremists – fundamentalist believers who reject evolution on one side, and fundamentalist atheists on the other.

Jean Claude Bragard  the Executive Producer says; “This programme, part of the BBC’s Darwin Season, came from the realisation that it would touch on issues raised by Richard Dawkins in his book ‘The God Delusion’. The publishing phenomenon has fuelled a widespread perception that the theory of evolution makes belief in God redundant, even perhaps perverse. But how compelling was that argument? It was clear that many Christians have easily been able to reconcile their belief in God with the theory of evolution. How was this possible? This was the question we wanted to explore and so we invited Dr Conor Cunningham, a Christian but also an eminent philosopher and theologian from the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, to show how it was possible to believe in Darwin and God.”

 Cunningham’s film  attempts to overturn what he believes are widely held but mistaken assumptions in the debate between religion and evolution. He travels to the Middle East where he shows that from the very outset, Christianity warned against literal readings of the biblical story of creation. In Britain, he reveals that, at the time, Darwin’s theory of evolution was welcomed by the Anglican and Catholic Churches. Instead, he argues that the conflict between Darwin and God was manufactured by American creationists in the 20th century for reasons that had very little to do with science and religion and a great deal to do with politics and morality. Finally, he comes face to face with some of the most eminent evolutionary biologists, geneticists and philosophers of our time to examine whether the very latest advances in evolutionary theory do in fact kill God.

The show’s web page adds that Cunnigham’s argument is that we have been witnessing an unnecessary cultural war between religion and evolution that is damaging to both religion and science. Cunningham reveals that since the early days, mainstream Christianity’s view of God and Creation has not been literal. The idea of reading the Book of Genesis literally is essentially a 20th century American phenomenon. I thoroughly enjoyed the film which was able to embrace and celebrate where Christianity and science come together and also successfully marginalise both the fundamentalist creationsist Christians and  militant atheists as unscientific and inflexible in both their approaches to the issue. Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project adds; “Evolution is the answer to how. God is the answer to why?”

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Rowan’s reminder

rowanThe Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams was interviewed on the BBC R4 Today programme this morning, explaining why world leaders attending the G20 summit in London this week should not forget their promises to the world’s poorest.  He called upon world leaders to think about  the most sensible way to run the economy and our enviornnment, believing that we have become short-sighted and greedy by  allowing  ourselves to be lured into tunnel vision about investment.  He shared his  anxiety of a culture where the expresison of  immediate emotion and instinct, and the increase in casual violence. He called on us to work at recovering  a sense of what it is to look at ourselves;,value courage and fidelity and rediscover what it is to be truly human. He was saddened by the corrosive cynisim that has permeated our society, and felt that there was too much blame being thrown around. When asked by the presenter if people still actually listened to The Archbishop, Rowan replied “Occasionally, but they don’t always agree with him.”

To hear the interview, click on the audio link listed by the feature, which was broadcast at 0732 am

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7973000/7973456.stm

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April fools

Tomorrow is the day that we all try to pull a trick or two, but the  origin of April Fools’ Day is obscure. One likely theory is that the modern holiday was first celebrated soon after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar; the term referred to someone still adhering to the Julian Calendar which it replaced.In many pre-Christian cultures May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer, and signalled the start of the spring planting season and an April Fool was someone who did this prematurely.In the eighteenth century the festival was often posited as going back to the times of Noah. An English newspaper article published on April 13th, 1789 said that the day had its origins when he sent the raven off too early, before the waters had receded. He did this on the first day of the Hebrew month that corresponds with April. A possible reference to April Fools’ Day can be seen in the Canterbury Tales (ca 1400) in the Nun’s Priest’s tale, a tale of two fools: Chanticleer and the fox, which took place on March 32nd.

A more contemporary interpretation of  an April Fool is said to be those who believe that world leaders gathering in London will actually make a difference that will help us, or an anti-capitalist protester who will end captitalism. Happy April Fool’s day- and if your a banker try not to be any more foolish than the other 364 days of the year!

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Stay Close

Another poem to share with you from Christopher Payne.

I don’t know how it works, Lord, but I’m here with a petition;

I don’t know how it works, Lord, but I’m here to make a prayer

For a loved one with a problem. For a friend in bad condition.

For a soldier who is dying, please be there.

 

I don’t know if you hear me when I’m pouring out my heart, Lord;

I don’t know if your Heaven reaches here,

But I’m here to take a gamble that I really cannot lose

And I’m ready to take action; please be near.

 

Will you hear the prayer I offer, if it really is a prayer?

I believe, please help my trembling unbelief;

Will you give the strength I need, Lord, give me faith where faith falls short?

Stay close by me. Do not leave me in my grief.

 

For more on poetry from Christopher Payne see http://www.christopherpaynepoetry.net/

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Filed under Christianity, poetry, Prayer

Growing beyond disunity

brian-mclaren1I love Brian McLaren. I love the way he takes complex issues and makes them understandable: I love the way he gets to the heart of some of the problems we have as a church and brings a new wisdom to cutting through all the nonsense and highlighting just what needs to be done. prophet, poet, sage, teacher…he just does it for me when looking at our faith and what we need to do to hang together in God’s grace as the united family of God. Most of all I love the way he helps us discover more about Jesus- the author and finisher of our faith. One word, one church, one Lord. Take this little gem from his book ‘A Generous Orthodoxy”.

“We believe in one church…the creed says, and that’s no easy-to-swallow statement because we’re surrounded by denominations, divisions, arguments, grand polemics, and Petty squabbles. That’s where the “we believe” part comes in: you can only know the unity of the church by believing it, not by seeing it. When you believe it, you can see through the surface dirt and cracks to the beauty and unity shining beneath. Generous Orthodoxy presumes that the divisions, though tragic, are superficial compared to Christianity’s deep, though often unappreciated, unity. perhaps the more we believe in and perceive that unity, the easier it will be to grow beyond disunity.”

More from Brian at http://www.brianmclaren.net/

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The many faces of Jesus

Last week our church had a great session looking at Jesus and the many faces of him depicted in art and cinematography. We were all asked to select our own favourite picture of him and explain why it appealed to us. As I was reflecting on this I found this great website which looks at the many faces of Jesus check it out at http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/faces_of_jesus/

 Simon Jenkins has also  looked at how you sometimes unexpectedly see a picture in the shapes made by clouds, or a face in a pattern of dots? Some people have been taken by surprise by glimpsing the face of Jesus in wood grain, or a snowy field, or shadows. At this site you can look at some of these strange pictures and the stories behind them.

See http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/unexpected_faces/

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Why the lights are going out on Jesus

christ-the-redeemer-monument-in-rio-de-janeiroTonight you can make your feelings felt on the impact of global warming by just switching off your lights for one hour – Earth Hourfrom 8.30pm. No marches, no demonstrations no letters to Prime Ministers or Presidents needed, just a simple powering down of your lights. You won’t be alone, more than 3,200 cities across 88 countries have signed up for the event. Our own Climate Change Secretary (did you know we had one?) MP Ed Milliband has said, ” Earth Hour is shaping up to be an impressive symbolic response to our planet in peril,,making us all more aware of the energy we use is a critical first step in making lasting changes to our lifestyle.”

My home, well the lights will be out because we will be out, watching a concert- a requiem mass in fact about the death of Jesus Christ who described himself as the light of the world, saying in John Chapter 12 v 46 “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”Tonight at 8.30pm the statue of Christ the redeemer overlooking Rio de Janerio will have its lights switched off round about the time I will be listening to music commemorating how Christ overcame the darkness of the world through his death and resurrection- some coincidence. Let’s hope an hour of darkness sheds some light on the problems of climate change.

For more on WWF’s Earth hour see http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/?gclid=CLSVzaPdxZkCFRMSZwodmRPOuw&gclid=CLSVzaPdxZkCFRMSZwodmRPOuw

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