In last night’s Lent talk on BBC Radio 4 George Pattison,Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, reflected on positive the benefits of God’s absence when humanity no longer feels scrutinised by the eyes of God.
He talked about how unsettling it is thinking of God like this, with every move and dubious motive scrutinised from birth to death. Such an approach only gives us two responses – to choose between letting ourselves be crushed by this cosmic gaze or pulling down the blinds and shutting him out. It’s impossible to pass into adulthood without at least one moment of abandonment – and many of us only want God back when the going gets rough. Yet St Augustine reminded us that God is not a spatially extended being- a here ,there and wherever metaphor. Where we really see the face of infinitely distant God is in those who cry out for better justice, the immigrant, the widow, the oppressed. All mens face yet no mans face. We need a God who helps us make something better from ruins of what might have been. Someone who invites us to reflect on what we are doing with our lives, and if we could be doing better – a true soul friend. A God who may be absent or present in ways do not know.
To listen to the talk follow this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00j7526
As I promised I did not blog on Wednesday, so I’m back after a day off and it really has been hard not to blog about something! So, I return to the BBC Radio 4’sLent talk- this time Richard Holloway on Lent- Crave for Less. Richard explores the absence of God presence and the invention of transcendence- beyond human understanding and experience. He suggests we are not verygood at living with uncertainces, and so have to try to invent explanations and facts the fit the vanishingly complex. If the universe came out of this, where did this come from and is God the name we have given to that hypothesis?
It’s a bit more challenging to listen to than Martin Bell’s broadcast, but you judge for yourself.
Listen again at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00j0ndf/Lent_Talks_Crave_for_Less/
Martin Bell on Lent
Thank God for BBC’s i-player. Ironically I am on a lent course with the church I attend when these talks are broadcast each Wednesday evening, but the magic of the web means I don’t miss out.
The one I heard tonight was called “No God’s Land” and was given by former MP and broadcaster Martin Bellwho describes himself as “an anglican with doubts”. His talk explores the nature of godforsakeness- in war zones -places where God may not be present at all , or if he is his presence is invisible
Bell says Lent is now an unfavoured season, out of kilter with the times but calls it a seasonal reality check in a world so full of chatter and computer based activity (including this blog) that we have trouble distinguishing the real from the virtual. He says that there are so many conflicting versions of truth that it’s even tough for the non-believers to know what not to believe! There are too many barriers to block the light and hinder understanding. Bell suggests that our hold on reality is shaky enough as it is and we need to switch our various devices off for a while so we can being to separate virtual from the real. he advocates going on holiday to recent war zones as a way of getting truly grounded in some of the scenes from hell written on darkest pages of human history which will stop us in our tracks and make us think. After all, says Bell, isn’t that the point of lent?
I won’t be able to visit Bosnia or Croatia but in the spirit of what Martin Bell suggests I will cease blogging each Wednesday in Lent and let the BBC broadcasts do the talking for me.
You only have a couple of days to check this out so listen now at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00htwhj/Lent_Talks_In_No_Gods_Land/