Springingtiger's Blog

I Am Not a Christian Anymore


I am not a Christian. I don’t say this with any pride. I was once a Christian and I miss the certainties I found in Church membership. I enjoyed being a Christian so much I even wanted to be a priest and so set about serious study. Unfortunately there are few things more likely to call Christian faith into question than actually studying theology and at the same time the scriptures; add to that church history and you have a volatile cocktail that can easily explode into agnosticism or even atheism. I remember reading of a Divinity Professor from Glasgow (whose name escapes me) who was financing his holiday in Wales by preaching in the various chapels on his route. At one chapel he was refused access to the pulpit when he asked why, the elders told him they had heard he denied the divinity of Jesus to which he responded indignantly, “Deny the divinity of Jesus? Why I would not deny the divinity of any man!”

Sadly for many who are no longer able to remain in the church their loss of faith leads to an active hostility. In the case of some atheists it elevates science into a belief system no less constrictive and every bit as dishonest as the religion they eschew. I am fortunate in that I never sank into such bitterness and retain a degree of affection for many aspects of Christianity. I love sacred music of any religion, but I suppose I just love music and sacred music is so often inspiringly beautiful. I love the architecture of faith, churches, temples, mosques, shrines, I have been moved by them all. I am moved by these things because even removed from faith they are part of the fabric of humanity and our world would be less colourful without them. In the depths of one of my earlier depressions when faith was well gone, I found that the one thing which kept me alive was the beauty of a sung mass. I could not believe, but I could resonate with the poetry and harmonies, and hope for a better tomorrow. I had not foreseen that the sun that rose would chase away not only the shadows of depression, but also the darkness of superstition.

Much as I despise the aims of missionaries, I can admire their courage and in many cases the good they have done, but I regret their attacks on indigenous cultures. Attacks which are in no way different from the cultural vandalism of Daesh or the Taliban. My personal outlook on life is still very much inspired by saints of several religions, I find that many of the true saints combine a deep inspiring faith with a transcendence of the dogma of their religions. There are some like St Francis of Assisi, Shirdi Ke Sai Baba, Kabir, Lao Tzu and Milarepa I return to again and again.

Of course many of the hagiographies of religious figures are unalloyed garbage, but it is possible to find pearls of great price amongst the swine trodden dung. Some of the writings of religious figures are not only insightful, but also beautiful. Many of the writings of the saints open up possibilities for being human which surpass the materialism of either atheism or religion. The only truth found in most of the narrative of scripture is mythological, it has value, but only fools would believe it as history. However it is frequently possible to separate the teachings of the founders and saints of religions from the stories about them, whether it be a Jesus or a Milarepa.

If we are honest despite their talk of heaven and hell and gods and angels most religions are unremittingly materialistic. They are entirely concerned with governing human behaviour and unscrupulously use human superstition and gullibility to do so. However on the fringes of every culture have always been those who saw a greater possibility for humans than being chained to the service of the establishment or tyrannised by cults. They saw a universe that contained mysteries far beyond the comprehension of religions or the science of the day. Some spoke in the terms of the times in which they lived others like the proponents of Saivism pre-empted the findings of modern physicists and psychologists. The greats emphasised the individual’s responsibility for their own lives, but also to society. Which is why I still, every few years, read the teachings of Jesus divorcing them from their background hagiography because they are as good a guide to personal conduct as I have found. I will also continue to mine the sutras, tantras, agamas, and the hymns and stories of all cultures for the nuggets of wisdom they contain and I will continue to test them unfettered by the narrow thinking of theists and atheists alike. If a mind is closed it is closed to the universal mind. Believe or not, but life is to be lived and enjoyed and anyone who would deny that to another is living in the darkness of superstition however logical they may think they are.



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Much resonance with these insightful words

Comment by Robert Frost

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