Monday, 18 February 2008

Some Advice to a Friend

Here is some advice already in a public space, the National Unitarian Fellowship Forum.

I want to repeat the latter part of it here. I knew her from the early 1990s in a Sea of Faith Conference. She is an example of one of those who feels an acute sense of religious loss, and has had an attachment to generally Catholic forms of Christianity but lacks the substantive belief that would carry easily and made a switch to the Unitarians (the chalice illustrated below is the older design). So in the public space I have suggested:

There is a huge difference between even the story of a Church calendar year in the Episcopal setting and the lack of it in Unitarianism - the latter has Christmas without Advent and Easter without Lent, or at least without them in any meaningful emphasis. And some people need to have the dark seasons so that the bright bit is all the brighter.

You have to take the theological freedom to yourself, to say no to the nonsense and clearly whilst still taking in some of the story. It is a high wire act. It's about employing your intelligence whilst inhabiting the artistic forms and the drama. You do not need the presence of God to inhabit a good story, but you can also think that God might be what is at the very end of it all. It may be necessary to keep killing God in order that there is any God at all.

I would see Unitarian starkness in a positive light. It is perhaps its own Lent, in that the Puritanism it has never lost is stark and represents a kind of loss. Maybe at Easter you can consider it in terms of your own freedom to make your way ahead. I just suggest this as a possibility.

I would not be too worried about the God loss: you could say that God has brought it upon himself. If the birds are your way to contact what should be a God contact, then it is far more practical and useful and alive. Leave God in his coffin.

Feed the birds.

I inhabit the same constituency of religious loss, and what to do about it. Those of us in this space need something light, manageable, simple, and yet with some sort of content, and free to make of it what we may. I have more confidence about my pathway than my friend, as I have been in the same places and crossed the same boundaries and done much thinking. It is why I am such a fierce opponent of present ugly Anglican machinations, as these take so little account of people and where people are. It should be about spaces people can inhabit for their own spiritual purposes that only they really understand. The rest is so much construction.

2 comments:

winnowing said...

i like what you've said here very much. apophaticism is the way forward i think. when i've finished a couple of papers i am working on i will pass them on if you are at all interested.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I am interested.