Given my change in stance, I have wondered if I am now with Don Cupitt and his position of 2006, when he contrasted his New Creed with the Old Creed. I wrote a review at the time, in which I declared he had nowhere else to go, and instead I put up a defence of heterological thinking as a form of spiritual involvement based on old texts and old myths to enhance the actuality of exchange and gift in ritual.
I am surprised how my thinking there overlaps with that of Rowan Williams's recent lecture on revelation, where a space is made for receptive surprises. There are differences, particularly apologetic, but the overlap is definitely there. In this approach, different from the detail I criticised in 2006, Rowan Williams sees revelation as opening up what you don't know (though there is a Knower) and encouraging the search, but he does it from a stance of a tradition and associating Jesus with the transcendent.
So what has changed with me? It's that the Christian myth is worn out. It is not delivering any of the surprises in the spaces made for it to operate. It has simply gone away, vacated itself of any particular meaning.
Cupitt's 2006 reasoning was that the critics of his Christian non-realism were right all along: it is a philosophical thinking that demands realist connections. I'm not so sure that is my position still. Where I am being forced to agree with him is in the testing of the market place on naturalistic thinking, and that this in the end is going to be the means to deliver meaning. It is not - absolutely not - Rowan Williams's alternative of consumerist spirituality. However, much of that is in the same boat as ancient Christianity: a thought-world vacated.
I still think there is a lot of mileage in exchange and gift, in the social anthropology of doing religion. Where I am closer is that this text has to be plunged into for itself, rather than adding Christian substitutes. The gift is not some quasi-divine offering, though it must involve the surprise of insight; rather it is the altruistic, and we can talk about altruism in all kinds of tribal, anti-tribal, evolutionary and against the evolutionary terms. I'm moving towards, I think, a thoroughly humanistic interpretation of doing religion. Even human spirituality has coloured windows; even human spirituality makes space for insight by being a little heterological. If it uses Christian texts, it is only because those texts can be invested with a broadly humanist meaning, not because they have any intrinsic meaning, or at least adequate intrinsic meaning.
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