Saturday, 17 November 2007

Tony Windross and Discussing God

What do I think of Tony Windross, the Anglican Vicar of St. Peter's Sheringham? His thoughts about God in his chapter called 'Why Bother To Think About God' in The Thoughtful Guide to Faith published in 2004 by O Books of New Arelsford, Hampshire, were the basis of a discussion of the In-Depth Group of the church I attend (November 13th 2007).

He tries to be accessible in his writings, but even so the odd word can throw some people - particularly his use of "ontological". To my given understanding, ontological means a different status of being - usually connected with God. It is, I said to the In-Depth Group of St. Mary's church, Barton-upon-Humber, the notion that a person is ontologically changed when he becomes a priest - which is why it cannot be removed. My account of the discussion (no hints of names, no connecting of views together except mine and once by the discussion leader) is my own, as I remember it and as it centred around contributions I made - it is on my website!

Tony Windross is liberal, and is roughly around the John Spong area of understanding Christianity - Progressive Christianity Network type position rather than Sea of Faith (just). He tries to make Christianity accessible to people of today's thought world. So, inevitably, the discussion features around decline and people going to church as much as the subject itself. We did not actually discuss the different options of understanding God - I added a bit about asking ultimate questions versus the Secular City but did not expand this point.

Personally I do not get much from him. We next discuss his chapter about Christmas, which is terribly weak. It could but does not tackle the key elements of the Christmas story, and why such a story is made "history-like" in the first place.

I like the In-Depth Group as it gives the chance to talk a little more deeply about some religious issues and also is a provision for this general approach to faith, just as there are other approaches to faith within the same church and among other people (and sometimes the same people). It is a mixed church theologically, which I regard as a healthy state of affairs with a chance for cross-fertilising.

There may be an argument for more locally based theological education (so that words like "ontological" mean something more easily). Nevertheless, such a group activity is theological education, where people at their own pace can freely discuss and reflect on a wide variety of materials.

No comments: