Tag Archives: atheism

Ordinary Sunday 23, Year C — God is Christlike

Readings
Psalm 14
Luke 15.1–10

Psalm 14 starts like this:

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

Whatever Psalm 14 says, I prefer to withhold judgement. Let me tell you a story.

 Karen and I used to live in West End, an inner-city suburb of Brisbane. We had a neighbour two doors down, an old Greek man who had come out to Australia to farm the land in central Queensland. As we all know, Australia is a pretty unforgiving place for farmers. This poor man had lost everything through a series of prolonged droughts. He was never able to forgive God for this. He’d been a Greek Orthodox Christian, but after this experience he became an atheist. We used to visit and we’d drink coffee and eat baklava. He loved our visits, because he could talk at length about the God he said he didn’t believe in!

When I listened to him, I was reminded of Job in the Hebrew Scriptures. I began to feel that God hadn’t let go of him; and because God  hadn’t let go of him, this atheist still had a relationship with God. It was a strange relationship in which he was permanently ticked off with God. He complained as much as Job! I feel he wanted to hear an answer to his questions, one he couldn’t hear, an answer that would restore his faith.

I believed then and I believe now that God had not let him go; and that God would never let go of him.

What authority do I have to say that? I have the authority of three stories Jesus told, three parables that Luke puts together in chapter fifteen of his Gospel. I’m talking about the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son.

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Wait for the Lord (Ordinary Time 5/Epiphany 5, Year B, 5 February 2011)

Wait for the Lord

Readings
Isaiah 40.21-31
Psalm 147.1-11, 20c
Mark 1.29-39

Where is God?

Someone in India once asked a group of Hindu children, ‘Where is God?’. These Hindu children pointed to their hearts. That person later asked the same question of group of Indian Christian children. ‘Where is God?’ They pointed upward, to the sky. Where is God? Within us, or in heaven? Which group was nearer the truth?

Let’s see what Isaiah says.

Haven’t you known this? he says. Haven’t you got it yet?

It is God who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers…

Sounds like the Christian children were right according to Isaiah. God sits high above the circle of the earth. Isaiah does mean a circle and not a sphere; we should think of the world like a pizza with a dome over it. And Isaiah pictures God, sitting, on his mighty throne, over this world. When God looks down, he sees us—but we’re like grasshoppers moving around.

Does God care?

Perhaps not. After all, God says

To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

What can we compare with God? Nothing. Every picture we have falls short. God is Father—but not like any father we’ve ever come across. God is judge—but God’s judgement is unlike anything you’d ever get in the Queensland Supreme Court. God is Lord—but not the kind of lord we’re used to.

God is more than all this. God is greater. God is so great we can’t grasp more than a tiny piece of God. Not even that, if the truth be known.

To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

Erm, no one really, God…

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‘An atheism you can believe in’?

Ben Myers (of the Faith and Theology blog) has written a very good article on atheism’s role in Christian thinking. It is for Questions of Faith, a blog that Radio National has established to follow the Global Atheist Convention which is starting in Melbourne soon.

In it, it seems to me that he is he speaking about the humility required to discuss ultimate issues — whether one is speaking from a position of faith or unfaith. Often, the picture of God that both sides bring to the discussion is a projection of human fantasies. We need to be delivered from our attachments to this false god, so that we can catch glimpses of the true.

While you’re there, why not subscribe to the RSS feed? It’s a discussion that the followers of Jesus need to be aware of.

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Friday fragments — 05.03.10

Mosque helps out local church

A church in Ilford, Essex, had its £600 Christian Aid Week collection stolen. The money was replaced by members of the neighbouring mosque, who had already donated to the cause.

I love this kind of story; pity it doesn’t get wider coverage.

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Global Atheist Convention

Andy Hamilton confesses that he is looking forward to the Global Atheist Convention in his town, Melbourne,  ‘with the same tempered gloom that would descend upon me if an international convention of Christian evangelists came to town’. He has written an interesting and thoughtful piece, in part saying

The wellsprings and justification for religious faith, and for other foundational views of life, are to be found in qualities of human experience that are not susceptible to large, knockdown and narrow arguments. Faith in God and in humanity, is rooted in experiences of wonder, questioning, desire and invitation that are delicate and not easily framed in simple argument.

Powerful arguments can and should be built for faith, but the experience on which they are built needs clarification, not codification; amplification, not reduction; ruminative conversation, not assertion.

In conversation we can tease out the subtleties of our intuitions, and the ways in which we account for the beauty and the complexities of our world. We can explore why people find religious faith persuasive, and also come to see how people put together their lives and their world without it.

Go and read more at Eureka St.

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Over 99.9% of young people don’t use heroin

I’m impressed by the young people I see around me.  ASBO Jesus agrees; see this fabulous cartoon.

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Stations of the Cross for the rest of us

Lent is well under way, Holy Week a few weeks away. This is a helpful article as we journey on the way.

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Levitical Law for the home

Hilarious. Here’s a taste:

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

h/t Seven Whole Days

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Friday fragments—22.01.10

Euthanasia, Antitheism, Homodoxy, Multitasking and killing in Jesus’ name

A thought-provoking series of cartoons from ASBO Jesus on euthanasia.

Bosco Peters gives a helpful word on the difference between atheism and ‘antitheism’. It fits my experience.

It’s Bosco’s week to draw helpful distinctions. He also compares true orthodoxy, which allows for diversity, with ‘homodoxy’, which desires uniformity of opinion. Being homodox doesn’t make you orthodox.

For ages, I’ve been told I can’t multitask because my second X chromosome is a Y. But multitasking is inefficient and dangerous. Yes, walking and chewing gum is bad for you.

The US military have been using rifles stamped with Bible verses in the Middle East. Could it get much worse? It’s crusading! Update: The firm involved has said it will stop the practice.

‘Shit happens’—a reminder that the ‘god’ of the philosophers is not the God of Christian faith…

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