It’s been one of those weeks when you’d rather hide under the covers and not see another news broadcast! From the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its associated lying and coverups to infighting and accusations here in New Zealand to strangely impotent but scary bombs in the US it has been a week characterised by violent disregard of others.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about being spiritual and not religious, but this week’s events make me think that our religion teaches some good stuff of which we should not be ashamed. Our world needs it. Alain de Botton, while being an atheist and philosopher, knows that religion has much to offer Some years ago he wrote ‘Religion for Atheists’a and the blurb for the book says this:
“…rather than mocking religions, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from them – because they’re packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies. Blending deep respect with total impiety, Alain (a non-believer himself) proposes that we should look to religions for insights into, among other concerns, how to: build a sense of community, make our relationships last, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, escape the twenty-four hour media, go travelling, get more out of art, architecture and music and create new businesses designed to address our emotional needs.
For too long non-believers have faced a stark choice between either swallowing lots of peculiar doctrines or doing away with a range of consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas. At last, in Religion for Atheists, Alain has fashioned a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative.”
I am not sure we needed a ‘far more interesting and truly helpful alternative’! Remember the fruits of the Spirit? Our own Rainbow Room children are looking at them at the moment: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” This list is very similar to de Botton’s own list of ten virtues in Religion for Atheists which he proposes as “a plan for increasing goodwill from the inside out”: They are resilience, empathy, patience, sacrifice, politeness, humour, self- awareness, forgiveness, hope, and confidence. Both lists are a vast improvement on backstabbing, lying, murder, abuse, vitriol, coverups, megalomania, infighting and bullying which have been the fare the world has been dished up this week.
So, let’s make sure we contribute some fruitful Spirit to the life of our world. We have a religion which can actually make people’s lives better, whatever it has been used for in the past by unscrupulous and moralistic people. We can shine a light in the darkness.
This Sunday we consider saints of all sorts and sizes, all types and categories. Finding good role models seems very relevant! So does the study group theme for after the Gathering “Justice and Victory or Justice and Peace?” Very relevant! See you there.
P.S. If you have either the church kitchen pantry cupboard key or a copy of Changing our Mind (which you have finished reading) can you please give me them on Sunday? Also, if you are a Rainbow Room helper can you quickly meet with me after the Gathering and before the study group meets (11:45 am). Thanks! S.
To view the full e-news click here : https://mailchi.mp/e583435b397b/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-1428637