Centre for Progressive Religious Thought (CPRT Sydney)


Freedom to Explore the Challenge and Meaning of our Spiritual and Religious Experiences


OUR AIMS AND OBJECTIVE


To help members find a satisfactory foundation for our ethical and moral values.

To create a safe place for open and respectful exchange of views for those seeking a meaningful progressive religious life.

To provide an open forum to explore the challenges and meaning of spiritual and religious experiences.

To disseminate, communicate and debate religious thoughts through a regular newsletter, the website and our library of progressive literature.

To participate in a network of support through links with other progressive religious groups and individuals.

To give financial and organizational resources for progressive religious forums.


  • Where Do we meet?

The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought is located in “The Basement”, 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde. (Opposite Callaghan Street) Entrance is via the right hand side path. 

The premises are located at the first bus stop in Badajoz Road for the Sydney bus 506 travelling from the Circular Quay.

Please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or 0405 758 116 for more details.

Open to All                         

CPRT Freedom to Explore.

Coordinator: Eric Stevenson Tel: (02)-98885361 Mobile: 0405758116

Secretary/Treasurer: Ken Fletcher Tel: (02) 9876 4147.

Executive Secretary: Guy Mallam

All Mail: 22 Badajoz Rd, RYDE NSW 2112

Email: cprteric@yahoo.com.au

Web Site: -http://www.cprtfreedomtoexplore.org   

 

CPRT MEMBERSHIP 

We have decided not to charge annual membership fees at present.

You are welcome to make a donation to help us to defray costs, bring special speakers to Sydney, finance our Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organization of national Common Dreams events. Please send us your details and email address to cprteric@yahoo.com.au so we can send our Newsletters.

For direct EFT or B-Pay banking: - 

Account Name: - THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

BSB: - 082 155 A/c No: - 83 243 0417

Cheques payable to: CPRT (Centre of Progressive Religious Thought). 

We have many books in our library which are now listed under "Books in our Library" from the drop down headings above.

The Latest Newsletters 

Centre for Progressive Religious Thought (CPRT Sydney)

Freedom to Explore

May Newsletter 2016

CPRT DISCUSSION TOPICS

Month

Dates

Leader

Topic

May 2016

3/5/16

Guy

“The Cosmic Game” by Stanislav Grof

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Grof

17/5/16

Ken

“The future of progressive Christianity”

June 2016

 

7/06/16

 

Rita

“The New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now.”

https://www.eckharttolle.com/books/newearth/

 

21/06/16

 

Albert Morris

Albert presents his book “Conform or Reform”.

The need for a fourth Reformation.

 

We meet and share a meal on the first and third Tuesday at 12.30 in the Basement, 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, entrance via right hand side pathway. Directions: - Take the 506 bus from Circular Quay to Macquarie Centre and East Ryde and alight at the first stop in Badajoz Road.  On Tuesdays only it is possible to take the same bus route in the opposite direction from Macquarie Place Railway Station to the second last stop in Badajoz Road.

Please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or 0405 758 116 for more details.

Visitors welcome!

Special Newsletter.

 

Our discussions have been continuing very well with presentations from members outlining their thoughts about Spirituality and God. Last meeting we looked at the interesting but confusing topic of “Chaos Theory”.

 

In this Newsletter are items

·        Two more essays by Ros and Ken on “What Spirituality means”.

·        An update regarding Greta Vosper’s battle with the United Church of Canada over her beliefs about God. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/24/atheist-pastor-canada-gretta-vosper-united-church-canada?CMP=share_btn_link

·        A brief summary of “Chaos Theory” and the new horizons it opens.

·        Seven essays about the meaning of “GOD” from our members and friends.

 

We are seeking topics and ideas for future discussions – please bring your ideas along to the next meeting.

Kind regards,

Ken (CPRT Secretary)

SAVING JESUS FROM THE CHURCH

Revd Robin Meyers PhD

COMMON DREAMS

Has the Church lost the message of Jesus?

ON THE ROAD 2016

What does it mean to be a beloved community of radical inclusion?

Friday 20 May, 7.30 pm – 9 pm:

Saving Jesus from the Church – inaugural Annual Pitt Street Lecture in Progressive Christianity ($20/10)

Saturday 21 May, 10.00 - 4.00 pm: Seminar and workshop. Two presentations by Robin Meyers, followed by responses and discussion. ($60/30)

Sunday 22 May, 10 am: Dr Meyers preaching at Pitt Street.

Robin Meyers is a best-selling author and a highly regarded speaker. He is the senior minister at the Mayflower Congregational (United Church of Christ) in Oklahoma, Professor of Social Justice at Oklahoma City University and a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar.

Registration: http://bit.ly/RobinMeyers Volunteers needed to assist. Please speak to Warren Talbot.

 

RECENT TRENDS IN PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

Progressive Religion has taken CPRT (Sydney) into interesting territory in the last twelve months.  We have tended to leave behind our initial concern to question traditional Christian teaching, to be less concerned with re-inventing Christian belief and practice, and more interested in the spiritual potential of non-theistic areas of knowledge. Our discussion topics have included reference to Science and Cosmology,  Quantum Physics, Neuro Psychology, and Chaos Theory.

In our Freedom to Explore we are not alone. Our progressive friends across the Tasman are holding their May Conference in the art-deco city of Napier this year. The list of activities includes a “Drama and Playing Together” workshop on how theatre and performance can build a community of trust AND “An Art-Deco walk through Napier” reflecting on its sights. The subjects of keynote addresses are also interesting.  One speaker’s address is titled, “How I became a Heretic with the Help of Jesus”.  Others include, “Art as a Radical Change Agent” and “Spiritual Defiance – Building a Beloved Community of Resistance”.            Ed. 

 

A short attempt to define my personal definition of Spirituality.

To me Spirituality relates to the cultivation of those higher potentialities of the human being such as patience, tolerance, kindness, peacefulness, empathy, service to others. It is about becoming freer of the ego and becoming more fully a person with regard to the “sacredness” of all human beings and in this sense might be said to move beyond humanism. Spiritual people have a connection with one another because of their common humanity regardless of race, culture, colour, gender, sexuality, status or occupation and so on. To be “spiritual” is to see beyond mere outward appearances, to look within all others to the inner life of the spirit within us all. Some refer to that inner life as “the divine spark”, the higher self, the aspirational self and when we connect with others in a reciprocal way on that level we connect in a “spiritual” sense.

It has been said that Spirituality is beyond all religions yet contains all religion, beyond all science and yet contains all science, beyond all philosophy yet contains all philosophy. I like several versions of the meaning of the word Namaste’. “I honour the place in you in which the entire universe dwells, I honour the place in you which is of love, light, of truth and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.” At this point it needs to be said that things “spiritual” are not in the domain of the 5 senses or that can be tested or approached by empirical means.

Lastly, I want to say that I wholeheartedly agree with whoever said, “Religion divides, Spirituality unites”.                                              Ros Tinker.

 

 

Spirituality                                            Ken Fletcher

Spirituality for me involves a sense of being connected both to my inner self and to the whole universe.

This experience brings a variety of senses to play such as peace, purpose, mindfulness, fulfilment, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, self-examination, contemplation and the awareness of the size of the universe from its most distant reaches to the intricate nature of the smallest entities

Spirituality can be a blissful state, a sense of awe/wonderment that seems to go beyond the senses. It is part of the process of the mind coming to grips with itself and nature in all its dimensions, building intellectual understanding and knowledge, attaining an insights of the meaning of life and feeling the depth of our relationship to the world as a whole including the exhilaration of feeling connected with other people, the connectivity of the moment, especially with special people.

Although spirituality is often talked about with religious connections it is a common human experience that anyone can have at any time irrespective of their religion or beliefs.  There are aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialist view of the world without necessarily accepting belief in a supernatural reality or divine being.

After listening to others express their experiences, it appears each person has their own individual experience of spirituality.  Personality, education, training and the influence of others all contribute to the uniqueness of every individual’s spirituality. Some believe mystical spirits and gods are involved, while others use deprivation and diminishment, others use meditation.

Various studies have reported a positive correlation between spirituality and mental well-being in both healthy people and those encountering a range of physical illnesses or psychological disorders.

Spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, have a wide array of positive health outcomes, including stronger morale, happiness and life satisfaction. They report greater social support and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life giving them strength and inner peace.

I find spirituality changes as we grow older, mature and absorb the experiences life brings. When I was young I followed the teachings of family and peers but this changed with maturity in line with the emergence of modern spirituality which is centred on the deepest values and meanings by which people live. It embraces the idea of an ultimate idealism. Spirituality involves the intellect, mindfulness, ambition, altruism, love, pleasure of achievement, devotion, thoughtfulness, overcoming negative emotions of guilt, fear, inadequateness and stimulates insight and tolerance of the practices and beliefs of others.  

CPRT DISCUSSION ON THE GOD WORD

Our decision to open this subject for discussion drew a large number of submissions which have contributed to a fuller understanding of a popular issue.  Its popularity was obvious in the release of Lloyd’s recent version of, “God’s History in Thought World” which we published as our leading article in the last Newsletter.  We are reminded that it is also a contemporary worldwide progressively religious issue because of news last month that the United Church of Canada has refused the right of appeal to our friend, Greta, (Pastor of West hill United Church in Toronto) who has been condemned for her atheistic comments.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/24/atheist-pastor-canada-gretta-vosper-united-church-canada?CMP=share_btn_link

Six Discussion Group Members shared their definitions on April 5 and four more absent members sent their comments with their apologies.  John B wrote, “I think of God as a Presence, not of course as a person.  He says that the Sistine Chapel depiction of God resembling Zeus does not help.

John C’s article will explain why he refuses to define the God Word while reserving the right to use it!  John N. wrote that his God was the “One Energy of the Universe”, and quotes Bonheoffer,” That which is within us but beyond us”.  Ken wrote that  the various God images stem from mankind’s various  attempts to explain what is behind nature which itself is the evolved product of the primordial energy which “drives” the evolving universe but which is not necessarily humanly intelligent or conscious. Ted’s concept, which clearly rejected the idea of God as “an oversized white male”, will be seen to be close to Ken’s.

 The significance of the discussion was that it allowed for a great variety of our respective understandings, ranging from Rita’s transformative “defining moments” in life,  to Eric’s ”neo-atheism” .  All submissions will be published as they come to hand.   Your written contribution would be most welcome.       Editor  

What can we make of “Chaos Theory”?     

 Discussion presentation by Ken.

Through the tools of calculus and computers scientists have been able to look at the phenomenon when nature behaves chaotically, now called “Chaos Theory”.

The graphical “Butterfly affect” is the signature of chaos. It only afflicts systems that are both deterministic and non-periodic; when small changes in the initial conditions produce extreme results as the exponential growth of these small differences overwhelm even the most meticulous calculations.

There are “Strange attractors” within the “Butterfly affect” revealing it is a marvellously subtle state poised between order and randomness, with both aspects intermingled.

There is an amazing kind of order inherent in chaos.

Chaos takes the focus off the laws of nature and shifts it to their consequences.

Chaos emphasises holism (grounded in rigorous science and mathematics) not reductionism.

Chaos is interdisciplinary over many specialities from fluid mechanics, to the weather, to electromagnetism, to cardiac arrhythmias and many other things.

Chaos is the science of how things change – and everything changes.

Newton’s notion of determinism is crucial because one of the defining features of a chaotic system is that it obeys deterministic laws.

Newton’s laws don’t forbid chaos; they require it.

 

The “logistic map” made by tracing the progress of a system going chaotic has no scientific content, no laws of nature built into it. It seems like pure numerology. This breaks the rules of how you do science. It seems the universe is made of number.

 

In Quantum theory there is no way to measure position and velocity simultaneously with unlimited precision. This is a scenario which destroys our whole concept of state space.

Chaos is foundered on determinism whereas quantum theory speaks only of probabilities.

Chaos is mathematically forbidden in quantum mechanics.

The real shocker about quantum chaos is that it links atoms to prime numbers thus connecting the bedrock of reality to the most ethereal realm of human thought.

Quantum systems have discreet energy levels, corresponding to waves vibrating at certain frequencies, called the zeros of the Rienamm zeta function which look uncanningly like those for a quantum chaotic system.

 

This area of research is still in its infancy. Chaos theorists were amongst the earliest scientists to focus on non-linear systems in which the whole is more (or less) than the sum of the parts – still the basis of many of the major unsolved problems of science today.

 

It is hard to get our minds around what is happening within a chaotic system as it challenges many of our current theories especially as it covers the whole spectrum from the Newtonian to quantum levels. At times the chaotic system is changing between these seemingly incompatible states.

It indicates there are balances within nature so when the equilibrium is disturbed the mechanisms are in place to restore nature back to a balanced state.

THE GOD WORD MARCH 2016          Eric Stevenson, 05/04/16

In reviewing the path which my dealings with a supreme divine entity have taken me, I have never experienced a personal encounter with Him or Her.  In the early stages of the journey I addressed that entity in both ritual and informal prayer but have never sensed a response or regarded a subsequent happening as a positive answer.  In those early days, this did not prevent me from invoking His blessing, or of singing His praises or of assuming His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience.  I interpreted the statement that God is Love as if He loved me, and I regarded the sacred Judeo-Christian scriptures as direct communications from Him through the prophets who unlike myself obviously claimed to have the capacity to receive such revelations. I also regarded the statements attributed to Jesus of Nazareth by the gospel writers as authoritative messages from God’s representative.

This unquestioning approach to my spiritual experience adequately defined the God word for me, and provided me with an adequate basis on which to build a meaningful life. i.e.  until in young adulthood I began to question my former beliefs.  Descriptions of “divine interventions” seemed to be more the activities of good human beings, or good luck.  Many fortuitous circumstances attributed by my religious friends to Him or Her seemed to be unfair. Some divine utterances as recorded in the Bible were clearly unjust, racist, or unscientific. I nursed these doubts despite the fact that I was functioning as a Christian missionary and later as a minister of religion until in retirement I found greater freedom to explore and the words to express my new beliefs.

Although many of my progressive friends regard the God word as necessary for describing our “ground of being”, I prefer not to give it such significance.  For me, most of the assumptions mentioned in my first paragraph no longer apply to it. Since developing my progressive religious thinking I have been instead trying to live with integrity as a sacred doubter cum spiritual explorer – learning to live in ignorance of  matters that are beyond my comprehension, but never ceasing to be awe struck by the wonders of existence which must obviously have an underlying explanation.  Call that underlying explanation what you will, but I do not feel constrained to worship it or talk to it as I have done in earlier years. Most important to me is my decision to value and respect all of life of which I am a part and to engage in my relationships with people and with all of nature in a just, honest, compassionate and loving way.  Once again I do not feel the need to personalise or deify this value system, the origin of which is also a mystery to me.

As a consequence of these beliefs, I am thrown on to my own resources, mental abilities and creative imagination together with those same gifts in my friends in order to live a meaningful existence. For us, the responsibility for living that meaningful life cannot be avoided by putting faith in an imaginary deity.  It is ours alone and will remain so unless or until we can experience and communicate with an alternative superior reality.

GOD    by Ted Nettle

 

The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying ... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.           [Carl Sagan]

Our discussions over the last few meetings have made it clear to us all that “reality”, what ever that is, is far greater than we humans, even thoughtful ones like us, can comprehend. 

 

The danger however is that we will, as we so often in the past have, fall into the naming fallacy and think that because we have given “it” a name, be it “God” or “spirituality” or “the ground of our being”, we know what we are talking about.  We don’t. 

 

Religions claim to tell us what reality is.  They have done this for millennia by creating gods to explain current mysteries in nature or to influence human affairs. 

 

Science in contrast has engaged in a rigorous process of inquiry that has done a great job of helping us to better understand the nature of our world.  In the process, without meaning to, it has demolished many of the claims about reality that religions formerly made.

 

Unlike religions which claim certainty, science is based on uncertainty and probability.  All scientific theories are only accepted and used until further evidence proves them wrong.  It is sad that some religious groups use this basic uncertainty to claim the existence of their gods in these seeming gaps.

 

While some philosophers would argue that reality is within our heads, I think there is a reality out there and that each of us has our own representations of it in our heads.  These internal representations bear a relationship to the external reality but differ depending on our cultural and emotional backgrounds.

 

The reality of which we are a part and which is both beyond us and beyond our present understanding contains many exciting mysteries, many great joys and many terrible sorrows. It seems to work in particular ways and not in other ways so that we can hypothesize test and theorise about the “Laws of Nature”.  Our current understanding of these laws has enabled us to build the complex technological world in which we live.  

 

Does it help to introduce the name “god” into this discussion?  No, I don't think so.

 

To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.[Carl Sagan]

CPRT  DISCUSSIONS  -  MY  CONCEPT  OF  GOD        From Ross Barrie

5th  April  2016

My concept of God is the complementary concepts summarized as “I am” in “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14).  In human terms, God is both concurrently:

·         a “person” (a noun), but more than a person - the “I” in “I am”, and

·         a “process” (a verb), the “am” in “I am”.

 

I contend that the complementary “noun” side of God, the “I”, is outside of space, time and the universe, whereas the complementary “process” side of God, the “am”, is not only active within space, time and the universe, but is (the process of) space, time and the universe.

 

The closest technical terminology that I can come to for this “process” side of God is panentheism where panentheism is:

·         pan = everything - everything has its existence in God – God is us, in us, as us, as every life breath

·         We are a sponge saturated with God, we could not live without God, we are in God:

o   Similar to the Biblical concept of God in Acts 17:28  “In him we live and move and have our being”).

 

A more complete definition of panentheism is:

1.      Process theology and philosophy view God either as one and the same with the universe as a whole, or as the creative process of the universe

2.      This is a step beyond pantheism that suggests that God is to be found in every entity in the universe

3.      God is to be found in the whole, or in the process of emergence of all entities and events

4.      It suggests that God is not outside the universe, but effectively is one and the same with it

5.      God is the eternal, ever-creating essence of a cosmos without beginning or end

6.      Panentheism allows for the idea of God as the "person" who is the universe as a whole, compassionately "feeling" all the pain and joy and possibility in the cosmos

7.      It also allows for the idea of God as the impersonal, essential quality of creativity intrinsic to all events and entities in the cosmos

8.      A related idea is "naturalistic theism", seeing God and nature as one.

 

I do not accept dot point 4 above, as I see the complementary “noun” side of God, the “I”, as greater than, as outside, the universe (or universes/multiverses).  God as “I” is greater, extending further than just the universe – the universe, and all that is evolving within it, is just like a thought in God’s mind.

 

But the complementary “process” side of God, the “am”, is within the universe and is the process of the universe, i.e. the universe is an integral part of the complementary “process” side of God, never separated from God.  God as this process is not prohibited from having intention, nor compassion, nor “feeling”.  So I partly agree with dot point 6 above except that I would say that God as “person”, the complementary noun side of God, is outside of the universe as the “I” in “I am”.

Some reflections on the “God” word.. John Court, 5 April 2016

I am very uncomfortable with any attempt to define “God”, either linguistically or actually.  It would be an arrogant undertaking, at least for me to make.  But it seems it is an unavoidable human instinct, even at CPRT.

This reflection of mine therefore springs from my ‘world view’ (Weltanshauung): 

I am a member of the Christian tribe.

I glimpse the Divine through the leader of my tribe, Jesus of Nazareth, one of my ‘windows’ into Divinity.

I also glimpse the Divine:

·         Through people of the Abrahamic religions;

·         Through the Christian and Hebrew writings and their manifold interpretations; and

·         Through secular knowledge and expression, including:

o   science and philosophy;

o   history and social science;

o   literature and poetry; and

o   music and art.

I acknowledge that others glimpse the Divine from other tribes and in other ways and that many do not glimpse the Divine at all.  I seek to live in love and peace with them on this tiny planetary speck in this vast universe, which contains perhaps septillion other planets.

 

A further reflection:

I found an article by the Australian theologian Geoff Thompson, entitled “Jesus, God and Atheism” (2012, Uniting Church Studies, Vol 18, No 2, pp 15-27), to be an interesting ‘cleaning cloth’ to use in glimpsing through my heavily grimed and smudged ‘window’.  He looks at three recent assessments of Jesus in his quest for Christian engagement with the (Western) world of the 21st century:

·         Peter Jensen’s ‘conventional’ Lord Jesus Christ (Boyer lectures, 2005);

·         Marcus Borg’s ‘seminar’ Jesus (The heart of Christianity, 2007); and

·         John Carroll’s ‘existential’ Jesus (The Existential Jesus, 2007).

He considers Jensen’s mainstream-Christian perspective to have little appeal beyond already committed Christian people and to rob Jesus’s transformative power of any element of surprise and challenge.  

Borg’s “historical Jesus” is too thoroughly domesticated for him.  This perspective merely creates a veranda where theological modernists, who exit the door of organised religion, can comfortably stand, holding to their Christian heritage while fully conforming to a modernist world view - a position Thompson judges to have little attraction to those who have never been inside the building of organised religion.

Thompson looks favourably on Carroll’s agnostic perspective that Jesus is destabilising and troubling to everyone he encounters.  He is not the meek and mild Jesus of Sunday-school theology, but one who challenges our modern world at its foundations and destabilises our theology.   And I might add, Jesus seems to me to be uncomfortable, prickly and politically incorrect.  For example, he is indignant with a close friend in her deepest grief (Jn 1133 REB), he calls a desperate foreign woman a dog (Mk 727) and he is cruel to animals (Lk 833).

Thompson effectively thanks the ‘new atheists’ for their frontal attacks on Christian faith.  He concludes:

“It seems to me the challenge for Christians – as followers of the crucified Lord – is not to seek to conquer atheism, but, through conversation with it, to fine-tune [their] own impulses towards atheism and so witness more clearly to [their] unattractive Lord.”

As I said, an interesting cleaning cloth, which clears one or two of the smear marks on my ‘window’, although I still only “see through a glass darkly”, to slightly misuse the AV translation.

In conclusion, I refuse to define ‘God’ or even the “God” word, while reserving my right to use it.

 

God                                         Thoughts from Ken Fletcher. 5/4/2016

·        Are we trying to talk about and discuss an entity (God) that does not exist?

·        If God does not exist are we only left with the evolution of a gigantic energy system?

·        Can we imagine such an energy system having the dimensions, structure, balances and where with all to allow the development of mankind and intelligence.

·        If God does exist, is God only within our universe or both in and outside it?

·        After all this time, why are we still looking for answers?

·        Has anything new been revealed?

·        Is God just a myth, an image or imaginary concept in our minds?

·        How much does belief in God(s) grow from our childhood training?

·        Why are there so many different definitions and understandings of God?

·        Why has human understanding of God changed as man has evolved socially and philosophically?

·        Is Devine inspiration nothing more than the human conscious and unconscious solving problems?

·        If God speaks to individuals, how do they know which of their thoughts is from God?

·        Can mankind rise above the fear of judgement by a god to be motivated to act for the benefit of others?

·       Does motivation based on the fear of judgement by God reflect how God thinks or only a human solution e.g. Roman authority? 

·        In Christianity, why did God create us as a sinner yet asks us to repent from something we may have had no control over?

·        Why does God allow so much pain and suffering of innocent and helpless people?

·        How do we define sin?

·        Are sins only actions that would hurt others and ourselves?

 

Even though we have no definite proof either way of God’s existence I have been trying to understand and explain God all my life.

I am coming more and more to the conclusion that mankind has just been trying to explain the workings behind nature and our mental capacities.

The idea of gods and spiritual entities controlling events has been with mankind for many thousands of years. Attributing human qualities to imagined “king/god” entities that control everything has been a model that humans constructed so they could relate to and make sense of their world.

A good example is found in the Dream-time stories of our Australian Aboriginals.

 

I no longer think we are talking about a separate entity or a spirit world.  The Christian image of God as a just and omnipotent Being, supported by angels or spirits is an enigma without any real substance.  It is also contradicted by the injustices and hurt innocent people suffer for no other reason than that, by chance, they were in the wrong place when something disastrous happened.

How can we make sense of that if there is a loving entity in control?

That there are so many different concepts of god indicates it has been a guessing game; we all live in the same world, observe the same things and experience the same life cycle. I have concluded that the variety of ideas reflects individual conclusions trying to explain nature with concepts of a God who does not exist.

 

When I believed in God, I found I had developed an image of what my mind concluded God was; and how that God would think and behave based on my own experiences and lessons. This image had become a real person in my minds, as real as a family member or close friend.

By constructing this image in our minds we are humanising God based on ourselves and/or our belief of what God should be?

The danger with this is that some personalities actually think they are God or God’s chosen agent.

 

Listing nature as proof of the existence of God is not relevant if God does not exist.

If God does exist it is most probable God would work through nature which raises the philosophical question of suffering. How is God influencing nature when earthquakes and disasters occur when the forces working within nature are ready to break?

Taking God out of the equation is a better explanation of what is happening. It removes a lot of unnecessary explanations and removes a reason to pass responsibility away from ourselves.

Basing belief in God on emotional feelings is very questionable.

 

At this point in my life, if I had to give a yes/no answer to the question “Is there a God”; I would say based on the evidence and experiences of my own life that the answer is “No”.

I am defining God as some form of separate entity that can influence nature; and define “nature” as the whole universe including everything before and after the “Big Bang”.

For me it makes more sense that the raw energy from which our whole universe and existence is said to have developed has the potential to become, through the various evolutionary processes, everything in existence (including human intelligence, emotions, talent and thinking).

This energy is also the driving force but it need not have intelligence of itself, only the potential for things to evolve. For me this scenario better reflects reality.

 

Humans have a responsibility to nature (including our own human race), to respect it and live for its preservation.

The basic Christian message of love and compassion encourages our compatibility with nature and its survival.

 

Although we question a lot of the traditional teachings about God and Jesus, Christianity still stands as one of  the most successful and significant influence on mankind. Jesus’s message of humility, love and concern for others is the building blocks of its strength. This message has withstood the tests of time despite all the unloving things that have been done in Christianity’s name.

Maybe it is time for Christianity to accommodate a variety of God images and acknowledge it is the processes of nature that are the determining factor we have to live with. Christianity has evolved as one of the best moral and social formats for safe and stable societies to exist.

 

We have decided to have no membership fees for 2016.

Donations are gratefully received to help us to defray costs, bring special speakers to Sydney, finance Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organisation of national Common Dreams events.

For direct EFT or B-Pay banking: -

Account Name: - THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

BSB: - 082 155     A/c No: - 83 243 0417

Cheques payable to: THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT For membership enquiries please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or Ken Fletcher on (02) 9876 4147 or email:  cprteric@yahoo.com.au

 Send Membership fees to: Ken Fletcher, c/- 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, NSW, 2112

 

 

All Mail:      22 Badajoz Rd, RYDE   NSW  2112

Web Site http://www.cprtfreedomtoexplore.org

Email:         cprteric@yahoo.com.au

Coordinator:   Eric Stevenson   Tel: 02-98885361.    Mobile: 0405-758116

Sec/Treasurer: Ken Fletcher. Tel: 02-9876 4147. Executive Sec. Guy Mallam   

Please Note: - The views expressed in our Newsletters are not necessarily the views of CPRT, its members and contributors.

With the aim of providing the opportunity of learning what other people are saying we include articles covering a wide range of topics so everyone can make their own mind up about them.                                                              

                                                                                                


Centre for Progressive Religious Thought (CPRT Sydney)

Freedom to Explore

March Newsletter 2016

CPRT DISCUSSION TOPICS

Month

Dates

Leader

Topic

March 2016

15/3/16

Ross

Part 2

Ross presents “The essential Bohm”  see: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bohm

An American scientist who contributed innovative and unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind. His ideas on an alternative reality and NeuroTheology.

April 2016

 

5/4/16

 

Ted

(timekeeper)

“GOD”. Each person has up to 5 minutes to present what their thoughts are about GOD.

 

19/4/16

Ken

What is Chaos Theory? Does it have implications for our spiritual journey and our world view?

 

 

We meet and share a meal on the first and third Tuesday at 12.30 in the Basement, 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, entrance via right hand side pathway. Directions: - Take the 506 bus from Circular Quay to Macquarie Centre and East Ryde and alight at the first stop in Badajoz Road.  On Tuesdays only it is possible to take the same bus route in the opposite direction from Macquarie Place Railway Station to the second last stop in Badajoz Road.

Please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or 0405 758 116 for more details.

Visitors welcome!

 

God’s history in 'thought world'

CPRT has appreciated the writings of Sir Lloyd Geering, a New Zealand theologian, for many years now. He has been a speaker at our conferences and we have used his books and DVD’s in our discussion groups. This article appeared in a New Zealand newspaper in which he adds his voice to the debate about the reality/non-reality of God.

Ian Harris serves your readers well by drawing their attention to what is happening at the leading edge of changing religious thought.

It is surprising, therefore, that he has been taken to task by Murray Rae (ODT, 19.2.16) for suggesting that all talk of God should be taken "out of the world of the human sciences and into the world of human thought''.

Even more astonishing is Prof Rae's appeal to the traditional understanding of God "as the Creator of all things'', without acknowledging that this idea is not a scientific one but one found only in the very world of human thought referred to by Mr Harris.

However much it may continue to be expounded by professors of theology in the great universities, as Prof Rae claims, the fact remains that whatever explanatory value the idea may have had in the pre-scientific past has simply vanished with the advent of the scientific discovery of the evolutionary process that now explains the universe.

On the one hand, cosmic evolution made it unnecessary to postulate a Creator God, while, on the other, biological evolution explains how thinking apes slowly became human by creating language and then constructing the human thought-world.

This so shapes us humans today from the time we learn to speak that we are hardly aware of its reality.

As I have explained much more fully in my book From the Big Bang to God, whereas our forebears saw themselves living in two worlds, material and spiritual, we have been forced, from the time of Immanuel Kant onwards, to distinguish between the physical world and our perception of it (our thought world).

The physical world is now known to be a universe of almost infinite dimensions that has been expanding for more than 13 billion years.

But only during the past two million years has the human species slowly constructed our thought world.

At first it existed in a great diversity of forms and only recently has it been achieving a more unified, global form.

The idea of God originated in the primitive human thought worlds as a generic term that refers to the class of spiritual beings (the gods) postulated by the ancients to explain natural phenomena.

As recently as 2500 years ago the plurality of gods began to be replaced by monotheism, the idea that there is only one God and it is He who created and continues to control the physical world.

Even this was not a fixed and unchangeable idea (as commonly assumed) but has a long and complex history, well documented by Karen Armstrong in her book, A History of God.

Contrary to Prof Rae's judgement that any idea created by the human mind must of necessity "be frail'', human history shows that ideas do have power, as the rise and fall of past ideologies clearly demonstrates.

The idea of God was so powerful that it eventually gave rise to the three great monotheistic cultures - Jewish, Christian and Islamic.

Only during the 20th century did it begin to lose its power to convince, prompting the theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer to declare that humanity has now "come of age'' and in its adulthood must learn to "get along without God''.

But instead of gloating over the so-called "death of God'' (as outspoken atheists are inclined to do, Richard Dawkins iconoclastically referring to God as a delusion), we should rather learn to appreciate the creative role played by the humanly conceived idea of God.

By enabling our Christian (and Muslim) forebears to see the world as a unity that operates in a rational way, monotheism provided the seedbed for the rise of empirical science, as the philosopher Alfred Whitehead pointed out.

The early scientists, being monotheists, sought to understand "the ways of God'' and, in doing so, gradually uncovered the laws of nature.

Now having given birth to the scientific age, the role of God as the Creator could be judged complete, yet, as Mr Harris contends in his article, the idea of God may continue to serve us as an important symbol, pointing to what unites us with one another, with our fellow creatures and with the earth itself.

Harvard theologian Gordon Kaufman agrees, observing how the God-symbol has long served as "our ultimate point of reference''.

But all God-talk says more about us and the way we live than it does about the physical world; this is why the Biblical characters so often speak of "my God'', "your God'' and "our God''.

Kaufman wrote in 1993: "To believe in God is to commit oneself to a particular way of ordering one's life and action. It is to devote oneself to working towards a fully humane world within the ecological restraints here on planet Earth, while standing in piety and awe before the profound mysteries of existence.''

 

 

“FOUR SCORE DEODATUS”

By John Bunyan

Our corresponding member, John has celebrated his eightieth birthday by publishing his autobiographical anthology of prose and verse.  It consists of 102 hymns, songs and poems grouped according to various themes.  Page 111 is about his “rather unorthodox and heretical thoughts” concerning the Bible and about Jesus of Nazareth.

 As a retired Anglican priest in the Diocese of Sydney, and a sympathiser of Unitarianism, John’s progressive thinking will be of interest to many of our members.  He is offering the book for approximately $17 and it can be “purchased” by making a gift to your chosen charity.  Contact bunyanj@tpg.com.au

March 2016 Secretary’s report.       

Dear Members and Friends,

We have included later in this newsletter three presentations from our 1st March discussion group on Spirituality. The next newsletter will have more essays on Spirituality and some papers on what God means from some of our members.

 

Ted Nettle has taken over from Eric as CPRT’s representative to Common Dreams Inc which organises progressive seminars around Australia. CPRT has been a strong supporter of and contributor to Common Dreams over many years. Ted will be able to keep the aims of CPRT and the members we represent in the forefront of CD’s planning.

 

Thank you to our members and friends who have contributed to the newsletter. We like to encourage a healthy discussion and information format. Contact Eric if you have a subject you would like discussed or if you have written a summary of a book you have read that you would like to share in the newsletter.

 

Kind regards,

Ken   (Ken Fletcher)

 

“MADE ON EARTH”

By Lorraine Parkinson

Rex informs us that Lorraine’s recent publication, “Made on Earth” is available postage free from Spectrum Publications.  It is all about how the gospel writers created the Christ. Cost $35.00.

www.spectrumpublications.com.au

This is the first of three essays from our discussion group where members were asked to make a 5 minute presentation on what Spirituality means to them.

Spirituality                         by Ted Nettle

Spirit” comes from the Latin word to breathe.” What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word spiritual” that we are talking of anything other than matter … or anything outside the realm of science.    (Carl Sagan.)

We often talk of body mind and spirit.  We think we know and understand body.  We experience mind but do we understand it?  Mind may appear to be non-material, but it is important to note that we have no experience of mind without body. 

What then is spirit?  Is spirit different to mind?  Is spirit separate from and the parent of both mind and body as Chopra suggests or was Feuerbach right that matter is the parent of spirit.  Does that make spirit nothing other than matter as Sagan suggests?

You’ve probably heard comments describing a particularly lively horse as beingspirited”.  What does this mean?  Is there something in the horse that transcends the realm of the senses?  Or is it thatspirit” is a quality we all have because we are alive?

I am happy to accept the enigmas, the uncertainties of life.  Yes we will seek, through our use of science, to understand them, but I see no valid reason for assuming that the word “spirit” represents “a transcendent reality … beyond the external realm of the senses.” 

Spirituality then is normal every day experience.  That a sunset; a piece of music a poem or a relationship “moves” me is perfectly normal, although I don't fully understand it, but I believe that it could be explained more fully in scientific terms.  Such an explanation would satisfy me intellectually, but not change or diminish the quality of my “spiritual” experience. 

Interestingly unlike many so called “religious” or “spiritual” statements, every  scientific explanation will forever remain open to question.  Open to further exploration, modification, new understanding and wonderment - how “spiritual” is that!

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.   (Carl Sagan.)

Bonhoeffer

Prophet and Martyr

By John  Queripel

We congratulate our progressive friend, John Quiripel, on the publication of this book which was released in January this year.   It is available for $15.00 (Web Price $12.00)

The publicity blurb tells us that John is a minister of the Uniting Church in Australia, author, and community activist and that  he has worked in the prison system, the university sector, as a teacher, and is the recipient of a number of awards for his community involvement.” He is a writer, singer-songwriter, a poet, an artist, and enjoys riding a Malibu. He has long held an interest in Dietrich Bonheoffer.” 

Noel Preston, another esteemed member of our progressive network has commended the book to us. He writes, ““Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and work has been appropriated by a diverse range of theologians and Christian social activists. John Queripel's contribution to that long list is especially creative, not simply because it is conveyed through drama but because one senses a powerful authenticity in the script which arises from the convergence between Bonhoeffer's story and the history of the playwright himself, grounded as both are in contextualism and orthopraxis."
--Noel Preston, adjunct Professor in Applied Ethics, Griffith University (Australia)

 

And to the list of credits we add Stephen Moore’s review. “"Playwright John Queripel pushes all acquainted with Bonhoeffer's discipleship to starkly confront the ethical dilemmas arising from his remarkably enduring ministry. This work has been John's consuming passion for many years: its publication alerts us all to what Bonhoeffer continues to say, and worthily joins the ever-expanding corpus of enlightened studies that enriches theology today."
--Stephen Moore, founding convenor, Australian Bonhoeffer Conference
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 In the final days of World War II, early one frosty morning, a young German pastor was taken from his cell by his Nazi captors and led to his place of execution. Coming from one of Berlin's leading families, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's already brilliant academic and church career was thus brutally terminated.

 

Bonhoeffer found himself in such a strange place for a theologian, being one of the very few in the German Church who stood resolutely opposed to the Nazis to the point where he, as a one-time pacifist, became deeply involved in the conspiratorial plot to kill Hitler and bring down the regime.

 

This course of action saw him enter the murky sphere of secrecy and duplicity as a member of the conspiracy, while two-timing the Nazis as a member of military intelligence. Using that official role, Bonhoeffer was able to travel and communicate with his international ecumenical contacts as part of the conspiracy's attempt to strike a deal with the Allies to end the war. From a dark period, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, brave and resolute, stands as a bright and shining light.  

SPIRITUALITY MARCH 2016

There is apparently a universal propensity in human beings to at least search for if not categorically state that for each of them they have found an aspect of human existence which  is beyond the reach of their five senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. This aspect is linked with a desire to find an answer to life’s mysteries, to obtain an explanation for its joys and sorrows, and to discover a satisfactory way of coping particularly with its sorrows.  I define this “search” and “find” activity as a “spiritual” one.  Reference to this activity and its consequences for individuals and communities I therefore understand as a reference to “spirituality”.

I regard the practice of a person’s religious faith as one type of spirituality. 

(Unfortunately it is often confused with the institutionalisation of their particular religious belief system. I do not see the structuring of a religious institution as spiritual.  It lies very much within the realm of the human senses where power, and influence and the imposition of literalism and dogmatism come into play, but have little to do with a personal search to find meaning in life.)

Individual and faith communities however are not in my view the only manifestations of the spiritual phenomenon.   There is a distinct difference between faith and belief.  People of faith have chosen their particular spiritual path, and placed their confidence in the existence of their imagined spiritual entity.  I leave room for many others of non-faith who nevertheless may have adopted a way of believing and behaving which satisfies my definition.

I regard Non-faith Spirituality as applying to those persons like myself who in their search for meaning in human existence, do not feel the need to imagine the existence of a supernatural source of assistance in which to place their trust.  Admittedly, such persons may rely heavily upon their cognitive ability, the accuracy of their perceptions and sensitivities, the use of the scientific methodology, etc.  They also possess a kind of faith in the non-existence of the supernatural.  Having stated their unbelief, what then constitutes their positive belief system?

Having decided on a journey which questions or lays aside many of one’s old religious practices and having gone beyond the traditional boundaries of institutional religion, one’s spiritual position appears initially to be somewhat vacuous.  So Spirituality for me has included learning to live within that vacuum. But it has not been non-spiritual. The new obligation to take responsibility for my own spiritual beliefs and actions plus the new freedom to explore are (to use my old traditionally Christian language) my “salvation”. And mixed with this sense of liberation is my embracing of love for oneself and others, plus  respect for the whole of nature of which I am a part  This I try to do as fully as possible with all my ability and available energy in conjunction with my search.

 The more recent stage in my spiritual journey has focussed on”what is real?”, and “to what extent I can trust my senses and conscious abilities to answer the questions”.  Post-modern discoveries and postulations indicate that there are many more dimensions which pertain to what I perceive which are yet to be experienced and/or taken into consideration.  While I am discovering those dimensions and finding out how to make use of them, I am learning to live as I have said, as fully as I can using whatever knowledge I can gain and whatever abilities I can command to continue my search.

Eric Stevenson

CPRT  DISCUSSION  ON  “SPIRITUALITY”

1st  March  2016

Spirituality can be defined in many ways.  Although spirituality is often associated with religion, personal spirituality can also be developed through music, art or a connection with nature.  Some people also find spirituality and the experience of inner peace through acts of compassion and selflessness, altruism.  Spirituality can be the way to develop personal values as you find meaning and purpose, hope and comfort, and inner peace in your life.

 

For me, spirituality is defined through “relationships” and can best be understood through four concepts which are interrelated, i.e. they do not stand alone, they are not just connected, but they must be integrated:

1.    Firstly, a belief that there is a ‘power’ or a ‘process’ operating in the universe that is greater than the cosmos, universe or myself

2.    Secondly, a conviction (more than just a sense) within myself of being connected to, or part of, this power or process

3.    Thirdly, through this power or process, a sense of interconnectedness or integration with all living creatures, and with all matter

4.    Fourthly, an energy to live a life in the knowledge of the three dot points above.

 

Ross Barrie

 

All Mail:      22 Badajoz Rd, RYDE   NSW  2112

Web Site http://www.cprtfreedomtoexplore.org

Email:         cprteric@yahoo.com.au

Coordinator:   Eric Stevenson   Tel: 02-98885361.    Mobile: 0405-758116

Sec/Treasurer: Ken Fletcher. Tel: 02-9876 4147. Executive Sec. Guy Mallam   

We have decided to have no membership fees for 2016.

Donations are gratefully received to help us to defray costs, bring special speakers to Sydney, finance Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organisation of national Common Dreams events.

For direct EFT or B-Pay banking: -

Account Name: - THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

BSB: - 082 155     A/c No: - 83 243 0417

Cheques payable to: THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT For membership enquiries please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or Ken Fletcher on (02) 9876 4147 or email:  cprteric@yahoo.com.au

 Send Membership fees to: Ken Fletcher, c/- 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, NSW, 2112

 

CPRT Discussion Programme for 2014.

Month

Dates

Leader

Topic

March 2016

1/3/16

Ted (time keeper

Spirituality. Each person has the opportunity, in 5 minutes to present what Spirituality/Mindfulness means to them.

15/3/16

Ross

Part 2

Ross presents “The essential Bohm”  see: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bohm

An American scientist who contributed innovative and unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind. His ideas on an alternative reality and NeuroTheology.

April 2016

5/4/16

Ted

(timekeeper)

“GOD”. Each person has up to 5 minutes to present what their thoughts are about GOD.

19/4/16

Ken

What is Chaos Theory? Does it have implications for our spiritual journey and our world view?

May 2016

3/5/16

Guy

“The Cosmic Game” by Stanislav Grof

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Grof

17/5/16

Albert Morris

Albert presents his book “Conform or Reform”.

The need for a fourth Reformation.

June 2016

7/06/16

Rita

“The New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now.”

https://www.eckharttolle.com/books/newearth/

 

 

Please Note: - The views expressed in our Newsletters are not necessarily the views of CPRT, its members and contributors.

With the aim of providing the opportunity of learning what other people are saying we include articles covering a wide range of topics so everyone can make their own mind up about them.                                                              

                                                                                                

Centre for Progressive Religious Thought (CPRT Sydney)

Freedom to Explore

Summer Newsletter 2015-6

Coming CPRT DISCUSSION TOPICS

Month

Dates

Leader

Topic

November 2015

17/11/15

Guy

“Theology and War”. Guy looks at Chapter 8 in Val Webb’s new book “Testing Tradition & Liberating Theology”, to look at some of the Ethical issues of war.

December

2015

1/12/15

Eric

End of Year celebration at Eric’s Place.

“What Does the Future Hold”

CPRT will provide ALL the food and drinks.

 

15/12/15

 

No Meeting till February 2016.

 

Visitors welcome!

We meet and share a meal on the first and third Tuesday at 12.30 for 1:15 pm in the Basement, 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, entrance via right hand side pathway.

 Directions: - Take the 506 bus from Circular Quay to Macquarie Centre and East Ryde and alight at the first stop in Badajoz Road. 

On Tuesdays only it is possible to take the same bus route in the opposite direction from Macquarie Place Railway Station to the second last stop in Badajoz Road.

Please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or 0405 758 116 for more details.


Summer 2015-6 Secretary’s report.

Dear Members and Friends,

As we draw to the end of another year it is opportune to reflect on what CPRT is doing.

Our discussions have concentrated on our understanding of God, some of the moral issues that we face individually and on a worldwide basis, the history of Christianity and mindfulness/spirituality.

 Members regularly express their appreciation that CPRT offers an opportunity to discuss ideas in a sympathetic environment and they can hear other perspectives.

As a group we have recognised that with our ageing leadership and membership, it is more difficult for members to devote their time to CPRT. We have reduced the number of meetings to the first and third Tuesday of each month and have decided to continue with this into 2016.

Rob has kindly offered to prepare a list of suitable topics from which the group can decide which they will discuss. Additional ideas would be most welcome.

We look forward to a rewarding year in 2016.

Kind regards, Ken   (Ken Fletcher)

 

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES - CPRT NEWSLETTERS 2005 TO 2015

In reviewing the first ten years of our Newsletter it is to be noted that CPRT has calmly and respectfully repeated the above theme, many times over during that period.  It is unfortunate that in Australia’s multi racial community the trend has been away from progressive religion in general to specifically Christian progressive reporting.  So laying aside the native cultural background of the majority of our CPRT members who are disillusioned protestants and catholics, Eric repeats his support for the many religious progressives who as reported in the pages of this our journal have spoken out from the perspective of their own faith cultures.  In keeping with our aims and objectives, CPRT Sydney is firmly committed to providing a safe place for those who wish to explore life’s meaning beyond the boundaries of traditional belief. We therefore willingly give a significant space in this Newsletter to the courageous and scholarly efforts of the progressive colleagues mentioned in Eric’s article together with all of those from other religious  and non-religious backgrounds who wish to journey with us in providing a safe place for their views to be expressed.   Editor

 

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!                Eric Stevenson

In our November, 2013 Newsletter I raised the ethical dilemma confronting our CPRT organisation. If we remain committed to a world community of differing believers, how can we with integrity find a way to continue to live and work together with some of them when we are sincerely convinced that their emperor as well as ours has no clothes? In trying to cope with the dilemma, I said that we needed to take into consideration (1) Guided by Hans Christian Andersen’s story,  the need for the innocence of a child observer who has no ulterior motive or political agenda, (2) the moral obligation associated with our accepted role in a community of believers and non-believers, and  (3) what the sceptic Michael Shermer called “rationality”*.

 Stephen Batchelor, a leading proponent of progressive Buddhism added two more. (4) Our response must be “practical” and (5) “therapeutic”**. Keeping these five criteria in mind, let us look again at our publication over the last ten years of some of our progressive associates’ views of their particular ethnic emperors.

THE HINDU EMPEROR.

 In the November, 2013 issue we quoted Indian author and philosopher, Dr. Meera Nanda who claimed that the polite acceptance of Eastern religions by the West was an example of “benign patronage and condescension”.  She said that such an attitude denies the adherents of eastern religions, “the capacity and the need for a reasoned modification of inherited cosmologies in the light of better evidence made available by the methods of modern science.” She disputes the nationalistic Indian claim to modernity based on the Vedic “science” of Hindu Holy Books. She says, “It is a phoney face on age old superstitions”.  ( e.g. vastu shastra – buildings constructed in alignment with a cosmic “life-force”.) Shades of Hans Christian Andersen!!!

THE CHRISTIAN EMPEROR.

 Dr. Nanda equally blasts the claims of Western thought (post modern relativism...intelligent design, astrology, homeopathy, and other pseudo-scientific enthusiasms...evangelical preachers – immanent rapture ‘into Eternal Bliss if only one will be born again’.   She is highly critical of sections of three major institutional world religions.  Christian Dominionism, Hindu Nationalism and Islamic Jihadism who “march hand in hand with the same backward facing piper.” For the purpose of this article we exclude the massive contribution of the Global Progressive -Christian Revolution of which we are enthusiastically a part.

THE ISLAMIC EMPEROR.

 Further to Dr. Nanda’s brief jabbing remark above, we reported a more practical response in the January/February 2014 Newsletter by Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Islamic Studies, Oxford.  Professor Ramadan guardedly opened the way for a non-literal, less chauvinistic interpretation of the Qur’an by Moslem women. He did so by making excuses for the old male dominated committee (the Ulama) who adopted a prejudicial teaching method to explain the so called “revelation evolution” of his revered spiritual leader.   He concluded his interview on the ABC Religion and Ethics programme by suggesting that Moslem women could be trained in the art of what  I think Christian theologians call Biblical Criticism and what boils down to their becoming involved in the re-interpretation of the Moslem Bible!! Maybe Moslem women could become equal members with the male Mullahs on a post-modern Ulama? (Mmmm, maybe not!!!) But as I quipped in 2014, how could that happen without progressive Moslems facing the issue that the current status given to the sayings in the Qur’an is that they are not any more inspired than that the Bible is the inspired Word of God!! Our October, 2012 issue featured a supportive statement by Turkish Deputy Mufti, Ms Kadriye Avei Erdemli.  In a Parliament of World Religions article in September 2012 she is reported as saying,”All we are doing is taking Islam back before it was corrupted and misinterpreted , when women and men were treated equally.” (see also issues August 2010 and June 2011regarding the present complex Islamic response to Evolution and the Rohema Conference in Indonesia  respectively.)  Salman Hameed, Director of the Centre for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies, Hamshire College US, reported that Muslim countries are still “negotiating modernity”. He found that most Malaysian doctors in Malaysia still reject the theory of evolution – especially human evolution.  At Rohema, one speaker stated clearly that to-day’s traditional Moslem beliefs were adequate for the seventh century, but that we had no other choice than to re-interpret Islam’s religious teaching so that people could be responsive to present day challenges.(Newsletter July, 2012)       

THE BUDDHIST EMPEROR.

 In our December 2013 issue I reported the claim of Stephen Bachelor who was interviewed by Rachael Kohn on The Spirit of Things.  He rejected re-incarnation and karma as Indian accretions to Tibetan Buddhism.  See his book, “Confession of a Buddhist Atheist”**. Because of his commitment to a “therapeutic” approach to progressive religion (see (5) above), he obviously did not mean his comment to be an attempt to reform Tibetan Buddhism but intended it as a healing one for fellow progressive Buddhist doubters.

THE JEWISH EMPEROR.

Is the Torah  a myth? In our October, 2012 issue we referred to the recent visit to Australia of Israeli historian and social activist, Professor Ilan Pappe, University of Exeter.  Pappe, Israeli author of “The Forgotten Palestinians”, relinquished his position at Haifa University in 2008, and has been condemned by the Israeli government for accusing successive Israeli governmental administrations of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.  Whatever side you are on, you must as a progressive agree with his final word that -The Israeli government is linking “the foundational mythology of archival material” to its justification for its questionable activities. I think Pappe is saying the Jewish Emperor has assumed that the ancient texts were historical and that Jehovah did actually approve of David cutting off Goliath’s head!!!  In our August 2012 issue we published a ray of hope on this vital issue.  At least there are some young Jews who are prepared to think outside the square!  Rabbinical student, Adina Allen from southern California writes of her association with a group of progressive Jewish students whom we would cordially welcome as members of CPRT.  Adina writes, “...none of us is alone on this path of exploration...it is by asking the unanswerable questions, and by articulating that which we don’t know that we can move beyond the paediatric version of religion that no longer fits us, and come to inhabit a less clear, perhaps scarier, but ultimately more true and fulfilling sense of religion as adults.”  Adina’s full report first appeared in the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue 2010-11.  Another of our progressive references was in the Newsletter of July 2012 when we expressed support for Abigail Ababanel, Israeli editor of the publication, “Beyond Tribal Loyalties”.  She has realised that in biblical times the land of Canaan was already inhabited by other races.  This compelled her to conclude that the Children of Israel were morally wrong in claiming it as their territory. Furthermore they were guilty of what we would call crimes against humanity, having obtained illegal possession of the “promised land” using terrorism and ethnic cleansing as a means of conquering the original inhabitants.  She renounced her Israeli citizenship in protest against the current Israeli government for caving in to the above rationale in its abuse of Palestinian rights.

*Chet Raymo, “When God is Gone Everything is Holy’, Sorin Books, 200

** S. Batchelor, “Confession of a Buddhist Atheist”, Spiegal & Grau (Paperback)

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

It is clear from the examples quoted above that in order to be a truly progressive religious collective, CPRT will have difficulty in joining or of being accepted into an ecumenical partnership. By joining a mutual admiration society for the beliefs of members of other faiths we would have to sacrifice the goal of innocent and rational criticism of some of the sacred cows of their various belief systems. .  Nor can we adopt a hotch-potch of the “best” beliefs in a number of different religions.  To do so would involve us abandoning our freedom to explore life’s meaning beyond the boundaries of formal religion. Nor can we refrain from making value judgements about some of the negative consequences of belief (traditional or otherwise).  To do so would be to forfeit some of our moral obligations.  Working harmoniously with traditional religion also presents a problem in that our comments are often seen as heretical, offensive, and (more particularly) hurtful to pious and sincere devotees of institutionalised religion. Our goal is definitely not to destroy the basis of a healthy faith for even the most rabid of fundamentalists.  Never the less we must retain our ability primarily to critique the faith or non-faith of all of our members.  As soon as any of our members have reached a conclusion that the belief system they have discovered can be set in concrete, they have automatically disqualified themselves from the kind of progressive movement I have been talking about. We are committed to a fellowship of heretics – a kind of group of religious scientists with a sunset clause for those who have no further need to research and hypothesise regarding the ever receding horizon of progressive religious thinking. For those of us who are left, and the number is growing in other religious cultures across the world, the future may be difficult, for some lonely, for others even dangerous.  This being so perhaps there is still a need for a safe place like CPRT for new waves of spiritual explorers, regardless of who their emperor has been?

Eric Stevenson

 

 

We have decided to have no membership fees for 2016.

Donations are gratefully received to help us to defray costs, bring special speakers to Sydney, finance Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organisation of national Common Dreams events.

For direct EFT or B-Pay banking: -

Account Name: - THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

BSB: - 082 155     A/c No: - 83 243 0417

Cheques payable to: THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT For membership enquiries please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or Ken Fletcher on (02) 9876 4147 or email:  cprteric@yahoo.com.au

 Send Membership fees to: Ken Fletcher, c/- 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, NSW, 2112

                                                    

SEA of FAITH in AUSTRALIA  (SoFiA).  (An independent affiliate of CPRT)
The SoFiA Network promotes the open exploration of religion, spirituality and meaning.

'Sea of Faith' is not a church, but a network of people who are seeking a radical reappraisal of past religious traditions in order to meet today's spiritual challenges.  The Network affirms the continuing importance of religious thought and practice even though it acknowledges that religion, like art and poetry, is a purely human creation.

 SoFiA Network Website - www.sof-in-australia.org  

Don Cupitt - www.doncupitt.com

Lloyd Geering - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Geering

SoFiA Victoria email - sofmelb@yahoo.com.au 

  LECTURES - Thursdays, 7.30pm.  Gold coin donation appreciated.

Lectures are followed by questions, discussion and refreshments. All viewpoints are welcome.

VENUE: Carlton Library Meeting Room, 667 Rathdowne Street (corner Newry Street), North Carlton.  Melways Map: 2B J2.

15 October 2015 Dr. Nicholas Coleman  (School of Spiritual Studies) "Platonic Zen: An experimental way to find God."

19 November 2015 Annette Lowe  (Carl Jung Society) "The Origins of Religion."

17 December 2015 Dr. Joanna Kujawa  (Author, "Jerusalem Diary: Searching for the Tomb and House of Jesus") "Mary Magdalene and the Gnostic Gospels."

18 February 2016 Carl Turney "Love: Saint Valentine and his Day."

17 March 2016 Ron Suter  (New Life Books & Archaeology) "China's First God."

21 April 2016 Jonathan Rutherford  (Co-Author, "Beloved Father, Beloved Son")

"Early Christianity: From Heavenly Saviour Cult to Roman State Religion."

19 May 2016 Andrew Rooke  (Theosophical Society, Pasadena)

"Hermetic Philosophy: A Journey into the Macro and Micro Cosmos."

16 June 2016 Alex McCullie  (Tutor, Centre for Adult Education) "Seeking Truth."

21 July 2016 Paul Murchison  (Author, "Who is this God?") "Christ, Calvin and Eternal Torture."

18 August 2016 Willy Vloedmans  (Spiritualist) "Meta-Physics and Spiritual Consciousness."

15 September 2016 John Gunson  (Author, "God, Ethics and the Secular Society")

"Learning to Live Without God."

 

 

All Mail:      22 Badajoz Rd, RYDE   NSW  2112

Web Site http://www.cprtfreedomtoexplore.org

Email:         cprteric@yahoo.com.au

Coordinator:   Eric Stevenson   Tel: 02-98885361.    Mobile: 0405-758116

Sec/Treasurer: Ken Fletcher. Tel: 02-9876 4147. Executive Sec. Guy Mallam   

 

Please Note: - The views expressed in our Newsletters are not necessarily the views of CPRT, its members and contributors. With the aim of providing the opportunity of learning what other people are saying we include articles covering a wide range of topics so everyone can make their own mind up about them.        



CPRT DISCUSSION TOPICS

Discussion for 4th and 18st August 2015  

Hi Eric,  

I think we agreed we would look at the religions of the book Judaism, Christianity and Islam taking account of Prothero’s perspective, but not exclusively if someone wants to adopt the view that all religions lead to the same mountain top.  I guess this means we will look for similarities and differences.  If that is a correct interpretation of our decision, here is my suggestion for what might be sent out as a guide for our discussion on August 4th:     At our meeting on July 7th we had a general discussion of world religions in the light of Stephen Prothero’s book God is not One:  The eight rival religions that run the world and why their differences matter.    Prothero states his basic premise very strongly, namely that  the religions of the world are very different from one another, each seeing in the human condition a different problem with a correspondingly different solution.  He draws a clear distinction between his view and the much more well known view of others such as Huston Smith and Karen Armstrong that the world’s religions are simply different paths up the same mountain.    We decided that at our meeting on August 4th we would  consider just three of the religions in Prothero’s book.  These were the three “religions of the book” - Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Our aim is not to engage in a comprehensive study of any one religion but to examine these three religions in the light of Prothero’s view that “God is not One” and to also take account of the view he opposes that religions are at the mountain top all the same.  I would like to suggest therefore that in our preparation we focus on the differences and the similarities between these three religions.   If you don’t have Prothero’s book and would like to hear him comment on these religions, go to Google and put in “god is not one study guide”.  This will take you to the study guide where I got the questions I sent out and a list of videos you can watch as well as some reviews of Prothero’s book.     Regards, Ted  


 

Dear Discussion Group Friends,

Above are the notes from Ted for next Tuesday and below the notes from Ted's previous session.

Prothero, Stephen, (2010) God is Not One.  Melbourne: Black Inc


Reviews major world religions and atheism.  Writing in opposition to the view (seen in the writings of Huston Smith and Karen Armstrong) that all religions are basically the same, providing views of one God which differ only in surface features.

 

Prothero provides a good analytical tool by describing religions in terms of what they see as - a problem. a solution, a technique and an exemplar (p 14).   This analysis makes it clear that the different religions are not even on the same page in terms of what is important to each of them.   This of course says nothing about god, if there is one, but a lot about the religions and the way they produce theory, philosophy, theology, based on either no data or very questionable data.

 

 

RELIGION

PROBLEM

SOLUTION

TECHNIQUE

EXEMPLARS

ISLAM

(p 32)

self-sufficiency

submission

Five Pillars of Islam

Muhammad

CHRISTIANITY

sin

salvation

faith and works*

saints

CONFUCIANISM

(p 113)

chaos

order

ethics and ritual

educated persons

HINDUISM

(p 136f)

cycle of reincarnation

release

• priestly rituals

• wisdom

• devotion

gurus

BUDDHISM

(p 177f)

suffering

nirvana

[enlightenment]

Eightfold Path

arhat(wise man T)

bodisatva (M)

lamas (V)

YORUBA

(p 232f)

disconnection from others, nature, spirits. divine ...

myriad ritual practices

initiation, divination, spirit/body possession

priests and diviners

JUDAISM

(p 253)

exile

(of community)

return

tell the story

follow the law

rabbis

DAOISM

(p 285)

not living life to the full, not free

let go

balance

nature (especially water)

 

 

*  Unlike Christianity, in Islam and Judaism right action has precedence over right doctrine (p 32)  [Unfortunately fundamentalists, in all religions, now seem to focus on what you say or believe and the killing of those with different beliefs seems to be the norm.]

           Details of meetings                       Visitors welcome!

We meet and share a meal on the first and third Tuesday at 12.30 in the Basement, 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, entrance via right hand side pathway.

Directions: - Take the 506 bus from Circular Quay to Macquarie Centre and East Ryde and alight at the first stop in Badajoz Road.  On Tuesdays only it is possible to take the same bus route in the opposite direction from Macquarie Place Railway Station to the second last stop in Badajoz Road.

Please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or 0405 758 116 for more details.



Lloyd Geering’s latest book Re-imagining God” for sale at $ 20.00

New stocks have arrived of  Lloyd Geering’s latest book Re-imagining God”- The Faith Journey of a Modern Heretic.

We have sourced 5 more of these books from New Zealand costing us about $31 each but will sell them to members at $20.00 each to help with the cost.

Let Eric know if you need a copy.

 ooooOOOOOOOoooo

'The Practice of Mindfulness in the Observance of Progressive Religion'

By The Rev. Dr Ian Ellis-Jones

Based on an Address Delivered at the Centre for Progressive Religious Thought [CPRT] Sydney,
in Ryde, New South Wales, on 3 February 2015

 

Q. What exactly is mindfulness?

 

A. Mindfulness is the watchful, receptive, deliberate, and purposeful presence of bare and unadorned attention to, and choiceless awareness of, the content of the action (both internal and external) of the present moment ... from one moment to the next.

 

Q. What do you mean by ‘bare and unadorned attention’?

 

A. It means just enough attention to observe, to see, but no more than that---that is, to attend just to the bare facts of a perception as presented either through the five physical senses or through the mind, but without labelling, judging, analysing, interpreting, approving, condemning and so forth, all of which is reactionary conditioning from the past which only serves to keep us bound to the past and not present to what is.

 

Q. What is ‘choiceless awareness’?

 

A. Awareness is ‘choiceless’ when there is no preference, and no prejudice---that is, no judgment or selectiveness---as respects the content of one’s awareness. Ordinarily, we tend to be aware of some things but not others. The result? Judgment, attachment, and aversion. And we end up never seeing things-as-they-really-are in all their fullness, objectivity, and independence.

 

Q. Is mindfulness a religion?

 

A. Absolutely not. Religion ordinarily involves a system of beliefs or statement of doctrine concerning so-called ‘ultimate reality’, an associated moral or ethical code of conduct, participation in prescribed forms of ritual, observances and other acts of devotion, and both ‘faith’ and ’worship’. Mindfulness does not involve or require any faith at all---certainly no faith in a supernatural Being, Thing or Principle---nor does mindfulness involve any worship or impose any system of beliefs or statement of doctrine, nor any code of conduct, nor any prescribed forms of ritual or religious observances.

 

Q. Is mindfulness Buddhist?

 

A. Mindfulness meditation can refer to a specific type or practice of meditation known as vipassanā meditation, which is used as a psychological and educational tool in Theravāda Buddhism (a naturalistic form of Buddhism of which there are a number of different schools). Vipassanā meditation is also known as insight[ful], sensory or thought watching meditation. However, mindfulness meditation is not restricted to Buddhism, Buddhists or Buddhist meditation, and is only one of several different forms of Buddhist meditation. Also, Buddhists do not claim to ‘own’ or have a monopoly on mindfulness meditation. In short, any person can practise mindfulness, as well as mindfulness meditation, irrespective of their religion or lack of religion.

 

Q. What place does mindfulness have in the observance of progressive religion?

 

A. Many religious progressives have found great value in the regular practice of mindfulness. These people have come to see mindfulness as a meditative practice that is ‘spiritual’ (i.e. non-physical and transrational) in nature. Religious progressives generally reject traditional theism and so-called supernaturalism. Their spirituality is generally naturalistic in orientation. Also, religious progressives tend to see religion and spirituality as operating primarily if not exclusively in the psychological sphere or domain. Mindfulness is grounded in the here-and-now. It is a psychological tool---a means of mental cultivation, if you like---and has been proven to be good for the body, mind and spirit.  Mindfulness is not a religion or even a philosophy but rather a way of being, a way of life, a journey in self-discovery, and an education. Mindfulness, being devoid of all notions of religiosity, is entirely experiential and, unlike most if not all religions, it is empirically based.

 

 

Report on The Discussion led by Ted Nettle covering Lloyd Geering’s book, “Re-Imagining God” in which he covers recent Theologians and  John Robinson:  “Honest to God”.

Ted has listed the Theologians of the last three centuries.

 

THEOLOGIANS

 

1750

 

 

 

1800

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000

 

40

50

60

70

80

90

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

0

10

Hume   1711 - 1776

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scheiermacher  1768 - 1834

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hegel   1770 - 1831

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feuerbach  1804 - 1872

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strauss   1808 - 1874

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darwin   1809 - 1882

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marx   1818 - 1883

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudolph Otto   (1869 - 1937)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Buber   (1879 - 1965)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jung   1875 - 1961

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teilhard de Chardin  1881 - 1955

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bultmann   1884 - 1976

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tillich   1886 - 1965

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Bonhoeffer   1906 - 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robinson  1919- -1983

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 van Buren   1924 - 1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Imagining God.

 

As Lloyd Geering’s book is essentially a collection of his lecturers you will find the same ideas repeated in several chapters.  Chapters 8 and 7 both summarise and therefore put into context, with slightly different emphases, the important thinkers whose work is presented in chapters 3 to 6:

 

            Friedrich Schleiermacher   (1768 - 1834)

            Ludwig Feuerbach   (1804 - 1872)

            Carl Jung   (1875 - 1961)

            Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1881 - 1955)

 

The title of Lloyd Geering’s book is important.  The prefix “re”  indicates that Geering is doing again what humans have done since they first appeared on this earth, imagining the existence and nature of a god or gods.

 

In this study of part of Geering’s book I would like to focus on the process of humanity’s imaginings of God or gods.  I would like us to start with chapter 8 which will give us an overview.  If we then go back to chapter 7, which takes in one of the most recent reimaginings, within the Western Christian tradition we will then, on a later occasion, be able to consider in more detail some of the major influences on our modern reimaginings in chapters 3 to 6.

Below is a series of quotes from Chapter 8 which describe the way Lloyd Geering sees the process of humanity’s imagining of God.  This is followed by some quotes from chapter 7 relating to Robinson’s book “Honest to God” and reactions to it.  I hope the group’s reactions to these quotes, or any other quotes from Geering’s book, may form the basis of our discussion.

 

Chapter 8           How Humans made God.

 

1   “Hegel’s philosophy simply restated in different terms the biblical assertion that God (who is pure spirit) made the earth and all physical matter.  But the real truth said, Feuerbach is that spirit or mind has emanated from physical matter.  The human mind developed out of a physical body and brain, and God is an idea in the human mind”  (p 118) __________________

 

2   “What we can say with confidence is that the human creation of the idea of God was made possible by the evolution of human language.”  (p 119)

 

3   “Eventually language became much more than a means of communication, for it enabled humans to construct what may be called a thought world, a precious gift they could pass on to generation after generation and which thereby would grow more intensive and extensive.  Today we often refer to it, or least part of it, as our culture.  The notion of God belongs to the human thought world  (p 119) __________________

 

4   “in the early stages of the evolution of language our ancient ancestors first gave names to everything they could observe or touch . . . (p120)

 

5   Primitive human minds imagined themselves surrounded by an invisible spiritual world of which wind and breath were tangible proofs.”   (p 120)

 

6   “To the ancients it seemed self-evident that all natural events such as storms, spring growth and earthquakes, were caused by decisions made by a personal will similar to our own.  (p 120)

 

7   “It was by giving personal names to the more significant spirits that the gods came into being.”  (p 120)

 

8   “The gods were created by human imagination to identify and explain natural phenomena.”   (p 121) _______

 

9   “Each tribe or ethnic group had its own way of naming the gods and describing their distinctive portfolios.”

 

10 “During the Axial period, [800 to 200 BCE] in five or six independent cultures stretching from Greece to China, the gods came to be questioned, modified of abandoned.”  (122) _________

 

11 “By proclaiming henotheism (one people one god), the prophets were unwittingly preparing the way for the emergence of monotheism (there is only one god)”  (p 123)

 

12 “And here [in Genesis] we find the earliest expression of the notion that God is the creative source of all that exists, the ultimate explanation of everything and hence the key to the meaning of human existence.”  (p 124)

 

13 “In short, this unique description of origins [in Genesis] was in its own time what modern scientists call a ‘Theory of Everything’.”   (p 125) _____

 

14 “During the many centuries that these civilisations [Christian and Islamic] flourished, the idea of God exerted such a powerful role that to suggest it originated within the human mind was quite unthinkable - and for some people it remains so.”  (p 126) _______________

 

15 “Feuerbach came to realise that we project onto ‘God’ all the values like love, justice and compassion that we hold dear. (p 127)

 

16 “This all shows, asserted Feuerbach, that theology (the study of God) is really anthropology (the study of humankind) - or to be more specific, theology represents the study of our highest human values and of how we can make the most of our lives. ”  (p 127)

 

17 “the idea of God remains a useful symbol to point to the unity of the universe, or that which holds the universe together as one”  (p 128)

 

18 “We now have to play the role of God...”  (p 130)

-------------oooOooo-------------

Chapter 7        John Robinson:   Honest to God

 

1   “In the whole of the twentieth century no theological book was read so widely as this little volume.  Why was it so?  . . .  it was not because the book had anything strikingly fresh to say”  (p103).  Geering sees Schleiemacher, Feuerbach and those who followed them as having said all that Robinson is repeating.

2   “Robinson was pulling together the thoughts of a number of theologians who were at the leading edge of Christian thought”  (p104)  Rudolf Bultmann (1884 - 1976),  Paul Tillich  (1886 - 1965),  Dietrich Bonhoeffer   (1906 - 1945)

3   “What was new about this book was that it was written by a bishop”  (105)

4   “For many church people, there seemed to be only two alternatives: traditional Christianity or unbelief.  Robinson appeared to be in a no-man’s-land, sliding down a slippery slope that ended in atheism.”  (p 110)  

5   “theology is not about a particular Being called God but about the ultimate questions posed by our very existence, or being”  (p 104)  [see Paul Tillich’s phrase ‘the ground of our being’]

6   “Theology is the study of the human condition, of our highest human values, our hopes, and our aspirations.”  (p 111)

7   “The theistic image of God had to go.  It was too small,  too human, too personal, and too objective.  ‘God’ remains a symbol, should we choose to use it, that both refers to all that transends us and points to.

 

 

SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER

VAL WEBB’s new book 

“Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology” “finding your own voice.”
$35 + $4.50 postage - $39.50 total (signed copy)

(Regularly $39.95 plus $9.50 postage - $49.45)  

Email Val at valmaurice@aol.com with your order and mailing address

Pay by Direct Deposit: 

Account details: -    MJ & VJ Webb           BSB 082-726        Account # 508442723.

    Please add your name to the deposit and email me when deposited

 

 or cheque to "Val Webb" at P.O. Box 1084. Mudgee 2850, NSW


"Val Webb has done it again – bringing God-talk out of both the Academy and the Church; and into the everyday. This is a book of liberation in that it allows each one of us to 'do our own theology' - to express what we mean by 'God' and not leave it to the ecclesiastical or scholastic authorities to make up our minds for us. This is a brave and challenging book that puts God back in the midst of people – where God belongs!"

Revd Dr Nigel Leaves, Canon St John's Cathedral, Brisbane, Australia, author of Encountering God, Religion Under Attack & The God Problem

"Val Webb invites us into a broad yet comprehensive sweep of much that has influenced the theological landscape for today’s 21st Christian. In doing so Webb both encourages and provokes our thinking about who we are and what we believe. Above all, the book is a call to the lay people of the church to accept responsibility for their own theological explorations and to no longer be shrinking violets in the important matters of informed faith".


Rev Dr Jennifer Byrnes, Executive Director of the Centre for Theology and Ministry, Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Victoria-Tasmania.

 

"There has never been one truth, despite what people claim.  Theological ideas have waxed and waned through history, taking conflicting turns with changing leaders, worldviews and politics.  This fast-paced, lay-friendly book, backed by serious, inquisitive scholarship, follows this maze, shining a spotlight into dark corners and dusty shelves to observe ideas silenced and others declared eternal.  As many walk away from churches unwilling to face the big questions, this book offers readers permission to think for themselves". (Morning Star Publishing, Melbourne)

 

 

MY PERSONAL  EXPERIENCE  OF  WHAT  LIFE  MEANS  TO  ME by Ross Barrie

I challenge the quote by Lloyd Geering read to us ... that “…humans create meaning in an otherwise meaningless universe”.  I do not agree that the universe is meaningless.  I think that the universe, including the world and all in it, has not been senselessly thrown from nothing into nothing.  Rather, as a whole, they are meaningful and valuable.  The fact that the universe has evolved to the point of humans with consciousness, who can reflect on its meaning, indicates to me that it has meaning, otherwise our lives are absurd.

For me, what gives the whole ‘creation’ meaning is my concept of “God”.  Not wanting to provide a long discourse on my variation of the ‘God’ word, I believe that God does exist but not in accordance with what is commonly thought of as God - a separate being to his creation.

Whether there is:

·         Only this universe, or

·         Multiple universes formed sequentially after each other and our current universe is just one in a continuous chain, or

·         If there are multiple universes existing concurrently,

·         It/they all had to start somewhere, somehow – the ultimate “First Cause” - this I call “God”

·         However, this first cause does not have to be an ‘action’ in the sense of creating something from nothing, but could be just a ‘will’ or an ‘intention’ or a ‘thought’.

In addition to the above:

·         What eventuates from such a ‘will’, ‘intention’ or ‘thought’ is not separate to, nor separated from God, but is continuously, wholly integrated within God

·         This is more than just a creator creating something and then having to sustain his creation for its continual existence

·         It is more that the will, intention or thought remains continually active and evolving within the ‘mind’ of God

·         I see God as greater than the universe (or universes/multiverses) and is both outside it, within it and is it (the whole); i.e. the universe is an integral part of God, never separated from God, but God is greater, extending further than just the universe – the universe, and all that is evolving within it, is just like a thought in God’s mind

·         This thought started the whole evolutionary process of an infinitely evolving universe, or universes, or multiverses:

o   Evolution’ is the key word, not only of the universe, earth and life, but through such evolution, God also is evolving

o   If our universe is not the first nor the last in a sequence of evolving universes, with humankind just one species of life that has/will evolve through which God can Himself evolve, or

o   If multiverses, again humankind is just one species through which God can Himself evolve

o   God is then never complete, but man does participate in the evolution or ‘co-creation’ with and of God

 

Man has evolved to the point that, through genetic engineering, we can manipulate or ‘evolve’ species (including our own) and as such man is now a co-creator with God.  Man also has the power to destroy the planet.  With such responsibility, man is becoming the “business manager” for the world, and eventually perhaps the universe.

This also means that God is not static nor removed, but evolves along with his creation.  He cannot help but be changed or evolved by his creation.  In this way Lloyd Geering is correct  –  man does create God, but he is not correct in stating that therefore God is a figment of man’s imagination.  More correctly, John Dominic Crossin likens man to co-creators with God, and, I would add co-creators of God.

At every moment of our mortal existence, we are faced consciously and/or unconsciously with choices.  These choices, once made, are ‘potentiality realised’.  Man moves from potentiality to actuality in such a way that everything actualized has potentialities for further actualization.  Society is composed of interdependent individuals, only partly autonomous, whose lives are meaningful only within a skein of relationships.  As social beings, we see ourselves as nodes in a network whose connections define us. Each of us has some degree of free-will, limited by the physical laws of the universe. 

This concept provides a meaning, a purpose for life which is:

·         life, “living its livingness”, through us

·         this equates to God, evolving himself through us, by our choices, by our individual evolution, by our relationships.

 

Relationships are the key to understanding God, ourselves, life, space, time and the cosmos.  From an anthropomorphic perspective, God and man mutually define one another through relationship:

·         The relationship between God and man defines their identities and gives their existence meaning

·         Man’s reality is one structured by freedom (free-will), a freedom to say “yes” or “no” to a personal relationship with God

·         Such a personal relationship gives man meaning for his existence

·         It also imposes a heightened responsibility for his fellow human beings, the environment, the world/universe (the whole), but with more realism and hope.

 

I like what the Presbyterians say about the purpose of life - “Fear (or love) God and enjoy Him forever”:

·         Live life as one of relationship;  relationship with God, with yourself and with others

·         Enjoy these relationships – the more they are fostered/developed, the more life we experience and, the more we contribute to the evolution of God, of ourselves and of others.

 

 

REV. DR. IAN MAVOR, OAM   1938-2015

On Saturday August 28 2010 CPRT Sydney was host to one of our principle speakers at our Regional Conference held at Beecroft entitled “Ethics With or Without God”.  Ian spoke about issues of concern to those of us who are claiming a new freedom to develop our own standards, unconstrained by authoritarian religious doctrines with their exclusive claims to a divine morality.  His topic was “Building on Pre-modern, Modern and Post-modern Insights to Achieve an Integral Ethic”.

We are sad to report that after fiercely fighting cancer, Ian passed away on April 12.in the Hopewell Hospice, Arundel, which is a division of Hopewell Services of which Ian himself was the founder, CEO and Executive Director.  The members of CPRT gratefully acknowledge Ian’s devoted ministry and deeply appreciate his scholarly contribution to our cause of progressive religious thought.  We extend our sincere sympathy to Deirdre and his family.

 

 

No CPRT MEMBERSHIP FEES FOR 2015

 

We have decided not to charge annual membership fees for 2015. You are welcome to make a donation to help us to defray costs such as bringing special speakers to Sydney, finance our Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organisation of national Common Dreams events.

Please send us your details and email address so we can send our Newsletters.

For direct EFT or B-Pay banking: -

Account Name: - THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

BSB: - 082 155     A/c No: - 83 243 0417

Cheques payable to: THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT For membership enquiries please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or Ken Fletcher on (02) 9876 4147 or email:  cprtfreedomtoexplore@yahoo.com.au

 Send Membership fees to: Ken Fletcher, c/- 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, NSW, 2112

 

 

All Mail:      22 Badajoz Rd, RYDE   NSW  2112

Web Site http://www.cprtfreedomtoexplore.org

Email:         cprteric@yahoo.com.au

Coordinator:   Eric Stevenson   Tel: 02-98885361.    Mobile: 0405-758116

Sec/Treasurer: Ken Fletcher. Tel: 02-9876 4147. Executive Sec. Guy Mallam   

Please Note: - The views expressed in our Newsletters are not necessarily the views of CPRT, its members and contributors.

With the aim of providing the opportunity of learning what other people are saying we include articles covering a wide range of topics so everyone can make their own mind up about them. 

                                                             

 

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Subject: Individuation of God, Peter B Todd - Shop Online for Books in Australia.

This book can be purchased from www.fishpond.com.ay  for $AU25.75  post free.
http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Individuation-of-God-Peter-B-Todd/9781888602555
Regards
John Neilson    johnn31@bigpond.com

p.s.  I read an apposite and interesting book recently - The Meaning of Human Life  by Edward O Wilson,  Limelight, 2014, ISBN
978-0-87140-100-7Product description

In The Meaning of Human Existence, his most philosophical work to date, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson grapples with these and other existential questions, examining what makes human beings supremely different from all other species. Searching for meaning in what Nietzsche once called "the rainbow colours" around the outer edges of knowledge and imagination, Wilson takes his readers on a journey, in the process bridging science and philosophy to create a twenty-first-century treatise on human existence-from our earliest inception to a provocative look at what the future of mankind portends. Continuing his groundbreaking examination of our "Anthropocene Epoch," which he began with The Social Conquest of Earth, described by the New York Times as "a sweeping account of the human rise to domination of the biosphere," here Wilson posits that we, as a species, now know enough about the universe and ourselves that we can begin to approach questions about our place in the cosmos and the meaning of intelligent life in a systematic, indeed, in a testable way. Once criticized for a purely mechanistic view of human life and an overreliance on genetic predetermination, Wilson presents in The Meaning of Human Existence his most expansive and advanced theories on the sovereignty of human life, recognizing that, even though the human and the spider evolved similarly, the poet's sonnet is wholly different from the spider's web. Whether attempting to explicate "The Riddle of the Human Species," "Free Will," or "Religion"; warning of "The Collapse of Biodiversity"; or even creating a plausible "Portrait of E.T.," Wilson does indeed believe that humanity holds a special position in the known universe. The human epoch that began in biological evolution and passed into pre-, then recorded, history is now more than ever before in our hands. Yet alarmed that we are about to abandon natural selection by redesigning biology and human nature as we wish them, Wilson soberly concludes that advances in science and technology bring us our greatest moral dilemma since God stayed the hand of Abraham.

Regards
John Neilson    johnn31@bigpond.com

 

 

 

The Necessity of Change

Albert Morris, one of our members, has sent his article addressing the problems we face in this world and how they may be addressed.

 

Brandon Scott, an eminent New Testament scholar and leader in the progressive Christian movement in the USA speaks about two types of explanation of our existence:-

A). nature with the evolutionary development, scientific, and

B). the variety of creation stories. (Mythical.)

 He postulates that the creation stories are myths that are the expression of primitive people trying to explain just what, or who we are. Primitive does not mean they were stupid, but only that science and the laws of nature were yet to be understood and developed. Development and understanding only comes with change; and CHANGE requires that something in one’s present state of understanding must be discarded, upgraded, or modified to reach and embrace the new state of understanding.

 

This is HOW and WHY our intellectual evolutionary development has progressed.

 Unfortunately, the GODS and myths that have been an integral part of ALL human traditional social and communal lives are in direct conflict with the present scientifically based understanding of our present situation.

However, we must not throw the baby out with the bathwater! Ethics and morality are strictly human values that are NOT reliant on any mythical supernatural power for enforcement.

The laws of nature - when understood - are sufficient.

Defy them at your peril.

 

 The quality of Faith, hope, love compassion and forgiveness are secular social human emotions and values. I have “faith” in the Collective human intellectual ability to eventually wake up to these stupendous scams that are being perpetrated and I “hope” that we are wise enough to “forgive” those that have created this catastrophic and chaotic world condition. They also are victims of their cultural environment and positions of power that have developed historically.


 Our level of wisdom is reflected in the choices we make.

And the choices we make are the result of mindful discrimination.

THUS MY QUOTE: “Intelligent discrimination is the essence of wisdom”.

 There is an old adage that states that. “Where ignorance is bliss, then it’s foolish to be wise”. However, I maintain, “Where WISDOM is bliss, it is foolish to remain ignorant”.


      Let’s talk about bliss or happiness! Once people have an idea that they have been tricked into blissful ignorance, Wisdom is the cure and the path to happiness. In the perspective of the world’s population, is happiness the norm? Look around at the state of conflict aggression and disharmony worldwide. It reflects death, destruction and large-scale misery. The Measurement of Gross International Happiness goes back a long way, “
Bhutan's” legal code of 1629 states: "If the government cannot create happiness for its people, then there is no purpose for government to exist."
See 
Bhutan 2010 GNH_Index_Part 1 PowerPoint Slides 3, 4, and 7

 

     With this in mind, are governments concerned with their peoples happiness, or are they more concerned with the happiness and wellbeing of the one percent of us that rule our lives and - bye and large - direct our activities. If you would like to know just how, when an by whom this has been achieved, read my book “Civilisation Hijacked”. It tells you exactly how Theology, politics and globalised commerce provide the means, names the culprits,

AND suggests a rational and plausible solution.

 

 

     

 

 

Winter 2015 Secretary’s report.       

Dear Members and Friends,

About a dozen people have been attending on the first and third Tuesdays at lunchtime for our discussions. The topics have been well received with input from all those attending in a sympathetic and sharing atmosphere.

 

Of late we have been  following Lloyd Geering’s  book “Reimagining God”- The Faith Journey of a Modern Heretic. Ted Nettle has very ably led the first two discussions and Anthony is taking the next.

 

We have sourced 5 more of these books from New Zealand at a cost of about $31 each but will sell them to our discussion group members at $20.00 each to help with the cost.

The latest stock has been posted from New Zealand so is due to arrive soon and we will fill back orders first.

Let us know if you need a copy.

Ring  Eric on Tel: 02-98885361.    Mobile: 0405-758116 for a copy.

 

At the start of each discussion meeting we plan to decide the topics for the future program.

Please bring your ideas to the meetings. 

 

Thank you to our members and friends who have contributed to the newsletter. We like to encourage a healthy discussion and information format. Contact Eric if you have a subject you would like discussed or if you have written a summary of a book you have read that you would like to share in the newsletter.

 

Kind regards,

Ken   (Ken Fletcher)

 

CPRT Discussion Programme for 2015

Month

Dates

Leader

Topic

January

No Meetings

June

2/6/15

Ken /Eric

Re-Imagining Jesus. An opportunity for each member of the group to state how and why they understand Jesus to be like they think he really was!

16/6/15

Ken /Eric

Re-Imagining Jesus. Continuing this topic looking at how modern scholars imagine Jesus e.g. Dom Crossin, Marcus Borg, Greg Jenks, Barbara Thiering and othes.

July

7/7/15

Ted Nettle

Ted presents the ideas in Stephen Prothero’s book “God is not One”

21/7/15

Ted Nettle

Ted continues the ideas in Stephen Prothero’s book “God is not One”

 

 

Kind regards,

Ken

Centre for Progressive Religious Thought (Sydney)

Ken Fletcher (Secretary).       Eric Stevenson (Coordinator).

Tel:02-9876-4147.                  Tel:02-9888-5361.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Centre for Progressive Religious Thought (CPRT Sydney)

Freedom to Explore

Autumn Newsletter 2015

The Discussion Groups share a meal on the Tuesday at 12.30 in the Basement, 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, entrance via right hand side pathway. Directions: - Take the 506 bus from Circular Quay to Macquarie Centre and East Ryde and alight at the first stop in Badajoz Road.  On Tuesdays only it is possible to take the same bus route in the opposite direction from Macquarie Place Railway Station to the second last stop in Badajoz Road.

Please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or 0405 758 116 for more details.  

       

Visitors welcome!

 

CPRT DISCUSSION TOPICS

Month

Dates

Leader

Topic

March

3/3/15

Ken

What are the Non-Theist/Atheist beliefs compared to the Theist beliefs?

An opportunity to critically examine the implications of a “no God” scenario and what it has in common, if any, with the Theistic positions.

17/3/15

Peter, Ross and Eric

Morals. A discussion where each person expresses moral issues that concern them. We discuss how they can be addressed.

Easter

3-6/4/15

EASTER

April

7/4/15

Lloyd Geering’s new book- “Re-Imagining God”

April

21/4/15

Ted Nettle

Lloyd Geering’s new book- “Re-Imagining God”. Chapters 7 & 8

"How Humans Made God with comment by John Robinson" 

 



 

The following comment outlines Lloyd’s latest thoughts: -

Described by the BBC as "the last living heretic," Lloyd Geering has spent much of his life wrestling with God. Of late, however, he finds himself struggling with the absence of God. The rise of nonreligious, secular culture around the world testifies that he is not alone, that the concept of God has become problematical. Should God be abandoned altogether? Can God be reformed, so to speak?


Drawing from theology, science and his own faith journey - from his call to ministry, through his much-publicized heresy trial, to decades in academia - Geering retraces key developments in the Western understanding of God. He imagines a new spirituality, one that blends a relationship to the natural world with a celebration of the rich inheritance of human culture.

 

From Reimagining God:

 

"It is important not to disown the cultural past that has enabled us to be what we are, but as Nietzsche said, 'One repays a teacher badly by remaining only a pupil'. We need to exercise a critical acceptance of our cultural heritage. Much of its spirituality will have to be abandoned: its authoritarianism, its exclusivism, its patriarchal character, its otherworldliness, its sexism, its slave mentality and its condemnation of individuality. But we can draw upon and develop its basic concern with our common humanity, its focus on fellowship and hospitality, its goals for a nobler future and the human values that permeate its message."

 

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Autumn 2015 Secretary’s report.       

Dear Members and Friends,

We started the year with Ian Ellis-Jones talking on "The practice of Mindfulness in the observance of Progressive Religion" in which he gave us an inspiring presentation on the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  We are grateful for Ian sharing his wealth of experience with us.

At the second meeting Guy continued the discussion on Peter Todd’s book “The Individuation of God” unpacking Peters attempt to integrate science and religion.

 

In March, first up, Ken leads a discussion to critically examine the implications of Atheism and if there is any common ground with Theistic beliefs; followed by a discussion on Morals.  After Easter we start studying Lloyd Geering’s book Reimagining God”- The Faith Journey of a Modern Heretic.

We have sourced 8 of these books from New Zealand at a cost of about $28 each but will sell them to our discussion group members at $20.00 each to help with the cost.

 

Above in this Newsletter we have outlined the topics till Easter, after that we expect the discussion group to take responsibility for the future program.

Please bring your ideas to the meetings. 

 

Thank you to our members and friends who have contributed to the newsletter. We like to encourage a healthy discussion and information format. Contact Eric if you have a subject you would like discussed or if you have written a summary of a book you have read that you would like to share in the newsletter.

Kind regards,

Ken   (Ken Fletcher)

 

 

No CPRT MEMBERSHIP FEES FOR 2015

 

We have decided not to charge annual membership fees for 2015. You are welcome to make a donation to help us to defray costs such as bringing special speakers to Sydney, finance our Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organisation of national Common Dreams events.

Please send us your details and email address so we can send our Newsletters.

For direct EFT or B-Pay banking: -

Account Name: - THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

BSB: - 082 155     A/c No: - 83 243 0417

Cheques payable to: THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT For membership enquiries please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or Ken Fletcher on (02) 9876 4147 or email:  cprtfreedomtoexplore@yahoo.com.au

 Send Membership fees to: Ken Fletcher, c/- 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, NSW, 2112

Death of Marcus Borg

Esteemed liberal Jesus and Biblical Scholar, Marcus Borg died on Wednesday January 21,2015 suffering from pulmonary fibrosis  We have learned much from discussing his books  and we have been honoured by his presence at our national progressive conferences particularly at the most recent Common Dreams gathering in Canberra. Marcus played a leading role in cultivating a resurgent interest in the historical Jesus, enabling us to “meet Him again for the first time”. 

CPRT Sydney pays tribute to Marcus and extends heartfelt sympathy to his wife and family.

 

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“Individuation of God: Integrating Science and Religion”

by Peter B. Todd, Chiron Publications, 2013

 

A personal phone call from the author!!!

 

After Guy Mallam led the first discussion on the above topic in November last year we had invited him to do it again in February. Just as we were about to begin the discussion on Peter Todd’s book, we experienced a remarkable serendipitous event.   The telephone rang.  It was Peter Todd himself on the line!!!!!   He was ringing our advertised phone number to inform us of his participation in an interview with Bruce Sanguin.  During the conversation we asked him whether he would be prepared to come and speak to us about the current topic and he agreed to do so. In this article Guy explains in simpler language the message of what most of the discussion group members felt was a most difficult read. But we are watching this space for the details concerning Peter’s contemplated visit. The interview with Bruce Sanguin can be found via vimeo on Bruce’s new blog, “Home for Evolving Mystics”.

 

For some, the realisation that the anthropomorphic God of orthodox Christianity that they had grown up with had been diminished or perhaps even banished by the ideas and discoveries of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophy, and mechanistic science, was startling, leading some to atheism, and leaving others confused or with a feeling of aching emptiness. For many others it did not matter as they continued with their orthodoxy and literalist scriptural interpretations. But for those confused, aching, or wanting some clarity, or a new vision, Peter Todd’s book “The Individuation of God - Integrating Science and Religion”, is a welcome contribution.

 

For pre - Enlightenment Westerners and many indigenous peoples the animation of nature was self evident. Some, such as the Romantic poets sensed that there was ‘something more’ despite the heavy inroads being made by the Enlightenment ideas and science. However developments in physics, in particular quantum physics and depth psychology brought into focus the interior life, the role of the observer in science and humankind's place in the cosmos, and gave rise to the possibility of a reinterpretation of God or the numinous. Peter Todd’s book undertakes the daunting task of reviewing the developments in a number of disciplines and then discusses the implications of these developments for a Third- Millennium Theology.

 

Todd in part agrees with Dawkins’ critique of fundamentalist and literalist Christianity, but is fiercely critical of what he sees as Dawkins’ omissions and misinterpretations in support of his (Dawkins’) project of deicide which Todd says had already been completed by Newtonian physics. Todd then proceeds to lay out the possibilities of a new vision of the numinous or God which arise from new fields of learning, most particularly, quantum physics, depth psychology, neuroscience, mathematics, and evolutionary biology. His coverage of many complex topics is helpful for the average reader, especially as many of the concepts he introduces are counter- intuitive to those of us brought up with a world view so heavily influenced by mechanistic science.

 

The modern knowledge Todd refers to, points to cosmic ordering and organisational principles existing beyond space and time but influencing and structuring our physical world. Todd argues that “a world structured in this way is not possible without a “God” or numinous principle implicit in cosmology and evolution”. This runs counter to the view of conventional mechanistic science which a number of the new theorists suggest have not taken sufficiently into account the new science. Todd refers to the work of many scientists and the work of some is referred to in what follows.

According to physicists David Bohm and Basil Hiley, the quantum potential can be thought to have via ‘active in-formation’, a primitive mind like quality though it has no consciousness. Hiley thought that in-formation was a link between the mental and physical sides of reality. Other development in quantum physics pointed to the influence of the causal significance of mind and the personal in the experimental situation. The question of mind acting upon matter, particularly the brain, was opened up by Karl Popper and (Nobel Laureate) John Eccles. Bohm and Pauli viewed mind and matter as complimentary aspects of the same reality. Neuroscientist Karl Pribram argues mind and matter have a common foundation which transcends space-time.

 

In evolutionary biology experiments show that biological systems can process information quantum mechanically. Schrodinger, McFadden and Al- Khalili suggest “that the macroscopic behaviour of cells and such molecules as RNA and DNA might be determined by the dynamics of individual particles and thereby be subject to quantum rather than classical laws”. This challenges the idea of random and advantageous mutations and raises the question of ‘adaptive mutations’. Matsuno proposed that quantum level information is being processed in biological systems.

 

In depth psychology Carl Jung postulated the collective unconscious of humankind being structured by what he termed Archetypes. “Archetypes are expressions of a cosmic order which is verifiable both in our observations of the external world and in the structure of the internal world of our psyche. The laws of the physical world are in this way a physical expression of the archetypes . That ordering and regulating the archetypes is something in common to the structure of both the external world and that of the psyche” (Laurikainen, on Jung and Pauli).Pauli regarded the unconscious as the psychological analogy of the physical field, but not spatio temporally bound.

Bohm wrote of “the vast unconscious background of explicit consciousness, and ultimately unknowable depths if inwardness, analogous to the sea of energy which fills the sensibly perceived empty space”. Bohm also viewed “active information as a bridge between the mental and the physical” which Todd argues ”is very similar to Pauli’s notion of the unconscious archetypes as cosmic ordering and regulating principles providing such a bridging function in arguing for complimentarily between mind and matter”. Mathematician Roger Penrose writes of the eternal truths of mathematics and scientific laws expressed in equations, existing before they are discovered.

 

Todd proposes “a conceptualization of God or the numinous within the evolutionary framework of mind, and especially the unconscious psyche as understood by depth psychology and in quantum physics and neuroscience. In this evolutionary framework consciousness and culture program the brain to evolve science, culture and religion, and mind is present in rudimentary form even at the level of quantum particles”.

 

Following this conceptualisation of God or the numinous Todd questions and discusses the implications for what he calls a Third Millennium Theology. Many important and intriguing questions arise and are dealt with in a most informative way. These questions include, What is the role of mind and consciousness in evolution?; What are the implications of mind neither destructible nor spatiotemporally bound?; How do we deal with the notions of time emerging from physics and depth psychology with the finite and temporal?; Is there room for a revaluation of “God” active inhumanity?; and, What are the implications for personal continuity after death?

 

Todd makes a very good case for a review of many established ideas. Whether or not you agree with Todd, the book is not only packed with information in relation to many fields of science but carefully explains the implications of the research. Further his discussion of many complex issues which arise are stimulating, informative and maybe, for some, trans-formative.

 

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CHRISTIAN MEDITATION

 

A senior CPRT member has found the experience of Christian meditation rewarding, and wants to share this with other members. She does not wish to reveal her identity or her age but we suspect that she is our most senior member!!

 

Her upbringing was a Christian one, her father being an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and she thoughtfully participated in the life of the various congregations where she worshipped.

 

Only two years into his retirement in 1982 her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and part of the literature they were given to help them get through this stressful period was advice on a course of meditation presented by Mary Butters at Royal North Shore Hospital.

 

She travelled some distance to attend and, with a group of other interested people, friends and relatives of patients at RNSH, participated one Saturday afternoon with Mary Butters and it seemed to her the practice had a healing quality.

 

One year following her husband’s death in 1998 she moved to Sydney, living on the North Shore.

Several years later a neighbour gave her a booklet by Laurence Freeman, OSB, called Christian Meditation – Your Daily Practice. At the time she was looking for something more than what she was finding at church, and the booklet reminded her of her first exposure to meditation many years before.

 

She asked her minister to visit her home to discuss the book, and was taken aback, and puzzled, when that minister dismissed the book and refused to discuss it. She still does not know why the book provoked that reaction. Since then, three subsequent ministers have also refused to enter into conversation with her about the subject.

 

The basis of Christian meditation is belief – it is a discipline, and goes back to the 4th century. She

practises meditation each day, following the advice given in Laurence Freeman’s book. She finds the practice of meditation ‘sustaining and refreshing’, and feels ‘more in tune and connected with the spiritual values that Jesus proposed.’

 

The booklet mentioned William Blake expressing the need to ‘cleanse the doors of perception’ and it also quotes, among many from the scriptures, Psalm 46:10, ‘Be still and know I am God’. She believes meditation is a worthwhile counter to an increasingly hectic world.

 

As she has gained much benefit from it, she wanted to share her experience of Christian meditation with a wider audience in the hope that it can be of value to others.

 

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All Mail:      22 Badajoz Rd, RYDE   NSW  2112

Web Site http://www.cprtfreedomtoexplore.org

Email:         cprtfreedomtoexplore@yahoo.com.au

Coordinator:   Eric Stevenson   Tel: 02-98885361.    Mobile: 0405-758116

Sec/Treasurer: Ken Fletcher. Tel: 02-9876 4147. Executive Sec. Guy Mallam   

 

 

Please Note: - The views expressed in our Newsletters are not necessarily the views of CPRT, its members and contributors.

With the aim of providing the opportunity of learning what other people are saying we include articles covering a wide range of topics so everyone can make their own mind up about them.                                      

 

 

 

My Meaning of Life                                                                                  Anthony Martin

 

In our Newsletter of Summer 2014 we published the contribution on the above topic of each of ten members in the CPRT Discussion Group. The following is a late statement from Anthony and readers are invited to send in theirs also.  Ed.

 

My analysis of this question places the words “life” and “my” (= of me) in a particular and non-mainstream light, which is illustrated by an American poet’s wonderful line: “Life does not begin at birth; it is not of this earth.” It goes on: “Death …is no more, than the opening and closing of a door”. This pair of couplets supports the discrediting of the notion that everyone’s ‘I’ has only ‘one throw of the dice’. In surrendering the popular contrary belief, the complexion of ‘meaning’ is changed, by removing the dire urgency factor. But life’s importance is undiminished by that, and by my own human sentient existence being but a nano-speck in the continuum of evolution, the trajectory of which is self-directing in every way, but most essentially towards a higher (ultimately cosmic) consciousness. The quality of outcome depends on our participation in it, and decision-making in regard to it.

Creation has been initiated with such exquisite genius, that its advancement is, and always has been, self-regulatory. At a certain point, a biological dimension arose, which in an orderly fashion over great stretches of time, acquired a mental capacity to deliver consciousness. From the prototype, each existential being went to the new level of being able to contemplate its own meaning. However, attaining anything worthwhile in that endeavour depends on application to the task, which is (perhaps strangely) best engaged in by a focus of service to others. If that commitment is embraced from a perspective of love, I believe ‘meaning’ will automatically show up. It will find me; I don’t need to go searching.

For me, the need for learning combines with that, to best ensure that my consciousness is kept in expansionary mode. Remarkably that’s what the universe is doing! Strictly defined, ‘meaning’ is like a shifting goal post - always with the aim of seeking greater God proximity.                                                                                                                                                        Wisdom gained is not lost at death, but carries on into an intergenerational domain of consciousness, in readiness for next manifestation of the same ‘me’. This of course equates to a re-incarnational paradigm. Shunning it leaves too many boxes un-ticked for my liking.

The foregoing correlates with my belief in some vastly superior energy source responsible for getting ‘the show on the road’, which is probably best referred to as God. A delicious paradox  for me to reflect on, is that I am now of the opinion that the preferred means of gaining Him/She/It, is according to a nearly-forgotten catechism answer from primary school: namely, “To know, love and serve God here on earth ….”. The ‘loving’ and ‘serving’ is directed to other people. The ‘knowing’ will, oddly enough, be the product of these two; but my being open to intellectual and inspirational formation by others, must be linked.                                                                                                                        

 The more I complexify that straightforward formula, at the expense of not complying with it, the more I risk aimlessly expending my contracted (as opposed to allotted) time. Worse still, I could head in a wrong direction, where the controversial entity of evil, in its many guises, all too often can reside.

Too simplistic, or ‘over the top’ …I hope not.

 

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 Articles and NEWSLETTERS.

Centre for Progressive Religious Thought (CPRT Sydney)

Freedom to Explore

Summer Newsletter 2014-15

END OF YEAR CELEBRATION

On Tuesday the 2/12/2014 at 12:30 everyone is invited to celebrate the end of the year with a special gathering at Val and Barry’s home, 3 Rokeva Ave, Eastwood.

Transport will be provided from 22 Badajoz Rd, Ryde with cars leaving at noon.

Please contact Eric on 9888-5361 to notify him of your intention to attend and if you require transport from Badajoz Road.

Summer 2014-5 Secretary’s report.       

Dear Members and Friends,

2014 has been a year of challenges.

We have had some very interesting and challenging discussions as we strive to build a meaningful understanding of our religious inheritances and beliefs.

 

We are grateful to Eric and Guy for leading us during November on finding meaning and purpose in one’s life including new perspectives of God. There is a summary of our member’s thoughts in this newsletter.

 

For 2015 we will continue with the lunchtime meetings on the first and third Tuesday of the month for 2015.

We start the New Year with Ian Ellis-Jones talking on "The practice of Mindfulness in the observance of Progressive Religion" and then on the third Tuesday we return to the November topics discussing new understandings of God.

 

We encourage everyone to come to our end of year celebration on Tuesday 2nd Dec  at Val and Barry’s home: - 3 Rokeva Ave, Eastwood – details above.

 

We have decided not to charge annual membership fees for 2015. You are welcome to make a donation if you would like to help us defray the costs of sending our newsletter and announcements out and also to help bring special speakers to Sydney, to finance our Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organisation of national Common Dreams events.

 

We wish everyone a very fulfilling year ahead and an enjoyable time during the Christmas period.

 

Kind regards,

 

Ken   (Ken Fletcher)

 

 

COMPOSING OUR OWN INSPIRED WORDS

 

Following the Discussion on the meaning of life, members of the Discussion Group were asked to write a personal response which could be shared for our mutual enrichment.  As can be seen below, the various meanings differ from person to person, and most definitely from traditional religious belief. We wish, however to validate each contribution as a preferred world view to that which is imposed by creed or by the so-called inspired word of God. Please submit yours. Ed.

 

MEANING 1

Maybe what I quote is more a purpose although I suspect meaning and purpose are very similar concepts. This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson is on the back of a book mark that has graced my frig for many years now. I’ve accepted it as the purpose which gives meaning for my life.

 

 "To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

 This is to have succeeded."

 

 I can't but think of the answer that half of the world’s population living with unbelievable poverty, the intolerable brutality of so many inhumane regimes, greed and lack of compassion for others would give to such a question.  Even just surviving in Aust for many - getting up each morning to go to boring jobs, coping with mortgages which they will be repaying for their whole lives, never without concern for their children, not having the wherewithal or intellect, to find hope for a better future; never given the chance or time to appreciate nature, books, music or the arts and often too busy surviving to form meaningful relations with others. Come to think about it, maybe that’s the hope and role á Saviour provides for many people.

 

MEANING 2

“Life to me means being able to see the beauty in the world around me and to engage happily with the people I know and love.  I want to care about the disadvantaged, support the issues which will make the world a better place for all, and stand up for the oppressed and the poverty stricken people of this planet.”

 

MEANING 3

 I lived much of my life with a belief system that an all-powerful, all wise, loving God, Creator of all, was ever protecting me.  He watched over me in “this vale of gnashing and tears” as we used to sing.   Then one day He would gather me up and carry me off to the Heavenly heights to be with Him forever.  As I grew older and sought this image more and more to comfort me, some nagging doubts emerged from within.  Eventually my hope in my Heaven came crashing down. Feeling desolate and abandoned I coiled up in raw pain. I hoped that somehow I could take control of my own life, and find some way to give it purpose.  

 I started to contemplate the meaning of life.   Was it possible to create a new action plan which contained joy and hope? I belong to a wondrous life-form – human life. It loves and nurtures its own and serves others whilst it communicates through the power of language. This capacity to spread love in a number of ways and receive it in return is undoubtedly the most meaningful energy that we are able to experience.  Caring for others as we move about in our own environment is the selfless love we experience most in our lives.  The people to whom we direct it may not be very well known to us.  We assist them by listening to them, helping them, allowing them to feel cared for where possible. Then all too soon the roles are reversed and we ourselves seek comfort from others as we collapse into a heap of misery.  I started to think how much more it would be to seek what I value most to live by rather than what I was told to believe and to do in my church years ago.

Having established the different forms love takes, it is important to look at the opposite effect on our lives.  These are the disasters which visit us without warning and over which we have no control. I have to think well about this and say to myself if I am challenged as many people are, “I will try to be prepared…” We find meaning when we are challenged and respond the best way we can.    Viktor Frankl speaks of this often in his writings.

 When planning and understanding the Meaning of Life, our own lives change again and we take on new interests, seek new meanings. We look at the sky as we have not done before and then start to read and think about the Universe and our little planet and the wonder of our life-forms of all kinds, as far as we know about them. Lloyd Gearing introduces the thought that God might not be a creator of life but very much a part of it.   In other words   “what if the evolving universe and our little planet within it can be called God”? I believe this also and think about it and draw comfort and a feeling of pleasure from it. No more do I want to grieve the loss of my belief system.   I prefer to seek some joy in pursuit of the meaning and purpose of Life.

MEANING 4

What is the meaning of Life?   What do I understand of it?  It is all living forms. But I am reminded that human life enjoys intelligence, means of communication, desire to be needed and to be loved and the desire to do the same for others. When I think of the miracle of human life, I think of my…own unique needs, what I want (in order to) give my life meaning, and more importantly, how life deals with me.  No matter how I plan, life sends its own disasters, its own uncertainties.  If I learn to accept these interruptions and disappointments, I will cope better with “giving purpose” to my meaning of life.

I receive great pleasure thinking about the Cosmos.  To me it is the new God; or rather God as always was or will be.  But I do not know how to express this adequately….

MEANING 5 :  Essentially, I suspect I never think about life’s meaning at a conscious level.  Deep down I think I selfishly strive to increase the wellbeing of my closest ones and myself with  hopefully ripple effects to the wider community – maybe love of neighbour, of self, and  if God exists, of God.

 

MEANING 6:  What life means to me.  We are placed on this earth to learn how to love. The Beatles got it right; “All there is Love”….Love as the meaning of Life leads naturally to the purpose of life. i.e. to love others.

 

MEANING 7:  The “life” I am referring to consists of the things that happen to me and the circumstances into which I have been born and over which I have no control, together with all the experiences for which I can take at least partial responsibility.

 I have an ambivalent attitude towards this life.  At times I find the happenings and circumstances to be ugly, cruel, uncaring and unfair when the principles of truth, love and justice are applied to them.  They leave me cold, sad, afraid and depressed, but challenged. At other times they are a source of beauty, joy, amazement and personal satisfaction. 

The part of my life for which I can take at least partial responsibility is likewise both good and bad.  I regret my neglect and foolishness; I suffer from my big mistakes, my laziness and  my failures in living up to my ideals; I find it is either painfully too brief or too long; I find it at times physically and mentally  exhausting as I endeavour to be “responsible”.   

On the other hand I rejoice in the experience of appreciating, loving and caring for humanity and nature.  I try to manufacture my meaning by helping to build what I regard as a better world for myself and all people to live in.  And above all I value the non-instrumental aspects of mutual love, respect and understanding. 

 

MEANING 8:  All through the discussion I had a completely inappropriate  song in my head  - one from Monty Python Life of Brian.  Not something to admit in such a serious group.  However, on the way home it occurred to me why humour isn’t such an inappropriate response to that question after all.  The idea of having a meaning outside of life is in fact absurd.  It’s a variation of the question who made God. Or so it seems to me.

   TEN THINGS THAT AREN'T IN THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
On October 11, Rex Hunt wrote: - Just received the following from Jim Burklo<jtburklo@yahoo.com>
Subject: musings: what's not in the sermon on the mount
What’s known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is found in two of the gospels of the New Testament, in Matthew chapters 5-7 and in Luke chapter 6.  Jesus addressed a “great multitude” of people who had, in all likelihood, but this one opportunity to hear his “good news”.  Nowhere in his sermon did he suggest that there was more they needed to know from or about him.  We can presume that the Sermon on the Mount was Jesus’ “stump speech”, or at least was the essence of his message that his early followers wanted to preserve.

The Sermon on the Mount has been as much Christianity as I can handle.  I’ve occupied my whole life in a stumbling attempt to live up to it.  Thank God it’s short!  Just his admonition to love my enemies is overwhelming. It’s worth reading again and again, not only for what’s in it, but for what’s not.  If something is missing from the Sermon on the Mount, we can presume that it didn’t matter much to Jesus.

To the end of sorting the wheat from the chaff in Christianity, I offer this list of ten things that aren’t in the Sermon on the Mount:

1)    Any reference to homosexuality and abortion.  The “pelvic issues” Jesus raised in the Sermon on the Mount were limited to male lust for women, heterosexual adultery, and heterosexual divorce and remarriage – all of which he lumped into the same category of sinfulness.  Find a heterosexual male who has never lusted for a woman!  All heterosexual males are “busted” by this passage, so those in this category would do well to refrain from throwing stones at anybody for perceived lapses in morality.

2)    Anything to believe in order to gain salvation.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was focused on good works, not on faith in dogma. Do we love even those who persecute us?  Do we pray with sincerity?  Do we forgive those who do us wrong?  Are we liberated from useless worry?  He asked people to practice a life of radical compassion.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)


3)    Any condemnation of other religions.  This didn’t make Jesus a “pluralist”, necessarily.  But neither did he contradict the possibility that other religions may be as good for others as ours is for us, in leading people to a fulfilled and compassionate way of life.

4)    Anything supernatural.  The Sermon on the Mount made no reference to anything miraculous.  Jesus didn’t ask people to believe the unbelievable.  His words and his example were enough to make his case.  (The real miracle would be a person who could follow the Sermon on the Mount perfectly!)


5)    The doctrine of the Trinity.  In the Sermon on the Mount, he taught what we now know as the Lord’s Prayer – and he didn’t tell people to pray to him, but rather to their Father in heaven.  He made no reference to a Holy Spirit.


6)    The doctrine of original sin or substitutionary sacrifice.  He acknowledged human sins in the Sermon on the Mount.  But nowhere in it did he suggest that all of us deserve eternal hellfire because we were born into sin, or that he would have to die on the cross in order to save us from it.


7)    The Bible.  Jesus did not say that someday there would be a Christian Bible and that we must believe every word of it literally.  He made references to passages in the Hebrew Scriptures, but then expanded on them, suggesting that scripture alone was not sufficient guidance for living.

8)    The second coming of Christ or “the end times”.  He suggested that people could encounter him one day in the kingdom of heaven, but he made no mention of ever returning to earth in any kind of “second coming” after an apocalypse.

9)   His own divinity, moral perfection, or birth from a virgin.  He did not exempt himself from his own admonitions.  He did not suggest that he was any different of a creature than the people in his audience.


10)  Any endorsement for the “free enterprise system”.  On the contrary, he said “You cannot serve God and wealth” and “Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you”.  Whatever you think about capitalism, you won’t find any support for it from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount or anywhere else in the Gospels.
It's absurd to suggest that a person is any less a Christian for dropping the dogma that is not to be found in the Sermon on the Mount, because this sermon is all the religion anyone could need, and more religion than anyone fully can follow.

 

JIM BURKLO
Website: JIMBURKLO.COM    Weblog: MUSINGS    Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo
See a video interview about my new novel, SOULJOURN
See the GUIDEto my articles andbooks
Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

Rex has also given us some samples of new progressive books recently published by Australian authors.If you are interested you can follow up by contacting the publisher - Morning Star Publishing.

http://www.morningstarpublishing.com.auOr contact him direct and he will put you in touch with the author.

Noel Preston

Ethics With or Without God: Christianity and Morality in the Twenty-first Century

Rex A E Hunt & Gregory C Jenks (ed)

Wisdom and Imagination: Religious Progressives and the Search for Meaning

Nigel Leaves (ed)

Encountering God: Face to Face with the Divine

Gregory C Jenks

Jesus Then and Jesus Now: Looking for Jesus, Finding Ourselves.

 

PS: And of course our colleague 'over the ditch' in NZ, Lloyd Geering, has his new book due out soon – Re-Imagining God: The Faith Journey of a Modern Heretic.

 

BRANDON SCOTT IN A NUTSHELL

On Sunday September 28, Rachael Kohn presented an excellent interview with Brandon on the Spirit of Things. She successfully identified the key elements in what he had to teach us as a result of his scholarship. After listening to the interview Anthony and Eric have summarised below their understanding of the key elements of Brandon’s message.

For Brandon Scott the quest for the historical Jesus was not as important as researching the question as to how Christianity became the Roman religion - how the Jesus of history became the Christ of faith. It was self-evident for Brandon that the historical Jesus was:

  1. A Jew who belonged to Judaism, and not a Christian.
  2. A particular kind of Jew called a Galilean.
  3. A peasant who used an oral method of communication.
  4. A visionary with an intense passion for sharing how to experience God as present in the world,
  5. And a skilled user of parables to help make that experience available to his hearers.

At first, the followers of this Jewish revolutionary came to constitute a Jewish sect within Judaism.  But a distancing between the sect and the establishment started when Jews began to be stigmatised and persecuted within the Roman Empire.  This became particularly aggressive after Titus destroyed the Temple in 70AD which marked the beginning of Rabbinic Judaism. Early Christians therefore no longer wanted to be associated with Jews who were hated, but the distancing took place very gradually. The followers of Jesus were still being persecuted as Jews when the Martyrs of Lyons lost their lives in 177AD, and kosher was still being observed by them around that time in history.  During the same period, Judaism was also reformulating itself till around 250 AD.

It was Plato whose philosophy influenced the inclusion of the concept of a good soul within a sinful body in the emerging Jesus movement.  After the N.T. documents had been written Plinus affirmed this dualistic idea which claimed that all matter was bad, and that “spirit” was good.

At the Council of Nicea, Emperor  Constantine compelled the bishops to adopt a common creed, with a secondary benefit being the consolidation of his empire.  The new creed contained nothing about what you have to do to be a Christian.  It turned Christianity into something to believe rather than the way of living it was originally.

Saint Paul was not so much interested in the man Jesus, but in what God was doing in Jesus.  When he writes about believing in Jesus he is not talking about having faith in Christ but in having the faithfulness of Christ - a  faithfulness like that of Jesus. There was no such thing as the Christ of faith in the early Jesus movement.

The brilliance of the parable as a teaching form was its ability to transcend its own culture, and to confront universal human issues. It was not intended to tell people what to believe, but to help them to understand what was going on. e.g. The parable of the “good”Samaritan was not about belief  in helping a stranger who despised you.  It was about our fear of being helped by a stranger whom we despise.  i.e. our reluctance to be associated with foreigners even when we are in trouble.  The assurance of the Samaritan to return and pay his debts was the last thing the Jew would have wanted.

 

SUPERHUMAN OS

Our corresponding member, John Neilson informs us that Ken Wilber has teamed up with his “guru”, Ben Harris of the Centrepointe Research Institute to produce a new ten week on line personal development course.

It is called, “Superhuman OS”.  Wilbur notes, “I’ve created what I feel is a genuinely terrific new approach to my life’s work”.  He refers to it as a “transformative venture of growing body, mind, heart and spirit in self, culture and nature”.  The cost of the entire physical programme plus complete access to the on line training is $777.00 (special offer).  The ten week live interactive digital training costs $497.00 (special offer). <http://sperhumanos.net/centrepointe>

CPRT MEMBERSHIP FOR 2015

 

We have decided not to charge annual membership fees for 2015.

You are welcome to make a donation to help us to defray costs, bring special speakers to Sydney, finance our Regional Gatherings and contribute to the organisation of national Common Dreams events. Please send us your details and email address so we can send our Newsletters.

 

For direct EFT or B-Pay banking: -

Account Name: - THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

BSB: - 082 155     A/c No: - 83 243 0417

Cheques payable to: THE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE RELIGIOUS THOUGHT For membership enquiries please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or Ken Fletcher on (02) 9876 4147 or email:  cprtfreedomtoexplore@yahoo.com.au

 Send Membership fees to: Ken Fletcher, c/- 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, NSW, 2112

CPRT Discussion Programme for 2015

Month

Dates

Leader

Topic

January

No Meetings

February

3/2/15

Ian Ellis-Jones

Ian is a meditation specialist, trainer, executive coach and counsellor.  As a Mindfulness teacher he will be looking at mindfulness from a psychological, philosophical and theological point of view.  His topic is "The practice of Mindfulness in the observance of Progressive Religion".   

17/2/15

Guy Mallam

“The Individuation of God”.  Members are requested to give prior thought to three topics and to read the resource booklet with the same title by Peter B. Todd.  The topics are outlined in paragraphs 15, 21 and 26 of the Nov handout. The goal of the discussion is to determine what Todd contributes to an understanding of the God Word.

March

3/3/15

The Dead Sea Scrolls

17/3/15

Ken

What is the Non-Theist/Atheist position?

An opportunity to critically examine the implications of a “no God” scenario.

Easter

3/4/15

EASTER

April

7/4/15

Lloyd Geering’s new book- “Re-Imagining God”

 

The Discussion Group share a meal from 12.30 pm with the discussions stating at 1:15 pm, on the first and third Tuesday of the month in the lounge room upstairs at 22 Badajoz Road, Ryde, entrance via the left hand driveway.

Directions: - Take the 506 bus from Circular Quay to Macquarie Centre and East Ryde and alight at the first stop in Badajoz Road.  On Tuesdays only it is possible to take the same bus route in the opposite direction from Macquarie Place Railway Station to the second last stop in Badajoz Road.

Please contact Eric Stevenson on (02) 9888 5361 or 0405 758 116 for more details.                                      Visitors welcome!

 

All Mail:      22 Badajoz Rd, RYDE   NSW  2112

Web Site http://www.cprtfreedomtoexplore.org

Email:         cprtfreedomtoexplore@yahoo.com.au

Coordinator:   Eric Stevenson   Tel: 02-98885361.    Mobile: 0405-758116

Sec/Treasurer: Ken Fletcher. Tel: 02-9876 4147. Executive Sec. Guy Mallam  

 

Please Note: - The views expressed in our Newsletters are not necessarily the views of CPRT, its members and contributors.

With the aim of providing the opportunity of learning what other people are saying we include articles covering a wide range of topics so everyone can make their own mind up about them.                                                                                                                    

 

 

 Previous Newsletters can be found on our Newsletters page (the next "drop down icon )

  Literalism or liberation?

Reading the Qur'an, the task of Muslim women

Tariq Ramadan is professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University and author of Islam and the Arab Awakening. In  the second of a projected three-part series on Women and Islam on ABC Religion and Ethics  in November last year, he reported on the role Islamic women are playing in interpreting the Qur’an.

Early ulama obviously could not undertake the task of addressing the question of women's being. As men, they could hardly do more than determine women's functions. As actors in a given culture, they could not transcend that culture. In addition to being subject to their gender, they were necessarily also products of their culture.

Yet, in the light of the higher objectives of Islam - the individual's dignity, integrity, autonomy, development, education, intelligence, welfare, health and inner balance - one can realise that a number of rules inferentially establish an explicit status for women as beings.

Their spiritual quest is recognised as part of their being and development like that of men, and education is an imperative requirement: "Seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man or woman." Women's recognised autonomy is outlined in their having the right to acquire property and goods and manage them as soon as they reach maturity, without having to answer to anybody (neither their parents nor their husbands), as well as their keeping their own family name when they marry.

On a more personal level, the recognition of their right to sexual pleasure, of their choices regarding marriage, divorce, contraception and even abortion establishes, both in practice and in the purposes of the Islamic message, the groundwork of elaborate discourse about women as beings, their status, their autonomy and their legitimate aspirations, before beginning any discourse about their rights within the limits of their families and social functions.

Scholars were remote from such considerations when they undertook the first legal deciphering. Interested as they were in the legal framework, they mainly focused on function. They were also influenced by culture, which fashions gender relations and the conception of the natural status of women in traditional Eastern, Arab (or Persian or Asian) and patriarchal societies.

Reading the early commentaries proposed by such great scholars as Al Tabari, Al Razi, or Al Qurtubi clearly shows that they were indeed immersed in a specific culture and that their comments about women - their role as well as how they should be treated - stem as much, if not more, from cultural projection as from normative critical reading.

In the light of the revelation's evolution of the Prophet's (PBUH) attitude and of the objectives that have been worked out, this might have continued to propose liberating paths for women if early interpreters had not confined themselves to formal literality or to stipulating rights and duties only or to accepting customs. Men, the texts' early readers and interpreters, felt no need for that, while women, who were directly affected by social realities and possible distortions of the texts, were absent from that legal elaboration. Malek Ibn Anas and Abu Hanifah were able to make daring comments regarding their environment, particularly in fields whose practices they knew from within such as clan relations or trade, but it was impossible for them to do the same in terms of women's issues, precisely because they were not women and they could not understand from within how the latter experienced interpersonal relations and integrated social dynamics.

Accordingly, we should indeed return to the texts and the modalities of their reading and interpretation in the light of the environments in which they were revealed. Islamic legal thinking about women is certainly the field that has suffered most from two phenomena: literalist reduction and cultural projection. The revelations, accompanied by the Prophet's (PBUH) example, represented a divine pedagogy that consisted, over 23 years and according to historical circumstances, in changing early Muslims' mindsets and leading them to consider the issue of women differently.

A study exclusively focusing on the texts, their substance, comparison and chronology - such as that of scholar Abd Al Halim Abu Shuqqah, Women's Liberation in the Age of Revelation - shows that this is a continued process of liberation that is accounted for by the message's global vision and by the objectives (maqasid) inferred from the process. Therefore, in addition to reading the texts, one should examine the cultural environment of the time and understand what these texts refer to and which issues are involved in what they say.

It would appear that in virtually every aspect of women's being and activity in societies, text sequences not only state injunctions, but also open prospects that can only be extracted through a holistic, goal-oriented approach. Whether about the relationship to God, to faith or to the mosque; about necessary education and autonomy, for oneself and towards others; about relating to the body, sexuality, marriage and divorce; about relating to work, money, politics or even war; one can observe that the Qur'an and Prophetic traditions take highly innovative positions, which are also very open about their understanding of and dialectical involvement in social environments. The issue, then, is no longer only to know what the texts say about women, but rather to understand what was promoted, defended and prescribed concerning women's being and power, in relation to the environment of the time.

The relationship between texts and contexts must be studied and this will enable us to extract principles and objectives. Texts do not speak by themselves and teachings are both synchronic and diachronic: the relation to time is crucial, and the relation to the context is imperative.

A literalist reading cannot account for those evolutionary dynamics and their tense relation to time and environments. Specialising in the contents of texts alone (as is required of fuqaha as a priority) is likely to restrict both the substance of the message and its higher objectives. Some existing texts are sometimes read and interpreted without considering chronology and context; it thus becomes impossible for some ulama to dare express clear legal opinions in the light of higher objectives. They should, for instance, speak out on the fact that keeping women illiterate, forbidding them to work, reaching financial autonomy and playing a social and economic role, as well as such practices as female genital mutilation, forced marriages, the denial of divorce or restraint against domestic violence, are absolutely contrary to Islam's message as shown through its evolution (over more than 23 years) and the Prophet's (PBUH) own attitude.

That, however, is not all. Such clear positions must be completed with studies about the different social dynamics or the management of real or figurative powers between women and men, shedding light on the complex situations in which (in the name of religion itself or of its rejection) rights can be lost, discrimination can set in or some forms of alienation may replace others.

Women are the first victims of those reductions of rights in the substance of texts and of the obstacles that lie deep within social structures - that is why they should train in the study of texts, acquire the tools to interpret them and complete the understanding of principles with thorough reflection about environments and the logic of discrimination or alienation. Such issues as the right to work, polygamy, divorce or inheritance cannot be approached only through the study of what the texts allow or do not allow. The approach can only be holistic and elaborated in the light of higher ends. Otherwise, the very essence of the ruling (hukm) may be betrayed.

What can be the meaning, in an environment where unlimited polygamy was the rule, of verses and Prophetic traditions that drastically restrict polygamy and add such demanding conditions that some scholars - in particular, of the Hanbali school - could claim that this requires the first wife's prior consent and that she can oppose it in her marriage contract? What is the higher objective of monogamy and of this restrictive toleration of polygamy?

The full scope of the message, from the texts to the context of their expression and their objectives, must be grasped as an entity. A literalist, strictly legal reading produced by men cannot, by definition, take up this challenge and meet its requirements. Women are necessary here, both to the text reading process and to the study of the social contexts in which they live.

COMMENT

Tariq Ramadan is professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University and author of Islam and the Arab Awakening. In  the second of a projected three-part series on Women and Islam on ABC Religion and Ethics  in November last year. (The full text of his address is to be found on our CPRT website.) He reported on the role Islamic women are playing in what CPRT members would call Progressive Religious Thought.  It is very interesting that the major philosophical “driver” of this movement is the same as that which drove Sue in her progressive odyssey — viz. Feminism..  (see her story in the Feb, 2014 issue of our CPRT Newsletter).

Before getting into Women’s Rights, professor Ramadan begins with a re-interpretation of the Qur’an in regard to the recognition of women as persons.  Instead of beginning his thesis in fundamentalist style with “The Moslem Bible says”, he makes an unsubstantiated foundational statement, about  “the higher objectives of Islam”.  These objectives, he claims, attribute   individual (NOT MALE) dignity, integrity, autonomy, development, education, intelligence, welfare, health and inner balance to everybody.  He then goes on to explain why Moslem women were not given this dignity as human beings by the early Ulama, those Islamic scholars charged with the responsibility of interpreting the Qur’an and regulating Moslem family life. In effect they failed to address THE BEING of women, prescribing only their legal status and their role and function within society.

Professor Ramadan then courageously introduces “sexual pleasure”, marital choice, “divorce”, “contraception and even abortion” as “groundwork” subjects for “elaborate discussion” about the BEING of women . He says that the early scholars were “remote” from such subjects!!  He uncritically states that they were immersed in their culture and understandably made negative comments about women and how they should be treated. Their interpretation stemmed more from “cultural projection” than from “normative critical reading”, he says.   I presume he is speaking about the reading of the Qur’an and the other sacred Moslem scriptures.

Professor Ramadan  excuses  the Ulama for feeling no need to “propose liberating paths for women” and who confined themselves to “FORMAL LITERALITY”, “stipulating rights and duties” and “accepting customs”.  I also presume he was here criticising them for reading the Qur’an literally. At this point in his argument I find his words to be quite ambiguous.  In describing the inspiration of the Qur’an he refers to a revelatory evolution of the Prophet’s attitude and principles as “a divine pedagogy” which would have led to the emancipation of women had  the cultural and literal (and chauvinistic?? – my words) biases of the appointed “modality” (the Ulama) been allowed for.  He writes:  
“In the light of the revelation's evolution of the Prophet's (PBUH) attitude and of the objectives that have been worked out, this might have continued to propose liberating paths for women if early interpreters had not confined themselves to formal literality or to stipulating rights and duties only or to accepting customs. Men, the texts' early readers and interpreters, felt no need for that, while women, who were directly affected by social realities and possible distortions of the texts, were absent from that legal elaboration.”

This statement places an unreasonable burden of responsibility on Moslem women for promoting progressive religious thought in Islam. It also to a large degree relieves male Moslem scholars from the responsibility of speaking out, and takes an incredible position by denying to men the ability to appreciate female sensitivities. But to do him credit, if I understand him correctly, Professor Ramadan concludes by advocating that Moslem women should be trained in the art of what Christian theologians call biblical criticism, and become involved in the re-interpretation of the Moslem bible. Does that mean they should become equal members with Mullahs on a post-modern Ulama? And how could that happen without facing the issue that the writings of the Prophet may not have been a “divine pedagogy” any more than that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God?                                        

Eric Stevenson   

New Articles of Interest 

 Members of CPRT have travelled varying pathways to reach their current religious/spiritual understanding.

 We are starting a series of personal accounts to help share these experiences.

 Please submit your own story if you would like it told.

Sharon's Story starts below.

 

 Sharon Writes: -

I had always been interested in things religious, and one of my prized possessions as a child was an illustrated Bible. I remember I used to pore over the stories and the pictures for hours on end and never doubted the message as it was presented to me there and  by the minister of whichever Protestant church I was attending at the time. My mother’s side of the family had been staunch churchgoers and her father  regularly   preached on street corners.

I enjoyed my teenage years in fellowship and taught Sunday School, I was a traditional believer, never thinking there could be an alternative to the message I had been imbibing since childhood. In my 50s I was invited to become an elder of my church and I felt honoured to be chosen. After much thought – I wanted to be sure I was making the right decision – I accepted and really enjoyed getting to know the people in my care a little better when I visited them.

Then  a friend of mine at the church invited me to read some J.S. Spong titles that she had in her possession. I wasn’t familiar with his name and didn’t realise what a wealth of progressive literature was available.  I chose Liberating the Gospels from the many titles she had, little realising that it would set me on a different path to the one I had trodden for so long. I can clearly remember exclaiming out loud as I read , wondering why I had never heard from any pulpit the arguments I was reading there. That book really opened my eyes to another way of hearing the Jesus story and it made me want to read more progressive literature.

I made good use of the bibliographies he included and I became aware of Borg, Crossan, Cupitt, Geering and others, and I was thinking deeply about what they had to say.

I began to critically examine the message the minister was presenting to our congregation, most of whom were traditional followers, and one day I asked him if he never questioned the Apostle’s Creed. He replied, never, and turned away from me. I was shocked at his response – I had hoped for a discussion with him on the questions I had been mulling over. I decided at that moment that I would leave that church and try to find a place where I could ask questions and be encouraged to do so.

It was extremely painful to leave the church where I was an elder and where I had many friends and step out into what, to me, was a void. I was leaving behind the security I had always felt in a church environment and it was alarming. My husband was a great support to me through all this – he had had the usual upbringing of Sunday School as a child, but when he became a teenager he chose not to attend again.

I had heard of Ian Pearson’s ministry at Pitt St Uniting Church and decided I would go to a service and see if I felt at home there. I began to attend each week, my husband accompanying me as he was curious too about what a progressive message might be and he wanted to support my search. He knew how adrift I felt.

In the meantime, a remarkable coincidence took place in my life. Bishop Spong had been in Australia and gave an interview which was recorded. One of my progressive friends (fortunately I had a few) had a copy and said she would loan it to me. At the end of the tape, the name of the Eremos organisation was given – they were the ones who had arranged the recording. 

I followed this lead and became a member of Eremos and began to receive their magazine. One of them contained an article by Eric Stevenson who, at that time, was starting a progressive group at Eastwood, which became CPRT. This was a wonderful opportunity to explore possibilities and so John and I went along to a few meetings held in a church hall in Eastwood. It was wonderful to have found a group where you could express your doubts and fears in a non-judgmental environment, and to know others were going through a similar situation to oneself. Most seemed to have come from a church background.

It was at one of these meetings that I was told the Uniting Church in our suburb had a progressive minister and I went along the following week. The homily being preached that day was ‘Wrestling with God’ and I thought, ‘This sounds promising’, as it was what I had been doing for a long while. The homily didn’t disappoint, and I was so pleased to have found a minister to whom I could speak about progressive matters and not be looked at as if I was demented, or on a slippery slope.

The association with that church continued for seven years until the minister moved on to another parish. The new man has proved to be a traditional minister and I have no place in that church now. I have been through too much to take a backward step.

All my reading has shown that scholars have been working on the scriptures in a critical way since the 1800s, and I attended a discussion with Eric’s group where the topic was  an article by Lloyd Douglas in the 1920s in the US. In it he expressed his gratitude to the congregation for permitting him the freedom to bring these new insights into his time with them. Again I was astounded – if this was happening in the early 20th century, how was it that I never heard anything about it from the pulpit? This made me question why not – was the original message thought to be so ingrained in the community that, to present a fresher version, might cause problems? Were the congregations not thought capable of being able to re-think the original message? With the dying congregations now facing the church, this tactic clearly hasn’t worked. If giant strides have been accepted in other areas of society, with science and medicine springing to mind, then why can’t congregations be offered a more enlightened way of seeing the message than what has been offered for centuries.

I think it is  hypocrisy if a minister knows what he is saying each week is old teaching when he has been taught the message of the scholars in training and doesn’t express it from the pulpit. The  progressive minister always presented me with something to mull over and he was always available to talk to if you had a query. He never claimed to have all the answers and I applauded his honesty. None of us do, or will, have the answers while we breathe. Of course, the traditional members of the congregation found him a challenge.

My own faith has altered from one where I understood Jesus, the Son of God, died for me and my sins, and if I live according to His message I will be rewarded after I die, to a belief that Jesus was an outstanding,  empathetic, sensitive human being who had a message of inclusion for all the outcasts of the world and who offered a way of living which, if it was followed today, would result in a much better world than the one we live in- Jesus’ Kingdom here, now, not in a mystical future.

I think you have to be ready to embrace a change as dramatic as going from a traditional follower to a progressive. I must have been at the right time in my life because I was like a sponge, voraciously reading everything I could to give me a better understanding of what I had been missing all those years. Then again, you probably have to have maturity to work through the different arguments and find what you are most convinced by. Each one of us will be different, each of us have different life experiences and these too colour what we can accept.

Some of my more traditional friends, still attending church, are curious about why I changed and what I now believe. I always suggest that, if they want to know, they should begin reading Spong’s Liberating the Gospels as that was the book that made the first impact on me and started my journey along a different path. But I always warn them that they might find their belief system changing too. It isn’t for everyone – a progressive doesn’t have the blind faith of the traditional – but  my faith makes more sense to me now and I am prepared to leave behind that ‘certainty’ for a belief with more integrity. For someone who appreciated certainty, that’s an enormous change.

At the moment, given my recent departure from the church, I have not decided on my next step. Books are always a good resource but it is also fruitful to share with other progressives where we each are in our journeys. It is a very liberating feeling to be able to do that, and is something I have missed over the last 18 months. I will  get back to CPRT when my circumstances permit, where discussions take place on many different topics, and there is freedom to express oneself without the possibility of overt criticism, or derogatory dismissal. We are lucky to have such a forum available.

 

 

Our CPRT (Sydney) coordinator, Eric Stevenson, wrote the following article and asked CPRT members to write down what was their Religious Hope.

 

Member’s contributions appear after Eric’s Article.

WHAT IS HOPE?    By Eric

“Into a situation of hopelessness, resignation and despair a message of hope can break through with tremendous effect. It serves to shatter old resignations and to re-open the future again. To re-imagine the future is to energise the present”. John Quiripel

Most people need a vision of something better which sustains them especially when the going is tough.  The “something better” relates to what would be an improvement in the adverse or mundane circumstances and outcomes of their experiences.   Being “sustained” means that by believing or knowing that there is “something better” they are helped to persevere and to achieve their goal, despite the adversity or mediocrity.    

 

TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS HOPE.

 

The “something better” in traditional religious hope has to do with dissatisfaction with our earthly existence .For most people it is too brief, too unpredictable too painful and too unfair. So the “sustaining vision of something better” is “eternal life.  But unlike our earthly hopes this one is hard to test.  It depends on a lot of assumptions which cannot be perceived or verified, let alone understood.  What aspects of the traditional hope of eternal life do you find hard to accept, and what aspects of traditional hope do you wish to retain?

               
THE PROGRESSIVE’S HOPE
Do you find it necessary to maintain a belief in a state of supreme hopefulness? If not, what sustains you in adversity? If so, in stating your personal hope, do you need it to be demonstrable and attainable in this present world?  Will it be sensed and perceived with any or all of your human faculties, or require the use of additional faculties which as yet you do not utilise?  Do you want it to be subject to progress and change as your knowledge and understanding increases?  Do you wish to earn it, or depend on someone else or something else to make it happen to you, or take a degree of responsibility for achieving it? Traditional religion places a high value upon immortality and spiritual luxury in an afterlife. Do you feel that you as a progressive can assess and value what is of ultimate worth about life and frame it as a religious aspiration?  If so does it need to be?

 

·        A dream of a domain which is friendly to humanity and nature – be ideal?

 

·        Found in this present world of space and time – be realistic?

 

·        Make sense to our reasoning mind – be rational?

 

·        In accord with projected scientific and technological development – be practical?

 

·        Perceived by at least some of our senses and intuitions – be experienced?

·        Subject to change as knowledge increases – be flexible?

 

·      Fulfilled with the full co-operation of my strength, imagination and emotional reserves – be achievable?

 

oooOOOOooo

Members comments

Dorothy says: -My Spiritual or Ethical hopes for the future are: - That we as a global civilisation will come to understand and accept other cultures and religions, so that together we can live and allow others to live in peace.

I believe there is a very powerful human desire to believe in something.

Although I have and am still questioning my Christian religion, I do believe most religions and cultures have brought (besides many problems) great benefits to civilization such as:-

·        Christianity, besides a love of God, preaches a love of man

·        Islam promotes brotherhood

·        Buddhism — calm and mysticism

·        Hinduism — devotion and pluralism

·        Taoism — harmony with nature

·        Marxist — struggle for social justice and human freedom

These are to name a few.

An Australian social researcher, Hugh Mackay said, “Religion has always existed in human societies as a source of comfort, consolation and inspiration for those people who might otherwise be numbed by grief, or cripples by confusion by their place in the cosmos, or by anxiety about their fragility of their moral existence.”

I’m sure this is quite true for many people.

When I thought about all this, my hope for understanding, compassion and acceptance on a global scale seemed quite unrealistic...But there is a glimmer of hope due to the fact that we really are ever so gradually becoming one world.

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Albert says: - The remedy for remedying traditional religion is EDUCATION from whatever direction it comes.

I think that scientific, rational and critical thought will finally get through to the most fundamentalist believers if we can demonstrate that we are not  trying to destroy faith and hope.

Love, honesty and perseverance will conquer in the long run. 

oooOOOOooo

 

Marg C says: - About the topic I think that it is the most important one for me.   The challenge when a person joins the Group and takes that step to think progressively and listen to others doing the same is a fearful experience.  He or she has been held captive in their religion and controlled by threatening tactics.   One has to hope to God that a terrible judgement does not come immediately upon them, or that the rope around the mill-stone does not pinch their neck too much as they are cast into the sea.

 In other words most CPRT people who have had a religious up-bringing must feel a great deal of trepidation when they take the first steps in thinking outside of the square.

I sit on the fence in this respect as I think what if there is Jesus waiting for me at the end of the tunnel of death?   Then I want Him to recognise my desire to think for myself and love and commend me for that.

I am only talking about the hope in my personal life.

I am trying to let go of causes, ambitions, goals that drive a person.

I do not want to be a person looking for hope too much. There is a risk for them searching furiously for any sort of hope that they can muster.