Saturday, March 31, 2012


Do you remember the story of Jeremy Bentham of London, England? He
died in 1832 and left his estate to University College London. But
he also stipulated that his body be embalmed, dressed up and brought
in to preside over the annual meeting of university administrators.
His preserved body is still there today, displayed in a glass
cabinet. And it is apparently still wheeled into the annual
meetings. For years, the secretary of the board added to the minutes
of each session, "Jeremy Bentham, present but not voting."

I've KNOWN people like that -- present but not voting. Too often, I
am one of them. These people are alive, but they are not really
living. As Benjamin Franklin may have put it, they died around 25
but won't be buried until they are 75. They live without passion.
They seem to have forgotten what thrill and wonder life can hold.
They get through each day, but seldom experience anything like deep
joy. They're alive, but barely.
(By Steve Goodier

Some people make no contribution. They say they want to be neutral. They say they dont want to take sides, or to get involved. They are like Jeremy Bentham, a corpse just hanging around. Wake up and get involved!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To Believe is Human To Doubt, Divine

“INSURRECTION” by Peter Rollins

Get rid of your religion. This is about burning down our religious beliefs so that we may have a vibrant faith. The author attacks many of our cherished beliefs regarding God and Christ.
In the first section he talks about God as a function. We use God as a crutch to explain things that we do not understand. God comes as an after thought to rescue us from a perplexing situation. Faith is reduced to an idea that helps us cope with life.
In the chapter entitled, ‘To Believe is Human; to Doubt is Divine’, the writer uses the crucifixion as an analogy of us dying to the faith that we have constructed for ourselves. He says we must look to the experience of the cross as a sacrifice more than just a loss.

At this point in the book, I was thinking of how we talk of God so much. We either blame him or give him credit; in reality maybe we should just accept what comes our way and go on, knowing that God is in control. Is all of our ‘god-talk’ just a form of our self- made religion to give us comfort? When the Jews were so fearful (doubtful?) of God not even to mention or write his name, doesn’t it seem that we speak his name in too many trite situations? Does maybe the command, “Thou shalt not use the name of the Lord thy God in vain”, entail more than just not saying “G..D..”?

Another area of needed death that the author touched on is our avoidance of certain things instead of trying to work through that thing. That is, we resist being confronted with things that we already suspect to be true. He uses the example of the holocaust. Many civilians in Germany defended their lack of action in doing something about the mass extermination of the Jews by saying they were unaware of what was going on. Though there were hints all around, they avoided being confronted directly by the facts.
It is easier to avoid the truth and to live the status-quo, than to see the truth and then must act to change it. I suspect that is the case with abortion. It is easier to accept and live out the idea that the fetus is just a bunch of matter than to realize that it may be a child and then have to do something to stop the carnage.

That is the authors point in his section on ‘Resurrection’. He says, ”…the resurrection is a mode of living that embraces the lived experience of doubt, complexity, and unknowing, affirms life, and accepts our responsibility in transforming the world.”
The author uses the story of ‘Batman’ to show how we feed the system that we also think we are trying to change. He ask the question of Bruce Wayne, ‘Would Wayne Industries be better off using his money to develop a strong educational system, setting up training programs for the unemployed and helping small businesses to develop in fighting crime than investing millions into high tech equipment etc. that only he uses to fight a small amount of Gotham city crime?’

The author then asks this question, what if instead of giving to someone in need, our real job was to “help create a world where the poor do not exist? What if the church should be less concerned with creating saints than creating a world where we do not need saints? A world where people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King would have nothing to do.
In the very last part of the book there is ‘a conversation with the author’, when asked about trying to duplicate the first century church Rollins says. “The task is not to return to the early church, but rather to return to the event that gave birth to the early church”.

This is a book that needs to be read more than once and then a copy purchased for a friend, so you can discuss what the author has to say.