Wednesday, 22 April 2009


You know the way splinters work their way deep into the flesh, and really aggravate you until they're gone? Well, Andrew Brown has been having trouble with splinters...
I did smile at the picture of him carrying a cross through the middle of Cambridge, chiefly because I was imagining how I would feel under the same circumstances; very awkward.
There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.
That is very true. The Greek pagan mystery traditions made a distinction between "that which cannot be spoken of" and "that which myst not be spoken of"; rather like the distinction between the apophatic and cataphatic qualities of God.

I would say that Andrew's position is deeply Unitarian - in the tradition of the Martineaus, and indeed Rammohun Roy, author of the Precepts of Jesus and all the thinkers who were influenced by him, including Emerson, Thoreau, and Joseph Estlin Carpenter.

I'm a Wiccan and a Unitarian, but I joined Unitarianism precisely because I wanted to engage with the Christian mythos and liberal Christian values, without having to actually believe literally in any of the stories. That's why a lot of the addresses that I have produced so far engage with Christian themes, albeit set in a context of comparative religion. I am much more interested in the heretical aspects of Christianity (especially those bits that fit with Taoism etc); but there's a lot of interesting stuff in the Jesus myth, and in the Bible, and for better or worse, it's part of our heritage.

Andrew Brown also points out that natural science has made it impossible for intellectuals to take the Christian mythos literally; in my opinion, natural science has completely squeezed out the need to explain the existence of the universe by the idea of a transcendent or supernatural creator deity (particularly one who is somehow mysteriously three persons in one entity).

It has not removed the need for the mystical Divine as posited by Tillich and others - the ground of our being, that which we hold to be most worthwhile, the existence of love, the immanent Presence in the world, etc.

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