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Tony Grist

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Forget Your Perfect Offering [Dec. 29th, 2008|05:38 pm]
Tony Grist
We went to church twice over the holidays. Once in Brenchley on Christmas morning, early and the second time in Hadlow this Sunday.

Hadlow is the village where I spent my early adolescence. The church has a Norman tower and bells that still can ring. There are crusader crosses in the stonework round the door, 17th and 18th century hatchments in the nave and a set of clumsy, early twentieth century, stained glass windows- one with a knight in a dark wood and St George standing on the dragon's head. Being there felt entirely natural- not like a homecoming but as if I'd been gazing round at these things every Sunday of my life.

I'm tired. I don't want to argue about theology anymore.  I've tried all sorts of different religions and none of them was any better than the one my ancestors made. Anglican Christianity isn't perfect- I reserve the right to disagree on points of detail- but I think it'll last me the rest of this life.

[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-12-29 07:11 pm (UTC)
Are people arguing with you? In my way of thinking their doing that is so wrong! Everyone should be able to believe what they want... or don't want... as they see fit. Who can really PROVE that any belief is wrong anyway?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 09:36 am (UTC)
The arguments have mainly been in my own head. I used to seek out controversy- but not any more. Yes, I agree, it's pointless to argue over religious belief.
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From: mamadar
2008-12-29 07:35 pm (UTC)
Arguments about theology should only be done for entertainment value, as intellectual sport. Despite all its current institutional problems, Anglicanism has a lot of points in its favor--and if it works for you, that's the most important point of all.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 09:39 am (UTC)
Anglicanism works for me because it's the tradition I belong to. I went to a church school, I served as an Anglican priest and so on and so forth.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2008-12-29 07:53 pm (UTC)
I hope that maybe someday soon, you'd be willing to talk about your thoughts on the matter. I meant to post to your prior words because I find myself going through the same issues, and I can't come up with any answers. You are always so insightful, and I believe you're a lot more knowledgeable than most when it comes to religion.

I grew up Catholic, then went through a "semi-pagan" period of about ten years, then returned to Catholicism. But about two years ago now, I just...it just wasn't working for me anymore, and so now I'm floundering about, not sure of anything at this point. Part of me wants to perhaps go back and delve into the old Celtic religion, but then I get the "Ooooooh, but that's evil!" from the Catholic faith.

How do you reconcile the two?

I've waited and hoped my entire life for some sublime moment or epiphany that would let me know that "Yes, this is the right path for you" and never got it. I miss it - I don't know how to describe the anguish that I've never been touched by divinity in any way that took my breath away, nor have I ever had that ever-present feeling that some seem to have.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 09:50 am (UTC)
I've never had any breath-taking moments either. I can't really explain my religious comings and goings except to say that I've always done what "felt" right at the time.

And occasionally the thing that felt right probably wasn't- except insofar as it gained me experience.

I don't see a conflict between Christianity and Paganism. Look at the great artists of the renaissance; they moved guiltlessly between painting Crucifixions and Nativities for churches and Venuses and Judgements of Paris for worldly cardinals.

I'm sure I'll be writing a whole lot more about all this over the coming weeks.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2008-12-29 08:04 pm (UTC)
I find this sort of shocking. Surprising, anyway. But then I think about how much time you spend in churches (a lot more than I do), and I'm not entirely surprised.

I'll never go back to Catholicism--Quakerism suits me much better, but I don't go to Meeting regularly any more.

I think there is a lot of value in having the matter settled.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-12-29 08:08 pm (UTC)
I think we both agree on one thing - Faith is a personal experience between the believer and huis or her God - all else is verbiage. I'm glad you've found a home.
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[User Picture]From: seraphimsigrist
2008-12-29 08:06 pm (UTC)
I sure dont remember anything much from
seminary as far as theology goes...
or rather certain things remain...
to will to dare to be silent and to know
or was that from some other place...
ah this from the cure de ars that when he
tried to tell people what he learned in
seminary noone listened and then he
began to listen to hearts behind words
and to respond as best he could to that...

a lot of good theology in religio medici
by t browne one of your fellows...

Merry Christmastide!

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 09:56 am (UTC)
Merry Christmastide.

I like Sir Thomas Browne, but I don't believe I've ever read Religio Medici all the way through. Perhaps that should be one of my New Year tasks. Thank you for the suggestion.
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[User Picture]From: zoe_1418
2008-12-29 08:39 pm (UTC)
I'm having some similar -- although probably milder -- leanings right now. I wasn't raised anglican/episcopal, but started attending in my early 20s and was confirmed around age 30... then dropped out in favor of quakerism, uu-ism, and not-much-ism ... Have I ever told you glassgirl7's and my little joke that we are "Quakertarian Episcopagans"?

Anyway, we're about to move to a new (to us) house in an older part of town, and I've noticed that the new place is a short walk/bike/drive from a lovely little Episcopal church. And I've been getting the idea that after we move I'm going to try it out. I've been thinking generally this way ever since reading "Take This Bread" by Sara Miles.

Best to you.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 10:01 am (UTC)
I went to a Church school with a great musical tradition. Benjamin Britten wrote his St Nicolas oratorio for our school choir. These things leave a mark.

I'm intellectually attracted to Quakerism and Unitarianism, but I've never followed through.

Surely that's not Sara Miles, the actor- or is it?

I'll be interested to hear how you get on with your local episcopalians.
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[User Picture]From: zoe_1418
2008-12-29 08:45 pm (UTC)

Oh, and...

...I very much appreciate the Leonard Cohen allusions here. yes, there's a crack in everything... that's how the light gets in.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 10:02 am (UTC)

Re: Oh, and...

Yes, I've been listening to Cohen quite a bit recently.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2008-12-29 08:56 pm (UTC)
Being there felt entirely natural- not like a homecoming but as if I'd been gazing round at these things every Sunday of my life.

I'm glad they are there for you.

Merry Christmas.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 10:02 am (UTC)
Thank you.

Merry Christmas.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-12-29 09:21 pm (UTC)
"...not like a homecoming but as if I'd been gazing round at these things every Sunday of my life."

Sounds very much like a homecoming to me!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 10:03 am (UTC)
I suppose you're right.
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[User Picture]From: methodius
2008-12-30 05:48 am (UTC)

Christian myths

You might like this quote from Nicolas Berdyaev:

"Myth is a reality immeasurably greater than concept. It is
high time that we stopped identifying myth with invention,
with the illusions of primitive mentality, and with anything,
in fact, which is essentially opposed to reality... The
creation of myths among peoples denotes a real spiritual life,
more real indeed than that of abstract concepts and rational
thought. Myth is always concrete and expresses life better
than abstract thought can do; its nature is bound up with that
of symbol. Myth is the concrete recital of events and original
phenomena of the spiritual life symbolized in the natural
world, which has engraved itself on the language memory and
creative energy of the people... it brings two worlds together

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 10:05 am (UTC)

Re: Christian myths

Yes. Thank you. That's exactly what I think- only I couldn't express it with such lucidity.
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2008-12-30 10:05 am (UTC)
Was baptized and raised Anglican, but can't cope with it now - they are ordaining really weird people, and/or their clergy are becoming more like social workers than people with a vocation.
But I'm glad that it works for you
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 01:35 pm (UTC)
I'm out of touch with what's happening on the ground. I get the impression that the evangelical wing is gaining ground- with all the small-mindedness that implies.

We'll have to go see what our local parish church is like....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-30 01:37 pm (UTC)
That's the one.

I've never been to Barming. I must seek it out. Seeing how I lived in the area for around ten years, it's amazing how poorly I know it.
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From: ext_127439
2009-01-01 05:24 am (UTC)
This is nice- feels good to hear. Why not go with what you were born into, when it`s all much of a muchness. We`re all programmed by our life and experiences, perhaps the oldest lines of code (from our early formative years) being the strongest.

Now- onto something else? I`d like to see more paintings- it was good to see the one you posted. And more Purchas- I`d love to see a SF Purchas- your idea of the future would be fascinating. And why not? I gather you`re not so fond of SF, but you do like Star Trek right? Put together a vision!

And Happy New Year to both you and Ailz!

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-01 10:13 am (UTC)
Happy New Year, Mike.

Yes, all spiritual systems are imperfect, so why not stick with the one you were born into? I've reached a stage where I'm tired of trying to create systems for myself.

SF always says more about the era it was created in than the future. The original Star Trek, for instance, is a perfect little time capsule from the 1960s. I haven't a clue what the future will be like- maybe it'll be all nice and green and friendly or maybe it'll be a nightmare. I think the only thing that's certain is that most of our guesses will turn out to be wrong.

I started another Purchas earlier this year, but it died on me halfway through. Maybe I'll take it up again, but I doubt it. I'm not sure I can write those characters any more.

But I may take up painting again. I've been thinking about it. Perhaps I should make it my New Year resolution.
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