Thursday 27 April 2017

Yesterday I was walking along the secluded path between the golf course and a forest - as I often do. But this time, instead of simply immersing myself in the twists and turns of the path, I found myself also being consciously aware of what I was doing. And on reaching the tiny stream, instead of taking a running jump for the other side, I paused and put down in the stream a solid chunk of wood fallen from a tree, giving a gentle passage for myself; and, as an after thought, for others. Reflecting on this as I returned home, I felt that I was, albeit fleetingly, more aware of my own being.
This is, on the one hand ironic, in that the condition of Alzheimer that I now have is reducing my capacity for such though;, but on the other hand I may be shifting more to what really matters.
Today, as I occasionally do, I dropped into St Edmund's Roman Catholic church - not because I'm an ardent Catholic, but because it is open all day, it is peaceful and it is directly on the street running from my house to the center of Southampton. I always leave feeling peaceful and refreshed, but on this occasion I also found myself thinking "all that I need is available, but it is for me to receive it". And of course I often shy from this receiving.
Thank you, God and St Edmund's.

Thursday 20 April 2017

I've been reading "Angel and Me" by Sara Maitland. So far I'd recommend it. It's still religious (don't seem able to get out of that) but in a different way. The first section is an account of the life of Abraham and Sarah trekking through the desert, from the point of view of Sarah: doing her duty of keeping life on the road against all the odds.
There are surely countless people enduring a very similar situation today.
It's about time I blogged something less theological... But can a reader (if there are any) put up with just a short indication of where I am with it now "Godding" ??
There are many religions that help us to live towards our own fulfillment, and the well-being of others.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam achieve this by engaging in a relationship with that deep aspect of the universe that humans can understand and be strengthened by: namely, in English, God.
I am content to a part of this.

Wednesday 19 April 2017

My walk today took me past a church formerly dedicated to "Dionysius" (or "Denis", for short). This name was taken up the middle ages in the form of a chaotic fusion of two people. The first was a judge, working on the Greek Acropolis (hence his name Dionysius the Areopagite)  who was converted to Christianity by the first disciples. The second was a 6th century mystic, who wrote a number of tracts - such as "the hierarchy of the angels" -  under the name of Dionysius". This latter person is now called "the pseudo Dionysius/Denis". I have rather of a soft spot for him: his writing is a sort of Middle-aged equivalent to science-fiction, a genre that I was fond of when young. On the rare occasions when the church is open and empty I drop in. There are angels in the stained glass windows, but they look very flabby compared to those of the pseudo Denis.
In my last post I noted the idea that the initial "flaring forth" of universe (and perhaps many universes) was started by God: a flagrant example the "the God of the gaps", brought in to provide a reason for something we don't understand. (and there was more God-talk in blogs 2th April and 2nd March).
These illustrate the problems I have with the meaning of "God". I have already noted earlier that I belong to a Christian Community (Anglican) in which I support the essence of what is being said. Here comes a bit more!
 My sticking point, at which I cannot take the words literally, is the assertion that God is "maker of heaven and earth, and also Jesus is His son". This is an assertion that has been battled over (often literally) over thousands of years and defines Christianity. It is recognised  that this is a "mystery", and many Christians would say that it is not intended to be strictly literal: but for me there is a problem.  

Thursday 13 April 2017

Ultimate isness

The theme of death (last entry) leads on to the theme of God. The general idea is "there must be someone/something that runs everything in the world, or at least started it up". The physics approach to this is to declare that there was an initial "flaring forth" (see Brian Swimm's "The Universe Story").
If our universe is created by a particular "flaring forth" then many other questions arrive. What does the flaring? Are there other other universes that flared? Is there is a fundamental ultimate isness that embraces all universes? The word "God" inevitably comes to mind; but it is always a cop-out to invoke God ("the God of the Gaps") merely to fix something we cannot work out ourselves. 

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Now I've passed Seventy the question of the end of life becomes more interesting ...
The standard ideas revolve around the options of a strait switch-off or continuation
in some other mode, with a variety of forms (heaven, hell, purgatory ...) 
for the latter. But our living experience of time is itself richer than this.
There are also timeless moments, like Wordsworth's "I saw .. a host of
golden daffodils". Certainly my own life seems to develop moments of wider
awareness and of thinner time. So I wonder if the same might be the case in the
moment death?
God. (Yes, the Big Question!)
I 'm a Christian in the sense that align myself with a particular group of people; I try to follow the pattern of Christ; and I support the intentions of those who assert the words of the Creed: "We believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.... etc." Note the 'We' in this, rather than "I", a thoughtfully change made some 30 (?) years ago so as to accommodate people like me! The crunch of this is, what/who is God?
I'll start with Douglas Adams' famous comment in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy":
    “Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-mindbogglingly big space it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

He's right. Indeed I want to go even further. What we call "space" is  a conception of human beings - creatures on a small planer who have evolved a capacity represent in words the nature of everything they encounter. Space (or what I, when a physicist, would have called "space-time", because you can't separate space and time at this vast level)  is the connected continuum within we and everything that we know is contained. 
 To go beyond Douglas Adams, can we talk about the entirety of all all that is, whether we understand it or or whether it has no connection at all with the comic universe and is totally inscrutable?
Yes, but it doesn't mean anything? The writers of the Creed probably would propose that God could create this also.