Thursday 28 September 2017

Two Ways

A few days ago I was with other Christians in a pleasant discussion group, based on a book by Symon Hill. After two thirds of the way through (including some pleasant sips of wine)  I started to grow feelings of "yes, but...". We were trapped in words and in the rational, even when we noted the paradoxes within Jesus' sayings. 
My mind wandered to those frequent moments when my thoughts were two-fold: echoes of my chuntering words, overlain by delight for the reality of all that Is

Monday 25 September 2017

A garden

Yesterday was for the garden. The day before we had bought a large bag of daffodil  bulbs, intending to plant them around the shrubs, and now came the work. Surprisingly, the work was great fun! I had imagined I would be daintily pushing holes, one by one, in the lawn and dropping in the bulbs - maybe 15 minutes.  ....  I discovered that our lawn rests on a dense mass of earth and stones!
But the activity steadily increased my enthusiasm, encountering each challenge as they appeared.

Today I stayed longer in bed recovering!

Sunday 24 September 2017

A private creed

Some times I wonder why I go to church and take Christianity seriously ... so I've tried to put down what it is that keeps me there: a sort of "Private Creed".

Here it is

I believe in the one ultimate being, “Pure Isness” bringing into existence all universes, including our own universe, and flowing to all forms of existence. By “God” I understand the presence of Pure Isness as it initiated the flaring forth of our universe, and its presence in all the physical and unknown processes that have eventually created us, and I believe that humans can think and act in ways beyond the physical.
I believe in Jesus Christ, born of Mary and Joseph, a man uniquely and fully open to God, who lived and died as described in the Gospels.
I believe that some or all of the openness to God of Jesus can also arise in us, and particularly in groups of people, where it called “The Holy Spirit”.
Today had ended fraught, and so
I took my costumed tree-lined walk.
This was enough.
And all the trees were bare to me:
This was enough.
Then walking on the simple track
back home, I entered there.
That was enough.

Saturday 23 September 2017

God (again!)

Back to the church, and our assertion (note the plural: not necessarily mine) that "we believe in
one God ...etc". What is meant by "God"?
The focal point within Christianity is the first words of the bible "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth", repeated so as to link with Christianity as "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God" in the late "Gospel of John". The universe is/was created by God, and Christ is fundamentally connected with God. It is god who ultimately creates "Isness".

I have a problem, however.
For me, as an erstwhile physicist, what we call "the universe" is the totality of a complex 4-dimentional space-time, governed by the rules of physics. In it we live as a tiny speck.
We can explore the universe through telescopes and discern, at distances that science is steadily increasing, the galaxies (in one of which we live). And, as said in "the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy", the universe as a whole is seriously big!. But if God created it, God's existence extends beyond the universe: not in the sense of measuring, but as an extension of the nature of being.
This is the ultimate mystery.


Tuesday 19 September 2017

Following on from the last Blog about Anthony the Great and and the Desert, and noting that now the dominant religion there is now Islam, I was reminded of the remarkable section (24:35) of  the Qur`an, where the many indications of the presence and actions of God are, if one can discern them, collectively like the light in a leading lamp, to which everyone can be drawn:

    God is the light of the heavens and the earth.
    The parable of His light is, as it were, that of niche containing
    a lamp; the lamp is enclosed in glass, the glass shining like a
    radiant star; a lamp lit from a blessed tree - an olive tree that is
    neither of the east nor of the west - of which the oil is so bright
    that it would almost give light of itself, without being ignited:

    light upon light!

In honor of this, I've installed a beautifully rounded  glass, containing a blue light, in the disused fire-place of our living room.


Monday 18 September 2017

Yesterday Isabel and I joined a group of friends for a discussion of the spiritual nature of the desert  (an environment to which many hermits had lived). The conversation moved mainly around the importance of using this environment so as to connect with the earth, in all its bareness.
    This is certainly true. But in addition, the desert was for many the place where a bond was created, a link between our grounding in the earth and our reaching for the transcendent.

It was Anthony the Great [270 AD]  who launched the movement that became the Desert Fathers , first moving to what is now the Eastern desert of Egypt.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Encoutering people and places

I set off at random for this morning's walk. "Not the common - I'm always going there". I kept going along my usual starting path, that eventually led past the University where I used to work. Walking here gives me mixed feelings. Occasionally I encounter people I used to work with. Two month's ago it was a whole bunch of them, one now in a wheel chair. These meetings always feel uncertain, as though they are assuming that I have continued on the old tracks (which I have left long ago).
Then I walked along roads to a muddy tree-lined path that returned me back to my start, at the rear entry to the university. To the right was a rough opening in the trees ... and I was swiftly among them, taking the clearest paths, much of it by crawling.
At the ended I emerged on the a familiar road that would take me home.
No surprises, no ecstatic revelations, just the "rightness" of life.

Monday 11 September 2017

Words from the trees

This morning I was fed up and grumpy! But after a while I pulled myself together a little bit, and decided to go into the common.Then, once I was out out of doors and feeling a bit better, the place to go was the beech tree grove.
As usual, they worked their magic well, and I could then wander happily home. 

Friday 8 September 2017

So, to continue from my last blog, what/who is "god"?
In the blog before last I stressed the notion of the creator-god, responsible for the "flaring forth" of the universe. The buck stops here: there is no "before": indeed, there is no time to be "before" in.
But what has this god to do with the god proclaimed by Jesus as "Father"?

The traditional ways of exegesis don't really help me, but there is a slight clue in story of Moses asking to "see God" (Exodus 33:18), in which God say's "You cannot see my face, for no mortal may see me and live". The ensuing compromise of Moses being allowed to see God's back is not very helpful to us (!!) but the general idea of intimations of God might be helpful, remembering that all things that we see and and feel are tiny fragments.
I have written of sharing the nature of trees, of feeling the essence of a small tree and of sensing a connectivity between two great rocks. There are, as it were, "resonances" between us and other beings, baring in mind that what we are doing is merely scraping the tiniest fragments of the "other" before us.
So, from this view-point, I think of the experiences of the apostles in the presence of Jesus as fragments, intimations, of the universal creator.  

Thursday 7 September 2017

 My last Blog ended with a speculation about "God". As a paid-up (in every sense) member of the Church of England, I sometimes recite the "Creed": the words "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God eyc..etc". There's a lot of it which I don't believe; but there is a let-out for me here, in that "We" (those who are saying this in unison), on the whole, do believe this. But I have misgivings. My problem (as is the case for a great many of people) resides in "the only-begotten Son of God". 

There seems to be no evidence for Jesus claiming to be "the Son of God" himself. For instance, in Matthew 6:14 Jesus speaks of "your father" and "our father". Even the late John only says "he that has seen me has seen the Father". What is clear from the gospels is that Jesus taught, by speech and  example, that prayer, for everyone, should be carried out as if  God was their father - a way of speech reminiscent of Isaiah's "Lord, you are our father" (Isaiah 64:8). For me, this implies that the idea of  "Christ, the only-begotten Son of God" was invented along with the first creed in 140 AD.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

I frequently stand gazing at our universe, and  reflect on the discoveries of cosmology and the accounts of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. How did the universe appear? The danger is that whenever you propose that X made it, you have to ask how X was made, and then .... One classical example is the idea that the universe lies on a turtle, and that turtle lies on another turtle. and ...
I'm coming round to the idea that the origin must be prior to time and space, and able to create space and time in the "flaring forth" of cosmology. And in this case the ultimate source of all nature could, by it's nature, be incomprehensible.
This starts to look like God to me?

Monday 4 September 2017

There are moments when there is a shift in sight and thought.
Instead of running along well trodden thoughts, I move outside them
and glimpse another way of being. It is a relationship bettween
myself and a greater world, reminiscent of an 'I-Thou' relationship,
as Martin Buber called it (as distinct from 'I-it').

Sunday 3 September 2017

I'm pondering around the fact that all our ideas and actions are sifted and shaped within our own physical capacities: ways of acting and thinking that lie within current traditions. But we can still, through imagination, take a small move beyond these traditions: opening, as it were, a thin fifth dimension beyond the usual four, expanding normal awareness to the foothills of the the angels.

Saturday 2 September 2017

While dozing on a train yesterday, I found myself musing on the way each creature has (I suppose) its own view of the world. Cows chew and ruminate, storks stand immovably, domestic cats cuddle or  slip out and try pouncing ... but there, I presume, is now way in which we can see thorough their eyes.
Except ... there was moment  when I had been gazing at a small tree, absorbing its nature, and I found myself as it were "asking" the tree for the nature of the tree from the tree's position. I still think that the short, indescribable moment that followed, which  brought me to tears, was valid. (I used to embarrass friends by speaking this to others, though it always collapsed me! It's OK on the internet, however!) 
Now I am always aware that all we "explain", from our own body to the galaxies and beyond, is only glimpse of reality.