Friday, June 23, 2006

Bit Quiet

I have been a bit quiet on the blog front for a few days. It's been a combination of dissertation, other work, catching a bit of football and having a cold. It all left me a bit empty of ideas. I realised I needed to post something.

Last night I went to hear Tom Wright, the Bishp of Durham, lecturing in Blackburn. It was a lecture against secularism and fundamentalism, advocating a more considered and open conversation about faith and theology in the 'market square'. Having recently done a module on what's known as Radical Orthodoxy, a lot of the ideas were fairly familiar (not that Rt Revd. Wright is a member of that movement), but it was good to see a fullish cathedral listening to these ideas and engaging with them.

Essentially the point is that secularism and fundamentalism in Western culture are both products of the Enlightenment, which privatised faith, and ensured western discourse about faith was all centred on a secular/sacred dualism. Therefore, a 'secular' society finds it very difficult to have any kind of conversation with faith(s), which it sees as irrational and probably imaginary, and fundamentalists view the secular with a suspicion that it is evil and only the 'spiritual' is important. There is no integration or interface at any meaningful level. Both view all others as people who need to be persuaded to think like them.

If we can only 'get over' the Enlightenment (misleading name I have always felt) then an integrated approach which rejects that duality opens up the possibility of much more positive conversations between those who are adherents and believers, and those who are not in shaping communities.

It also means you can have a much more positive theological understanding of science, social science or other studies. If the material isn't 'evil' or even secular, then it may inform the person of faith. That's why I'm not a creationist (see earlier post) Why would the universe tell lies about itself, if we believe it has its origins and existence in God? Ironically, those who are most keen to advocate a literal creationism are most suspicious about any scientific conclusons drawn from the handiwork they attribute to God.

If faith isn't just imaginary and about escapism, it might offer useful insights into this world. But we can only earn that right if we take other people seriously.

Sorry I deviated from the good Bishop's talk, but just needed to muse for a bit. I'll come back to this one again.

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