Tag Archives: Jesus

Laughing at religion

Is it okay to make fun of religion? Last night I watching a programme about the life of Irish comedian Dave Allen. I grew up watching his shows and loved his humour. Dave was brought up a Catholic, moved to the UK where he began life as a comic, initially starting as a Red Coat at Butlins where he performed with others on stage.

Dave’s home life in Ireland seemed very free but the Catholic Church dominated at school. Dave was a free-thinker, something the church didn’t approve of! His comedy shows were littered with jokes, monologues and sketches about religion, particularly the Catholic Church.  Some of these jokes got him into trouble with the viewing public but I never found them offensive.

The Catholic Church has come under fire a lot over the last few years due to abuses to children. The ‘old’ Church was narrow minded and far from being what I would call Christian. Their views and teaching were dogmatic and cruel. I think they messed up the minds of many children who were taught to obey without question or go to hell. I have never had a lot of time for the Catholic Church. They seemed blinkered and not ‘of this world’ at all. Latin American Catholics saw their religion differently. That has been a stumbling block for the Church of Rome but the new Pope seems different.  I like what I see and I think he will be good for the Catholic Church. He seems far more in touch with ordinary people and says some profound things.

I’ve got a little away from my earlier question but I needed a background to work against.  Humour can be quite liberating. In Dave Allen’s case he used his experiences to show some of the hypocrisy of the Church  as well as to see the funny side of life. I don’t believe he was out to insult anyone.  It was all done in great fun and I was never aware that he crossed any lines.  I guess for the times he was active on TV (60-80’s) times were different and perhaps it was a step too far for a few but I also remember watching TV comedy that was racially prejudice using negative language that would be censored today. When I look back on that I am appalled I ever found those programmes funny. These days I cringe at them.

I am not suggesting that we should make derogatory comments about any religion but we should be able to laugh at ourselves and come off our high horse by looking at the world, including religion, from a lighter side. Of course there  is always a line you shouldn’t cross.  Then again, people have different views on where that line is!

I was walking up our high street yesterday and there were two men spouting off, trying to get attention for their views. I didn’t hear all they said but one thing stuck….Jesus was not a member of the Church of England. There was something about Jesus not having anything to do with religion. I think they had a good point! Religion is man made – we made the rules, the hierarchy and much else. Yes, we formed it from the teachings of Jesus but I wonder….if Jesus returned today what would he think? What would he say about what man has done in his name, how the Church has abused their position, gone to war supposedly in his name. Much is done using the name of Jesus/God. Maybe that is religion but it’s not faith – it’s not what Jesus meant.

Back to humour. I cannot speak for other religions.  There have been controversial issues over things said about Islam in humour.  I often think that Muslims find Christians a bit airy-fairy and uncommitted in their faith. They may have a point at times. There seem few Muslim comedians, though the Jewish are quite happy to laugh at themselves and are quite happy to debate faith. They are free-thinkers too. That’s what we should be. Anyone who tells you that this is the way to do it, that is what you think or are not willing to share with you their belief system unless you are a member is not worth listening to. People need to search for themselves, read, learn, observe,  experience and come to their own conclusion.

Sorry, this is a bit of ramble and only my view which has been rolling around in my head. Hopefully some of you will get where I’m coming from!

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God Hunting – Bible (1) Lectio Divina

I have just completed a week of meditating on the Bible using the Lectio Divina method, the slow reading of a passage until a word stands out, something to work with and pray about.

The text I used was from John’s Gospel Chapter 6:35-40.  Not a lot to work with you may think.  But split into sections it is quite amazing.  Each day I read the whole of this (part of Jesus teaching on the Bread of Life) and then used one verse to concentrate on.  I had enough verses for 6 days and on the 7th day I re-read the whole part through again to see if there was anything I had missed.

I actually found this form of looking at the Bible very helpful and surprising.  Reading over one verse a day means you really look at it and see things you might otherwise miss when you read normally.  It made me think about my relationship with Jesus and his and his Father’s to me.  This led into prayer about belief, trust and doubt.  I even made notes at the end of the week in my journal which include lines like – God has given me to Jesus – Jesus is the shepherd, I am the sheep – Jesus will keep all those (sheep) that God has given him and will not lose them – God’s will, not Jesus’ – God’s will, not mine.  There is more.  One particular verse that kept coming back to me was about those who have seen him (Jesus) and still not believe.

I used some visualisation techniques to picture myself with the crowd of people sitting listening to him him speak and to hear the sounds of what was going on around me.  I find these techniques useful to set the scene and bring me closer to Jesus.

I would use this meditating method again as I find if helpful and it brings me closer to an understanding of a Bible passage, or at least to re-think what I have read, ask questions and is a great aid to prayer.  It really did work for me.

Struggling with doubt

I’ve not posted here for ages….sorry.  I’ve been struggling with my thoughts about God, faith and all that.  It’s something that’s been bugging me for a long time now and really has hit lately, leaving me unsure of what I believe, even to the point of trying to ignore it.  My prayer time has gone out of the window and God and I are hardly on speaking terms.  It’s not something one wants to admit to and I don’t really have anyone to talk these things over with.

My own church, I feel, is weary in itself.  With an aging congregation those who used to do things are now unable to continue, so certain things we used to do have just gone like The Over 60’s, coffee mornings, some uniform organisations as no leader could be found.  Recently a social was cancelled due to lack of interest!  My own group is suffering too as older ladies are now looking after the grandchildren.  It’s a struggle to keep everything going and sometimes it’s just a lack of enthusiasm.

I thought about moving to another church as I don’t seem to find any spiritual help where I am but all my friends are at the church I attend and there isn’t another church in my town I’d prefer.  Do I stick with it or bus into the next town, which then eats into the day so much more?

Our vicar announced on Sunday that the Diocese is in financial difficulties and our Deanery will eventually lose about three vicars and several parishes will have to merge/share.  This happens in the countryside already and now it is hitting the London suburbs.  What our vicar said made sense (I can’t go into all the ins and outs but I actually feel a little more hopeful).  We will be linked with another church in the next town and our vicar suggests we get to know them.  My group already has a link with this church as we are all part of the same organisation.  The ladies from their group are a lovely bunch and their church is beautiful.  I see possibilities and I think it will do our church good.  Changes can be a good thing…..it may actually put some life back into our church.  What we need is nice young curate with ideas!!  We need to be ‘out there’.  I find our church very insular.

So what about my faith?  Well, I’ve just read the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.   The author uses his skills as an investigative journalist to ask questions of professional people in order to gather evidence of the existence of Jesus and the claims he and others made about him, his life, death and resurrection.  The book answered some of the questions I’ve had and his case is very compelling.  Did it help?  Yes but not completely and I still don’t know why!

What it did do was help me figure what I do believe which is that Jesus did exist and that he was crucified.  I believe he believed he was the son of God…..why would you put yourself through this otherwise unless you were mad and he wasn’t that.   I’m still not sure what to make of the resurrection.  If it wasn’t true then it’s all a farce.  I don’t think it’s that.  The evidence is pretty compelling and I feel I should believe because what other reason would there be for people to say what they said and die for it.  No one would die for a lie…..very few would be willing to die even for a belief (I wouldn’t, too much of a coward).  What would I die for?  My children probably.  I was talking to a friend who had been present while her daughter gave birth.  I said I wasn’t sure I could do that…..I couldn’t watch her in pain.  I would rather go through it for her!  So, the answer is…..you would do it for love.  Jesus gave up his life for us because he loves us.  That is what it’s all about.  So why do I still struggle to accept things?

I’m a very confused person!  When I did the Biblical course someone asked the tutor about whether there were two God’s the one in the Old Testament and the one in the New because they seemed so different.  The tutor said ‘well’ and shrugged his shoulders.  While the course was fascinating I felt my faith unravelling and it left me with more questions than answers.

Have I given up on God?  No (and he will never give up on me….yet why do I hold on to this when I doubt so much else?!)  This blog is the place I can offload these feelings and thoughts.  I don’t know why these doubts have come now when it took me so long to come to God in the first place, having searched in other places for a ’home’.  There is nowhere else better, no alternative I have found since.  It still feels right and I still get drawn back when I ‘leave’ for a while.  So, I am hanging in there at the same time hanging in with my church and hope that soon I will find the connection again.