What Is Happening? a Mystical Dialogue

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Trafford Publishing, Jan 21, 2008 - Fiction - 300 pages
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All the so-called "higher religions" are having a hard time coming to terms with "modernism", especially with the "truths" discovered by the scientific method. This applies even to Christianity which in some ways has been both the initiator and the long-term opponent of modernism with which it has been battling for longer than the other religions.

I believe that the central problem is a failure to recognise that science and religion use language in very different ways. Science (and to some extent philosophy also) attempts to arrive at the truth about the world by vigourously logical methods founded upon experimental testing: a step-by-step procedure that hopefully approaches truth evermore closely. Religion, on the other hand, though it may have some very specific material and historical aspects, is ultimately concerned to express and come to terms with truths that probably lie beyond the horizons of human understanding. Even where there may be some sort of divine revelation of religious truth, this is inevitably expressed in the form of finite metaphor, poetry and myth.

Above all I think that this means that religious language has to use a mythological method for conveying its ultimate truths. This is especially obvious in those areas of human concern which the theologians call "eschatological", that is the supposed truths about life after death and the final End and Destiny of Everything. If religions make the mistake of trying to reply to the challenges of science using prosaic, matter-of-fact language, they end up compromising their deepest truths which cannot be expressed in this way. What is needed, instead, is a readiness to use insightful, imaginative and even speculative language: the vehicle of mythopoeic thought in fact.

This little book is just an attempt to suggest some outlines of a possible way of expressing the classical truths of the Christian faith in a contemporary, mythological manner. I do not claim "divine revelation" for these ideas but I do hope that many will be encouraged to engage in a dynamic dialogue over them - even believers in other religions: Reality is ultimately Unitary.

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About the author (2008)

The author was born and initially brought up in Kenya in the old colonial days. His parents were themselves second generation Empire-born of diverse European origins. He had a standard British colonial type of education: an imitation of the one at "home", and he was fortunate enough to be able to finish with degrees in Biology and Zoology at Liverpool University. A post-graduate qualification in teaching saw him back in Nairobi where he taught scientific and religious subjects for twelve years in an inter-racial boys' secondary school. During this period he married and had three children.

This background made the author acutely aware of the great variety of ways of being human. Although inevitably "conditioned" to a degree into a set of white-colonial attitudes, he came to see the improbability and narrow defensiveness of these sorts of positions and developed a strong suspicion of any claims that one"s own culture was obviously superior to that of others. This loading with a different set of prejudices from those of native Britons meant that when he "returned" with his family to the United Kingdom he was able to look at the religious landscape from a different perspective without many of the "hang-ups" which nationals tend to have.

Since his adolescence the author has been particularly interested in how it is possible to be religious in an age of science. Having settled for life as a member of the Scottish Episcopal Church (since one has to settle somewhere) he came to appreciate some of both the virtues and the weaknesses of Anglican Christianity.

Meanwhile, for a quarter of a century until retiring, he earned his bread working as a biologist with a government team researching into Scrapie, the classical member of the class of diseases that includes "mad-cow" disease and variant CJD.

Always a "student" he also found time to do a degree in theology (London Hons. B.D.), and various Open University courses in Quantum Mechanics and the like. He came to see how tired all the old religious positions seemed to be and how desperately necessary is to initiate some new types of thinking. It is so easy for religions, in the course of time, to get bogged down in the minutiae of their classical cultural expressions, with no-one having the courage to challenge the accumulated "wisdom of the ages". The twentieth century saw some attempts to "de-mythologize" Christianity; he now thinks that there is a need rather to "re-mythologize" it. But mythology in its modern form must be much more provisional and tentative, with no tendency to claim absolutes for itself. Religious expression must be always evolving: classical insights are pointers not terminators.

The author inherited a swathe of "frontiersman" genes from his adventurous ancestors and is now happily engaged, with others, exploring the Empire of the mind! Come and join us.

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