mercoledì 3 agosto 2016

1 Religion and the Prophets of Doom

1 Religion and the Prophets of DoomRead more at location 155
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Sociologists studying advanced technological societies have long been taken with the idea of secularisation, and have continued for some generations to pronounce the fatal condition of religion. They now seem equally happy, however, to go on conducting surveys into the state of belief, and to report that religious ideas show little sign of fading away.Read more at location 158
Yet more recently it has become fashionable to study new religious movements (‘NRMs’) and to observe the remarkable growth of these,Read more at location 162
One recent survey conducted by the Centre for Sociological Research in Spain produced the interesting result that more people defined themselves as Catholics than claimed to believe in God (84 and 77 per cent respectively).Read more at location 172
‘Santayana believes that there is no God and that his [God’s] mother’s name is Mary.’Read more at location 174
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‘Christian’ non-believers.Read more at location 186
almost 70 per cent of those recently polled in Britain believe in a soul, while fewer than 30 per cent believe in a personal God.Read more at location 205
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The result is that those shaped by a certain sort of naturalistic education, and those informed by popularising presentations of its ideas, tend to presume that traditional religion must be in decline because it ought to be, and so fashion and interpret surveys accordingly.Read more at location 218
Towards the end of the 1960s Berger gave an interview to the New York Times claiming that by ‘the 21st century religious believers are likely to be found only in small sects, huddled together to resist a worldwide secular culture’. In retrospect, this prediction, from which Berger has long distanced himself, simply looks absurd.Read more at location 221
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Most markedly among Christian denominations, Anglicanism has made something of a speciality out of episcopal heterodoxy, with senior figures – including the former Bishops David Jenkins in England, Richard Holloway in Scotland, James Spong in the US and Archbishop Peter Carnley in Australia – all questioning traditional Christian doctrines such as the bodily resurrection of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the uniqueness of Jesus as a route to salvation, and Christian teachings on sex and marriage.Read more at location 227
In an interview with John Mortimer published in the Sunday Times in 1985 while he was still Bishop of Durham, Dr Jenkins restated opinions of the sort that had given offence and scandal to many devout Anglicans, and then added by way of explanation that ‘miraculous claims put ordinary, sensible people off Christianity … they say “go tell that to the marines.”’Read more at location 231
More recently, after being elected to the position of Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Carnley wrote an article published just before Easter 2000 in which he questioned the commonly accepted interpretation of the resurrection of Jesus.Read more at location 234
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Similarly, Richard Holloway, following his retirement in 2001 as Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Bishop of Edinburgh, remarked in an interview that ‘if people could really understand that the nature of religion is [as a] wonderful mythic, symbolic, poetic system about deep truth, then they would relax.Read more at location 238
the unambiguous words of St Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians (15:12-15): ‘Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?Read more at location 243
Revisionist interpretations are generally motivated by an acceptance of post-Enlightenment secular ideasRead more at location 245
James Spong has written of ‘bringing Christian belief into the 21st century’; he has called for a ‘new reformation’, writing that ‘God as a personal being with expanded supernatural human and parental qualities … does not work [sic]Read more at location 248
For Bishop Holloway, the Church is ‘going down the tubes’ and is ‘out of synch’Read more at location 251
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If the first Christians had taken the view of church leaders such as Spong, Jenkins, Holloway and Carnley, it is hard to believe that Christianity would have survived the lifetimes of the apostles.Read more at location 261
Whereas in 1949 only 25 per cent of the sample did not know the names of any of the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), in 1999 the figure was 43 per cent; while of those identifying themselves as ‘Christians’ 44 per cent did not know the names of all four Gospels.Read more at location 289
At a meeting of party leaders held in Malmo in 1997, the then newly-elected ‘New Labour’ British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, spoke of the ‘veritable revolution of change’ the world has been undergoing, and summarised his message by saying: ‘New, new, new, everything is new.’Read more at location 304
the tendency to ‘presentism’,Read more at location 306
Philosophers from Plato to Marx have believed that their period was one of significant transformation, as have historians, artists, scientists, religious thinkers and others preoccupied with their place in the general scheme of things.Read more at location 308
It is interesting in this connection to consider the remarks of Bishop Spong concerning African Christians who at the Anglican Lambeth conference voiced traditional Church teachings on matters of sexuality. ‘They had moved out of animism,’ he said, ‘into a very superstitious kind of Christianity. They have yet to face the intellectual revolution of Copernicus and Einstein that we have faced in the developing world;Read more at location 404
More interestingly, Cardinal Sodano was careful to avoid disappointment at a text which might seem less than precisely prophetic in the popular sense of being precognitional. He said that the vision’s content had to be interpreted ‘in a symbolic key’Read more at location 424
My point is not to attack or defend the veracity of the reported visions, but only to point out that when one abstracts from the contextual detail of such mystical deliverances, the message tends to be apt for all times and places. This is not to say that it is trivial or unlikely to have a transcendent source. On the contrary, it would be odd to think that a religious message for humankind would be merely for some here and some now rather than for all times and places.Read more at location 434
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