Monday, September 11, 2006

Not being dead

"Which of those cooks? - y'know the two fat ladies - which of them gave the cookery demonstration in Edinburgh a few weeks ago?" I enquired.
"The one who isn't dead", my wife replied.
"Which one is that?" I persisted.
"Clarissa Dickson-Wright" she confirmed.
Obvious, when you come to think of it. Not her name. That's a bit fancy. I mean her not being dead. It's a prerequisite for most things - certainly for cookery demonstrations - that you're not yet dead.
Being dead has its place of course - a 'final resting' place. So when people say, "We're all going to the same place," they're kind of right. We are all going to be dead one day - the day after our last.
Death is where we finish up, but it's also where we come from. Out of all those millions of spermatozoa, one survives. Millions die - and one survives. Not being dead is the exception - the single exception.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Unique Nonentity

I think of myself as a resting, lapsed, recovering Christian, of an Anglican kind. In fact I'm an ordained priest, still trying to find a way of being a priest, a Christian, a human being, that doesn't mean I have to stop being me. Then, following on from my last blog, I have to learn what it means to be nothing in relation to God.

Being me and being nothing. A unique nonentity you might say. Tricky.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

God as Nothing

How sad to hear of the death of D. Z. Phillips. I'm not sure how I first came to know of him. It might have been through a series of talks he gave on Radio Four based on essays that were later published as 'From Fantasy to Faith'. Over many years I have found his account of religious belief a model of philosophy. As a follower of Wittgenstein he investigates religious belief, leaving everything as it is. In a world where popular religion can so easily be dismissed by thoughtful people, and fanatical religion by decent people, DZ was not a reformer. His work was not in making religion more modern, more relevant, more liberal, or more humane. It was rather in seeking a better understanding of religious reality itself. He reflected sensitively on the sense in which God is experienced as absent, indeed as Nothing. He taught that we cannot understand belief in God without understanding what it means to become nothing before him.
It may be possible as I go along here to unpack some of DZ's ideas that I have found most valuable. I'll try.