Religion

First year retreat post-ceremony

As many people know, I have been training part-time towards ordination as an interfaith minister with the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation. I’ve long been both religious and spiritual, and had several experiences in 2008 that motivated me to want to seek some form of ministry to people of all faiths and none, and coincidentally, at the same time was introduced to the Interfaith Seminary (as it was known then)  – and I don’t really believe in coincidences.

We had our end of first year retreat this weekend, a weekend of reflection, meditation, and for me, a trip to a swimming pool for the first time in eight years. The culmination was the ceremony on the last night when the Faculty presented us with small stoles (the thing around my neck in the photo) to symbolise our achievement at the end of the first year. The course is self-contained, so you can complete the first year in its own right without wanting to go on. I have every intention of doing so, but it was still a powerful and moving moment to recognise the milestone reached. It made everything very real.  [click to continue…]

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Generic church caption.

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A few months ago, I was deleted by someone on Facebook for making a joke about Christianity that they found in bad taste. It turns out that this had also been fuelled by the fact that I had earlier poured withering scorn on their belief that we should forgive unrepentant rapists and because I had called them sexist and homophobic (which I still believe is true for various reasons, the latest being that they referred to LGBT in their last blogpost as “politically correct lingo”). My subsequent attempts to reconcile with them privately failed miserably, as they sent me increasingly bizarre messages that included mocking me for having a mental breakdown last summer and a lengthy explanation about how they had only started sending me abusive messages only when they considered that our relationship was doomed and that’s why it was justified. I’ve never found “Thou may abuse ex-friends and strangers” in the Bible, at any rate.

I found the hypocrisy of someone sending me messages telling me that I am unconscionably rude and arrogant and then signing them, “Your better” breath-taking. I still find it reasonably incredible that someone can call for a Christian attitude towards men who commit violence against women and then apparently fail to demonstrate it themselves to people who offended them. To this end, I wrote a blogpost on the matter entitled, “A Joke to Delete For? Religious Humour and Hypocrisy on Facebook”. I took it down after a lot of criticism for apparently attacking religious people and because the person involved claimed I was back-biting.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the comments that I received. They ranged from suggesting that I should never have posted the joke at all in order to offending someone’s sensibilities, to the fact that my post was largely intended to publicly proclaim someone to be a hypocrite.
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