Andrew Clitherow is a canon of Blackburn Cathedral, vicar of St Cuthbert's, Lytham, and the author of Creative Love in Tough Times. Last week he wrote a very good 'Face to Faith' piece for the Guardian - on releasing Christ from the cul-de-sac of formal religion. In it, he comments:
"[In authentic religion we learn to] make way for the Spirit of love to confront evolutionary-driven human behaviour. Instead of grabbing what we want at the expense of others, we discover that our humanity is fulfilled as we learn how to share what we have. Rather than stereotyping others by the roles we give them, we allow them to find their own way. Instead of excluding others simply because they are different from ourselves, we embrace the diversity of human life.
"Inauthentic religion, on the other hand, treats its followers like children and keeps them in an infantile relationship with God while inhibiting human development. It is a dangerous tool in the hands of those who have highly destructive weapons of technology at their fingertips. Utterly convinced they have God on their side, they might one day tear the world apart with a second big bang (de-creation by our own will rather than recreation by the will of God) that could lead to the end of us all.
"With so much at stake, it is sad that the church still largely conforms to patterns of genetically driven behaviour, inherited and proudly preserved through its traditions. Until people of good faith - both within the church and beyond its precious boundaries - can release the Nazarene Christ from the present cul-de-sac of formal religion, there is little chance that the church can give the postmodern mind any real hope for the future. For Christ belongs not to the church but to the universe, although to listen to the establishment you would think it was the other way around."Good stuff, though once again some of the respondents on the website take the breath away with their ignorance and bile - proving that a profound sickness of spirit is not the monopoly of 'the religious', whatever the perils of religion - ones that Clitherow acknowledges in his argument in a way that his critics spectacularly fail to do in relation to their own (supposedly rational) world views.