Sunday, October 14, 2007


This, below, from an interesting reflection ('How do we talk about the Spirit?') by theologian James Alison (pictured), who also gave a stimulating Greenbelt seminar entitled Stand up and be godless: on receiving the gift of faith. He is lecturing at St Martin-in-the-Field, London, 30 October 2007, on Love your enemy: within a divided self.

"When we’re talking about God we’re talking about the protagonism, the real protagonism, behind everything that is, and of which we are the symptoms – rather than [conceiving God as] an object within our field of vision..... Because God is protagonist and is not part of anything that is, one of the effects of us becoming involved in the life of God is a certain secularising quality, because what God does is let us off 'gods'. The discovery of the Creator – the Jewish discovery of the Creator – was a massive breakthrough into what we would call secularism, by comparison with the uber-religious world populated by gods. If you compare, for instance, Genesis or Isaiah with the contemporary Babylonian accounts of creation, there is no question which is the religious one. It’s not the Jewish one. The doctrine of the incarnation [likewise] secularises history for us – history and social movement – by exploding the [system of] sacrifice and the lie [of scapegoating] and enabling new forms of community to come along so that we can detect what is not of God and we start becoming freer of religious forces driving us down... I wonder to what extent, now, we’re not in a position to talk about how Holy Spirit secularises us, by letting us off various forms of ‘sacred’ into which our understanding of desire has got caught."

See also: Sacrifice, Law and the Catholic Faith: is secularity really the enemy? - The Tablet Lecture, 2006.

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