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Showing posts with label spiritual. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spiritual. Show all posts

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Spiritual Places

In the last few weeks I have visited several of England's famous chapels and cathedrals. Local to home is Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, a most wonderful building from the late 1400s with its awe inspiring fan vaulting and famous for its choir at Christmas. Also I visited Liverpool Anglican Cathedral where my wife and I met in 1968 and the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral in the same city, also known as Patty's Wigwam because of its unusual shape. Finally, today I visited Coventry Cathedral built 50 years ago adjacent to the site of the old cathedral bombed by German bombers in WW2.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
When I go into a cathedral there is usually a sense of the holy, the other, in our presence. Even as a marginal Christian one senses this and the link with others who have been in the same place years, perhaps hundreds of years, before to be quiet and open to the beyond in our midst.

These days it is sometimes harder to feel this sense of wonder in some of our great cathedrals: they are busy busy places with novel ways to raise money to keep the roof from leaking or to "engage" (how I hate that word) the common man or child actively. So, in this bustle, the quietness and sense of peace is missing. Sadly I sensed this in the Liverpool Anglican cathedral: it no longer felt a holy place. Likewise in Kings College chapel which is now very much on the tourist trail.

And yet, in the Liverpool Metropolitan cathedral (Paddy's wigwam) and in Coventry it was different. Both places still evoked a sense of peace, otherness and calm, helped in both cases by the magnificent stained glass windows which bathe the naves in light and colour.

No doubt other religious faiths have their own temples and places of peace. I hope the sense of the spiritual is still alive in them.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

In God We Doubt - a book I've just read and recommend

In God We Doubt: Confessions of a Failed Atheist is a book by the BBC Radio 4 Today presenter John Humphrys in which he explores why people do, or do not, believe in God. As an agnostic myself, full of doubt and confused about what to believe, I found this a very honest and open book that asks the right questions, although I am still little further forward on my spiritual journey.

This is the description from Amazon:
"Throughout the ages believers have been persecuted – usually for believing in the “wrong” God. So have non-believers who have denied the existence of God as superstitious rubbish.

Today it is the agnostics who are given a hard time. They are scorned by believers for their failure to find faith and by atheists for being hopelessly wishy-washy and weak-minded. But John Humphrys is proud to count himself among their ranks. In this book he takes us along the spiritual road he himself has travelled. He was brought up a Christian and prayed every day of his life until his growing doubts finally began to overwhelm his faith.

As one of the nation’s most popular and respected broadcasters, he had the rare opportunity in 2006 of challenging leaders of our three main religions to prove to him that God does exist. The Radio Four interviews – Humphrys In Search of God – provoked the biggest response to anything he has done in half a century of journalism. The interviews and the massive reaction from listeners had a profound effect on him – but not in the way he expected.

Doubt is not the easy option. But for the millions who can find no easy answers to the most profound questions it is the only possible one."

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Eckhart Tolle

Are you, like me, one of the people who had never heard of Eckhart Tolle? My son told me about him this week. He's a German-born Canadian resident, a philosopher and thinker, and the author of the The Power of Now, a book I'd never heard about. I have watched a few of his YouTube videos and he does talk a lot of sense.  Tolle writes that "the most significant thing that can happen to a human being [is] the separation process of thinking and awareness" and that awareness is "the space in which thoughts exist". He also writes that religions "have become so overlaid with extraneous matter that their spiritual substance has become almost completely obscured", that they have become "to a large extent ... divisive rather than unifying forces" and become "themselves part of the insanity".   I am a little uncomfortable about the commercialisation of his work though which rather taints the good sense he talks. Still, there is a lot of free content around which is worth a look. Make up your own mind whether it is helpful or not on your own spiritual journey.