Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

DO YOU BELIEVE?
I am going to step out into dangerous territory by talking about Christian beliefs. My intention is not to hurt or upset those with firmly held beliefs, in fact I sometimes envy them for what must be a very comforting faith.

Like many of my generation I attended Sunday School, this was in the 1930s. My parents decided I should attend and looking back I think it may have been an opportunity to have time to themselves - if you know what I mean! Sunday School teachers were usually young women from the congregation and even as a child I had some difficulty reconciling what they told me with what I learned in simple science lessons at school. This troubled me as I knew that if you wanted to avoid being sent to hell, you had to believe absolutely in God.

Later, in my early teens I tentatively expressed my doubts to my father. Poor old Pop! The best he could do was tell me I should have faith but really couldn’t explain where this mystical ‘faith’ could be found. As the years advanced my doubts turned to a total rejection of religious belief. I did try, I was a voracious reader and, as most of us do, absorbed ideas which confirmed my doubts and probably ignored the other side of the argument. Young Arthur read of a man who lived a simple life and cruelly died for his beliefs. Yet, when he looked round he saw great palaces for Bishops; power hungry men who used the Church to accrue great wealth and status. He saw a history of barbarous cruelty and oppression, all in the cause of Christianity.

Sadly,
as most of us tend to do, I threw the baby out with the bathwater. I simply couldn’t come to terms with teachings which were so at odds with modern knowledge and understanding. Only recently have I come to the conclusion that the modern Church let ‘Young Arthur’ down. What is worse, they continue to let him down. We are no longer a simple, uneducated people.



Two thousand years ago or even in the time The King James Bible which was written between 1604 and1611,
we would have needed stories and parables to understand some of the deeper concepts and ideas.

In this modern age it can be difficult to reconcile modern teachings with such things as ‘Virgin birth’; ’Walking on water’; ‘Turning water into wine’ and even ‘Resurrection’. The resurrection is a fundament tenet of the Christian faith. I know my personal interpretation may be flawed but it helps me make sense of it.

Christs words must have been very powerful and from what we can tell, huge numbers of people took his teachings to heart, hence the reaction of the authorities who decided he must die to put an end to this threat to the established order. Imagine the effect on his followers. It must have seemed like the end of something wonderful. As far as I can tell there is no definitive answer as to when the stories about Jesus came to the fore, perhaps thirty or forty years after his death. That for me would be the ‘Resurrection’, the re-birth of Christ’s words and teachings.

Stepping back and looking at human beings as a species, we appear to have
some powerfully built in characteristics. One of these is the need to create super heroes who have remarkable powers or skills. If a young man has a talent for controlling a ball with his foot. This skill will be nurtured and developed until he becomes a ‘Star’. A top Premiership football club might pay millions of pounds to persuade him to join their team. We might raise an eyebrow at the annual salary of £150,000 paid to an NHS surgeon, after all he is only a surgeon but we give no thought to the £250,000 paid each week to the young man who kicks a football, for he is a super hero.



What has this got to do with Jesus?

Is
it not possible that this charismatic and influential teacher of a wonderful but ancient philosophy was turned, after his death, from what he really was, into a being with supernatural powers? We aren’t impressed with someone who can 'Just kick a ball'. He has to be a “Super Hero’.

The people who laid the foundations of Christianity after the death of Jesus attributed
him with mystical and miraculous powers so that ordinary folk would worship him, Jesus the man had to be, literally, the Son of God with powers way beyond an ordinary human being so that a powerful, wealthy organisation could be created. Ever since the clear, simple philosophy for life was preached by Jesus Christ, others have added their own views and created what can only be described as splinter groups. A simple internet search showed, currently, forty major divisions of Christianity, each of whom have some variation in belief. Altogether there are some 43,000 Christian denominations listed in 2012.

However, Christianity set many standards for the civilised world. Laws, ethics, standards of behaviour and moral values have affected the way we live, at the least in the West, for close on two thousand years.

Why
-oh-why, can’t the so called wise men strip away the mumbo-jumbo and cut to the fundamental philosophy. Strip away the top layers and underneath you might find that those guidelines underpin most if not all religions. Some have said, that the only really new thing that Jesus preached was “Love one another” or “Love thy neighbour”. Just think what would happen if we truly followed those teachings. We wouldn’t speed when driving in case we hurt someone; no stealing; no fighting; no hating. What a world that would be.

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