© Roger M Tagg 2010-2011
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This is the book that opened up a new world for me. Before I read it, I had doubts, but wondered if I might be on my own - clearly I was not.
Hopes of Robinson's ideas becoming more widespread, however, have not really been realized. Despite many people drifting away from active Christianity to undiluted secular materialism, much of what I have read since the 1960s seem to have been either a defiant defence of the traditional rituals and hierarchies, or fundamentalist personal religion of the type advocated by American TV evangelists. Robinson's line has only relatively recently been taken up by other writers such as Spong.
I also believe that many of Robinson's comments apply to some extent to other monotheistic religions such as Judaism and Islam, although - especially with Islam - the proportion of free thinkers does not appear to have yet reached any sort of critical mass. Personally, I hope the retreat into fundamentalism is indeed a sign of Spengler's "second religiousness" (see the quote for page 138).
While I'm sympathetic to thoughtful adherents to all creeds, I'm not optimistic for religious progress in the short term.
|30||Caricature of the Deist God: the supreme Being, the grand Architect, who exists somewhere out beyond the world - like a rich aunt in Australia. But with the Theist view, God is personal for each of us.|
|31a||It was Laplace who said "God? I find no need of that hypothesis".|
|31b||Erigena, Spinoza saw God as the "creative ground" of all natural (RT: =living?) objects.|
|31-2||Julian Huxley: religion is a necessity of the human spirit, but it's "harmonizing oneself with the evolutionary process".|
|33||Insisting that all stories of Creation, Fall etc are literal scientific truths is playing into the hands of the scientific atheists (e.g. Thomas Huxley)|
|35||Historical scepticism is good, but myths may still hold some value.|
|36||Bonhoeffer: false starts and failures do not make the world deviate from the path it is following (i.e. getting along without traditional God); they are accepted with fortitude and detachment (e.g. WW2)|
|37||Bonhoeffer: The attack by Christian apologists on the adulthood of the world is pointless; like an attempt to put a grown-up man back into adolescence.|
|38||Julian Huxley: Gods will doubtless survive, sometimes under protection of vested interests, or in the shelter of lazy minds, or as puppets used by politicians, or as refuges for unhappy and ignorant souls.|
|39||Bonhoeffer: God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without him - like "Daddy".|
|40||RW Hepburn: "the thought of God as a personal Being, wholly other to man, and dwelling in majesty - this talk may well collapse into meaningless".|
|41a||Proudhon: Feuerbach and Nietzsche are "antitheists", not atheists.|
|41b||For most Christians also, God has been more of a Grandfather in heaven, a kindly old man who could be pushed into one corner while they got on with the business of life.|
|42||Wren-Lewis: "the old man in the sky" is only a mythological symbol for the Infinite Mind behind the scenes.|
|54||Tillich: "our period has decided for a secular world .. a much needed decision".|
|55a||Tillich: "yet it (secularism) excluded those deep things for which religion stands, the feeling for the inexhaustible mystery of life, the grip of an ultimate meaning of existence..."|
|55b||Tillich: "These things cannot be excluded; if we try to expel them in their divine images, they re-emerge as daemonic images ... we have seen the unconditional devotion of millions to a satanic image (RT: presumably Fascism).|
|56||To call God "transcendent" ... does not mean that one must establish a super-world of divine objects. It does mean that within itself, the finite world points beyond itself.|
|61||God is not to be met by a religious turning away from the world, but in unconditional concern for "the Other".|
|62||The capacity for religious or mystical awareness, as for aesthetic or psychic awareness, is largely a question of natural endowment. Women seem naturally more religious and psychic than men.|
|83||Bonhoeffer: To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way ... but to be a human. ... It's participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world.|
|125a||The Christian Gospel is in perpetual conflict with the images of God set up in the minds of men, even of Christian men.|
|125b||As soon as they become a substitute for God, so that what is not embodied in an image is excluded or denied, then we have a new idolatry. For the pagan it was metal images; for us it is mental images.|
|133||Organized religion - "what a fearful phrase".|
|134a||Organized religion should be a servant of the world.|
|134b||Alec Vidler: Religion (in current practice) is not concerned with the whole of life, but just the preaching, praying, hymn singing and pious feelings part.|
|137||Yves Congar (RC writer): a layman is one for whom the things of this world are really interesting in themselves, not swallowed up and destroyed by higher reference. Robinson comments: this ought to be the temper of the whole church too.|
|138||Oswald Spengler's second religiousness, the sign that a culture is drawing to the end of the cycle of its life (that means revivals, conservatism of outlook, nostalgia for the past - RT: "old time religion").|
|140a||H Butterfield: there are times when we can never meet the future with sufficient elasticity of mind, especially if we are locked into the contemporary systems of truth.|
|140b||We must beware of clinging to the buttresses instead of to Christ.|
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This version updated on 13th January 2011
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