Welcome to Life in 361˚. This blog is an 'open journal' - a space where I keep notes on bits & pieces I come across day-to-day - including books and articles I've read that I feel are worth sharing, interesting pictures and photos (I'm a visual learner, you see), random musings - and anything else that happens to catch my eye or ear. It also acts as a kind of 'open experiment' in terms of developing my views and writing skills - and networking with other people of a like-mind.

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30/03/2013

Two Easter thoughts

The past few days I have been watching the events of Holy Week and enjoying the quiet, relatively humble spiritual pursuits of this time of year. It is less showy than Christmas and I am glad it remains that way (it occurred to me this week that Easter is probably quite limited from a capitalist point of view, as there's only so much material profit to be gained from the giving of chocolate eggs).

I am also reading around the internet, as I often do during 'holy' days and seasons, to find inspiration from others.

I relate to much of what Andrew Brown writes on his blog, and find myself in strong agreement with this J. Cyril Flower quote he has shared:
"I confess that I find the laborious attempt to define what is called the "place" of Jesus, or any other great prophet of God, altogether unedifying. It is enough if we follow the light when and where we see it, in whose hands soever be the torch. When I am in Switzerland, worshipping God in the splendour of the snowy mountains, it is of no interest to me that, in India or America, there may be snow-clad mountains which are a few hundred feet loftier. If I am in Switzerland, let me breathe in the beauty of its mountain grandeur, and expand my soul in contemplation of the present symbols of the Infinite and the Eternal: he who is among the Rocky Mountains or in India can do nothing more, and should do nothing less. We live in an atmosphere and a civilization whose best characteristics are steeped in the influence of Jesus. We are enlisted by birth, environment and choice, under his banner. There are other captains in the one great army of God; but he is ours, and we shall promote the success of the divine campaign for the kingdom of heaven, not by gossiping about the particular features, demeanour, or apparel of the various captains - but by lovingly and faithfully following our own; for all genuine religions are allies, and not enemies. The prophets of God are many, but God is one; and that under whatever banner India, China, England, Palestine may move forward, they may be led by their accepted captain, courageous, faithful, loving their brothers and honouring their leader, to God, should be the aspiration and the prayer of all who are disciples of Jesus of Nazareth."
Like many 'liberal Christians', for want of a better less loaded descriptor, I am more than willing to explore other traditions and the writings of prophets & philosophers away from the Christian tradition. Recently this has taken me towards Taoism but previously I have engaged with Buddhism and I feel a pull towards exploring Hinduism, Sikhism and Sufism at some point in the future. I do not see this as undermining my Christian perspective or my burgeoning Quaker perspective - I would argue, as much as I am ever prepared to argue about these things (which is very little!), that George Fox and many other of the Quaker greats would have explored such things had they had the same opportunities for exploration as we do now. I would argue that Unitarian pioneers would have done the same, as many did, although I do believe the Unitarian church today has taken this exploration too far - and I am aware that there is a similar tendency within the Religious Society of Friends.

Ultimately, for me, Jesus is the teacher & exemplar, the ethereal figurehead,  I grew up with and so as much as I might struggle with Christian theology - 'the religion about Jesus' - I continue to feel inherently drawn to him and to seek the perspective and approach to life of him and his disciples.

This is why, for all my confusion about Easter, I remain naturally interested in it and try to remain open to it.

Another interesting read I have happened upon this week comes from Adrian Worsfold's blog. I do not usually find myself in agreement with this fellow 'religious liberal', again for want of a better term, but his reflection on Easter from a more humanist and political perspective speaks to much of my condition. Particularly so the following:
"For me, the Christian myth derives from that actuality, rather than treating the myth as primary (via which there is unique salvation). The reality is that the loss that happens in some events is real and cannot be glossed over, but there is a point where - the tragedy recognised - you do carry on. 
In one sense the present economic troubles are continuing because there has not been a tragedy, a death, or a collapse. We still have liquid money bubbling about to try and avoid economic death. The government bailed out the banks and now banks are being used to bail out governments. Governments are using quantitative easing to hold a baseline insead of allowing money to flush out, basically to disappear. The danger is that once the economy does move we will hyperinflate. Nothing died, and without dying it can't resurrect."
Marcus Borg and other Progressive Christians speak of domination systems in relation to the Easter events and the Jesus narrative as a whole. It seems to me that whilst we do not live in an over-bearing dictatorship, we do still live under domination systems at macro and micro levels - and there is a need for death and resurrection now, metaphorically speaking.

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