Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2019

Extinction Rebellion Cardiff Video

Unitarian Christianity

(I'm reproducing this here, as it looks like the full text of this is only on one other website, and if that got taken down the text would not be easily available on the internet. I wouldn't want this text not to available to everyone, especially as it's now the 200th anniversary of the sermon EDIT: Since I wrote this Scott Wells has reposted an old website that contains eleven Channing sermons here ) "Unitarian Christianity" by William Ellery Channing Preached at the ordination of Rev. Jared Sparks in The First Independent Church of Baltimore in 1819   1 Thes. v. 21: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." The peculiar circumstances of this occasion not only justify, but seem to demand a departure from the course generally followed by preachers at the introduction of a brother into the sacred office. It is usual to speak of the nature, design, duties, and advantages of the Christian ministry; and on these topics I should now be hap

Darsana - to be seen by the divine

People in relationships do not always need words to communicate. Lovers stare into each other's eyes; a suckling baby looks contentedly to its mother. There is the silence of bodily communion. This is what contemplative prayer is like. Prayer is to see the Beloved and allow the Beloved to see you . Hindus have a word for this - darsana - to allow yourself to be seen and beheld by God. There is something about looking into the eyes of another - to see and know you are seen - which is one of the deepest experiences of human existence. It even works with a statue or image, if you look directly into its eyes - you can see it looking at you. This is part of the practice of Christian icons, who are always looking directly at you. The experience of praying with icons is darsana -  it is being seen by God. I do this a bit, I have an icon that I tend to have there when I pray, but it's not particularly my practice. The practice that I stumbled across really by accident, an

Ordinary Religious Experience

For a long time I've been of the opinion that the heart of religion is religious or spiritual experience. I find that both religious and anti-religious writers tend to assume that beliefs  are what it's all about. But I'm more interested in religious experience. But when I read books about religious experience I tend to find they concentrate on peak religious experiences - the kind of thing that happens once in a lifetime - when there's an overwhelming experience of love, connection, oneness, joy. Such things may be important, but their rarity means, I think, that they are less important than what I would call ordinary religious experience. Ordinary religious experience is what people actually experience in every day practices of prayer and worship. I would maintain that ordinary people experience a quality of inner experience - including joy and peace - in worship every week - and that's pretty much the reason they do it. The reason people believe in God is t