Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'God'

My Hero

 

If you’re interested, Part Two of this selection, from the period shortly before Hitchens’ death from cancer of the throat, can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR1uorQWNDg .

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More proof that you can’t judge (even a very expensive) book by its cover.

One of our readers has drawn my attention to an item in the Easter Sunday edition of the  Sunday Star Times. The paper had asked a number of well known people to answer the question: What does God mean to you? An eclectic mix of respondents included fashion icon Colin Mathura-Jefree, novelist C.K. Stead, Warriors and Kiwis centre Jerome Ropati,  former Anglican Dean of Christchurch the Reverend Peter Beck, the Sceptics’ Vicky Hyde and businessman Eric Watson.

In general the responses were what one might have expected. But this response from Eric Watson really surprised me:

“I genuinely believe the teachings of most religions are founded around promoting good morals and strong community characteristics, representing a way of life that’s about helping one another, forgiveness, charity and seeing the good in people. So you could say religion has helped shape how I live my life. It is one of the world’s great mysteries and I often think God is seen as the answer to a number of unanswerable questions or used as an excuse for inappropriate/extreme behaviour we simply can’t explain or come to grips with.”

Inspirational, uplifting and an apt reminder of where our real values should lie in these selfish and materialistic times. And these are the values that have helped Eric Watson shape his life. Sometimes you just don’t know people at all.

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“God is weeping with those who weep” – Peter Beck. I beg to differ.

 

I know Peter Beck, the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, reasonably well. We’ve had a few decent atheist/believer donnybrooks in the past and I admire and like him. His great sadness at what has happened to the Cathedral and the people of Christchurch could not be more patent or moving. So I write this with a degree of trepidation for two reasons: first, because the timing isn’t great; and second, because I have no interest in denying anyone the comfort which religion brings them at times like this.

But what I have to say arises directly from my enormous admiration for the generosity, bravery and self sacrifice of the people of Christchurch and of the hundreds of others, from all parts of the world, who came to their aid.

Answering the question ‘Where is God?’ Peter recently replied as follows:

‘God is in all these people. God is in the midst of all this. God is weeping with those who weep. God is alongside those who are finding the energy to just keep going. God is in the people who are reaching out and seeking to sustain one another. God is about building community, about empowering people.’

He was then asked:

‘Yes, but where was God was when offices pancaked and burned and hundreds died?’

He replied:

‘Well, we live on a dynamic, creating planet that’s doing its thing. For whatever reason, our forebears chose to build this city on this place. They didn’t know we were on this faultline. God doesn’t make bad things happen to good people. We make our own choices about what we do.’   Read the rest of this entry »

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On Death, Dead Parrots and the Divine

_19-6-06-parrot12 Had an email from my old friend Ivan Strahan in Belfast.  Ivan’s a bit worried about his mortality. People of his own age, and younger, are dropping like flies. ‘We are,’ he wrote, including me in this dire prognosis, ‘in the death zone.’

Death is a no-win situation for the atheist. If you’re right, you don’t get to tell anyone; if you’re wrong, everyone, including God, gets to tell you. That’s the scary bit.

There is of course an upside to being right – you don’t have to worry about being tormented for eternity by some divine psychopath. The downside is that you are inevitably going to find yourself, like Monty Python’s Norwegian Blue: ‘stone dead, demised, passed on, no more, ceased to be, a stiff, bereft of life, snuffed it, up the creek and kicked the bucket, extinct in its entirety, an ex-parrot’. Well, an ex-atheist really. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Powerlessness of Prayer

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Watch almost any television news bulletin and you’ll  hear someone praying for something to happen, or not happen. The background to their prayers is normally a real or potential  tragedy of some sort.

Individuals pray for themselves or those close to them to be cured of life-threatening illnesses. The relatives of people who have gone missing pray for them to be found and returned home safely. Families pray that the names of loved ones will not appear on the lists of those killed in plane crashes. Churchgoers pray for the victims of natural disasters.  World leaders pray for peace. Read the rest of this entry »

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