The UK news recently has been full of the election of the new “speaker” in the House of Commons. John Bercow, the speaker elect, is apparently famous, or infamous, because of his political life journey … from extreme right wing Conservative to almost quitting to join the Labour party. It means that as a Conservative he seems to be extremely unpopular with the Conservative party who accuse the Labour party of manoeuvring to get him elected.
Somehow or other during my lunchtime stroll this triggered some thoughts about one of my own journeys in life.
As a mid-teenager I decided I was an atheist. Mostly at school I’d enjoyed scientific kind of subjects and, somewhat arrogantly and naively, decided that science and God were mutually exclusive concepts.
On 3rd March 1973 I gave my life to Christ. I remember the date because it has a lot of 3’s in it.
Over the past few years I’ve gone through the process of pretty much taking it back.
Back in 1973 I was influenced a lot by Christians that I met. They were people that had a purpose in life. They were nice people.
I went to church. Did some Bible Studies.
I remember reading about Christians that were so convinced about what they believed that they were willing to give up their lives for it.
And I began to believe the same things. Conventional, evangelical.
Though always, in some ways, a bit of a rebel.
My hair was long. I read different books than most. Liked different music. Larry Norman and Parchment being much more my kind of music than the Glorylanders.
Yet, at heart, I saw myself as being part of the Bible Believing community. Not fundamentalist, but evangelical. I hope not overly bigoted.
For many years.
So what changed?
All the way through those many years there was a sense of inconsistency and tension that I’ve mentioned a few times before.
The things that Christians don’t do that I couldn’t help doing.
Eventually that led to a kind of intellectual crisis as well.
Could I really continue to believe what I was believing?
How do you really reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament?
A God that seems to command genocide in the Promised Land?
A church that says it is ok to not keep the Sabbath holy … but you definitely had better be heterosexual.
Picking and choosing.
The realisation that suicide bombers also believe in things strongly enough to give up their lives for it.
I know there are differences, and it really isn’t so simple. There is a difference between giving up your life for something that you believe and taking lives for something that you believe.
But in the end, I can’t square it and it doesn’t really seem to add up.
The whole thing seems ambiguous.Confusing.
One of the few things that I am certain of is that fundamentalists … people who are convinced that they are right and that everyone that disagrees is wrong … can be amongst the most dangerous of all people.
People need to be allowed to be themselves.
I know, there are limits. People cannot always be left to do just whatever they want.
But if a man wants to wear a frock … well … I admit to a certain amount of bias on this one.