Wednesday 12 September 2018


I write this in September 2018. During the past few years, I have changed in what I believe (or maybe I never believed it anyway!) The doubts I have mentioned elsewhere have taken on a more strident voice and I have questioned the personal nature of God, sending his son, Jesus, to earth. For many years I have studied healing, originally with Matthew Manning who still practises healing in the UK. (“still”? He is younger than me!) I went to interview him for hospital radio many years ago when he had long hair in the style of a hippie and drove an MG Midget.
And later I attended his workshops in the UK. He had become well known when he wrote a book called The Link in which he described all kinds of paranormal events which happened during his teens. It is common for poltergeists to be active with young people in their teens. Later in the book Matthew described all kinds of strange things he was able to do such as spoon bending and automatic writing but it was wearing him down and he found an outlet in healing, both doing it himself and also by teaching self-healing through visualisation.

I discovered a great deal through Matthew, for example that healing doesn’t have to be done in a religious context, that it is not even “faith” healing, the recipient simply has to want to get better. Not always the case! I have done a little healing and find that my hands tingle and generate heat when they touch someone. Hey hang on, I’m not doing that, something else is doing that. And who might that be? Well the answer to me is God. Not God “up there” but God “all around”, a force… I cannot explain. And healing doesn’t have to be a supplication to God for someone to get better as if he were some kind of telephone exchange and he gives a thumbs-up or down like Caesar at the Roman Games. The words “if it be your will Lord..” are anathema to me. I believe healing (in the religious context, it is prayer of course) is peer-to-peer, person to person, not through some central clearing house.
I believe that Jesus taught that we are all divine. God in us. I believe that Jesus was human, the same as the rest of us. But exceptional. In a sense it is true he was sent to earth, many great people who have literally changed the world seem to be made of a different kind of stuff and have arrived from another planet!  And I certainly believe he walked this earth and I follow many of his teachings but I believe much of what he came to preach has been lost (maybe embellished is a better word) in church dogma through the ages – a human invention. In fact a great deal of Christian teaching  comes from St Paul, not Jesus, although of course he was sincerely following the teaching of Jesus. But some rules from St Paul were fairly draconian and still split the church even today.
I have one or two Spanish friends who often talk about God in the sense that He will help them, or they believe in fate as if everything is mapped out ahead. My response is that everything is in their hands, with the power of God. Not the will of God. I don't believe God has a "will". If God had a will and controlled what happened on Earth then the question about how He can allow so much suffering would be a valid question. But I don't believe it is like that.

So that is where I have arrived around 2018 and was a great relief not to feel I have to believe in the drama of a God with seemingly human emotions sending his son to earth. A very good friend of mine will be shocked when he reads this because his firm belief is very much in a personal God and of course I respect that belief.

May I say something about forgiveness? These to me are the two most powerful teachings of the Christian religion, although obviously not exclusive to it: Prayer and forgiveness. I used to think that forgiveness was some kind of business deal. Wait for the other person to say “sorry”, and then as part of the bargain I would forgive them. Well, of course it shouldn’t be like that and nowhere is it better put than in a book by Desmond Tutu and his daughter. And he should know all about that because he chaired the Peace and Reconciliation Commission which heard about the most awful deeds that were committed during Apartheid in South Africa. And these deeds were forgiven so that the country could move forward and not risk descending into civil war.

Don’t wait for the other person to apologise or show remorse, forgive unconditionally! That is what the book (The Book of Forgiveness) teaches and what I have always tried to practise. Otherwise one hurts oneself and stores up pain inside by not forgiving. In other words, it is the person who does not forgive who suffers, not the recipient (or non-recipient!) And it also teaches how to forgive oneself, also important! It includes exercises at the end of each chapter.

In South Africa, in Colombia (2017) it was necessary to forgive terrible things that had happened in the past. Not to have done so would have meant not being able to move forward. So forgiveness to me is such an important word, on a personal level and also a national level.

I still call myself a Christian now but I don't believe in a God in heaven with human qualities and literally having a son. I certainly follow the teachings of Jesus and I believe that the most amazing things can happen, things that we simply cannot explain. He said the same. Miracles did not happen in a snapshot of time 2000 years ago, they happen today… and every day. To the point of being everyday events if you will excuse the play on words. Miracles were not exclusively done by Jesus, he taught his disciples to heal. And thus he taught us too. In a way, I don’t like to use the word “miracle” because it implies something exceptional, something by which saints are created.

I am sure very many church-goers feel the same; that some of the teaching of the church is too literal (I have heard many sermons which I felt sure were actually written for children.) I would welcome a sermon to address all these interesting and deep spiritual questions.