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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Arnold’

Religion seems to be having rather a hard time in Oxford, according to a recent article in the Catholic Herald (05/06/2015 p21) by Jill Duchess of Hamilton.  In it she quotes Charles Vaughan of the Oxford Union as claiming that many students now at Oxford describe themselves as only ‘culturally religious’ to some degree, and do not practice any religion; “real belief in an interventionist supernatural being – particularly the Catholic conception of God – is viewed with deep scepticism and sometimes contempt.”

I daresay that such an attitude has been commonplace at Oxford since the days of Newman and Matthew Arnold, if not before, and held by many,even, who later became ordained.  The obvious tagline is “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:24).”  I would also not be surprised if it was ever discovered that it is a stance privately held by many in the pew. Doubt is real – a permanent challenge to belief.

I have no problem with that.  Nowadays we are all individually entitled to hold our own convictions, secretly or not, and it shouldn’t be any of my concern that any fellow congregant of mine believes this or that, even as I kneel with them at the communion rail. 

The last time any fellow worshipper whispered such doubts to me was during a First Communion mass in a church in Rome. But who or where doesn’t matter. We were not there to worship.  We were there to witness the first faltering steps along the way of belief. “In the midst of the congregation I will praise you (Psalm 22:22).”

Back home in Hanslope it is enough that twice a week I am there at the communion rail, as an agnostic Anglican bearing witness to what I believe to be a profound truth about the human predicament.  It is enough. I know what I believe, and God knows it too. He helps my unbelief.

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Durer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Let fundamentalists believe what they want.  They must allow the rest of us to exercise our rights, too, and not be adversely affected by their convictions which, it looks evident, are mainly based on fear. (more…)

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