Archbishop Jonathan Blake

The Most Reverend Jonathan Blake, Presiding Archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church B.A. (Hons), Dip. Pastoral Studies. Bishop's Haven, 105 Danson Crescent Welling DA16 2AS U.K. Mobile: 07767 687711 www.bishopjonathanblake.com bishopjonathanblake@ntlworld.com www.openepiscopalchurch.org www.twitter.com/bishopjonathan The Church is a member of The International Council of Community churches and the World Council of Churches. Married and a proud Dad.

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Gassed in Tehran, seized in Kabul, helped Mother Teresa, almost murdered, raised £300,000, ordained 1981, street sleeper, pilgrim to Auschwitz, Kenya + Pakistan 4 peace, began 1st inter-faith NHS chapel, wrote text on Parliament, arrested, relinquished his 12 year Anglican post 2 be independent, baptised 1000's in homes, on Mt Snowdon + in circus ring, did wedding underwater, wrote ‘For God’s Sake Don’t Go To Church’, nailed 95 Theses to Canterbury cathedral, arrested, co-founded the Society for Independent Ministry, was consecrated a bishop, co-founded the Open Episcopal Church, did 1st gay wedding on prime time TV, sued Associated Newspapers 4 defamation, co-consecrated 1st women bishops 4 England. Wales + Scotland, accommodated the homeless, took Mass 2 sex workers + posted it, elected Archbishop, arrested 4 taking kids on roof, not charged, founded ‘When No One’s Watching', became an ICV, did Jade Goody's wedding , invited 2 Downing St, wrote 'That Old Devil Called God Again', arrested 4 times campaigning against child abuse, had harassment conviction quashed on appeal, appealing a conviction for breaches of restraining order 2 stop a paedophile

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

THAT OLD DEVIL CALLED GOD AGAIN - FIRST REVIEW

Revd Dr Allan Winthrop is Director of the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and the Clinical Director of the Psychological Therapies Clinic at Teeside University. He writes:


This book is indeed going to be very controversial. I very much liked the honesty of the book but I found myself wondering how much honesty can the majority of people bear ?

T.S. Elliott said "Mankind can bear very little reality."  How much true questioning of their own lives and beliefs can people tolerate? As a psychologist, I come across this all the time. People won't make the changes they need to because they don't want the consequences and personal responsibilities they would bring. They prefer instead to blame their parents, partner, job, finances, government, God etc and keep on "suffering". They often persecute others from a victim position " Look what you've done to me" etc.

I fear that the first two parts of the book ('Tough Talk) may be such a jolt to some that they don't go on to read the rest. This would be such an enormous shame as I think in the latter parts of the book it is clear that love and compassion are present in all the alternative suggestions given.

I think many people may not be able to "cope" with the all out assault on the bible, Immaculate Conception, resurrection, transubstantiation etc.

I think the author has been incredibly courageous to write a book that is so directly challenging of religious beliefs as being the source of so much pain and bloodshed in the world.

I think the book will produce strongly polarised reactions. Some will really love the book and it's freshness and honesty.  Others will I feel, hate and despise it. It is quite likely that as a result of people not wanting to hear and acknowledge certain things, they will blame the author for pointing them out. I think it is likely that he will receive abuse and vitriol as a result of him writing what many people may think in private.

When I started reading this book I found myself unsure as to the author's motivation. I was unsure whether this was someone who was launching a virulent attack and had lost all faith or was someone so incensed and disgusted at the death and destruction being caused in the name of religion. Therefore in an effort to "wake people up" and call "enough is enough" he was being confrontational by stripping away things that people have accepted for years. I was worried that he may have ended up throwing the baby out with the bath water. However, I think for those who do stick with it to the other parts of the book, they will be able to see love and compassion underlying its stance.

In the author's previous book "For God's Sake Don't Go To Church" (which I believe is a brilliant book) the reader is left in no doubt as to his motivations and struggles throughout and gets to know him as a person. In this book I don't think people will get to know him till later in the book and many may have stopped reading before then.

There is no soft and gentle way to suggest the things he is saying and them still have a strong impact so I don't know how he could have said it differently.

I think for those people who have what I would call " blind faith" they will be unable to question and review their faith and they will continue to believe in an unexamined faith, "because they do and always have done". This is exactly one of the points the author makes about our culture, upbringing, indoctrination etc

I think the author uses some sound psychological and anthropological concepts to help explain his viewpoint. I think logically and rationally there is little with which anyone can argue.

However in the same way we allow the Church of England exemption from employment law, we give religion and faith informal exemption from the laws of science and the social sciences. So I'm unsure how convincing people will find the points made, valid, as I believe them to be. I don't know if they will allow themselves to take hold of their beliefs and test and examine them. Instead clinging to a special exemption from thinking logically and scientifically about matters of faith.

I didn't fully understand why Jade featured in the book. The only thing I could think of was that it was a marketing strategy. I understood some of the points being made but didn't see how the addition of your work with Jade added to the book. The preface calling the author Jade Goody's Bishop and special additional features and the competition to me felt a bit tacky and book sales orientated.

It may well be that the decision to include Jade will indeed lead to more readers who engage with the book, I'm not sure. You can be sure though, that given today's society, the transubstantiation and resurrection issues will be glossed over, but Jades candlesticks and the competition will be a point highlighted strongly by any critics of your book. A bit like "We don't want to talk about that difficult stuff ... now here are some celebrity candlesticks." I'm sure people will even ask for photos of them.

I really admire the courage and strength of the author's convictions. I think that there may be "trouble ahead" because of the book. However, I am sure that there will be many who also would want to share a view of ministry as being all inclusive love and engagement with the world.  

http://www.christian-alternative.com/books/that-old-devil-called-god-again

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