Dear Inner Circle,
It's funny how when a new little person comes into your life, you don’t have to redistribute your reservoir of love but rather your heart enlarges and you discover reserves of love you never dreamed about. This week Liz, who has worked with Wayside in a most effective way as our Partnerships Manager, brought in her new baby, Juliette. There is suddenly more to Liz now. There is more to us now too. My heart has also enlarged to include a little boy named Flynn. He’s only four weeks old but he and I were deep in discussion last week. He began to make a little expression of discomfort and so his three-year-old big sister walked up close to me and said in a confidential manner, “He doesn’t like you!”
When I conduct a wedding, I usually try to evaporate briskly and discretely after the ceremony. Often, however, I get caught by people who want to thank me for the ceremony or simply say, “hi”. I think weddings are beautiful, sacred things but can also be quite fun. After an enjoyable ceremony last week I was soon in a huddle with people. An immaculately groomed elderly man shook my hand and said, “I used to be a devout Christian and now I’m agnostic”. I said, “I bet you’re a nicer man as an agnostic than as a devout believer”. It wasn’t what he expected me to say. “Well,” I said, responding to his shocked expression, “real faith has a large dose of ’not knowing’. If ‘devout believer’ means that you were part of a ‘God franchise’ then God, you, me and the world are better served by your agnosticism.” The pursuit of certainty and especially the illusory possession of certainty works against our humanity. In recent days my social media is full of people spitting chips about religion. Lots of people revert to a kind of ‘my little pony’ type philosophy, leaping to the nearest piano to sing, “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try…” But we’re all being damaged not so much by people who ask religious questions but by those who have arrived at certainty. If history teaches us anything, surely it is that those who destroy the world are those who always seem to know what’s best for it. Certain atheists like Stalin, certain Christians like Cromwell, certain Muslims like Bin Laden all brought suffering upon the world.
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