"A single, seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of truth and to stand behind it with all his person and all his
life, ready to pay a high price, has, surprisingly, greater power, though formally disfranchised, than do thousands of anonymous
voters." W. Vaclav Havel.
KEY IDEAS IN MY THEOLOGICAL THINKING (2014)
Judaism was based on false premises and Christianity should not have emerged out of it.
There is a story of a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines which is held to have been fought three thousand
years ago. Two protagonists (David and Goliath) were pitted against each other. Each man swore by his
god believing that he would be protected by his god and emerge victorious. It was common at that time for each nation to think of itself
as specially chosen
by its god for such care and support.
However some centuries later, the thinkers of Israel, one of those nations which had
engaged in that battle, reasoned that it made better sense to think of there being one Creator god, rather than a host of deities.
In taking this step forward to reduce the divine population, they made the mistake of still believing that Israel's god continued to
look on them as his favoured nation. They should have abandoned all ideas of favouritism and claimed that the one Creator god dealt
equally with all nations.
This profound error meant that they continued to see themselves as his specially favoured people and during hard times in their history
they misguidedly held onto a hope that one day their fortunes would be re-established in a new kingdom of freedom and peace. Their
deliverer would be a Messiah appointed by their god.
Jesus and John the Baptist, both first century Jews, expected this new kingdom to dawn soon. Either before or more probably after the
death of Jesus, his disciples began to claim that he was the long-expected Messiah and that he would shortly return in glory to
establish his kingdom.
Such beliefs, all based on the false presupposition of Israel being the chosen people of their god, led later to claims that Jesus, as the
expected deliverer, was also a divine Saviour. That in turn led to claims that he was the Son of God or later God come to earth in human
Judaism was based on false premises and Christianity should not have emerged out of it. Any reasonable justification for Christianity's
existence must be based on accepting that Christian doctrines, images and symbols should be interpreted as metaphorical ways, but not as
literal ways, to speak
about the unseen mystery believed by many but not all people to be behind and within life.
For me this means that "People, nurtured in the Christian tradition, will no longer constantly be looking over their shoulders to some
allegedly complete and
full revelation of divine love and human perfection, because they will no longer find such old beliefs credible any more." (p.52, Tried
for Heresy A 21st Century Journey of Faith by Andrew Furlong)
"With the deepest respect for others and their beliefs, to my mind, Jesus, and John the Baptist also, were mistaken and misguided end-time
prophets; Jesus was neither a mediator nor a saviour, neither super-human nor divine; we need to leave him to his place in history and
move on." (Quoted from 'A Faith Fundamentally Flawed?' a website article)
"... my own identity is as a human being, first and foremost. Being European or Irish or white or male or anything else comes much lower
down on my scale of priorities. Within my identity as a human being is a spiritual component - my quest for and trust in God and my
commitment to ethical values. The different religions have each seen their God as carrying a passport that provides an identity as
a Christian God, a Muslim God, a Hindu God, or a Buddhist God, etc.
"I think of God today as traveling without a passport of
any kind. God simply travels under his or her own hidden and mysterious identity. In a globalized world a search for an authentic
spirituality for such a world has begun.
"I believe it will be based on a sense of the sacred precious worth of human life and
on a moral appreciation of our inter-dependence on a precarious eco-system. It will be a spirituality closely linked with a life of
action, a spirituality of engagement in the muck and mess, as well as the beauty and wonder of our world. For this vision people will
wager their lives, for this they will live and die. For some it will be a spirituality that points beyond the known limits of life and
of our universe to some great and good mysterious power.
"I submit that my understanding of religion and belief, based on the
assumption that God is not knowable to us, can contribute to peace among people of a religious outlook in our world. For it inevitably
means that all belief is speculative and conjectural, no matter how profound the reflection and reasoning underlying it or the human
experiences that have helped create new insights of a spiritual or moral nature. My position requires that I be tentative, provisional, and
accepting of alternative viewpoints."(p.252, Tried for Heresy A 21st Century Journey of Faith by Andrew Furlong).
I accept that it is theoretically possible that God did chose the Jewish nation to be his special people,
but for reasons given above I do not believe that to be the case.
Theology and Ethics contain inescapable dimensions of uncertainty. In my opinion, nobody can prove or disprove the existence of God.
Nor can we prove it is right to do good. Both believing in God and believing it is right to do good require leaps of faith. I believe
that there is an ineffable reality at the heart of life whose essence is unconditional goodness and love and that the universe is part
of a bigger purpose than just itself.
I am a member of the Dalkey Writers' Workshop. We have published our third anthology called 'Circle Time'. It has some
and short stories in it. My fictional story in Circle Time is called 'In the Wild', and is based in Zimbabwe where I lived and worked
for eleven years
from 1983 - 1994
I have been the coordinator of the Zimbabwe group of Amnesty International Ireland from December 2004 to April 2011.
I am pleased that after many years there is more hope that press freedom may be restored in Zimbabwe and that independent media
may be able to operate freely without fear of prosecution. I was pleased that our issues in 2004 and 2007 of The Daily News in Exile to mark World Press Freedom Day (3rd May) received international coverage.
As well as expressing soldiarity with independent journalists who have worked under repressive
media laws, our campaigning was an attempt to raise awareness and to help transform Zimbabwe
into a society where the dignity and human rights of each citizen are promoted and respected. Go to
The Daily News in Exile
A ROSE IN SOLIDARITY WITH WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), founded in 2003, is a grassroots women's organisation campaigning in Zimbabwe. Leaders and members from
WOZA regularly take to the streets to hold the government of Zimbabwe to account for its failure to meet their basic needs and are
confronted by a repressive and brutal state.
Their mission statement is: 'the power of love is stronger than the love of power' and their symbol is a Rose. WOZA give out roses on
St Valentine's Day to the public and to the police in the main cities of Zimbabwe.
In solidarity with WOZA the Dublin based Amnesty Zimbabwe group handed out roses in Dublin on St Valentine's Day 2008, in the same
week the play A Footprint of Roses was staged in Dublin. This human rights based play was written by Elaine Desmond of the AI Ireland
Zimbabwe group about WOZA at the request of the group and was staged in Cork, Dublin and Kinsale between 2007 - 2008.
You can watch A Footprint of Roses on www.youtube.com
In November 2009 Magodonga Mahlangu and Jennifer Williams, leaders of WOZA, received the the RFK Human Rights Award at a ceremony
in Washington, USA, in the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
BRINGING RELIGION TO LIFE
Are not religions a response to the universal human search for meaning, wonder and values in the face of the implacable mystery of our existence - why are we here at all?
Do human beings ever have certainty in postulating answers to life's great questions?
Are our religions a human response to such mysteries rather than a divine revelation, as still believed by many?
Religions meet psychic, social, philosophical, ethical and political needs.
Does the universe exhaust all of life's meaning,
or might there be another dimension to life that completes its meaning?
Today's global citizens can draw, critically, on a resource of wisdom and spirituality garnered over countless centuries as
well as add judiciously to it.
Such a global resource has been created through our experiences of success and failure in living authentically; through our
capacity to make good relationships as well as our failure to do so - with each other, with other living creatures, with our
planet and universe, and with the transcendent mystery that some believe completes the meaning of life.
"The revolutions that count come silently, come first in the heart...
Revolutions of this magnitude do not overturn a system and then shape it.
They reshape thought, and then the system overturns without the firing of
a single cannon. Revolutions such as this dismantle walls people thought
would never fall because no wall, whatever its size, can contain a
people whose minds have long ago scaled and vaulted and surmounted it."
(Heart of Flesh, p.172, Joan D. Chittister)
It is liberating to have an understanding of the scriptures of the
major world faith traditions which allows me to say: "that is what people
claimed thousands of years ago to be right or to be the will of their god,
but what they believed then does not constrain how I think today ".
To my mind, it is
part of the dignity and responsibility of being human that we
have to work out our moral conclusions and theological convictions, however provisional, for ourselves.
NEW ARTICLE: UNCERTAINTY IS TRUST'S SHADOW
"Christian theology and Christian ethics contain an inescapable dimension of uncertainty. This uncertainty is
trust's shadow. That's essential to acknowledge and live with. Are there not two unprovable convictions central to the
Christian tradition? (1) There is an ineffable reality at the heart of life whose essence
is unconditional goodness and love. (2) The universe is part of a bigger purpose than just itself."
Uncertainty is Trust's shadow(2010)
MISSION IN MAKONDE PARISH, ZIMBABWE
TWO SHORT VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE
You can watch them on www.youtube.com
Please feel free to contact me at awufurlong at gmail.com