Greenbelt 2010

by Richard on March 30, 2010

I don’t think I’m going to be able to be at Greenbelt this year, which is a shame as the lineup looks quite exciting. If I can make it possible to go and listen to Stanley Hauerwas, you can be sure I will. Sadly, the odds are against it.

One controversial invitee is Peter Tatchell, the gay human rights activist who is also an outspoken atheist. The Church Mouse comments

Quite why someone who “would be betraying my humanitarian values to embrace religious beliefs” would want to come to a Christian arts festival is a bit of a mystery to Mouse. That he does want to come doesn’t really bother Mouse, and no doubt he will have something interesting to say. However, some will be pretty upset.

Mouse’s advice to anyone who is thinking of attempting to kick up a fuss about this - don’t. Mouse’s advice to Greenbelt - stick to what you’re brilliant at, and organise a Christian arts festival.

Bishop Alan compares his own faith journey with Mr Tatchell’s

As a teenager, I realised that although I didn’t need God, better people than me had searched seriously for him. He did not exist as an object, in the way I had crudely imagined as a child. I became intrigued by the elusive possibilities this raised. Following up this perception was rather like the 3-d image in a magic eye picture emerging from what had seemed a simple, if complex, 2-d one.

Thus it dawned on me that things are not, in fact, always what they seem, and reality has many planes and dimensions. In a universe where something as basic as number theory cannot be anchored entirely securely in rational axioms, I came to see that human reason could not possibly be the measure of everything, but pointed beyond itself. Grasping reality would require awareness of hermeneutics, and a sense of history, as well as my own opinions.

Accordingly, I searched beyond simplistic secularism and began to grasp the complexity of life. I studied history, and engaged with the languages and content of Biblical texts on an adult level. I don’t need God to tell me what is right. I do, however, find his spirit gives me more wisdom, grace and power to live than I can generate within myself. We humans are quite capable of figuring it out for ourselves, but frustratingly incapable of delivering the goods on the basis of passion, and our own time- and ego-bound reason and anger.

I can’t say I always agree with Peter Tatchell, but it is impossible not to admire his commitment and courage. I can only hope that he finds an audience at Greenbelt that will engage with what he has to say both constructively and critically, that he might be challenging and challenged by the encounter.

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Kim 03.30.10 at 1:37 pm

That old boy Stan the Man should give you goody-goody British Christians a damn good lesson in proper cussing.

As for Tatchell, why not an atheist Amos who throws the furniture around at Greenbelt? Or even better, Spring Harvest!

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