I’m Mike. I’m originally from from NE Derbyshire, England, now living in & loving rural North Wales.
I have an academic background in Romance and other languages, general linguistics, and theology.
Dysgwr cymraeg dw’i.
Other words that I feel are at the heart of my sense of identity: husband, cisgendered gay, humanist quaker.
For many years I was a disciple and companion of the one whom Christians call Yeshua (or Jesus) of Nazareth. Then, Christianity controlled the way I saw the world. But I have recently begun exploring the secular, humanist way of Quakers, and a non-theist spirituality. So one of the uses I’m putting this blog to, is to make public some of the non-theist liturgical material I’ve written, to replace the christian Office I once read Daily.
At the heart of this (for me) new spirituality are two principles, or rules, whose meaning I’ve begun to explore.
First, there is an acceptance of humanity’s oneness, not only with one another, but with the whole of the Cosmos. I have a word for this oneness of the Cosmos (though I acknowledge it’s not new to me): the ‘Kindom’.
Secondly, there is an awareness, through meditation and through social engagement, that my own oneness with humanity and with the Cosmos is an expression of the deep patterning, or dynamic, that our human consciousness shares with the way the whole Cosmos organises itself. I’m working on a book at the moment, in which I am attempting to give an account of how I see the world now.
That deep patterning, or dynamic, I refer to, is characterised by limitless self-giving, and the word I use for this dynamic is ‘grace’. To live a life which is full of grace means accepting that every other human being has a place, both in the world and in the Cosmos, that is of equal worth to mine, and is equally special. It means giving up the idea that I am more or less special than anyone else. Grace. Grace. All is grace.
Therefore grace is not an idea limited to spiritual exercises. It is also a way of living. I hate all human attempts to raise walls between individuals and communities, and all forms of discrimination, which cause some individuals and communities to be treated with less respect and accorded less worth, than others.
This blog is part of my contribution to the struggle against those forces in society and in religion that persuade people to shun, discriminate against, and even hate others who are different from the dominant or majority community.
The most pernicious form of discrimination is practiced by societies that organise themselves hierarchically, so that a dominant elite (which may be a majority or minority) hoards privilege and wealth at the expense of the rest. The word I use for this hierarchical power is ‘sovereignty’.
Mimicking their surrounding cultures, christian churches have, since the earliest days, been infected by this way of organising its life, justifying itself by assuming that this is what their god is like and how their god acts, even using the word ‘sovereign’ to describe their god. This has led churches to appoint a hierarchy of leaders, teachers and prophets, who maintain through the churches’ doctrines and practices strict control of people’s lives – shunning those who do not conform to the margins, or worse eliminating them, denouncing them as criminals (called ‘sinners’), and denying them the privileges kept by those who do conform.
Would this have been the meaning, the purpose and the way of the man christians say they follow, whom they call Yeshua of Nazareth? I think not. Surely, the god they say he called ‘abba’ would be the antithesis of ‘sovereign’, wouldn’t it? Christians’ stories of the life and dying of Yeshua demonstrated that his abba’s way is not to hoard power, wealth and privilege, but rather to empty oneself of all of that, and to share it generously and without discrimination.