Posted by: aboutalbion | June 22, 2012

History and religion

I have been listening this week to a series of radio talks by a retired Christian bishop who has allowed his church membership to lapse.

The talk that I appreciated most brought into focus the relationship between history and religion in a startlingly straightforward way.  He contrasted the work of history – research into the causes of change – with the work of organised religion – the repetition of narratives about unchanging mysteries.  Clearly, some people are drawn towards change, while others are drawn towards changelessness.

The point the retired bishop wanted to make was that those creative people who leave an organised religion, and are labelled as disloyal, can also be the agents that keep a religious institution open to overdue change and renewal.  His conclusion was that, for a creative person, disloyalty is the queen of virtues.

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