Registration open for FAITH WITHOUT ILLUSIONS: SEX, DRUGS, ART AND GOD, starting Thursday June 10TH

Blog: Where We Write

A Faith Without Illusions?

By Barry Taylor

When Freud published his landmark book Civilisation and it’s Discontents in 1930, it became one of his most important works. The original German title translated more literally  as, Uneasiness in Civilisations and perhaps captures the central issue of the book, which was the tension between the human desire and pursuit of individuality and the pressure of social conformity. How we solve this dilemma is central to Freud’s work.

'Life is difficult' was his starting point and as humans we create a number of ways to deal with it. He called these palliatives and named four key ideas by which we attempt to find peace or calm or respite from the challenges of life. Sexual love, art, intoxicants and religion were what he termed the four main palliatives. The book examines how these ideas play out in our lives both positively and negatively. We need relief from life’s challenge, Freud argues, but there are dangers when palliatives become the dominant...

Continue Reading...

The Art, Theology and Emancipation of Lil Nas X

By Maria French

Yesterday on our podcast we had a conversation on all the controversy the Lil Nas X video, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”  The conservative community, both Christian and Political, have been up in arms about it since it was released on Friday.  The satanic panic from the 80’s and 90’s seems to have been resurrected amid Holy Week, Satan Shoes and a lap dance in hell (literally).  Not only do we think the narrative Lil Nas X portrayed in his video was profoundly theological, but it was also deeply artful, full of courage and done with a poignant clarity into a culture of purity and anti-LGBTQ sentiment that the conservative church has long claimed.  

In any case, Inside Edition picked up on our podcast and some of our commentary on the video and what we think might be happening in the culture it is provoking.  Our sentiments are heavily quoted up against some really negative voices in American Christianity and...

Continue Reading...

Christian Conversion Disorder and Change

By Barry Taylor

Our latest culture course is about deconstruction but not so much the philosophical theory of deconstruction, as much as the umbrella term being accessed by a number of people and groups around the world, who are grappling with problematic religious experiences and re-thinking their faith. In our last week’s discussion, we put forth the idea that perhaps there was an underlying issue that wasn’t being addressed which we called, Christian Conversion Disorder, the idea being that somehow the idea of conversion in Christianity had somehow come to mean a desire for a change that would preclude the need for any further change. The problem with this being that change is a natural part of life, and our ideas often change as we are exposed to life and accumulate experiences that might contradict or challenge previously held beliefs, and the certainty of a thesis is suddenly questioned. We have also heard the word ‘trauma’ used a lot in these ongoing...

Continue Reading...

American Epiphany

By Barry Taylor

"The spirits that I summoned up, I can no longer control." -Von Goethe

On the sixth of January, The Feast of Epiphany, a day of revelation, something unsavory was ‘revealed’ on the steps of the US Capitol building as elected officials gathered to perform a political ritual. The mob that invaded the Capitol and attempted what seemed to be at least an attempt at the disruption of political process and at the worst a very disorganized coup, revealed the dark, conflicted soul of America. In spite of all the ‘this is not who we are as Americans’ comments, this is actually exactly who we are; a nation mired in conspiracy theories and disaffection, polarized and divided, unable to distinguish fact from fiction. In fact, often conflating fiction for fact. 

The revelation, the epiphany, is that things long allowed to fester in the collective psyche have risen to the surface and exploded the myth of American tolerance and generosity....

Continue Reading...

Digital Saints

By Maria French

It was recently reported that Rome is preparing to give sainthood to a 15-year-old computer whizz who passed away from Leukemia in 2006.  He was a young boy who cataloged miracles online in service to Rome, or as the Pope has proclaimed, ‘in service of the gospel.’  He is being referred to as the digital saint.

In keeping with tradition, the person up for beautification needs to have been deceased for five years before proper inquiry can be made into their life, with one requirement being at least two miracles performed.  

But what constitutes a miracle? 

I came across a book this weekend in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.  It was everything you would expect an old bookshop to be, especially in the medieval town of such a literary colossus.  

“Saints of the Twentieth Century” recalling heroic tales of those who lived and died in the cause of something greater than themselves. ...

Continue Reading...

Pandemic Dreams

By Maria French 

Everywhere you turn it seems people are talking about pandemic.  And for good reason, I suppose.  Sometimes it is talked about in the context of it being temporary.  Others are talking about it in ways that suggest a comprehensive paradigm shift.  Others speak of it in terms of its grave effect on global economic systems, as well as exposing the unsustainable growth fetishes of Capitalism.  Still others have used it to track unimaginable and ironic fashion trends.  And we would be remiss not to mention the transfer of all not digital activity to full digitalization mode.  At H&Co our ears, of course, have been to the ground when it comes to churches and faith communities and their responses to continued lockdown.

There is simply so much to take in.  So much to evaluate.  So much to think through and re-think through. 

British style magazine, LOVE, came out with their bi-annual journal last spring entitled ...

Continue Reading...

A Sexual Ethic with Substance and Story

By Maria French

“In a century that has seen rape as a part of military strategy, poverty as the result of lack of reproductive choice, industries based on the economic exploitation of sex, race joined with gender and class to determine the employment option of groups, the development of a sexual ethic cannot be a trivial concern.”

-Margaret A. Farley

Sex and sexuality-It is the one thing that ties us all together.  We find it to be a very complicated issue in the 21st century, although there is more work being done than ever to transform sexual categories into a spectrum in which one can move freely, liberally and experimentally.  While sex is nothing new, our forms of expressions and engagement are ever changing and evolving. 

Human sex and sexuality is something that is of great fascination to me.  I must say, when it comes to thinking about sex in a faith context, I was fairly (completely!) messed up.  I grew up Catholic. ...

Continue Reading...

Emperors of One Idea

By Barry Taylor

“When Darwin or Einstein proclaim theories that modify our ideas, it is a triumph of science. We do not say that there is another defeat for science, because its old ideas have been abandoned...Religion (should) face change in the same spirit...”

A.N. Whitehead

Whitehead’s quote taps into an important question that we need to ask ourselves: Why in the face of such an evident need for reframing the way we speak about religion is it so difficult for us to let go of old ideas?

Part of the answer might lie in the fact that many people don’t think they have ‘ideas’ about God. They think they’ve happened upon an unchangeable truth and therein is the challenge. It is a difficult notion to overcome. Many of us have been schooled in forms of religion built around crystallized dogmas that are presented to us as the truths we need to embrace in order to be the ‘right kind’ of Christian.

But as the writer Adam Phillips...

Continue Reading...

Hack to the Future

By Barry Taylor

Whether it’s Star Wars or Star Trek, Mars Attacks or Minority Report, 2001 A Space Odyssey or Dr. Who, film and television has long been enthralled with a future shaped by science, technology and visions of the future. Using incredible technologies and great stories, imagined worlds are made to look believable and real and have shaped so much of the ways we think the future might unfold. But as the philosopher Slavoj Žižek has noted, even though we know that something is fiction, that it is not real, it still fascinates us because there is something real in the illusion. We choose the things we watch because they trigger our desires even though we aren’t always aware of what we are desiring for when we watch a film or tv show. Žižek also said about cinema, the ‘ultimate perverts art’ because visual media doesn't simply give us what we desire - it tells us how to desire.

What those illusions are, what cinematic desire looks like and...

Continue Reading...

More Than Lip Service: Is the Church Essential Work?

By Maria French

What makes the church more than a self-help option?  In the name of ‘essential work,’ what are the categories of community the church provides for its congregants that are integrally Christian?

I don’t ask these questions because I know the answers. 

I ask them because I think they must be asked and deeply considered. 

If you are keeping up on the news across the U.S. when it comes to church openings (or non-openings) you will find that many pastors have fought against the continued government mandates not to assemble for the purposes of worship.  There has been outrage, citing infringement on their first amendment rights, calling for churches to be seen as essential work as well as an invoking of mental health statistics among church goers who no longer have the comfort and community of their in-person Sunday gatherings.

There has been a distinct ‘us vs. them’ narrative when it comes to churches re-opening and...

Continue Reading...
1 2
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.