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Gaining my religion (part II)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
- The Apostle's Creed, part of the Anglican declaration of Faith.

How can an allegedly intelligent man, so cynical, so satirical, so stubborn as Rick Eyre commit hinself to the Christian faith and maintain most, if not all, of his existing philosophies and beliefs? It's not as absurd as it may look. In fact, it's not absurd at all.

I consider that I have always believed in the concept and existence of God, and that, certainly in the last decade or two, I have believed in Christian values - though not necessarily adhered to all of them. My concerns were not with God or with Jesus Christ, but with organised religion. So often in history it has been done badly, especially when invoked as a justification for politics, power or wealth.

But not all religion is like that, and at the parochial level, the church can and does provide an enormous power of good. I can go on in depth about particular issues, but I'm happy to have tied my beliefs to faith in God and Jesus. I believe that with the Anglican church, I am in the right niche, a local church with a strong contemporary family and community focus, a denomination that is part of a global Anglican communion. And a faith that places value on our devotion to God, rather than what God can do for us.

There are some policies of the Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church that I do take issue with - in particular, its opposition to the ordination of women as bishops. The church can only properly flourish if it is able to make the most of all of the talent available among its clergy.

The other question relates to gay clergy. I'm quite undecided on my attitude towards gay clergy - the biblical attitudes to homosexuality are open to a lot of controversy - but whatever happens, I believe that a schism of the Anglican Communion must not happen. Tolerance is the important thing here.

Does my committment to Christianity mean that I have become part of the Religious Right? Not on your proverbial. I believe that the ideal Christian practice is one of humanity, social justice, and equality. While I believe in tolerance, acceptance and engagement with all legitimate faiths, I do have problems with the deregulated "free-enterprise evangelism" that has become so prominent in the US and seems to be permeating the pentecostal movements in Australia and elsewhere.

Religion and politics? There's room for both - in parallel and ethically consistent streams. I'll need further blog posts to outline examples of these.

Finally, for now: don't worry about me turning this blog into a platform for evangelism - that's not my style. But you can slightly more religious context from time to time, especially when I get into discussing the Episcopal Church of USA and its relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion.