Wednesday, 29 April 2015


I have a guest blog today from Dylan Morrison - a wonderful and very insightful writer (check out his books here).

Click here to see original article

I guess there’s always been a bunch of folk who saw themselves as intermediaries of sort between God and man. How come? Well I believe that bizarrely the roots of religious belief can be found in mob violence – the founding murder, so to speak. I’d better explain.

Ancient man lived in small extended family groupings or prototype tribes. When something went wrong in their fight for survival and things began to get a little heated, a scapegoat was quickly found and dispatched in a fit of rage. This unexpected blood-letting released a quasi sense of cathartic peace in the remaining family members, who began to interpret it as the blessing of the Divine Spirit in the Sky! “Ah, so if we kill someone or something on a regular basis, we can obtain the favour of the One above. If we sacrifice to Transcendence, blessings will flow.” The birth of sacrificial religious thought which sadly continues to this day.

Over time, the tribe asked for volunteers to dot he dirty deed and so the priesthood was born. Those not afraid to get blood on their hands in exchange for a new prestige within the community. “We are a cut above the rest,” became their sacred slogan as they sharpened their clerical knives. And so it has continued through the ages. For some the blood is still part of the killing vocation, for others it’s now a symbolic role, dispensing the wine of the slain Lamb on a regular basis. Since time immemorial we have been into blood and so it remains. Further exploration of this obsession is for another day. What I really want to focus on is the sociological residue of such a belief system – the clerical class.

Now, let me say that I’m friends with a number of priests of varying shades. I’m not here to question their motives or their devotion to the Divine; rather I wish to question whether they are needed. Of course, when professional livelihoods are involved the cleric understandably fights back with 2000 years of Christian tradition or even more in the case of the older religions. I can understand that all too human reaction. When we need food on the table for our kids we’ll perform all sorts of pastoral back flips to justify our existence.

No, do we really need a professional class of priests, pastors and dare I say it, Apostles ( for my Pentecostal friends) in order to know God. Do we still require the experts to stand between Divine Source and man? Well, if we still insist on communities that centre around a round of religious gatherings in a purpose-built building, then the clergy still play a role, albeit an organisational one. For, let’s face it, if there wasn’t a paid official to do all the stuff, the whole system would collapse due to apathy. Folk have always wanted a Moses figure to go up the Mount and come back with a tabletised list of instructions from God, especially if they can also perform the role of CEO for the business named church.

I guess I’m saying that we don’t need a bunch of men or women to dispense the Divine for us, for Presence already dwells within. What we may need is one almighty shock to our ego system, that reveals this dramatic truth, one that rarely comes through the dedicated efforts of the clergy. A sudden death, a health scare, a divorce, redundancy etc all have the potential to jolt us into an Awakening experience. The place for answers is within, in the depths of our ego screams. There the Light dwells and we knew it not. Most folk within clerical systems of ministry are nice folk, though not all. Yet, there very existence may divert folk from meeting the Divine, heart to Heart. A little ministerial cul-de-sac that seems to help for a while until a new top-up of concern is needed. Life is messy and it’s there that Divine Love has chosen to dwell.

The trouble is that the priest/pastor/reverend etc can feel that it’s their job to keep the whole God show on the road. This is often done by teaching the particular dos and don’ts of their interpretive tradition. Having joined the clerical class to help mankind they can so easily end up propping up a moral empire based on the interpretive add-ons of their religious tradition. It’s so easy to switch into control mode in the name of the God of freedom. It’s the historical virus that invades the very heart of religious systems. The priest once more stands as judge and jury on the whole God-man thing, tempted to shed blood, albeit verbally on the chosen scapegoat.

Finally, let me tell you a wee story. A couple of years back here in Lincoln, I was out for a walk along the local High Street when I noticed a bunch of Christians doing their evangelistic thing. Always willing to have a chat will fellow God folk, I stopped and entered into a friendly chat with a guy, who turned out to be the pastor of the gang. At first our conversation was friendly but soon it was strongly inferred that I should be a church member and come along to sample his particular brand of gathering. At this point I suggested that the pastor try a wee experiment. Why not stop all church gatherings for a year, when folk could just mix with society at large. After 12 months have a meeting to see how many people had become Christians through contact with his flock. Unfortunately, I saw sheer disbelief in his eyes. “Dylan, I couldn’t do that.” “Why not?” I asked. “Well, frankly my members wouldn’t make it if it weren’t for our church programme.” Enough said. ” The Christ within would wither up and die if the pastor’s flock didn’t get their weekly worship session and sound Bible instruction.

The clerical system at its worst methinks.

Friday, 24 April 2015

An NDE and me, or, Jim slips into the Twighlight Zone

I saw this video yesterday and was glued to the screen for the whole 30 minutes.

Now that may sound a little odd for many of you simply because its just another Near Death Experience story, and we all have various opinions about them. I've seen many of these stories, but this hit me big time.

So here's what stunned me...

I've always had a deep impression of what God is like - who we are and how it all fits together. I've tried to squash it into christianity all my life - to make it fit as best I can. It probably came from my spiritual experience when I was 15 (I cover all that in my book), that I could never put into words.

Over the years my deepest experiences with God were far bigger and more expansive than any christian or general religious beliefs. But I would get stuck with the christian paradigm and think I was just deluded or something and shelve it all.

The last few years have seen a reawakening of all this as I've strived for integrity in my journey. So what's that got to do with the video, I hear you ask? Just about everything this guy experienced is what I've experienced. Not in the same level of "reality" that he has, but as a shadow, or a knowing - as thoughts and concepts that gurgle through my mind. Snippets of greater things that are just out of reach. As I heard him talking about his experience I thought "he's been inside my head!!".

OK, I'm probably being too cosmic or whatever (too many drugs in the 70s?), and I've probably lost all credibility with most of you by now, but I have to be honest about this stuff. I have no agenda and no reason to make this stuff up. It's all kind of freaky on one hand, but beautiful and affirming on the other.

For those of you who have followed my ramblings for a while you may already see the association with what he says and a lot of what I vainly try to express.

Anyway, I'm inspired and excited. Maybe we are both whako? Who knows! But I feel a huge relief and peace about my own journey after seeing this. It feels like I have permission to follow my heart with a new level of honesty and integrity.

God is Love, Love is God, we are God, yet we are ourselves.
Live Loved!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

ANZAC and other atrocities

Years ago I wrote a poem about ANZAC and Remembrance Day. I dug it up and posted it a couple of years back, but I've been thinking about it all with the ANZAC centenary this year, and thought I'd post it again.

Its a very emotional and evocative time for millions as they remember those who died in war. I understand that, and quietly remember them too. But for me, there is no glory, there are no heroes, there is no "dying for freedom" or sacrificing lives for the good of mankind, and any other patriotic idealism you want to throw at it.

It is simply murder on a massive scale. No glorious soldiers dying in battle. Just murdered humans.

We think of ANZAC, and acknowledge it was a devastating failure. But somehow, it's been made into more than that. It seems too hard for us to accept that it was the ultimate act in stupidity - absolutely pointless in every sense. Historians try to make something good out of it but fortunately, there are other historians who are presenting the truth now.
Murdered humans

There were no heroes. The reality is there were a bunch of scared young men played like puppets by pompous, arrogant British commanders. There is no "glory" in war - ever!

I don't join in any ANZAC or other war remembrance activities, and I never will. Sure, I know many think it's good to remember how horrible it is, and I'm OK with that. But for me, I won't give it any more than this blog.

Perhaps it's because my dad was a prisoner of the Japanese in WW2 in Changi and forced to work the Burma railway for 3 years, and I saw the determination he had to live life, to forgive the Japanese and actively embrace them. He detested the gatherings of the other POWs who would sit around and complain how horrible it was and hold on to their bitterness, and wallow in memories that became myths of glory and triumph.

No, count me out.

And what of our future;
Glories of war, past and present,
Lies and myths float on the phosphorous clouds
Inhaled by Red, Yellow, Black...
We have fought with patriotic eyes,
As have they!
Who can see death without tears?
How many knew the reasons?
Innocent, ignorant, martyrs.

A dawn's early mist drifts and carries fatigue,
Echoes of shellfire -
Scarred earth -
A child's terror,
Nightmare vision and Godless chills
And prickling hackles
Making beds for propaganda - patronising, patriots,

At the setting of the sun
And in the morning
We will grieve them, Lest we remember.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

It's Life Jim... - excerpt Ch 7

Click here to buy a copy
After finishing the internship with Vineyard, we continued to be very involved with Living Waters, even though we didn’t do church as such any more. We both participated regularly in the 26 week course they run. Over the next few years either Min, myself or both of us, would lead the worship at the beginning of the meetings and were then either participants or assistant leaders in the small groups.

Up to this point, life had been a continual battle of hopelessness, confusion, depression,shame, anxiety, you name it. Marriage was a constant exercise in fear. Although I still loved Min as a person, the effort of trying to be a straight husband was tearing me apart. I think she understood to a degree, and often called me asexual, simply because I had to turn off any sexuality in order to survive.
But it produced a very difficult dynamic, and a sense of continual disappointment in both of us.

Who else?

(For Min)

Just when you thought,
I know you, but I don’t - we don’t.
I think I’m comfortable, but stretch me,
But you are here for more than that
My anchor
Patient lover
Who else would bleed for me like you?
Sacrifice so much...
See through me, love me, by my side
My poppy blown in the wind, but strong and tall –
Trampled by my thoughtless feet,
But nurtured to blossom bright again
by the tender handed Gardner
A bruised reed – unbroken
Your eyes open me, melt me, expose me, fill me
Who else could there be?
Who else could be there?

I kept a journal off and on over the years. I would start with lots of passion and determination to pour out my heart so that I could look back and thank God for the progress in my life, but it ended up a never ending exercise in depression.Simply flicking back to older entries sent me spiralling downhill, seeing that nothing ever changed. The same battles, the same pseudo victories, the same positive self-talk, the same disillusionment, the same defeat and depression –in never ending cycles. Someone said doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result was actually insanity! Well, I guess I was insane!

I’d look back over all the endless sermon notes, all meaningless christianese jargon that had absolutely no correlation to what was going on inside me.

My poor family had to bear the brunt of my depression, and I’m amazed at how well my son has survived through it all! He was dragged from pillar to post, through boring meetings, intense groups, music rehearsals and services. And he survived our endless arguments, and my angry outbursts of frustration. I must say that he has grown into an amazingly strong young man with a big heart.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Roll up, Roll on, Roll over

Roll up, see the clowns
Roll up, feel the frowns
Roll up, do the job
Roll up, lunch time jog

Mind your peas and cues
Eat your greens and never lose
Incessant, relentless days
Wake to fog, sleep to haze

Roll on, catching moss
Roll on, gathering loss
Roll on, spinning blind
Roll on, with human kind

Dance the dance
Dream the dream
Claw it in, don't voice the scream
The insane just know
The sane are obscene

Consume the life
Spit out the bones
Devour the hate
Ignore the moans

There, over there, 
The mantis slowly swivelled head
The bird flight in gold light
The bee, the flower leaning
The wave lapping sand gleaming
Shell crunching gull screaming
Forest green scent mulch
Wing flurry rodent scurry
Soft grass for dreaming

Roll over, open eyes
Roll over, perfect skies
Roll over, heart sublime
Roll over, its time...

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Over the last few years my views on religion, and Christianity in particular, have dramatically changed, and I'm sure all of you who have known me that long are well aware of that fact!

Many people accuse me of renouncing my faith, that I was never a real Christian in the first place, that I've been deceived by the devil, that I've twisted my beliefs to fit my experience, or that I've succumbed to my fleshly lusts so I can live the "gay" life.

I speak a lot about all that is wrong with religion, and am quite outspoken about the damage it inflicts on people.

In many ways, I've walked away from the belief system that completely shaped who I was for over 40 years. I've seen the logical fallacies, the contradictions, the lack of evidence, the confusion, the bigotry, the hypocrisy... and used the "God given" abilities of reason and logic along with experience and a ruthless self examination, honesty and as much integrity as I can muster, to unravel everything I believed.

Why? Because when push came to shove, it simply doesn't "work".

Am I "anti-Christian"? Am I even still Christian? I don't think they are the right questions to ask, because to attempt to answer them directly doesn't allow for the real scope of the issue.

The belief system of Christianity is very workable on many levels and has provided a tidy answer to the meaning of life for millions of people over the centuries. It addresses issues such as our place in the universe, human nature, morals and ethics etc in well defined ways, that if followed correctly, are good enough for most people to be able to get on with life without being distracted by the "big questions".

It works - on a certain level. Unfortunately, for myself and countless others, it has proven to be very lacking, with a very blinkered and fundamentally flawed view of life. I've written copious quantities about this so won't bore you with the details, but the point of this blog is to address my "anti-christian" stand.

My simple answer is this:

If whatever you believe brings love to yourself, and through that, brings love to everyone else...
If whatever you believe breaks down barriers and looks for love and beauty in everything...
If whatever you believe brings life, peace, joy and encouragement...
If whatever you believe accepts everyone without an agenda...
If whatever you believe has no dogma, bigotry, exclusivism or hate...

Then awesome! Go for it!

But if you have the guts and integrity to examine your belief system and find it lacking in any of the above, then it's time to stop and unravel, be prepared for a "crisis of faith", because your beliefs are the problem, not the solution!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Most people (christians included) will say that love is the best thing for everyone. 
We all know that! We all know that if we were really loved exactly as we are, for who we are right now - no strings attached - it would bring a deep peace, comfort and sense of relief.

Love is simply the most important thing any human can experience.

From a christian perspective, love is right up there - "they'll know we are christians by our love...", 1 Cor 13 etc. Every christian will extol the virtues of love, especially the "perfect love of God".

But "christian love" isn't love at all!

Yes, you heard me! Very few christians understand love - real love. They'll talk about how God loves us so much that he died (killed Jesus/Himself, or let him get killed, or any variation on that theme) so that we could experience that love and live eternally loved by God. There's lots of variations on that idea, doctrines etc that show God's love for us in so many ways, but that's basically it.

But in my over 40 years as a christian, I never really loved people without an agenda.

In fact, all my christian friends, the whole church, every church I visited, and every christian book I read, had "the big agenda". It was all part of the great commission mentality: "go forth and preach the gospel etc...", get them saved, bring them into the kingdom. The rest of the world are lost and doomed and only we have the answer. The world will end and how will we feel when we face God and have to account for our lack of passion and persistence in spreading God's saving grace - informing the world of God's love.

So we "loved" people, but we loved them with an agenda. We saw them as lost souls, in need of saving. We learned methods and techniques of doing loving things and how to care and nurture the hurting and broken. We worked hard at being God's "hands on earth" to feed the poor, heal the sick, and to be all that Jesus was.

But we had an agenda! We felt good about loving people. We were genuine and passionate. We'd make friends and help people. Many would go to far lands as missionaries, to bring that love to the poor and lost, to help in practical ways, provide for their needs, help the poor and the widows and orphans.

But we had an agenda! Always, always, in the back of our minds was to get them saved, bring them into the kingdom.

We'd cry real tears for the lost. We'd desperately "seek God" to soften their hearts. We'd be moved by compassion for their situations and genuinely want to help. We'd feel heartbroken for the kids suffering in Africa. We'd be moved with emotion for every needy person.

Jesus clones
But it wasn't love. It was a marketing plan - a very powerful and effective marketing strategy to increase our numbers. We were going to make everyone like us - wonderful caring loving christians who would bring in more wonderful loving christians. But we had no idea what love really is! We knew all the right words, and did all the things that look like love, but we had no idea how to love people simply for who they are. We were moved with powerful emotions and taught how to direct all empathy and compassion into "the mission".

Most christians have absolutely no understanding of what unconditional love is. They don't have empathy and compassion for people. They don't want to know who they are and work with them as fellow humans. They want to get them saved. They want them to experience the same set of beliefs they do, to be like them, to conform to a lifestyle. They want more christians!

Sure, you won't get many to see it like that, let alone understand the implications, but that doesn't change the fact that its the underlying motive for all acts of "love" performed by christians.

No, real love is brainwashed out of us as we "grow in faith". Unconditional love and accepting everyone as equal value is subtly but effectively twisted into a marketing campaign. The emotions we naturally feel when confronted by suffering and pain are redirected into a greater plan, an eternal plan, a far more important plan - at all costs - make them one of us!