Friday, 20 February 2015

WHAT I BELIEVE


Bishop Pat Buckley

February 2015

I feel the need to commit to paper a summary of what my beliefs are. In 1994 I wrote my own “Credo” (reproduced below) and twenty one years later I still believe what I wrote then.

However I do find myself now living in a time where all faith and belief is being challenged – especially by very intelligent and articulate people like the actor Stephen Fry and the intellectual Richard Dawkins. In fact you could say we live in an age that is typified, by on one hand, “fundamentalist believers” and on the other hand, “fundamentalist atheists”.   And of course this is fine. All are entitled to their beliefs and to the free expression of them.


(Richard - Don't generalise - I am not satisfied with not understanding the world. Like you I am on a searching journey and I have more questions than answers about the world, the universe, mankind, God, science etc. I am totally open to having any or all my beliefs challenged)

I cannot identify myself with either camp. I am a freethinking, liberal and open-minded Christian and I am happy to have anyone challenge my beliefs. But I do not appreciate fundamentalism of any kind and I believe that many people undermine their beliefs by adopting fundamentalist and dogmatic approaches. Ranting and raving never won an argument for anyone. Unfortunately we live in a ranting, raving and intolerant world and I truly wish we did not.

So what do I believe?

1.     I believe that God exists and I believe this not because of anything I was ever taught or told. I believe in God because I have experienced God in my heart and mind and spirit and in the happenings – the joys and sufferings - of my life.


2.     I believe in a personal God who is intimately involved in every detail of everything that happens in everybody’s life and everything that happens – both good and bad – in the world and the universe(s). I believe this phemenon was expressed by Jesus Christ when he said that not a hair falls out of our head without God knowing and caring about it.



3.     I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is God and the Son of God and I believe in his total and physical resurrection from the dead and I believe totally in the miracles he worked during his life on this earth.

4.     I believe in The Trinity – the belief that our One God has three personalities or manifestations that we have come to call: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that the doctrine of The Trinity is a man-made but divinely revealed doctrine and that it is the best way, yet thought of, to speak of a reality that is actually beyond words.

5.       I believe that “The Church” is the Family of Mankind and consists of all the people that have ever lived or will lived.

6.     I believe that organised religion can be either GOOD or BAD and that in most instances throughout history and even today it has been and is of the BAD variety and has been one of the greatest causes of misunderstanding, division, hatred and war among mankind.

7.     I believe that SPIRITUALITY is purer than religion and that FAITH is purer than BELIEF.

8.     I believe that historical Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism and all the other “isms” are a departure from pure spirituality and faith and are in fact repugnant to the true God and the true God’s wishes and desires for the universe(s) the world and mankind.

9.     I believe that organised religion is essentially about small “castes” in each religion controlling the “masses” for the furtherance of their own power, prestige, influence and wealth. These castes come in many different varieties – popes, bishops, priests, moderators, ayatollahs, rabbis, imams, ministers, pastors………



10.                         I believe that “religion” is the “opium of the masses” and that a true, searching, thinking, spirituality is the antidote to that poison.

11.                         I believe that a true spirituality always expresses itself by taking the side of the “oppressed” against the “status quo”. As such I believe that any religion that takes the side of the “status quo” against the “oppressed” proves itself immediately to be a spurious and probably dangerous religion.



TO BE CONTINUED............................


 A PERSONAL CREED

I believe that in this world it is impossible to understand God.
I believe that God made this wonderful universe and all that exists.
I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment.
I believe that God made all men and women,
That He made them all equal,
And that He loves and cherishes them all equally.
I believe that the whole human race is the family of God.
I believe that there may be intelligent life on other planets
And if so, they too are part of God’s family.
I hold that religion and faith are two different things,
That religion can be both good and bad
And that it is spirituality that counts.
For me your religion is an accident of your birth
Or a gift of God’s great providential diversity.
There is no one true church.
All churches and all religions contain aspects of the truth.
But only God is truth.
No man is infallible.
A Buddhist or a good atheist is as acceptable to God as a good Catholic.
I believe that sex is good and so is the body.
The only sexual act that is sinful is the one that uses or abuses.
I believe in people, especially suffering people.
I believe in the power of weakness.
I believe that all men and women will be saved.
I believe in a packed Heaven and an empty Hell.
And even Satan might get another chance.
I believe in the freedom of God’s sons and daughters.
I believe that dogma is often evil.
I believe that life is a journey towards God
And that no one has the right to insist that you go a certain road.
I believe that God and reality are too big for my poor words.
I believe therefore that I am only at a beginning.
Only knocking at a door.
And I believe that the best is yet to come.

(1994)



16 comments:

  1. What a load of self serving clap trap

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    1. What an intelligent and rational comment.

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  2. Pat, you say you believe in god because you have experienced god in your mind, heart and spirit. It may be very real to you, but I'm obliged to wonder how objectively real was this experience and what evidence is there to support it?

    I ask this not to ridicule or negate, but to provide some points for reflection.

    Neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks has described patients' experiences and how they have thereby been affected. In his recent book, "Hallucinations" (Picador 2012), he defines hallucinations as seeing hearing or feeling things which are not actually present. This phenomena is often linked to certain deficits in other senses, eg auditory, visual or smell systems. Physical deficits too, such as amputees experiencing 'very real sensations' in absent limbs provide potent examples of the power of hallucinations to convince their subject of a reality not actually/objectively present.
    Brain imagining studies, with and without hallucinating drugs are now beginning to understand both how common are hallucinations, both major and minor, and how powerfully real they are to their subject.

    Where hallucinations are of a religious nature, they often become such powerful convictions as to lead to life changing attitudes and behaviour. But how 'real' are they outside the brain of the subject?
    For some, undoubtedly, the change can be dramatic. But I return to the question of objectivity. To take one well known dramatic "conversion", biblical scholars have argued about what actually happened to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Whatever it was, the various versions of Acts of the Apostles Ch 22 seem to agree that nobody else but Saul actually heard/understood the alleged voice. Was it a real or imagined voice?
    It was certainly real enough for Saul as Paul, to completely change from persecutor to disciple.
    MourneManMichael.
    PS. C'mon folks, don't be shy. Stick your oar in and let's have your pennyworth of thoughts too.

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    1. Dear MMM,

      Thank you for your rational, challenging and logically focused comment.

      I agree with you that ALL of us are prone to hallucinations and I am no exception.

      But what about when you are part of a small group and have the same experience? I say this being well aware of power of mass hysteria.

      Can I give you two examples?

      My mother Jo died on 3.8.2006.

      On 3.8.2007 I was having dinner here at home with 4 friends - none of whom had met my Mum.

      At 10.40 and 11.20 pm all 5 of us sawJo at my front door - actually activating all the security lights outside. My friends just reacted very calmly at 10.40 by saing: "Pat - I think there is a woman at the door looking for you".

      On another occasion my sister, a friend and I were having a cup of tea one afternoon in my kitchen. I felt the presence of a figure standing beside me and my sister and friend saw the figure. The room was filled with an exceptional sense of peace for 20 minutes.

      These things have only happened to me on a small number of occasions in my 62 years.

      There were and are as REAL to me as being physically in the presence of a human being - and others witnessed?

      I am sure various people can offer explanations.

      I cannot deny this reality.

      Pat.

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    2. Buckley you are a heretic. The Catholic Church is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ. You will burn in hell for your heresy!

      Faithful and True Priest - Down and Connor.

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    3. Father, I'm afraid that all that steam in the Gay Sauna has affected your grey matter. You need to give up that steam for Lent. Hopefully by Easter Sunday the mist will have lifted.

      By the way did you hear that our es-steamed colleague, The Very Reverend James Donaghy PP, VF, Bangor was dismissed from the priesthood this week by Pope Francis.

      He was a Faithful and True priest of OUR ONE TRUE CHURCH too.

      PP D&C

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    4. Makes me think-this lot! Have you wondered why humanity in prehistoric times was drawn towards Animism & later more complicated forms of "God Seeking" I believe in the hierarchy of creation and that working with and treating animals with respect helps us to see how we are "god" to the animal & natural world. Understanding the hierarchy of creation through reflective knowledge can make us more aware of Gods working in our lives Sean

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    5. Rev Donaghy was not dismissed. One is a priest for ever. In R C terms he had his operating lisense revoked. Sean

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    6. Yes, MMM, the psychiatric/neurological disorder known as hallucination can account for SOME of the phenomena you mention, but not the entire spectrum of such experience. To think that it can is to present a mind
      that is not truly open and not truly scientifically rational.

      Many people with such experiences have been medically tested and found
      NOT to be suffering with such disorder. If there is no medical explanation
      for them, then what are we left with?

      By the way, the companions of Saul of Tarsus may not have experienced
      Saul's vision on the road to Damascus, but, according to Acts of the
      Apostles, they DID hear what Saul heard.


      I suppose dogmatic scientists like Professor Richard Dawkins, in
      desperation to vindicate their atheism, would argue that this experience was just an instance of collective hallucination, without offering (or being
      able to offer) any sensible scientific evidence.

      Doubtless Professor Dawkins will spend Eternity trying to convince God
      that he doesn't exist. But then, I'm told God has a sense of humour. He would need to have - he created all of us!

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  3. I would like to disassociate myself from the comments of the above at 11.41 am - the so called: "Faithful and True Priest - Down and Connor".

    In the 21st century I am shocked and sad that a priest colleague of mine would be calling anyone a heretic and threatening them with hell.

    Priest D&C

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  4. Such occurrances as the visiting presences you describe Pat are said to be common. But difficulties arise when explanations and interpretations of them are made from within a limited framework of understanding. And human knowledge and understanding is continually developing and in the broad brushstroke of history, is relatively primitive and as yet very basic.
    Concerning senses, dogs for example often show an awareness of what humans don't perceive. Birds have been known to fly en masse a considerable distance to avoid some impending natural disaster of which humans are unaware until the event takes place. There is a hierarchy and multitude of animal senses from which the human species possesses but a limited number, yet commonly and arrogantly assume a completeness and totality to our perceptions.
    The wonderful mechanisms of human ears developed from ancestral fish lateral line receptors. Dolphins astonish humans with an intelligence which interprets information through skin receptors completely different yet functioning similar to some human senses like ears.
    And on it goes, and will continue: the whole wonderful continuing complexity of adaptation and evolvement of our senses and knowledge through countless aeons.

    So here we find ourselves as humans arrogantly assuming that we are the ultimate end product, the finished article, the ultimate perfection enlightened with a belief and 'knowledge' of a creator we symbiotically revere and acquiesce to his/her wish for our recognition of his/her position at the apex of creation.
    At this stage, words fail me!
    MourneManMichael.

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  5. I believe God is an Extra Terrestrial but much much more. I believe calling God Father (or mother) helps us communicate but God is not a sexual reproducing entity as we understand the concept. That being said Jesus is/was truly human and is part of the Trinity. I believe those who spout one true church are consumed by their own inadequcies. I believe concentrating on the scientific aspects of transubstantiation misses the point. Eucharist is what it is-The mystery of the Risen Jesus among us. I believe that the little voice that told me not to insist jenny (pregnant stepdaughter) put her seatbelt on when our car was written off was the voice of God. If she had the belt on her unborn twins could have been lost or seriously injured. She was unhurt and they were un effected and are well and happy. Sean

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  6. Pat, those supernatural experiences you recounted must have brought you trememdous comfort.

    My mum, who's still alive, once told me that when she passes over, she'll try to reassure me in the ways you experienced. I told her that if she managed this, not to
    do it in the middle of the night in my darkened bedroom - otherwise she'd find me immediately on the Other Side through heart failure!

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    1. I understand what you say.

      The amazing things about "supernatural experiences" is that when they are happening they seem so NATURAL.

      Its only afterwards that it hits you - in a good way.

      Pat

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    2. Natural? Thank God for that! For my mum is a woman of her word.

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