About Me

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I have been performing wedding blessings and marriage ceremonies for almost 30 years.

For the last 10 years, or so, the ceremonies I perform are independent of any particular church or institution.

Who I am:

- I am a Celtic priest and monk
- I am in my early 60's
- I am married with four young children
- I belong to the Celtic spiritual tradition but not to any formal church, sect or cult
- I am freelance and self-employed

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Christian churches

It is clear to me from studying the history of Christianity that each of the mainstream churches has chosen to follow two agendas at the same time. The second agenda hides behind the first, and when it is forced to show itself, masquerades as the first. The first agenda is to promote the inspirational life story and teachings of Jesus. This story can indeed be life-giving and liberational for people. Many people are drawn into these churches for this reason. The second agenda however is to promote the institution which has been created and the power of hierarchies within that institution. In doing this, however, there is no choice but to act contrary to the example and teachings of Jesus who preached a certain type of powerlessness. Jesus did not set up an institution. He distributed his teachings like seed on the wind. Many church members whom we now see as saints have indeed followed this example of powerlessness and lived lives of heroic love and compassion. But while some members of the churches can be said to have understood the message of Jesus accurately, this cannot be said of the institutions themselves. If we study and analyse the values that are embodied in the structures of the institutions, we can see clearly that they are not values that Jesus espoused. Jesus did not espouse the centralisation of power nor the creation of human hierarchies of authority. He did not espouse the idea of an exclusive society nor that one could sit in judgement over another. Jesus preached values that were contrary to the values of institutional Judaism of his day. He confronted those structures by facing down the people who promoted them. He was at his most vehement when opposing people whose hypocrisy was such that they claimed these structures were God-given. Very similar structures are present in today's Christian churches and the same hypocrisy is present in defending them. The path that Jesus took led to his death at a young age. When he saw his death looming on the horizon, he did not act in any way to protect himself or to avoid the inevitable. Church institutions would burn themselves out very quickly if they were to truly espouse the values of Jesus. But these institutions have a strong aversion to dying or even letting go. Their very existence fundamentally compromises the insights that Jesus tried to communicate. My spirituality is drawn from a reflection on the life of Jesus and on the Celtic spiritual tradition. I do not any longer belong to any church. Much of the theology and the ecclesiastical power-play that came in the centuries after the time of Jesus, I reject, have no time for, or see as irrelevant. You will see from my writings, that for me a church that declares itself 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic' is part of the problem of globalisation and of the loss of diversity in the world. As Jesus said, you can know things by their fruits. Seriously bad fruits have come from the promotion of homogeneity in the world. I do not believe that there is one true church. This is a human invention designed to achieve power over others. In the process it has wiped out indigenous spiritualities all across the world and been a major contributor to the loss of cultural diversity. I also do not subscribe to the idea of a clerical hierarchy of priests, bishops, archbishops, etc. To me, Apostolic Succession and Sacramental Orders are human inventions dressed up as 'God-given' in order to allocate power, authority and status to certain people. I see them as contrary to the teaching and example of Jesus who envisioned a society where the 'mighty' would be 'cast down from their thrones' and the 'lowly' would be 'raised up'. He envisioned a society of equals. You will see from the history of the Irish monks in the early period of Celtic Christianity, when they began to travel across Europe, that they had little time or patience for bishops or even the Pope in Rome, with all their pomp and ceremony and their luxurious palaces. All these monks wanted for themselves was to be left alone without interference (see the writings of Columbanus to the Pope). Just as Jesus did not accept the teaching authority of the scribes and Pharisees, so too, I do not accept the claims of authority that come from clerical hierarchies. People in the time of Jesus saw that he 'spoke with authority'. This was not the authority of some official in a church, nor was it the authority of someone with an appropriate degree from a university. Jesus had no external authority bestowed upon him by his society. He was a simple carpenter and nobody had appointed him to be anything else. His authority, which people recognised, came from within himself where he had found a source of deep truth and love. His encouragement to others was to find that same source of truth and love deep within themselves and to live their lives from that place. This to me is also at the heart of Celtic spirituality. You will see this in the writings of Pelagius. To summarise, Jesus got it more or less right but institutions founded in his name got it very definitely wrong. Don't be confused between the two!