Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Leaving Alexandria" - A Memoir that looks forward in HOPE!

On Sunday morning, I had the opportunity to listen to the entirety of Michael Enright's Sunday Morning programme on CBC radio ... it has been YEARS since I've been able to take in all three hours of that programme ... and what a wonderful three hours it was!!!

One of the highlights for me was the delightful interview with Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The focus of this interview was the recently published memoirs of Bishop Holloway entitled "Leaving Alexandria".

The interview (and the memoirs) focused on the hopeful and hope-FILLED journey of faith and life that Bishop Holloway has made in his seven plus decades. Holloway acknowledged that he has moved from a fervent and very evangelical understanding of faith, to a place that affirms the necessity of doubt and uncertainty while placing our trust in some kind of Holiness that permeates all of Life and the Cosmos while filling us with JOY.


What a concept in a faith journey. Instead of focusing on certainty and fear, Holloway stressed the necessity of celebrating the awe and wonder that comes with allowing Joy to define and motivate our faith.

In the interview and in his memoirs, Holloway also notes the dire need to proclaim, embody and share this Joyous Hope in our world today ... we live in a time ripe with shadowy darkness and overwhelmed by paralyzing FEAR. And instead of offering the Gospel that counters that fear and darkness, the Church has in its complacency accepted and adopted that stance of fear ...

Fortunately, voices like Holloway's continue to speak of the maturity and progression of Faith that chooses actively to focus on Hope, and Joy, and Love rather than negative spiritual values that deny life ... Holloway's book is a refreshing breath of fresh air that not only offers hope, but affirms the ministry that sometimes seems so damned futile ... Being willing to stand up and proclaim the Gospel of Hope that we have been entrusted with means facing the fears that run rampant in our world, and daring to dream of a different way of framing not only our faith, but our lives as well.

Holloway reminds us that there are no easy answers to the complex questions of life and faith ... but starting from a place of Joy rather than Fear means many of those complex questions are suddenly rendered meaningless ... after all, aren't most arguments and disagreements ultimately about vociferously defending our point of view because we FEAR the possibility of being WRONG? When we remove fear from the equation, suddenly being wrong isn't a negative, but an opportunity for enlightenment, growth and maturity.

Holloway's book is worth finding and reading ... and his wise counsel is worth heeding ...

Along the way, in Holloway's book I read the ABSOLUTE BEST quotation about Human Sexuality that I have encountered since reading Canadian Catholic Theologian Fr. Andrea Guindon's writings on sex while I was a student at Queens' Theology. Holloway quite astutely observes:

Sadly, Christianity has been more intent on repressing and misrepresenting sex than on helping people manage it wisely. It wouldn't have been so bad if the Church had said to the children of the earth: "We know you are going to be enthralled by the mystery of sexuality, which is hardly surprising since it is the energy of life itself. We know it will have the power to take you over for its own purposes, and we know you won't always be able to resist it. Try at least to think about its possible consequences. Recognize that sex has the potential to hurt and devastate, as well as the capacity to thrill. Understand that it will get all tied up with your need for consolation and acceptance. And never forget the sheer fucking insanity of it all" Sadly, that's not how they put it, and their response has bedevilled Christianity's relationship with humanity ever since. 
 (Page 74 - Leaving Alexandria by Richard Holloway)

For a review of Holloway's book - click here.

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