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4 April 2016: Book “How to be a Bad Christian” by Dave Tomlinson, led by Heidrun

This book has a provocative title and is part of a series of “How to be a Bad ….” where ‘Bad’ has the implication of being non-conformist compared with the established behaviours of the particular book’s subject matter.  In this case the author’s position is to expose the differences between a set of beliefs and ‘faith in one’s belly’.  We noted that we all have a set of religious/Christian beliefs as well as a greater or lesser degree of faith.  What might be the nature of such a faith – suggestions – a gut feeling, something/power in the universe, the goodness in all livings things especially sentient beings, that the universe is heading in the right direction, evolution is called into a journey, our journey through life is somehow ‘guided’.

The author also devotes considerable space to a discussion on the characteristics of Spiritual Intelligence SI – a parallel concept to IQ and EQ.  This prompted much discussion on whether a high SI was reflected in a higher level of faith compared with beliefs. Questions challenging what others say/contend (eg sermons) and creeds generally do not trouble those with a strong faith; there are no ‘keystone’ beliefs to loosen imperilling one’s whole belief structure.  What are the bedrocks to still being a Christian – if any?  Suggestions – compassion, love, treat others as you would wish to be treated (The Golden Rule), a sense of community, characteristics which Jesus portrayed.  We noted that boundaries need to be challenged if anything is to move forward – be that religious beliefs, technology, cooking etc.  One can foster one’s spiritual growth ie strengthen SI, through prayer, silence, mediation, wellness, appreciating nature.  There are 4 factors the author contends that give meaning to life – self-worth, personal authenticity, relationships and a sense of purpose (vocation).