Like so many others here, I must write to say thank you.
I am the descendant of generations of clergymen and religious devotees on both sides on my family. Through no choice of my own, religion oversaw the first 15 or so years of my life. It was another 8 years before I encountered your work, and that of Sam, Christopher, Anthony and Dan, all of whom have given me a courage I’d never known before, and in general, a newfound intellectual curiosity. This, I would say, is one of the most pleasurable and fulfilling things anyone can hope to have.
Drawing upon the ‘inside knowledge’ of my early years, I can increasingly see how the model of thought and communication embodied by religion is a counterproductive and unfortunate paradigm replicated in other spheres, particularly politics – founded as it is upon fear, control, inequality of knowledge, and the terrible idea that some people’s lives are worth more than others.
I would recommend, if they have not already done so, that an expert in psychology – perhaps a colleague of yours – closely studied what people are required to chant week in, week out in the C of E Eucharist and published their findings. My feeling, when I have since returned to church out of courtesy on family occasions, is that the beginning of the service consists of a repeated and re-inforced self-abasement designed to flatten and nullify the spirit; before offering redemption through christ’s forgiveness – much like the bully offering to give the smaller kid back his pocket money, if only he will get down on his knees and beg for it.
It is clear to see the intellectual harm done by religion: I am convinced it does much emotional harm to its participants too.
My sincerest thanks for opening the door to an infinitely greater universe.