Author Archives: Alister Pate

Its melancholy withdrawing roar?

This blog post is part of a series (starting here) exploring what Charles Taylor can teach us about how faith and secularity interact in his (enormous) work A Secular Age. One of Taylor’s main points seems to be that there is a big story in our culture that Science inevitably replaces Faith. Matthew Arnold’s poem On […]

Charles Taylor and The Sea of Faith

The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world Matthew Arnold On Dover Beach […]

ANZAC Day, The Meaningful Cosmos, and Jesus the Cornerstone

When we look outwards, we see the wheeling, uncaring universe. When we look within we are stirred by the call to self sacrifice of ANZAC day. How do we make sense of our lives in a way that joins the little picture of my life to the big picture of the universe?

Grains of Wheat and Suffering

This is a complex passage, with a lot going on. Greeks want to see Jesus. But instead they go and talk to one of his disciples, who then finds another disciple, and then go to Jesus (with the Greeks?) Jesus then, instead of saying yes or no, makes the declaration that his hour has now […]

John the Baptizer and Salvation History

The opening line of the gospel spells out our theme for today: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This week we remember Jesus’ place in salvation history – the actual event of his coming into the world, in the context of the story of God’s dealings with the […]

Jesus, Independence Day and Countercultural Hope

What can the film Independence Day and 911 teach us about Jesus’ mysterious, not to say alarming, apocalyptic language in his prediction of the fall of the Temple? Is there anything more countercultural than hope?

Brené Brown, Faith, and Certainty

In a video on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Brene Brown talks about how she “fell in love with the faith and the mystery piece.” However, over time her experience of church, “became less about faith and mystery, and more about politics and certainty.”
What does it mean for a church to live in “faith and mystery” rather than certainty? What is the relationship between “certainty” and “mystery” in a community of faith? Is the preacher really quite as certain as she or he seems? What lies behind the drive to certainty, and is there another way for a church to live with faith and well-honouring the mystery at the heart of life?