‘Religion for Atheists’ by Alain de Botton is an unlikely book choice for a Christian Minister! Yet de Botton’s premise is a fascinating one: What good ideas can atheists ‘steal’ (jacket summary) from religions? It’s a surprisingly respectful book, embracing many values which depict a Christian way of life and make for a functional society. I would prefer ‘a sharing of wisdom for the benefit of all’ approach, however. There is much to be learned from those who have different beliefs and backgrounds to our own.
Thus, it gives me pause to reflect on what Lane Cove Community Chaplaincy offers to our community. Our activities are intentional about being ‘good news’ in a very open way for people beyond Church structures. At a time when there is much relational disconnection, we offer activities to enable people to come together in creative and affirming ways. No distinctions are drawn and everyone is welcomed.
Whereas I make no apology for this open approach, a danger exists of selling people short, if these community offerings are conceived to be ‘the best of Christianity’. Creating affirming community is a good, but not our best, practice. Forming supportive community is something many churches have done well for centuries, but it is more of a by-product of Christianity. Faith in God brings so much more depth and richness than this! It produces much needed qualities such as resilience, hope for the present and the future, peace, integrity and wholeness of being, release from shame and guilt, to name a few.
I don’t lead a traditional Church - although I am supported by one - Lane Cove Uniting Church. Instead, I host spaces where people can explore what Christianity has to offer them, alongside others who are doing the same. Contact me for more information about these or one of our many activities (see Groups and Events) which are there for all to enjoy and enrich one another.
Jesus said, ‘My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life,’ (from the Bible, John 10:10 NLT).
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.