Record of meeting,11 November 2009

We met on 11 November at David Lambourn’s home Present were David Belcher, John Challenor, Sara Clethero, Stephen Cox, Paul Graham, David Lambourn, and Stephen Williams. Apologies from John Howard and George Gregg.

We discussed Don Cupitt’s latest book, Jesus and Philosophy. We agreed that it was an enjoyable and stimulating read, but felt that it could have been rather better; that the arguments were too loose and rather ill-disciplined at times. There were some contradictions and factual inaccuracies, especially with regard to Jesus’ interaction with his community. There was a feeling that in some ways Cupitt was still coming at his subject from a metaphysical angle with his emphasis on the spiritual significance of Jesus. It was also felt that some of his images (Jesus as secular prophet; the ‘slow-burning fuse’, nature as machinery) were either anachronistic or misleading. Perhaps in his search for a radical humanistic Jesus Cupitt had found what he was expecting to find. It was felt that the promise of the early chapters on the development of the ethical argument was dissipated by the effort later on to focus on a coherent ethical programme proposed by Jesus and rule out any contradictory material.

The discussion widened into more general considerations such as the Quaker perspective of refusing to distinguish ’between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’, the degree to which we should put our trust in the Jesus Seminar categories, and the importance of the interaction between individuals and community in the development of ethics.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 17 December at 7.30pm at David Lambourn’s home, 28 Frederick Road, Edgbaston. We did not propose a specific agenda for this meeting but suggested we might all have a go at offering some reflections on the Christmas phenomenon from a ‘Sea of Faith’ perspective.

Future meetings will be on 27 January and 3 March 2010 by which time we will endeavour to have read The Case for God by Karen Armstrong.