Anthony Gifford
Post Christian Author and Speaker

ABOUT ME:  A VERY BIASED OPINION

 

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I was raised in rural/small town north-western Washington State. Our (five kids) parents were teachers/farmer. We were well 'churched' but bored with it. I knew there was a lot more to spiruality than what I was being given, looked into many religious paths during my schooling and graduated from University in California with B. of Ed.. and minors in music and math. 

My father and I had bought a ranch in central  British Columbia and I moved north with Jan as newly-weds, to ranch and teach for eleven years. Church-wise, I alternated  between being active in church involvement (youngest elder in the United Church) and disillusionment. After selling the ranch and having enough money to take some time off, I attended seminary (Vancouver School of Theology), not to become a minister but to learn and explore. 


When I was two years into my studies for a Masters of Divinity degree, I was asked to fill in for a minister who had suddenly left the United Church at Kitimat. Eventually I agreed, and to my surprise I spent nearly two years there, loving it. Because of that experience I placed my name forward to be ordained and spent twenty years in church ministry, trying to bring about change and reality from within traditionally organized religion. Sometimes it worked. 

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I stayed much longer than I should have and left burnt and very unhealthy, needing years to recover strength before I could again hear and do anything than survive.

Now, married to Judy and living on Amherst Island, I have the energy and time to hear and do what and where I am called. The boat on which we lived for some thirteen years has been passed on to friends. We have decided to not run Stella's Cafe in the summer, as we have for the past five years. In short, we are now free. My health is good and I know that because of my age, I'd better get busy and spend my time on what is important. 

I do this not really expecting to be a huge instrument of change, although the world needs it, but  in the hopes that I will leave this life in the knowledge that I have done what I can, sharing with others, in love, what I have come to know and experience. If this at all helps anyone else, what more can I do?

Thank you, in hopes that you will share some of your life with me.

I know we are are not alone. There are many times when the immediate surroundings, events and problems keep me unaware of the all-encompassing 'Other', but very soon, something will  happen that will engage and remind me of the greater reality. This 'Other' is connected to all matter, thought and energy. I know that I am part of it as is every speck of space dust. The 'Theory of Everything' is very real to me. I feel that I am a child of God, and am holy in that way and so also is all of creation. I may be able to respond in ways that a lion or an astroid may not, but I am no more special. Everything is valued and loved.  As I understand it, Love is the basis for everything and is the only Way and standard for life. 

In our human experience this truth has been taught us by many people. There are many paths of understanding that help us to grow. My way is the path of Jesus of Nazareth, not the doctrinal path that Christianity has taken, but the simple and challenging path that was originally shown and is still there for us. To me this path is true and I do my best to  walk it and to share with others my journey, but I in no way suggest that those who travel other paths are not just as true in their journeys. 

            The hallmark, the beginning, the journey and the end of this understanding is the essence and reality of 'community'. Jesus left a very real community, not a belief. We may be able to 'believe' on our own, but we can only truly grow in love and understanding when we deeply join and share with others. Any  who merely 'congregate' or join to hear or applaud, are missing the wholeness of life that is offered us and the world.

If we would truly grow in understanding and love, if we truly value our time of life and would experience joy and love, we will share who and what we are and have, especially with those who are different and are on different paths. There is no conflict here and no competition. The very idea that any God is 'in the pocket' of one understanding alone, would be very bad news indeed. So-called 'fundamentalism' is against the very idea of a loving God and need be branded for the evil that it is, whether Christian, Muslum or any other branch.

The crisis that the world now faces exists because of a gross loss of this understanding. Only a huge deficit of love would allow so few humans to control so many, and a value system that is bringing catastrophe to the whole of our earth can only be sustained when love is absent.  We have allowed our religions to become individualistic and pietistic, forgetting the basis that we are all one people, and that love cannot be kept to ourselves. We have limited our beliefs and attentions to after death and have forgotten life. Using Christian language, we have neglected the incarnation of God, God among us and within us, and have wasted our time and the earth in arguing about who was going to 'earn' some heaven, by believing in a certain way. Unless we, all faiths, leave the narrow, mean and deadly paths behind and chose again the paths of life that we know are there, we are doomed, along with our offspring.

Only with a new understanding that we must truly grow and share life together, growing together in spirit and living, will the world have a chance at a good tomorrow. When our spirituality includes others in openness, then we will have a chance. When we understand that we need others in order to grow, will we do so. Alone, as has been our habit, we will die, and the world with us. Our traditional religions have all grown to be part of the problems. Our worship of stuff and lack love for ourselves has done the rest.

I know this new life is possible. I doubt if it will happen, but I must spend the rest of my life calling for it. 

All I write, speak and share, hopefully, reflects this.