Time and Tide, Sea of Faith beyond the Millennium

O Books (in association with the SoFN (UK) 2001
Reviewed by Lloyd Geering

This is a collection of essays selected and edited by several members of the UK SoF and dedicated to the memory of Pamela Donahue, who organized the annual SoF Conferences for the first 12 years.

Its purpose is to stimulate thought and discussion on where the SoF Network is heading, if anywhere. Stephen Mitchell, current Chairman of the Steering Committee, usefully selects for comment some of the salient events in the life of the SoF to date.

Don Cupitt’s contribution, ‘Prologue’, is very short - almost a precis of what he said at our own Conference in 2000, when he suggested that the Sea of Faith offers ‘a first draft of the church of the future - the first truly liberating church’.

Karen Armstrong writes on “God and the Future’ and warns us we do not need to work out our metaphysical beliefs before we begin to live in a religious way. Instead of puzzling about the reality or the non-reality of the divine we do better to practice the compassion taught by all the great religions; if we do so, we shall then glimpse the sacredness that gives meaning to our lives.

Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok introduces us to Jewish Reconstructionism and Jewish Humanism, which have already become a part of the mainstream of Jewish life in USA and which are not perceived as a threat to faith in the way the Sea of Faith has been seen by the traditional church.

Paul Davies, a physicist of international repute, finds Don Cupitt one of the most exciting theologians but discusses where he parts company with him. He believes the SoF needs to take on board all that the scientific community can provide by way of understanding this ingeniously ordered universe.

Richard Holloway, the controversial Bishop of Edinburgh, who wrote Godless Morality, discusses Don Cupitt, relativism and the separation of church and state, under the title of ‘Mixed Bathing in the Sea of Faith’.

Graham Shaw tells how and why he moved from being an Anglican priest to the role of Clerk of a Quaker Meeting.

These are a few of the dozen or so contributions, all of which are worth discussing by people in the SoF, as we work our way forward. It is to be hoped that it will be followed in the future by more of such symposia.

Lloyd Geering