[Book preview] How to be a bad christian… and a better human being – Dave Tomlinson

I came across an interesting new book mentioned by someone who commented in another blog – the title of the book is called (humorously yet with some truths) “How to be a bad christian… and a better human being“.

One reviewer wrote in Amazon.com wrote:

“How to be a Bad Christian – and a Better Human Being” is a rare book from an Anglican vicar. It is down-to-earth, funny and challenging. Tomlinson is more interested in people than doctrine, spirituality than religion, questioning than certainty and how we live than what we believe.”

I would see this book as yet another much needed bridge for those who are disillusioned with the fundamentalist christian religion and institutional churches, and are finding their way to reconcile their own faith in God/Divine outside of the religious institutions. The author Dave Tomlinson wrote the book with a warm, personable and pastoral voice, which reminds me a bit of Darin Hufford in his book “The Misunderstood God“. I have checked out his book preview, and some parts resonate with me, such as:

“But I cannot believe that God divides the world between churchgoers and non-churchgoers, or between people who believe and people who don’t believe. What an absurd idea. Surely God has more sophistication to his judgement than this! Surely God has to be more interested in the kind of people we are, the choices we make in life and the way we treat people than in what we do with our Sunday mornings?

Far from it: some of the most moving and impressive spiritual insights I encounter come from people who never go near a church or consider themselves religious.

Traditionally, Christians have portrayed God as a father figure, but we can equally picture God as a mother, a loving parent, a constant presence in good times and bad, who is there for us.

The Quakers have a wonderful way of understanding this with the idea of an ‘inner light’, or ‘the Christ within’. They hold that there is ‘that of God’ within everyone, and this has nothing to do with religion or churchgoing; it’s part of being human.”

The author went on to propose that the word “christian” be seen more as a verb (as a spiritual practice) rather than a noun (as a belief system). In that sense, I think anyone can be a “christian”, by living in or practising the consciousness of the Presence of Love within us and around us, and by loving others as loving oneself. A self-professed buddhist or an atheist then can be “christian”, for that matter, just as a christian or an atheist can also be “buddhist”, by living the buddhist way of life through practising compassion and meditation.

I like the witty aspect of the book title because in order to be a better human being (as in learning to be a more compassionate and genuine human being by living an authentic and intellectually honest life and embracing the fullness of our humanity with all our doubts and weaknesses), we will inevitably be seen as “bad Christians” in the eyes of some religious establishments. If that is so, we can actually wear the “bad Christian” badge proudly because it is a testimony that our freedom to be our true self has offended their religious sensibilities and limited worldviews (though in normal circumstances, I would rather not subscribe to any label since we are all one).

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