Apparently there are currently about 27 million world-wide, that’s a whole lot of alpha.
Men and women – not sure of the numerical break-down though!
I may have mentioned this in an earlier blog but about three years ago i attended an Alpha course – well how else would one become an alpha male?
The Alpha course is a Christian course designed to introduce people to Jesus – it started in a church in London in 1977 and became most famous when presented by the Reverend Nicky Gumbel. Its usually presented by way of DVD’s, cups of tea and small group chats – whats not to like. It has been presented in community halls, churches, coffee shops and, recently, in a pub in Dun Laoighaire. I attended in a parish hall in Balinteer. Not even my own parish – serendipity of course.
I mention it now because there was reunion in Firhouse last night for people who had attended the courses over the last few years. Being invited, i went – i’m a little bit that way inclined. Unfortunately, most of my class mates were not in attendance, i was hoping to meet up with some of them, but the wonderful organisers were. At this stage my attitude to organisers is well publicized.
Partly because i couldn’t organize my way through the day without help, sometimes professional help.
Having praised the organisers, let me say that my classmates were wonderful – when you meet such great people you really do end up wondering how the planet is in the state it is. The tea and conversation were also above average. In fact the only gripe i would have was about the content of the course and even most of that was OK. One of the things which bothered me was that the Reverend Gumbel provided a lot of ‘evidence’ for the existence of Jesus and this is one of the aspects of the course that convinces people that Jesus really did exist. One of the speakers last night referred to it again as being a wonderful thing. From what i’ve read, which is very little really, the evidence doesn’t stand up; not that that actually has anything to do with whether Jesus lived or not – i believe he did, in spite of the lack of factual evidence. What bothers me though is that Reverend Gumbel should know that the evidence he was providing – supposed to be good enough to stand up in a court of law, is actually unreliable. Why would you do that? That’s the kind of thing which puts me off immediately because my suspicious nature is aroused, and, once aroused, is difficult to placate again.
If you believe in Jesus why would you exaggerate the proof that he existed? If you respected him and his message why would you think that he would be impressed by you claiming evidence of his existence was bona fide when it isn’t. What part of your knowledge of Jesus would persuade you to do that?
Why wouldn’t you say, “Well there isn’t really any reliable evidence or proof that Jesus ever existed and many say that the person we know from the Bible and other stories was actually made up of several individuals. That time in Israel saw many minor leaders who proclaimed that they were the Messiah or a chosen one of God in an attempt to garner popular support for a rising against the Romans. There is considerable evidence that many references to Jesus in ancient manuscripts were inserted by monks or others who were copying the documents by hand at a later stage and who felt that some references to the life of Jesus were appropriate”.
How would such comments diminish Jesus in any way if he did exist.
Anyway – that’s just my thoughts.
The truth, and being truthful, bothers me a lot these days. My epitaph shall read;
“He said he’d die
He didn’t lie”
A few people spoke about how Jesus had come into their lives after attending an Alpha course and it was genuinely moving. My tutor had asked me if i would say something if i had a chance and the lady with the mike stood in front of me. Was this a chance? Should i harangue them about the evidential nature for the existence of Jesus, should i express my concerns that people, and churches, were hung up, no pun intended, over the death of Jesus rather than concentrating on his life and what he tried to teach us about how to live? Maybe not. So i reiterated how my life was mainly spent running from Jesus and how he seems to keep running after me. I received a lovely clap and i had spoken the truth.
Then a choir of four young people sang some beautiful hymns including one of my favorites, ‘Amazing Grace’. Now it was time for tea. I spoke briefly to my tutor, catching up with happenings. I explained to her how my relationship with the church had just collapsed again due to their woeful and wrongful attitude to marriage, including to same sex marriage. Why do they always get it wrong?
I had, a couple of months ago, in an impetuous moment, volunteered at my local church to spend an hour a week sitting there in prayer and meditation, part of a Eucharistic Adoration that they had organised. I told my tutor that i was finding it difficult to go after the referendum. I hadn’t decided whether i’d never to go back or whether i just had to work my way through my anger. And don’t talk to me about changing organisations from within, with the church you stand more chance altering the earth’s orbit.
Today my phone rang – unknown number. A lovely sounding lady on the other end explaining that she usually did the Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays but couldn’t make it tomorrow as she had an appointment and would i mind swapping with her and she would do my stint on Thursday. Well of course i agreed – who wouldn’t help someone out like that if it was within ones ability.
So it looks like i’m back
Walk in peace and truth my friends