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Big

This is a poster I saw the other day, outside St James the Less, which is a church very near to where I live. And no, I am afraid I do not know what “the Less” means, although perhaps a commenter will.

What I found bizarre was how they describe God. They do not come over as monotheists. They make it seem like there are lots of gods (with a small g) to choose between, and they chose a big one. Or maybe they have a big god of their own stashed away somewhere.

StJamestheLessS.jpg

Interested? Here is the website. Although “equipping through ministry for mission” does not sound like much of a slogan to me.

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50 comments to Big

  • Patrick

    Allow me. “St James the Less” was one of Christ’s apostles; the son of Alphaeus of Cleophas and Mary, a relative of the Virgin, sometimes called “the Brother of Christ”. He is called “the Less” to distinguish him from the other apostle named James, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. John who is called St. James the Greater”.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08280a.htm

  • Verity

    I think they’re just trying to say that they’re not going to demand anything from you if you just come and visit. It’s rather sad, but touching. That “Live music” promise is just awful. And I went to their site and the choices on their little poll show how they don’t understand what has happened to Christianity. Their religion has been assaulted for a purpose and they don’t understand. Sometimes the naiveté of Christians is heartbreaking.

  • Nick M

    Yeah, ever seen Trinity Broadcasting Network? They naively fleece the vulnerable, gullible and weak out of millions. For good or ill a lot of Christians know exactly what they’re up to.

    CoE don’t of course. If Satan came round with his whole diabolic horde they’d offer tea and cake and a nice sit down so they could discuss ecumenical matters and resolve their differences.

  • Verity

    The viciousness of some of you people is mind-boggling. How you hate Christianity! The vicious intolerance is chilling! Why can’t you leave other human beings alone? The problem is with you, not other people going about their lives as they see fit.

  • Julian Taylor

    It strikes me as a imitation of the slightly more successful Catholic campaign at ‘trendifying’ churchgoing being practiced elsewhere in the UK. Unfortunately for SJTL it can’t be too easy being stuck between the Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic faith in the UK (Westminster cathedral) and a major CoE Episcolean church (St Saviours in St Georges Square). I daresay they need all the help they can get to attract a congregation.

  • guy herbert

    To clarify the point about the saints, ‘great’ and ‘less’ were references to physical size: the apostles were Big Jim and Little Jim to their colleagues. It didn’t mean one was a better or more important disciple than the other.

  • J

    I asked God for strength, but in the end I was too weak and couldn’t resist:

    The viciousness of some of you people is mind-boggling. How you hate Islam! The vicious intolerance is chilling! Why can’t you leave other human beings alone? The problem is with you, not other people going about their lives as they see fit.

    The naiveté of Christians is just like the naiveté of charities and aid organisations – it’s not heartbreaking, it’s tiresome, but luckily it’s also much rarer than you suppose.

  • Pete_London

    What Verity said, in both posts. It is odd how rationalist individualists are so ready to jump, almost en masse one could say, on anything religious. It bears an uncanny resemblence to an article of faith. A word to the sometimes unwise – go away and leave people alone.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    It is odd how rationalist individualists are so ready to jump, almost en masse one could say, on anything religious.

    Nothing odd about it. Rational people will tend to “jump” on the irrational as a matter of course. Good.

  • John

    Other comments have cleared up the distinction between the two apostolic Jameses–a distinction I would have thought was a matter of basic cultural literacy for all true-born Britons, but let that pass. Being old, crotchety, and conservative, I prefer to see a capital letter used for the Deity, or perhaps deity, not to mention ordinary proper nouns, but the informality of the lower case is generally regarded as rather hip among the young and young at heart, such as the designers of this website. I find the sign rather catchy, with its clever play between what is big (God) and what is small (the lesser James). That “God is great” is a commonplace borrowed by the koranic authors, along with hundreds of others, from the Bible. The use to which Christians have traditionally put it can be seen in the first sentence of Augustine’s “Confessions”. Contemporary Muslim practice is probably best studied on Al-Jezeera. As for “live music” in church, I think that Bach’s B-minor and the Verdi requiem have held up suprisingly well over the years. Why must my fellow libertarians, devoted as we are to maximizing individual liberty and felicity and generally letting people do their thing, inhibited by only the most fundamental and necessary social constraints–why must they come across as uptight maiden laidies or provincial hicks?

  • Joshua

    Verity and Pete_London-

    Please explain how it is an example of “mind-boggling viciousness” for Nick M to point out the obvious fact that many televangelists take advantage of gullible people to make cash?

  • Rob

    As an example of graphic design, the poster illustrated in your post doesn’t really do much for me, but I think the omission of the capital G was intended as a typrgraphical device to make the poster look modern rather than suggest that they beleive there is more than one true god. Having visited the site I could find no example of where God was referred to without the customary honorific capital.

  • Fiona

    “Dog”…I’m sure they meant to say “big dog”…

  • Midwesterner

    There was the dyslexic agnostic who spent his life wondering whether there really was a dog.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    My first thought was of the Peter Gabriel song Big Time:

    I’ve had enough, I’m getting out
    to the city, the big big city
    I’ll be a big noise with all the big boys
    there’s so much stuff I will own
    and I will pray to a big god
    as I kneel in the big church

  • I must agree that it is tempting as a libertarian thinker to jump on religion. I, for one, am a libertarian thinker because I am Christian. I feel the future of my religion demands freedom that only comes from liberty. Jump on irrational acts from fundamentalists — don’t jump on someone because they have faith.

  • Nick M

    I’m (not) surprised at Verity saying I hate Christianity. I don’t. My point was that it frequently isn’t naive. It’s frequently a well-oiled machine.

    After I said that, I had to point out that this could not be said about the CoE. That’s not a matter of the faith itself, it’s the organisation which is bumbling and lacking in direction.

    May favourite London church name is “St Andrew of the Wardrobe”.

  • David

    At least their advertising doesn’t include calls to slay and/or behead unbelievers unlike another faith these days.

  • James Hamilton

    The “big god” reference relates to a saying amongst evangelical Christians (and among other kinds for all I know) that “your God is too small”. It meant a variety of things – for instance, that your concept of God was limited to purely religious matters, or that you underestimated God’s ability to act in your life etc. “big god” appearing on this poster is the religious equivalent of the modern trend for journalists to use jargon when addressing the public: “and we’ll have these and all today’s stories later in the programme” etc.

  • James

    CoE don’t of course.

    They don’t need to. They have this cosy little scam called Establishment. Everyone is an equal opportunity payer, believer or no.

    Altogether more sophisticated.

  • James

    It is odd how rationalist individualists are so ready to jump, almost en masse one could say, on anything religious.

    This site is dedicated to rational individualists ready to jump, en masse, on anything irrational the looney factions of left or right put forward, and we don’t hear you complaining about that.

    Now tell me – why is it, in this day and age, you feel you’re entitled to some special exemption for your religious irrationality?

  • James

    I must agree that it is tempting as a libertarian thinker to jump on religion. I, for one, am a libertarian thinker because I am Christian.

    I’m libertarian because I stopped being a Christian. I could never have become one if I’d remained a Catholic. A strong sense of non-subservient individuality is not encouraged or nurtured.

    I feel the future of my religion demands freedom that only comes from liberty.

    The Church was far more powerful and pervasive in the days when freedom was restricted I don’t think the future of your religion has any dependence on freedom, only subservience of its followers, like any religion. Free or not, your religion will sink or swim based on the actions of its followers.

    Jump on irrational acts from fundamentalists — don’t jump on someone because they have faith.
    We jump on any irrationality. Unless some magical arguments have materialised lately, faith still falls under that description. We’ve seen enough mischaracterization of us non-believers here in the past, whether it’s the usual “non-belief is a faith” to “Hitler was an atheist” etc.. Until such time as that changes, don’t expect to have faith treated with any respect.

  • Pete_London

    Now tell me – why is it, in this day and age, you feel you’re entitled to some special exemption for your religious irrationality?

    What makes you think I’m religious, sunshine? And as for asking for exemptions, I’d just like a little consistency. Samizdata is very much about individuality, personal sovereignty and self determination, yet as soon as Christianity is mentioned the individualist-led lynch mob rolls into town. But hey, you’re free to say what you like so you go right ahead and be a bore.

  • Midwesterner

    The difference between atheism and agnosticism is being neglected.

    Atheism is a pointless and futile religion. It is a system of faith that cannot be substantiated. Like many faith based belief systems, its adherant are frequently zealous in pressing their faith (in the non-existence of God) on others. Some of them hold their beliefs every bit as fervently as the most devout Muslims or Christians.

    Agnosticism is the rational response. One type of agnosticism is the following if-then-else test.

    If reality is the creation of God, then it is God’s only irrefutable statement. To know God, study reality.

    If there is no God, then reality is all there is so study reality.

    Since the appropriate response is the same in either case, agnostics general don’t worry about it.

    It’s the atheists who are on a mission.

  • Nick M

    Pete_London,
    I’m struggling to imagine an “individualist-led lynch mob“.

  • Nick M

    Midwesterner,
    The atheists may be on a mission but they’ll deny everything.

  • James

    Atheism is a pointless and futile religion

    Case in point. No respect will be forthcoming as long as this sort of tripe continues. It’s no different than what the Islamists spew.

  • James

    Agnosticism is the rational response. One type of agnosticism is the following if-then-else test.

    If reality is the creation of God, then it is God’s only irrefutable statement. To know God, study reality.
    If there is no God, then reality is all there is so study reality.
    Since the appropriate response is the same in either case, agnostics general don’t worry about it.

    That’s not Agnosticism. It’s no wonder you can’t figure out basic atheism either.

    It’s the atheists who are on a mission.

    Then why do you have all the Missionaries? (and Crudaders).

  • James

    What makes you think I’m religious, sunshine?

    Since when did I give you permission to call me “sunshine?” Since when did I refer to you in similar overly familiar terms. Give it up. And while you’re at it, answer the question I posed, rather than squirming out of it.

    And as for asking for exemptions, I’d just like a little consistency.

    Still not answering the question.

    Samizdata is very much about individuality, personal sovereignty and self determination,

    which is of course why religion gets attacked here. Religion can be about self determination ONLY up until the point where we get to whatever god is being referred to. Submission to gods or governments is a recipe for slavery.

    yet as soon as Christianity is mentioned the
    individualist-led lynch mob rolls into town.

    Because religions are only about individualism up until god is called into the picture. The one great exception to everything libertarians hold dear. We don’t find that acceptable.

    But hey, you’re free to say what you like so you go right ahead and be a bore.

    And you’ll happily call be a bore while quietly ignoring Midwesterners disrespect to atheists? I’m not surprised.

    And your answer to my question is?

  • Midwesterner

    It appears James has given a piece of his mind a few too many times. Not much left.

    Kinda sad, actually.

  • Nick M

    Ladies and Gentleman!
    I give you, in the blue corner – James,
    and in the red – Midwesterner…
    In a bout of an interminable number of rounds to determine the Samizdata Middle-brow Champion!!!
    Seconds Out!

  • James

    It appears James has given a piece of his mind a few too many times. Not much left.

    Kinda sad, actually.

    So much for Christian decency.

  • Pete_London

    Since when did I give you permission to call me “sunshine?”

    You didn’t, chum. Now you seem to be agitated about me avoiding your question. I didn’t avoid it. I’m agnostic about it all. But whatever the truth of anyone’s claims, many aetheists just have to be tedious, righteous bores like you. Now do shut up, I can’t be bothered with you.

  • rosignol

    [foo] is a pointless and futile religion. It is a system of faith that cannot be substantiated. Like many faith based belief systems, its adherant are frequently zealous in pressing their faith ([bar]) on others. Some of them hold their beliefs every bit as fervently as the most devout [foo] or [bar].

    Plug any religion you like into that paragraph, and it’ll be as accurate as what you wrote. The funny thing is that most people will agree with it so long as they think you’re referring to a religion other than their own.

  • Midwesterner

    rosignol, yup! But atheism strikes me as particularly pointless as religions go. No meeting dear departed friends? No streets paved with gold? Not even any virgins? No anything! No payoff of any kind! What’s the point?

    Nick M, as tempting as that suggestion is, |-P, I refuse to get drawn into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponant. James certainly appears to be unarmed.

  • James

    You didn’t, chum. Now you seem to be agitated about me avoiding your question.

    I’m agitated by your crude assumption of familiarity.

    I didn’t avoid it. I’m agnostic about it all.

    Not likely, since the presence of non-believers disturbs you so much.

    But whatever the truth of anyone’s claims, many aetheists just have to be tedious, righteous bores like you.

    Again, that Christian decency in operation. Seems “Agnostics” aren’t immune from the alleged failings of atheists.

    Now do shut up, I can’t be bothered with you.

    Then perhaps you best simply refrain from posting, as I don’t do requests.

  • James

    But atheism strikes me as particularly pointless as religions go. No meeting dear departed friends? No streets paved with gold? Not even any virgins? No anything! No payoff of any kind! What’s the point?

    The point is not to be weak enough to need those things to be true. I’d much prefer the virgins in this life to any promised in the next.

    Nick M, as tempting as that suggestion is, |-P, I refuse to get drawn into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponant. James certainly appears to be unarmed.

    Why, how very “Christian” of you. But it seems you already did.

  • Midwesterner

    To quote Yogi Berra, “It was like deja vu all over again.” re previous debates had here with Muslims.

  • James

    To quote Yogi Berra, “It was like deja vu all over again.” re previous debates had here with Muslims.

    Agreed, but it seems if you’d continued with the stake burnings, you wouldn’t be having that problem now.

  • James

    Also, we did have a believer here recently (a Muslim) who wasn’t completely lost on the ideas of rationality and fact-based reasoning, so perhaps there’s still hope.

  • Midwesterner

    James, thank you for your timely arrival on this thread. You have generously demonstrated my assertions for those who may have doubted.

    To you, I suggest taking a look at agnosticism.

    I sincerely wish you to find peace.

    Au revoir.

  • DuncanS

    “I sincerely wish you to find peace.”

    Why is it that you assume an atheist isn’t “at peace”

    From reading the thread, you seem to be the agitated one Midwesterner.

  • rosignol

    rosignol, yup! But atheism strikes me as particularly pointless as religions go. No meeting dear departed friends? No streets paved with gold? Not even any virgins? No anything! No payoff of any kind! What’s the point?

    Who said there has to be a point?

    I decided a very long time ago that I didn’t want to live a certain way because I was 1) hoping for a big payoff when it was all over, or 2) because I was afraid some omniscient guy in the sky would smite me if I misbehaved. I’ll do (or not do) certain things, but not for those reasons.

    Other people are welcome to live as they see fit and do as they please for whatever reasons they wish, so long as they don’t try to compel me to do what they’re doing.

    What I don’t understand is why so many athiests are aggressively obnoxious about their atheism. If the guy in the sky doesn’t exist, why would anyone give a toss so long as the believers don’t think he wants them to kill (or prevent from leaving) the people who think differently?

  • Midwesterner

    rosignol,

    It seems to me that if one is going to abide by strict articles of faith, whether Hindu, Muslim, Atheist or whatever, that faith would at least have raison d’être. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    “What I don’t understand is why so many athiests are aggressively obnoxious about their atheism.”

    I think that has to do with it being a faith in the non-existence of God. If reason and observation can prove something, then thoughtful debate wins. But when one has no recourse to proofs, then it becomes a matter of persuasion by emotion. I am also firmly convinced from a lifetime of exposure, that the most driven of advocates are looking to convince others in order to validate their own beliefs.

  • DuncanS

    “… If reason and observation can prove something, then thoughtful debate wins. But when one has no recourse to proofs, then it becomes a matter of persuasion by emotion. I am also firmly convinced from a lifetime of exposure, that the most driven of advocates are looking to convince others in order to validate their own beliefs.”

    This sums up my problem with most theists.

    My problem with Agnosticism is that if you go around, claiming that anything that can’t be proven false, may be true… on a practical level this allows for all sort of crazy stuff…. e.g. “the Pink Unicorn” etc..

  • James

    To you, I suggest taking a look at agnosticism.

    I did. It makes claims about the “unknowability” of gods. That is a wide ranging claim, and is a claim too far (prove that these things are unknowable etc…)

    I sincerely wish you to find peace.

    Found that a long time ago, when I could no longer find an evidential basis for belief in gods.

    But thanks all the same.

  • James

    Why is it that you assume an atheist isn’t “at peace”

    From reading the thread, you seem to be the agitated one Midwesterner.

    Because it’s an assumption made by many believers. It’s beyond many believers to imagine a mind at peace outside of their belief. It’s one of the reasons that keep them believing, even when they have doubts.

  • Midwesterner

    DuncanS,

    I have thought of that, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and cetera.

    But reality is that anything that cannot be proven false, might indeed be true, and conversely, that anything that cannot be proven true, may be false.

    To abandon these realities is to abandon rational thought. I choose not to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but I can’t (or at least haven’t attempted to) rationally disprove it. As long as they don’t compel anything from we, I have no quarrel with them.

  • Midwesterner

    er… that ‘w’ needs turned over. Should be ‘me’.

    (Was that subliminal? Am I a closet collectivist? Oh no!

    Rocks back and forth chanting ‘I me my, I me my’. I’ll be better soon.)

  • James

    What I don’t understand is why so many athiests are aggressively obnoxious about their atheism. If the guy in the sky doesn’t exist, why would anyone give a toss so long as the believers don’t think he wants them to kill (or prevent from leaving) the people who think differently?

    Because atheists realize that the existance of a god isn’t the main issue. A god that very likely does not exist isn’t the problem. It’s that gods FOLLOWERS that are the problem. Allah didn’t fly planes into the Towers, but his *followers* did. Gods “neither break my bones nor pick my pockets” as they say. But his followers DO, to varying degrees based on the religion. That’s the problem. God never said my lack of belief was some warped kind of “faith”, but many of his followers do. And they’ll continue to be called on it when they spout it.

    To many Muslims, Christians are also “aggressively obnoxious”. Christians are not immune to it, they’re simply better at it.