Friday, May 24, 2013

Honest to God

John A T Robinson (1919-1983)

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Honest to God and the 30th anniversary of the death of its author, John Robinson.

Along with Paul Tillich's Shaking of the Foundations, John Robinson's Honest to God constituted my Mass time reading. Although it was written in a popular vein, Robinson's book was a theological ground breaker. His position of Anglican Bishop of Woolwich gave a sort of continuity underpinning to a book that represented a radical break with the concept of an external personal omnipotent interfering God.

Robinson's God was internalised and infinitely more credible. For me his God turned out to be the halfway house between yesterday's belief and today's unbelief. It was a sort of staging post where you could let go of the pre-Vatican II God of the old testament and take on board a God that didn't scare the shit out of you and who was complicit in your validation of yourself during what were belatedly formative years.

I will always be grateful to John Robinson for opening that door and reassuring me that stepping through into the light would not have me instantly smote from on high.

It is good that his anniversaries are being remembered this year as he has sort of slipped from view since the spiritually turbulent 1960s to which he contributed so much.

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