Media: Guardian features “Comment is free – belief” answer by District Manager

The whole of last week, the Guardian’s comment is free – belief section included the following question:

Is it possible to discuss religion online in a way that makes sense to believers? This question is worthwhile, if only because if the discussion doesn’t make sense to the people discussed, they aren’t going to join in.

One answer would be for everyone to adopt a kind of golden rule online: not to say about anyone else’s belief system what they would not wish to hear about their own. But this is difficult to do honestly and in any case insufficient. As has often been pointed out, we owe ideas much less respect than people. Bad ideas should not be treated with the respect due to good ones. If no one hears the real and honestly held objections to their positions, how will they learn?

Another, simpler rule, might just be to listen, so that we are certain we are talking about the beliefs which the other party actually holds. But how could this be enforced? Perhaps the wide-open nature of the web means it is impossible to talk about certain subjects. Perhaps the answer lies in indirection – that we learn implicitly what can only be shown and not proved. But what in that case is to be done about blinkered crusaders?

As UK and Ireland District Manager for the Christian Science Committees on Publication I was invited to provide Thursday’s response. I focused on the thing which I feel fills the gap between the two polarised opposites of religious denominationalism and strident anti-theism – namely the spirituality that the vast majority of people do, in some way, embrace.

You can read my answer on the Guardian, under the (very appropriate!) title and subtitle they gave it:

Spirituality is too often overlooked in the God debateFaith in a higher power is a widespread belief that gets buried beneath polarised discussion about religious theory and practice.


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Categories: Media, Spirituality and Society

Author:Tony Lobl

I write on spirituality and health for a diversity of online media outlets, from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I have been published by the Independent, the Washington Post, the Guardian, E-Hospice, MindBodyGreen and The Christian Science Monitor and I post regularly on the Huffington Post UK and BuzzFeed. In addition to writing and broadcast appearances I enjoy engaging with journalists, academics, health professionals and government officials about the possibilities for improving health outcomes through a greater emphasis on spirituality in healthcare and social care. I've also greatly valued the many opportunities I have had to travel globally for my church and to meet people around the world. My wife Jenny and I spent 10 years in Boston, USA, before returning to London in 2002, to take on a role as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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One Comment on “Media: Guardian features “Comment is free – belief” answer by District Manager”

  1. KKJoseph
    April 20, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    I just wanna know what can I do if I need to help somebody spiritually from faraway to my place

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