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As of 20 October Bristol Belief has been capturing the soul of Bristol for nearly 3 months. A glance down the interviews will show you I’ve spoken with downtrodden, the educated elite and shades between. For those interested in results here’s a summary:
To date the dominant beliefs reinforce the cultural mandate that says all beliefs are equally valid. People are keen to echo the idea that belief is personal, each is entitled to believe as they choose and preaching is unwelcome. Not proclaiming moral absolutes is an absolute that everyone I have met so far have proclaimed. Not one interviewee to date has confessed to being anything but open-minded and many have, when pressed, confessed to reckoning they are good people.
Of the twenty eight people interviewed, with the exception of three Christians, none have claimed to belong to a defined faith group. Many have shared views with distinctly Buddhist notions of reincarnation but not particularly rooted in any defined teaching.
Here’s is an effort to categorize the beliefs so far encountered:
|Atheists||It’s all nonsense, there is nothing more than the physical realm, stop wasting your and everyone else’s time. We are here to get the most out of this life and then it’s over. Look to scientific evidence for answers and stop pretending that there is a god or gods.|
|Agnostics||Don’t know, and not concerned. Happy to live the best life now, generally a good person, will see when the time comes. Their learning is generally experiential with no defined teaching and no easily articulated beliefs.|
|Antagonists||Antagonistic to revealing anything about belief. It’s a private matter and the notion of sharing or anyone being interested in their beliefs is offensive. The church is corrupt and all involved are gullible fools or powerful oppressors.|
|Defined spiritual||Convinced that there is a spiritual realm and spiritual forces that can be harnessed for healing. Open to all religious claims as being valid and rejecting the exclusivity of any particular faith.|
|Undefined spiritual||Not sure about what is beyond the physical realm though quite certain there is one. They defer a degree of credibility to most spiritual claims, selecting what they like and rejecting what they find unpalatable.|
|Christian||Confident about their beliefs but not able to provide a convincing rendition about the security of their salvation. Not well equipped to share their religious beliefs.|
|Rastafarian||Follow the teaching of the Ethiopian Emperor, Haili Selassie as the King of King and Lord of Lords, blending Old Testament teaching with the teaching the Emperor.|
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“If you board the wrong train it’s no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer