About Me

I’m from Belfast, northern Ireland, but now live in North Carolina. I’m a writer involved in peace and justice issues, and art & spirituality (especially cinema). I’m also privileged to be involved with an amazing bunch of people nurturing the Wild Goose Festival.  I’m writing here because I care about good conversation, and postmodern theology has changed my life. What are we here to talk about? Let’s start with god, movies, and politics, and see where we go from here…

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27 responses to “About Me

  1. How has postmodern theology changed your life? For better or worse. I’m not being sarcastic :-), I would really like to know.

    • garethihiggins

      Hi there – thanks for the question. I think that it’s impossible to give a short answer – and in reality, the whole of my blog is a response, but I’ll try to be as succinct as possible:
      Postmodern theology (and postmodernist ideas in general) made it possible for me to imagine faith without fundamentalism. Growing up in northern Ireland made that a necessity. If, as Derrida says, the only thing that cannot be deconstructed is justice (or love, depending on who quotes him), then deconstructionism has at its heart one thing: the wellbeing of humankind as part of good stewardship of the whole of life. And we get to talk about it too!

  2. The only faith I can have is the one without fundamentalism. Fundamentalism rests, at its base, on authority. It may be the authority of church doctrine or a particular interpretation of a particular text. Fundamentalism does not rest on your own experience and reaction to experience. If you don’t have that, what are you!

    Here is a link http://silverseason.wordpress.com/?s=perplexed+part+i&searchbutton=Go! to my blog entry on Maimonides. The Jewish fundamentalists (there are such people) emphasize Maimonides’ principles of faith, but when you read his actual commentary, he is much better than that.

  3. Good Morning,

    Having spoken to you at last years Greenbelt, I thought you would be the right person to ask about this.
    I saw Bill Maher’s documentary “Religious” at the cinema last night. Have you seen it and if so what did you think of it ? I am still gobsmacked.

  4. Hi there – Thanks for the question. I wrote an article about ‘Religulous’ when it opened in the US last October – you can find it here:

    http://blog.sojo.net/2008/10/13/bill-mahers-religulous-an-infuriating-attack-based-on-cynical-preconceptions/comment-page-1/

  5. Gareth: Frank Schaeffer here. I read your sane and wonderful article in Sojo re the Tiller murder. I wanted to contact you to say a big thank you for the way you view what I wrote for Huff Post. More than that though I think your take on the issues is spot on. Thanks.
    Very Best,
    Frank

  6. I am so glad I found this blog site from sojourners. I read every blog posted 0n june 5 and will be back again. i am the mail lady of paradise and i believe your communications are much more worth reading than the commercial catalogs that weigh down my mail car every day. but I do get thinking time while out on the route. please have a good moment of unexplained happiness on me.

  7. Gareth, thing is there is no God, no gods. The three main Middle East religions that the West inherited sort of, they are all cockamie myths and legends. There never was a Jesus. He was no son of no god. Why do you still insist on calling this stuff postmodern theology. God is dead, mate. theology is pure BS. go beyond what you inherited and are programmed to believe. you still need to go one step further. but you have a sense of humor, so i salute you sir. DANNY, age 60 deep deep agnostician!

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  9. Am interested in the trip… more details, please (cost, etc.)

  10. I found your blog through looking up John O’Donohue and enjoyed your postings. My own interest is very much in art and spirituality and I was formerly writer in residence at Truro Cathedral.

    One question – What is post-modern theology?

    • Hi Victoria, and welcome to the blog. Great question – I think the best way to answer that would be in a conversation – which is what this blog is for. But it has prompted me to think about writing a post next week in response – so please be patient and I’ll get back to you. All the best.

  11. Gareth, good man yourself! I have read many of your posts, essays etc on the Sojourers web site and am glad to have the opportunity to send you a note. I find in so many ways “Friend, thee speaks my mind”. I too grew up in Belfast NI in the 50s and 60s, London during the 70s and the US for 30 years. I absolutely agree on ‘faith without fundamentalism’ for very similar reasons as your own. The less dogmatic and authoritarian my beliefs have become over the years the closer I feel the presence and Love of the Devine. I have no doubt there are many who rely on ‘rules and regulations’ as they work out their own faith but I do resent a wee bit when they feel a need to impose them on the rest of us! Every blessing to you.

  12. Gareth,
    Thank you for introducing me to Reservoir Dogs in 1993 and forever changing my life and theology. Saw Inglourious Basterds and decided its my favorite Tarentino movie… so far.

    What is your take on the upcoming Oscars? Best Picture? My vote is Hurt Locker. Miss ya Buddy!

    • Hey there Lee – great to hear from you – I’m thinking Hurt Locker too – am very enamoured of ‘Shutter Island’ these days…Where are you?

  13. i grew up in belfast and went to grosvenor high school. my dad pastored templemore hall. been in america a long time and am interested in what you are doing. http://edsstory.com

  14. Laurie Montgomery

    why don’t you capitalize “god” ?

  15. — Been looking for a blog like this. I am big into cinema as well; theology is perhaps a close second (more of a biblical studies guy, actually). Further, I’m a postmodernist. I think Derrida and Foucoult et al. have some important things to say. But I also think that Scripture, when read/exegeted carefully, embraces the conditions of postmodernity rather than being just another terrible discursive formation that wishes to exclude the other. Namely, creational theology is cosmically inclusive, and the prophetic canon attends to the pain and suffering which accompany us.

    Back to films: I think that contemporary film has yet to tap into the immense wealth that can be found in good, solid dialogue. In light of CG’s and 3D trends, dialogue has become stilted. This is a shame because dialogue or give-and-take is primarily, I think, where drama begins and ends regarding the complex human condition.

  16. The following came across my computer last week and I have not been able to let it go… “Religious institutions historically have been bad in modeling creativity. Too much about the way religion is done is imposing rules. I want this space to tap into the source of inexhaustible love, which is God. I want people to go through the next year full of love and inspiration — to love ourselves better and others more.”
    To which I add – Amen
    And my thanks that there other such folks making a difference in this word that seems to have lost its direction.

  17. Hi Gareth. Good to see you blogging again. I didn’t make it to Greenbelt this year so don’t know if you were there, but last year we talked and you gave me one of your “Cinematic States” cards. I’ve kept a look out for it but not seen it yet – when is it due out?
    Tim (Film Talk member)

    • Hi Tim – thanks for asking about the book – and sorry for the delay – I’m hoping to be able to announce a release date for the book very soon….Watch this space!

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  19. Hi Gareth –
    I came across your name while I was reading tributes to the late Irish writer (he was too many things to describe here), John O’Donohue. A few years back, my sister, Sarah (who is a nanosecond shy of getting her PhD in Theology from Boston College, and who, like me, spent her junior year in college at Trinity in Dublin) gave me a book called Anam Cara, because she had read it herself, and she had already seen that Phillip, my then husband-to-be (after 4 years of engagement at my request) was my Anam Cara, and I his. We met when I was 42 and he was 46, and we were both struggling with the same demons; our timing was terrible. But the moment I saw him, I recognized him completely; in fact, I was there to help him uncover his real self, something he had spent a lifetime hiding. I would open my mouth, and words that I hadn’t formulated came forth – I was a vessel. We maintained a respectful distance, despite the ocean of electricity that we generated when we were in the same room. When it was finally appropriate for us to be together, we joined completely, joyfully, inevitably, to form a union that had a strength and spirit far greater than the sum of our 2 persons.
    We began to attract attention (and never did we even join hands in public) from strangers, who would approach us and tell us that we carried an almost visible aura of serenity and happiness around us, and they wanted to know “how is that you how you are, as one person put it. I, who had scarcely had a moment of true happiness in all my life, woke up every single morning brimming with gratitude for Phillip, as did he. We could feel the very real and specific presence of Christ with us. As it turned out, we were to alternate being gravely ill through the next 6 years. I successfully fought cancer but nearly died of the chemo side effects, and Phillip developed congestive heart failure. Throughout all of this, we remained joyful and unafraid.
    We were on our much-delayed honeymoon, and making plans for buying a home as soon as possible when Phillip just didn’t wake up one morning. That was January 22nd, 2013 and I was alone on the west coast of Puerto Rico, trying to understand the coroner who came for his body, identifying his corpse before they performed a routine autopsy, and it was a week before I arrived back in Atlanta. I shook violently and didn’t sleep or eat for weeks. Exactly like John, Phillip’s Funeral Mass was February 2nd. On February 10th, he would have turned 53. When my sister arrived for the wake and funeral, she brought 2 things with her: a Miraculous Medal and a book called To Bless the Space Between Us. She had marked several pages for me to read. Both Anam Cara and the Blessings have been my greatest source of comfort during this intolerably painful year. I cannot yet feel his presence: I feel, rather, like I’ve been ripped apart and the larger part taken away. My world has gone dark, and is dark, lonely and joyless. But I survive, and it has been John O’Donohue’s prophetic and beautiful words that have enabled me to take one breath after another. I envy you the gift of having known him.
    Thank you for your tributes to him,
    Maura Caffrey, widow,
    Atlanta, GA

    • Thank you, Maura, for your kind and moving comment. I know that readers of this blog will be sending their love and hope that you be comforted in your grief. John was a gift to all who knew him, too, and one of the gifts I’m most grateful for from him was his thinking about death and the closeness of our departed loved ones to us. Closer than we know, relating to us more cleanly and lovingly than is possible in the wounded vessels we currently occupy. Thank you again for being in touch, and I invite the community of readers here to continue the conversation in the interests of healing.

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  21. This is the first time I’ve heard about this Wild Goose Festival, and I LOVE IT. I made a blog ourstoryourroots.wordpress.com designed for people to have a similar dialogue but kind of got nowhere with it. I guess I just wanted to say that I love what you are doing, and you will most definitely be hearing from me.

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