God and Shakespeare – Questions of Existence

I’ve just been at a great Webinar hosted by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which talked about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.  They (unsurprisingly) think they were written by Shakespeare.  At this point, I should admit a certain bias – I went to secondary school in Stratford-Upon-Avon, loved having  world class theatre on my doorstep, and share the view of the SBT.  I also find that being familiar with the Book of Common Prayer makes Shakespeare easier to understand (and possibly vice versa?).  To find out more about Shakespeare, try http://bloggingshakespeare.com/ ) – check out “60 Minutes with Shakespeare” too.

One person asked whether even hosting the debate gave credence to the argument that the plays were written by someone else.  I was suddenly reminded of the debates about the existence of God, where people hold passionate views, and on the whole, no intellectual debate will change minds.  BUT engagement is important.  If I ignore someone asking me questions about God, then I am displaying breath-taking arrogance – I am implying that their questions are worthless, and possibly they might feel that I think by extension that they themselves are worthless.  It is important to show up, and engage.  By taking the questions seriously, by giving time and attention, by listening, it is easier to understand where people are coming from, and what their underlying question really is.  

It’s those fundamental questions that matter when people are in extremis – what will happen to my dying relative?  Where can I turn for my next meal?  What should I do because no-one loves me?  How people face their worst times matters.  So if they have the courage to ask the questions, the least I can do is try to muddle through the questions with them.   


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