Thinking Anglicans

columns of opinion

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about being on holiday: How can happiness be so elusive?

Also in the Church Times Paul Vallely asks Is it right to limit the mega-mosque?

The Guardian has Tom Horwood writing that “Faith leaders could learn a lot from managers in the secular working world” in Face to faith.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about a new film production in Michael Gambon in Brideshead Revisited.

Jonathan Sacks writes that Harry Potter could teach adults how to grow up, too in The Times.

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Cheryl Clough
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Giles Fraser’s article reminds me of a time when I grappled with a buddhist concept. Meditation seeks to find stillness, the point at which you are attached to nothing and do not react to the unimportant. The difference between the Buddhist religions and the Abrahamic religions is the realisation that if you do not move, you are an inert statue. Abraham, Sarah, Rebecca, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel and Leah all moved. They moved as if there was no one else who could move, they moved because they knew God’s plans for humanity and thus their descendants could not be fulfilled unless… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Giles Fraser is right that predicaments and crises can add a sense of excitement. Surely that is what so many people experience in war – terror and horror, but a sense of excitement, job done, friends made. The Anglican crisis is a negative but draws interest, powers of analysis, excitement of the next moves and so on – even a destructive situation. I don’t have a problem with building a large mosque, but I do with Wahabi Islam. This Puritanical Islam is the background to much Islamic extremism backed by Saudi money. Yes, most of these will push their puritanism… Read more »

--sheila--
Guest
--sheila--

From the Harry Potter article:

What is striking about the Hebrew Bible is the way it candidly acknowledges the beauty and power of physical desire, nowhere more so than in the Song of Songs. But it expresses it in the form of a pledge of mutual commitment, turning desire into love, and love into a moral bond of fidelity and loyalty. The heroes and heroines of the Hebrew Bible — Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah, Ruth and Boaz — are people made extraordinary by their devotion to one another.

—-

David and Jonathan come to mind here as well.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Hi Sheila Maybe we should add Naomi and Ruth, Leah and Rachel. There was an excellent Out In Scripture a few months ago that looked at how the bible fosters healthy relationships, not just the sexual between a male and female. Mind you, I think the whole thing of the relationship between Gaia and God in Exodus has been forgotten or overlooked. I always think of the parting of the red sea as God seducing Gaia (the Jews being the male and female sperm passing through her moist red passage). But no other males sperm may go there (witness the… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

God probably doesn’t feel anything towards Gaia except pity for those how throw in with that idea since the concept is pagan and man made.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Chris So God feels nothing towards Gaia? She’s just some pagan idea and has no consciousnes of her own? She was never betrothed to God, never God’s footstool? It matters not whether she lives or dies, or wants to live or die? There is no implication for humanity if she decides that she is overwhelmed, unloved and there is no hope of any divine force coming to rescue her or enable her occupants to survive? So it matters not that this becomes an uninhabitable planet? God doesn’t care? It clear that at least some Christians (yourself for example) don’t! If… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Cheryl says “I always think of the parting of the red sea as God seducing Gaia (the Jews being the male and female sperm passing through her moist red passage). But no other males sperm may go there (witness the sea closing in on the Pharoah’s army).”

Is this a joke?

Malcolm+
Guest
Malcolm+

I think it’s actually what some of us call a metaphor.

Whether it is a helpful metaphor or not may well depend on the hearer.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Biblical imagery of God reconciling himself back with the earth includes Isaiah 62 e.g. “… your land will be married… as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride…” Psalms 19:1-6 “The heavens declare the glory of God… In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” The red sea imagery is bold but consistent. Contemplate Lamentations 2:1 “…the Lord has… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Jesus and other NT writers certainly did use the bridegroom allusion extensively. Wonder what that was about and if it has any bearing on the current presenting issues……….. nah.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Cheryl,

Serious question – do you see Gaia as an actual being or a metaphor for nature?

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Gaia has her own consciousness. Every planet that is capable of sustaining life is appointed guardians to guide and protect the planet through its development. Adam and Eve were appointed as this planet’s guardians, they are also known as the two Cherubim of the Ark, the power and glory of God. Psalm 132:7-9 has not yet been edited away and contains the clearest reference “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool— arise, O LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests be clothed with righteousness;… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

The issue WRT Gaia seems to be about personification of something unseen. Gaia is first and foremost a concept. To suggest she is an actual being seems threatening to some. Why this should be is odd to me. First, we state in the Creed that God created “all things, visible and invisible”. Just what are these “invisible” things? To posit the existence of Gaia as a being is surely just to posit the existence of something else made by God but invisible to us, as we claim Sunday after Sunday to believe in. The mistake would be not in the… Read more »

James
Guest
James

On the subject of Harry Potter–among the many wonderful things about the series, Harry only has one sexual partner and remains faithful to her for life. I think that Harry’s relationship with Ginny is a great model for what marriage should be. I hope this is pointed out when Christians read the book.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Off topic:
“I hope this is pointed out when Christians read the book.”

I don’t think I’ll bother pointing this out to my children. The Christian message is about so much more than sexual purity, and the chit-chat these days seems to be all about sex. It’s like the Christian version of Big Brother! Emminently trendy and emminently salacious and pointless.

I think I shall concentrate on talking to my children about what truly matters.

Malcolm+
Guest
Malcolm+

Seems that James has bowdlerized Cho right out of the Potter corpus. (Potential spoiler here if you haven’t read the last book yet.) Now, other than the secondary evidence that Harry and Ginny have had sex in the years between the defeat of Voldemort and the epilogue, the text is silent on what other person or persons either of them might or might not have had sex with in the ensuing period. It is a little much to impose the principle of faithful unions on the story. It was interesting that two passages of scripture actually appear (uncredited) in the… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

“I think that Harry’s relationship with Ginny is a great model for what marriage should be. I hope this is pointed out when Christians read the book.”-James

Not to mention honor, loyalty, duty, self-sacrifice, teamwork, respect for elders, thinking, and working for a common goal. No wonder it’s a hit with many young and old people. Now if some of those who readily call themselves Christians could start emulating the virtues demonstrated in the books.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Well played Ford. There are things both seen and unseen. They are all from God and of God but are not all of God; it is not appropriate to worship them as gods. Ezekiel 28 gives an vivid example of what God can do to gods (or humans) who get too big for their boots: ” ‘In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.” But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

As well, Cheryl, the sexual imagery of the Red Sea so scorned by NP has its precedent in Christian thought. One of the Orthodox hymns to the Virgin compares Her preservation of Her Virginity to the Red Sea being inviolate after the passing of the children of Israel. Of course, that’s probably just a “tradition of men” and fine for those idolatrous Orthodox, but unworthy of the consideration of the True Christian.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

One of the most evocative movements in (orthodox Catholic) Olivier Messiaen’s entire ouvre — if you’re into avant-garde organ music — is the depiction of the parting of the Red Sea in his last work, the epic Livre du Saint Sacrement.

You can actually *see* the parting of the waves.

NP
Guest
NP

“Precedent” is a rather strong word for a tenuous link but yes, Ford….very probably a made up “tradition” given the Lord had siblings…and He never told us to sing to his mum.

Mark 3:31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers [2] are outside, seeking you.”

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Bravo Erika!

To others here un-named: Potter’s and Genevra relationship is marked by a conflict between passion and duty (rather “classical” don’t you think…) in the face of acute danger to a prospective partner.

Nothing to do with the late Modern American category of “sex”.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

“Mark 3:31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers [2] are outside, seeking you.”

NP

Jesus chose those who bonded with him over those who claimed precedent or filial relationshsips.

Please keep being rude, it highlights your blindness. Others who can see better at least know to show civility, just in case they are wrong (or right).

NP
Guest
NP

not sure what rudeness you are on about, Cheryl….

-if it is rude to say that your confused pagan ideas ain’t in the bible and the mother of the Lord had other children after her divine firstborn (as the bible says), then I am “rude” (but maybe “in possession of the facts” would be a better description?)

Malcolm+
Guest
Malcolm+

Actually, NP, the Bible really doesn’t say that Mary had further children after her divine first-born. Indeed, the word generally translated “brothers” can also be interpreted more generally as any close male relatives. Personally, I’m more inclined to believe that Mary probably did have children subsequent to our Lord. But I won’t pretend that scripture proves it because scripture doesn’t prove it. That said, I think our Lord’s mum deserves quite a lot more respect than you seem willing to give her. And I am quite happy, with Christians over the whole history of the Church, to ask Jesus mum… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Malcolm, I asked this question earlier on a dying thread so it got lost. I don’t agree with NP’s flippant tone, but I do share his difficulty with praying to Mary and other departed people. It’s not quite like asking your congregation for prayers, as it depends on what you believe happens after death. Are all these people alive in some way (before the Second Coming?), and have they reached a state whereby they can actually hear our prayers and respond to them in a meaningful way? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s not as obvious as some people… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Malcolm,
I like the orthodox (the real ones, not the posers) answer to such questions: “We believe it because we have always believed it. We have been taught it FROM THE BEGINNING.” (The capitals are mine, but it underscores the point that the Christian faith was originally an oral tradition, if only for a couply of decades, and certainly that Christianity goes back before the innovations of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, et al)

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford was that meant to be an answer to my question? I have always believed what makes sense to me. I cannot force belief just because someone tells me that “I have to” believe. Christianity makes sense to me, the broad tent Anglican version makes sense to me. I believe the church when it tells me why it believes something to be true, especially if I can rationally or psychologically understand at least the reasoning for that belief. But a simple “because we’ve been taught it from the beginning” doesn’t quite work. Scripture – Tradition – Reason… and if it’s… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest
Malcolm+

Like Ford, I agree that Marian devotion is found from the earliest days of the Church. In response to Erica’s query – and I have said this before – we do not “pray to” Mary or the saints, but rather ask them to pray for us. So it really is comparable to asking our congregation of a Sunday morning, or asking our friend next door to pray for us, or for some particular intention. But what is permissable is not necessarily helpful. Thus, if asking Mary and the Saints for their prayers makes no sense to you, that’s fine too.… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

As Ford commented earlier “No, it isn’t New Age, it’s how many of the ancient pagans were converted, notably the Celts.” I love the Celts, my children have Celtic names (Jocelyn is the unisex scottish form of Jacob). It was the Scots who were so ferocious that they ended the Roman expansionism and were so effective that Romans had to put a wall to stop them. Being half Celtic and half Germanic (the other lot that gave the Romans a run for their money), I rather like being called a pagan. Plus the bible has heaps of imagery that pagans… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man provides some insight into the role the dead play while they wait for the trumpet to sound. They know what is happening on Earth and still know their families, among other things. There are also physical sensations, suggesting physical realities. (Its always tough to know when to stop reading into a parable…)

If they retain their knowledge and soul – even if questions about the body are not completely answered – then why shouldn’t the faithful departed be able to pray for us?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Indeed, the word generally translated “brothers” can also be interpreted more generally as any close male relatives.

Personally, I’m more inclined to believe that Mary probably did have children subsequent to our Lord. But I won’t pretend that scripture proves it because scripture doesn’t prove it.”

This is a general observation.

The Bible doesn’t “prove” things (neither the wireless, nor cars or hospitals). It wasn’t written to answer o u r questions; the peculiar kind of “factual” questions asked in late Modernity.

There’s a Lesson, particularly for Calvinists and Americans (inerrantist, IDers & c.), in this.

NP
Guest
NP

Malcolm…your implied logic is that if there is no positive encouragement from scripture to do something, it is fine to do it as long as it is not prohibited……..you don’t think that position is logical do you? Of course, even certain things which are prohibited, you make exemptions for so I am not surprised you take a loose position on how we pray and worship. WE ar talking about prayer and worship…..it is perfectly logical to say we should follow the model set by the Lord and his Apostles in how we pray and who we worship….they worshipped Him and… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Though my study of church history ended with the death of Leo the Great in 461, I believe that there was a thing called a ‘Reformation’. Someone I know who had heard of this ‘Reformation’ suggested that a Mr Luther held that that which was not forbidden in Scripture was permitted, while a Mr Calvin held that that which was not permitted in Scripture was forbidden. Seems to me that, NP, you do follow Mr Calvin’s ideas here – but do you see no faithfulness in Mr Luther? You clearly can’t see much is us catholics. Hod you your own… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Malcolm “and I have said this before – we do not “pray to” Mary or the saints, but rather ask them to pray for us. So it really is comparable to asking our congregation of a Sunday morning, or asking our friend next door to pray for us, or for some particular intention.” Please don’t confuse me with NP – I have no problem with religious ideas and practices that are not grounded in a literal reading of Scripture! But I have a personal difficulty with praying through someone (did I ever say “to”? I didn’t mean to), who is… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Dear Mynster…it depends on the issue – my point is quite simply that when traditions have developed which have no basis in scripture or the early church as led by the Apostles, they may be wrong. We sinners in the church have a history of corruption….our traditions are not necessarily good or right. If the Lord were here, I suggest he might ask who taught us to pray to or through saints etc….because he did not and none of his Apostles are on record doing anything of the like….. You know, some muslims think the Trinity is Father, Son and… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

NP,
if you find Muslims concerned about understanding the theology of the Trinity you could do worse then point them to this site: http://www.answers-to-muslims.com/html/god_the_three_in_one.html

Prof. Ch. Troll, a German RC Jesuit who often represents the Holy See in the area of interfaith dialogue has written a book “Muslims ask, Christians answer”, which can be read online. There is also a whole catalogue of questions and answers.

The book is available in English.
The remainder of the website has been translated by a team of translators into English and Turkish.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Erika:
“Prof. Ch. Troll,”

Aha! A troll quoted with approval!!

apologies….

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

NP: I think there’s risk of asymmetry here. If I remember rightly, PSA is defended because it is ‘misunderstood’ or ‘misrepresented’ rather than ‘wrong’, and if (say) Steve Chalke describes it as ‘cosmic child abuse’ then blame is heaped on him. That a doctrine has scandalised him is seen as a cause for condemnation of the scandalised. However, if a doctrine of which you don’t approve is misunderstood or misrepresented, then it’s the doctrine which is at fault, not the scandalised. Now I know that the easy way out of this is to say PSA is biblical and mariology is… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mynster – thanks for the giggle!!! Sorely needed today.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Erika, Apologies if my “Orthodox” quote sounded dismissive. It wasn’t directed at you at all. As to praying through people: “who is to all intent and purposes dead” let me put it this way, and see Chris’s post above as well. All time belongs to God, He being be outside Creation and time being merely one other aspect of Creation. The psalms talk about “a thousand ages are but as yesterday” in His sight. The problem is that we see things from our end, so to speak, bound as we are to the laws of physics governing the universe. There… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford, thank you for your explanations. Of course I’m more than willing to let God be God, to accept the complete otherness and to stand in awe. And I have no problem with time being different for God and that we shouldn’t expect everything to fit into our world view. But….allow me…. what was it that made the early church believe that you can ask the dead to pray for you? I mean, NP is right, it’s not obvious from Scripture. And I don’t believe that the church ever discerned anything out of a random thought that it might be… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Erika – thanks (we have a very effective outreach to muslims actually…another one baptised (full immersion) recently) And you are not being “thick”….there are traditions in the church which have no biblical basis – things which the Lord and the Apostles would not recognise if we look at what they did and said….we do not have to accept these errors just becaues they are old errors. Mynster…you know the verses in the bible which show PSA is ONE of the key ways to understand the cross. I don’t say it is the only way….but I will not accept anyone ignoring… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest
Malcolm+

Erica – I don’t think you’re being “thick” at al, just asking a sensible question. It isn’t clear from scripture what the status of the dead exactly is. Some seems to suggest that the dead are simply dead – until the last day when they won’t be dead anymore. Other parts seem to suggest that the dead continue to have some form of conscious existence. It appears to me that the latter is preponderant – the parable noted by Chris, for example, or the promise to the good thief that “this day you will be with me in paradise.” On… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Erika, No, you’re not being thick. Frankly, I can’t tell you the history, just that I understand that it wasn’t something altogether formal. The early Church was persecuted, and did not lack for martyrs. People would celebrate their “birthdays” ie the day they were martyred and thus fully tasted the New Birth of the Kingdom. Asking the dead for their prayers is a pretty good way of saying that death has been done away with, “trampling down death by death” is the way the Orthodox (the non-posers)speak of Christ in the Resurrection. It wouldn’t have been such a leap for… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Malcolm, Ford, thank you.
It does make sense… or is beginning to… and it ties in with other glimpses… I will need to read more, think more, pray more, but I think I’m beginning to see a glimpse of where this whole idea is coming from.

NP
Guest
NP

Malcolm…are you deliberately making silly points re one prayer and church buildings etc?

Of course the Lord did not teach us one prayer which is the only thing to be repeated….he taught us how to pray, he gave us a model….and he did NOT teach us to pray through his mother or anybody else…..he intercedes for us and taught us to pray direct to the Father.

Pls show me where the Lord or any of his apostles tell us to ask any deceased person to pray for us…..and I will not be so “absolutist”

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Malcolm+, Not only did Jesus NOT tell us to go to doctors, Scripture is pretty clear as to what the Christian response to illness is to be. I suspect many of those who eschew anything that “Jesus didn’t say to do” have no problem with going to the doctor when they have even the smallest ailment (frustrated Emergency doc here!) and would be appalled at the “Romishness” of anointing anyone who is ill. But then, it’s the “Romishness” of these things that’s the real problem here, not whether or not it’s Scriptural or can be derived from Scripture. Ask for… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Did the historical Jesus ever say “pray through me” to get to the Father? Me thinks this is later early Churches tradition, one of many.

NP
Guest
NP

Pluralist….did I say he did?
No, I said he is interceding for us and He taught us to pray to the Father.