Thinking Anglicans

opinions before Epiphany

The Church Times leader this week is Wisdom from the East?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about why Christianity needs to ditch Plato.

Christopher Howse tells us in the Daily Telegraph What Hrabanus Maurus says about doves.

As Christians celebrate the Epiphany, it’s the people not the presents that matter, argues Chris Chivers in the Guardian’s Face to Faith.

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times that you should Count your blessings and begin to change your life.

And from before Christmas, there is this interesting article in The Times by Alan Franks in which Terry Eagleton explains why a Marxist critic has written about Jesus Christ and the Gospels.

9
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
9 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
Cheryl Va. CloughMalcolm+Prior AelredPluralistJohn Bassett Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

One recent contemplation, which parallels some of these articles postings, as well as some “game theory” is “Why aren’t lemmings extinct?”. Here, we have a species that purportedly has flock behaviour every year that leads to masses running off a cliff with other like-minded lemmings. Yet, lemmings are not extinct. But the lemmings who do not jump off the cliff (evidence by their very existence) do have offspring who do jump off the cliff? So, if all lemmings jump off the cliff, why do some lemmings remain? And why do those remaining lemmings have offspring who do jump off the… Read more »

John Bassett
Guest
John Bassett

I usually agree with Giles Fraser, but he is so far off here that I barely know where to begin. First of all, the reference to “Plato” is misleading. Early Christianity was indeed deeply influenced by Hellenistic thought, but there were many different schools of Greek philosophy which had developed by the time the Fourth Gospel was written, and more developments still by the time of the early Fathers. There is evidence of a substantial Stoic influence in a number of New Testament document such as the Household Codes in the Pauline letters. The use of the word “logos” in… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Interested in Terry Eagleton there on Jesus and the revolutionary aspect. I have a book by Milan Machovec, a Marxist Looks at Jesus, which without considering any of these revolutionary parallels is the best use of gospels material to get at the historical, supernatural and expectant Jesus. The liberal humanist Jesus is always something of a mistake. Giles Fraser’s attempt to decouple Christianity and Platonism is indeed a tough one, and it leads people like me into being accused of non-realism when this is done. The Pope knows what he is doing when he says it is no accident or… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

I think you’re overstating it John Bassett. I mean, yes there is more Greek in it than Platonism, but Platonism is the big one, and shedding that is precisely to get into social sciences and other thought forms. This is why I liked Peter Owen Jones’ programme last might on BBC 2, another form of opinion by doing. My own liberal syncretism is also an engagement with the other, and of course I have blogged about this today: http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/01/syncretistic-liberal-catholicism.html This pulls together quite a few connections of mine: my local church attendance and how I understand its activity, something from… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

There’s some really fascinating stuff out there about the differences between Hebrew thinking and world views to those of the Greek. I went looking to find a good article and this one looks reasonably succinct but effective: http://www.presenttruthmag.com/archive/XXIX/29-2.htm Much Greek thinking “…conceives of salvation as the freeing of the soul from its entanglement in the physical world that it may wing its way back to the heavenly world.” This premise underpins puritanical religious paradigms e.g. salvation by complying with rituals and laws and prescribed boundaries and authority. “The biblical dualism is utterly different from this Greek view. It is religious… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

To continue It is useful to be aware of Plato and Greek thinking, but that does not mean one has to accept their premises in their entirety. Wisdom is recognising that which is good and useful and using it accordingly, it also requires recognising the areas of weakness to be avoided, or where overuse can actually be harmful rather than beneficial. Wisdom involves avoiding extremes and absolutism, it necessitates diversity and movement and change. Wisdom is recognising that the paradigms have brought us to the brink of extinction and that we must root out and prune those things which made… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

I’m with John Basset here, although also usually a great fan of Giles Fraser. It seems to me that the authors of the Christian sacred texts were imbued with the zeitgeist of their time, which was a blend of neo-Platonism & stoicism & other things that “everybody knew.” If you compare the beliefs of ancient Israel with those of their contemporary Greeks, you compare them not with Plato, but with Homer. If you examine the later belief systems of the Gentile world at the time of our Lord, you get something very close indeed to the Pauline presuppositions. Cultures in… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest

Lemmings are not extinct because the story of lemming mass suicides is a myth. What follows is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings While many people believe that lemmings commit mass suicide when they migrate, this is not the case. Driven by strong biological urges, they will migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great. Lemmings can and do swim and may choose to cross a body of water in search of a new habitat[5]. On occasion, and particularly in the case of the Norway lemmings in Scandinavia, large migrating groups will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Thanks Malcolm I had a hunch the lemmings thing was an urban myth, but the imagery was quite fun. The other really funny things is how others also try to prove that biblical prophets, matriarchs and patriarchs, and even Jesus, Moses and Mohammad are urban myths. One my delights is when you find an unexpected convergence. So this article went up last night http://www.torah.org/learning/pirkei-avos/chapter2-4.html It is an analysis of how the written Torah is more devoted to how we should live on this earth rather than in describing the afterlife or God. Sure there’s some stuff there, but more to… Read more »