Thinking Anglicans

opinion

Vic Van Den Bergh More than ‘Just a service’ – Funerals

Michael Sadgrove Cathedrals: a success story?

Giles Fraser The Guardian The whole point of Christianity is to create a deeper form of humanism

Madeleine Davies Church Times The Maasai – a tradition in transition

25
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
25 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
16 Comment authors
LaurieSavi HensmanErika BakerJoeRod Gillis Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Pluralist
Guest

The one thing Unitarians do well is funerals. It avoids the flat repetitions of the humanist life-story and adds context, but without the unrelated beliefs that the dead and still living do not share. And as for Giles Fraser, one doesn’t make a better humanism by references to a myth of birth and its manner that doesn’t stand up to the first efforts of historical investigation. It ends up being gooey sentimentalism.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Pluralist. It is easy to see why you prefer your particular Pseudonym. However, I don’t think many Anglicans would share your theological speculation.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Pluralist, I see Giles Fraser’s comments as more along the lines of “Christians are better than humanists.” And, although I believe in God, I reject the thought. #### “God is not to be discovered beyond Orion’s belt, but down on Earth.” – Giles Fraser If you really look at non-Christian monotheistic religions, I bet you find similar sentiments. I bet Judaism and Islam preach a similar message. God is to be found within oneself, God is to be found in one’s neighbor. God is to be found by serving others, by caring for the Earth (God’s creation), etc. While simultaneously,… Read more »

Pam
Guest
Pam

I found Giles Fraser’s premise to be a bit anthropocentric. Yes, God displayed his vulnerability by becoming the most helpless human being but the divinity is still there. And the stable with the animals – very important witnesses.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Re the Maasai (and every other culture that practices FGM): female genital mutilation will never end w/ a negative “Don’t Do It!”

It must be a POSITIVE campaign: the clitoris is BEAUTIFUL. The vulva is BEAUTIFUL. The labia are BEAUTIFUL. They function for women WONDERFULLY . . . just the way ***God created them!***

You overcome taboo w/ *celebration*, not shame.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Surely Giles Fraser’s reasoning would suggest that Greco-Roman mythology (plenty of divine/human birth events) would produce even better humanists.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Pluralist, “And as for Giles Fraser, one doesn’t make a better humanism by references to a myth of birth and its manner that doesn’t stand up to the first efforts of historical investigation. It ends up being gooey sentimentalism.” I think we could place alongside your statement, one by the late Raymond Brown, who argued that whether or not the infancy narratives are historical, “the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke are just as profoundly Christian and as dramatically persuasive as the last two chapters, the passion and resurrection” ( The Birth of The Messiah [First Edition], p.… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“In a whole range of debates from abortion to assisted dying, the moral category of choice is often regarded as trumping the moral category of humanity.”

False dichotomy, Giles. It’s our very ability to CHOOSE—and to disagree about the morality of various said choices!—which makes us human (and the Image of God: God said “Let there be Light” because S/He had the choice to remain in darkness—so also God’s Image).

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Dennis, “Surely Giles Fraser’s reasoning would suggest that Greco-Roman mythology (plenty of divine/human birth events) would produce even better humanists.” Not necessarily. While the infancy narratives have affinities with the lore you reference,’Christianizing’ such lore to some extent, one needs to take care about comparisons. For one thing, Greco-Roman mythology tends to divinize the human rather than humanize the divine. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, even imperial Japanese, notions of the human as divine or quasi-deivine figure tend to express the divine man in terms of kingship, status, power. “I think I am becoming a god now” Ian Macquarrie notes in… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Rod Gillis, Whilst some notions of the human as divine have a tendency to equate divine status with kingship, that is not the only model. There were the public, state religions which may divinise the head of state. And alongside those were the esoteric mystery cults, and it is those mystery cults which have the affinities with Christian narrative and lore. We look to Jewish history to find precursors to Christianity, yet ignore Dionysus, a child with a God for a father and a human mother, a divine /human being who is killed and comes back to life again, and… Read more »

Giles Fraser
Guest
Giles Fraser

JCF – are you saying that those who do not have the ability to choose are no longer human? What a dangerous suggestion.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Simon Dawson, Well, in one sense, what doesn’t go back to the Greeks? However, I think one looks in vain to find a strong lineage between the anthropology of Greek antiquity and the notion of humanism, itself a very general term, of the type that is under discussion here with a cue from Fraser’s article. A number of scholars ( D. Crossan et al) have helpfully in pointed out how to “read” Christian mythology by contextualizing it within the Greco-Roman World. When one looks at the site at St. Clemente in Rome, for example, one sees something of the… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

I realise that you are all posh and probablly sneer at soaps, but what about the new gay vicar plot line in Coronation street..which we are told will lead to a wedding!
Coronation Street actually changes opinion much more effectively than this blog!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Bravo, Giles Fraser. How humanity needs to be understood in the light of Christ’s incarnation is pivotal, surely, to the whole Christian enterprise. If ‘the glory of God is best seen in humanity fully alive’, then Jesus really is to be reckoned both ‘truly God and truly human’. If this is not the case then it leaves one wondering what was the purpose?

JCF
Guest
JCF

What else is there, Giles? Homo sapiens DNA? Really?

I praise the *privileging* w/ life & dignity for those who cannot choose, Giles (i.e., ALL animals, regardless DNA), but my point stands.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Finally, those who want to deny the Imago Dei divinity of HUMAN CHOICE, have a “dangerous” tendency to exert Power-Over other human beings’ choices, in favor of their own. Consider!

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

And yet as Jung and Joseph Campbell (among many others) remind us, the similarities among incarnate and dying / rising gods (Mithras, Osiris, Dionysius / Bacchus, Addonis, Tammuz, Persephone, and many others) (Jesus, too?) aren’t just circumstantial. There is something at the heart of this similarity that gets to the very core of human psychology.

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

Giles Fraser’s piece is full of opinion with not much evidence. Like much in the Guardian, it seems designed to get people upset enough that they will write in.

Christians are not better than other people.

His sexism is showing when he mentions abortion.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“In a whole range of debates from abortion to assisted dying, the moral category of choice is often regarded as trumping the moral category of humanity.” I confess I do not understand this sentence. It seems to assume that choices based on something called “choice” tend to be immoral whereas choices based on something called “humanity” tend to be moral. But both categories can result in morally monstrous choices and both can result in humane and just choices. And deeply Christian and intelligent people can support abortion and assisted dying. What makes us human is the capability of active and… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I would like to thank Robert Ian Williams for describing me as ‘posh’.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Dennis, There is no doubt Joseph Campbell’s work is extremely helpful in encouraging Christians to read scripture as mythology. For example,in The Hero With A Thousand Faces (The Keys), he discusses (the old) Roman Catholic rite for Holy Saturday,reminding the reader that the believer’s rising and dying with Christ in baptism is prior to the notion of washing away original sin. He notes that myth is impoverished when read as history or science. Agreed. However, one must be careful. From the get go Christian proclamation is about an historical person (Jesus) proclaimed in mythic terms (as an eschatalogical Christ).… Read more »

Joe
Guest

Hi Erika: I think Giles simply meant that exercising a right to choose is not always a moral act unless moral criteria are used in the decision-making (his category of humanity). I suspect this is where the confusion arises: I can choose to make an arbitrary decision, I can even choose to do something I think is wrong — the rightness (or not) is not in my choosing or having a right to choose, but in my deliberation and in my reasons for choosing. Re abortion or assisted dying, claiming a right to choose is arguably the beginning not the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Joe,
yes…
but on what credible basis could anyone suggest that people “chose” a view about abortion or assisted dying without weighing up the morals their view? That their decision is either arbitrary or purely utilitarian?

Are we supposed to entertain the idea that that is how many people make their decisions?

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

I think the concern about choice as a criterion for being fully human is to do with the risk that people unable to make informed choices because of profound learning disabilities, advanced dementia or other reasons may be assumed to be of less worth. But I believe we experience being human in community, and someone barely conscious at the end of her life can be as much loved and loving as the brightest maker of choices.

Laurie
Guest
Laurie

Today’s Reith lecture (Radio 4) spoke in favour of assisted dying, among things.

The entire audience was said to have agreed with him.