Saturday, 23 September 2006

Saturday opinions

The Times has The Pope still owes Muslims an apology — a different one by Timothy Bartel.

Earlier in the week, Jonathan Petre asked Did the Pope know what he was doing?

The Tablet has extensive coverage of the Pope/Islam story, including an editorial The possibility of dialogue. Also Mona Siddiqui On the path to mutual respect.

Furthermore, it has its own complete English translation of the original lecture.

The Church Times also had a leader column about this, Gaffes — and gaffe-finding.

The Guardian has a Face to Faith column by Stephen Heap, about religion in higher education.

And Stephen Bates wrote about something else entirely: A match made in heaven.

Sunday addition
Simon Barrow on Ekklesia Christendom remains the Pope’s real fallibility

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 September 2006 at 12:03pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

Just a passing thought experiment. Let's say we agree to the new conseve demands for separate networking/oversight/and so forth, provided people outside the realigned conformities also have an equal institutional possibility, also inside worldwide Anglicanism, for such resources or opportunities.

The progressive Anglican believers indeed should be uniting more vigorously, not to split the church, but indeed to reach out to benighted and possibly endangered believers/parishes/dioceses across the communion which are suppressed, distanced, or mistreated by their new conserve majorities/priests/bishops/archbishops. If ABN Akinola can appoint Minns to be in new conserve mission to USA, surely Jefferts Schori and GC can act to authorize, say, VGR or somebody else of their best discernment in appointment to the neglected progressive or LGBTQ believers of Africa?

Progressive Anglican believers can have free access to communion with Canterbury, either innately defined via their willingness to be so linked via whomever else is Anglican and so living in communion with Canterbury; and also, because progressives need throw few people out in order to live in faith, be in communion with Canterbury in domains of inquiry or faithfulness which the new conserved believers feel too frightened or ashamed or disgusted to embrace. Ditto for ACC, and the other means of communion intended to be embodied in institutional processes.

Is the new conserve access to covenant police powers likely the readiest occasion of a progressive believer fall from generosity, inquiry, and grace? Would such new Anglican police power corrupt - everybody who touches it? (Are power issues rather akin to Just War Conundrums?)

For a while would we probably see something of a free for all? Inevitably over time, would things settle down? Would funds/resources get committed, stretched, maybe constituting a passing salutary relative poverty so far as enacting mean-spiritedness of this or that sort goes?

Can we still get well into tomorrow, simply by standing generously, clearly, and steadfastly for traditional historic Anglican leeway and comprehensiveness … today? - a faithful progressive evangelical or catholic or pilgrim's range of points in the greater Anglican spectrums that simply has no falsely urgent or crisis-driven need to accept, either itself or the others, being defined as outside?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 23 September 2006 at 5:22pm BST

What interests me is not what BXVI said or didn't say about Islam, but his strong implication that Christian faith is only truly accessible through the categories of Greek (therefore European) philosophy. Where does that leave Asia, Africa, and indigenous America? So much for inculturation of the Gospel!

Posted by: Walela on Saturday, 23 September 2006 at 5:43pm BST

The Pope articles were interesting. I was also impressed by Simon Barrow's take on the whole faux pas this week too: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/barrow/article_060920papal.shtml

The other thing that has intrigued me in this whole matter is the parallels to the debates within the Anglican communion. How "hard liners" are quick to take offense and demand apologies and recantations lest they lobby and stir up unrest.

That led to recontemplating Jesus' parable about the wedding feast (Mathew 22:1-14). Some invited guests were deemed unsuitable because they seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them (22:6). Schori was voted as the servant for her diocese, and now others would attack her and "kill" her right to represent her people...

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 23 September 2006 at 7:40pm BST

Walela --
I read the address before all the furor & decided that Jesus would not have met B16's criteria for being a Christian (i.e., not Greek enough)!

Cheryl --
Thanks for the Barrow link -- very fine indeed!

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 23 September 2006 at 11:32pm BST

Walela, I seem to wonder about that too. I know that one of the favored theologians in Rome, the late Hans Urs von Balthasar, has been saying much the same thing. But there is a case for thinking that the "Greeking" of Christianity is itself a form of inculturation, albeit one that transformed itself into a domination.
Then again, this is the same Ratzinger whose colleagues frowned upon an inculturated liturgy and favored the old way--one Mass, one language, one way of thinking.
By the way, Stephen Heap's piece is right on the mark. Here I agree with the Pope--secularism is dead, and religion should be making a comeback in the universities where, in the name of the Enlightenment, they've been shut out.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 12:56am BST

Neo Platonism itself was inculturated into Europe being the State philosophy of the Byzantine STATE/church mixis.

Then it was taken over by the Carolingian Empires. The sacred texts were altered to comform to Hellenist Morality at the Imperial Academia Palatina at Aachen, and later at the Robertide Schools at Lorsch and Fulda.

The inculturation of Neo Platonism a s Christianity was completed by the Scholastics at Oxford, Paris and Bologna.

Alcwin of Northumberland, Rhabanus Maurus, Candidus of Fulda, Anselm of Canterbury, and others.

This was parallelled in the breaking up of European Society into a Hierarchy: celibate Orators, lawless Warriors, and enserfed Workers.

(The Yeomanry was made to give up their land to church institutions in exchange for "protection" by the Warriors who controlled the church).

This development culminated in the definition of Society by way of the exclusion of 7 Phantom cathegories, invented for the purpose, by Laterans II, III and IV: Jews, Muslims, Heretics (Cathars but not Valdensians), Sodomites (the mainly Heterosexual Spilling of Semen for non-procreational purpoes), Bastards (the desinheriting of the sons of Priests - their mothers were redefined as whores) and Lepers (very difficult to diagnose even today).

Much the same especially protected in post WW2 European Law.

The result was the European split between State and Church. The States tried to control the Church as much they could. Not "enlightenment".

In fact the authority to appoint Bishops and Priests that we today think the Bishop or Rome "always" had, is 20th century: the (secret) Concordates made with the new dictatorships after WW1, and revealed (most of them) only after WW2.

The Enlightenment on the other hand was the Judicial and Political struggle against the lingering residues of the Roman inversion of this mixing of Church and State: the 1073 Dictatus papae; "Canon" law mixed into Civil law: exclusions, disappearances, torture.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 9:10am BST

It's hilarious watching 'reappraisers' working themselves up into a synthetic and rather muddled and condescending lather over the pope and Islam. It is obvious to anyone who listens carefully to the off the record conversations that reappraisers LOATHE Islam but cannot bring themselves to say so out of: fear; political correctness; or the need to distance themselves from the hated 'reasserters'.
None of this betokens much courage or intellectual integrity. Do you really want to see a wall toppled on Elton John (in spite of his execrable muzak)? Would you have a crane brought in for Gene Robinson? No? Then speak up!

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 10:06am BST

Walela

That is an excellent point and there have been some fantastic dialogues in places such as the World Council of Churches - which the conservatives black-listed at one point (e.g. http://www.fundamentalbiblechurch.org/Tracts/fbcwcc.htm ). But the Anglicans now have 15 people on the central committee.

This is a good paper that shows the kind of thinking that has been going on http://warc.ch/dt/erl2/12.html It asks the question should we be using taro for communion? And my recollection is there is some discussion about how does the bread imagery work in areas of the world where rice or corn are the staple rather than wheat?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 11:38am BST

Steve Watson
Which of the Roman Catholic commentators linked to above were you referring to as "reappraisers"?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 1:28pm BST

Steve ; I think most sensible people are more concerned about world peace and working towards a situation where the current situation of a new crusade against Muslims (as it is perceived right or wrong) isn't unnecessarily encouraged.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 3:38pm BST

I would point you to the last paragraphs of Steven Bates piece.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 3:47pm BST

Herr Blogmeister: not really the question I was addressing. 'reappraisers'/'reasserters' you may recognize more as Anglicanspeak from an American blog, 'Titus One Nine'.
The issue of Islamist-inspired violence is one that 'reappraisers' seem terribly reluctant to address. But it is enormously prominent on most news services.

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 3:48pm BST

'By the way, Stephen Heap's piece is right on the mark. Here I agree with the Pope -- secularism is dead, and religion should be making a comeback in the universities where, in the name of the Enlightenment, they've been shut out.'
Posted by: Ren Aguila on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 12:56am BST

What is 'secularism'?

What does 'they' refer to, in 'they've been shut out' I wonder ?

If it refers to Religion, this has not been shut out of universities. Nor is religion or its practioners treated, the way the Inqusition treated people, including Galileo (who at least was't murdered).

Secular societies and arrangements seem to make toleration possible and therefore for all religions and philosophies to flourish without let or hindrance.

Posted by: laurence roberts on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 3:52pm BST

The Church itself took shape in a strongly hellenised context, reflected in the New Testament itself. It should be no surprise that Greek philosophy has continued throughout the subsequent two millennia to influence and shape Christian thinking, not only in the west but wherever large numbers of people have received the Christian faith and scriptures.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 4:17pm BST

Steven Watson,

Ah, yes, the conservative false dichotomy: the "reasserters" versus the "reappraisers". Must be nice to have things packaged so neatly. Here in the real world though, things are a bit more subtle. There are far more than two ways of seeing the world, Steven, and simply because someone thinks that hate filled hostility might be a bad way to spread the Good News to gay people doesn't mean that said person favours gay unions, for instance, or is falling over himself to say good things about Muslims.

Thing is, one has to deal with the passages of the Quran that enjoin violence towards the unbeliever. I agree many on the "Left" are reluctant to deal with it, but not all. We also have to deal with Christianity's violence, however. It is not appropriate for us to address violence in Islam without acknowledging our own tendencies to it. In fact, since there ARE violent passages in the Quran, one could argue the Muslim who espouses it in the Quranic context is merely being faithful. What of violent Christianity? For us, it can only be sin, that is unless we follow the world and the spirit of the age and claim that war can be "just", which is one way we sold out to the world long ago. That doesn't stop us, though. So, we are certainly open the the accusation of hypocrisy from Muslims, don't you think.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 5:04pm BST

Actually Steve, the reappraisers are very concerned about religiously justified violence. We are aware of the media's slant of demonising a whole people because of a rampant extreme. We are also aware that Christiandom is facing its own problems in this regard. For example, going to war in Iraq based on orchestrated lies, deceptions, omissions and "playing the press". We are at the forefront of supporting Peacemakers and encouraging conflict resolution skills. We are focussed on healing, rather than judging. Nor do we want to adopt a paradigm that says peace comes from being "like us" or "slaves to us". God has an unfolding universe, and that means diversity and different stages of development. We honor Jesus when we respect and bring out the best in others, not when we try to bludgeon them into submission so we can gloat over our authority. There is a huge difference between authority and friendship, Creation responds to friends enthusiastically and grudgingly tolerates bullies.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 5:40pm BST

Ah, I guess I would say that most of the liberal or progressive believers I know are for equal discernment when it comes to religion as a root or justification of any sort of violence. Our own real church history and theological roots are just as bloody as anybody elses, more or less. The obligation to speak up against Islam beheading or hanging sexual minority citizens, conformed and/or religious or not, is part and parcel of looking in all our mirrors to discern what we are doing when we pass laws that create barriers to citizen resources/opportunities for the LGBTQ folks who live among us. Ditto for other population sectors where religion/violence issues arise.

Simply put: We do not urge that somebody else's violence can be effectively discerned by the gospel without having to also at the same time, via the same best practices, discern our own violence. At least some of the linked commentary recognizes this by at least resisting an Us vs Them framework for describing the issues. Some comments seem to go even further as I read them.

Yet again, an urgent, overly simple Either/Or frame is faulty. The controversies of religion and violance are not US - Christian believers who never ever have been violence in wish, word or deed - vs. THEM - the fundamentalistic Islam believers who are always, nothing but violent in wish, word, and deed.

What in blazes has our typical, average church or spiritual conversation come to, that we are always stopping complex ideas/discernment in their tracks? Having to go back and address one or another of these patently mistaken new conservation Either/Or frames - mostly urged upon us nowadays by the new conservative believers or some other rightwing person who loudly claims higher and more total authority among us than anybody else?

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 7:00pm BST

Ms Clough, it is not Christiandom [sic] which has gone to war in Iraq. The campaign has been criticised by pretty well all the mainstream churches. As Tony Benn said on the BBC yesterday, it is a war of American imperialism, motivated by oil - supported by a PM who has come to share the delusions of Louis XIV, “L’État, c’est moi”.

I see no evidence in the NT for any claim that Christianity is inherently violent. The same can not be said of the Koran, or of its contemporary belligerents, who are killing other muslims in large numbers, including 9/11 and 7/7, as well as on a daily basis in Iraq. The Sharia system also is inherently vindictive and unjust in its treatment of women, homosexuals and "infidels".

"Blessed are the peacemakers" seems to me to sum up the NT approach to conflict.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 8:06pm BST

Cheryl Clough wrote:
"That is an excellent point and there have been some fantastic dialogues in places such as the World Council of Churches - which the conservatives black-listed at one point (e.g. http://www.fundamentalbiblechurch.org/Tracts/fbcwcc.htm ). But the Anglicans now have 15 people on the central committee."

I'm trying without success to make some kind of sense out of this in the context of a list for ANGLICANS.

I find no indication in the link provided by Cheryl that the source is Anglican. Indeed the title "Pastor Christianname Surname" indicates some kind of prot sect. The text further indicates one of the loopier varieties of rabid transatlantic anti-communism.Anglican membership of the WCC has never been an issue with any serious person of any kind of churchmanship.

Regarding the main issue of Ben 16's lecture, I find the whole thing depressing. A substantial proportion of media comment seems to come from people who are unable to recognise the genre - a specialist lecture to an expert audience with citing of sources. Some journalists seem surprised that the Pope is Catholic, and at least one is surprised that he is Christian, judging by his reaction to the Pope's quoting of so basic a scriptural text as "we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews...."

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Sunday, 24 September 2006 at 10:01pm BST

Let me answer Laurence's comment--secularism refers to a mindset where religion is shut out of public life either explicitly or implicitly. It often denies religion a central place in the public discourse, if not the only place (which is definitely dangerous), and prizes a kind of "neutrality" which in fact is anti-religious. The Foreign Affairs essay "Why God is Winning" points out that this kind of mentality is failing--the spread of democracy, paradoxically, has meant the increase of faith's involvement in public life.
You are correct in saying that religion never left the universities. But it has come to be that since the Enlightenment, and especially after the sad incident of Galileo, religion lost its credibility in the academe, except (thank God!) among some faith-based institutions. Relativism, on the other hand, became the dominant ideology--one faith is no better than another, and worse, having no faith is best.
Yes, the secular world allows faiths and ideologies to flourish, but the future lies in worlds which at their heart joyfully proclaim "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it." For when a world denies the possibility of seeking the Truth and living it, those who rebel against this world grow stronger.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Monday, 25 September 2006 at 12:26am BST

I don't acccept the attempt here and elsewhere at a painless, seemless inevitable-seeming slide from Jesus' language and culture to the Greek. Its done so smoothly, this slight of hand , that many don't realise (not here, of course) that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and that a great loss is involved in the transition from Aramaic Jewish Jesus to Greek deified Christ. Great loss and geat dislocation. We get the odd Aramaic phrase in the Greek Testament, fleeting glimpses. So tantalizing and poignant. I'd really have loved to read things in Jesus' own language, his own words, his syntax, his idioms. Any 'translation' involves this loss, this dislocation to greater or lesser extent. Even more so from a despised minority culture and its language -- thinking of how Welsh has been deliberately and systematically marginalised by English rulers, may give just a flavour of the ststus of Jesus' people, language and culture.

Obviously we have to acept and live with this, but glossing over it, is another form of untruthfulness. The Greek Testament was a huge step away from the original Jesus and his message. The hidden grief must be endless.
Stupid means 'numbed by grief'.

Posted by: laurence roberts on Monday, 25 September 2006 at 12:58am BST

laurence roberts wrote:
"The Greek Testament was a huge step away from the original Jesus and his message."

Iknow this risks going way off-topic, but I'm unconvinced by laurence's (superficially attractive) thesis.

Firstly, it displays 'theological entropy' (not dissimilar from those gloomy Protestant meditations on the decline of standards from the days of the New Testament)which is a mirror image of the 'things can only get better' old-fashioned liberal matrix. If God can operate through Palestinian Judaism, why should we regard Hellenism as anathema?

Secondly, although Jesus was a Palestinian Jew, diaspora Judaism — probably numerically larger — was Greek-speaking (hence the need for the LXX, Theodotion, Aquila, Symmachus). If Jesus' 'message' was not capable of transmission to Hellenistic Jews, it would remain sectarian and Palestinian — and, of course, in the wake of the two Jewish revolts, all trace of Palestinian Judaising Christianity was obliterated, so we'd never have heard of the guy anyway.

I know it's attractive (especially to anyone whose own national identity has been eroded/subverted) to see the Hellenising process as one of corruption of a previously pure message — but I'm not sure that it stands up to scrutiny.

Posted by: David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) on Monday, 25 September 2006 at 12:34pm BST

Laurence, do you think Jesus spoke in Aramaic with Pontius Pilate or the centurion in Luke 7? Greek had been spoken in the Holy Land since Alexander's day 360 years previously, just as English has long co-existed with indigenous languages in India. Back translations of the NT into Aramaic exist (you can find them on the web). I sometimes browse in a modern Hebrew NT; Delitzsch did a translation as well. Is there a single idea or image in Aramaic that can't be represented in Greek (Welsh, come to that)? In what respect was the Greek NT 'a huge step away from the original Jesus and his message'? Do you think the Aramaic church didn't think Jesus was divine? Maranatha!

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Monday, 25 September 2006 at 1:35pm BST

Laurence

To continue your point, I regret that we have also lost touch with Jesus' roots - his own theological training and grounding. For example the Hilliel teacher's example of teaching the Torah to someone while they were standing on one leg. Don't do unto others as you would not want done to you. All else is commentary.

Interestingly, he didn't mention sex in that quick lesson, so is that really the cornerstone of theology? Looks to me like it is more respect and empathy.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 26 September 2006 at 10:21pm BST

Alan

Conservatives are not just Anglican. One of the concerns is that there is alliance of conservatives who seek consistency across the denominations, for example EMU who is seeking to take back control of Australia's Uniting Church. It is legitimate to document an example of conservative white anting as the conservatives do talk to each other. Unless you wish to suggest conservatives don't share values agendas and ideas. In which case, you only buy and recommend books that are written by suitable Anglicans and eschew texts from Catholics, Baptists or others?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 27 September 2006 at 5:07pm BST

Alan

I have loved watching the media in the last few days. For example Ted Turner, who founded CNN, has referred to the Iraq war as "...among the "dumbest moves of all time" that ranks with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of Russia" http://www.cnn.com./2006/US/09/20/turner.reut/index.html

Based on some of the writings I've seen in the last few days, Mr Bush must be wondering if he is a Christian too. Everyone seems to be bending over backwards to dissassociate their church from his theology. Rats leaving the sinking ship, perhaps?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 27 September 2006 at 5:16pm BST

Ms Clough, do you regard the New Testament as "conservative"?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Wednesday, 27 September 2006 at 7:54pm BST

No Alan

I regard the New Testament as a continuation of the Old Testament. What I don't respect are those who only quote parts of the New Testament and have no regard for looking at consistency with the Old Testament, and then lack the humility to acknowledge that they might not fully understand all of the biblical teachings. Especially when the oral tradition that Jesus would have been grounded in has also been excluded from "scriptural" authority.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 28 September 2006 at 7:26pm BST

Ms Clough, you seem to be somewhat confused by the thread - are you claiming that "Christiandom" is inherently violent, or American Christians, or the OT, or the Bible as a whole? There is no logic to your responses.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Friday, 29 September 2006 at 9:36am BST
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