Saturday, 13 January 2007

opinions this weekend

In The Times Brian Davies writes about how Aquinas proves atheists are closer to God than they think.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Sister Wendy in Like Rembrandt refusing to paint.

Ian Bradley writes in the Guardian that The linking of Britishness with religious identity could help integration.

Earlier this week, Giles Fraser reviewed the film Apocalypto for the Guardian: A Christian snuff movie that links blood with salvation. He also wrote in the Church Times about The Heath-Robinson route to decline.

Paul Vallely wrote for the Church Times about the recent church scandal in Poland: Know them by their disgrace.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 13 January 2007 at 9:01am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

Re GF's CT article.
A good simple analysis. Trouble is the argument could be that having put the nonsense of
women priests above the wider mission of the church to placate the vociferous internal squabblers, the strategy has failed. The wider world was meant to flock in to this 'inclusive' church but the evidence is to the contrary. I am surprised an intelligent commentator like GF scores an own-goal on this one.

Posted by: Neil on Saturday, 13 January 2007 at 9:56am GMT

I very much appreciated Brian Davies (actually, Dominicans are usually good -- as a Benedictine, I must say that this medieval experiment is doing rather well . . . so far) -- recently I was reading a book by a Calvinist philosopher & early on he referred to God as an "entity" -- so I put the book back -- like the atheists who so irritate me, I don't believe in the bearded invisible cloud being either!

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 13 January 2007 at 3:31pm GMT

I cannot think of how often I've turned up at a church at say 6 pm to find it was on at 4 pm that weekend, and so when there was some doubt I saved my effort. Also Sunday is a day for lying in, and early gatherings don't attract passing traffic or the half-curious.

The opinion section in the Guardian yet again has this anti-secularism and let's have Britishness attached to Christianity. No let's not, let all the religions set out their stall on a neutral playing field.

By the way, if you think you know what Christianity was like from the earliest days, then this tiny and largely unknown group gives another perspective: I've been putting in quite some effort these last few days helping one of its remaining 300 or so people left in its movement tell of the earliest days of belief in Jesus as Messiah:

http://www.change.freeuk.com/learning/relthink/kanai.html

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 12:26am GMT

You're right, Aelred, as usual.

James Alison (great theologian and ex-Dominican, as you know!) said it well in his address at JulianFest a couple years ago: that God is more like "nothing" than like "something".

(That address also appears in his newest book, the name of which I have just forgotten.)

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 4:31am GMT

I think Giles Fraser has hit the nail on the head. His example is one that can be seen around the world - complex monthly sequences of particular types of worship. But I think Neil has missed the central point: those who govern the Church and its parishes do tend to be 'insiders', and frequently skew their decision making to retain that status. And it frequently has little to do with reaching out and evangelising people who have nothing to do with the Church (yet). In my own experience, I think of a parish that insists on using a variant of the Interim Rite (aka BCP 1928), where the common complaint on the part of the vestry members most adamant about retaining this rite is that the congregation is dying. Well, of course it is - as one brought up in the language of more recent prayerbooks, I have to say that my prayer life in that liturgical setting is at best vestigial, and at worst, extinct. This place could do with some healthy liturgical diversity - except that that would endanger the *insiders*, whose view of the parish is premised on an attitude summed up by John Howard: "WE will decide who comes here and the manner in which they come." You'd have to sell your soul just to be allowed to become a parishioner.
Neil's claim that Fraser has scored an own-goal is either misunderstanding him entirely or going well beyond his point. Many of those who most vitriolically opposed ordaining women did so precisely because they had a lot to loose: they were *insiders* - their participation in governance was contingent on the Church allowing them to see themselves as they wished to believe of themselves in return. The claim that ordaining women would somehow liven things up seems to have originated as an objection, not a positive reason (it certainly functioned that way in Australia): the problem is that this was always going to be an extravagant claim, whoever made it first. These are the people who are now seeking alternative structures to stay in the tent while pretending that no-one else shares the space - and denouncing anyone who reminds them that there is space for diversity. I find it strange that it's always someone else's fault (whoever the scapegoat of the moment is); motes and beams come to mind.
To my brethren in the CofE - have fun at Synod Season!

Posted by: kieran crichton on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 6:57am GMT

I enjoyed Bradley's article. It relates to some of the thinking in Rabbi Lerner's book "The Left Hand of God". What I am finding interesting is how the secular state arose to replace feudalism and how the boundaries of theocracy were put in place. But then how scientism became the new cult that detracted from the religious imperatives of core moralities.

Many of the debates we are seeing today are to do with finding a core morality that people can agree is for the common good; mitigated by a compassionate understanding that healing often must come from within and can not be imposed from without.

e.g. Illegalising abortion does not stop women from being raped, many women would not abort if they were not raped. So are we punishing the victim and forgetting to look at what caused the body to be in the river in the first place? There's a lovely euphemism I've now heard several times. If you keep finding bodies in the river, it's worth going upstream to find out by whom and how they are being thrown in.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 7:28am GMT

"The wider world was meant to flock in to this 'inclusive' church but the evidence is to the contrary."
Erm, no, the issue was whether or not God is calling women to priesthood. The wider world was not the issue at all, but it made good propaganda for those who would get people all worked up. It seems to have worked in your case. You know, this business of Conservatives accusing those who disagree with them of faithlessness is getting really annoying. Can't you think that maybe, just maybe, those who believe differently than you do are acting from faith and not from worldly motives? Why is it so necessary fro you to deny the faith of others? No-one has ever accused conservatives of faithlessness because they fear change, despite the fact that Christ gives us the victory, so any fear of anything comes from weakness in our faith if His victory?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 1:32pm GMT
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