Saturday, 3 November 2007

weekend reading material

Simon Barrow writes about a special feature this week on Religion and Public Life in the Economist . See The Predictable New Wars of Religion?

The Economist feature is here: In God’s name.

Jay Lakhani writes in the Guardian that All faiths must accept pluralism.

Jonathan Sacks appears twice today. In The Times he writes that The search for meaning must begin outside the self.
Over in the Daily Telegraph he is interviewed by Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson in Jonathan Sacks’s solution to family breakdown.

Also at the Daily Telegraph Christopher Howse asks Why should abortion be thought wrong?

In the Church Times Giles Fraser asks Is football in a moral bubble?

The Tablet has a review by Michael Northcott Americans Who Sing For Zion of two books, God’s Own Country and Allies for Armageddon.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 November 2007 at 9:24am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Of course it is relatively easy for Jay Lakhani as a Hindu to recommend internal pluralism, as his faith is already internally pluralistic. Some of us would like to bring the same to Christianity.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 3 November 2007 at 10:50pm GMT

But Pluralist, would it then still be Christianity?

Or would it be another religion with some Christian words used in its liturgy?

That is, I think, the root argument underlying many of the current church disputes.

Posted by: Margaret on Sunday, 4 November 2007 at 2:05am GMT

I wish I could remember who said that the Elizabethan Church didn't need to be tolerant because it was comprehensive -- of course there are a lot of caveats, but food for thought as well.

I also believe that the amount of acceptable internal pluralism you will find in Hinduism depends almost entirely upon which Hindu you ask -- certainly it has not prevented persecution of non-Hindus.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Sunday, 4 November 2007 at 12:14pm GMT

What else would it be? You use a commitment to do some historical work on what Jesus was doing, as far as is possible, and on what Paul and others did afterwards, again as far as possible. Then there is the importance of Greek culture as a mediator of understanding early Christianity, and Roman power in much of its later framing. None of these are absolute, and it is inside these religious-cultural developments and forms of language that you can find any essence in what is going on.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 4 November 2007 at 2:37pm GMT

Christianity by its discipleship to Jesus should be intrinsically pluralistic. Where did he put barriers between himself and others? Any who came to listen to his teachings were welcomed, those who sought to deny others access were discredited for the selfish priests that they were.

There has been a severe distortion where certain Christian elements have become co-opted or enamored with "success", but have forgotten the moral underpinnings that lead to that success. Many modern Zionism have visions of abundance, plenty and peace; but their strategies and culture are predicated on an assumption that it is for a selfish elite who "lord" it over the heathen masses. Similarly, they are over-obsessed with power for power's sake, and forget that God despises excess use of power.

If you read the bible you will find figures to whom God grants the most power are those who do not see a need to flaunt or overuse it. Jesus was often called on to perform miracles and pronounce judgments, and often refused to do so "do not test your lord" or "go judge for yourselves".

Some souls are not going to give up power-broking models because they are "network marketing" successful scripts and strategies. But they are often morally bankrupt because they require refuting or denying huge tracts and characters from the bible. Something that Jesus would never do.

Remember Zechariah, the temple was not to be built by power or might, but by Spirit. The temple is not made of one stone, but an aggregation of many stones, none of which have been struck by a sword or burnt by fire i.e. the temple must be built free of violence or jealousy and their corruptions (e.g. greed or vilification).

Plus bible is clear that in times of peace, God’s people are in the midst of others and inspirational to them, they cling to their hems seeking guidance and advice.

Zion is not imposed by tyranny, Zion is a refutation that tyranny is required. Some bible tracts that some might find useful include Zechariah 8:2-17; Jeremiah 32:32-42, 50:4-20; Ezekiel 16:36-63; or Isaiah 37:14-37, 42:1-17, 49, 55-57, 61l, 62:1-12.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 4 November 2007 at 8:49pm GMT


Posted by: Carl on Monday, 5 November 2007 at 3:27am GMT


Eh... accepting pluralism doesn't mean incorporating the faiths to one mega-faith, but accepting that they are also pathways to greater spirituality and pointers to the ultimate Truth and thus have a right to exist equally respected side by side.
That means there are no enemies and no destruction but wolf lying with lamb....
you may not agree with it but misrepresenting what has been said doesn't help.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 5 November 2007 at 9:50am GMT

"Some of us would like to bring the same to Christianity."

Why? Why not just be a Hindu? Not being flippant here, I'm seriously interested.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 5 November 2007 at 12:43pm GMT

I couldn't show it better! There is a huge section of the modern Church that longs wistfully for the persecution of the Roman Empire. They are so desparate as to invent it, if not from the rest of us, comments like "Catholics persecuting Christians" come to mind, then from the state. Being seen going into a Christian place of worship, especially an Evangelical one, can only help a candidate in an American election, yet so many still want to give the impression Christians are persecuted in the US because someone doesn't want them to be able to force non-Christians to pray Christian prayers in schools. Praying with their kids BEFORE they go off to school would, I guess, be oppressive. I really think the manufacture of altars to Nero would be a growth industry. It would give these people something on which to publically refuse to burn incense in the hopes someone has a hungry lion in the garage.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 5 November 2007 at 12:51pm GMT

Hi Ford

I'm not sure where Pluralist is coming from, but the boundaries of what one is are more fluid in some societies. For example in a recent survey in Asia (I think it was Malaysia) over 75% of souls ascribed themselves to having more than one religion.

Screams of outrage from some hard-lined Christians. Sigh.

That said, I love the gentlenes and detachment advocated in Buddhism. I think the concept of dharma and the three paths to mastery: Will, Love or Power to be insightful. I like the acceptance of beings not seen in the animist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other traditions.

I don't have a problem with God annointing Jesus to be reconciler and judge of all the peoples of all the nations.

There will be some souls who will start ranting about John 14:6, where Jesus says "“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

I quite like the idea that the mother of all living things (Cheva) is incarnated, acknowledges Jesus and challenges Jesus to reject any of her children for doing less than his corrupt priests. By her acknowledgment of Jesus and vouchsafing for all her children (which covers all humanity), all humanity becomes covered by Jesus' covenant, just as they are covered by God's earlier covenant with Noah.

No human has to do any divine tap dancing to any priest of any caste or religion, who have no right to gainsay any human soul's salvation. That right and the method to its resolution rests unilaterally with God, just as it always has.

I suggest souls choose peace with each other and with God.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Tuesday, 6 November 2007 at 8:09am GMT

"There will be some souls who will start ranting about John 14:6, where Jesus says "“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

That rather depends on what you believe "through me" means. If it's a literal belief in Jesus, then only Christians can achieve it. But if it means "everything I stand for and the way I am teaching you to live", we can safely count many many others in. Interestingly, the second interpretation also allows for some professed Christians not to be counted, which co-incides happily with the Pharisse and the tax collector story we've talked about last week.

Having said that, I believe in universal salvation anyway so I'm not too tense about being right and "saving people" into my own way of seeing Truth.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 6 November 2007 at 9:18am GMT

"I like the acceptance of beings not seen"

Why did you leave Christians out of this group? We kept the feast of St. Michael and all Angels on Sept. 29, a whle Mass dedicated to contemplation of beings unseen. Last Sunday we observed All Saints (two days after All Souls, well, one has to adapt). Observing "The Best and the Rest" every year makes one aware of those unseen saints gone and yet to come who surround us. There is a whole mystical side to Christianity that has been pressed down by Western society, I think more avidly as one moves along the Protestant spectrum. We need to turn our attention to it again.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 6 November 2007 at 11:54am GMT

Erika says "Having said that, I believe in universal salvation anyway so I'm not too tense about being right and "saving people" into my own way of seeing Truth."

-So, why did the Lord give us the Great Commission?

-Why did the Apostles go preaching the gospel, baptising converts in the name of Christ?

They clearly did not share your universalism, Erika...did they??

Ford - hope you ain't having a Gaia Mass too

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 8 November 2007 at 2:31pm GMT

Today was the funeral of a woman I used to know very well and who committed suicide. She had never understood love and had spent her life pushing those away from her who loved her. In the end, she was caught in a cycle of bitterness and disappointment, having created just the loveless existence she always complained would be her fate.

She was an extreme, those shining from the inside with the love of Christ are the other extreme.

What is it that makes one shrivel, the other shine? And how can those of us in the middle, or hopefully on the more Christ-filled spectrum of human life spread the awareness of that deep Life, that is so much more than the living death so many appear to choose?

That, to me, is the real question. That is what the Great Commissioning is. It has nothing to do with doctrine, with what the church thinks about gay people, or with whether we’ve been told the RCC or the Anglican version of Christ.

At the core, the only truly important thing is how we can bring people to life, to hope, to love and to warmth. Everything else is self important posturing.

I believe that the woman who was buried today is now with Christ and is, for the first time ever, experiencing the fullness of love and forgiveness.

God will do that for everyone. It is our responsibility to do it as much as possible for people while they’re still living.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 8 November 2007 at 6:30pm GMT

"Ford - hope you ain't having a Gaia Mass too"

"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and Earth and of all things, VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE".

What do you think the invisible things are, NP? As you are well aware, we refer to the angels as 'the bodiless powers'. If you don't believe God created invisible things, then I hope you cross your fingers at that point in the Creed, if indeed you ever actually say the Creed. Oh, and you do know why it's wrong to worship spirits, right?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 8 November 2007 at 6:52pm GMT

""I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and Earth and of all things, VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE"."

The last time I went to a London Alpha church I was astonished at their abbriged version of the Creed. It was about 10 lines long, only mentioned the Father briefly as Father of Jesus, and then continued with the lamb slain for us and our sins...
There was no mention at all of the Holy Spirit, none about the living and the dead, His Kingdom having no end - nothing that would make the Creed complete for me.

I don't know whether that's standard for that kind of church or whether this was a particularly poor example, but I just wonder whether NP is even familiar with the kind of creed and faith you're talking about, Ford.

Is there anyone here who could shed light on this?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 8 November 2007 at 7:58pm GMT

"abbriged version of the Creed"

The United Churdch of Canada uses a "new creed" as well, something about us "not being alone" and stuff. I'm not sure why there is this desire to restate what we believe like this. In so far as HTB is THE Alpha parish, I wonder whether or not they are this innovative, or if they would even admit it's an innovation. And "Father of Jesus"? I wonder if this is evidence the ancient heresies are alive and well. Is it Arian? I'd have to see the whole text. How odd. Yet, THEY are most certainly not the ones innovating and redefining "orthodoxy". Oh no, they are "faithful" the rest of us, well, we;re just "following the traditions of men". Christian orthodoxy is so radical in its understandings that most of those self-styled 'orthodox' would run screaming from it anyway. It's funny how they can read the Bible and not see themselves and their legalism in the Pharisess. Then again, they probably think it's funny that I can read the Bible and think God led me to a homosexual relationship.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 9 November 2007 at 4:44pm GMT

Bur the Pharisees are B A D, Ford


Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 7:35pm GMT
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