Saturday, 15 March 2008

opinions before Holy Week

Mordechai Beck writes in Face to Faith for the Guardian about how the real reason for the veiling of religious women may be lost in the sands of time.

Dave Walker on the Church Times blog has all the gen on the BBC Passion.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times wants us to Learn from Anglicans’ secular cousins.

In The Times Jonathan Romain writes about a New prayer book for Britain’s Reform Jews.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about The city lost in the sands.

Savi Hensman writes for Ekklesia about Being on the side of the crucified.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 11:07am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
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Kudos once again to Giles Fraser. Unfortunately the people who SHOULD get something from his comments won't, because they reject out of hand the idea that Christianity should be (and is, properly) a faith based in freedom.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 1:26pm GMT

giles fraser is right in his analysis of the comtemporary situation, but he is wrong in suggesting that it is a new thing. the church has sometimes led public opinion in the right direction, but more often than not has tragically lagged behind it. the church opposed the use of pain relief in childbirth, because it was unscriptural, going against the genesis text which says that women shall give birth in pain. it also lagged behind the secular mind in opposing capital punishment. it is worth looking out for a copy of 'hanging in judgement' by harry potter (i promise you, a real person), which documents the way the bishops used their seats in the house of lords in the nineteenth century to oppose the abolition of the death penalty. the public has made up its mind about the sinfulness of condemning homosexuality, the church will follow suit eventually, but much harm is being done at the moment, while it drags its feet. why doesn't RW read some history and act like a leader?

Posted by: poppy tupper on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 3:03pm GMT

"The documents are similar in form to the proposed Anglican Covenant. Both contain the possibility that members can be thrown out if they do not go along with the core principles. Zimbabwe is a case in point, having been suspended from the Commonwealth for human-rights violations."

This is KEY. In the First Letter of John, the author asks "How can you love God whom you have not seen, if you do not love your brother or sister whom you HAVE seen?"

The "Second Commandment" judges the First: love of brother or sister---even (especially) LGBT ones---is the only TRUE test that one loves God.

If the Anglican Communion were to have a Covenant (it's far from clear to me that anything besides The Quad is necessary), *human rights* MUST be at its foundation.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 5:52pm GMT

I agree with you Pat and Poppy.

Savi Hensman's article actually parallels Giles' paper. Aggressive regimes in South American 1970s and 1980s: were the churches part of the problem or standing up for the solution?

I saw a debate only this week where some Christians still pull out Abraham's hoodwinking where he was nearly tricked into sacrificing Isaac. They use this to justify being prepared to continually sacrifice children today. It is okay to be complacent about the poor and starving in other nations or the underbelly of our own. It is okay to be dismissive of souls who refuse to tithe and suck up to their cruel god.

There's been a lot of biblical text since Abraham refuting the sacricing of children. Jesus' whole life and ministry was about wanting souls to live and have life to the full (John 10:10). In this Jesus refutes "the thief that comes only to steal and kill and destroy".

Jesus would be appalled at the hate theology that some Christians espouse. He would cringe at how pertinent these passages are to these souls: Ezekiel 33:30-33, Isaiah 57 or 14:13-22 because "...for you have destroyed your land and killed your people". A sentiment paralleled in the OT. Or Jeremiah 7:30 to 9:12 "They have built the high places... to burn their sons and daughters in the fire — something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind."

Jeremiah 17:27 "But if you do not obey God to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then God will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses."

The Sabbath is for ALL of creation, do not create burdens or add to souls' loads on the Sabbath. Refrain from accusations and recriminations. Rejoice in the blessings that God has given you. Greet the neighbours that God has brought into your life. Give thanks and have faith that all is part of God's Creation and God has a plan for each and every soul.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 7:51pm GMT

The discussion between Geza Vermes and Tom Wright on this morning's Today program (radio 4) was very intersting and cordial. Vermes' new book on the Resurrection sounds like quite a read for holy week and beyond.

Posted by: L Roberts on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 8:46pm GMT

"No longer will “every man praise God” but “every person”, while we will not worship the God of “our fathers” but of “our ancestors”. The simple change of a word here and there masks a revolution in religious life. This applies also to references to God, who will not be “our king”' any more, but “our ruler”. Desexualising God may seem pedantic to some, but carries an important theological message that has long been accepted by Jewish teaching but needs to be expressed in daily worship."

I assume, however, that the Hebrew, which the desexualized English translates, remains unchanged. So what does it mean when the base language, understood only by the learned, the devoted (and, I suppose, the Israeli), is suddenly determined to be at odds with the "important theological message"?

Posted by: rick allen on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 5:37pm GMT

Many thanks to Rev Giles for this closing bit:

Quote: The Covenant is all about control by those who want to remake a new, purified Anglicanism, free from liberals (such as me) and other undesirables. It is a sad carry-on when the secular communion, with its greater differences, gets along a good deal better, and models greater inclusivity, than its Christian counterpart. We could learn from it. Unquote.

But do not hold your breathe waiting for Canterbury, or the GAFCON bishops for that matter, to lead in a commonwealth-like direction. Yes the covenant drafters still talk as if they knew how to balance freedom of conscience with accountability, but their strictures are so narrow that balance hovers only inside an overly conformed conservative Anglican spectrum which (surprise) just happens to favor their own views.

Inside church life, such conservative believers want human rights, only, mainly for themselves and people sufficiently like themselves - believers who are conformed conservative doctrinal clones. Conservatives often test their God-given freedom of conscience by continuing to have special privileges, indeed special duties, to trash talk the three favorite target groups - queer folks (of course), liberals (believers, unbelievers alike), and lest we forget, women who haven't submitted properly to some particular husband or brother or father in their daily life. This is a very strange tribalism in modern conservative dress, and the burdens of proving just how it grounds fairness, freedom, and yes responsibility-accountability lived in peace and understanding across differences, remains yet to be clearly explained to those of us who are supposed to bow down to these and other idols of Anglican conservatism.

Alas, there is apparently no Anglican room for anything except pat and parroted conservative readings of scripture. The worldwide Anglican communion based on the Chicago Lambeth Quad will as little survive conservative realignment as it would survive the Anything Goes approach that is falsely alleged to be the sole alternative to conservative realignment. Maybe Categorical-Presuppositional ethical systems and theologies are a blight on the ethics and/or the theologies we strive to do as we labor in the ripe harvest fields of the Risen Jesus? The conservative evangelical Anglican realignment continues at best to spin doctor a faulty parody of the best practices of modern thinking and empirical method, including the better or best of conservatively pledged manners or mores.

Can there be a conservatism, unbecoming to all who are believers?

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 5:59pm GMT

Actually

It's not desexualising God, but acknowledging that God has both masculine and feminine traits. Well known in the Jewish oral traditions and evidence exists it the Old Testament. Even Jesus uses feminine imagery - the mother hen wanting to gather her chicks under her wings.

What some are upset about is that there is a misconception that masculine is godly and holy, and feminine is earthly and unclean. It is that error that made it okay to rape and plunder the earth with no regard to economic sustainability beyond one profit and loss statement, let alone to generationS of descendants and neighbours.

It was pleasing to see Britain's reform Jews publishing this prayer book.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 7:07pm GMT

Rick

“I assume, however, that the Hebrew, which the desexualized English translates, remains unchanged. So what does it mean when the base language, understood only by the learned, the devoted (and, I suppose, the Israeli), is suddenly determined to be at odds with the "important theological message"?”

As a translator, I’m confronted with this problem on a daily basis.
You have two options: one is to use exactly the same grammatical structures and thinking patterns of the original, or to adapt them to modern day sensitivities.
Both are fraught with danger.

If you don’t adapt, you give modern day English speaking readers subliminal messages that were not given to the hearers of the original texts in their time. To them, allocating gender and thinking in male dominated terms was just normal.
But these days, it gives the writing an extra, male dominated and female-excluding emphasis, that it simply didn’t have when it was first written, and which is at odds with the general language patterns we live in.
And, by implication, it excludes those who do not identify as male. Again, something that was not an issue when the text was first written.

The alternative is to adapt the text to modern day sensitivities, in order to make it relevant and accessible to all those who need to understand it now.
Yes, you lose much of the original weighting and structure, and possibly some of the meaning too – after all, the original hearers would probably have had no doubt that maleness is an important characteristic of God.

For a translator, the task is to be as sensitive as possible. But she cannot avoid the responsibility of having to make a decision.

What would you do?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 8:27pm GMT

TBH, I always love reading TA's pick of the Saturday columns; I look forward to it every week, but especially the commentaries after the post, by TA regulars! Cheers.

Did y'all see this from Friday's Independent?
"The boring list: 20 titans of tedium"
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-boring-list-20-titans-of-tedium-795725.html
A lovely list of yawners indeed, but for TA readers, there's this about the Archbishop of Canterbury:

'A real hoo-hah engulfed the nation last month when the Archbishop appeared to suggest that sharia should be used in the British legal system. Bishops queued to denounce the idea. Politicians from left and right swooned with horror at "British values" being stretched to take in stoning to death and chopping hands off thieves. The press went ballistic. Even British Muslims were appalled. Then the truth emerged: Dr Williams had merely tried to "tease out" the idea, in a 7,000-word speech. All that fuss, because listeners were so bored by the prolix intellectual's words, that they seized on the one concrete suggestion in a howling gale of academic persiflage.'

Posted by: Jay Vos on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 6:30am GMT

Thanks Jay

Your link reminded me of the T.S. Eliot poem The Wastelands "This the way the world will end. Not with a bang but a whimper".

The really sad thing is all those "polite" academics actually speed the world's end by allowing the obstructionists to divert attention and resources from what really needs to be done.

The apocalyptic Christians don't care, however, because they won't recognise Jesus unless he comes down from the sky with eyes blazing, garments dripping in blood and mass-murdering non(suitable)Christians.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 9:04am GMT

Rick Allen wrote: "No longer will “every man praise God” but “every person”, while we will not worship the God of “our fathers” but of “our ancestors”. The simple change of a word here and there masks a revolution in religious life…”

Really? Revolution, indeed?

You do not realise, do you, that the English language is the problem and the way it mis-treats Grammatical Gender in Hebrew and Greek making them into Physical Gender in English.

Not the same thing at all.

There is no human differentiating/opposing “male and female” in God. Nor should there be, accoding to Paul, in the Congregation (among Christians).

But well, the Human capacity of re-making God into our own faulty image seems to be infinite…

The Gnosticist equation of Essence and Value: a woman (even Sophia) is a f a l l e n woman, whereas a woman who doesn’t romp is a MAN ; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 9:07am GMT

"What would you do?"

If it were up to me, I'd forget the whole "inclusive language" project, since I think women have always been perfectly able to understand that sexuality is a quality only of things with bodies, and that the "masculinity" of God is nothing more than the need of gendered languages to default to one or the other when speaking of persons (most, I think, are quite comfortable referring to the incarnate Second Person as masculine because becoming a particular human being required becoming of a particular time, place, lineage, sex, etc.).

But it's not up to me, and, so far as I can tell, the net result has been little more than that the old inclusive meaning of the word "man" has now prety much been reduced to "male," making all English writing prior to the late twentieth century look more sexist than it really was.

But it's a small thing.

Posted by: rick allen on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 11:44am GMT

"Rick Allen wrote...."

No, the first part of my first post was quoting the featured article before I responded to it.

I probably need to learn how to do italics on this thing.

Posted by: rick allen on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 12:30pm GMT

I don't think the issue is what women perfectly understand, but rather what some males and some females misunderstand.

Some have completely missed the TA debates about whether God had any masculine traits at all.

I think it was Goran or drdanfee who pointed out that Wisdom has always been feminine. And she's been around - from before humanity - see Proverbs 8:22-31 "The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.... I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind."

Then there is God's protectiveness of the feminine Isaiah 50:1 "Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away?... because of your transgressions your mother was sent away."

Consider how this impacts on imagery and promises of Psalm 110 "The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand... The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion... Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Is this the passage that Paul was referring to in Hebrews 5:1-10?

Contemplate how restoration involves the active participation and consent of the feminine e.g. Micah 4 "O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 6:35am GMT
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