Saturday, 20 December 2008

opinions before Christmas

Both Guardian and The Times have columns about Hanukah, one from Howard Cooper, the other from Jonathan Sacks.

The Telegraph has Christopher Howse on The words that train the ear.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times has Celebrating where God gets real.

Comment is free asked What letter would you write to God? with answers so far from Julian Baggini, Mark Vernon, Francis Davis.

And for light relief, there is Andrew Brown saying that Science proves Anglicans smartest.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 9:10am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Part of Andrew Brown's column may appear to be “light relief”, but he is raising serious concerns about our pre-conceived ideas, smugness, and about IQ tests. I've distrusted IQ tests ever since I took essentially the same test, 3 months apart, one with pencil and paper, the other orally (I have mild Cerebral Palsy with manual dexterity deficiencies). The two scores were 25 points apart -- an 18% difference. Regardless of what “intelligence” is, I was the same person in both tests. I had the same intelligence. A knowledgeable person later told me that an 18% difference is perfectly normal in IQ tests.
To me, that is preposterous. An IQ test, in my opinion, measures only your ability to take that test. Nothing more, nothing less.

But, I’m Jewish and attend an Episcopal church. It sure is comforting to know I hang out with the right sort of people, LOL.

And that’s a problem I have not only with Professor Nyborg’s study, but with a book by Bishop John Shelby Spong, “Jesus for the Non-Religious”. From Nyborg’s study, “[…] uncritical reference to ancient supernatural thinking, irrational beliefs in souls, invisible worlds, Gods, forces, angels, devils, hell, or holy spirits. A contemporary belief that supernatural forces control behavior, feelings and thinking is accordingly seen as a reminiscence of pre-historic animism and magical thinking.” Spong makes similar arguments, and would add virgin births, bodily resurrections, raising the dead, multiplying food, etc. We live in a scientific age, and people should believe accordingly. There is an intellectual smugness to both Nyborg and Spong. I love a lot of what Spong writes, but reading Nyborg’s comments in the context of Spong made me squirm.

I don’t like it when Pentecostals', etc., more politically active elements try to stop the teaching of evolution in schools, or to prevent civil rights for GLBT people. But those same Northern Europeans that Nyborg so approves of fill the halls of Pentecostal as well as jewish and Episcopal houses of worship.

Posted by: peterpi on Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 5:11pm GMT

Thank you Andrew Brown. It's lovely to hear someone looking at the assumptions or precepts behind an author's writings.

It is also sad to see that mysticism is still not understood. Just as it is sad to see Christians touting that Jesus is Lord of all the earth, and then repudiating that responsbibility by insulting, abusing, neglecting and violating the "other". Lordship of all the earth means responsibility respect and reverence to all levels, including females, non-Christians, animals, the environment and unseen forces.

It does not hurt to remember that Jesus was such as stunning success because all of Creation cooperated in affirming and acknowledging him. Souls placed their trust in him and he made promises to be gentle.

Both Jesus and Hanukah are meant to be inspirational beacons of hope that love and faith transcend and overcome all obstacles.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 9:27pm GMT

""It may seem an odd topic for a Roman Catholic to choose when commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury," he (Timothy Radcliffe) writes, for Anglicans and Roman Catholics do not share Communion with each other. He hopes that "if we can understand one another's faith, hope and charity better, then we will, with the grace of God, come to share the Eucharist too". - Christopher Howse, Telegraph -

The review by Christopher Howse of the Lent Book commissioned from R.C. Author Timothy Radcliffe by the ABC seems to have hit upon the crux of the situation in the Church; where the issue of the point of convergence in the Celebration of the Eucharist is seen to be pivotal as the aim and focus of fellowship within the Body of Christ.

Giles Fraser also points to how a unifying focus on the Incarnation of God-in-Christ is perhaps the most tangible way of participating in the celebration of Christmas.

For a Roman Catholic like Timothy Radcliffe to be writing on a similar theme for the ABC's Lent Book shows how a spirit of convergence between our two Christian Communions can best bear witness to the mission of the Gospel in our world of today.

The Incarnation of Christ, after all, is perhaps the most radical paradigm of the Christian faith, and the Eucharist - as Jesus instituted this *anamnesis* (ever-remembrance) of himself - is both the 'beginning' and the 'end' of the great love story of God's relationship to all humanity.

As we draw nearer to the time of a mutual sharing of the Elements of the Eucharist - based on a common understanding of the Christ who has given it to us - we should be longing for the day when our common celebration of this great gift is no longer an impossibility, but rather our duty and our joy.

Perhaps in this time of separation within our own Anglican Communion, with some of those among us withdrawing their presence from the Common Table, on the grounds of incompatibility with those who do not agree with them on second-order matters of biblical interpretation, we should think again - about how the world sees this intentional apart-heid in the Body of Christ, which has been called into unity by its Founder and Lord.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 5:32am GMT
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