Saturday, 16 May 2009

more weekend opinions

Marilyn McCord Adams writes in the Guardian about “The ‘size gap’ between God and man”. See Face to Faith.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about faith schools, see How schools ought to discriminate. So, last year, did Paul Vallely, see Beware the erosion of faith schools.

Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley respond to all this at Ekklesia in On not being idiotic about church schools.

Over at Cif belief Andrew Brown has written twice about the Californian teacher who described creationism as “superstitious nonsense”. See Enemies of creationism may be hindering science teachers and then Creationism judgement followup. (Original news story by Riazat Butt is here.)

Mary Boys writes in The Times that Christians should respect God’s covenant with Jews.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 6:54am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Marilyn commented that God is faithful to covenants. Amen.

God is faithful to the covenant with Jesus, and with Noah, and Moses... We had a debate on TA a few years ago about whether or not the covenants before Jesus still applied. I recall making a rather terse posting that if the previous covenants don't apply, then no one will mind if God floods a few cities. This was followed up a few days later with a tsunami through the Solomon Islands and Australia's Sydney closing its ferry service because no one knew how big the upsurge would be. In my mind, that rather nicely affirmed that God still honors previous covenants.

God creates all Life. God makes provision for all souls. Jesus covenant exists in a context of other covenants. Where Christians use duress or attempt global genocide, they violate God's covenants with other souls. There are guardians with responsibilities and they are answerable to God for not protecting their dependants.

Gaia, the Shekina, the life forces that support this planet are answerable to God for whether or not life continues on this planet, and its quality. When Jesus' Christians boldly claimed they had the only legitimate scriptural interpretations, and that they were not for life on this planet but another, then the covenant of peace was at risk. Because Jesus did not keep his word to the Daughter of Zion of being gentle, nor rebuked these Christians for violating the covenant of peace, then the other guardians were given permission to move.

Jesus is no longer sole guardian of this planet. He is now answerable along with the other guardians he attempted to squash out of existence.

If the Christians don't like it, they can continue their genocide attempts. An extinct species, and a "heaven" locked away from the rest of Creation would make their theology meaningless and their aggression unheard.

Child sacrifices, including the whole life force of humanity or Gaia are unacceptable. Jesus should have known better than to allow such aggressive theology to dominate Christianity.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 6:49pm BST

The absurd escalations of our cultural wars, thanks mainly to the most conservative believers digging their heels in, and going on the hunt for Jesus? is, well, absurd, and in the long run, potentially damaging to all as our civic spaces are continually under rightwing presuppositional assault, in a winner takes all strategy.

Why can't calling out flat earth nonsense in religion be an acceptable a witness in our public discussions, especially in reply to Creationist believers? Calling out flat earth nonsense in our readings of the scriptures, our weighing of our rich traditions, and our applications (or not?) of practical reason is a key part of being a modern believer, period.

This tunnel vision effect on the fields of public discussion and inquiry is exactly why I often sadly sense the immense pressures from conservative believers, to dumb down all talk and all inquiry, in their own favor of course.

Rest assured, if Anglicans are not careful, they will find themselves on the Vatican side of current history, repeating the nonsense aimed at Galileo, Copernicus, and Bruno. And later aimed at many others. Calling all that out clearly is a service to genuine faith and following, not partisan and self-serving as such.

Thanks for the link to Ekkelsia. Most of their stuff reads as eminently useful to me. Then I move over to the right and it all goes downhill again. I guess Ekklesia is just a gathering of my sort of folks. Here we have the core case for modern church life in a nutshell.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 6:57pm BST

I confess that I do not understand Canon Fraser's article. If I were running a Christian school, I imagine that I would *welcome* non-Christian students alongside Christian ones.

As a matter of fact, that seems to be what happens in parochial schools in my state. I know that several Jewish graduates of my middle school have gone on to Roman Catholic high schools. It doesn't seem to have harmed them or the schools.

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 2:05am BST

"The Bible spans 1,700 years of human history, and so maps many social models on top of one another. In consequence, it portrays God as standing behind sexual mores and taboos erected to protect ancient societies very different from our own" - Marilyn Mc.Cord Adams, Guardian art. -

Herein is a sometimes hidden truth - that God always speaks to a specific society and milieu. The Biblical saga is not immune to this specific directional focus - even though its basic message may have an eternal significance, too. Dr. Adams reminds us that revelation is still ongoing - as it was from the Old Testament situation of male domination and slavery, into the New Testament teaching of the primacy of Love over Law.

To limit our understanding of sexuality and its purpose in human relationships to the societal models of 2 millennia ago, is to signal the need for a return to patriarchy and slavery as God's preferred way of discipline for all humanity.

Our perception of the need for unbridled acts of procreation have altered - from the days of Israel's need for expansion - into a realisation that the 'populate or perish' outlook is no longer feasible. I guess if the practice of human sexuality were to be restricted to the model where procreation was the only 'godly' outlet, then we would be hastening this world to an early extinction. Is that what God would want?

The question is, whether God might be saying something to us, in this day and age, about the need to cherish the 'natural desires and affections' within the LGBT community - as well as in what some might call the more normal baby-producing model?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 6:47am BST

Billy D wrote

"I confess that I do not understand Canon Fraser's article. If I were running a Christian school, I imagine that I would *welcome* non-Christian students alongside Christian ones."

Agreed. I know of a church maintained school in Nottingham suburbia that has "adopted" an inner city primary school, and any pupil from that primary school has an automatic right to a place. So whilst that church maintained school has an enviable academic and cultural record due to its suburban middle class catchment, those pupils from the inner city primary school, from very different academic, social and religious backgrounds, can also access all that the school can offer.

I remember a meeting of the school governors which discussed how to respond when a Muslim imam asked for facilities to be made available, within this Christian school, for Muslim students to pray. After some debate the eventual response was a multi-faith prayer/quiet room which could be used by students of whatever faith for prayer and contemplation. Such multi-faith understanding and mutuality is what a religious school should be teaching in the 21st Century.

Accepting all-comers into a Christian school seems to me a better way forward than to keep them exclusively Christian. It also seems closer to the message of the Gospels.


Posted by: Simon Dawson on Monday, 18 May 2009 at 10:21am BST

Newfoundland enshrined a denominational education system in the Terms of Union with Canada. We changed it in the 90s. There were originally 5 school boards Anglican, Methodist, Moravian, Salvation Army, and RC. The first four joined to form the Intergrated Board in the 60s, and then the Pentecostals successfully demanded to be included in Term 17. So we ended up with three. The government couldn't fix a leak in an RC school, for instance, without giving the same amount of money to the other boards whether they needed it or not. It was perfectly legal to deny a job to someone not of the "right" religious group. You sent your kids to "your" school, Christians not "of the 5" went to the Integrated schools, nonChristians to the RCs. Boards gave preference to their "correligionists" in student placement for things like French Immersion, arts, etc., and those "not covered" got what was left. There was massive waste and duplication of services. My cousin, and lots of others, had to be bussed 1/2 an hour to my hometown, right past the door of the Pentecostal School which was five minutes from her house, because she was Anglican. Now, I'm glad the fundies didn't get to mess with my cousin's adolescent mind, and I pity the Anglicans and others in majority Pentecostal areas who had no choice, and didn't get to yank their kids out of classes where offensive hateful and ignorant things were taught by the Only True Christians, but come on, how cumbersome is such a system? It took us two referenda in the 90s to get rid of this system. RCs and Pentecostals united to oppose the change, the strangest of political bedfellows. Of course there were the usual cries of oppression of religious rights. But with roughly 60% of the population being members of one of these two groups, and with the changes finally passing by something like a 70% majority, it's hard to see who was actually "persecuting" these people. By definition, many of the people voting for change were their own members. So this is all stale to me. I love how this shows the world that Christians love each other so much we just can't manage to educate our children in the same classroom, or in the case of Britain, we love others so much we can't stand to have our children tainted by their presence and ideas, and God forbid we should teach our children tolerance! I particularly love how the same kinds of people are making the same dire predictions and the claims of oppression as were made here fifteen years ago. It's just as foolish in Britain as it was here, for just the same reasons, but some people just HAVE to be persecuted, don't they?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 18 May 2009 at 3:22pm BST

When I read messages like Ford Elms', I thank the Lord for the American First Amendment.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 19 May 2009 at 11:13am BST

Congratulations to Canon Fraser but I do *fervently* pray that next year his school report won't be 'could do better' again. Giles, I do not know you, and this is not meant to be ad hominem but a lot of this is stuff and nonsense. Discriminatory does not merely mean being able to tell differences - it hasn't meant that since at least Dr Martin Luther King. The point is this: many working class people, many taxpayers, just do not get value for money from the education system. It's not about 'Secularism' vs 'Christianity' or 'faith', or, if it is, then teaching metalwork or electronics anywhere could be construed as being 'pro-scientism'. Have you not read any of the multitudinous reports recently which show evidence that there is *less* social mobility of the sort you vaguely hope might happen if Church Schools are allowed to continue to discriminate? Why is this? I am not saying faith schools are the cause of this, because the 'this' here is about a much bigger affair than what it is such schools may or may not do - it's about how the entire social structure of this country operates.

God's love is for all, and a good state education should be for all.

Posted by: orfanum on Tuesday, 19 May 2009 at 11:13am BST
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