Saturday, 27 March 2010

opinions before Holy Week

Giles Fraser in the Church Times writes that Salvation is found in the pit of death.

Pierre Whalon writes an essay for Anglicans Online Haiti and the Devil and ponders the question “Are national sins punished by natural catastrophes?”

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph: You’ve made a fortune - now let it go. There are sound religious and social reasons for giving your millions away, he says.

Nicholas Papadopulos writes in the Times on The lure of last words. Lent is traditionally the time to contemplate the final words uttered by Christ on the Cross.

Jonathan Sacks has a Credo article in the Times: If faith schools are so bad, why do parents love them? It may not be the faith in faith schools that makes them different, so much as the communities that build, support and sustain them.

William Doino Jr writes in the Times about Remembering Romero. Today [24 March] marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.

And finally a warning for those still planning their Palm Sunday services.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 10:47am GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Oscar Romero and others like him offered the most light and love to those who are disenfranchised and a profound understanding of liberation theology that crossed all income levels. Starting in 1978 the men in Rome began a systematic campaign to make sure people like Oscar Romero never became bishops of the Church. He was a truly great human being and had the Church decided to travel down his road we would probably have women as priests and bishops, a reformed papacy where the Bishop of Rome served only as a unifying symbol and not a king, inter-communion with other Christians and a wholly healthy rethinking of human sexuality and the place of glbt in the life of the Church. Vatican II Catholics look to the Anglicans now for some of the light that was extinguished in Oscar Romero. I have seen his picture in several Anglican Churches in San Francisco. He is already a Saint in their eyes. Not so in Rome. This current pope can be counted on to stop any process of sainthood for this remarkable man.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 4:40pm GMT

Thank you, Pierre Whalen, you made wonderful points.
Robertsonian thinking is, indeed, a rationale for sanctimoniously doing nothing. "Those (Haitians, Californians, South Pacific Islanders, fill in the blank) deserved this! I don't have to give anything to the undeserving!"
Suppose a natural disaster struck Virginia Beach, VA. I bet Pat Robertson would be shocked and appalled if religious ministers said "Oh, look at the sins and depravities of the people of Virginia! They suffered this fate because their ancestors imported, raised, and sold people into slavery. God's hand is still against them!" Well, Pat, what would be a horrible reaction to the suffering in Virginia is also a horrible reaction for Haiti.
Recently, the church choir I'm in sang at a memorial service for a parishioner. The celebrant gave a wonderful homily, during which he stated "God did not cause (the deceased) to die! God didn't want this man dead! What kind of God is that?! No, this man died because he had a fatal illness!" Likewise, God did not want thousand of people to die in Haiti. They died because an earthquake struck.

Posted by: peterpi on Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 6:12pm GMT

Under the story on Bp Romero (OBM), there is this comment:

"What makes a person a saint is their relationship with God; a relationship with the poor and oppressed is very much secondary. Of course better still a relationship with God in the poor, like Mother Theresa, but that isn't a given.
'he died because he was a disciple of Christ.'
...only indirectly if at all. This was a secular not a religious martyrdom.
Not an obvious saint."

On the same (Times) page, just to the right, these headlines:

"Child abuse and the Church
-Was therapy in part to blame?
Clerical sex abuse
-Catholic Church hit by series of scandals"

Behold the Roman Church in Anno Domini 2010: in extremis!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 7:33pm GMT

Bp Whalon's reflection is outstanding (I note that my own priest made the same connection to the Lent III Gospel reading!). One might further note: the African religious influence is no more extensive in Haiti's Vaudou, than in the neighboring Dominican Republic's Santeria or Brazil's Condomble. Why is God's wrath singled-out on Haiti, then? O_o


Love this (from Wesley's hymn, quoted by Whalon):
"Jesus descends in dread array
To judge the scarlet whore:
And every isle is fled away,
And Britain is no more!"

No, not Blightey! Say it ain't so! *LOL*

JCF, a native of California, whose destruction by earthquake---due to sin---has been regularly predicted since at least 1906! [But responded to by this bit of contemporary doggerel:
"If as some say God spanked the town
For being over frisky:
Why did He burn His churches down
But leave Hotaling's whiskey?" ;-)
(Famous SF distillery which *survived* the Earthquake&Fire!)]

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 8:09pm GMT

"Christ jumps into the pit of death to claim even the grave for his victory. With this last act, the victory over death, Christ is the Lord of all. There are no corners of human experience that cannot be redeemed by his love.."
- Giles Fraser -

Having just returned from the Procession of Palm Sunday, with the Passion Gospel and the prayers and incense of the Mass here in New Zealand, I am more convinced than ever that Christ's 'descent into Hell' - and his rescue of of the inhabitants from the spectre of a living death - is a most valid part of the Creed. Fr.Giles Fraser, once again, articulates what I feel to be the essence of redemption - that 'Christ came into the world
to save sinners', and that's all of us who look to him for salvation.

The Orthodox believe that even Judas may receive the redemption of the Christ he betrayed;, and how far out is that from the parsimonious treatment of homosexual 'sinners' by the sanctimonious amongst us in the body of Christ! Lord have mercy!

As we walk through this Holy week in the Way of The Cross, we all need to reflect on 'The Great Love of God as Revealed in The Son', rejoicing in the reality of salvation for ALL who look to Christ for redemption. Enjoy your Holy Week pilgrimage!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 11:28pm GMT

I understand the more 'generous' approach of what Giles Fraser outlines and to which Ron Smith above responds. Nevertheless, I am not looking to Christ or anyone else for 'salvation', and nor do I think is there a mechanical connection (if that's the right phrase) for a descent into hell just as there is no transmission from this one individual to anyone else via the spilling of blood. Rather, it is about inspirations of character and teachings that come from all kinds of sources and places, including this one, and I would not want to limit myself to one.

As for Judas, if he existed at all, and even as a story character, the issue turns on whether he is carrying out biblically sourced elements of the drama, and therefore whether the death of this particular prophet character was made all the easier as part of the last days plan, which then may not be a 'model' to follow. There are proper times when service of others requires making the authorities' jobs harder and keeping out of the way, even getting out of the way, so more can be done.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 28 March 2010 at 4:40pm BST

At the risk of too much pickiness and too much California, the version I learned ended "saved Hotaling's whiskey." And Hotaling was a wholesaler rather than a distiller. But if you know more or less where the earthquake and fire were and go down to what's now called Jackson Square where Hotaling had his warehouse, you'll certainly agree it was a miracle.

Posted by: Gene O'Grady on Monday, 29 March 2010 at 12:46am BST

Pluralist, thank you for your first paragraph.
Regarding Judas Iscariot, I hope I have this straight: Christian theology teaches that Jesus of Nazareth was resurrected and thereby saved humanity. In order to be resurrected, Jesus had to die. Jesus' death is crucial to his resurrection and to humanity's salvation. Jesus' death was foretold from the beginning as part of God's love and God's plan for us. Judas' actions ensured Jesus' death, and was also presumably known by God beforehand. Therefore ... Judas is evil.

Posted by: peterpi on Monday, 29 March 2010 at 7:45am BST

I've always puzzled over the "older" words in the Creeds about Jesus descending into hell, and the newer version Jesus dying for our sins. How could the Son of God ever get into hell? Sure yes, I believed he died and rose again in three days, but going to hell? (Unless being crucified was hell would be for most mortals!)

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Monday, 29 March 2010 at 2:30pm BST

" nor do I think is there a mechanical connection (if that's the right phrase) for a descent into hell just as there is no transmission from this one individual to anyone else via the spilling of blood. Rather, it is about inspirations of character and teachings that come from all kinds of sources and places, including this one, and I would not want to limit myself to one." 'Pluralist' on Sunday -

Adrian, with all due respect to your understanding of classical soteriology (or not), I am confused by this statement of yours on the web. With one swipe you are discounting the efficacy of Jesus' role in the redemption of the world. I am aware of your 'broad' philosophy of religion, which takes the fact of the Incarnation of Jesus as almost an accident of creation; whereas most Christians, at least, are inspired by the biblical account of the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus as being the very crux of our understanding of his role in the divine plan of salvation.

Your oblique reference to 'the spilling of blood' is basic to the Christian understanding of the efficacy of the Eucharist - as the re-membering of Jesus, his re-presentation by the power of the Holy Spirit in the liturgy of the Last Supper. This is the historical commemoration of Christ's self-offering on the first 'Good Friday', which the majority of us will be celebrating throughout the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter.

As for your reference to the 'descent into Hell' - I take this to mean the place of 'departed spirits' - the habitation of those who looking forward to the return of Christ in glory at the end of time, of which Saint Paul has something to say in 1 Thessalonians: 4; 13-18. This extract - together with Paul's epic words in 1 Corinthians 15 - have given hope to generations of the Faithful throughout the ages of the Church.

I believe that the redemption wrought by Christ in the New Testament is for 'all creation' - not only for 'Christians'. While not a 'pluralist' myself, one might say I am something of a 'universalist'. So be it! How we Christians demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ as 'Saviour of All' is most important. The fact that many people are not in a position to accept him as 'Lord and Saviour' may be the fault of the Church not reaching out in loving service to all. The exercise of Love, not prosyletisation is the clue to our usefulness as the Body of Christ in the world.

Have joyful Holy week and Easter!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 29 March 2010 at 11:25pm BST

"How could the Son of God ever get into hell?"

The same way God could get into Humankind.

Is there any place God or the Son of God cannot go?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 at 11:58am BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.