Saturday, 10 April 2010

Easter opinion

Jonathan Bartley in The Guardian writes At cross purposes. Conflicting views of the meaning of the crucifixion have led to strikingly different patterns of behaviour among believers.

Proof of God comes in “resurrection moments” says the Archbishop of Wales in his Easter sermon.

Richard Harries in the Times writes Marginalised maybe, but we aren’t persecuted. Christians in Britain must learn to profess their faith without sounding superior to others.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that The Left is just too patronising.

Stephen Tomkins writes in The Guardian about The Christian tradition of politics. It’s hard to believe sometimes, but Christian feeling for politics isn’t all about sex, as the pioneers of the labour movement show.

Tony Bayfield writes in The Guardian about Religion’s role: separate but engaged. While religion must be separated from the state, it should have influence in politics.

Christopher Howse writes in a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph about The serpent-sharp power of prudence. A believer has someone to ask for the strength to go through with a prudent act.

Kathy Galloway writes in a Credo column in the Times that Our true life consists in what we value, not in our wealth. There is the danger inherent in the worldly power that money brings with it; the power to get one’s own way, to seek to buy people as well as things.

In a five-minute video Guardian religious affairs correspondent Riazat Butt talks to director Michael Whyte about his film No Greater Love, a portrait of a Carmelite convent in west London.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 10 April 2010 at 1:50pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

I note the sleight of hand in Barry Morgan's piece: raised from death "to eternal life". And I wonder, what does the New Testament say about the disciples' psychological condition and religious beliefs prior to seeing Jesus as part of the expected end when "the disciples said that with the resurrection of Jesus that end time had already begun".

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 10 April 2010 at 4:12pm BST

I think Giles Fraser lost the right to call himself a 'lefty' when he very publicly renounced Socialism three - or was it four? - years ago now. At any rate, whether or not you are 'of the left' has nothing to do with your views on religion and everything to do with your views on economics, and neither Giles Fraser not Alistair Campbell (nor Christopher Hitchens for that matter) has been properly 'left-wing' for a very long time.

And it is patently untrue that 'the Left' (as if this is some coherent and monolithic entity) inherently has a patronising attitude to religion, although many of us have an ambivalent attitude to the good Fr Giles. Karl Marx displayed a far more sensitive and insightful view of religion than his namesake Karl Barth, when he called it "the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions [...] the opium of the people."

Posted by: rjb on Saturday, 10 April 2010 at 4:22pm BST

One comment on the Jonathan Bartley piece in the Guardian has an idea that bears pointing out. Those who have been required to not wear a cross at work should substitute fish earrings - or, in the case of men who choose not to wear an earring or two, a tie tack or lapel stud or, if men still wear them, cuff links. The sign of the fish predates the cross as the symbol of Christianity. Wearing a fish instead of a cross has the added symbolism of returning to our roots when anything overtly Christian led to death, hence the fish which was a secret sign known only to the believers. Only fellow believers would know the protest under which modern believers wear the fish where they are not permitted to wear the cross. And since most non-believers don't read this blog and probably won't get the reference in the Guardian comment, no one will think to condemn the wearing of this early Christian sign of the believer.

As a 64 year old who has not yet quite given up her teenage rebelliousness, I kind of like the satisfaction this sort of secret rebellion.

Posted by: Lois Keen on Saturday, 10 April 2010 at 9:25pm BST

So Godless Lefties patronize and sneer at you, Fr Giles? Then stick around and EVANGELIZE them!

I'd MUCH rather deal w/ justice-minded *scoffer* than throw in w/ a GeeZus-worshipping ("figleaf") Mammon-Uber-Alles-type ANY day of the week!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 10 April 2010 at 9:41pm BST

You can blame the know-nothingness of the far right and their takeover of Christianity for the left's reaction Canon Giles. This is what small-mindedness gets you. Abandonment.

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 1:51am BST

"A lot, of course, depends on the tone of voice. The word “Christian” can be said in such a way as to imply superiority. The other unfortunate implication of this labelling can be its divisiveness. For if I am “a Christian”, there are others who are not. They are not “one of us”. - Lord Harries -

This one-time Bishop of Oxford has brought to our attention how off-putting Christianity can be when it's adherents imply some sort of 'superiority' over those who do not share their faith.

I well remember being told that true Christianity involves a particular humility - sufficiently to be able to say that it's essence is likened to "one poor person showing another poor person where to find bread".

Sadly, our own Anglican Communion has already descended into a place where certain of the Primates would not share the Eucharist with certain other Primates - on the basis of their own estimation of the 'unholiness' of their 'other' fellow bishops. How sad is that? And how contrary to the inclusive Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 2:02am BST

Lord Harries said 'The word “Christian” can be said in such a way as to imply superiority. The other unfortunate implication of this labelling can be its divisiveness. For if I am “a Christian”, there are others who are not. They are not “one of us”.

For such reasons I am sometimes tempted simply to call myself a human being.'

Thank you, Lord Harries. That's just how I feel too.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 9:16am BST

Lois Keen, I might be wrong, but I believe England already had laws against religious discrimination even before the current debate in the Houses of Parliament, If an employer, regardless of whether the employer is an agent of the State, or a non-religious non-profit organization, or a for-profit business, ordered someone to remove a cross while at work or face consequences, solely because of the cross itself, that is an act of religious discrimination, and would be treated accordingly.
Rather, I suspect that when nurses or others have been asked to remove crosses, crucifixes, Magen Davids, crescents, or other religious jewellery, it is out of safety concerns that the cross might cause harm to the employee or to others, or out of concern that the cross might influence sensitive medical or other equipment.
Switching from a cross to a fish wouldn't stop an employer acting out of religious discrimination from acting on the same impulse, since I dare say that quite a percentage of the population knows of the association of the fish symbol, because of its ubiquitous emplacement on car bumpers (wings in England?). And if the ban on jewellery (including religious jewellery) is for safety or other legitimate reasons (what we in the US call bona-fide occupational qualifications or BFOQs), then the Christian meaning of the fish earrings, necklaces, or other jewellery would be irrelevant and the fish would still have to go.
In other words, changing from wearing a cross to wearing a fish would cause no significant change. The person ordering it removed may not know why the fish is a Christian symbol (ICHTHYS - "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior", "fishers of men", etc.), but if they're operating from bias, they'll know its meaning as one. If they're operating from safety or other concerns, it won't matter.
In either case, the switch won't make a darned difference.

Posted by: peterpi on Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 7:43pm BST

Richard 'Harries said 'The word “Christian” can be said in such a way as to imply superiority. The other unfortunate implication of this labelling can be its divisiveness. For if I am “a Christian”, there are others who are not. They are not “one of us”.

For such reasons I am sometimes tempted simply to call myself a human being.'

Thank you .... That's just how I feel too.'
Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 9:16am BST

Me too

Posted by: Rev Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 8:55pm BST

Richard Ashby & Laurence Roberts,

Yes, exactly; and what Richard Harries was saying was also well put by the 19th c Danish theologian N.F.S.Gruntvig, when he wrote "Menneske først – kristen så" (First human, then Christian).

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 12 April 2010 at 6:57am BST

I do believe I am coming round to Giles Fraser's view myself: the Left is now more anti-metaphysical than ever before - and this really is the touchstone: it doesn't mean abandonding reason for emotionalism and bigotry as a response, or making a leap of faith for Creationism (which itself is mired in 19th C faux-scientism), but it does mean heralding and promoting an understanding of how humans are and should be that does not depend on the social, economic or political, sociological or psychological, on anything that is quantitative or calculated, no matter how sophisticated or nuanced in interpretation or presentation.

I just hope that this piece does not signal a drift towards voting Tory: for the same banal, managerial approach to life exists and thrives there as much as anywhere.

Posted by: Achilles on Monday, 12 April 2010 at 8:07am BST

Giles Fraser's comments made me think of the Christian Workers' Fellowship here in Sri Lanka. It was started in 1958 as a response to the political upheavals that had followed the General Elections of 1956, by a group of lay Christians who were also members of the Marxist Lanka Sama Samaja Party (Lanka Socialist Party), the oldest political party in Sri Lanka. The CWF continues to exist and on May 1st there is a May Day Workers' Eucharist presided over by the Anglican Bishops and leaders of other denominations. The Christians in the CWF are unashamedly Socialist although the agenda today includes much more than paying lip service to leftist ideology. The Leftist movement in Sri Lanka as a whole has declined over the years with a proliferation of leftist political parties, but the Christian Workers' Fellowship is a good example of how the Gospel and Socialism can coexist. Thanks Giles.

Posted by: Fr Marc Billimoria on Tuesday, 13 April 2010 at 1:04pm BST
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