Saturday, 1 May 2010

May day opinion

Updated Saturday afternoon to add another favourite poet

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave an address at the Christian Muslim Forum Conference of Scholars, held at Lambeth Palace. Dialogue is a means of ‘God-given discovery’

This week’s The Question in The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is Who’s your favourite religious poet? If you had to take one religious poet to a desert island, who would it be? And here are the replies.
Maggie Dawn A whole live poet for my desert island. I don’t want the bound works of any religious poet: I would rather have a real one, unbound, who would perform for me.
Alexander Goldberg The power to bring you home. There’s a wealth of beautiful and comforting imagery in Jewish liturgical poetry. That’s what I’d want on my island.
Alan Wilson Australian poet, Les Murray. It’s a close call: Milton would provide food for thought, but Murray instinctively recognises the glory of God in the natural world.
Luke Coppen RS Thomas. The great Welsh poet-priest didn’t aim to soothe, but to unsettle, with an unflinching record of his inner life.
Peter Thompson Friedrich Hölderlin. Hölderlin’s poems display those little shards of light which remind us of who we are and what we might become.

There is a general election in the UK on 6 May.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written an article for the Church Times about the questions that, they say, should guide political choices. Read it here or here.
Sunny Hundal writes in the New Statesman about The right hand of God. Christian fundamentalists form a noisy wing of the Conservative Party, and their influence is growing fast.
Also in the New Statesman Sholto Byrnes asks Does it matter what our leaders believe?. The polite compromise between religion and state has served us well.
Nick Spencer in The Guardian writes that There is no Christian vote. Believers don’t form a single voting bloc in this country, but Christians are more likely to vote than “nones”.
Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia describes Jesus’ alternative election strategy.
Christopher Howse in a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph asks Is it always a sin to be cynical?

The Guardian has published two articles on what it means to believe in God.
Michael McGhee wrote about This tedious fixation on belief. What is it to believe in God? It may seem odd, but it’s not a matter of believing there is a God.
And in response Stephen Clark wrote about How to believe in God. Michael McGhee argued that there was no such thing as a belief in God. As a philosopher, I disagree.

Giles Fraser argues in the Church Times that There are limits to free speech.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at 10:31am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Re: Sunny Hundal's piece--

A word of warning to the Conservatives and Cameron...the American Republican Party virtually gave itself over to the Christian fundamentalists (whom Andrew Sullivan refers to as "Christianists") and all it has managed to do is reduce the Party to a regional (Southern) minority.

Yes, it provides a very activist, committed base...but a base too narrow to build any sort of lasting structure upon.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at 12:18pm BST

Favorite religious poet: Denise Levertov. Have a look at The Stream and the Sapphire when you get a chance. It's magnificent.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at 1:38pm BST

The poetry choice articles are well, choice. Very very worthwhile and sometimes moving. Also nice, constructive discussions in the Comments section beneath each article.

thank you.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at 8:33pm BST

"I believe that those of us who are engaging in dialogue need to say very clearly that the worthwhile-ness of it is in that deepening of discovery that occurs within it. It's one of the many means that God gives us to sink more deeply into the infinity of God's work, presence and purpose. It needs no justification other than that. If it becomes primarily an argument somebody has to win, or primarily a negotiation about something on which we all agree; then it's much less than it can be." -
Abp. Rowan Williams on Christian /Muslim dialogue -

Archbishop Rowan will no doubt be criticised by some Christian who have no faith in dialogues with other religious communities. However, in the light of today's Scripture Readings - for the 5th Sunday of the Easter Season - we are drawn to the tenor of the N.T. Scriptures which bear witness to our need for loving relationships with one another - no matter what our faith situation happens to be.

The Lesson from Acts 11:1-18 recounts Peter's conversion from the confinement of his own Jewish religion - into the understanding of God's love for the Gentiles (all others). Revelation speaks of a 'new heaven and a new earth', where 'the home of God is among mortals' - presumably all who look to God for salvation. And then, in the Gospel (John 13:31-35), Jesus says: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By (doing) this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another"

We know that 'God so loved the WORLD' - not just the Church - that he gave his only Son. Therefore, we as disciples of Christ are not called to an arid exclusivity, but to be so loving towards others - inside and outside the Church - that the world will come to recognise the character of God in us.

It may very well be that we Christians are not loving enough - in the way that Jesus was loving and accepting of ALL who came to him - so that people of other faiths (and none) may never recognise the Spirit of God within us. This is why the Church is required to not only dialogue with others, but to listen to their story and accept them for who and what they are - Children of God.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 12:02am BST

FWIW, I found Michael McGhee's piece, "This tedious fixation on belief", outstanding---and easy to understand (I say this, as the thread below it on the Guardian was filled w/ people saying "Say Wot?").

So much discussion of religion seems to hinge on certain *propositions*: How many Persons is God? What does it meant to be "of One Substance"? Was Jesus physically resurrected? etc etc etc

I am quite sure that I am NOT saved by a proposition. I am not saved by God's *existence*. I am saved by the God who LOVES me---who knows me. I agree w/ McGhee, discussions of propositions, of "facts", of good evidence, or lack there of---are TEDIOUS!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 4:35am BST

Canterbury annoys me. He can do good things like Christian/Muslim dialogue, coming out with all religous leaders after the July 7 London train bombings. Fantastic.

Then he seems to be absolutely incompetent in applying the same principles when it comes to women or GLBTs?

Why is it that some leaders selfishly think is about "who" when really it is about "principles"? Some naively think that since Jesus has "made it" that the forces that overthrew Satan; brought down Sodom and Gomorrah; aided and abetted the Exodus; conceived, baptised, transfigured and resurrected Jesus, ceased to exist.

Er no, they left Jesus to do his job, and if he is not going to do it properly then he and his selfish and cruel priests and prophets can get their asses kicked just like Satan did.

God does not have to give Christians a new earth. If they despise this level of Creation so much, they can be cut off (just like satanists). God will choose which souls will be recycled when this planet's time has come. Gaia, the forces of nature and elemental forces have played well and have a place in that future, as do the righteous of all the religions. Some Christians will have egress, many will find themselves locked away with the pedophiles, tyrants, misogynists and genocidal maniacs.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 5:58am BST

"The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that bishops travelled to the Holy See last week to hold face to face discussions with senior members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican’s departments. The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Rt Rev Keith Newton and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet respectively, are understood to have informed senior Catholic officials that Church of England clergy are keen to defect to Rome." - Mayday! Mayday! -

If it were April, I'd think this was an April Fool's Day joke. However, it seems like this is not a Leftist celebration, but rather a Right Wing movement by the 'Flying Bishops' of the Church of England to lay siege to the General Synod July Meeting. This secret Rome Meeting - unknown to both Anglican and Roman Catholic officials in the UK, - will cause undoubted embarrassment to both Church parties involved.

If I were Archbishop of Canterbury, I would immediately dispossess these traitorous and haughty prelates from their cuckoos-nest homes and appurtenances, setting them free - right now - from any further obligations and duties within the jurisdiction of the Church of England, allowing them to take with them only their pensions.

This cloak and dagger skullduggery is reminiscent of the quackery of Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code'. I doubt, though, whether these prelates will gather too many clergy to accompany them on their Tiber-surfing trip - they have too much to lose. Perhaps, though we could persuade a few other retired bishops (and maybe one retired archbishop) to go with them when they leave. Anyone in mind, anyone?

I do hope General Synod members will not be intimidated by these cuckoos in the nest. So much for Saint George's Day - they won't settle for anything less than the patronage of Saint Peter.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 11:04am BST

I have published a separate article about the Telegraph story concerning departures to Rome.
Please make any further comments on this topic over there.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 6:09pm BST
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