Comments: items from around the world

Roger Herft said: " particularly those we determine to be the "enemy". The heat is on. The gay and lesbian person is placed on the altar"

Err, who said anything about 'enemies' ? Maybe that is the way +Herft thinks about conservatives, but we are arguing about Truth, not about personalities. And as for placing people on the altar, I think he means "same-sex sex" is on the altar...

By the way, isn't the altar where we are all *supposed* to be ? Offering our lives to God as "living sacrifices"... to deny self and follow Christ ? To die with Him and be raised to new life ? My desires are as much on the altar as anyone elses; that is where they should be !!

Posted by Dave at Monday, 3 July 2006 at 11:12pm BST

Bishop KJS says 'all language is metaphorical'. How can it be? The very word 'metaphor' is employed precisely to distinguish language that is metaphorical from language that is not metaphorical.

If all is metaphor, then mothing is metaphor, and the word 'metaphor' is emptied of meaning.

In addition, such talk, with the appearance of learning, serves only to obfuscate, and to increase the sum of vagueness. Good teachers who serve the flock do so with clarity, even concerning difficult issues.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 2:51pm BST

Please, please, please - context?

Almost all of religious witness language tends towards non-literal speech. Until somebody can actually demonstrate that they have got God or Jesus sampled in a test tube - and the rest of us can repeat the maneuver any time we like if we follow their best practices - we are blessed and burdened with non-literal speech. If you carefully investigate the fundamental notions of God, you will find that a test tube God is by definition, impossible - thus the Tillich veneration of what he called the Protestant Principle - no graven images, if in fact we fall into the traps of confusing our graven images - including our speech witness - with the substance and nature of the living deity. This caution goes back a long way, and some would no doubt argue that it winds deep into our founding DNA, starting with Jewish precursors and roots that nourish the salutary lesson.

Given this legacy DNA of caution about graven images, you would imagine that any talk that wanted to transform non-literal witness to God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit into something a person could get their objectified, literal hands on would count among us as the most odd and unusual speech of all. Not so, the conservatives would have us believe. They continue to claim that only literal-minded images of God can be trusted, and are the most ancient. They even prefer to read the scriptures as literally or near-literally as possible, saying that this care is sure to ground us in good fashion – except of course when they prefer not to read their scriptures so literally, and then we are not supposed to notice the abandonment of the official paradigm shift.

A better way? Put all literal and non-literal readings of scripture or tradition under the same range of investigatory and discerning best practices of inquiry and discussion. We need to be able to discern the graven images which new conservative approaches in theology are claiming as having captured God so utterly and so exclusively. A rule of thumb might be: Anytime you get truth with a capital T being urged in some paragraph of new conservative discourse, responsible methods (fallible people being intentionally responsible for best, deliberate uses of their still fallible methods) are near to flying right out the windows?

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 4:15pm BST

Please, please, please - context?

If we are being careful about how talk about something is not the exclusive, objective total reality of that something, even apart from graven images of God rendered from scripture in new conservative readings of scripture - we also might take some considerable care in distinguishing between the nastiness and negativities of typical conservative narratives about queer folks in loving relationships, with or without children whom those parents also love, and the real queer partners involved as the objects of that negative and nasty speech.

For possible starters, we could stop talking about partnered gay people (and their parenting, at least in USA?) as if they were innately, nothing but the definitive essence of sexual sin. Their relations are committed out of care. Care is the definitive context for their embodiment, and for any physical intimacy they gracefully offer one another on a long life's journey. Care is the definitive context for their commitment to parenting their children.

It is quite an odd stretch, taking some piece of ancient near eastern scriptural context (i.e., pagan sex workshop of non-Jewish gods and goddesses, or dominant men sexually assaulting their subordinates, or the ascetic-Stoic declension of rational controls on sexuality, or some other connoted scriptural context quite removed from care) to repeat your negative definitions which diss and demean and actually tell lies about same sex partners and their embodiment.

Calling that care, sin or evil, simply comes so close to bearing false witness against them that you would think any believer who dares to call him- or herself biblical would be shaking in their boots at how near the false witness precipice they are walking.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 6 July 2006 at 4:19pm BST


I'll explain why I disagree. The very reason why I believe that our focus as Christians should be primarily on the Jesus of the New Testament is because there at least we are on relatively unshaky ground (or as unshaky as we will get, anyway): the ground of history, and of documents susceptible to historical analysis.

Now, when one is speaking of history and biography, is literal or non-literal interpretation appropriate? Clearly the former.

How about when one is speaking of epistles? The same: literal.

How about when one is speaking of apocalyptic? Semi-literal and semi-non-literal.

So of the 27 NT books, 26.5 are to be interpreted largely literally.

However, I have found a tendency to believe that maximum obfuscation equates to top scholarship. Well, it sounds clever on the surface, but....

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 7 July 2006 at 1:48pm 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.