Comments: opinions this weekend

Yo! And me -- http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/andrew_brown/2006/09/benedict_and_the_jihad.html

Posted by Andrew Brown at Saturday, 16 September 2006 at 12:55pm BST

Well, this all shows how clueless I am -- when I read the speech (before all the controversy) my initial take was that Jesus would not have been sufficiently influenced by Greek thought to have qualified as a Christian (according to the pope's criteria).

Actually, I did notice the inaccuracy of dividing the faiths between the "natural law" Christians & "voluntarist" Muslims -- a convenient teaching tool with something to be said for it (these have been predominant trends) but not it is strictly true -- there have certanly been voluntarists in the Christian tradition (that's where the term comes from, after all) & there have been "natural law" advocates in Islam (even if never in the ascendency).

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 16 September 2006 at 3:40pm BST

Is the consistent impact of new conservative religion - to compel us to take yet another step in dumbing down our faith and discernment and discipleship? By so deftly mistaking the starting frames for all possible religious understanding?

Papa Ratzi discerns Islam, but he refuses to discern his own legacy starting places. That is all settled by unquestioning faith commitments of many years standing. Thus he calls others to account for violence, but has nothing to say about his own violence. (A clever, sophisticated violence it is, picking the evil of closing down Catholic Charities' same sex family adoptions in Massachusetts, over the evil of dealing even-handedly with families which fail the church's litmus tests for lay same sex partner celibacy. Okay, papa, tell it to the kids who languish in foster care for years on end, then. Let us keep your skirts clean, above everything, because as doctrine never fails to teach us, the world is a very filthy, disgusting place, full of disgusting, filthy people, doing filthy, disgusting things every single hour of every single day.)

Is faith always a way of taking something off the tables, barring inquiry, barring alternatives, barring open discussion? Does following Jesus always narrow us down, to some passing strict institutional conformity, to obedience backed up by police power or the threat of police power?

Papa Ratzi, Gledhill, others. This whole group continues to make greater (and more final?) claims in controversial areas of our admittedly changing views than careful scrutiny can sustain. Part of the arts of world religious faithfulness these days is a well-praciced ability to ignore, tone down, and excuse the dumb things that one's institutional religious leaders may say or write.

I am so tired of the closed new conservative readings of legacy materials being the conformed given that cannot be asked to account for itself beyond its own self-serving sense of uniquely God-given privileges. Is this anything, really, besides a covert pattern of divinely revealed authority that cannot be questioned, like Sharia law?

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 16 September 2006 at 5:42pm BST

I felt sorry for the Pope but, as I used to say to my boss in my last corporate job, the higher your position the more people consider they have a right to comment on your opinions. This is not unreasonable, because the more power that is at your disposal the more dangerous the consequences of your errors. That is one reason I am into diversity models where no one paradigm or sector has too great an influence. If the main sector goes "off key" the whole environment can become unstable and destructive. In an ecosystem the loss of a core species can ripple into extinction for many other species (e.g. through loss of sustenance or suitable breeding sites).

The irony is that the Catholics own news service would have counselled against such a strategy http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0604931.htm This includes the comment that one recognized role for Protestant and Catholic churches would be to teach against the immorality of terrorist tactics. It then immediately comments that it would be tempting to demand that Muslim leaders do the same but that would be unwise because "In practice, it's become a kind of prior stipulation..."

Again, it is worth reading the recent writings from authors such as Chomsky, Pilger and Wallis. They remind us that terrorist acts can also be perpeturated by States as well as by individuals, and there is the comment of physician heal thyself. After all, history records that the only State that has ever used a nuclear bomb against another is Christian. Do we therefore insult Jesus because of what some modern Christians have done? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 16 September 2006 at 7:27pm BST

And while we are on wise religious leaders, this is a lovely article comparing the wisdom of the Pope and the Dalai Lama http://www.westender.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=49&cat=23&id=728647&more=

There was a timely insight that is pertinent to most organized religions. "I do know that no other prominent religious leader does such a creditable job of subverting the usual message of mainstream organized religions.

When the Dalai Lama spoke to schoolchildren last week at the Orpheum, he emphasized the importance of education. Not surprising, perhaps, but check out this quote: "We must cultivate compassion, not through religion, not through prayer, but through modern education."

Try to imagine another major religious leader delivering that statement. Religious organizations - like organizations in general - begin with a purpose and then gradually become dedicated primarily to their own survival. Modern Christianity is Exhibit A."

The Pope had also been recently in town but "...unlike the Tibetan leader, the head of the Roman Catholic Church was in no mood for love and compassion. ...Pope Benedict XVI attacked the official sanction of gay marriage. "In the name of tolerance," said the Pope, "your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse-"

While the Dalai Lama preaches compassion and education to Vancouver audiences, Pope Benedict XVI threatens divine punishment for Canadians who recognize that gay couples can love each other just as well as straight ones."

Slee's article is timely, marriage is more than breeding babies (and women are more than passive wombs to bear children - even if it is from rape by their husband or another - or for the sake of raising canon fodder). Marriage is also about reverence, making a commitment to another, loving them for better or for worse, making the effort to communicate (even when you are really pissed off with them), and learning about forgiveness, tolerance, compassion, acceptance, faith, endurance, reliability, interdependency, co-operation, synergy, celebration, actualization, love. Children may or may not come to a marriage, but there is more to marriage than increasing the church's size through offspring. 1 Timothy 4 is particularly pertinent, and includes warning us against hypocritical liars who would forbid people to marry.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 16 September 2006 at 7:43pm BST

The Very Rev. Colin Slee is right on the mark when he writes in his Guardian article: "The church should be celebrating a society that shows charity; the church taught charity in the past. But the scriptural fundamentalism that lies behind the present official line does not however represent all Christians."

Thanks to the (so-called) Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion, a fairly recent innovation, and ++Rowan Cantuar's repentance of his earlier inclusive and more charitable teaching, scriptural fundamentalism has become the 'gold standard' in most provinces of the Communion. The 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, although, in accordance with Anglican polity, only an expression of the mind of the assembled house of bishops at Lambeth, has post facto become the basic LAW determining who is in or out of Communion. Sad.. sad.. sad... What gross violation of Anglican polity by a Cantuar who knows better but panders to the bullies in the Anglican Communion! It is high time for Dr. Williams to return to academia, if any of the more liberal and less fundamentalist British universities will have him.

Posted by John Henry at Saturday, 16 September 2006 at 9:27pm BST

in a vain attempt to lighten the tone, did anyone think what the scene must have been like at the papal mass in Castelgandolfo this morning as Benedict had to endure this line in the epistle:

"All of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect...." (Jas. 3:w)

Must have had 'em rolling in the aisles.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Sunday, 17 September 2006 at 8:09pm BST

David :-) It worked, there was a chuckle here.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 12:22pm BST

Colin Slee writes that the marital breakup rate for former longterm cohabitees is twice that for 'others'.
Someone please (pretty please) tell this to the Dean of St John's Cambridge, who (truth is stranger than fiction) has written a book affirming cohabitation. Its cartoon on the front of a car with a 'Just Cohabiting' sign is (and here I stand squarely with Mr Growser...) an insult to everyone who means their marriage vows and works hard on them. Everyone to whom marriage is wonderful and important.
If these are truly the stats, then on what basis is he writing his book?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at 12:47pm BST
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