Comments: Good news, bad news

Dear Bishop Alan,
Thank you for sharing this. The murder of the innocent children is one of those stories I find very difficult, and would rather exegesis it away. Thank you for bringing this perspective. -- James+

Posted by James Richardson at Monday, 28 December 2009 at 11:35am GMT

I love this, thank you.

The thought that nothing can change injustice into justice is intriguing, because as our awareness of what is just changes throughout history, things that used to be considered fair and just are now often seen as morally indefensible. You only have to think of how corporal punishment for children has become a criminal offence in some countries.

We have to be really careful when trying to claim that our faith is always a valid moral compass.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 28 December 2009 at 2:11pm GMT

Thank you, Bishop Alan. The morality of expediency, and even sometimes of a perceived "greater good" is often, it seems, the siren song that leads our collective Ark to run aground. I'm sure Herod and his advisors merely thought themselves prudent and wise, in the Realpolitik of their time, preserving stability and continuity in government...

Posted by Tobias Haller at Monday, 28 December 2009 at 3:35pm GMT

"I'm sure Herod and his advisors merely thought themselves prudent and wise, in the Realpolitik of their time, preserving stability and continuity in government..." - Tobias Haller -

Thank you, Tobias, for your thoughts. I suppose the main difference between the ABC and Herod in this instance, is the fact that Herod's action was mainly of self-interest; whereas, Archbishop Rowan ought to be more aware of the fact that the damage from his action/inaction has affected the lives of LGBTs in the Church - ostensibly on more 'moral' grounds. This is more of a problem.

Herod was a despot; the ABC is an enlightened leader of the Church, and therefore more prone to valid criticism than a puppet of the state.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 28 December 2009 at 8:32pm GMT

Any chance of a reality check between Herod and Hitler, please? Hitler was real in his industrial scale exterminating, whereas the story of Herod (no nice chap) and the first born male is fiction. It does actually matter - it matters to the people who suffered under Hitler.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 6:41am GMT

Pluralist
what does matter is that people always knew that characters like Herod could exist. He's a perfectly valid description of what people can become like when they have absolute power.

We don't use the bible to seek historical truth in it but much deeper truths about life that are still valid today. That's the whole point of those stories. If anything, that they are not historical makes them more powerful because you cannot simply say "oh well, that was Herod, he's dead now".

The world is full of Herods and always has been. The comparison is very apt indeed.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 9:22am GMT

I think we need to know that the historical details surrounding the birth narratives are not historical in the broadly accepted term but we do also know that Herod was bloodthirsty as well as being a successful political schemer and once we accept the writing as non-historical in nature (midrash might be a better term) we can see that there are aspects of historical truth in the record.

I agree can be quite demanding to keep switching from the historical to the 'story' but I think both genres communicate truth and meaning but in different, powerful ways.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 11:32am GMT

"It's harder to live by faith than by manipulation." Words to remember in our media-driven age.

Posted by Amelia Hagen at Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 4:11pm GMT
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