Comments: opinion

The ABC may be "uneasy" (whatever that may mean) about the outcome of the Bin Laden operation, but according to this AP article, Muslims in the States are expressing relief, both at his death and in light of the "Arab Spring". See below.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 14 May 2011 at 5:26pm BST

Alan Wilson’s column was spot on -- after the first paragraph.
His column was a strong defense of human rights and looking beyond words to the arching values they represent..
As a Jew, however, I have to object to the first paragraph. I respect that the Gospels are considered Holy Writ by Christians. I admire Jesus of Nazareth as they portray him. But they were orally transmitted and eventually set down by human beings. I believe the CofE, TEC, and other Anglican provinces (but not all?) accept the fact that the Bible was divinely inspired, but that the authors were not human typewriters. The authors received the Word and "the words" and committed them to parchment through their own experiences, through their own lenses.
Jesus often spoke in hyperbole, why can we not see this here? He’s creating a stereotype.
The Gospels were written down at a time when Judaism and Christianity were pulling apart, creating bitterness on both sides. Jewish authorities eventually kicked early Christians out of the synagogues. That must have caused pain. Why can we not see it in the writings?
This would all be academic, except for the fact that Pharisaism is the foundation of modern rabbinical Judaism. And 2,000 years of seeing inflexible, sanctimonious, harsh Pharisees reflected in their descendents, the Jews, has had consequences.
The Pharisees were far more complex than the Gospels portray them. Even today, their descendants, including Orthodox Jews, debate how the Law must be tempered with mercy. The human Jesus, the earthly Jesus, I would argue, himself was a Pharisee. He certainly wasn't a Sadducee or Essene. And he is saying to his own, do not forget the purpose of the Law, why the Law exists, and that is to move us closer to God and towards respecting one another – love God and your neighbor -- not get caught up in rules.
Aren't Christians themselves engaging in the same behavior Jesus is railing against?

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Saturday, 14 May 2011 at 6:10pm BST

Re G Fraser: I wonder if there would have been the same hand-wringing had the U.S. taken out Bin Laden's entire household w/ a drone? [Because those are being fired all the time, and I just haven't heard the corresponding amount of Tsk-tsk'ing. OCICBW.]

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 15 May 2011 at 2:58am BST

Thank God for Bishop Alan Wilson! His articles are always thought-provoking and often challenging - especially of his fellow bishop and hierarchy of the Church of England. Would there were more of his type - ready to acclaim the universality of the Gospel inclusivity of the love and mercy of God for ALL people - not just the holy and the 'good'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 15 May 2011 at 3:29am BST

The drone flights are regularly reported upon in the UK, see for example,
and there is criticism of that also.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 15 May 2011 at 8:06am BST

Alan Wilson rightly accuses those who promote anti-gay criminalization of lacking a clear awareness of the nuances of sexual expression and its origin.

In spite of his just cause, Alan's use of Christ's lengthy castigation of the Pharisees is faulty. Matthew 23 is Christ's scathing and almost exasperated response after repeated criticism by the Pharisees of His unwillingness to adopt their traditional externalisms.

'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!' is an ostensibly innocuous question. Its repetition at a later dinner to which they invited Him was gratuitous contempt and earned them the unflattering comparison to a 'brood of vipers'.

While we may lament the efforts to criminalize homosexuality in Uganda, scriptural differences regarding human sexuality are not merely an obsession with 'verbal minutiae'. Sex is not simply a man-made externalism.

In contrast, the obsession with form, ritual, robes of high religious office, visibility at major public events and insistence on hieratic titles (that Jesus criticized so vehemently in the same chapter) are specialities of liberal and conservative Anglicans alike. Of course, they are excused by both parties on account of the deep meaningful symbolism that they convey to the initiated.

Surprisingly, it's the un-established evangelicals who have dispensed with most of these rituals and are then accused of lacking a certain richness of cultural expression. Egad, some even ordain women to high religious office!

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 15 May 2011 at 10:27am BST

Pharisees are treated as punch and Judy characters in the gospel. They are useful in christian discourse as exemplified several traits of human behaviour. It is easy to vilify such characters when one stands outside Judaism. Attacks on Jews and Pharisees were no doubt barbs aimed at different factions within the church. That said I don't think interfaith dialogue is the new testament's strong suit.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Tuesday, 17 May 2011 at 11:06am BST
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