Comments: opinion for Ascensiontide

Thank you

Posted by David Cloake at Saturday, 4 June 2011 at 5:45pm BST

Thank you, Desmond Tutu! May God bless you in all your work.
I often think on how what I am, my religion, my physical abilities and lack thereof, my skin tint, my relatively low economic status locally, while being far wealthier than hundreds of millions of people world-wide, my civil liberties and freedoms, etc., and I fully realize it's all because I was lucky to be born to the right parents. And I consider myself damned lucky, indeed. Just as one teensy example, if I had been born 40 years ago in my parents' country of origin, I had an excellent chance of ending up as a statistic at Yad Vashem.
God is greater than any of us can imagine.
I firmly believe that God gave different peoples in different regions different revelation as they were prepared to receive God.
Desmond Tutu uses the example of Mahatma Gandhi. Against certain types of preachy, over-proud “Jesus freaks” I’ve often used the example of the "good Buddhist". A Buddhist tries to live according to the best desires of his or her religion, tries to do good by all people s/he meets, gives to the poor, and whenever s/he makes a mistake against people or actually harms people, s/he tries to make amends. S/he does not always succeed, s/he knows s/he is not perfect, but nonetheless when s/he finally dies, s/he's left his/her world a better place. Is s/he going to Heaven, whatever Heaven may be? I say empatically "Yes!"
But I have met some who say "S/he did not believe in Jesus" or "S/he was not saved", and then add “S/he is doomed.”
And to those people I say "Your god is not my God. Your ways are not my ways."

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 12:30am BST

I love Maggie Dawn's affirmation of metaphorical (poetical) language to bridge the gap between a literal fundamentalism and the scepticism of modern agnostics in arguments about the 'truth' of the Bible. The mystery of our religion demands the widest possible interpretation of the revelation contained in Holy Writ.

I am reminded of being at Mass in an Anglican Bendictine monastery not long ago, when the preacher told us a story about a member of the congregation in an Anglo-Catholic country church who, when asked the question: Do you really believe in the bodily assumption of the B.V.M., after some moments said: "Well, if she aint up there, where the 'ell is she?"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 10:42am BST

June 18, will be the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Welsh Presbyterian Church ( Calvinistic Methodists), the denomination that baptized Rowan. It was constituted by persons who were locked out of ordination by the Church of England, with its snobbery and domination by the local gentry.The ordination was presided over by an Anglican curate, the Reverend Thomas Charles, founder of the Bible society.

I do hope Rowan will not forget his roots...

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 2:05pm BST

Okay, so Christians could try to re-work the scriptures to be more accommodating: 'For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,' (Ephesians 2:8)

Of course, I note that James did state: 'faith without works is dead'. However, a consequence is not a cause or ground of deliverance from hamartia: constantly trying, but 'missing the mark'. Yes, God wants to forgive, but does that involve bypassing the stern justice endured by God Himself on the cross, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of Eternity who poured Himself uniquely in history into the human form of Jesus on our behalf? Was that cross superfluous and misguided?

Anyway, here's my new rendering: 'for it is by merit of self-effort that you are saved through self-belief. This is your own doing, God owes you that much'. Not quite the same ring to it, but it's a first pass. Still, it does make me feel that what I have done for God merits heaven.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 3:05pm BST

When Rowan Williams refers to Shakespeare as "probably a Catholic", may one assume that he means "Roman Catholic"? Interesting terminology from an ABC if this is the case. There again, he did kiss the last pope's ring.

OK, we all already know who Macbeth is, but who's Lady M?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 3:16pm BST

David - Does one suffer or endure deprivations for one's children in order to judge them sternly? Or to give them more freedom to grow into full human beings?

Posted by Nat at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 5:41pm BST

Your potted history of the Welsh Presbyterian Church ("constituted by persons who were locked out of ordination by the Church of England, with its snobbery and domination by the local gentry") rings a trifle simplistic, RIW.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 8:34pm BST

Hi Nat,

A gentle question deserves a gentle answer. The prodigal son took away His inheritance, the fruit of his Dad's hard labour and sacrifice. It fuelled his bid to grow into a 'full human being', or so he thought.

It's only when he hit rock bottom that he preferred the idea of living as a hired slave at home. Admittedly, after that 'fatted calf' main course and a second helping of dessert, life at home didn't seem too bad at all, did it?


Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 11:07pm BST

And you have no knowledge of Welsh church history, lapinbizarre... that is why the people of Wales rose up in indignation against Anglican tithes and got the Church of England disestablished in the four Welsh dioceses.

The first Welsh speaking Anglican bishop since the seventeenth century was only appointed in 1870. That is why Wales is dotted with nonconformist chapels in reaction to that neglect.

That is why only 38,000 people ( out of 3 million ) actually regularly attend the Church in Wales.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 6 June 2011 at 12:23am BST

++Rowan: "I don't think it tells us a great deal, to settle whether he was a Catholic or a Protestant, but for what it's worth I think he probably had a Catholic background and a lot of Catholic friends and associates. How much he believed in it, or what he did about it, I don't quite know."

How exactly does the Telegraph's headline-writer translate this into "William Shakespeare was probably a Catholic"? The Archbishop is merely pointing out that John Shakespeare (glover and whittawer of Stratford) was a Papist, which we already knew. The not-particularly-formidable subtleties of Rowan Williams' thought defy the subeditors yet again...

Though the Telegraph website is completely worth it just for the comments below-the-line. It makes 'Comment Is Free' look like a Socratic dialogue.

Posted by RJB at Monday, 6 June 2011 at 11:27am BST


A gentle answer indeed - thank you! But nonetheless, the Prodigal Son was welcomed home, and there was rejoicing, not judgment. Perhaps we might conclude that his experiences "outside" taught him more than harsh judgments at home?


Posted by Nat at Monday, 6 June 2011 at 4:08pm BST

Thanks Nat,

And here was I thinking you might continue the story:

Prodigal: 'I hope you don't mind, but I ordered in extra food for the party'
Elder brother: 'We've got plenty here'
Prodigal: 'But you've got no lobster'
Elder brother; 'You're into lobster? Outgrown the family allergies, or just an acquired taste?'
Prodigal: 'Aw, come on bro', give me a break. It's my party and Dad said I could have anything. it's only shellfish and I've always loved shellfish!'

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 6 June 2011 at 6:26pm BST

But the other sting in the tale of the Prodigal Son is that the Elder Brother is, in his own way, also a rebellious son - he will not welcome his brother and he sulks outside the feast. And we who sulk when god does things in ways we don;t really approve of, when he is unconventional, over generous and totally weak-minded...

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Monday, 6 June 2011 at 10:26pm BST

I have always been intrigued by the order in which these two verses of the Prodigal Son story are set out:

"So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'" (Luke 15:20-21)

Note that the father's compassion, hug, and kiss precede the son's words of repentance to the father. According to a previous verse, the son had in fact repented. But the father doesn't know that when he first sees the son.

What does that say about God? What does that say about what Christians are supposed to do?

Posted by dr.primrose at Tuesday, 7 June 2011 at 12:15am BST

" And we who sulk when god does things in ways we don;t really approve of, when he is unconventional, over generous and totally weak-minded..."

- Rosemary Hannah -

Sadly, you are probably right here, Rosemary. When 'The Righeous' see God's liberality towards those they regard as 'sinners' (LGBT) they are ropable!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 7 June 2011 at 11:22am BST

Some information please. I read the piece about the ABC's aversion to the Free Masons. In the US, social status and Masonic Lodge membership remain fairly robust in small towns and cities, but nationally, the Masons, like the Elks and such are aging out. The only people who see tham as somehow demonic are fans of Brown's novels and Louis Farrakan [sp?] and assorted conspiracy theorists.

What's their status/reputation in the UK?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 7 June 2011 at 7:46pm BST
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