Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 4 December 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Foster’s Iwerne analysis. Some reflections on the place of women in the Church.

Helen King ViaMedia.News Who Tells Our Story – and How?

The Scotsman Richard Holloway writes a letter to the author of the book of Genesis
[free registration required]

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Advent Candles Explained

36
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
5 Comment threads
31 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
Rowland WateridgeSusannah ClarkArchdruid EileenJo BStanley Monkhouse Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Kate
Guest
Kate

I started Helen King’s piece with a smile, thinking, “This is a beautifully structured introduction – it draws one in.” As I read further, I continued to be impressed as the promising introduction segued perfectly into a really good middle. And then…I reached advertisements and social media icons. No ending. No conclusion. Somewhat ironic in a piece about story because all good stories have an ending. So I am left wondering what Helen is saying. It she talking about the stories in the Bible, our own lives or the stories collected by Living in Love and Faith? Is she saying… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I subscribe to the orthodox Jewish view that Genesis was composed by YHWH and handed down, or dictated to Moses. I therefore struggle with the concept of a letter to the author of Genesis. Richard Holloway and I quite simply have very different frames of reference.

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

I can’t believe I’m reading this comment on “Thinking” Anglicans. Biblical fundamentalism is not a “frame of reference”. It’s an absurdity.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

FrDavidH. Well it is a frame of reference – just not yours or mine. But if Kate is right then what God dictated/handed down to Moses was entirely in capitals, without vowels, spacing or punctuation. It seems he has left to us all the work of faithfully and intelligently seeking meaning in what we read there. So we have everything in common with Kate and fundamentalists at this point!

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

When the writings of fallible humans are invested with divine authority and authorship they can become “dangerous”, as Bishop Richard suggests. To state that God wrote the bible is the claim made by, say, the Westboro Baptist Church, and is used by many to justify hatred and discrimination. For people to claim that God “dictated” some teachings to them is surely a sign of mental illness.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I don’t think it’s a sign of mental illness, but I agree with you that it is profoundly dangerous. For example, claiming the literal authority of God – as in ‘these are the exact words of God’ – was precisely what the authors did to mandate the reported slaughter of the Canaanite children. It has also been used to justify a young earth, or to repudiate evolution, or to believe in a literal Noah’s Ark (because why would God lie)? It’s been used to uphold patriarchal society, to assert male headship and a wife’s submission to the authority of her… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Hear! Hear!

Kate
Guest
Kate

I didn’t claim that God wrote the Bible, just Genesis – although actually I would extend that out to the whole Pentateuch.

It seems bizarre to me that a Christian can believe that God can forgive sins but struggle with the idea that God wrote Genesis. The forgiveness of sins is a very, very big thing. Writing Genesis is distinctly minor in comparison.

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

Did He get tired after writing Genesis? Why did He hand over authorship to mere mortals to make up the rest of the books?

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

Kate, I think you’re confusing issues. It’s not that God couldn’t write Genesis or any other part of the Bible, it’s why would he make a creation that has lies built into it? If the Genesis account is accurate, then the universe itself is a lie, it only looks billions of years old, fossils aren’t really the remains of long dead animals and plants and the continents were never in different places in the past. Alternatively the universe gives us accurate evidence, and it is Genesis that is the lie. I use lie advisably here, because if God wrote it… Read more »

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

The question is not whether we can believe that God ‘wrote Genesis’. God can, of course, do anything. The question is whether it is reasonable to believe that he did, in the manner that Kate suggests. Cherry picking which books he may or may not have written seems bizarre. Her last sentence is meaningless.

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

People did enormous harm, for example, believing that (Matthew 27:25) “Let his (Jesus of Nazareth’s) blood be upon us and upon our children.” was a divine command.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Isn’t the definition of a god a being capable of doing things humans can’t? Unless one’s religion is something like animism which reveres spirits rather than gods, every religion has the miraculous at its heart.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

This “discussion” is quite entertaining, now that I’ve got over my incredulity at some of the views expressed. Adam must have been quite a guy. Not only did he have the sense to be elsewhere when the serpent was beguiling the woman (where was he? In his garden shed, like any right-thinking male, recovering from surgery?), but also he had miraculous powers of rib regrowth. Or was he born with an asymmetrical rib cage? Or perhaps he was one short ever thereafter. Philip Pullman, come to our aid.

Kate
Guest
Kate

None of which is relevant to the question of whether YHWH composed Genesis

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

but fun.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Indigenous Australians have lived in Australia for 50,000 years. According to Genesis, Abraham was born 292 years after the Flood. We are also told that Abraham’s grandson was alive at the time of the Pharoahs. Meanwhile, at some point in time the Tower of Babel was built, and all peoples spoke the same language. I’m really struggling to see why God would write these narratives, and how they all fit in with the evolution of humans, human history going back far before Abraham, our knowledge of linguistics around the world, the apparent saving of the indigenous Australians (and kangaroos) when… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Indigenous Australians have lived in Australia for 50,000 years.” You state that as a fact but it isn’t. My masters is in mathematics and that is definitely at best a theorem but possibly only a conjecture. It is better written as “I believe that Indigenous Australians have lived in Australia for 50,000 years.” In fact everything you wrote is simply a belief, even though you pass it off as fact. It carries exactly as much weight as my belief that YHWH is the author of Genesis. Neither can be” proved”. At best you can offer an explanation as to why… Read more »

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

You have a masters in maths (mine is theoretical physics with maths, for the record) yet you think a theorem is something unproven. You also confuse theory with hypothesis in science. A hypothesis is an explanation in search of evidence, a theory is one that has convincing evidence behind it and makes or has made testable predictions about other evidence. The simulation hypothesis remains just that because it cannot make testable predictions. The timeline of human habitation of Australia is in the realms of theory because it is supported by multiple strands of evidence e.g. the archaeological record and genetic… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I don’t believe God dictated (or wrote) Genesis or any other biblical book. I don’t think that’s how inspiration works. However, many of the comments here assume that if God did write Genesis it would have to be a factual and scientific account, historically accurate. I don’t believe that either. Why couldn’t God write fiction, or myths, or parables, or drama? Jesus was certainly a good storyteller.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Exactly! But I’ve often wondered why He stopped creating talking serpents. I’d love one as a pet.

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

“Isn’t the definition of a god a being capable of doing things humans can’t?” First, Christians, and certainly Thinking Anglicans, don’t believe in ‘a god’; they believe in God. ‘A god’ is another entity amongst all other entities. God, the creator and sustainer of all that is, has an entirely different status. In any case, this is hardly a definition. Birds can fly, which human beings can’t. Does this mean that a bird is a god? It may well be thought that the ability to do what humans can’t is a property of God. Indeed, given that God created all… Read more »

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

There are two very different Creation stories at the beginning of Genesis: The majestic, logical, flowing from disorganization to organization, “seven days of Creation” story where the text clearly (in my opinion) indicates men and women were created equally by God in God’s image, by a God who is larger than space and time and the entire Universe, and the “Adam and Eve” story, which is more primitive and features a God who walks WITHIN the Garden of Eden, enjoying the cool of the evening, and performing a costectomy on Adam to create Eve as an assistant to Adam. Some… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“I therefore struggle with the concept of a letter to the author of Genesis.” Then you may appreciate this article by Rebbetzin Liliane Ritchie titled, Writing a Letter to God. (link)

https://www.aish.com/sp/pr/Writing-a-Letter-to-God.html

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

That’s good. It works too. As she implies, it’s what best friends are for, and if you have one such, you are truly blessed. IIRC Basil Hume said something similar: God being someone into whose ears you can whisper what you wouldn’t tell anyone else.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I hate the matey use of nicknames. Stephen Parsons’ piece on Iwerne early on says “In his article, Foster described to us in summary the origins of the Iwerne camps. They were the brain child of E.J.H.Nash (Bash) in the 1930s.” and then, systematically, he is referred to as “Bash” throughout. Missing is the obvious rubric “known to his friends as…” or “known to his colleagues as…” This forces the reader into a false, and distorting, intimacy. When football writers refer to Becks and Giggsy you know that objectivity has left the room, and instead we are in a world… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Agreed about nicknames, but, with respect, I feel you have totally misread Stephen Parsons. Unless I have gone down a completely wrong track, I think he said exactly what you say in your final paragraph – except for the comment ‘make him seem like one of your colleagues’.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

E.J.H Nash was widely called Bash, and not just by his friends and colleagues. Iwerne men used often to be called ‘Bash campers’. Stephen has been highly critical of Iwerne not only in this piece, but also in a number of previous blogs. I read his use of ‘Bash’ throughout this piece as a subtle reference to the bashing of young men which at least two of the leaders carried out. I agree that men and women don’t fit so easily into the stereotypes presented here. However, having gone to a mostly male theological college and then worked in the… Read more »

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Stephen Parsons’s piece contains a lot of sense. But please: will he and others, if they must refer to elitist private academies as ‘public schools’, please put the word public into ironic quotes. And while it may be generally true that ‘Women find it much more difficult to abandon people and write them off,’ there are many exceptions, including one M Thatcher and several members of the present – but hopefully not future – cabinet.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Here is a very cool article on Genesis by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. (link) Teaser: “…another feature of Genesis …its stories has layer upon layer of meaning and significance, which we only grasp after repeated readings. … The book’s literary style allows it to be read afresh in each generation. That too tells us something significant about the Torah’s view of human knowledge: The truths of the human condition are simply too deep to be understood at once and on the surface. Only stories have this depth, this ambiguity, this principled multiplicity of meanings.” Not so distant from Richard Holloway’s playful… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Sacks never disappoints. One of his best. Jesus was a Jew. Perhaps I am too.

Archdruid Eileen
Guest

Jesus is a Jew.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Ah, Archdruid, felicitous greetings as we approach meadhan geamhraidh (as we would say in the island cells of Dal Riata). May the mistletoe grow bounteous on the trees of Husborne Crawley. I’m not sure I wholly agree with your learnedness. As the scripture says: “in very nature God… he was made in human likeness… in appearance as a man“. To me this implies that God (in the person of Jesus) lived in the past (as Father Stanley suggested) in a specific location and in a specific racial identity, and yet really we may also find Jesus in the wandering English… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

This is a very deep subject and I was reluctant to contribute in response to someone so spiritually and theologically learned as the Archdruid. But interesting that her comment was made on the day after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (RC, I realise). Jesus was, by conventional understanding, born a Jew by virtue of his mother’s blood-line. I am no theologian, but I tend to go with Susannah Clark’s thesis – perhaps expressed in simpler language. For those, unlike Susannah, who are unfamiliar with the slightly whimsical world of Husborne Crawley and some of its idiosyncratic inhabitants, I strongly… Read more »