The Diseased Imaginings of a Tainted Mind
It’s been a while since I posted a sermon here. That’s predominantly because I’ve moved to delviering sermons from notes.
Unusually last weekend, I felt the need to write out the sermon, as it was going to be a bit complicated to make sure that everything was explained in order.
That means that I have a sermon to post here, hopefully, it’s as well recieved as it was in person.
As a socially-liberal Christian, there are now many reactions around the world in reaction to the USA’s acceptance of single-sex marriage. It’s odd that similar results in other countries have not produces such reactions.
I have, of course, been in debate over this issue for many years, and many friends have sent me a link from a website that offers 40 (yes 40!) questions aimed at those of us that support single-sex marriage. Having read them, some of them were quite thought provoking, but generally their tone is designed to lead people into a “gotcha”. That is, that in order to answer the question as frased, you have to agree with the posters argument.
So, to help all those that find these questions difficult, here are my responses.
1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
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Baptism with water is, and has been for a long time (at least the 3rd Century AD (Burnish, Raymond, The Meaning of Baptism, (London:SPCK), 1985 p1). However, the centrality of baptism does not necessarily make one a Christian. While for the Anglican churches of England and Wales, baptism is the de-facto sign of membership, membership of a Church, nor baptism, makes one necessarily a Christian.
Following the CofE Bishop’s Response to the matter of single-sex marriage, I was a little… irritated.
For many, both members of the Church, and non-members, they find it difficult to see how the fact that there are provisions in law is not the same as equality. This is no-more obvious than when it’s seen in a Christian context. They say that it’s not inequality if they can have secular “marriage”. I wrote the following response:
The inequality is blindingly obvious. It’s not one form of love for any perceived “them” and one for a perceived “us”. It’s equal or nothing. And no, Single-sex partnerships do not have the right to be blessed in church. Single-sex unions cannot marry in church. THIS IS NOT EQUALITY.
If you want to go to town over a few verses from the Bible, then feel free, however, I will suggest that a hermeneutic that finds this difficult and yet does not allow, say, slavery, is a flawed hermeneutic.
When I stand before a couple, and they marry each other (note, marriage in church has nothing to do with the priest), it is not my place to judge that marriage. We do not demand that heterosexual couples prove that they adhere to any of the other rules of the church before opening our doors to them, I don’t see why any couple is a special case.
When I offer God’s blessing upon a person, a congregation, a couple, I don’t stop to ask if they are worthy, deserving, or any of those other morally-presumptuious words, because simply put, God is MUCH BIGGER than that. It is HER blessing I’m pronouncing. It is HIS grace that they leave with. I may be a conduit, but I believe that if God wants people blessed, s/he is quite capable of doing that. God’s love is way bigger than that. I want to offer that love to everyone. There is no-one beyond it, there is no-one undeserving of it
If blessings can be given to animals, inanimate objects, and the 101 things we are asked to bless, then what’s the problem with blessing love? Surely, on a scale of things, it’s better to bless the hope and expression of love than, say, a book.
Love is, after all, what Christianity is about.
[Writing a new version of the 9 lessons and Carols service with modern readings, we needed a new opening to it. I had long felt that the rather brief reading of Genesis 3 didn’t really give the scope of the view of God, so I wrote a paraphrase. Here it is, in case someone finds it useful. Please keep my name on it, but feel free to use it]
It all begins with God. When there wasn’t anything, no light, no time, no earth, there was God. With but a word God brings everything into existence; from nothing to everything.
God stood on a planet he had made, the planet that would later be called earth. With a word he called light and darkness into being, and made the first day. He made the sky, and separated the water from the earth. He gave the earth the power to bring forth plants in all their wondrous variety. He set the sun in the sky, placed the stars, so many that it’s near impossible to count. He makes the animals, all kinds, from the birds in the air to those that walk on land, swim in the sea, and everything in between.
God then made two people from the earth. He made these two earthlings to resemble himself, and gave them the job of tending to the garden that he had made. A beautiful garden at the center of the world, a paradise, or an Eden.
The internet is filled with “memes”. I use the “” advisedly, because they are distcint and different from the psydo-scientific term Meme. Of the “memes” that are floating about the internet, most seem to be a comment on life, but there are some that seem to be suggestions on how to live a better life. These are either portrayed ironically (as in, showing a negative behaviour in a humours light), or by repeating some general words of comfort in the form of positive reenforcement.
Yes, folks, it had to happen sooner or later. Water has been found on the red planet, Mars. Initially this might not seem such a big thing, but it means that, at some point, water in it’s fluid form may have been found in abundance on the surface, which means that there is the possibility that life happened on Mars.
Not complex life, perhaps, as we know it, but small bacterial life, small single cell, or simple multi-cell organisms.
This is one of those problems that’s been bugging me since I began reading a blog post about why, theologically, we _need_ a literal Adam. Annoyingly I couldn’t find the blog post again in order to take the points individually, but the general debate is based on the problem outline by Peter Enns in a blog post about his new book.
The problem seems to be that without Adam, Sin looses it’s force. It’s something that is not transmitted to everyone in a physical way. Of course, for this idea, we have to thank Augustine, and the way in which he approached and outline the concept of Original Sin.
I have, elsewhere, spoken about how I find the concept of Original Sin as expounded by Augustine unhelpful,and in the modern world incomplete. It was only when confronted, theologically, with the idea that Evolution that I began to explore what this implication truly means.
For me, of course, Evolution doesn’t pose a theological problem in that way, and I hadn’t really explored what problems others had with evolution. It seems to be that the reason why some people deny, or have difficulties accepting Evolution is that it means that their understanding of Sin falls down without Adam.
I was challenged today over the role of Charismatic leaders in the Church.
There is a feeling that the only way to draw people into the Church is through Charismatic leaders. No, I’m not here talking about “Leaders filled with the Spirit”, but leaders who personable, and have that magnetic personality that draws people to them. Those Charismatic types that seem to be able to fill a Church by their very presence. I was challenged today by this idea, and that it is the people with the collars who are meant to fulfill this role.
I made the point that not everyone was charismatic, and pointed to the point that St. Paul was not known for his Charismatic leadership. I further made the point that St. John showed the signs of a Charismatic leader, the soaring poetry, the descriptions and the imagery. I was told that this was a difference of opinion.
Now, differences of Biblical understanding asside, there is something about the idea of a truly Charismatic leader that I find uncomfortable. God gives us the skills to handle that which we are called to do. The thing about Charismatic leaders is that often people are called to them, rather than called to what they are preaching on behalf of.
It also places, again, the emphasis of growing the Church firmly on the shoulders of one person. This doesn’t, then do justice to the notion that we are all sent as disciples, and it is to all of us that the duty falls.
I wonder, then if it is this idea that they want to follow a Charismatic leader, than actually seek to do some of the heavy liftin themselves that is most important.
In Babylonian legend, Tiamat is the chaos creatrix. She creates the Babylonian gods, and the world, and then plots to overthrow the same gods because they seek after order, unlike her. This results in a series of battles which probably typifies the changing of deities in Babylon at the time. The god Ea tries, and fails, and so on until Merdoach is chosen. He is given the tablets of fate, and other magical items (one being a robe of power), and he goes off to face Tiamat. Having defeated Kingu, and Mummu, Merdoach faced Tiamat, and after summoning the evil wind, held her jaws open, and managed to drive his magic weapon into her open mouth, killing her.
Death is through to be something “unnatural”, or so we are taught by by our Christian Doctrine. Through man’s disobedience sin and death entered the world. In Genesis 3 the assumption is that Adam and Eve are immortal (though no such claim is made), and that beyond Eden there is death, seen as the punishment for eating the fruit (Gen 2:15), (NOTE: Death is NOT one of the punishments that God does visit upon them).
… for being Atheist.
Source : The BBC
There’s something rather odd about being congratulated for having no faith. Perhaps in the same way it’s rather odd to be congratulated for having faith.
Perhaps the worst thing about the article is Richard Dawkins being his usual vitriolic self, by making such sweeping statements as:
He said: “People who are educated in religion are positively encouraged not to investigate, not to think sceptically about why they are here, but instead to accept what people wrote 2,000 years ago.
Now, the bizarre thing about this is that most members of the Church in Wales would have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. From all levels of the Church, from those that sit in the pews to those that stand in the pulpit, the Anglican Church (and not just in Wales, but in our sister Church in England), are encouraged to bring everything that they have to their worship and belief about God. That includes their questioning and their intelligence.
While reading handy pull-out debate of Women Bishops in the Church Times (Church Times, 18 January, 2013), I came accross the article by Judy Stowell.
She begins where the debate about women always begins : Genesis. She makes the point that when we first meet Adam, the Dustling, the person made of Dust, he stands here for all human kind. From her reading of the Hebrew, Adam at this point is not really a he, but a proto-human, the perfection of humanity. It is in Genesis 2 that we learn that it is not good for Adam to be alone, so he is made to sleep. Here is where the interesting bit comes.
What arises from that sleep is two different beings. Adam is no more (whatever our poor English translations say), and rather Iysh and Ishshahi arise. Man and Woman.
Adam Dickison said If somebody comes into steal my t.v. should I help them load of the V.C.R. and tv stand too? Maybe give them some cash for gas? I mean is my stuff so important? The gun in connection with protecting my stuff is where I’ve felt out of sync mostly
The more I think about this, the more I feel that it is in this statement that we have found the heart of the matter. It is when a gun is being used to protect the “Bigger Idol” of property.