Sermons

Okay, so perhaps I should have uploaded these individual, but I haven’t. Mostly because this blog has begun to fall a little out of use since the invention of Google+. That and the entire getting used to being a Deacon. I should also note that I’ve not spell-checked them, as I’m dyslexic, it’s much easier to read them with the spelling mistakes in them. I should also say that there are two that are missing from here, my famous “Kermit the Frog” sermon, because that one was done from notes as it was a Family Service, so there is no full-text for that, and the “Boom Ooh Yatta-ta-ta”, which, again, does not have a full-text for it. I will try to get those done with a full-text and post them. I should try to get these written up as I do them.

August 21, 2011 A Sermon on Sacrifice

October2, 2011 A Sermon on the Tenants of the Vineyard

November, 6 2011 A Sermon on the Day of the Lord (The End of the World is Nigh!)

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Ancient Possibly Christian Books Found In Jordan


Ancient Bound Books Found in Jordan

70 metal bound books have been found in a cave in Jordan by a Bedouin. These books appear to date to the first century, and may be the oldest collection of texts in existence. Written on lead leaves, no bigger than credit-cards, these 70 books could reveal a wealth of information about 1st Century Christianity, and may even contain books that were thought to be lost.
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Justified by Faith

The theme Justified by Faith has been very much on my mind recently, with it coming to the fore as I re-read Romans in the context of a Biblical Studies class on the book. Part of the class was to use E.P. Saunder’s approach to Romans to rediscover a more authentic reading of Romans that is more in keeping with a Hellenised Jew, rather than the heroic caricature of a protestant hero that has been so prevalent since the writings of Martin Luther. This view, where the notion of Works (that it, things that you do to make yourself righteous) was thoroughly condemned was used throughout Christendom to condemn, harras and murder Jews, eventually culminating in the Nazi Holocaust, who’s legacy still reverbarates around the world, and despite widespread reaction to the evils of it, still Jews are persecuted on the back of the traditional reading of Romans.

Crucial to the understanding of this idea, is exploring St. Paul’s idea of what precisely the role of the Law is, and precisely how one is Justified by Faith, and just who’s faith are we justified by anyway?
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The Carpathian Conundrum

The BBC has recently launched a new Science Fiction series called Outcasts. It starts 5 years after a colonisation expedition has arrived on a new planet that has been called Carpathia, after the ship that showed up to rescue the survivors of the Titanic. Carpathia only has one major town, called Forthaven. The society is secular, and in the first few episodes there is no mention of religion. When someone with religious conviction does show up, and offers a prayer before a deadly storm hits, he is chastised for doing so.

The plot behind this is that the transporters that brought the people to Carpathia left earth while it was beginning to destroy itself in global nuclear war. As such, the people who got onto the transporters were those who had some skill that would be useful on the new planet.

On the dying planet, decisions need to be made. This raises interesting questions:

  1. Can there be a justification for making space for a Priest?
  2. Would a Priest, knowing that their place means someone has to stay behind be able to go?
  3. What role would a Priest be able to take in the new Civilisation?
  4. Can Christian Faith translate to a different world?

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Prophetic Voices from Renewed Ancient Traditions

I was at a lecture today at the Baptist College of South Wales in Cardiff, curteusy of my training. The interesting thing that came to light (amongst the learning about the Celtic Tradition (which I’m very interested in), the Anabaptists, and the New Monastic Movement), was this idea that prophetic voices have not been lost in the church, despite what many people have been lamenting. Perhaps, instead, that the prophetic voices for the church have actually been there for many years, and from the point of view of history we can see their influence, but we are currently in a time of transition that has never been faced by the church at any time in it’s life which as focused the sights of people looking around for the renewal of church that people know must be happening. They have brought their sights to new forms of church, to new ideas, to a new way of reaching people in this changing time. However, the lectures that I went to today suggest that actually what people are looking for is something with an anchor, but a very, very long tether.
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Paul Tillich and Intellectual Criticism

I enjoy spending time debating; though you could have worked that out from the numerous posts on the subject on this blog. During one of these debates in an attempt to defend the Religious point of view, I made the standard appeal to experience. It was pointed out to me that the experience is often viewed in light of the cultural norms of the experiencee. That is, if you are brought up a Christian, or currently exploring Christianity, you are more likely to attribute the experience to the Christian God.

This means, then, that though the experience can be powerful life changing, however, it is difficult to use it as a definitive proof for a specific form of Religion/Mysticism. Though similar experiences are reported in all religions, experiences very rarely change religion. Nor, in the same way can it be said to point to a divine being, as those who search for inner enlightenment would say that the experience is an example of reaching this state of nirvana.

This, obviously, put me in a rather awkward position. Either I need to say that all revelation point to the divine, and posit a single God, or that all experiences point to a divine, and posit many Gods. Positing a single God, while being in keeping with Christian Doctrine does play fast and loose with the Bible, which at many points does refer to other gods. Though later these gods come to be thought of as Demons, or agents of Satan. This causes another problem in our attribution of Ecstatic experience, who is to say that such experience is not from Satan. Of course the experiencee often attributes the experience one way or the other, but Satan, that great lord of deception could easily convince a befuddled mortal mind.
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Why is the Church Obsessd with Sex?

Recently, I’ve been debating with a few people I know, the issues of Sex and the Church. It appears that the Church seems to mask “sex” in the lofty idea of “morality”. It appears, at least on a cursory glance at relevant press releases. It all seems to revolve around precisely what the point of having “sex” is. Based on the Bible, they read it and see that the point of “sex” is for procreation, and so any form of “sex” that isn’t intended, or has the possibility of, producing offspring the Church can point too and say that that is imorral.

Speaking as an Anglican, when the Synod voted in the early 1900’s to allow men to ware Condoms, the basic argument was essentially torpedod. This move allows men and women to have sex for pleasure. The line that it should still happen inside Marriage is at least still strong, but the argument that morality should, as it is today, be linked to strongly to “sex” is patantly absured.

So, fast forward to 2010. The second biggest debate being held in Churches all over the world is about Homosexuality. Interestingly, by and large, lesbianism is forgotten about, but is generally linked together under the same barrier. The argument that if one passes they both will be accepted.

The debate often revolves around 3 issues. The first is that Homsexuality is “unnatural”, because the “sex” doesn’t produce children. This, I guess, it a logical line of thought, however, it only remains so if the Church is ALSO condemning every couple that doesn’t marry and start breeding straight away, or, for a more sane argument, any couple that cannot have children, or choose not to. The reason for the inclusion for couples that “cannot” have children, is that is precisely the arguement that is levelled at Homosexuality. That they cannot have children.

The next argument that it is unnatural is one that is difficult for both sides. One side holds up that homosexuality can be seen in nature, and the other counters with the fact that, from a certain point of view, Pedophilia is natural*. However, we should be talking about “consentual adults”, and not get ourselfs side-tracked with an argument over Pedophilia. Some would put forward a notion that God’s Design is that Man and Woman is the only way, however, we have no proof that this is so. All the examples that are given are given by fallen people, and the one perfect example is given by a celibate Christ, which is no help at all.

The argument that it “says in the Bible” has been answered before on this blog:http://blog.valhalla.jara23.co.uk/?p=285. This has been debated for many years, and is probably the only really sensible argument left. This at least turns the attention away from Sex, and more into a Didactic Reading of the Bible.

However, this issue is more insiduous than it may first appear. Homosexuality has caused the ArchBishop of Niger, Peter Akinola to say that Homosexuals are ‘deviants’, ‘perverted’ and ‘in rebellion against God’. He’s not alone in his comments. The entire idea that Christians could unilateraly hate a group of people because of what they do behind closed doors just seems bonkers.

Of course, I’m a liberal, who would rather spraed the love of God, than denounce people for a few badly-used lines in the Bible, so this post may be a little biased.

Christianity does not stop at Homosexuality, of course. All kinds of ‘deviant’ behaviour is ‘against’ God. BDSM, Furries, and all other kinds of sexual pleasures are considered ‘deviant’ also, but where, in this, is God’s Love?

We are called to be Excellent To Each Other. To just be nice to one another. Why is what people do in a loving relationship a problem?

Fundamentalists are all about a transoformational God, just so long as it’s not them that’s being Transformed.

BX

*This is part of the “slipery slope” arguement. It is generally used to evoke emotional responses, rather than considered thought.

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Hamlet and Protestantism

First, let me say that the Royal Shakespear Company’s recent version of Hamlet with Captain Picard(Patrick Stewart) and Doctor Who(David Tennant) is awesome. However, now that I’ve started being a God botherer, I started noticing some odd things about it.

I started noticing the religious tone. Nothing unusuall there, because at the time, God was part of every day language. Then something odd happened. Hamlet is obviously a morality play, but during the “To Be, or Not To Be” speech, I noticed the overtures about being judged, and then the forms of prayer, the sililoque offered by Hamlet’s Step-Father was crying out for Absolution.

Then other things began to drop into place. Things like Hamlet was from Wittenburg, the school where Martin Luther taught. As this began to wander through my mind, Hamlet is dragged off to england by his friends, and before her goes he rants about the “Diet of Worms”, of course, the famous sentancing of Martin Luther where he is rescued from his accusers by some friends.

As I was more watching the play because it was Hamlet, than applying any sensible literary Criticism, I didn’t really have time to go through it, but being as the events would have been still fairly recent to Shakespear, asn hamlet is written around the turn of the 1600’s, and Marin Luther was in the 1530’s.

I’m obviously not the first one to see this, but I wasn’t aware of any previous scholarship before seeing the paly. With enough time, perhaps, there may be milage in exploring it.

I though it was something interesting to note, and it does seem that the play may be in some way an “apology” for faith, though wether or not that is Catholic of Protestant I’m not sure.

~BX

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West Bro Baptists get a taste of their own

I found an article where a community in Seattle faces down the mad, biggoted West Bro Baptists, run by the Phelps’. This family believes that God is punishing the world for it’s acceptance of Homosexuals, they even decided to write an open letter to the family of Heath Ledger asking them where the funeral was going to be so they could picket it, because after the lie that was Brokeback Mountain, the world needs to be told the truth. Especially, so the letter goes, as Heath is now burning in hell.

It’s about time this bunch of crazies were shown that their approach to Christianity will not be tolerated, nor will it be accepted by the rest of us. Handily, here in the UK, one of the most useful thing our mad government has done was to ban the leaders from our country.

Not having that luxury, residents in Seattle set about producing protests against the protesters. Each protest that was planned was met by members of the community, religious leaders, and members of the institution that was being picketed. The anti-protesters were seen to hold hands and sing songs, drowning out the hateful remarks of the Phelps’. I think it would have been a sight to see. Nice to see people finally standing up to these biggots.

Edit:

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Goddess Rita, and the minor God, Olly

I was Stumbling around the internet, as is my want, when I really should have been doing other things, and I came accross a wonderful article about someone who’s trying to create a minor god called Olly. It was the kind of article with such a random opening that I found myself reading it. There was nothing really new in the article, appart from the idea of the minor god Olly, but there were a few things that I thought worthy of repeating.

We’ve all heard of the myths about Parking. My fellow students here at college will often pray to the Blessed Virgin, or Christ himself for a parking space. I’ve heard many people who have similar beliefs to various gods. This article, however, talks about the modern creation of the Goddess Rita, to fulfill the need of a society continually searching to deal with a brain hard-wired to deal with belief.

The Lovely Goddess Rita, Meta Maid comes from the Song by the Beatles. The worship is not just of offering a prayer when in search of a parking place, you must also put coins into expired parking meters, saying “Praise Rita” as they turn the handle on the meter. Her worship song is of course, the song by the Beatles, all of this seems to enable the people who pray to Rita to gain a parking space.

I found the idea fascinating. We often forget that Gods are meant to help us out with the day-to-day things. Christians would pray about all sorts of things, and liberal uses of “arrow” prayers to help people get through the day. The thing is, that people seem to have an innate sense of fair-play. It is not fair for someoen to continually get a parking space that might deny someone else, without that person doing something in return for the God. In the case of Rita, filling up parking meters and such-like. Christ requires us to pass on our good fortune to others, however we find them. It is this “fair-play” that allows us feel that it is okay to keep asking these strang, small things.

You will find a number of webpages on the net that caution against making selfish prayer. I think that tends to forget the fact that God can say “No”. Often when He does, He has a reason, one that we might not be able to see. I guess, perhaps, that Rita has the ability to say no, but the article doesn’t go into any depth on the complications of her Theology. Perhaps that’s beacuse she doesn’t need one. It is very difficult being a Christian, spending most of your time defending your religion, to remember that there are times when it requires nothing more than a few words and actions of thanks to gain the Grace of God.

So what of Olly? Well, Olly is not yet a fully-formed god. The writer of the article is looking for a god that will ease the mind of those troubles that can’t be helped. The ones that keep you awake at night. You know you’ve done everything you can to prepare, and all there is to do now is sleep, but your worried mind won’t let you. This is where Olly comes in. Olly is vaugly designed to be someone who can take those cares away from you. Olly being short for “Olly Olly Oxenfree”, the call home in hide and seek. The writer is trying to find out what Olly requires, how he should be contacted, and how prayers and worship should be carried out.

Of course, as Christians, we have Christ. He’s a multi-function God. The Swiss-Army Knife of Deieties. He’s there for everything. This, again, causes a problem. For our “fair-play” minds, we feel that we must some-how give something back. Christ does have a list of things that we should do, mostly centering around being good to one another, and worshiping God, but for many people in today’s world, the rituals are so far removed from their life that they no-longer makes sense. In the artlce, the writer talks about how he invented a “spirit of inquiriy” to help him through the day at Job that wasn’t as good as it could have been. This is a spirit that’s in amoungst people, directly affecting his life. The Christian Church used to point to Angles, but it appears that even that has been lost, and forgotten. Angelology has now become the recourse of the “self-help” section of book stores, with a list of magic-spells used to conjour and control your angel. I’m not sure that pushing a devine being around like that is a good idea… why don’t we just go back to asking them? Not worshiping them, but just asking for their help. There is a distinct difference.

As the writer of the article says, there is only one way to know what Olly wants from him. To pray the most simple prayer. The first prayer that anyone seeking any God should pray.

So my first prayer is the one I would offer to any new divinity: Reveal yourself to me. Teach me to pray.

Perhaps we should all give that a go.

~Black Xanthus

Source: UUworld.org

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God and Suffering.

I’ve been reading, as is my want, Alistair McGrath’s Introduction to Christian Theology. While reading up on History, I’ve found a small idea from Origen that peaked my interest. Origen sets up the idea of a dialog between two ideas of God, that which could have been, and that which is now. It is this idea that I wanted to spend a bit of time exploring.

Suffering is often ignored, or at least, glossed over. Mostly because it’s very difficult to reconcile the idea of an all-powerful, and all-knowing God, and the suffering that we see in the world. Origen puts forward the idea that there are two options, two paths in History. I don’t know wether or not he ever expanded it to Suffering, but I wanted to take a crack at it.

This idea is not very usefull when looking at personal suffering, but it seems to work fairly well for big events(ish). The idea is that what happened is not as bad as what could have happened given the same set of circumstances. The idea is, of course, not completely satisfactory as it doesn’t answer the question of how things became the way they were directly before the incident, and why things weren’t different to avoid the incident all together.

Lets take, as an example, WWII. It contains some of the most horrific events that have ever happened to this planet on such a scale. The persecution of the Jews, and the concentration camps were terrible, horrific places. It is diffcult to imagine a worse thing that could have happened. The idea is to try to take a long-term view of the suffering. Without the horrors of World War II, the re-evaluation of the hatred of Jews, and by extension of anyone, based on their race, or religion. It also brought the true meaning of the word Genocide to our minds, and gave the world a new impeteus to fight injustice wherever we found it to avoid such things ever happening again.

Also, during WWII, as has been pointed out on this blog, several people risked their lives to save as many Jews as they could. The whole war made people painfully aware of the evil that can be done by one human being to another, simply because they were told to do it.

Of course, this means nothing unless we learn. It is also questionable wether a loving God would really want us to learn this way, but it does raise questions as to why we failed to lean the lessons that have come before us. Why also did so many people have to die for us to learn this lesson?

I could also make the point that we learned a lot from the research did on both sides of the War, both scientifically, and psychologically. Science is always advanced greatly in times of War. However, was it really worth it?

Perhaps, with a long-term view, it may seem to make some kind of sense, but it still seems to be at odd to the nature of God. Some see WWII as a true battle between Good and Evil, or perhaps, between Evil, and Almost Good. Few people deny that the regime of the Third Reich was anything but evil, and those that do often show through their actions that they are not Good People.

On a smaller scale, suffering can, in some cases, be a tool through which people are touched by God. Some come to faith through the strength and courage of someone in adversity. This, however, does not always seem to justify the means. It is also not enough to say that all the suffering is caused by the Devil, this I think overlooks the cruelty that people are capable of, and it also ignores suffering caused by birth defects which happen before Birth, to a blameless baby.

So, not really an expose on Suffering. I, like most people, don’t really have an answer, but I belive we should be trying to find an answer, not in the least because it brings us to question where we see God, and of course, the very Nature of God. Some people find that this is the bit that walks along the line for them between prooving and disprooving the existence of God. That’s where Faith comes in, and the fact that you never, ever, stop questioning.

~BX

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Where’s the Mystery?

The strange thing about Christianity is that as members of the religion we are called to be rational about our faith. We are meant to be able to say what kind of a world that Jesus lived in, to have some idea of the text and context of the Bible, and to be aware that there are parts of it that are dependant on the time it was written, and who it was written two.

We are called to investigate, understand and digest our Holy Book, and to know some of the prevalent themes therein. We also have a vague understanding of Church History, and how some of the things that we believe, and that we don’t believe have come about. Where our statements of faith have come from.

There’s no real mystery around the New Testament. You can find explanations about it all. You can even find explanations for all the Miracles or Signs. Some explanations simply change the nature of the Miracle, that Jesus walked out on a causeway, rather than walked on water, yet others, (Barbera Thering: Jesus the Man), claim that the whole thing is an encoded event that was part of tradition at Qumran.

Christianity is often attacked for it’s seemingly illogical acceptance of the impossible. Other Nature Religions are made exempt from such a burden of proof, presumably because little is understood about them, and that they, for the most part, keep themselves to themselves, and most of their tradition is passed down orally. You can, of course, buy books alluding to some part of it, but for it to make sense you require several books, by several people, and to learn from others. Other branches of the followers of the great “I AM” have their Holy Books shrouded in some form of mystery. the Koran can only truly be read in it’s original form, the Torah is kept wrapped in special cloth and kept in a special box. By contrast, you can buy a Bible anywhere.

Christian Worship has changed too. The Mystery of the Worship has been all but removed in some Churches. No-on remembers why a Church is built with the alter facing east, and many people won’t have noticed that old graveyards people were buried with their feet facing east. The words of the liturgy have changed as they’ve been revised, slowly removing superstition after superstition. Sometimes even the Communion Service is marginalized in favor of a service with electric guitars and drums.

There is a “Charismatic” movement (Charism meaning Spirit, the word meaning, literally, “Full of the Spirit”), which tries to retain some of this mystery in a new way. It concentrates on the “Gifts” of the Holy Spirit, which means talking in tongues (talking in what is presumed to be an “Angelic” language, or an ancient forgotten language), interpretation of this language, the discernment of spirits, and healing. They concentrate on a strange phenomena of feeling that they feel during these services. A skeptic might point to the fact that this is due to the large bas speaker throwing out an unusually strong beat. That coupled with the singing produces a feeling roughly similar to that found amongst American Indians, and some African tribes during a war dance, or rain dance and so on. Perhaps this is a way of getting the mystery back, yet the methods used to seem to make those taking part vaguely ridiculous (It also gives rise to yet another form of Christian snobbery, those that have been given a “Gift” by the Holy Spirit, and those that haven’t (NOTE: This is not true of all Charismatics)).

Another problem facing Christianity is the fact that it was only 2000 years ago. This means that we can find tantalizing evidence that sheds yet more light on the time. There are contemporary writings, and written history about this period. There is also the chance that we might yet find more documents, like those found at Qumran. This closeness, the fact that we could almost prove that Jesus really did exist rather than simply believe he did drives some people who are looking for what they feel is a missing part of their faith. The proof that they feel they need.

Could this missing part be the lack of Mystery? A lack of “Magic”? a lack of something… miraculous about the religion. It is difficult to marry a personal God and Saviour with a Global one. We may know that we have seen Jesus working in our lives right up until something bad happens, and then we wonder if he ever existed at all for this bad thing to happen. The amount of expectation that we, as Christians, have in our God far outweighs what we perceive to be the realities of life. Others, who have an inclusive view of their God, that is, it works for them, or for the chosen few don’t have this difficulty. Their view of God is not expected to answer why the Hurricanes, tidal waves, or earth quakes happened somewhere else. The victims were not chosen, not of their god, heathens, or perhaps that land is the real of a different god.

Christians believe that it’s all God. That God is a loving parent who looks after us. Things like natural disasters… confuse things. We have long put aside the idea that God would need to be appeased through some ritual to avoid more Tidal waves. We have no way of making ourselves feel better about these natural disasters because we’ve painted this view of God that doesn’t seem to match what we see in the world.

If we brought the Mystery back would it help? or would is simply making for lazy theology? In the case of something like a natural disaster, we could answer something like “God moves in mysterious ways”. It doesn’t seem to fit the missing piece, however.

Is the feeling that we’re missing something proof that we have ahold of the wrong stick? that perhaps Christianity as a religion is somehow flawed? As logical as that conclusion would be, it also doesn’t match with the experience of a Personal God and Jesus. This leaves us in a strange place somewhere between the logical and the illogical, emotional parts of Christianity. Perhaps what’s missing is the logical link between these two differing parts?

Perhaps the link that we’re missing is the mystery. Perhaps it’s somewhere in that divide.

Whatever it is, we will know when we find it. If we’re going to be looking at our religion, if we’re going to be taking it apart, investigating it’s Historical context, as well as criticizing the form used to wright it, perhaps we should also look at the intentions behind it. The Miracles that Jesus and his Disciples were seen to do, and wonder, where is that knowledge now?

~Black Xanthus

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Christian Course Credits Worth Nothing

It appears that the University of California can ignore the credits of some Christian courses that students are presenting with.

Like most countries, the USA has a scoring system. The better you do in your exams, the more points you have to get into University. The University of California has managed to win the constitutional right to ignore high-school work grounded in the idea that the Bible is infallible.

This means that some courses based on the book United States History for Christian Schools published by the University of Bob Jones. This is a Fundamental Christian University with a long history of stating that the Bible is infallible

According to the Judge, it’s because the outcome of this course is that it:

“…instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events, attributes historical events to divine providence rather than analyzing human action, evaluates historical figures and their contributions based on their religious motivations or lack thereof and contains inadequate treatment of several major ethnic groups, women, and non-Christian religious groups.”

This is why the courses are not being allowed to be used as credits for the U. C. It’s not that the courses are fundamentally Christian, nor that they teach Christian doctrine, but that they exclusively teach Christian doctrine to the detriment of the persons analytical education.

This seems to be a danger with the Fundamental Christian approach. The “young-earth” ideals fly in the face of what Science appears to be able to prove, as well as attributing actions to divine intervention where other explanations are available.

As a Christian, I’m well versed in the idea that sometimes coincidences happen far too often to be coincidences, and I can understand how a theoretical course on the idea that some parts of history could be attributed to divine inspiration would be interested. However, for the course to hold any value for me, it would have to be shown what the alternatives are, what the things leading up to it are, and what, on balance, was the likely cause.

Religious education needs to be sprinkled with a healthy dose of common sense. Courses that ignore this, and as in this case appear to stunt critical thinking fails to produce theologians, that is, people who are willing to think critically about Theology, and help advance both their understanding, and others understanding of their faith.

To study and try to understand the word of what ever religion you subscribe too is a must. Some of them ask very… strange and bizzare things of it’s followers. These things should not be entered into lightly, and very occasionally a critical examination of the texts may point to flaws in this idea, or perhaps what appears to be a misinterpretation.

It is this blind acceptance that the University of California has riled against. It doesn’t show that the student in question is able to think critically about a subject, which is required for most accredited degrees in the USA. I think their stance is a step in the right direction.

~Black Xanthus

Orginal Source: The Register

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Life of Brian “Pokes Fun At Christians”

No, it’s not 1979.

No, I’m not being amazed at how this film was once picketed by Christian Lobby Groups as poking fun at Jesus Christ. I’m being amazed that rev. Canon Stuart Bell thinks that it should remain banned in the small sea-side university town of Aberystwyth.

This all started when it was realised by the mayor of Aberystwyth, Sue Jones-Davies, who played Judith Isacriot in the film (Brian’s “Lover”, the one who get the nude scene), made it known that there was still a ban on the film. It appears that the licencing division of the Aberystwyth Council wasn’t aware of it. (For those that know the town, this should come as no surprise at all).

It was decided, obviously, to re-examine the ban. To that end, of course, Christian Leaders would be questioned. One of them was Rev. Canon Stuart Bell. He states himself that he has “only seen a clip” of the film in question, and states that if there was a film that poked fun at his wife, he wouldn’t want that to be put on in cinemas either. He then goes on to say that as he loves Jesus “more than his wife”, he wouldn’t want a film that pokes fun at the Messiah to be put on.

This is not the place to re-hash well trodded ground about the legitimacy of the Life of Brian, a film by the Monty Python team. There are many challenging questions in it, but is made plain that Brian is not Jesus. For those of you that remember the gifts of the Kings being mistakenly delivered to Brian, before being removed and presented to Jesus.

I can understand Rev. Bell not wanting to see the film, but I’m not quite sure about stopping other people from seeing it. It would be like stopping people from seeing Evan Almighty, or it’s predecessor Bruce Almighty. I suppose that because those things poke fun at God, they are okay.

I have to say that it is very sad to still hear such hard, intolerant, and uneducated views coming from the clergy. If he had seen the film, and had some points to put forward, if he had produced a balanced argument based on what he had seen, then at least there would be a point for debate. Perhaps, again, I’m being a “Fundamental Liberal” about all this.

I’m trying to find the other side of the coin. I can see why you wouldn’t want to see a film because you find it offensive. I can’t think of one that I personally find offensive off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are some. Would I, however, as a respected leader of people, advise others to not go and see it simply because I disagreed with the subject matter? I’m not sure I would. I would like to think I’m one of those people that “disagree with what someone’s said, but will fight to the death for their right to say it”.

Black Xanthus

(Source: BBC)

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The Lambeth Conference

As most of you are aware, something called the “Lambeth Conference” is being held this year. This is a conference of invited Bishops that happens every 10 years. It is a place for Bishops all over the wold to meet and discuss different issues that affect everyone in the Anglican Communion.

Originally they met at Lambeth Palace (from 1867-1968), which was the London residence of the Archbishop of Cantebury, but moved in 1978 to Canterbury. It was set up at the request of the Anglican Church of Canada, and was hosted by Archbishop Charles Thomas Longley, then Archbishop of Canterbury.

The conferences normally issue an encyclical letter, a series of resolutions (that is church speak for “memos”, or guidelines, or perhaps, directives), and reports that were prepared by the many comities. In the last conference in 1998 a resolution was passed that rejected Homosexual practices, same-gender unions (Gay Marriage), and the ordination of persons involved in such unions. Another resolution was one that tried to narrow the gap between Bishops choosing to ordain Women, and those against such ordinations. This resolution declared that no bishop should be compelled to ordain women.

It must be noted that these resolutions, despite their weight (coming from a collection of Bishops and Archbishops) have no binding power over Anglican. For them to contain power, they must be adopted by synodical or other constitutional means to make them legally binding.

So why hold them? If they are nothing more than a talking-shop, what do we gain? England is essentially the Mother Church of Anglicanism, but is defiantly behind the times. It finally decided to consecrate female Bishops in 2008, where they had been consecrating Bishops in other places since 1998 (Bishop Barbera C. Harris was elected suffragen Bishop of Massachusetts, but did not head a diocese, in 1990 Bishop Penelope Jamieson became the first Diocesan Bishop in New Zeland). Admitedly, The Church in Wales is even further behind the times, and failed to vote for female Bishops. Perhaps next time. These conferences are a chance for Bishops to see how it’s all working. Perhaps allay fears, and to discuss matters pertaining to these new developments. As there’s no real Anglican structure, this is really the only “Global Leadership” that there is. Even if the resolutions are not enforceable, at least there’s an “official stance” on things.

From here, it’s easy to see how we ended up in the position that we are currently in, with GAFCON demanding a hard line against Same-Sex Marriage, and definitely no Gay Bishops.

It has to be said, however, that this line doesn’t seem to be inline with public thought, or indeed public want or need. As a Church, Anglicans should be out there with the people, and excluding a whole raft of them just doesn’t seem very….. well.. Christian.

It has to be said that it is a good thing the resolutions are not binding.

Black Xanthus

(Source: Britannica Online

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