Monday, 1 August 2011

More damn doodlings

by Kim Fabricius

God is a She, definitely. It’s the multi-tasking that clinches it.

On the other hand, writing about hell seems to be a male thing. And a conservative evangelical thing. Quelle surprise. Male headship in families. Who wields the rod?

Mark Twain once observed that he “looked as out of place as a Presbyterian in hell.” Of course that was before the formation of the PC(USA).

In a recent book that is so hip it ought to be called Tipp-Exing Hell, one of the authors writes that, sitting with his Bible and laptop in a buzzing Starbucks, he wondered, Hey, “some of these people are going to hell” (his italics). Well, he was sure in the right place for such a diabolical thought.

Movie sequels are often pretty bad, and sometimes quite awful. That is certainly the view of powerful critics in Rome on the three-years-in-the-making blockbuster Vatican II. Opines the Curial Mafia: “The Godfather: Part Two it ain’t.”

The patient is extremely ill, and the prognosis poor. Some are trying to discover a new wonder drug. Others are prescribing traditional remedies. Many think that the cure lies in moving the patient into a designer hospital with the latest equipment and a more efficient staff. Yep, the patient is the church.

I’ve read Church in the Present Tense. And I liked it. But the title is wrong. It should be called Tense in the Present Church.

Suggested title for an Anne Tyler novel on a Mennonite community: The Church of the Broken Jaw (cf. Matthew 5:39).

In the Vegetarian Bible, I suppose Jesus would be the Yam of God who calls four guys from their allotments, tells a famous story which ends with a feast of tofu steaks and mango smoothies, curses a dogwood tree during Holy Week, skips the main course at the Last Supper, and, risen, rebukes the eleven for serving him broiled fish.

Christians sometimes say that worship “recharges their batteries”. Liturgy as a dynamo for letting our little lights shine – or for energising our professional performance so the economy runs as smoothly as possible?

“Spirituality” is the cunning way consumerism inoculates itself against its discontents.

As a university chaplain on a British campus with a substantial Muslim presence, I believe inter-faith dialogue is a top priority. That’s why, unsound as I am, I continue to try to have conversations with the Christian Union.

I hear they’re making a new Jesus film in which Glenn Beck is the stand-in for the action in John 11:35.

Did you hear about the icon artist who, after studying under James Dunn, painted a new inverted perspective on Paul?

Observing the Republican Party, I could well be persuaded by the proponents of ID were they to focus their case on irreducible stupidity.

There is “Christa”, “Black Jesus”, and “Jesus with Aids”. If you have known someone with the illness, perhaps you will agree that we now desperately need an artist to do an “Alzheimer’s Jesus”, perhaps an old Christ crucified slouched in a care home, muttering at a nurse, calling her “Mother”.

Invite Jesus into my life? You’re joking! It was breaking and entering – trashing the place, stealing the valuables, and then squatting, unevictably. Yes, I’m a Calvinist, not an Arminian.

“Closure”? Closure is psychobabble for denial. Ligature, perhaps. Even the resurrection does not close open wounds (John 20:27), it merely stops the bleeding.

It is very hard to forgive some people. Jesus most of all. Only the saints really manage it.

Counsellors tell us to forgive people lest we become embittered and twisted. Thus forgiveness itself becomes a fashionable therapy, all about me.

From personal experience I would say that deep grief is as likely to threaten a partnership or marriage as to strengthen it. Why? Because deep grief, being unique to each, isolates griever from griever, it does not unite them. And because grief is so somatic, that is why, irreverent as it may seem, it is good for grievers to make love, not as an analgesic for their pain but as a way of actually sharing it.

And a man came to Jesus and asked, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said, “Study theology, start a prayer group, go to eucharist, keep a personal journal, anything but become a decent human being.”

The Rugby World Cup Final will be played on Sunday, October 23rd, in Auckland, kick-off at 9:00 GMT. Morning worship starts at 10:30. Somehow I suspect I’ll be feeling fluish on October 22nd.

As God is not one particular extraordinary object among other objects, so an “experience” of God is not one particular extraordinary experience among other experiences. There is not an experience of striking out, or hitting a homerun – and an experience of God. But in the experience of striking out, or hitting a homerun, you may encounter God. Unless, of course, you play for the Yankees.

God doesn’t like night games. Wrigley Field was the last holdout against night games. The Cubs hosted the Phillies on 8/8/88 – an evil numerology – and the game was rained out after 3½ innings. Meanwhile, the Cubs continue to play like, er, the Cubs. No, God doesn’t like night games. So there will be no night games in the New Jerusalem: see Revelation 21:23. After the cheerless preliminaries of the Dies Irae, Opening Day will see the Cubs play the hometown Lambs. As the last will be first, the game will be too close to call.

8 Comments:

besideourselves said...

"Invite Jesus into my life? You’re joking! It was breaking and entering – trashing the place, stealing the valuables, and then squatting, unevictably. Yes, I’m a Calvinist, not an Arminian.".


Very good; I had to laugh out loud even while wincing with the pathos.

Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way....

Pamela said...

Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension,slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

T S Eliot
Four Quartets, 'Burnt Norton'

J.D. said...

I usually like these comments but a depressingly large fraction of these seem to be just spiteful drivel. Way to bulverize evangelicals with the comment about hell talk. What is it supposed to mean that liturgy might just be a way of keeping the economy running smoothly? Are you implying that you'd rather live in a world where far fewer people had enough to eat and worship is some kind of 'perfect idleness' rather than being modeled after the rest periods Jesus took with his disciples before going back out into the world to do Kingdom work? And how the hell can you become a decent human being unless you have the right orientation towards God and believe the right things about him? Whoever wrote Hebrews had something to say about that: "He who comes to God must BELIEVE that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him?"

beth said...

"God is a She, definitely. It’s the multi-tasking that clinches it."

But the thoughtlessness would indicate a male...

Anonymous said...

A great piece of humour as usual.

JD, please explain what a "right orientation towards God" and "what are the right things to believe" could possibly be.

Especially as there are now over 30,000 different Christian denominations, sects and sub-sects.

Plus all of the Sacred Texts of the entire Great Tradition of humankind are now freely available to anyone with an internet connection.

Plus all of the historical and present time details of every church too, including all of their inevitable less than "holy" oft times blood-soaked histories.

And of course over 4 billion human beings on this planet are not Christians too.

Greg the Explorer said...

" irreverent as it may seem, it is good for grievers to make love, not as an analgesic for their pain but as a way of actually sharing it."

That is irreverent - but extremely thought provoking - I can see exactly how horrible it would be and yet how intimate and together. This one really stopped me and made me think

Sam Norton said...

"And Jesus said, “Study theology, start a prayer group, go to eucharist, keep a personal journal..." Jesus says keep the commandments and you will live - how can a Christian keep the first commandment and not share Eucharist?

Marvin said...

Truly, truly, no denomination is above parody. Nevertheless, I am proud to be a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). When Roman Catholic bishops were engaging in a criminal conspiracy to suppress evidence of clergy sex abuse, Presbyterians were making it impossible to foist an immoral clergyman off onto an unsuspecting congregation.

Before the global economy tanked, when Joel Osteen was preaching that God wants you to be rich, Presbyterian ministers were preaching the virtues of frugality and warning their parishioners about the dangers of consumerism.

And this year Presbyterians provided for the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. A little later than the Episcopalians and Lutherans, but that's because the laity have a vote in our system, which makes change slower in coming but more thought out and durable.

I too would be shocked to meet a Presbyterian in hell.

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