Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Another pile of doodlings


by Kim Fabricius

Only someone who doesn’t know the least thing about religion could think that the answer to the question “Do you believe in God?” is either informative or interesting.

Enough is enough. Attacking the New Atheists is like shooting a man giving himself a lethal injection.

I guess some inerrantists figure they’ve got an inerrant doctrine of inerrancy. Hence the hilarious more-inerrantist-than-thou level of some of their common-room disputes.

Did you hear about the Texan fundamentalist who, in view of Matthew 18:21-22, always packs a pocket calculator in his holster?

Rob Bell is a slick communicator. Peter Rollins tells great stories. I’ve read several of their books and enjoyed them. Then, at the back of Rollins’ recent Insurrection, I saw the photo of the pair of them in conversation before an audience. They are sitting on stools. How can you take theologians who are sitting on stools seriously? Especially the wooden kind.

The discussion on children at the Table continues in the Church of England. One vicar, relentlessly pursuing the muddle way, gives the kids grapes when they come to the table. Presumably red grapes; and seedless (Health & Safety). Does the vicar eat all the unconsumed grapes? That will give you wind, so perhaps there is a Reserved Cluster? Or you could give the kids raisins, vintage grapes. But why Communion only in one kind? Why not add a Weetabix Mini? Or, in ECUSA, a Wheaties flake? Or indeed Raisin Bran: you could get both elements in one mouthful. Hell, why not give the kids a bowl of cereal with the added eucharistic symbolism of milk and honey? This side of Offa’s Dyke you could give them a Welsh Cake. Check that – Welsh Cakes are made with sultanas, which are dried green grapes. Yes, we have the makings of a good old scholastic debate here. Heaven forbid offering children Bread and Wine.

“I share your pain” is not the Eighth Word of the Cross. Said to the bereaved, this cliché of condolence carries about the same weight of sincerity and conviction as “I know just how you feel: I lost my iPod last week.” 

What’s the difference between a contemporary funeral and a major defeat for a sports team you support? Public expressions of grief are acceptable in the latter; the former have to be “celebrations”.

It is as sacrilegious to listen to music while you’re running as it is to chew gum while you’re praying. Conversely, it is as deeply spiritual to run while you’re listening to music as it is to pray while you’re chewing gum. 

It will soon come to pass that before the sermon, preachers will say: “If you have a mobile phone please turn it on. Your text for this morning is …”

I give it another couple of generations before the ubiquity of IT has pretty much destroyed our ability to pray. For spiritual direction, people will go on retweets.

Of course the British government wants to hand over schools to the private sector, to venture capitalists and managers of manners, to turn out capable professionals and supine consumers, to oil the economy. Perish the thought of thought, of education as the midwifery of an interrogative citizenry. Whitehall and the City live by deceit; the last thing they want to encourage is bullshit detection. Dumbing-down is not a tragedy, it’s a strategy.

First, the free-marketeers told us that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Then we discovered that it lifts all yachts. Not to mention the battleships. 

Patriotism has moved up in the housing market since the days of Dr Johnson: it is now the second refuge of the scoundrel. After Wall Street, which is transnational.

The protest camp outside St. Paul’s Cathedral: tents next to the Temple. The biblical symbolism is resonant, is it not?

Some churches do debt counselling. Fine. As long as you love the usurer too: set up a Bankers Anonymous.

This year in the UK, in the lead-up to Remembrance Day/Sunday, the wearing of the red poppy has been de rigueur for every public figure and performer, from Members of Parliament to football players. There has not been a single exception on television, from Newsnight to The X Factor (with poppies ranging from the classic to the ostentatious). I suspect it’s a largely subconscious collective attempt to deny or repress the reality of the shameful war being fought in Afghanistan. With such apt irony: the poppy, after all, is an opiate.

Certainly a Christian may enter the ministry of armed forces chaplaincy – as long as he leaves it with a dishonourable discharge.

Sarkozy calls Netanyahu a liar, and Obama responds, “You may be sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day.” Yeah, like I deal with my wife when I have to deal with my wife: “Yes, dear.”

Advice to a discerning heterosexual male: If you find a nubile woman, rare as rubies, who rates Moby-Dick, propose at once. (BTW, I see from her pics that Catherine Keller doesn’t wear a wedding band…)

Birth order, sibling rivalry, maternal inattention, inferiority complex, over-compensation and the “striving for significance”: for a little psycho-hermeneutical fun, you can go to Adler as well as Moses to explain the behaviour of little Jimmy in the early church.

Ventriloquism is the key to understanding the prayer-life of young Christians. They will either grow out of it or become the CEOs of mega-churches.

Some Protestants are concerned that when the ban on monarchs marrying Roman Catholics is lifted, Rome will devour Britain. Too late: to judge from the size of him, Chesterton already did it.

There is an earthly object, at once small and huge, that is irrefutable evidence that God so orders the world that even in the hell of anguish one may yet howl with laughter: the common haemorrhoid.

Writing is like a trip to the dentist for a root canal: you hate going but you’re glad you’ve been. 

4 Comments:

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Ken said...

Kim,

Could you please explain #1?

Andy Rowell said...

Kim should tweet--similar to the genre here. I recommend for witty insightful theological commentary: @PLeithart @ayjay @theonetruemyles @dwcongdon @bdhamilton @geoffholsclaw @DavidDark Lots of other people use Twitter to just point to their blogs which is ok too but I haven't listed them here.

Adam Couchman said...

"the muddle way"

Was that intentional?

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