Monday, 2 September 2013

Lame-duck doodlings

by Kim Fabricius

John Donne,
When very young, had lots and lots of fun;
But wiser – chastened, broken –
He repented of his pokin’:
Old dog, new trick:
“Who ever loves, if he do not propose
The right true end of love, he’s one that goes
To sea for nothing but to make him sick.”
(Elegie XVIII, ll. 1-3)

Incompatibilities in Modern Theology Explained
Schleiermacher was a Scorpio, Barth was a Taurus.
Niebuhr was a Cancer, Yoder was a Capricorn.
Mary Daly was a Libra, Joseph Ratzinger is an Aries.
John Piper is a Sagittarius, Rowan Williams is a Gemini.
(On the other hand, I note that Noam Chomsky is a Sagittarius and Slavoj Žižek is an Aries – perfect partners!)

So, after the Bank of England sexism row – feminist pride overcoming chauvinist prejudice – from 2017 Jane Austen will replace Charles Darwin as the face of the tenner.  So how about Emily Dickinson instead of Andrew Jackson on the double-sawbuck?  The belle of Amherst would make a nice change from Old Hickory the ethnic cleanser. 

So here in Britain we have had the royal birth.  Zzzz.  Next up, the royal rebirth, i.e., the baptism of little George.  Picture Prince William and Princess Kate. Question: “Dost thou, in the name of this Child, renounce … the vain pomp and glory of the world …?” Answer: “Er …”

The “back page interview” in the Church Times always ends with the question, “With whom would you like to be locked in a church?”  Has no male ever answered Beyoncé or Cheryl Cole, no female Johnny Depp or Colin Firth?  What is the matter with these people?!

Remember: prayer is like writing a letter, not sending an email.

It goes without saying that a preacher must love her congregation.  But, more, she must make love to her congregation.  The sermon, after all, is the song of songs.

Why aren’t “worship songs” called hymns?  What are their writers hiding?

My Dear Wormwood,
There is one question, like no other, which will expose and confirm in your patient, and all our patients, the fantasies of their faith: “Where do you experience God?”  But when you hear the answers – e.g., sunsets and mountains, poetry and music, partners and friends – you must try to keep a straight face.  Though I confess that even I have a hard time not cracking up when they say “worship”.
Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape

The main reason why macho complementarian pastors misappropriate the salient gender-role biblical texts is the proverbial male refusal to stop and ask for directions.

Here’s one for all you WWJD ethicists – the latest UK moral panic (the British love a moral panic): internet trolls.  Shun them?  Shame them?  Have them arrested, fined, imprisoned?  How about tell them a stinging story?  Nah, not retributive enough.

In practice, Semi-Pelagianism is the default position of Christianity.  Christians who aren’t Semi-Pelagians are as rare as black swans.

There are people who have never read Moby-Dick.  There are people who have started Moby-Dick and never finished it.  And there are people who have read Moby-Dick once.  The difference between these people is negligible.

How, in the twinkling of a generation, authentic, radical, prophetic words become clichés.  For example: “authentic”, “radical”, “prophetic”.

There are times when nothing makes any sense to me, times when I spiritually wince and flinch.  I am still learning to recognise these times as moments of grace.

As our culture of death is a culture in denial of death, one of the few unmissable signs of life that punctuates our social geography is the funeral procession, particularly the hearse.

Silence and solitude: give it a decade or two and they will follow sadness in being pathologised and medicalised.

Twitter is a wonderful spiritual discipline.  With its intrinsic immunity to vanity, self-promotion, shallowness, nastiness, patellar reflex, and OCD, it constitutes a training in virtue.  Someone should write a book: The Twitter Driven Church.

The difference between pretending and pretence is the difference between a disciple and a Pharisee.

It’s a sign of maturity to change your mind, a sign of insanity to change it too often.

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” With one exception.

The British often say that Americans don’t do irony, which, I’m relieved to say, is demonstrably false (though British irony is more understated than American), because if you don’t get irony you don’t get – It.

I don’t have a spiritual adviser. Check that – I do: our cleaner.

I have a vision – of a church dinner commemorating my retirement (in October). On behalf of the congregation, the Church Secretary thanks me for 31 years of ministry. She then observes that it is just over 50 years since Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech in Washington, D.C., and knowing how much I admire the great American prophet, she declares that she can do no better than cite his crescendo of a conclusion to encapsulate the church’s feelings at this time: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

What shall I miss most when I retire from ministry?  Being pastorally and liturgically with the sad and the struggling, the sick and the suffering, the dying and the bereaved.  Because these spaces are bullshit-free zones, and because there, for faith, the tire hits the road and we discover whether we are travelling on Pirellis or budgets.


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