Friday, 4 April 2014

Do-wah-diddy doodlings

by Kim Fabricius

Preaching is throwing people off a cliff; pastoral care is catching them before they hit the ground, or, if you miss, patching them up and making them stronger.

Sir: In terms of “life satisfaction” – inane term number one – you report that the “perfect job” – inane term number two – is being a member of the “clergy”, with “chief executive” coming second. Inanity notwithstanding, how interesting: in the contemporary outcomes-driven managerial church, being a minister is becoming indistinguishable from being a CEO, which – trust me – for a lot of us is anything but satisfying; rather it is cause for hilarity, despair, or probably both.
     —Letter of mine published in the UK newspaper the i, 25 March

As Creation Ministries International advises its pastors, “Preach with the Bible in one hand and The Daily Nonsense in the other.”

Man, I love evolution: it’s bio-jazz. JC knows what I’m saying. So does Jesus Christ.

On a proposed book entitled Signs of Intelligence in American Bible-Believing Christianity: the upside is that the book would shrink to a blog-post; the downside is that it could take years to find the evidence.

So evangelical pastors are addressing the issue of whether their members may smoke pot. Given that evangelical Christians have the highest obesity rate of any community in America, the answer is: “Only if they first lock the refrigerator, empty the cookie tins, and hide the Doritos.” On the other hand, for worship song composers and bands, the herb should be compulsory.

Proponents of biblical inerruncy have failed to consider one insurmountable problem: typos. No one writes an autograph without typos. Even divine inspiration cannot prevent typos. God himself commits typos. Adam, for instance.

The people who wanted to ban Life of Brian would fill the cinemas for Life of O’Brien.

Still on 1984, in HBO’s Questioning Darwin, Pastor Peter LaRuffa declares, “If somewhere within the Bible I were to find a passage that said the 2 + 2 = 5, … I would accept it as true.” O’Brien redivivus. Or perhaps Winston Smith seeing the light.

What do you call it when a UK or US minister preaches a sermon on the persecution of Christians in their respective countries, and then presides at the Lord’s Table? Whining and Dining.

In February I left a comment on a post at Peter Enns’ blog of cheerful and hopeful endeavour. In response, on thread, I received 5 marriage proposals. That I am already married, my wife assures me, is not a problem (everybody has a price). That Kim is a 65-year-old male, however, might be.

You got to hand it to Atheist Church planters: they grasp that there can be no spirituality without public corporate worship. Sure, the object of their worship is the subject of their worship (the central liturgical act ought to be the taking of selfies, concluding with the collective cry “Ame_!”). But then that’s just another idea they’ve spoiled from the Christians – the narcissism of so much of our own contemporary worship.

If the practice of solitude is a condition of freedom, then the practice of social media – “O brave new world!” – (cf. Neil Postman) we are amusing ourselves to bondage.

Samuel Beckett didn’t trust language, bending words and buckling sentences in his attempt to say the unsayable – and inevitably, self-confessedly missaying it. Beckett was a negative theologian of sorts. Except that he was very, very funny.

Clarence Darrow said that “The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, the second half by our children.” Not quite. The math is wrong: it’s the first third and the second third. And Darrow forgot grandchildren: they enter the final third of our timeline, and they are the blessing of blessings.

FLASH! After pressure from evangelicals, World Vision has decided not only to reverse their decision on employing gay and lesbian people, it has also decided on a brand makeover: World Vision is now “Tunnel Vision”. And that light at the end of the tunnel – it’s the oncoming stopping train of providence, picking up everyone (even the righteous) – “Don’t need no ticket / You just thank the Lord.”

Ah, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – that light set on a Mohl(er)hill.

The Lancet has produced a list of tech ailments, which include Screen Apnoea, iPosture – and Scrotal Hyperthermia. Apparently using a laptop – er, on the lap – can lead to a decreased sperm count due to overheating. It is expected that the CDF will soon announce a ban on the portatile as an artificial method of contraception. Vatican sources suggest that male Catholics will have switch to iPads or risk excommunication.

Pick the odd one out: “misbegotten male”, “subhuman property”, “intrinsically disordered”, “white straight guy”.

On the Paltrow/Martin split: “Conscious uncoupling” (Katherine Woodward Thomas) – so as to “discard blame, release belief structures and find wholeness in separation.” What a load of … – no, check that: in keeping with the spirit of euphemism and pretentiousness, what a Brobdingnagian consignment of equine fecal matter. Still, the phrase itself is not inappropriate insofar as it denotes the outcome of the inauspicious inauguration of many a marriage, viz. “unconscious coupling”.

There are two major legal grounds for divorce in the UK: adultery and “unreasonable behaviour”. Interestingly, these are the same theological grounds on which evangelicals and liberals “divorce” each other – accusations of syncretism on the one hand and irrationality on the other.

Simone Weil famously wrote of an atheism which is a purifying of the notion of God. Hume (analytically), Marx (sociologically), and Nietzsche (axiologically, aesthetically – ballsy, relentless, terrifying) are three heavyweights of this purgative atheism: they identify fault-lines in our thinking and idols in our imagination. Then (in the UK) there are the likes of Dawkins, Grayling, and Hitchens, philosophically incompetent, historically ignorant, morally facile, and insufferably smug. Theirs is an atheism by and for Yahoos, at once crude and elitist – call it a putrefying of the notion of God.

Noah? Ah, no. I’d rather stare at my tax return than watch any biblical “blockbuster”. The reactions, however, are always a hoot. The mouthy outrage of a number of American Christians, as if (biblical illiteracy notwithstanding) they held canon copyright, suggests that God had them in mind when he dictated Genesis 6a – and me in mind (after I’d read about them) when he dictated Genesis 9:21. Mind, fundy filmic fury serves a useful critical sifting: the movie may have merit. Conversely, evangelical accolades are the cinematic kitsch of death.

On March 22nd, the third day of spring, the better angels of US globalisation hovered over the SCG, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and cheering the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks at Opening (G’)Day in Oz. For a few hours the Peaceable Kingdom had come to Australia, the land of Sand and (the) Ashes. That American football is now annually waged at Wembley suggests what the Lord thinks of England.

Yes, sports fans, baseball at the SCG. What next – cricket at Yankee Stadium? No longer could New York be called the “city that never sleeps”. And thus would come to pass the apocalyptic prophecy of Matthew 24:15.

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