Thursday, 18 August 2016

Polly wolly doodlings

The cast of characters at the RNC was right out of Looney Tunes. I half expected Elmer Twump to delight the crowd by whispering, “Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting Hiwwary.”

Then Jesus and his disciples went away to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. “Who do you say I am?” he asked them. Trump, called The Donald, answered, “You’re a loser!” “Exactly!” replied Jesus. “So much for your Messiah crap, Peter.” Then he ordered them, “Go, tell everyone what The Donald just said” (Mark 8:27ff., Original Autograph).

Samuel Johnson was close but wrong: patriotism is the penultimate refuge of the scoundrel; his last refuge is “authenticity” (e.g., Donald Trump) and “sincerity” (e.g., Tony Blair).

On being accused of plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 DNC, Melania Trump declared, “I don’t imitate, I steal.”

“I know I don't have his looks. I know I don't have his money. I know I don't have his connections, his knowledge of fine wines. I know sometimes when I eat I get this clicking sound in my jaw… First he screws me, then he screws you… Excellent.” —From Wayne Grudem’s endorsement of Donald Trump (Wayne’s World)

Just out is a new, pre-election edition of Daniel Kahneman’s masterpiece Thinking, Fast and Slow. It is entitled Thinking, Fast, Slow, and Orangutan, with a foreword by Bill Maher.

What do you call someone who orders a rib eye, gets an overcooked hamburger, and is so pissed off that he stomps into the kitchen and eats the slops? A Bernie supporter who votes for Trump.

 “The business of America is business”? No, Cal, the business of America is America.

Under felt threat, toads puff, bears rear, and cats bristle and yowl. So too politicians who, alas – so much for evolution – then declare states of emergency.

Do I think it’s okay for ministers, male or female, to wear other than black clerical shirts? Sure, as long as they’re charcoal, onyx, or ebony. Rainbow-coloured shirts are just plain naff, the sartorial equivalent of saying “Hi guys” at the start of worship.

It is ridiculous to suggest that Jesus was a Christian. More ridiculous still to suggest that God is a Christian. They are, of course, both Jews.

One thing the gospels don’t tell us about Jesus (though Isaiah 53 may suggest it) is that he walked with a limp. How else could the disciples have kept up with him?

Preachers, have you ever stumbled and fallen on the way to the pulpit? If not, why not?

If you’re a minister who prefers preaching to visiting, that’s probably because you prefer listening to yourself for half an hour than to somebody else. Or perhaps because the preparation is less onerous.

The bad news about being angry with God is that you don’t trust him. The good news about being angry with God is that you don’t trust him.

Let Kent’s words to Cordelia (King Lear, IV, vii) be the epigraph of your every engagement with Facebook and Twitter: “To be acknowledg’d, madam, is o’erpaid.”

Let’s get incarnational. The colonising of the mind by conventional images of the “beautiful” face and the “perfect” body is not only a cultural pathology, it is also just plain wrongheaded. For experience teaches that when it comes to physical attraction, looks comes a poor second to scent, not least in longevity of appeal. A thousand gazes aren’t worth a single sniff.

Blessed is the person who uses the subjunctive more than the indicative, for life will be full of surprises and the kingdom will always be near.

Yes, Karl, the Bible in one hand, the newspaper in the other. But you forgot to mention that after the sermon, depending on the newspaper, the preacher might have to wash and disinfect the latter appendage.

It’s becoming more and more fashionable for people to micromanage their own funerals. I recently attended a funeral where instead of honouring God through Myvanwy we honoured Myvanwy through God. Actually, though, it’s a quite venerable practice, going back to Pharaoh.

The decline of faith has left the West without a grammar of grief. Flowers (lots and lots of flowers), rainbow raiment, pop songs, Twitter tributes, and Kahil Gibran are among our more sententious solecisms of “celebration”.

It’s a fallacy to think that just because you’ve got a good pair of garden shears you’ll be able to cut hard branches: they might be non-secateurs.

New programme on the God Channel featuring the saved giving their testimonies: it’s called Corn Again!

Ecclesiastical Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: the pathologies, respectively, of liberal and traditionalist churches. The one has no memory and the other no mobility.

I suspect that the living don’t miss the dead half as much as the dead miss the living.


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