Monday 3 June 2013

Scooby doodlings

by Kim Fabricius

God loves otherness. She’s an anti-Sameite.

The rich man in his castle, / The poor man at his gate, / The black man picking cotton,/ The woman washing plates – but the gay man marrying his mate? It’s so not order of creation, isn’t it?

One hundred and fifty years ago, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in ten Confederate States. Two years later, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution extended the prohibition to all of the United States. Of course, the anti-abolitionists insisted that government had neither the right nor the power to contradict the Bible, Christian tradition, and natural law, all of which speak quite perspicuously on the institution of slavery.

Gay marriage is not just morally wrong but (like dissoluble marriage) ontologically impossible. Attending a gay wedding (like attending a second wedding), one thinks of Dr. Johnson, walking with Boswell, kicking the stone, declaring, “Thus do I refute Berkeley.”

“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for me, because I spoke out against the homosexualists.” That’s Niemöller updated in the light of the apocalyptic tone – the beginning of state fascism, the elimination of Christianity, Queens who are lesbians (and presumably Kings who are queens) – of the anti-gay marriage lobby in the UK.

In protest against the legalisation of gay marriage in France, Dominique Venner shoots himself in the mouth at the altar in Notre Dame Cathedral. A sad, sad symbolic (Freudian?) gesture, if not prophetic action, rather lacking in both tactical nous and strategic foresight, as presumably Venner will be spending eternity in hell with the wedded sodomites he so opposed – and in the same seventh circle (if in the middle rather than the inner ring).

You can always count on some Christian leader to pontificate on two subjects about which we know next to nothing for sure: suffering and sex. So like you’re going to trust them not to talk guff about God, right?

Nature? Nurture? Mystery!

In his recent Making Sense of Sex, Adrian Thatcher likens the experience of post-coital serenity to the sharing of the peace at the eucharist. So does the liturgy in Thatcher’s church contain a rubric for having a cigarette before the distribution of the elements?

Theology is the text; literature is the commentary.

Shelley famously declaimed that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Good poets. Bad poets are the world’s US Congress.

Scientists are confident that the fossil remains of a prehistoric quadruped, recently discovered on a farm near the town of Hicksville, New York, will revolutionise our understanding of Palaeolithic zoology and mammalian evolution. Here is an artist’s reconstruction of the creature –

– the Hicks bison.

Sitting in a hospital waiting room, suddenly I was overcome by a feeling of foreboding. I asked God for a sign. Then I looked around the room, and on the wall was a large photograph: mirabile dictu! – what are the chances? – the cover photograph of my book. My heart sank. “Jeez, Lord!”... I asked for another sign.

On Saturday morning, around six, I was sitting in my study about to pray. I looked up. In the front garden, not six feet away – a fox! – sleek, still, watchful. It just stood there for a couple of minutes, and I just watched … I just watched. Then, concerned – early traffic, passers-by – I tapped the window. It turned to me, stared, then leapt and vanished over the low red-brick wall. And that was my prayer-time.

What is celebrity texting but digital digit painting?

You go to church. Perhaps much of what you hear in the prayers, hymns, let alone the sermon, doesn’t ring true. Still, say “Amen”. You have worshipped. God isn’t looking for your agreement.

I love the quip, aimed at the rich and powerful, privileged by birth, that just because you find yourself on third base doesn’t mean you hit a triple. And the stupid ones – you can hear them standing at the hot corner yelling, “Hey Dad, I got a double!”

The enduring power and influence of Day, Hammarskjöld, Bonhoeffer, Merton, Romero: what might a bullshitless life look like, a truthful, kenotic life, life as a transformational grammar?

The monastery is the kitchen of civilisation: the telos of prayer is the production of beer, cheese, and chocolate.

So you’re a minister. Do you have an office? If you do, you’re not a minister. A CEO has an office, a minister has a study.

Wallace Stevens said that the most beautiful thing in the world is the world itself. Add that the most terrible thing in the world is the world itself and you’ve got the ergo to the book of Job.

The one insuperable sorrow of dying is knowing that your friends will grieve.

“We can honour the lives of the fallen while lamenting the gross destruction of war” (from Darkwood Brew). For Christians, unless “the fallen” includes the enemy’s fallen (observe the accompanying iconic Iwo Jima image), and the “lamenting” (biblically) includes emphatic protest at unjust wars (like every war the US has fought since WW II), this much trumpeted declaration becomes this year’s Memorial Day cliché. And speaking of a bombastic Memorial Day cliché – jeez, those camouflaged baseball caps: farcical, or what?

Physically, I am finding my mid-sixties to be a time of small change, i.e., the beginning of being nickeled and dimed to death.

My wife was paedobaptised a Lutheran – strike one (looking); confirmed an Anglican – strike two (screwball); converted to Catholicism – strike three (wild pitch). Finally, however, she married a Barthian Reformed minister. Moral: grace isn’t just another at-bat, it’s a walk-off after a K.

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