Monday 9 June 2014

I’m-running-out-of-d's doodlings

by Kim Fabricius

Global Handwashing Day – flagged up on May 5, celebrated on October 15, but surely it ought to be June 15. Cheers, Pilate!

Speaking of Pilate, here is Pilate speaking, defending the execution of Jesus of Nazareth: “In a world of violence, the death penalty is understood as a necessary firewall against the spread of further deadly violence.” Oops, my mistake – that’s Al Mohler. Sorry, Pilate.

Encore: Did you hear about the evangelical church in London that wouldn’t allow a Pilates class to hire its church hall? A spokesman said: “If yoga classes are incompatible with Christianity, Pilates classes are the work of the devil.” (Did this actually happen? Not that I am aware. But you wouldn’t be the least bit surprise if it did, would you?)

Culturally and litigiously speaking, the best defence is the taking of offence.

“After many days [weeks, months] of prayerful consideration …” Why the “prayerful” in such introductions to various ecclesial documents and declarations? Like the spokesperson might say, “After prayerless consideration …”? The word is descriptively redundant. The only work it does is rhetorical, conveying a sense of piety, gravitas, perhaps inspiration, while invariably anticipating a baleful conclusion. Of course, as a minster (i.e., a religious professional), I have deployed it myself, but, frankly, it’s eyewash.

It’s “Mother’s Day” (the American paganisation of Mothering Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent). What an ironic end to the week here in the UK, where the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has signalled that women soldiers will soon be allowed to serve in front-line combat roles. As the old Virginia Slims ad put it: “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

A sunset, a storm at sea, a starry night – the wonder! Yet also a demonstration of how myopic we are. The mystery of the world is surely its marvellous mundanity.

The accusation of “political correctness” now does double-duty as “spoiler alert”, for it’s a sure sign that the accuser is intellectually lazy and desperate, and that his ensuing screed will be hopelessly hidebound and smug.

Have you ever been to those church-leader breakfasts where you’d think that the disciples had asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us how to bray”?

Sometimes I wonder if Alzheimer’s disease might be God’s way of shaming the rational and autonomous, of telling us (pace the good bishop of Hippo) that intellect and memory aren’t all they’re cut out to be, that the “man come of age” is but a callow youth, and that a state of confusion and helplessness is both the appropriate and the inevitable posture of humanity coram Deo.

I think the thing I love most about theology is the audacious impertinence of its ridiculousness.

The ESV Bible originates in the USA, so you don’t cross it very often in the UK. In fact – stupid me – I wasn’t aware that the acronym stands for Election – Salvation – Vengeance. And κρίνα in Matthew 6:28 – I’m surprised it isn’t translated as “tulips”.

Did you know that anti-Russian protesters in Kiev have been displaying the Confederate flag? So hardcore southerners were right when they cried, “The South will rise again!” Only, where the hell is Ukraine? A few hundred miles northwest of Georgia, in fact.

Serious atheism is faith cleaning the sanctuary of dust and clutter.

“There are no atheists in foxholes” goes the old aphorism. Arguably there are no Christians there either.

The Lord’s Supper – comfort eating or C-rations?

I have come to appreciate the expression “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour”. It’s useful as a kind of theological spoiler alert of someone who is likely to have made an idol of their own religious experience.

On the other hand, the embarrassment of liberals at saying “I love Jesus” is a great pity. Jesus loves me, and I love Jesus. The stalking tiger, the mother hen, the monstrous crucified, the risen striding stranger? Quid ergo amo, cum deum meum amo? (Augustine). But love it is, so there.

The perspective of contemporary counselling on Jesus in the wilderness, the hills, and the garden: me-time.

How Jesus signs off his emails:

Today (3 June) the i reports that “Research from the University of Illinois has found that people are more afraid of a hurricane with a male name than a female one and therefore the female-named storms have more casualties.” I guess that means Maisy, Bambi, and Peppa will be scratched from the shortlist of the World Meteorological Organization, and we can soon expect Hurricanes Darth, Damian, and (Katrina’s revenge) Dubya.

Palindrone: an unbrained hotaircraft programmed to fire a political missile that goes forwards, then backwards, and explodes in the face of the speaker who launched it.

What is heaven like? A lot like jail: no rich people.

The fear of Lord’s is the beginning of Wisden.

I give up. Peer pressure has finally got to me. Social networking, here I come. I, who thought a # was a cannabis label, am joining – what are they called? Oh yes: Witter and Faecebook.

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