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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Countless Calvaries

I was just reading Bruce Grobelaar's account of the event of that day, 25 years ago, at Hillsborough. And as so often happens when reading the story, ended up with tears in my eyes. Tears at the futility - people who have died without seeing justice for their family. Children who never came home. Others who grow up without their parents. And yes, anger that the responsibility for what happened has been evaded so long.

And this morning, the grief and desolation of the Korean ferry sinking reaches us. And I pray for the parents who, terrified with grief, wait for news of their children. For lovers who are praying for loved ones. For those who may still be trapped and alive. That many can still be rescued.

Thomas Hardy's poem, "Unkept Good Fridays" tells of all the other people whose Passions the world ignores, while paying great attention to Jesus's. I suspect old Tommy H, at 86 years of age, had given up caring if people got upset, and just wanted to rattle a stick in some Christians' cages.

But he had a point. We don't mark all the futile, tragic, pointless and/or heroic deaths. In one sense we can't. This old and pock-marked world has too many deaths, too much senselessness, too deep a well of personal and tragedy. We would mourn somebody every minute of every day, if we were to try. Every day - every second - would be another Good Friday.

If only, I might say. If only there was a way of taking one cruel death - one human being cut off in the prime of life - at the height of all human powers. One human being who could encapsulate all those innocent people who suffer - one representative of the wasted youth and loss of dignity that covers this planet from a football field in Sheffield to the muddy fields of the Somme, from the slaughter of natives of America to the deaths of slaves, to the people of Hiroshima and the casked remains of the people of Pompeii - and every other unminded Good Friday in between.

If we could take just the one representative of all this, and hold that person up for all to see. And - just for the fun of it, and to prove our point - if we could make God feel the pain and the waste that he's left us to. If we could get him to share in it all. And mark that one event, and then remember that it's not just a one off, it's a focus, a singularity, a distillation of every senseless loss that's ever happened. And that through it, we expect God to share in what we know, too.

If only.

The Popular Panel Show, "Ask the Laity"

The BBC reports that the Catholic Church, having polled its members on their views on such matters as sex, drugs and rock & roll, is not publishing the results of the survey. Well, naturally. I'm sure it'll leak out one day, but you do need to keep the lid on what people think as long as possible. Otherwise mayhem could break out.

The BBC reports that
Reformers said refusing to publish the results would suggest the Church was not sincere about sharing responsibility with lay people.
Well naturally. That would be akin to the BBC letting the licence payers have a say in how it's run. And think about those churches that do share responsibility with lay people. No wonder the Catholics ain't  serious. I mean, the Church of England shares responsibility with the laity. And they've had to create a system so demanding in personal time that only old, rich laity with a love of committees can get any of the share. While if the clergy get on the various synods, that's work time. Still, in a stroke of genius, the C of E has a system so complicated that nobody can ever make decisions in under 20 years in any case. The Methodists share responsibility with the laity, but then they learnt how to organise committees from the Church of England, and then went on the advanced course.

I'm sure it's useful for the Catholic Church to know what its people think. But if they start getting involved in decisions, where will it all end? Gay hamsters marrying chip shop owners and a dolphin bishop, that's where. Or even Catholics using contraception. Without feeling ashamed about it, at any rate.

We're not told if the survey asked what religion the Pope is, but I'm sure that if it had, the answer would have been filled-in in advance.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

God's Amazing Miracle of the Moon Behaving Like the Moon

I wasn't going to bother with this "The Bible is Coming True - Lunar Eclipses Forecast Something or Another" piece in the Express. I was going to leave it. Just another fundamentalist saying silly things to attract attention.

And then I read this, from the Pastor forecasting something or another from a series of lunar eclipses to get us to look at him.
"And then, He chooses to do it on Passover, the Feast of the Tabernacles, Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacles? It is absolutely an impossibility that it could be random chance."
It is. It is an absolute impossibility that you could get successive lunar eclipses on these feasts by random chance.

Because the behaviour of the sun, moon and earth aren't bloody random chance, are they? They're determined by the law of gravity, and by the laws of motion. It's physics. That's not random chance.

And how come they happen on these feasts?

Because they're full moon feasts. That's why. Passover and Sukkot are full moon feasts.

And when do you get lunar eclipses? When the earth comes between the sun and the moon. In other words, although you don't always get a lunar eclipse at full moon, if it's a lunar eclipse, it is always a full moon.

So the reason why the lunar eclipses happen at Passover and Tabernacles is that they are just the kind of days when you get lunar eclipses. Not God's messing around with nature, just the God-given laws of nature, combined with a religion that attached its feasts to full moons.

It's amazing, is a lunar eclipse. It's a blessing from God, in my opinion. But it's not magic. And it's not, as the pastor seems to think, astrology. It's science. I love science.

David Cameron's Christianity

Nice little piece from David Cameron in the Church Times. All about Christianity, its beneficial aspects, its principles of love, charity, responsibility and so on. No mention of Jesus's promise that "in my Father's house are many rooms. Just the right number of rooms.  No spare ones, because that would reduce your benefits", but you can't have everything.

In fact, no mention of Jesus at all. And that's maybe what divides David Cameron's idea of Christianity from mere Christianity (I'd love to be wrong, by the way). Because mere Christianity isn't about lovely buildings. It ain't about hardworking people, or generosity, or any of the many wonderful things that Christianity gives us.

You can't be evangelical about Christianity. Not in the strict sense. Because Christianity isn't the thing itself. Christianity is the way that people respond to something - the organisational form of a personal response. The codification of a direct encounter, expanded across 2 billion such encounters.

In short, my faith - and mere Christianity -is not about "Christianity". It's not about lovely buildings. I'd cheerfully see every church building in the country fall down tomorrow, if it meant one more person knew Jesus. I'd see every organisational form of Church fall apart under the weight of their own committees, if by that happening one more person knew the life of Christ in their own life. Unlikely, I know. But given the choice I'd vote that way, because one eternal human life is worth more than all the architecture and all the organisations in the world.

The source of Christianity is Christ. The reason we love our neighbours is because God first loved us. The reason we try to make this world better, is because God loves it so much.... yeah, you know the rest.

Which is why Dave Cameron's words are lovely; they're well-meant, I'm sure, and they're to be welcomed.

But they're just not at the heart of the matter.

Easter Week Begins

..... or so the Guardian tells us.

Actually, it does begin. On Sunday. This, on the other hand, is Holy Week. We'll commemorate now, and celebrate later.

Really, I expect better of the Guardian. Apparently all their journalists spend a lot of time in Chapel, calling on a higher power to protect them from evil. You'd think they'd have got the church year right by now.