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Friday, 1 August 2014

Answering a Question Invalidly

It's not often I dip the toes of the druidical slingbacks into Catholic controversy. But just this once. With a hat-tip to Rorate Coeli (which probably knows the title of the blost is quoting Our Lord out of context....)

The response of Dom Cláudio Hummes (Brazilian cardinal apparently) to a simple question is revealing, or not. I think it's an invalid answer. Or maybe an invalid question.

The question was:
"If Jesus were alive today, would he be in favor of gay marriage?" 
The answer it received was:

"I don't know, I formulate no hypothesis on this. Who must answer this is the Church in its entirety. We must take care not to raise issues individually, because this ends up creating more difficulties for us to reach a valid conclusion. I think we must get together, listen to people, those who have an interest, the bishops. It is the Church that must indicate the ways, and there must be a way for all."

The correct answer, of course, should have been:

"What do you mean, "if"? Ask me a sensible question and we'll do some proper theology on the answer."

Here it is in the original Portugese.

Back in the Good Old C of E

For those that aren't aware through other routes, the churches in the place where I spent a short sabbatical last year have their church magazine letters online.

The August edition is here. Disappointed in Margorie. You'd think she could keep Bradley under better control

Liturgy For Yorkshire Day

Archdruid: 'Appen as 'appen.

All: Aye, 'appen.

Archdruid: Hast seen their Ronald?

All: Aye, appen as might.

Hymn: On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at

Three worshippers of the Ancient Yorkshire Gods await the End of the World according to the Prophet Bickerdyke


Oh Great Earnshaw, forgive us if we have ever said the beer's better down south. Overlook it if we ever accidentally overpaid for something. Do not remember when we have spoken more than we needed. And let us off if we ever caused trouble at t' mill. And let us never doubt Geoffrey Boycott. And deliver us from ever going to London.

Billy Fisher: London? A man could lose himself in London, Mr Shadrack. Looooooose himself...... 

Charlii: Didn't you say that last year?

Billy Fisher: I'm from Yorkshire. It saves me buying another order of service.

Reading from the Prophet Bickerdyke

"Make a note Gunnershaw. The world will end at 17 minutes past 2, on Wednesday...... urghhh"

Norman Clegg: I'm glad today is Friday.

Archdruid: And Lammas Day, Norman. The day of the first loaf...

Wally Batty: Eeh, ah remember when I used to push t'bike up t'road to t'bakers to get a loaf of Hovis. Then I found out t'hill were in Dorset. Awful push that were.

St Geoffrey: Dorset? Tha were looky. I 'ad to push my bike - with no wheels - up the North Face o' t'Eiger, in a snowstorm, wearing a flat cap and clogs. And if you told Alistair Cook that, 'e wouldn't believe you.

St Geoffrey is beaten with sticks of rhubarb by a collection of grannies.

Hymn: Gradely is thy Faithfulness

The Hooter of Blessing sounds, and the Beaker Folk depart t'mill in silence.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Dawkins and the Dog

I guess it's a testimony to something, either good or bad, when the supporters of Richard Dawkins can still support him after his crassness of the other day. See, for instance, the comments BTL on this article.

But why would the rational, logical, scientific souls that these people presumably think they are not do what I would do if - well, here's an example. Luis Suarez. When he got in trouble for racistly abusing Patrice Evra, I marginally defended him. The sort of defence you wouldn't like your brief to use in court. I didn't think he is, deep down, a racist. My belief is that he is fundamentally an idiot. I think he's a fantastic player. But he's an idiot. Nothing he has done since has changed my view.

You'll note that I have separated out two elements of Suarez's character there, approved of one but not the other.  I guess it must be a tribal character - one that I can't hold to that degree - that would have seen Suarez as a brilliant player and, because he was a Liverpool player, therefore innocent.

And yet that seems to be what the CiF'ers are doing with Dawkins. They are backing him up in an illustration that is vile and - as it happens - illogical and that he has no right to make - because they agree with him on something totally different.

It's like they've too much vested in him to allow him to fail. They whitewash his wrongness. How could you not divide one set of discourse - atheism - which is a perfectly respectable position to hold, from another which is outrageous - and not see you can hold one but be wrong about the other?  It's not like anyone's claiming he's perfect, is it? So it must merely be tribalism. Which, as Ukraine shows us, is one of those inherited traits that might have been useful in our evolutionary past but it's a right pain now. 
A bit, some might claim,  like religion.

But then I remember this from Matt 15:

A Canaanite woman from that area came and cried out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is horribly demon-possessed!”
But he did not answer her a word. Then his disciples came and begged him, “Send her away, because she keeps on crying out after us.”
So he answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But she came and bowed down before him and said, “Lord, help me!”
“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” he said.
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith is great! Let what you want be done for you.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

So first up I don't know whether Matthew thought calling a foreign woman was a dog was reasonable or not. He offers it with no comment. He isn't interested in the comment, I suspect, so much as the answer and Jesus's response to that. He is interested in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, opening his mission up to the nations.

But it sticks for me. Is this Jesus doing a Dawkins?  Or, rather, does this cause me as a Christian to do the same thing the Dawkinsites on CiF did?

See, I can pretend that what Jesus said wasn't offensive - that the word he used meant "puppies" or "lap dogs" or something. That he was teasing. But I don't believe he was.

Or I can pretend he was trying - in his omniscience - to provoke just that response. But I don't believe his earthly omniscience was all that, to be honest. I reckon the Incarnation meant he had exactly the amount of brain that would fit in his skull.

Or I can believe this. That Jesus - perfect God and perfect human - was a perfect 1st Century Jewish man, not a 21st century imagination of what he was like. I believe he therefore thought gay sex an abomination, couldn't even conceive of female disciples, and thought Gentiles, compared to Jews, were dogs.

But that doesn't mean we have to agree with him on any of those things. The woman's retort changes his view. The Jewish Messiah is open to the world. Who says Jesus didn't have to learn?

You may say I'm a heretic. But I don't think I am the only one.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Despite What Anyone May Tell You, Some Entirely Reasonable Overlaps Between "Different" Kinds of People

Out With a Bang

A great occasion in the end, was Wilfrog's funeral.

Once again we were stymied on the question of a proper, authentic Beaker funeral. We were told that the traditional "fireship" was out of the question, as the duck pond just ain't big enough to allow it.

So instead it was a cremation followed by pyrotechnics. Wilfrog being a lifelong Watford fan, we loaded his ashes into a rocket in the shape and colours of Harry the Hornet.

In the end, it was what he would have wanted.  We shot it straight through the window of a Luton Town fan.

Sheep May Safely Glaze

Never get a ewe in to do a replacement window. Cost an absolute fortune. I was fleeced. Actually, she was - if we're going to live in a world absolutely based on Dawkinsian mechanics. And all those hoof prints on the window. I was going to do the joke about herd of sheep glaziers but it turns out that it's flock. Which is much what I said when I saw the droppings on the conservatory floor.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Very Hungry Dawkins

One day the Lawd of the Dawks felt very hungry.

But the Great Dawk wasn't like you or me. We eat food and drink gin.  Whereas the Dawk subsisted on attention, which he liked to wash down with the psychic energy he could extract from howls of rage.

So the Dawk decided to say something outrageous, yet which he reckoned he could logically defend. He didn't worry about the people who could rightly be very offended, because Dawks are attention-seeking toads.  And three hours later he wasn't hungry any more.

The End

Monday, 28 July 2014

Your NHS Horoscope

As Tory MP David Tredinnick tells us we should consider Astrology on the NHS. this could be just the sort of thing you find on your ward in the near future.

Aries.svg Aries

You will meet a man or woman in a white coat. They will give you advice on your condition. You should listen to them. They're far more helpful to your health than an astrologer. Even a "proper astrologer who does it with a chart and you have to know your exact time you were born." No. Stick to the doctor.

Taurus.svg Taurus

Tauruses are independent, free-thinkers. Some may confuse your stubbornness with being headstrong. Don't follow the herd. Astrology is a failed science based on a mish-mash of old religions. It's no basis for your health care. Some would suggest it's a load of bull.

Gemini.svg Gemini

Castor your eye over the evidence for astrology. It's Pollux, isn't it?

Cancer.svg Cancer

Dropping the jokes, this is why you need to take this seriously. If you've acne or you're feeling a bit tired, feel free to try washing your face in the dew of dawn, whale songs or reflexology. Obviously, feel free to do those anyway. Or even prayer. But if you've a real, serious illness, use real serious drugs as well. (Assuming that's what you're prescribed, obviously).

Leo.svg Leo

Do you find you spend a lot of time sitting around for hours, wondering what you're doing with your life? Are you wishing you could get out more, read something new, or get away from that snivelling child with the saucepan on her head? You're in A&E, aren't you? May as well settle in for the long run.

Virgo.svg Virgo

Do the days go so fast you can't concentrate? Too tired to concentrate? Not getting the time to get to know people? Making snap judgements and hoping you get them right? Welcome to General Practice.

Libra.svg Libra

Life is all a matter of balance, isn't it? On the one side there's expensive drugs, the time you need to care for people holistically in the right sense of the word. There's people to listen, skilled surgeons, the attention to know someone needs a drink, or needs assistance to eat. And on the other side of the balance, there's cheap gimmicks like homeopathy and astrology. Who would think hot air would weigh so heavy on the scales? Avoid men with blue ties who like cuts. And I don't mean off-duty surgeons.

Scorpio.svg Scorpio

You may be feeling a bit less well off than you were. Wage packet not going as far as it did? Struggling to make ends meet? You're not gonna be able to afford health insurance, are you? Work harder, you oik.

Sagittarius.svg Sagittarius

At a time of hardship, your family rally around you. Refuse to sign the document they've shoved under nose. It's not an application for a bus pass, whatever they claim.

Capricorn.svg Capricorn

Hard-headed, logical, clinical - there's no fooling Capricorns. You look at this kind of rubbish, and see right through it. Just like.... erm...  David Tredinnick, who's a Capricorn.

Aquarius.svg Aquarius

You will encounter a man carrying a large pot of inert water. He's a homeopath. You may find these in Jeremy Hunt's NHS.  Apart from being proof of the placebo effect, it's not worth wasting your time with.

Pisces.svg Pisces

With your entrepreneurial nature, it may be time to look into a new business venture. Have you considered tendering for part of the NHS? With a bit of practice you could set up as a surgeon, but it's a bit messy. In the modern world, maybe you could tie a scarf round your head and open up your own fortune-telling booth in Reception. Obviously, you need to be careful. Be too down and you could depress people. Too upbeat and there could be complaints from relatives. Best to stick to reassuring generalities. If you make a diagnosis, you could get sued later.