Room with a View


Mark 2:

English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Image via Wikipedia

It was way back in the very early 60’s when I first heard the story of the friends of a very ill man who was bedridden, tearing through a roof to lower the bedridden man down into the room below and at the feet of Jesus.  This was a wanton act of vandalism that allowed these friends to get past the pressing crowds below place their bedridden friend at Christ’s feet and successfully ‘jump the queue’.

There are a few contradictions for the grown up to puzzle over in this account, and two of them I have already alluded to.

Should these friends be allowed to get away with destroying other people’s property?  Is it the ‘done thing’ to deliberately gain an advantage over others by ‘jumping the queue’?

Whatever you might think about these questions, as a child I was filled with awe and indeed impressed by the friends determination and love for their friend.

But hidden in this story was a seed, a powerful force that has developed and grown.  It has become both a thing of beauty and something that has got me into lots of trouble.  It was that Jesus thinks it is okay to break the law in particular situations.

Whether that law is a social prohibition or  a state law, be it an historic tradition or a paternal command, in some situations it appeared that it was okay with Jesus to be different.

This is a blog, and long blogs don’t get read by many today, so I need to keep this short so I am not going into the workings of my thinking here, and some of it may be flawed, but the general gist, the outline is clear I hope.  My reading of ‘Situation Ethics by Joseph Fletcher, in my teens, helped a lot.  Indeed the ‘conservative’ William Barclay’s complete inability to understand Fletcher also helped to focus my understanding too.

I found a lot of things about the stories we heard in Church and at ‘Sunday School’ about Jesus and Prophets and Kings very interesting, and a lot more interesting than the Janet and John stories at School, or the stories about Roderick the red pirate and Gregory the green pirate….

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4 thoughts on “Room with a View

  1. When I was at college, my ethics lecturer was Professor Gordon Dunstan, who hated Joseph Fletcher’s ‘Situation Ethics’ – he had a copy on his study shelves, but turned around so that the spine was against the wall. He once told me, It’s so that no-one can ever claim that they’ve seen it on my bookshelf! My copy of the book had a quote from Gordon Dunstan on the back cover – Fletcher must have thought that a bit of notoriety would help sell the book. I thought it was quite good.

  2. Joseph Fletcher’s book I have on my shelf, Janet and John I think I remember, but Roderick the red pirate and Gregory the green pirate, who are these? – new to me! – It must be something to do with age!

  3. I remember Rumpelstiltskin as well, but apparently today’s parents are not inclined to read older fairy stories to their children due to political correctness?

    On the other hand, as an RC we didn’t have Sunday School, but were force fed religion with punishment for not learning the rudiments of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Bible study was discouraged, perhaps because the ‘Non-Catholics’ in reformed protestant churches, placed greater store on scripture than the word of the Priest, Nun or Brother, knocking religious education into us.

    I’m glad to say, that those days seem to have been swept away with the modern RC Church giving scripture a place in study. All they need now is a bit of democracy, ordain a few women and give up on having an older male autocrat in charge of things.

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