The cat napping on the Fence.


emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘ENCYCLICAL LETTER LUMEN FIDEI, ON FAITH’

MrC  has a bit of a funny position in the great scheme of things, balancing on the edge of Catholicism and liberalism and extremists on both sides take pot shots at the cat on the fence!

So I always try to read stuff with a mind of acceptance, and then analysis.

I read the above letter with some devotion and hopefully with a critical mind.

What is missing in this piece, imho, is an acknowledgement that the revelation of truth through ‘rational’ thought is not contradictory to faith.  Only if that faith is pickled in some preservative can the Pope(s) uphold a view that the light of reason is dimmed by the light of faith.

“that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.”

This view can be challenged by liberal thought, (liberal insofar as it accepts the light of reason as being valid in argument, theological and spiritual) because one can believe that science and reason illuminate the nature of God.

Two things come to mind.

The first affirms this belief.  That all light points to God and that these ‘lights’ cannot be contradictory because that would imply a house that is divided.  Mark 3:25 “… if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

The second is that in Christ we have the full revelation of the nature of God.  One might infer from this statement that truth reached through modern reason somehow stands in opposition to the truth revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

However one can argue that the full revelation that we have been given in the person of Jesus Christ is all that is needed for salvation.  This belief does not automatically preclude new revelations about the nature of creation or the physics of the cosmos, the workings of the human mind or the human body, and everything else that modern rational investigation has shown to us being acceptable to us as truth.

One is about salvation whilst the others are about the fruits of the tree of knowledge.  For MrC they both exist in unity and they are both part of that same light that we see in Him and through the workings of the Holy Spirit.

The real challenge for Christianity, and more specifically for the established Churches is accepting both and reworking superstitions and misconceptions that have over painted the light that is from God.  These are often fondly held moral views or modes of praxis that are rendered unworkable in the light of that reasoned light.

The trappings of how we do things and what we think of as being morally true are continually focussed by the gifts of reason and that should be embraced by Christians and traditions that are fondly held may have to be abandoned.  This should not shake our faith, for if we do believe that Jesus Christ is the full revelation of the nature of God’s relationship to humanity then we should also believe that this revelation will be in agreement with all truth; theological, spiritual and scientific.

Until we have the maturity of faith to appreciate the Light of Christ in all truth we are condemned to darkness, or at least to the dim shadows.

MrC

A warm welcome… at last…


Scream Cropped

Scream Cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hooray.  I have found myself accepted in a small group run by MIND.  There is something quite wonderful in finding the oppeness and truy non-judgemental attitude in other people.  I have experienced it online, with my dear friends and now I have a ‘congregation’ that does not villify or hold over me my past.

Now I have come to understand that the actons that we do have consequences and that we have to accept those consequences without complaint, indeed I apologise over and over again for my sin.

But in this small group of people, mostly social outcasts, I find acceptance.  They are the limbs of Christ, the lips of Christ and the voice of Christ to me.  Along with my dear online friends who have been generous in loving me, these vulnerable compatriots are my peers; we come together, we talk, we paint, we drink tea, and we depart.

Some come by occasionally, some are regulars and faithful weekly participants, and some are seen once and maybe never again.  The staff and volunteers are kind, too kind for me, but that will improve over time.  They surround me with acceptance and touch me at my pace, they expect nothing and they offer much.

It may not be a wealthy place, it may not have fine robes or the dignity of procession and hierarchy nor the certitude of holding God’s Grace to administer to whom they deem fit…yet they have warmth and goodness and care.

Mrc

Waiting to die or to be raised? From Good Friday to Easter to Good Friday.


Waiting to die or to be raised?

"The Good Samaritan"

“The Good Samaritan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living in isolation, more or less, is particularly hard if memories of a previous time of abundant social contact, and happy contact often, become a constant reminder of the contrast in what was and what is.  The attempt to take an interest in other things, study, creative activity (painting, writing, reading) is difficult without any ‘end product’ being discernable.

I am made acutely aware of the situation that so many people endure in societies globally and in particular here in England, and I am especially mindful of the isolation that older people experience.    This ‘loneliness’ is perhaps harder to bear if one is living on a low income and more so if one is suffering from chronic depression.  I think it is reasonable to suggest that such isolation may contribute to increased depression if not become the actual cause of depression for many.

The desire for social interaction (and maybe the simple reason that I am writing this) is strong, but one can easily become ambivalent about the prospect of social contact.  Whether there is any real opportunity for being with others is another thing.  The needs of the socially isolated are complex and become more involved as time goes on.  The desire to be with others is opposed by the fear of being unable to successfully interact with others.  One feels out of practice, and even unworthy, though this may be more to do with my own particular case.

The failure to develop regular and meaningful relationships leaves the isolated person without the normal support that we might take for granted.  Simple activities, paying bills, dealing with authorities and even what to eat, are never shared; the only advice one has is ones own.  Easter is indeed a time for rejoicing and the resurrection from death of Jesus is a great fact that fills us with gladness and thanksgiving.   For the isolated person, though, it may also sharpen the contrast of how sparse ones existence truly is.

The Church is a vehicle for hope and it has been given a wonderful task, to declare The Resurrection of Jesus Christ anew to every generation.  One issue that today’s Church of England, and others in the Anglican Community share, is the proclamation of that Resurrection to today’s world and today’s people.

The Samaritan, the leper and the prostitute were welcomed and blessed by Jesus.  Today, we have the task of declaring welcome, on equal terms, to women, to all sexual orientations and to those whom society vilifies perpetually.

How will the Church declare the Gospel?  To whom will it speak?  Will it be able to do God’s work? Will it speak to everyone?  If it does then how will it enact that Gospel?  How will it welcome the isolated?  Will it be generous and give the isolated bread, or will it keep it tightly locked up in the tabernacle, in its exclusive rites and laws, in its fear of popular villification?  Do we hear the cock crow thrice still?

MrC

Nothing Funny Just a picture for my friends, warts and all.


thornsNothing funny to say tonight but simply to say a massively huge thank you to all of you who have been and are being supportive spiritually and in friendship to me.  I am deeply moved and thank God that I am blessed with need, and with your kindness and love.  It may be that God is speaking to me of His love towards me through your goodness.  I am reminded of my late Step Fathers advice, which was to remember the ravens, and not to worry so much.-

-

This is not  a masterpiece, all wonky.  It is my way of saying thank you and i hope you enjoy it a bit.

MrC

Challenge to you. Explain Christianity.


Christmas ball - Christianity

Christmas ball – Christianity (Photo credit: nabeel_yoosuf)

Why should anyone be a Christian?

What is the basic message that you would put to someone enquiring about the Christian Faith?

What are the essential pieces of information that one needs to convey the Christian faith?

Or is it something that is often socially and habitually acquired, perhaps from an early age.

Answers in comments please.a

 

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The Church needs to Change


god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

If the church is to survive as a purposeful and positive factor in people’s lives then it is going to have to change radically.  The superstition and sectarianism that it has depended upon for generations must come to an end if it is to offer modern society a Gospel that is relevant and believable in a new age.  Essential truths about the nature of God must be decided upon with a new approach and old interpretations that are harmful, and in many scholarly places discredited, must be rooted out.

It is true that the church has moved away from much that it once taught and it no longer gives credibility to blatant discrimination of Government and economic policies; slavery, serfdom, fear and arrogance have been rejected at last.  Though not in every case, not for everyone.  We still promote traditions that are anti-gay and the church remains an establishment that holds secrets and shuns openness and truthfulness in its dealings with finance and morality.  It is flawed and often behaves in a way that Christ would condemn.

More fundamentally the attempt to include within itself a range of extreme values that are mutually opposed has resulted in a deeply divided house,  It needs to define what it holds as true and make those values known.  The church needs to be freed from the ill-conceived idea of unity and position itself clearly with the values that Christ taught.  It is time to reject the individualistic theories and interpretations that  those who are at its extreme ends hold as ‘essential to salvation’.

The church needs to be honest and admit when it is unsure, be humble and admit that it has, and continues to get things wrong.  The Church needs to confess its sinfulness and seek forgiveness, for example; when it is harsh and when it obscures the nature of God   from the eyes and ears of the people it is called to serve, when it presents instead a vision of God that lacks compassion and accessibility.

To hold on to a God, indeed a Gospel that is excluding of many and irrelevant to most is foolish and cannot be sustained, nor should it be.  To believe that access to God is reserved to itself alone is against the word of God and extremists who promote such a view are heretical and wrong.

Holding on to privilege and establishment is contrary to the way that Christ taught us and rejecting that which it believes is embarrassing or it believes is damaging to its own survival is to also reject the God who scandalised His own people by hanging on a cross, rejected and despised.

Maybe it is time for all Christians to review what the Gospel tells us about the nature of God in our world.  Perhaps it is a time for all denominations to be humbled by the story of Christ and revisit their thinking and divest themselves of fondly held beliefs that are unhelpful and contradictory.

Re thinking the Gospel is not a novel idea, it has always been part of what we are as Church and history testifies to this, as do the writings of the New Testament themselves.  Change can be threatening but seeking a true understanding of the nature of God may demand change from each and every one of us.

I am tired of hearing the pomposity of fundamentalists in the church and the certitude of so many clerics, especially the most senior of our church.  There are those who twitter without thinking and I guess they live their lives in much the same way, but feel themselves right and justified by habitually adopting narrow thinking and by holding onto personal creeds that are far from what Christ taught us.

Somewhere in the Church of England there has to be a renaissance.  It is time for change and an abandonment of the shackles of tradition.  It is time for good people to  speak out and be heard, it is time to be open to new thinking and looking at Christ with new eyes.  It is time to cast off the bonds of slavery to the past and look seriously at what is relevant to God’s relationship with His people.

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Destruction of Sufi Shrines in Libya might conern all liberal thinking people.


I believe that the Christian Church in particular, is charged with the duty of tolerance and speaking out against injustice against anyone, and this duty to God belongs to us all.  The unfortunate truth is, however that we too become divisive and exclude those who we do not wish to associate with.  It is a small step then towards hatred and violence.

The destruction of Sufi shrines in Libya might be of serious concern to all liberal thinking people across the world irrespective of their faith, or lack of faith.  The report from the BBC says that the Libyan police stood by as the destruction took place whilst the politicians of Libya have called the action ‘criminal’.

The hopes of many Libyan people that a liberated Libya might resist future chaos will be challenged by this recent action, which is not the only extremist religious action in Libya, and other faiths, including the Coptic church are concerned by the actions of extremist groups in Libya against those who do not conform to their ideal.

The extremism of the Nazis in the 20th Century should have taught us all that the only way forward for humanity is a liberal tolerant and mutually respectful attitude.

It is a great pity that it often takes dreadful inhumane actions to sting the conscience of societies; the promise by right wing extremists in Norway to moderate their language and message following the massacre of 77 children by Brevik is an example.

However the guilt and intentions often fade away quickly.

Those  who wish to promote tolerance and liberal attitudes are needed today in every society, in every walk of life and in every religion.  I am not suggesting that liberals get it right always, but standing up and speaking out against injustice and intolerance before it gets hold of a society, a community, a faith is better than saying nothing and allowing atrocities to escalate.

“God opposes the proud’

but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5b)

MrC

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Moving on……


Moving Day (film)

Moving Day (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Faithful followers of this blog know that MrC has poked fun at a lot of people and occasionally pointed out some really bad behaviour by others.  I am not without sin either and it is not a perfect blog by any means.

Still, defending those who are oppressed by others, exposing bullying by senior clerics, these are things we are all required to do, sinners or not, and each and everyone of us will, if we submit to to following Christ and walking the way of the Cross, offering ourselves for the betterment of others, we will all be redeemed, even Bishops and Archbishops.

We are all equal, we are all created by God and we will all be judged by Him.  How far we come to know Him here on earth and live according to His will, as best we can; indeed how far we are able to forgive, may be the deciding factor in how far we are able to live with Him in heaven.

MrC

 

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Planning to be bad today? Don’t be surprised if you are.


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

I had made plans recently, quite important plans in many ways, ones that would have altered the things I might expect to change most days of the week pretty radically for many years.  I had discussed the ideas around these plans with many people, friends and professional advisers and family.  I still have those plans in place and I am hopeful that something may come of them but last night something happened that has blown a hole through my plans and now they are fundamentally challenged.

A guiding principle of my life has been that discerning the will of God in all things is fundamental and should guide all that I do.  For most things this is quite insignificant really.  I mean how I trim my whiskers may not be high on the Infinite’s agenda but He may have an opinion I suppose.  Yet in the matter of what I do with my time, then that may be of great significance to Him.

There are times when we put in a good deal of effort to understand what God wants us to do.  It is a question that is as old as we are; “what should I do?”  This question, or more precisely the desperate seeking of advice that flows from it, has allowed sorcerers, astrologers, statisticians and many a religion to become wealthy.  It has given quite a few ‘agony aunts’ a living and can give rise to sects dictators and war.

This desire that we have, to want to know what we ‘should’ do, is an important desire.  The principles that we decide upon to guide us in getting the answer to the question shapes our lives greatly.  If you are immoral and find it acceptable to exploit other people, then what you should do might involve getting what you want at everyone else’s expense.  If you consider yourself to be a little bit more moral maybe you would still want to get it at another person’s others expense but desire not make it obvious.  This is the choice that I think most of us go for and it is the choice of preference in senior clergy circles, often.

Then there are those of us, psychotics perhaps, who believe that a God exists, who want us, indeed commands us, to behave according to His rules, his principles.  This is the way that I understand the God of the book, Yahweh, the God that became incarnate in Christ Jesus.

The rules that Yahweh has set out for us are there to be argued and debated about.  Nothing in religion and ethics is ever straight forward.  But for me the fundamental law is this; To love thy neighbour as thyself.  To that end any plans that I may entertain cannot involve the suffering of others, and as a very peculiar socialist I also believe that nothing I do should disadvantage my fellow human being as far as I am able to influence matters.

However that question “what should I do?” remains a thorny one, even for this Christian cat.  The plans that I make in my mind are mine and the truth is, I don’t have any way of knowing how the future will turn out.  And nor does anyone else, despite their certainty.  The evangelical nutter who is convinced that everyone else is going to hell really is a psychotic.  He does not know that for certain and those who believe him are deluded.

The truth is that we cannot know the future, we can only guess at what may come to pass.  Our plans are transient at best, constantly needing to be changed and rearranged.  What we do, when we become fixated on a plan, is to become inflexible and fixed, unavailable for change and unable to listen to the voice of God, who is going to share with you a better plan.

God reveals Himself to us in the moment, and He does this constantly.  We need to be ready to respond to his revelation and whilst plans may give us clues to prepare for tomorrows eventualities, we are fools if we worship our own ideas.

Like Abraham, we should be prepared, but God may surprise us.

It was Abraham who was prepared to sacrifice his son, he believed it was God’s will.  God changed the plan and lamb chops were on the menu that evening instead.

MrC

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Two Baptism In the Bible? A Greater Baptism and a Lesser Baptism?


English: Baptism of Christ

Image via Wikipedia

In mark’s gospel he talks about St John the Baptist baptising people with water, ad St John himself speaks about Jesus baptising people with the Holy Spirit.  The distinction in my edition suggests that the baptism of John, with water, is a lesser baptism than the one to come.  “I baptise you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mk 1:8)

This outward sign of inward grace, Baptism, is clearly not a one-time event, at least in one sense.  Baptism by John, with water was not seen as being the only baptism that one might experience, for Jesus might also baptise, and according to the other three Gospels, this time with fire.

Whilst there is a tradition generally held in most Christian denominations in the church of having one Baptism only, I do wonder what has happened to the Baptism by fire.

The use of the imagery of fire, flame for example, as a symbol for the Holy Spirit is a use we are familiar with in Christian literature and art.  It is used in the description of the appearance of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Acts 2)

Whether this second baptism is done with the use of fire, rushing wind or anything else, it is a fascinating consideration that there is, somewhere in the totality of creation, a second Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

One might think that this ‘Baptism with the Holy spirit’ happens at the time of ‘Baptism with water’, or at a time when the individual declares, for them self, Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  My concern here isn’t with that, but rather with the notion that there is a second baptism at all.

I realise that there are many historic, theological, cultural and denominational perspectives that bear down on this subject.  I can hear the clamouring voices of the Theological antiquarian and I admire you all.  However, I am wondering if this focus, this resolution of baptism into two, is a helpful revelation for us ordinary Christians.

Please comment.

MrC

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