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  • True religion


    by Sunny
    12th April, 2007 at 11:43 am    

    The more I read about Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the more impressed I am with him. Really, I can’t think of a better advocate for humanist religion in his country. Anyway, I missed a profile on him in the Observer over the weekend. These paras caught my eye:

    But his style is hardly made for our simplistic, untruthful, soundbite culture. A good example is contained in his book, Christ on Trial. Rowan reflects on the silence of Christ, as recorded by Mark’s Gospel. Jesus simply refused to answer the questions put to him about who he was and Rowan writes: ‘What is said will take on the colour of the world’s insanity; it will be another bid for the world’s power, another identification with the unaccountable tyrannies that decide how things shall be. Jesus described in the words of this world, would be a competitor for space in it, part of its untruth.’

    Rowan will know, better than most of us, that anything he says will be part of the world’s untruth and the more he conforms to the expectations of a headline culture, the more untruth there will be in it.

    One of the threads running through his writing is the idea that true religion always leads one to question oneself, rather than make claims over others. Jesus is not a possession or a badge of superiority, but the one before whom you stand, in gentle self-questioning. So those who know the archbishop often remark on his humility and profound spirituality. It is this which will carry him through. (my emphasis).

    via Simon Barrow, who has more commentary on the article.


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    1. Rumbold — on 12th April, 2007 at 1:27 pm  

      He really impressed me when he went to Darfur and did not publically criticize tbe administration there at all. I am not C of E, but I do find it embarrassing that the Queen is forced to be head of a church in which he is the most senior cleric. John Sentamu would make a much better Archbishop of Canterbury. He combines Williams’ emphasis on the love and forgiveness of Jesus with common sense and an ability to explain his beliefs coherantly.

    2. steve — on 12th April, 2007 at 1:40 pm  

      Rowan Williams proves the point that “organised religion = organised stupidity”

    3. ChrisC — on 12th April, 2007 at 1:44 pm  

      One question Sunny - are you mad?

      His equivocation and incoherence are certainly unsurpassed…

    4. Sid Love — on 12th April, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

      But this:
      Jesus is not a possession or a badge of superiority, but the one before whom you stand, in gentle self-questioning.

      is the universal function of all religions. Just replace ‘Jesus’ with ‘Islam’, ‘Judism’, ‘Hinduism etc and you’re well away. This is surely the only virtue any adherent of any religion should aspire to.

    5. Soso — on 12th April, 2007 at 4:11 pm  

      No one here knows much about Christianity.

      Just replace ‘Jesus’ with ‘Islam’, ‘Judism’,

      Says it all.

      Judaism stands on its own, it needs no Christ.

      Christianity is the extrapolation of Old Testament revelations onto all of humanity; Jesus is the point, if you like, at which Hebrew theology is “marketed” to mankind. Both are complimentary and both dovetail perfectly.

      Islam is little more than misread Christianity, one that adds on an extra load of prayers and that owes much to the hertetical Nestorianism rampant in the M.E. just prior to Mohammed’s birth. To the extend it has both Hebrew and Christian prophets it is *true*. To the extent it expropriates and twists meanings present in Judeo-Christian scriptures in the service of selfish and ultilitarian ends, it is invalid.

      Let’s face it here, Christ claims to be the Messiah and Mohammed the final prophet.

      Both can’t be true, right?

      One of the two, therefore, is a liar…it’s up to us to choose and to choose wisely.

      Rowan Williams is an excellent academic/theologian, but a very lousy *political* leader.

      People need more than just exposés on the nature of Christ. They need to “see” the rituals and be framed by daily/weekly religious rites that includes attendance at Sunday mass.

      Williams has a brilliant intellect, but what the CofE needs to do is fill pews…..something the good vicar just can’t seem to pull off.

      He should really drop the “Druid” look. The 20th century is over and serious Anglicans and would-be Anglicans no longer want the flakey trappings of new-age style cults.

      They want the smells-and-bells, the traditions, the vestments, the organ music, the choirs and the age-old rituals.

      I’ll admit that I went back to my church about 12 years ago (I’m 49). What I find is that the more traditional parishes have…and by far…the largest AND youngest congregations.

      And recently I even attended a mass in Latin( it’s making a comceback)…something I hadn’t experienced since I was five.

      The place was packed, I had to stand at the back.

    6. sonia — on 12th April, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

      I’ve been reading this magazine of ‘Babylonian Jewry’ and they’re saying they think Islam is more like Judaism.

    7. Katy Newton — on 12th April, 2007 at 8:39 pm  

      I’ve always thought so, Sonia.

    8. Sunny — on 12th April, 2007 at 8:40 pm  

      Soso - your dodgy knowledge of theology aside, if you want more bells and whistles, maybe try the Pentecostal churches? They’re seeing a huge upsurge in popularity.

      Rumbold - I think it’s harsh to speculate why Dr Williams didn’t say anything while in Sudan until he explains himself. You don’t know the man and neither do I. He may have a whole variety of reasons, some tied to his reticence, as pointed out above, to give into the ‘quick quote on issue’ culture. If he prefers to take more nuanced views or hold his tongue until he finds the time is right, that is up to him.

      I’m more concerned by his unwiliingness to stand by the part of the clergy embracing homosexual priests and not standing up to the Nigerians.

    9. El Cid — on 12th April, 2007 at 8:57 pm  

      I prefer my religious leaders to stay out of politics, much like my monarchs. I’m using “my” loosely you understand.

    10. douglas clark — on 12th April, 2007 at 8:57 pm  

      Sunny,

      He says:

      “true religion always leads one to question oneself, rather than make claims over others.”

      I would argue that you could fairly replace ‘life’ for ‘true religion’ and still be meaningful. In other words, a life that is not questioned is a life not worth living. I think I’m quoting someone here. I detest the arrogance of the believers when it comes to issues like this. I am human, I care, so why does the leader of a faith want to exclude me?

      True religion, indeed.

    11. El Cid — on 12th April, 2007 at 9:22 pm  

      So Dougy, is there no way atheists and non-atheists can find common ground and work towards the same ends? just asking

    12. Soso — on 12th April, 2007 at 9:38 pm  

      Soso - your dodgy knowledge of theology aside, if you want more bells and whistles, maybe try the Pentecostal churches? They’re seeing a huge upsurge in popularity.

      I re-read my comment and nowhere did I express any disatisfaction with my congregation. Why would I chuck an august 2000 year-old institution for Pentacostalism?

      Sunny, what are you talking about, exactly, and from just which Christian School of Divinity did you graduate?

      Your greet a mere statement about attending mass with such defensiveness, I’ve no idea why you even decided to post about Christianity.

      The phrase “bells and smell” is an old Catholic saying that refers to the incense and hand chimes used during the preparation of the Eucharist.

      That is, as opposed to post-Vatican II acoustic guitars and “folk” hymms sung by bearded men in sandals.

      I’ll restate my assertion that Rowan williams is a brilliant intellect, but a poor vicar. He has allowed the CofE to lurch way too far to the left, and as a result has alienated his core congregation.

      I’m more concerned by his unwiliingness to stand by the part of the clergy embracing homosexual priests and not standing up to the Nigerians.

      It,s gay marriage and NOT homosexuality, as such, that is the sticking point here.

      The acceptance of practising gays/married gays in the Anglican Church risks creating a schism. In fact, in New England earlier this year there were mass defections of whole Anglican parishes ( 7 or 8) to Roman Catholicism over just this issue. In a single week Rowan Williams lost more than 10,000 of his sheep.

      That’s not a good thing.

      Many more American Anglicans are thinking of a similar move. Is it too much to ask the Anglican Church to stick to the gospels? It’s gotten to the point where Anglican Vicars know all about global warming, gitmo, American oppression and the plight of the working class, but stutter and stammer when attempting to recite routine prayers they should have known by heart years ago…..and this in front of the whole congregation.

      They are an embarassement.

      Those Anglicans who attend mass and who contribute to Church coffers tend to be conservative and to have at least two or three children. Gays don’t have children and left-liberals don’t go to mass and contribute not a penny.

      One other thing, churches and Christian theology are quite different than political parties and ideologies. The former are there to dispense religion and to teach the gospels; their role is not one of promoting trendy and ephemeral issues such as gay marriage or co2 reduction.

      Gays who wish to marry have the option of civil unions.

      Parishoners worried about global warming should walk to mass.

    13. Sunny — on 12th April, 2007 at 9:49 pm  

      their role is not one of promoting trendy and ephemeral issues such as gay marriage or co2 reduction

      Well that depends really… one may see being Christian as a way of life and therefore want religious guidance on contemporary issues. Evangelical Christians in America for example are growing to be some of the biggest campaigners on global warming. ‘What would Jesus drive’ and all that.

      Your greet a mere statement about attending mass with such defensiveness, I’ve no idea why you even decided to post about Christianity.

      Defensiveness? What would I get defensive about?

      Douglas - who says anyone is excluding you? There is a problem with religious institutions excluding unbelievers, but I think there is much common ground to be had on issues around humanism for example. I’d say Dr Rowan Williams is among Britain’s most well known humanists.

    14. Jim Denham — on 12th April, 2007 at 11:09 pm  

      Williams: an “advocate for humanist religion in this country”? What are you on, Sunny? The man is a hypocrite (over gays), a relativist (over Darfur),a coward (in the face of the African anglicans), and an intellectual disgrace (for defending faith schools). His church is a constitutional anachronism that should lose all influence in British public life. Williams - if, indeed, he is this great “intellect”, has even less excuse than his predecessors, for maintaining the undemocratic, bigoted and just plain stupid, role of the C of E in public life. Christians of whatever hue should be free to practice their particular brand of superstitious ignorance. But not to inflict it upon the body politic.

    15. Ms_XtReMe — on 12th April, 2007 at 11:35 pm  

      I’ve been reading this magazine of ‘Babylonian Jewry’ and they’re saying they think Islam is more like Judaism.

      All three major religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are more or less one and the same. That is if you go by the Old Testament.

    16. William — on 12th April, 2007 at 11:49 pm  

      To enter upon a spirtitual path as an honest quest for truth both outwardly and introspectively can be process which doesn’t end. It has just as much of an ongoing dynamic as any schools of philosophy. The constant asking of who am I, and who are we and is there a purpose to life itself and if so what are the implications of this in terms of ones place in the world in living relation to others can be one of constant progress and expansion of ideas. It really depends on how we approach it. Of course religion can also be about the blind following of ideas. That can also happen in politics. Of course we can think and question without religion but perhaps the notion of if there something beyond ones self perhaps brings a certain openness to spiritual ideas. Depending on the individual it can actually be the spiritual impulse which is the main drive for questioning.

      Williams is someone to be admired in the modern world for his ability to reflect on ideas beyond his own frames of reference taking into account several points of view. He seems to have developed a thoughtfullness + feel on human experience itself rather than just being an academic theologian.

    17. lithcol — on 13th April, 2007 at 12:05 am  

      A pox on all their houses.
      They ponce around in their funny cloths and occasionally utter what some consider words of wisdom.
      We seem to be drifting back into a world of religious obscurantism. I recognise that some have never left it.
      I agree with El Cid ( 9 ) for once.
      I left Christianity at the age of 14 and have never regretted it.

    18. Ms_Xtreme — on 13th April, 2007 at 12:27 am  

      Lithcol, forced religion will always make you want to run away from it.

    19. gracchi — on 13th April, 2007 at 1:54 am  

      Sunny I agree- I went to hear him lecture recently and found him very impressive. He spoke about the relationship between God and art and his philosophy and learning were excellent. As to the commenter that says he isn’t a good vicar of the church- I disagree tales of his kindness and generosity are legendary. The points about traditionalism are completely wrong- in my view Williams is an intelligent interpreter of the Bible (he is actually one of the foremost scholars of early Christianity in the UK) that leads him often towards liberal conclusions- but he can’t make those points often for political reasons hence why he hedges on things like the Nigerian priests. As an atheist I disagree with much of what he says. I think though he is a very positive thing in all kinds of ways for this country- he reaffirms what I see as central to any belief in Christianity which is doubt about the human soul- St Paul’s comment that we seek justification in faith alone and not in our own virtues and not in our own condemnation of others (stones, women and Christ come to mind) strikes me as something that Williams very much understands, more say than his predecessor did.

    20. Refresh — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:24 am  

      Soso

      “Let’s face it here, Christ claims to be the Messiah and Mohammed the final prophet.

      Both can’t be true, right?”

      And why not? I’m not sure you understand.

      Jesus is the Messiah and he will return, and Mohammed is the Final Prophet. There is no competition in this matter, except it seems for you.

      Now I really didn’t want to get into this but seeing no else has picked you up on it, and you seemed to imply there was a logic to your point:

      How come you believe, Jesus is also God? Jews and Muslims clearly don’t.

      And Judaism and Christianity dovetails perfectly?

      Explain….

    21. naiyyayika — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:44 am  

      Soso Both can’t be true, right? One of the two, therefore, is a liar…it’s up to us to choose and to choose wisely.

      Both the claims could be false, right, being simply added on by followers; or even conjured out of thin air. The interesting thing is the lives of both and their writings can be read without any reference to the unsubstantiable. Thomas Jefferson produced a ‘godless’ version of the NT gospel shorn of all references to Jesus’s divinity. Check it out some time.

    22. douglas clark — on 13th April, 2007 at 10:33 am  

      El Cid,

      Post 11. I certainly hope so, and I don’t see why not.

    23. Rumbold — on 13th April, 2007 at 11:51 am  

      Sunny: He was happy to go to Israel and complain. Such a stance just seems hypocritical.

    24. sonia — on 13th April, 2007 at 12:03 pm  

      10. douglas clark - brilliantly said.

      religion is a funny word i always think - it can meaning nothing and everything and all shades in between. does it mean anything automatically? no.

    25. sonia — on 13th April, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

      can it not be accepted that one may ponder on metaphysical issues without ‘being inside’ a religion per se? to me the ‘in’ or ‘out’ is there God or Not seems to me a rather limited set of thinking options, in a potentially rigid fashion. i mean who’s to say what i may understand from the term ‘God’ should be similar to another person’s? it’s when people tried to standardize those things that we seemed to have ended up with what we now call ‘religion’. it only seems to have led to a bi-polar set of ideas which could be a false dichotomy.

    26. sonia — on 13th April, 2007 at 12:22 pm  

      it’s like with ‘thinking’ and philosophy in general. you could have to commit yourself to a particular school of thought or philosophy, there could be dominant paradigms people expect you to choose between. there could be freedom to join any school, but if there is expectation that things fall into either school x or school y - and that you can’t be in both..

      things like that could probably lessen intellectual creativity and become more about ‘choosing sides’ and social groups.

    27. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

      You don’t have to look far and wide to find bearded wise men making very reasonable and full cream interpretations of their faith that nobody could disagree with. But they always stand on the summit of institutions that owe their very status and survival to a history and perpetuation of ferocious competition and politics predicated on varying degrees of intolerance of other religions and their adherents (and dissenters within their own faith)

      How many poor women of Fatty Henry the VIII lost their heads so Rowan could be jolly reasonable today? How many Catholics burned? LOADS!

      Depending on historical context and base line teaching, this goes for all religions, although not all are equal offenders in this regard.

      Religion is the toblerone of the masses.

    28. Soso — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

      They dovetail because Christ is the point at which Old testament theology/wisdom ( and it IS wisdom) is revealed to all of humanity. Jews, already possessing that knowledge, have no need of Christ in any direct way.

      The diktats of Mohammed, on the other hand, are redundant and pointless; they amount to little more than an endless, obsessive/compulsive treadmill of purity rituals. They distract and detour humanity by substituting true spirituality with trivial mundane concerns about dress, drink, and prayer schedules.

      What else could he do, he knew he had no “credentials”.

      Years ago I began reading the Koran with enthusiasm, but was soon disappointed by the incoherence, the contradictions and overall poor quality of the ideas. It is a doctored and incomprehensible pastiche that has been re-written and re-edited many times over. One of it’s main thrusts, not surprisingly, is to deny to lie about Christ’s nature…..just as Nerstor did.

      To boot, the whole work has no Abrahamic “feel” whatsoever. A “thee” thrown here and a “thou” cast there do not an Ambrahamic work make.

    29. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

      Jesus is the Messiah and he will return, and Mohammed is the Final Prophet. There is no competition in this matter, except it seems for you.

      ANd between Jesus and Mohammed. It’s like waiting to see who will win the Champions League final, Liverpool or Manchester United.

      Anyway Refresh, you too are one of these cuddly reasonable chaps. In Reasonable City, in the United Kingdom of Reasonableness, on the continent of Rationality, your comments are so wonderful. Out there in the real world, however, there are two emblematic salivating hicks, blood boiling, one in Riyadh, the other in Arkansas, each ready to rip the other to shreads and damn the world to hell over the outcome of this particular Champions League Cup Final.

      Rememeber, we are not alone.

    30. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

      Why isn’t Hans Christian Anderson a prophet? Or the Brothers Grimm? Their stories are retold the world over and, in the case of The Little Matchstick Girl, just as depressing as most religious doctrines. I shall be writing a stern letter to my mushroom god complaining of this

    31. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:13 pm  

      “Rememeber, we are not alone”

      That’ll be the ketamine

      Speaking of nothing, you know back in the day when they were doing things like boiling rice to make it edible (bet they tried it with a million different things), what’s the chance that the person that threw magic mushrooms in a pot was the first to see God?

    32. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:13 pm  

      And on the day of the comedown, yea, he did invent the Devil

    33. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:14 pm  

      I think Amy Winehouse is a prophet. fuckin’ greatest album of the year.

    34. Sid Love — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

      The diktats of Mohammed, on the other hand, are redundant and pointless; they amount to little more than an endless, obsessive/compulsive treadmill of purity rituals. They distract and detour humanity by substituting true spirituality with trivial mundane concerns about dress, drink, and prayer schedules.

      Yep. Hence Sufism.

    35. Sid Love — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:20 pm  

      Jagdeep, why is it that I can never picture you without a beatific smile brightening your cherubic face?

    36. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:23 pm  

      Maybe you smoke spliffs when reading PP Sid?

      I have svelte face although I’m in the double chin zone, age and life cycle wise.

    37. sonia — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:36 pm  

      31. Kismet - its funny you mention the mushrooms. we were just talking last night about how there might have been some mescaline like substances in the scrub in the arabian desert…

    38. sonia — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:38 pm  

      jagdeep in 27 - you are very eloquent! very well said

      i like the toblerone metaphor

    39. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

      Sonia, think about it. The shamans were on peyote day and night. As were the Incas and Aztecs, while our south eastern ancestors and Egyptians were in bong heaven. Take enough and see gods, angels and all that shit. It’s little surprise they thought it as divinity

      We just still believe their stories. Which is ironic seeing as no one likes a drug bore

    40. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

      Jesus, for instance, hanging out out with all them thieves and scrubbers, real fucking high I should warrant

    41. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

      tauba tauba

      You two are just asking for fatwas to be pronounced on your cheeky heads

    42. sonia — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

      39..yep Kismet, i was thinking along the same lines..

      now maybe all these pious people won’t look down on us stoners..

    43. sonia — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:02 pm  

      jagdeep *giggles* that’s true. i wonder where usman is and if he has fatwa-issuing capabilities. what do you reckon Kismet?

    44. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:05 pm  

      You know that book I’ve been writing? Well my fatwa radar is on all the time. I shan’t rest until I get Padma Lakshmi in my bed. Oh shit, she’s left Rushdie hasn’t she? Bollocks.

    45. Soso — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:09 pm  

      Yep. Hence Sufism

      Yeah, Sid, I know. However, you should never forget that Sufism is considered most unislamic by many Muslim theologians.

      So is Sufism merely the small exception that proves the general rule?

      Sunny: I know some Evangelicals are battling global warming ( among other issues), however it’s a subject that is attended to and talked about Ex-Cathedra, if you like. Sunday worship services remain focused on Christ’s message and the gospels.

      That said, I worry that SOME evangelicals are so entangled with conservative politics that it’s almost unhealthy.

      *True* Christianity should steer clear, in the measure it’s possible, of the WHOLE political realm.

      What happens when they don’t? Something quite akin to what’s happening with various pressure/lobby groups who go far beyond their mandates and interfere in areas they’ve no business even talking about.

      Simply put, an explosion, a rabid excess of righteousness and morality accompanied by dictatorial attitudes.

    46. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:12 pm  

      Has she left him Kismet?

    47. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:17 pm  

      Yes she has left him. I know this from my girlfriend’s bible, First magazine. I believe what I read. Poor Rushdie. All those years in hiding, all that money, all that sex, and for what? Right, onto my next chapter: Piss Be Upon Him

    48. Sid Love — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

      However, you should never forget that Sufism is considered most unislamic by many Muslim theologians.

      Yes, the same Muslim theologians who have built careers on fatwas of “little more than an endless, obsessive/compulsive treadmill of purity rituals” that you complained so bitterly about.

      Have. Eat. Cake. Too.

    49. Sid Love — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

      She was tall, beautiful, leggy and looked great on the Twister mat. He was fat, awkward and moribund and shit in bed.

    50. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:27 pm  

      He’ll probably have another model or bimbo on his arm soon Kismet.

      It might even mean he writes something good for once. Although I doubt it. Everytime I see Rushdie nowadays he seems to be gesticulating from a stage like some bloated literary Hindenburg or Zeppelin out of control, bloated and farting with excess helium, flying between international writers conferences in London and New York, wagging his finger at everyone and smooching with beer bellied bigots like Martin Amis and warmongering popinjays like Christopher Hitchens.

      He’s just not a very good writer since Bradford turned on him.

    51. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

      That’s my dream Sid. It’s my nightmare. It’s like a snail crawling along the edge of a straight razor stuff

    52. Kismet Hardy — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:30 pm  

      Jagdeep, don’t go spoiling my dream by bringing ‘good writer’ into it.

      I’m writing one designed to cause controversy. They’ll burn it without reading it. Book sales go up. I’m in Aruba drinking sangrias with supermodels spinning on my dick

      (If this actually happens, by the way, don’t tell the fundos I’ll be in Aruba. Tell them Peckham or sommat)

    53. Jagdeep — on 13th April, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

      I’m ordering my copy from Amazon now.

      Are you watching, Nirpal Dhaliwal?

    54. bananabrain — on 13th April, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

      what can be said about rowan williams can pretty much also be said about jonathan sacks. religiously speaking, a visionary liberal, reasonable, humane, common-sensical and, moreover, eloquent and urbane, with a philosophically robust approach and vocabulary and a mellifluous voice that would melt the heart of the hardest atheist.

      on the other hand, he is, politically, speaking a huge weasel in a cassock - and in that, he only differs from sacks in terms of the uniform. both of them are superb thinkers and scholars and both of them are thought leaders who are entirely unsuitable for political leadership, which could indeed be why they were picked in the first place. neither has any real power other than to be blamed for what goes wrong on their watch as the real radicals and conservatives tear into each other whilst they appear to look on from the sidelines wringing their hands uselessly. this makes them look, as someone pointed out above, equivocal and incoherent. sacks was most famously caught out in the “hugo gryngate” case, where he was found on one hand praising hugo gryn for his humanity and on the other hand writing a letter to the ultra-beardy-nutters calling him a heretic. that’s never been forgotten in some quarters for all that his heart’s in the right place.

      @soso:

      Jesus is the point, if you like, at which Hebrew theology is “marketed” to mankind. Both are complementary and both dovetail perfectly.

      if judaism stands on its own - which it does - it cannot be complementary. it certainly doesn’t dovetail with christianity, that’s for sure.

      Islam is little more than misread Christianity, one that adds on an extra load of prayers and that owes much to the hertetical Nestorianism rampant in the M.E. just prior to Mohammed’s birth. To the extend it has both Hebrew and Christian prophets it is *true*. To the extent it expropriates and twists meanings present in Judeo-Christian scriptures in the service of selfish and ultilitarian ends, it is invalid.

      i think this is an extraordinarily tendentious statement. it is my experience of islam that the legal paradigm through which it develops itself is both robust and human-facing. islam is, in practical terms, very similar to judaism, in that it is primarily concerned with correct behaviour (including ethics, social justice and fair government) rather than theological abstractions, such as the nature of christ and the trinity, as much of christianity has historically done. you wouldn’t get away with such a statement on an interfaith dialogue board ( please feel free to join us at http://www.comparative-religion.com ) nor do i think you should attempt to do so here. the same goes with the rest of this laughable critique.

      @sonia:

      dangoor, eh?

      ah, the self-styled resha galuta runs his own magazine, “the scribe” - although you don’t need him to see that most people agree that islam and judaism are far more similar than christianity.

      can it not be accepted that one may ponder on metaphysical issues without ‘being inside’ a religion per se?

      it jolly well should be. any strain of religion that rejects philosophy inevitably ends up being obscurantist.

      @sunny:

      if you want more bells and whistles, maybe try the Pentecostal churches? They’re seeing a huge upsurge in popularity.

      let’s not get confused here. people like to pray in the way they like to pray. they also like the theology they like. they also like the policy and practice they like. now, sadly, the more vibrant, fun and/or traditional the prayer bit is, the more hidebound and illiberal the theology and practice tends to be. my solution: decouple it and don’t worry about hypocrisy. i prefer to pray in the most traditional iraqi synagogues, the tunes are better, everyone’s into it, it goes at the right pace and it *feels* “right”. on the other hand, the education can be somewhat talibanesque at times and the politics are usually confined to someone getting up and blackguarding arabs for 15 seconds and hey presto, that’s your sermon - although i am not entirely serious about that. it’s not what you’d call egalitarian, modern or forward-thinking but it is a lot less dull than the pullover-wearing, deadly serious, po-faced liberalism of the “progressive” movements or the awkward happy-clappiness (urgh, english ashkenazis trying to dance chasidically!) of the carlebach style or the overblown ceremonial silliness of the united synagogue. however, all the cool brain stuff is happening in the latter and most of the social justice and ethical tuff is happening outside of orthodoxy - but then again, you have to go to the traditional sephardim or ultra-orthodox for anything that is bona fide kabbalistic. rather than deriding it as “cafeteria” or “postmodern” judaism, just take it as judaism and find a way to do it that works for you. and the same applies to christianity and islam. you may like “smells and bells” or gospel singing but that doesn’t mean you have to be rotten to gay people.

      @soso again:

      It’s gotten to the point where Anglican Vicars know all about global warming, gitmo, American oppression and the plight of the working class, but stutter and stammer when attempting to recite routine prayers they should have known by heart years ago…..and this in front of the whole congregation.

      the same is true in certain parts of judaism, just as i am also familiar with the synagogues where every manifestation of anti-israel bias and anti-semitism is discussed with horror, but i hear people talking in most uncomplimentary terms about non-jewish people, or manifestations of homophobia or islamophobia go unchallenged, unless i want to make a scene, which i don’t always feel i want to do.

      and, soso, climate change is not ephemeral, certainly not in judaism. we have a principle known as “baal tashchit” which covers wanton destruction of natural resources under the rubric of fruit-trees in a time of war. this gives the status of Divine commandment to the question of saving the planet and all that - something which is conspicuously absent from much traditional religious thought including ours.

      @Ms_XtReMe:

      All three major religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are more or less one and the same. That is if you go by the Old Testament

      this is such unmitigated nonsense i should be surprised to see it, but unfortunately i’m not. for goodness’ sake try and do something about your staggering ignorance.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    55. Soso — on 13th April, 2007 at 5:47 pm  

      and, soso, climate change is not ephemeral, certainly not in judaism. we have a principle known as “baal tashchit” which covers wanton destruction of natural resources under the rubric of fruit-trees in a time of war. this gives the status of Divine commandment to the question of saving the planet and all that

      I’d heard something about that before.

      I guess in Christianity there’s a certain equivalence (for animals, anyways) with the example of St Francis of Assisi.

      YOu’re right about liberal congregations, BB. They talk about everything except religion.

      What I find worrisome is that moderates in just about every religion these days have far fewer children than those of a more fundamentalist bent. What will happen in 20 or 30 years? Will those fundamentalists move into the void and highjack theology for their own obscuritantist ends?

      Anyways, back to Rowan Williams. The fella is a good guy. I’m sure I’d enjoy listening to his lectures because their content is no doubt relevant to what people ( including me) are feeling and experiencing on a daily basis. The fact remains, though, that he’s got to get out into the world and press the flesh a bit more and encouraged people to rediscover their Anglican heritage.

      You know, it was the Anglicans, along with the Lutherans, who saved Christianity by putting the Catholic Church in its place at a time when that had to absolutely be done.

      So even though I’m Catholic, I find there’s a great deal to celebrate in the Protestant Reformation.

    56. William — on 14th April, 2007 at 10:45 am  

      bb

      I agree with what you say about Johnathon Sacks, he is in a similar vein to Williams. I have often seen him speaking on the Heavan and Earth show on Sunday mornings and occasionally on other programmes newspapers etc. Sometimes when he talks he seems so broadly humanist it is difficult to know whether he belongs to any religion at all.

    57. soru — on 14th April, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

      both of them are superb thinkers and scholars and both of them are thought leaders who are entirely unsuitable for political leadership

      I think the technical term for that is ‘Michael Foot Syndrome’.

    58. Anna — on 15th April, 2007 at 6:39 pm  

      I’m not sure I understand the coherence of a group of people claiming that organized religions are exclusionary (especially within the context of a thread about an inclusive bishop), and then going on to mock, dismiss, and condescend to, all religions with one brush. How is this bullying ok? How is that setting an example of how to be inclusive? And on a site that is meant to encourage cross-cultural discussion?

    59. Joe90 — on 15th April, 2007 at 7:37 pm  

      I convey this message to you whom I have stirred with the sound of my voice. These words are my signature. You may bring your doubt, your fear, your faith, or your courage; it matters not, for you will be touched by the rhythm of my voice. It moves through you like a beam of light that sweeps - if only for a moment - the darkness aside.

      I dwell in a frequency of light in which finite beings cannot uncover me. If you search for me, you will fail. I am not found or discovered. I am only realized in oneness, unity, and wholeness. It is the very same oneness you feel when you are interconnected with all of life, for I am this and this alone. I am all of life. If you must search for me, then practice the feeling of wholeness and unity.

      In my deepest light I created you from my desire to understand my universe. You are my emissaries. You are free to journey the universe of universes as particles from my infinite womb with destinies that you alone will write. I do not prescribe your journey, or your journey’s aim. I only accompany you. I do not pull you this way or that, nor do I punish you when you stray from my heart. This I do as an outcome of my belief in you.

      You are the heirs of my light, which gave you form. It is my voice that awakened you to individuality, but it will be your will that awakens you to our unity. It is your desire to know me as your self that brings you to my presence so perfectly hidden from your world. I am behind everything that you see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel, and believe.

      I live for your discovery of me. It is my highest expression of my love for you, and while you search for my shadows in the stories of your world, I, the indelible, invisible light, grow increasingly visible. Imagine the furthest point in space - beneath a black portal, cast in some distant galaxy, and then multiply this distance by the highest numeric value you know.

      Congratulations, you have measured an atom of my body.

      Do you realize how I am unfathomable? I am not what you can know, or see, or understand. I am outside comprehension. My vastness makes me invisible and unavoidable. There is nowhere you can be without me. My absence does not exist. It is this very nature that makes me unique. I am First Cause and Last Effect connected in an undivided chain.

      There is no supplication that stirs me. No prayer that invites me further into your world unless it is attended with the feeling of unity and wholeness. There is no temple or sacred object that touches me. They do not, nor have they ever brought you closer to my outstretched hand.

      My presence in your world is unalterable for I am the sanctuary of both the cosmos and the one soul inside you.

      I could awaken each of you in this very moment to our unity, but there is a larger design - a more comprehensive vision - that places you in the boundaries of time and the spatial dimensions of separateness. The design requires a progression into my wholeness that reacquaints you with our unity through the experience of separation. Your awakening, while slow and sometimes painful, is assured, and this you must trust above all else.

      I am the ancestral father of all creation. I am a personality that lives inside each of you as a vibration that emanates from all parts of your existence. I reside in this dimension as your beacon. If you follow this vibration, if you place it at the core of your journey, you will contact my personality that lives beneath the particles of your existence.

      I am not to be feared or held in indifference. You are my blessed offspring with whom I am intricately connected in means that you cannot understand and therefore appreciate. You must suspend your belief and disbelief in what you cannot sense, in exchange for your knowledge that I am alive and real within you. This is my central message to all my offspring.

      Hear it well, for in it you may find the place in which I dwell.

    60. Refresh — on 15th April, 2007 at 7:46 pm  

      Anna

      “How is that setting an example of how to be inclusive? And on a site that is meant to encourage cross-cultural discussion?”

      Its not. It thrives because it thinks it is.

      Stay around long enough and you’ll get into the swing of it.

    61. Ramiie — on 15th April, 2007 at 7:49 pm  

      So homosex, so long is consensual, is blessed sex. I wonder is Rowan Williams really believes that?

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