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Showing posts from August, 2010

Aahhh... The Good Old Days....

There is a myth so dear to most Christians that we have developed various versions of it to comfort ourselves with. It goes like this: Once upon a time the Church was perfect. Unfortunately in [A] [B] happened and things have never been the same since. For [A] substitute some date in the dim and distant past. If you don't know the date, a vague nod in the general direction of some past century or other will do. For [B] substitute the name of whatever it was that ruined things. A helpful list follows: * the fall of Jerusalem * the end of the New Testament era * the Apostle Paul * the suppression of the Gospel of Thomas * the Reformation * Vatican 2 * Sunday sports * Constantine * St. Augustine The last two are particularly popular as villains because they each mark significant turning points in the development of the Church, very few people are as knowledgeable about them as they give the impression of being, and it's not difficult to find incriminating proof texts


The flight from Dunedin left early so I was up at 5 and driving to the airport in the dark and wet. Wellington was cloudy and Auckland, when I arrived slightly misty and, by Dunedin standards, warm, but that doesn't seem to stop the wimpy locals banging on about how chilly it is. I picked up my bargain basement rental car- an aging Nissan Sunny with the performance and handling of a slug negotiating a plate of porridge- and navigated my way across the city with surprisingly little bother. With an hour to kill before the powhiriri I found a cafe near the Orakei basin and bought a large and good and inexpensive latte. I sat and looked out at the streets around which, 35 years ago, I had jogged with a pair of adidas on my feet and a pained but determined expression on my face. This was a neighbourhood near which I had lived during that period in my life when I had first been truly happy, and now it was at once familiar to me and as foreign as Honolulu or Beirut. Through long reme

The Day Thou Gavest Lord has Ended

I look at the date at the top of my last post and realize how long it was since I put anything on here. There's a reason for that. There are in fact a dozen reasons for that and I can't mention one of them. In the parish I dealt with people's life issues on a daily basis and was trusted to share their struggles and concerns and joys and pleasures. Once in a while, maybe once every couple of months or so, there would be something big; I would be invited into one of those issues which, when the narrative of that person's existence was told, that event would have a place in the story. Sharing those issues was both compelling and draining, requiring me to plumb the limits of my reserves of empathy and understanding, but also invigorating me with fresh insights into the workings of us, peculiar, sentient islands of consciousness that we are. Now, in this office into which the Holy Spirit has, for bizarre and obscure reasons called me, I share such moments on an almost dail

Atheist Delusions: Another book review

In Beirut airport there is a smallish bookstore containing a smallish English language section, containing a few John Grisham novels, some travelogues, a good number of books on Islam and this: Atheist Delusions, The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies , by David Bentley Hart. I bought it immediately, and discovered at this point that my Visa card was still in an ATM back in Ashrifiyeh, but that is another story. I started to read the book on the plane and discovered a new hero. David Bentley Hart is an Orthodox (note the capital)theologian of immense erudition, intellectual capacity and wit. I have now ordered some of his other works, but this one proved to be a great way to fill the long hours drifting above the clouds. His way of dealing with the challenge of the new Atheism is one I warm to immensely. I have long known that the best way of dealing with Atheist splutter is to use their own non-arguments against them ( I used to be an atheist but in my early twenties