Thinking about Paul and ad hominem dismissals
Sunday's readings were from the first letter to the Corinthians (4:3-6). I was impressed that Paul spoke to me. The message I heard was simple: listen to the message, not the messenger. We should avoid the ad hominem
dismissal of someone's message because we think of them as a nutbag. Whether it's Rev. Jerry Falwell or Bishop John Shelby Spong, we must be open to whatever truths are revealed. Everyone, Paul points out, is flawed.
I was also reminded during the Creed that we, as Christians, are members of a catholic, or univeral, church. I've listened to Louis Farrakhan and I can actually appreciate his message for the first ten minutes or so. We need to listen for the voice of God, no matter what the source.
There were three baptisms at Church this morning. We're using a different form for them, with a supplement to the Bulletin, so there is no need to pick up a BCP. It seems like every time I witness a baptism, I think about what it will mean to baptize our child, should we be so blessed. Custom dictates infant baptism, and I've wondered if that's appropriate. I don't have a problem taking away the choice of my child in this matter. My child will have lots of choices made on his or her behalf. I wonder how much sin an infant can have. Not really believing in "original sin," I don't think there is something fundamentally evil or sinful about being human that needs to be washed away. Baptism for me is more of a way of life. I don't mean that I want to be batpized over and over again. I believe in one Baptism, namely Christian baptism. As Fr. John said in the sermon today, we are not baptized into a denomination, but into the Christian faith. Baptism, the ritual washing and annointing, is a one shot ceremony. Baptism, Living in it, is a way of life, a contanst redirection towards God. I don't believe that my baptism shields me from anything. To me, it means that my parents promised to raise me as a Christian, and I suppose that's what it will really come down to with my children. Having my child baptized wil be my promise to raise him or her in the Church.
Following up with a quick re-read of Joel, the book Robertson quoted in his condemnation of Sharon. Joel's complaint about breaking up the holy land is directed towards outsiders who conquer Judah and Israel and sell the kids into slavery. As much as I'd like to see Robertson completely misquote the Bible (just to show his true colors) I don't think I can state that he misquoted the Bible. It's possible to read Joel's judgement against foreigners and apply the point (keep the Holy Land whole) to Israel's leaders. However, Roberston is still wrong on:
- Using one man's medical tragedy to make a political statement against that man
- Limiting God to a single place
Just when things look bad, Robertson makes things worse
My God, how can a 21st century preacher say this? How can he look in the camera and say God strikes down people who cut up God's land. Maybe Robertson hasn't figured it out yet, but the entire universe is God's
! All is God's, we are merely stewards of Creation. God cannot be confined to a tiny scrap of land in the middle east. Christians just shouldn't listen to Robertson, the only thing out of his mouth that I consider trustworthy is "God bless you."
I hope you all have a silly solstice
I've been thinking about Christmas. Naturally. It is, after all, the fourth week of Advent. Today's gospel reading started "in the sixth month..." of the year, I'm assuming, and Mary was visited in the sixth month, and presumably, started her sacred pregnancy. So, if there are twelve months in the year, then Jesus was born in the third month of the year, and I think the year started near the Vernal Equinox. Of course, the tales of shepherds in the fields hearing the announcement of the birth of Christ is probably not something that would happen in the middle of winter, yet here we are, in the middle of winter, celebrating the birth of Christ.
I does make sense. Most religions have some sort of idea that the Sun represents,or is controlled by, some god or natural spirit, but the Sun has a personality which must be appeased. The clockwatchers could see the days getting shorter, the nights longer, colder, wilder, more uncertain. Despite the evidence of their memories they couldn't escape the belief that the Sun would one year decide not to come back.
Of course, Christianity does not ascribe a personality to the sun. No angel is charged with carrying it across the heavens. It was put in place by God during creation. The sun is a thing in the Christian worldview. So what do Christians do about watching their neighbors celebrating the return of the sun? They trump all the celebrations by moving the Celebration of the Birth of Christ to the date of the Solstice. The world is dark, sin (for the Christian worldview) is growing. The days were dark, Jerusalem, the City of God, was under the thumb of the Romans, and yet, when things were looking bad, God brought Light into the world. What other day is more appropriate?