Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Big Tent Church, or is it a Pup Tent?

H/T Anglican Samizdat for posting on a Canadian Anglican church that has handed its building over to a circus.

"An acrobat dangles from the rafters of a 150-year-old church while a lightshow paints the altar in blue, pink and yellow lights.
Call it a leap of faith.
This was the first show of Le Monastère — the monastery, in English — a circus cabaret show held inside a downtown Montreal church.
Le Monastère has partnered with the Anglican church of St. Jax — and it could be the first agreement of its kind.
'It's been a fantastic joy to see for the first time, we believe, a circus company permanently installed in an active, consecrated church,' said Rev. Graham Singh, incumbent pastor at St. Jax.
With lagging attendance and surging maintenance bills, churches in Quebec and elsewhere have struggled to stay afloat.
Singh's three-year mission with St. Jax has included not only keeping the old, creaky church standing, but also redefining what it is to be a church in a downtown core."
Is this the fate in store for the progressive Church? I am trying to think of worse things that could befall a church, such as selling it to Muslims in order for it to be stripped of its cross and converted into a mosque which is what happened to Matt Kennedy's church back in 2010.

In days gone by, Episcopalians used to claim that they are a "big tent" Church. This was supposed to mean that they embraced a wide variety of theological opinions like those of Bishops Spong and Gene Robinson, and a wide range of practices like solstice worship services, labyrinths, clown eucharists, same sex marriages, and transsexual priests. Their tent was not big enough to accommodate non-revisionists or anyone who opposed the progressive agenda. As a result, the big tent has shrunken to the size of a pup tent as fewer and fewer people are buying tickets for the show.

The Anglican Church of Canada has been in a race to the bottom with the Episcopalians having given up on Biblical norms for many years now.

I may need to make an addition to the Revisionist Dictionary: Revised and Re-visioned Edition.
Church: a place to see clowns and bearded ladies launching untamed theology into empty pews.
So St. Jax hasn't really changed by openly declaring itself to be a circus.

"The ringmaster has altered, but the circus remains the same." -Baron Ashdown

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Imitate Paul?

This week's reading from Paul's letter to the Philippians 3:17-4:1 presents the marked contrast between the enemies of the cross of Christ and believers in Jesus,
 "Brothers, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to his glorious body, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved."
Paul first encourages us to imitate him. If we were to do that today, what do you think society would have to say to us? The world today would condemn Paul as a misogynistic, homophobic, right wing religious nut job. In some countries he would be charged with "hate speech" and threatened with jail time, which would be nothing new to him. The world appears to reject Paul, and it stands in marked contrast to his way of life. Are we prepare to stand firm in the Lord like he did? When we refuse to imitate him, are we not standing on the shifting sands of political correctness in opposition to Christ?

It does not pay in the long run to oppose Jesus. Follow Him and you will be transformed as Paul rightfully asserts.

If only the world would listen.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

College Classes Today: Sex, Gender, Social Justice, and Zombies

Young America’s Foundation (YAF) has produced a report, Comedy & Tragedy, to “document the intellectual abuse and flat-out indoctrination happening by way of the appalling curriculum at our country’s most (so-called) prestigious institutions of higher education.”

I have selected a few of the courses being offered to our children to illustrate the trouble we are in for.

Ohio State University:
ANTHROP 3334—Zombies: The Anthropology of the Undead
Students will understand how culture and social organization help us define the living, the dead and the undead in the contemporary and archaeological record... 
University of Wisconsin:
GENWS 536—Queering Sexuality Education
Situates sexual health education in historical and contemporary context by tracing its
discursive production and envisioning a queering of both content and practice. An examination of what might it mean to queer sex education and what would a queer sex education look like. Utilizing theoretical interventions from critical education studies, queer theory, and trans/gender studies, this course... 
Swarthmore College:
RELG 032—Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology
The God of the Bible and later Jewish and Christian literature is distinctively masculine,
definitely male. Or is He? If we can point out places in traditional writings where God is
nurturing, forgiving, and loving, does that mean that God is feminine, or female? This course examines feminist and queer writings about God, explores the tensions between feminist and queer theology, and seeks to stretch the limits of gendering-and sexing-the divine. Key themes include: gender; embodiment; masculinity; liberation; sexuality; feminist and queer theory.
RELG 033—Queering the Bible
This course surveys the queer and trans readings of biblical texts. It introduces students to the complexity of constructions of sex, gender, and identity in one of the most influential literary works produced in ancient times. By reading the Bible with the methods of queer and trans theoretical approaches, this class destabilizes the long held assumptions about the Bible—and religion—says about gender and sexuality. 
Middlebury College
AMST 0269—Beyond Intersectionality: Developing Anti-Racist and Anti-Capitalist
Nearly thirty years ago, Kimberlé Crenshaw published the theory of “intersectionality,” in which she argued that racism and sexism collide to make black women’s marginalization distinct from those of both white women and black men (1989). Today, the terms “intersectionality” and “intersectional feminism” are ubiquitous, utilized by scholars, activists, artists, and our students. In this course, we will consider how discourse of and ideas about intersectionality move between and among spaces of dissent. Starting from the position that it is more epistemologically and politically powerful to state that our feminist is anti-racist and anticapitalist than to say say “intersectional,” we will address the following questions: What are the benefits and limits of the original theory of intersectionality? How are academic and activist
approaches alike both emboldened and limited by intersectionality? What does it mean to be socially and politically conscious, and how do we move from consciousness to action in ways that are not siloed? Texts may include Crenshaw’s “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women” (1989) and Ange-Marie Hancocks’s “Intersectionality: An Intellectual History” (2016).
AMST 0325—American Misogyny
In this course we will explore the place of misogyny in U.S. media and politics. Early topics will include film noir, Cold War gender scapegoating, and lesbian pulp fiction. Subsequent topics will include the backlash against second-wave feminism, the rise of “post-feminism,” and the impact of reality TV and social media on feminist and anti-feminist expression. We will conclude by examining how misogyny informs U.S. culture and politics in the Trump era. Throughout the course, we will consider how discourses of misogyny are inflected by white, cisgender, ableist, agist, and class privilege.  
Villanova University:
PHI 2430—Eco-Feminism
Basic positions in eco-feminism as they relate to the philosophical and religious traditions of the West. 
Cornell University:
ENGL 3725—Femininity as Masquerade
“One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one” wrote Simone de Beauvoir. How does such an odd becoming happen? What can literature teach us about it? Does anyone ever achieve “being a women” and how do we (“we”??) survive always falling short of the implicit ideal? We will think about the power afforded by receptivity, passivity, bottoming, emotionality and openness, whether or not these are enacted by people born, designated or living as female. What are some of the dimensions of femininity’s diversity, even in the United States, today? This course is intimately informed by intersectional queer, women of color and trans* perspectives, which will be at the center of our inquiry. It will cover film, literature, personal essays and gender theory.
GOVT 2817—America Confronts the World
Donald Trump and Barack Obama give us two visions of America and of the world: xenophobic nationalism and pragmatic cosmopolitanism. America and the world are thus constituted by great diversity. The first half of the course seeks to understand that diversity in American politics and foreign policy viewed through the prisms of region, ideology, region, race, class and religion. The second half inquires into the U.S. and American engagement of different world regions and civilizations: Europe, Russia, North America, Latin America, China, Japan, India and the Middle East. U.S. hard power and American soft power finds expression in farreaching processes of American-infused globalization and U.S.-centered anti-Americanism reverberating around the world. Advocates of one-size-fits-all solutions to America’s and the world’s variegated politics are in for great disappointments.
FRIT 37.05—Black Queer & Trans Futures: An Experiment
Engaging with the histories and present realities of colonial dispossession, racial violence and cisheteropatriarchy on campus and beyond, we will collaboratively craft visions of alternative futures. Drawing on critical theory and speculative fiction from Haiti, Martinique, Cameroon, US and beyond, our goal will be to challenge our current order, chart how we move past it, and imagine what liberatory futures lie beyond. This experience will culminate in a staged reading directed and performed by professionals.
I could fisk each and every one of these courses, but the overall picture is so depressingly laughable that I think you will find that fisking is not necessary.

And to think that rich celebrities are paying out huge bribes to send their kids to some of these schools.

I think I will develop a course for our University entitled, "Finding the depressingly laughable in your university course catalog".

I bet that class would have to be held in a large auditorium.

Just call me Professor Pewster from now on (a wonderfully gender neutral moniker don't you think?).

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Literal Devil

The reading for the first Sunday in Lent is from Luke 4:1-13 in which Jesus is tempted by the devil,
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ’
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,“Worship the Lord your God,   and serve only him.” ’
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,“He will command his angels concerning you,   to protect you”, and“On their hands they will bear you up,   so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. 
I once had an Episcopal priest who from the pulpit said, "We don't believe in a literal devil." One of my friends stood up and said, "I do!" and walked out in the middle of the sermon never to return.

The rest of the congregation shook the priest's hand and thanked him as they left after the service was over.

I went out the side door.

Among Christians, belief in a literal Satan or the Devil is waning.

From a Barna survey taken in 2009,
"Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan."
I suppose many of those Christians who do not believe in the existence of Satan may have come under the influence of a revisionist preacher like mine. They also are probably not studying their Bibles.

From's article on Satanology,

"...Satan is not just an evil, impersonal influence, but a very real person, a fallen angel with supernatural powers.
...To reject the reality or existence of Satan is to reject the Bible as God’s inspired and infallible revelation to man. As God’s Word, the Bible is comprehensive in its teaching about the reality of Satan or the devil. His existence is taught from Genesis to Revelation. Seven Old Testament books teach his existence (Genesis, 1 Chronicles, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah) and every New Testament writer refers to his reality and activity as a personal being. More importantly, Christ also affirmed the fact of Satan and his activity as a personal being.
In twenty-five of the twenty-nine passages in the Gospels which speak of Satan, our Lord is speaking. In some of those passages there can be no question of Christ’s accommodating His teaching to the crowd’s supposed ignorance or faulty concepts of Satan due to Persian dualism. Notice especially passages like Matthew 13:39; Luke 10:18; and 11:18.3...
...The devil and demons are never presented as independent forces in opposition to God, but as beings created by God who fell from their original place of glory." 
I always thought that if the devil was real enough for Jesus, the devil is real enough for me. Ignore Jesus at your own risk.
1 Peter 5:8-9  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Giving Up Cynicism For Lent? Not me!

I grew up in a largely Roman Catholic community, and every year about this time the neighborhood kids would ask me what I was going to give up for Lent. Usually it was something like potato chips or sodas. Whatever I chose typically wound up like a New Year's resolution, a promise never kept. 

As I grew older and wiser, I learned that I was supposed to give up something that was keeping me apart from God. Okay, I thought, I will give up television, or movies, the computer, or some other distraction.

Then I had a priest who said that Lent was all about getting ready for Easter. That gave me a free pass for a couple of years.

Then, one year I fasted instead of eating lunch, closed the office door and spent the time I would ordinarily be spending with my business associates praying. I almost made it the full 40 days that time, but I was a little weak on prayer.

This year, The Archbishop of Canterbury has a suggestion: "Giving up cynicism".

The Archbishop of Canterbury's urged fellow leaders in the Church of England to give up cynicism for Lent and to show more love towards those they disagree with.
Speaking at the start of a meeting by General Synod, Most Rev Justin Welby admitted members disagree on issues such as "inclusion".
He said: "As we journey towards Lent some of you may be considering what you might give up during the penitential season.
"I urge you to consider especially as members of General Synod giving up cynicism and renewing love for those with whom you and I differ."
Cynical me thought, "That will never work."

I think I will go back to giving up lunch and try to do a better job of praying.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

This Sunday the Transfiguration of Jesus comes around in Luke 9:28-43,

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen;* listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
When Moses and Elijah were talking of Jesus' departure, the Greek text uses the word "exodos". This makes me think of the exodus that Moses led out of Egypt. Jesus leads us out of our bondage into the land that he has promised us, "paradise".  

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

"In the absence of vertical transcendence they turn to horizontal transcendence", No, that's not what you think

Over at Crisis Magazine, James Kalb had some interesting thoughts in his, "When Concerns for Peripheries Eclipse Interest in the Sacred Other". There may a subtle double-entendre in the quotation I lifted for the title of today's blog spot, but ignoring that, it points to the difference between the two major world views competing for our world,
"But progressive politics, however convinced of its rectitude, has a problem as a substitute for religion. If everything is this-worldly, and things are what we make them, then transcendence—that which is greater than us—doesn’t exist. This means something essential is missing, because there’s nothing to worship. Without some higher reference point the whole effort becomes simply a field for the exercise of power.
That won’t do, so people look for an escape, and in the absence of vertical transcendence they turn to horizontal transcendence. The Holy, we are sometimes told, is that which is Wholly Other. In a horizontal world there is no such thing, so we look for that which is as different from ourselves as possible. The result is the religion not of the Wholly Other but of the Holy Other. 'Love God, and your neighbor as yourself” becomes 'love as divine the person who’s as different as possible.'"
"Loving as divine the person who's as different as possible" certainly helps explain society's fascination, and worship, of all things LGBTetc. Those who do so have lost all sense of vertical transcendence, an ideal that serious Christians should understand. The knowledge of the presence of a transcendent God and Savior shapes our thoughts, our actions, and world view.

We need to see who in our lives is living in a horizontal world, worshiping the "wholly other" and not the "Holy Other" and show them that there is another way if they would only take the time to look up.