Sunday, April 21, 2024

Good Shepherd/Baaad Shepherd

This Sunday is called Good Shepherd Sunday and the reading from John 10:11-18 says it all,

‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’

Back in 2012 I re-wrote the parable of the good shepherd to describe the baaaad shepherd,

You have in your flock many sheep. When you discover one missing, which one of you does not go out in search of the missing sheep? Which one of you, when you find that the lost sheep has discovered its authentic self as a pig, and is happiest when wallowing in mud, does not say, "Let me bring the rest of the flock here so that they too may wallow in the mud"? And when he has done so, he calls his neighbors, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found that sheep prefer to be pigs, and are happiest when they can wallow in the mire. Join us." Just so, that which was once considered sinful may now be considered blessed. (UP 7:11/12a)
I didn't think my modern parable would hold up very well so I added a follow up to the inevitable question, "Teacher explain this parable to us."
Do not do as this shepherd has done. For the owner of the sheep will come at sheep shearing time. Noticing that there are but few sheep in His pasture,  He sets out searching for the shepherd. Then the owner will find what appear to be pigs wallowing raucously in another man's sty and the lost shepherd watching over them. "They do look happy," the owner thinks, "But this is not the pure spring of water in which I had intended for them to bathe." And then He calls them, but because of their squeals of pleasure, they can not hear Him, and they can not follow His voice. He will then seek out the remnants of His flock that stayed in His pasture. I tell you, there will be more tears in heaven over the lost sheep and the lost shepherd than all the tears shed by man shed over all of time. (UP 7:11/12b) 

Sigh... this explanation will probably be rejected by various scholars as the work of some later redactor because modern studies have shown that sheep really are happiest when you let them wallow in the mire.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Meanwhile in Australia: You won't hear about this on NPR

The stabbing of a bishop in Australia may have been carried out by a Muslim teen. First the story from SkyNews,

"A Western Sydney church stabbing allegedly by a teenage boy that left a Christian priest and bishop injured has been classified as a 'terrorist attack' by police. Assyrian church leader Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was allegedly set upon by a 16-year-old boy armed with a knife on Monday just after 7pm as he delivered his sermon at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the suburb of Wakeley, near Fairfield."

"NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb told reporters on Tuesday morning the teen allegedly turned up at the church armed with a 'possibly a flick knife' and allegedly stabbed the priest and bishop who have since undergone surgery for deep cuts."

"'We’ll allege there’s a degree of premeditation on the basis this person has travelled to that location, which is not near his residential address, he has travelled with a knife, and subsequently the bishop and the priest have been stabbed,' she said. Investigators believe at this stage the boy acted alone. NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb on Tuesday morning said after “consideration of all the material” of evidence she had to declared it a 'terrorist incident'." 

Next some commentary by Bill Meuhlenberg at CultureWatch,

"It is said that the boy was upset, believing the Bishop insulted ‘the Prophet’ – Muhammad. It is also reported that he yelled Allahu Akbar as he attacked the Wakeley Bishop. More details will be forthcoming on all this, but it is a huge concern that radicalised teens are involved in jihad attacks like this.

While it is still early on, and more information is needed..."

This story will probably be ignored by American media outlets such as NPR just as they ignore the persecution and murder of Christians happening daily in the rest of the world.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

Resurrection Appearances: Walking Cadaver?

 In today's reading from Luke 24:36-48, we see what happed after Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

 Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

 I once had a philosophy professor leading a Sunday morning discussion group who challenged me for believing in a "walking cadaver". I should have challenged him for believing that he could lead a church group.

Jesus' appearances were convincing enough for the apostles to give up their lives for believing that he was truly the risen Lord, and that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Meanwhile in France

As hate speech laws march across western civilization, yet another incident has occurred. This time a French priest is under investigation, 

From the Christian Post,

 A French government official has called for the prosecution of a Roman Catholic priest over a video he posted to social media describing homosexual inclinations as "a weakness" that must be fought like any other sin.

Father Matthieu Raffray, 45, posted the video to his more than 60,000 Instagram followers on March 15, admonishing them to resist their sinful weaknesses, including homosexuality among them.

"We all have weaknesses: those who are greedy, those who are angry, those who have homosexual tendencies!" Raffray said in the incriminating video, according to French Catholic media outlet Famille Chrétienne.

He is in line with the Bible and with Roman Catholic teaching both of which run afoul of hate speech laws. 

I must be tight lipped the next time I travel to France. 

Sunday, April 07, 2024

On Distributing Alms

This Sunday's reading from Acts 4:32-35 illustrates how the early Church handled the needy in their ranks,

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Recall that in Acts 2:44-47 we learned that the believers still had houses,

All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home (or from house to house) and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

In our church there is a small box in an inconspicuous place with the word "Alms" written on it. We also have a "Rector's discretionary fund" line item in our books. We use this mostly for non-members who approach the rector with specific needs. Our rector is usually quite careful about screening and dealing with these people, but keeping track of the money has been an issue raised by our Bishop. I can see how a ten or a twenty could easily be "misplaced". One option would be to stop handing out cash to the needy and instead write a check. Most of the needy would use a check cashing company that would take a substantial cut. Another option would be to stop handing out money and just offer food and clothing from our food bank and clothes closet. The last option would be to limit cash hand outs and to record the names of those to whom the alms are given. We are planning on the third option, and we shall make the alms box more visible. 


Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Before You Eat That Chocolate Rabbit....

 Over at Mercator to my horror I discovered that the chocolate Easter bunny that I have been enjoying should now make me feel guilty.

If you’re white and you buy your children chocolate eggs to eat this Easter, aren't you training them to become infant white supremacists? This question is so incredibly stupid that it could only be posed by someone with a PhD. 
Sad to say, even chocolate has now been tarred with the brush of “white supremacism” – at least according to the Harvard African and African-American Studies (AAAS) module E119, “Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food”. This subject at Harvard Extension School, a continuing education division at the University, now appears to have been discontinued. But its legacy lives on in high-school lesson plans. 
Looking up the course’s content online, it would appear to be entirely free of any known nutrients, intellectually speaking. Particularly notable is the warning to students with chocolate allergies that the course does involve eating chocolate, especially in “Unit 4: Eating Chocolate”. 
As useful as a chocolate teapot 
How can chocolate be racist? You would have to ask Carla D. Martin, PhD, the designer of the course in question, founder of the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute, which bills itself as “a scholar-led research organisation that seeks to reduce information asymmetry in the cacao and chocolate value chain.” What does this actually mean? Having spent some time looking through their extensive website, I’m none the wiser. 
I suppose this is why I never managed to get into Harvard.

Thank the Lord that I never applied to Harvard.

Like last week's post, Mick Jagger had better not perform "Brown Sugar" at Harvard.

Excuse me as I bite off one of my chocolate rabbit's ears.

Do I feel guilty now?


Sunday, March 31, 2024

He is Risen

Happy Easter everyone, and this is why we are happy:

 This performance of Mark Chapter 16 by Max McLean recounts the resurrection of Jesus. McLean's Fellowship for Performing Arts is the group that has created plays featuring the life and works of C.S. Lewis. 

Tell the world the good news!