Sunday, January 07, 2007

Things I Appreciate

Honesty - it's a good thing.

Take this morning's sermon. The passage being preached on was a most difficult one, Ist Corinthians 7. As David said, this passage has the ability to offend pretty much everyone. So rather than skipping over the tough bits, I like what he did. He apologized in advance and then got on with it.

What is the point of only preaching the easy stuff (love, mercy, grace)? Life isn't easy, being a Christian isn't easy, being a single person in the church isn't easy. So why should the church pretend that if you become a believer it's just going to be wine and roses? (not that there's anything wrong with wine and roses)

Tough sermons need to be preached and heard. I truly believe the people are craving this news. Too long has the church tried to cover up the tough stuff to become more palatable to the unbelieving public. As a result the messages become wishy washy and interest is lost as there is no meat to chew on. The pubic (especially in a university town) can be an intelligent bunch and I believe crave the truth.

Yes worship is important, yes we need to be inclusive to all BUT not at the cost of watering down God's word.

I love a good tough meaty sermon, thanks David. If any of you would like to hear his message just click this link and go to the Jan 7th Morning service for the MP3 download.

(the opinions stated in this blog are solely the thoughts of this strange single girl with too much time on her hands)



Hello Christine, Happy New Year.

Goodness me - where to start? The subject is just too huge to do justice to in this setting. But I'm a trooper. And, come to think of it, a bore.

This, though, is where blogging falls down for me. One really needs the ebb and flow of a conversation to grapple with such stuff. It is sensitive and divisive and can lead to tumult - and it is notoriously difficult to convey tone through one's writing. It often just sounds like people are making pronouncements and are not really prepared to think, reason, or listen. For the record, then, my tone is intended as friendly, and my mind is so open it risks falling out my head. And not in a good way.

Gadgetvicar does as good a job as anyone I've heard at making Corinthians (1:7) seem a little less like a train wreck. These passages are, to me, almost wilfully tortured and nonsensical - and the gloss that GV (Gadgetvicar, if you don't mind the abbreviation) puts on them is an impressive feat of positive, modern, interpretation. They are given their proper (historical) setting and Paul's words are milked for all they are worth to display the conveyor as both humane and practical. Fair enough.

GV, in lauding Paul, suggests that a message of compassion and caring shines through. Paul is seen as inclusive, non-discriminatory, considered and humane. To unbelievers, or certainly to me, he just seems like a hateful misogynist who wants both his cake and the right to eat it. Granted, women are briefly elevated in Corinthans from their normally passive and subjugated role as the pleasers and tempters of men - they are to be cared for too, it seems, whoopee - but this does nothing to dispel the odious notion that religion is a conveniently man made structure all too often deployed against women to keep them in their place.

Paul, himself, has some form in this regard.

Actually, I can see that this comment is going to be too long for even my (debased) standards. One weird thing, though - I actually agree with you that these things should not be watered down to lure the unbelievers (or anyone, really) and make the words seem more palatable. This strikes me as daft. These are either the words of God (as channelled through men - always men, please note) or they are not the words of God. Where is the in-betweeny bit? Although I find people who take the bible literally quite bizarre, I have a sneaking admiration for their uncompromising approach. Again: if these are the words of God - and I say they're not - but if these are the words of God, then act on them. Does that make any sense?

One word that GV didn't use in his sermon is "sanctify". This word is found in Corinthians and is used to describe the effect of a believer joining in matrimony with an unbeliever. The very presence of the believer in the house of a non-believer will serve as a kind of cleansing, it seems. I'm not sure that you will have an understanding of how deeply offensive this is to me? I hope you do, and I hope that you sympathise with the distaste this generates in unbelievers.

We're not unclean, Christine, and we're perfectly moral people. In fact, there is an excellent argument to be had that those practising a godless morality are, in fact, more humane, caring and selfless than those who do their good deeds with the eye of the Lord upon them. I wouldn't care to put the argument forward myself, because it smacks of the sanctimony I instinctively retreat from. But...godless morality is practised by those who seek no reward in the afterlife. These deeds are done by people who know that it is better to be kind and giving. And they need no God to instruct them of this singularly human trait. It just comes naturally. I don't include myself in this honourable list - I'm a selfish and complicated mess - but those that I do seem like pretty straight people who are hardly in need of being "sanctified" (made good, made clean, made holy) by someone with out-sized superstitions.

I'm not sure where you stand on any of this - or, indeed, if you have any inclination to enlighten me. But I did love reading the post and I certainly enjoyed listening to GV doing his stuff. But do you really believe that people are wanting to hear this message, as you say they are? Really? I'm not sure that that is necessarily true. How do you come to this conclusion, I wonder?

I think that you like the message and that you hold your beliefs dearly. I also think that you would like other people to share what you've found. But that is a very, very different thing from others crying out to hear it. Or is that unfair?

Excellent and thought provoking post (and link). If I have caused any offence in my response to it, then I apologise unreservedly. This is never - EVER - my intention in my deaings with you, or with anybody.

Kind regards and hello to my hometown,



And that was a short answer. I could have gone on and on and on - no, really. I'm sorry for the interminable length of the thing, all the same.

Chris said...

Hey there P.E., no need to apologize. I always enjoy reading your replies. Have you ever thought of a career in talk radio?

For some insight into Canadian culture you should check out The Mercer Report at he is another guy that enjoys a good rant, and he always has one every week.

As with you, these entries are just my thoughts and as you have eluded we think differently and that's what makes life interesting.

I do find it amusing though that as you keep referring to yourself as an agnostic (or is it athiestic), how you always have a strong opinion on religion and seem to know your stuff.

With regards to my observation that people are crying out for the truth - that seemed to be the case in Vancouver when I left. Many educated, young intelectuals were starting to come back to the church and seemed to be creating a bit of a revival. Perhaps that's not the situation here in the UK but that's where I'm coming from.

No offense taken in the slightest. Thanks for dropping by and expressing yourself. That's the joy of blogging.


Phew. This was one of those rare occasions when I actually had to draft in my girlfriend to see if I had overstepped the mark. Your reply comes as a relief.

You're right, by the way. I do seem to go on about religion an awful lot for someone who professes agnosticism. I try to avoid atheism because it seems so needlessly limiting - but nevertheless occasionally lapse into it. I'll always veer back to agnosticsm eventually, though.

I often find myself switching recklessly and repeatedly between the two in the course of a single day. Sometimes in the course of a single paragraph, even. Not to worry.

Anyway, it is disgracefully late and I'm knackered. Keep on pronouncing Aych correctly, Christine - Haych is just ghastly - and resist all temptations to greet someone with a cheery Glaswegian "hiya". Some local customs are simply not worth adopting. Stay strong and true.

Kind regards etc....

Oh - I'll away and visit the Mercer Report tomorrow. Thanks for the tip. Not quite sure what you mean by him being "another" who enjoys a rant, though. Do you see anyone else round here who enjoys a rant? You can't surely be referring to my immaculately tiresome interventions on these pages? Sheesh. Talk about crushing a guy.

Okay, enough. Except to say, you have some wonderful photos of Glasgow. Thank you for that.