The Third Province

When I heard about some anglicans wanting a 'third province' it appealed to my sci-fi side... As a christian I believe we are all equal - everybody, no matter what faith we believe in, or where we come from - so let us leave all authority at the door and meet as equals.

Name:

I decided on 'Free to think, free to believe' as my posting name as a matter of belief - I think that if you are not free to think, you aren't free to believe, and if you find me wondering around leaving coments, then I'll leave a note under 'Stumbling to heaven' because that is what I hope I am doing...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Having a look beyond the viel...

and at the Islamic tendency to seem to say stuff right out of the blue a long way off...

In the dark times buried by the weight of media magnets, in the the seventies there was a scandal which shocked the Islamic world which the west 's media decided on making very public. There was a counter reaction and Denmark backed down...

So now we have a time where the west's media is again, for good or ill, 'having a go at Islam' - not very pleasant but then our media is not pleasant. Not so long ago we had the fiasco of the twelve images published by that paper in Denmark and the fuss had died down until a delegation went round the Islamic world carrying SIXTEEN images - yup, they included four very abusive images that were not published by the paper; this delegation was headed by a muslim leader who in Denmark had said that he wanted to come to a peacefull, negotiated end of the matter and did not wish to stir up trouble...

I guess by having riots and provoking death threats and the like they are just doing their thing, and good for them, the TWELVE cartoons were not banned in Denmark, nor was the paper in question censored in any way - by fine, slap on wrist, whatever... and the fuss subsided, again.

Now we have the debate (or press scrum down) re the debate on the viel in the UK and an Islamic leader in Australia has a go at Western Dress. It is the same issue, just from the diferent point of view from the other side of the world to us blighters - no symbolism here I think.

I remember living in Luton where everynow and then you would see a cloud of black garbed women descend to do their shopping - and fine for them, but I was personally shocked when I noted that the reason why some of them walked so slowly is because they also had a thin piece of material over their eyes....

I think the whole thing in Aussie misjudged their stomach for a local fight, and the fact that instead of feeling defensive over here - the media - that assortment of libertarian agnostic/atheist secularists would actually relish the chance to get their boot in - be it in bra burnt stilletoes or not...

The two ideas that women were this stuff are, approximately - one it saves their specialness for their man, all well and good - the hijab is a dress code for both - to be decently covered from neck to under the kness (if I recall correctly) for men - and obviously hair, neck and ankles is included for women and two - because men are hormonal animals and sexual savages unable to control themselves - Salman Rushdie horified the Islamic world by reminding them that Mohammed had gone off with prostitutes... and who wrote their book? But it goes on to say that if a woman is approached against her will - she can do what she likes to the guy as he has (or is about to) act like a beast with no honour - this could be telling him to scarper before she finds the local imman or to gut him like a dog - which in some countries even his family wouldn't clean up because he has lost all honour.

So, whilst the issue of the viel may be a live one here - others will feel justified to put in their tupence worth into the debate from somewhere else because the world of Islam is set to defend each other, no matter the distance... There is no coincidence that we have this debate and an Imman in Australia goes off on one, never mind that Christmas for them saw some beaches closed a year or so ago because there was local tension between the differing communities...

One may think that muslims are God's children, and love them for it, it is another to love their viel and still another to punish them for wearing it...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Stumbling Blocks"

When I hear this being used I always think of 'Too many cooks spoil the broth' vs 'Many hands make light work'

I guess Martin Luther and Martin Luther King would have both been seen as 'Stumbling Blocks' to those in authority or in a place of privelege that they questioned, but they brought light and the hope of equality to the world in which they lived...

The modern use of the term, coined by Paul in an easy to cudgel form - "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to be a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way" in Romans 14 vs 13 and in 1 Corinthians 8 vs 9 "But beware lest this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak."

Jesus said of himself that "'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone'? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it fals, it will grind him to powder." in Luke 20 end of verse 17 & vs 18 (- please cross reference with Matthew 21 vs 41-43) So if we are to follow Christ as his disciples it seems that at times we may well get on peoples nerves, and here I would say that we should not set out to do so, but that if we do as a by-product of being faithful, we should not be that surprised.

And of course within christian circles one differing from the rest and making folk question their path is seen as downright dangerous in some churches and hence - don't be a stumbling block... as if going down that path was going to make everyone loose their faith. And it can be anything, recently the church I go to has had this name badge sticker thing - and bearing in mind I have a truly hopeless memory for names - really I do - and I object to being badgered. If someone wants to know my name, I will never be short with anyone, they can ask, but if they aren't even going to talk to me - for what do they need my name for?

Doubtless you'll be expecting to hear that someone said something about it - and dear reader, you would be right...

Now the issue could be more important about whether or not you eat food that has been dedicated to other gods or not - and if you think that is a way out point - just think almost all Kebab meat will be halal, which means that as the animal is killed it is dedicated to Allah... Personally, I like kebabs, and if someone doesn't press the 'halal' point, I'm more than willing to let it go and let my tastebuds get their hammering...

So what is the balance? Where does someone start to really be a stumbling block to others, what do we mean by that, and what do we do?

We normally use the 'stumbling block' argument when someone does not fit into the prescribed norm of whatever congregation they are part of and it doesn't really matter what denomination you go to - it is not enough to have a personal faith in your saviour Jesus, Oh No! You have to have a belief that is willing to conform to the others' beliefs, and practices - this is not Christian, it is small minded bigotry of the ilk of beaurocratic dogma watchers - but generally if you are willing not to point out your diferences you'll sneak in under the radar, the other option is to lie of course...

But that whole point is that by demanding conformity is to make a stumbling block to those who think, honestly and with integrity, differently and instead of trying to win them round with love, hospitality and reason, the slow damp cudgeling of 'stumbling block' is used, like some torturous 'I'm only doing this to help you' kind of logic. I expect that Torquemada, would have said things like that, or this - 'it hurts me more than it going to hurt you', no maybe he didn't use that one...

I think that if someone does not, honestly, agree with me - they are an opportunity for me to either test what I believe (as I could actually be wrong - it does happen from time to time) or to show where & how they may differ from me (sometimes I might come over a bit strong, but without actually debating it - how can anyone know more about something?Anything?) or sometimes I have merely held my peace (and tried not kill anyone around me with shock!) But the stumbling block - that is for those who are afriad of their faith or on behalf of others that they fear couldn't take it - and perhaps sometimes they are right (sometimes there may be a new brother who has just joined the faith and really an argument on 'free will versus predestination' may not do them any good at that point), but do they just use the 'stumbling block' or do they also try to exlpain matters of faith, leading those somehow into a more secure place where they could handle themselves in that debate (Even if it was to be able to say -'Grow up - it really doesn't make that much of a diffeence... Aah but that's where your wrong...)

Or are they kept weak and fed little so that those 'in the know' will always have to be there to beat those who differ up?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Odd Thing We Do Called Confirmation

Which means we must also go in for strange infant rites as well...

The basic argument for instant (or rather infant) baptism comes from a couple of verses in the book of Acts. This is interesting as it shows what some in the early church did rather than what they should have done. Let me enlarge for a moment on this - over the course of all the gospels Jesus keeps telling his apostles that if they wish to have authority/power/status then they must be servants, including the rather large step of telling them that they must be prepared to wash feet, and a demonstration of that by him at The Last Supper: come the argument towards the beginning of the early church about how food et al is ditributed amongst the widows - a fairly important thing and Peter wades in and says that he has better things to do than to wait tables... yes he could wash their feet, but that wasn't what he had in mind...

So for me, to say that's how they did it, does not trump the stuff Jesus said about baptising believers in his name 'as an outward sign of their faith' - and this is the payoff - the reason we follow up christenning with confirmation - it is to go back and say that 'actually, yes I am a christian and alsways have been' it reminds me of the mormon practise of being able to go back over history and rewrite/'correct'/merelystatethetruth of their ancestors' faith...

It could also brush over any doubts, lapses in being a christian - what happens if between being 'christenned' and being of the age to be 'confirmed' you leave the christian fold, so that the faith the parents the 'guardians' of the newborn's faith promise doesn't work, was never delivered on - whatever BUT the answer is simple - it means nothing when you arrive and say I want to join your church 'Were you christenned?' Yes. 'In that case you need to be confirmed.' and that is how the story goes...

This is the crux of the argument - this the end get out clause of 'christenning' becuase to those who would be critical they are told that when the infant gets old enough to justify their christening (ie when their elders have decided that they can be confirmed) they can choose to be confirmed and therefore any problems we have with christenning should be seen as merely minor irritants and that we - those who question the process are told not to worry our little heads, obviously we don't understand, maybe we need classes to straighten out our problems...


There is another word I'd use for confirmation - cheating.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I have been away,

without going anywhere...

On an autobiographical note - I have discovered a gap in my referential labrynthine mind and decided, owing to the rather odd fact that at just over 20,000 words my heroine is getting in a boat and I had no real idea of how the mechanics of it would work...

Ok so I am trying to wite a book, and before any uninterested person asks - it's a fantasy work with dwarfs and stuff (yes, I said dwarfs) and it was the sharp clash with a reference book that has distracted me from much stuff...

Normal service will continue shortly...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hero

It has been a widely used quote that those who have been harmed seek to harm others - I was listenning to Radio 4 The Choice programme this morning.... Either that or I've just mangled that quote...

Whatever the case is with the quote - I would just like to say this is a Hero.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Third Province, Anglicanism and Everything

This blog and the strange movement of anglicans are both born out of a sense of idealism - that there is a way that we believe things should be done... On this blog's part I give a quite heavy hint in my by line what my idea is. I think God wants us to be equals, and to get along - with each other and Him/Her/ItSelf, and that is it, the realisation of this does presuppose not necessarily mean the destruction of all forms of organisation, but it would presuppose that the authority of one over another is destructive, ungodly and unnecessary. So that the tea lady would be seen as just as valuable as the manager. Which is as is it should be - can anyone tell me the moral worth of the tea lady, or the manager? And this I think lies in mystery - unknowable, rather than employing a capialistic view of 'Well, how much money do they bring in?' I would say that each has a role we should value, but that we should not value either more than the other...

The strange movement of the third province is embedded within that strange cultural niche - and to many christians, nevermind anyone else, it is a strange cultural niche... and cannot speak to any injustice without that community/beauracracy, or within it outside their own strangely defined remit - to keep a section of vicars, priests and bishops going without any taint of a female priest, vicar, bishop (who knows - archbishop, that would require a re-think) and that is it. The movement may well represent a minority - but what does that matter if you cannot answer their plight? Take to the moral highground and be as blinkered as them.

The argument that they have is basically that Jesus had twelve male main guys, and that is that. But they also forget the passages in the gospels - like Matthew ch 23 vs 8 and following where Jesus says that we should have no priest (which I think is quite clear) or John ch 14-17 where Jesus says that we have no need of training or organisations because the 'Helper' would be given to all the followers and thus we could universally as his followers be guided by God direct... But then, when you have a special place in the community, why not protect it? Those who joined up as female priests did just that as they shut the door behind them.

But as an argument let us take the vocationally called - when do they start their ministry, is it after they have been called, or after a period of consultation to see that they have been called, but no, it is after the period of time it has taken to agree that they have been called and the time it takes to train them - not that God called them where they were. Personally I think it is good to discuss life changes with people who should know about that sort of stuff, and feeling you've been called would fall into that, but are the folk only empowered after their 'ordination service' as the anecdotal evidence tells us folk feel that - because only then can they feel that they can let God empower them properly for their callling? Or because God thinks that in five years time they'll make a wonderful priest?

I know I get in the way of God in my life, but to beauracratise the whole thing seems rather different, but then we get used to the idea that this is the way it is supposed to be done because this is what has been done - which is exactly the strong hold of the 3rd prov.

So Anglicanism is an organisation which is very serious about, well, mainly by definition, itself, as to be ordained you have to agree to the 39 articles, some of which are pretty nasty and downright deplorable, but there is one which says that if you disagree with any of the other articles, then as long as it is a matter of conscience then that's fine. So what you have to actually believe as an anglican priest is rather an interesting point, why don't we ask the anglican preist who became a hindu and sees no problem with that and serving as 'Christ' in the eucharist ceremony - but with the get out clause, how can anyone complain?

Personally I have referred to this matter at somewhat greater length here.

So Anglicanism, that rather strange cultural niche, in the end is a boundary free niche, sure there be ghettoes of Anglicans, like there are ghettoes of all sorts of other things - but to be defined as an anglican is open-ended, it could mean a born again bore of the evengelical wing or a washed out hippy looking for a tradition that has some respect, man, and just lets the whole thing wash over him, not even thinking that what people believe actually matters...

I suppose I am a bit like Nietzhe in the sense that I spout my stuff and if anyone likes it, then that's fine, if not, then that's ok, but don't walk away - leave a comment and see if we can't have dialogue (I have posted at least twice as results of comments) - the lonely hermit who spouts his mad rants at whoever will listen. But there the similarity ends.

For a point of view I much prefer Max Stirner [see here for an interesting article on him] not that I agree with him totally, but then he would not want me to agree with him because he uttered some wise words or otherwords... No Stirner is useful in that he confronts those things we see as nesseccary and then show how we are wrong. He constantly goes on about ghosts in our mind, that we get suckered into thinking something for it's own sake - he is quite the nihilist and goes on about ages of religion seeing that we would come to our intelectual senses and shrug off our belief - well ok but I came from the hardnosed Thomas approach and sought evidence out for my mind to scrutinize, so fair enough Max, but here's a poke in the eye...

But why should I not question my beliefs, why should I function as a ghost in my mind would have me. I shouldn't and before Stirner told me that, so had the writings of christianity. But sometimes we have to spend time to realise what is actualy real or true - like do we need institutions that stifle people - and I could be talking about Tesco or Christmas!

But not to be able to confront reality with a radically questioning spirit is to back yourself into a corner, like the third province, without looking for reality you spend your time making sure that you impose your view of reality on those around you, just as those ideas in your head you don't question impose their reality upon you. It's a sad old world sometimes, but just think - all we have to do is look with open eyes at what is actually around us and then we may find that it is not that bad.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Long Shadow Of Hobbes...

sheltered by the towers of Plato's 'Republic'...

The world we live in today is still dominated by the idea that we are merely selfish and (when we're lucky) rational. Actually most people think that 'other' folk are selfish and only on the lookout for themselves and their own, on a good day we see a little further and think that the 'other' folk can actually think...

Hobbes tried to put 'Political Philosophy' on a scientific basis, and as such decided to use Occam's razor decided to define human nature as 'selfish and rational' and from this he argued in his great tome 'Leviathan' that we would have a heck of a time in the 'State of Nature' - such a heck of a time that even if a government we had no respect for told us to turn up to be executed - we should go along with it becuase we can be relatively sure we'll be safe up to that point and past that point life would be so unbearable that we would be wretched creatures always living in fear that we would look back on the invitation to have our lives happily ended with a deep sense of regret that we did not take the peaceful and assured way out...

Obviously other folk like Dick Turpin and Robin Hood decided that he was wrong...

One of the reasons why I think that Hobbes ideas have been so successful is that Plato's Republic was taught as a grand text of political theory - I had to study it when I did political philosophy, and even though the lecturer admitted that it was flawed and wrong it was good to study as an example of how a cohesive theory was put together...

But Plato's idea that are nature is governed by our apetites; stomach [food, drink, even pleasure...], spirit [discipline, bravery, etc, etc,...] or the very best the intelectual [learning, teaching, problem solving for it's own sake...] was accepted by the ruling classes, which is why it perservered so well in the mindset that some are fit to rule and others are not.

Which of course alows them to accept Hobbes view as applying to the rest of the scum - it is this attitude which is embodied in the idea that if you are from the right breeding or nurturing then you can ignore Hobbes and go straight to being the philosopher king of Plato's 'Republic' or a government near you... and dominate those weaker mortals who need your guiding hand.

Of course if you can make sure that they are always weaker, then you will always have your place at the top of the tree...

The truth is somewhat different, of course I probably don't have a complete handle on what that is but I would make two points in regard to these theories - 1 we are also social creatures and 2 we all go through all the diffeent appetites as we go through life - even the butcher (who gets a bad press in the 'Republic') will use his intelectual striving at some time to achieve his ends by problem-solving...

What this means is that Hobbes view of 'State of Nature' - which is a technical term to say 'How we would behave if there were no government' is wrong, it would never get as bad as Hobbes has said. Then again he lived during the English Civil War - perhaps his view of life was clouded by seeing governments compete with each other and thought that was even better than having no government, rather than being in the middle of a war between governments was worse than not having a government at all...

Of course if we say that we move between our desires - one moment I may be thinking philosophical thoughts and how to set the world to rights, and in the next I could be thinking how a chocolate fudge cake would really be great to have as long as I could have chocolate sauce on top, does undermine the idea that anyone is special by dint of apetites - to say who was going to govern who at any given time - we'd have to check which apetite they we're being enthralled by at that moment, something like the mood fish you get in a christmas cracker (don't get me started!) could be used.

The problem with Hobbes is that he misses an important part of our nature, and the problem with Plato's Republic is that human nature is Human Nature - what works for one works for all, and between these two flaws in greatly admired world views our grand state has built up the idea that we need someone to tell us what to do.

It is odd that the 'Statesman' also by Plato is passed over most of the time - he uses the same processes as with the 'Republic' but has abandoned the idea of 'apetites' and goes in for 'character' thus saying that the only thing a statesman need do is, basically, 'breed them right' and then they would live fine - no need for further governance - breed the population to the right character and then melt quietly into the background - one can see why that would not be widely read on the playing fields of Eaton or thought to be the right thing to teach in the Towers of Academia - Cambridge or Oxford...

But maybe if Plato had went further with his thinking he would see that folk are sometimes attracted to opposites, and sometimes middle of the road folk like other middle of the road folk and conclude that not even the Statesman is required, but then sometimes when we look at heroes
it is dificult to accept when even they themselves realise that they have been wrong.