Speaking of columnists who scribble for tabloid trash, Sunday is the day we like to set aside to contemplate the week-old thoughts of climate science denialist Cardinal Geroge Pell as he scribbles for the Sunday Terror.
Today's text concerns Advent:
Advent comes from the Latin "to come" and all Christians believe that Christ, God's only Son was born to Mary in Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago. All Australians know this.
All Australians know the Latin for sexual climax? And all Islamic Australians know Christ is God's only Son?
Well I guess it's an ambit claim, and it can be whittled down in the Industrial Court.
Not content with that, Pell embarks on even more extraordinary claims:
Advent however celebrates two other comings; when Christ will return at the end of time as judge, to separate the good from the evil and when Christ comes in our daily lives through the people around us and especially the suffering.
Christ comes into the daily lives of the people of Afghanistan? Especially the suffering? Much like he did in the Holocaust for the Jews?
Not to worry, Pell does a routine slagging off at Karl Marx, and then a triumphant dance on the grave of communism in Poland, and then comes up with this one:
In an interesting inversion a Polish poet believes that the opium of the people today, the escape route for persistently selfish sinners, is to believe that God will not judge them at life's end. They don't believe in Christ's final coming.
So far the evidence is a tad skimpy, what with it being two thousand years and Christ not managing to come, and no word back from beyond the grave of the wicked being punished by hellfire, current location and purpose, beyond scaring children, uncertain ...
Pell finishes it off with a story by Tolstoy, the tone of the telling of which reminded me of Oscar Wilde's exemplary fairy stories, and one of the more telling points in the King James version:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
And with Pell prattling childish stories, that's as good a note as any on which to hie off and visit the Sydney Anglicans, who were outrageously left off the Mike Carlton shortlist for his 'whingers of the year' award.
And yet what do we find in Michael Kellahan's 10 steps to better preaching?
9. Talk about Jesus every week - we are here to preach Christ crucified. Our sermons must therefore sound different from those of the synagogue.
Ah yes, Christ crucified. Well they can't talk about that in the synagogue can they, because - if we may borrow a line from Cardinal Pell - surely every Australian knows that the Jews killed Jesus (the Romans were just along for some roles as extras and a supporting part for Pontius Pilate, and was the pond's favourite antipodean ham, gay boy Frank Thring, glad about that, or what).
One other bit of advice caught the eye:
2. Leave out the boring bits. Yes, there are boring bits and they are the fault of the preacher not the bible.
You know as much as I love the King James Bible as a work of literature - up there with Homer - it really does have some boring bits. It's not all the fault of the preacher, because if they decide to begin with chapter one of Matthew, they cop this:
Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; and Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; and Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; and Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; and Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; and Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; and Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon; and after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; and Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; and Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; and Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Fourteen generations of begatting, and truth to tell, that's not a patch on Genesis 5 when it gets into the begatting in a huge way ...
Let's face it, even Shakespeare wrote The Life and Death of (and dullness and tedium of) King John, so human inspiration can occasionally flag, even for those imagining they were setting down the contradictory words of god, bless her confused thoughts.
Speaking of ten steps in search of better preaching, it's a pity that Dr Peter Jensen didn't follow then in his 58 minutes - 58! - talk In Praise of Marriage. The pond started out in search of juicy theological disputation, and fell asleep within the first couple of minutes. What was that Kellahan said about keeping it shorter and more interesting?
Perhaps this is why the Sydney Anglicans - for all their routine and regular abuse of women and denunciation of the gay agenda - didn't make the Mike Carlton cut.
They seem a forlorn and depressed bunch. There's David Mansfield in The Day I Forgot to Dance:
Have we forgotten to dance: in marriage, as families, communities, even as a nation, and perhaps as a church, and a diocese? Can we go back to that day? Can we learn to dance again?
Well let's hope Mansfield doesn't head back to the days of Calvin, hero of the Sydney Calvinists:
A ban on dancing had already been introduced before Calvin's time, but it is true that the regulations were being tightened. Calvin thought that since the way people touch each other in dance is nothing less than a first step to adultery, the purity of the body would be better safeguarded by the complete avoidance of dancing. Even if nothing untoward was to happen, it was still a rather a tricky business - or, in Calvin's words, "an invitation to Satan". (here).
Dear sweet absent lords, the Sydney Anglicans are issuing an invitation to Satan ...
Uh huh. So what are our modern-day invitations to Satan?
Do we need to gamble our way into deeper debt, drink our way into number nights, eat our way into unhealthy obsessions and amuse our way into atrophied brains?
Can we enjoy God-given gifts of life again; without the need for ubiquitous technology, virtual friendships, degustation experiences, European engineered cars, exotic holidays, expensive toys and people playing God?
Indeed. None of that free loaves and fishes and wine degustation thing here ...
It so happens I wouldn't have been reading Mansfield without ubiquitous technology, nor even the strange sight of Mansfield quoting Yusuf Islarn on the matter of women being in control of their bodies, and people being able to assert their right to die, but curiously omitting Yusuf's views on the right of Islamics to put Salman Rushdie to death. (speaking of hypocrisy, evasiveness and Hypotheticals).
Perhaps the thought of Rushdie being put to death for blasphemy is a bit of a cloud over Mansfield's whirling dervish desire to dance:
Can we learn how to dance again? Can we learn how to dance to the music of heaven?
That'll be a month in the slammer, as deemed appropriate by John Calvin for such naughtiness. And remember John Calvin is held in high esteem by the Jensens, Michael in particular, as he explained in Who's afraid of John Calvin?:
I had, with some hesitation, expressed my admiration for Calvin to my university tutor — and her post-Christian feminist hackles were raised. An exasperated eye-roll and a contemptuous mutter was all she could manage to express further on the subject.
Stop that dancing right now!
Stop that dancing right now!
Speaking of young Michael, his last piece, Is Compassion Enough?, was seriously concerned about the relatively quietest approach of Sydney Anglicans when it came to keeping women out of power and gays out of marriage, and other matters of eschatological urgency.
There is however an upside. The Sydney Anglicans can with impunity ignore the splendid way the Anglican diocese of Canberra and Goulburn has appointed its first female bishop, and carry on about how same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy, and no one cares
Since we've already featured First Dog's clarion cry about the slippery slope of doom, wherein same-sex marriage could lead to not just polygamy, but the eating of various kinds of fruit, how about his urgent plea for the commentariat to step forward and speak out? (the rest at First Dog):
And now, amazingly, the Sydney Anglicans can propose an invitation to the dance which is nothing more than an appeal to dance with Satan, and still Mike Carlton leaves them off the list of the year's biggest whingers, putting George Pell right up there in the last six, thrusting him into the face of the Sydney Anglicans!
There's very little truth or justice left in the world.
Ah well it's time to get down and boogie the night away ...
You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen
Go Sydney Anglicans. Or maybe not ...