Saturday, May 19, 2012

From Pellists on a junket to fundamentalists eternally angry about women ...

(Above: Assisi war cemetery).

We have all heard of the new atheists who also claim Christianity has produced nothing worthwhile. They must never have been to Assisi. (here).

The Italian town of Assisi as the redemption, the redeemer of Christianity?

Now who could be railing at the new atheists yet again, even though he's assured them safe passage to heaven?

Yep, it's Cardinal George Pell on pilgrimage, and in the manner of all sorts of nice junkets, he's managed to get himself a trip to Umbria. By golly, it sounds like a really pleasant gig:

This beautiful town is situated on a hill overlooking the Umbrian valley, bright with various shades of green we rarely find in Australia, richly wooded with the lights of other villages twinkling in the evening. The spring weather was excellent most of the time, fine with a gentle breeze.

Uh huh. Now that's tourism in wafting breeze style.

The spirit of Francis still moves in Assisi. "Where there is God," he said, "there we find peace". And this is always true.

Indeed. Let's hope also it's true for the 945 war dead - Commonwealth troops in the main - buried in the Assisi War Cemetery, most of whom were killed June-July 1944 when the Germans tried to stop the Allied advance north of Rome.

They found a certain kind of peace but perhaps not the kind a junketing Cardinal might find ...

Meanwhile, over at the Sydney Anglicans, in the dire ongoing absence of Michael Jensen's fifth sin of Sydney, the pond has had time to catch up on some vital issues, including one raised by Archie Poulos in Dividing marriages:

Most weeks after church I ask myself the same questions. Here is a common one: 'should my wife and I sit together in church?' I am sure many others ask the same question.

Indeed. That raises the question as to whether St. Andrews still has a matroneum, which is to say a gallery in the interior of the building designed to accommodate women ...

And that in turn raises another question, as to why the injunction in Corinthians 11 has fallen into disrepair, disrespect and disuse:

... every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

Back in the day, no woman would enter a church without a bit of head gear - my mother would even whip out a handkerchief if there was nothing else to hand. But look at the evidence of this photo snapped within St. Andrew's Cathedral:

Bare heads!

Now you might think that the pond has gone literalist, but where would we be without a literalist reading of the Bible? Shouldn't we keep remembering the good old days and wonder why have things gone wrong?

Once there was a decent separation in churches based on wealth, class and gender, a tidy mix of snobbery and who could afford to buy a seat in a pew.

Surely St. Cyril of Jerusalem should be an inspiration to more than the Coptics, or the Lutherans, busy organising their seating plans in German churches? How about it Sydney Anglicans?

Let men be with men, and women with women. For now I need the example of Noah’s ark: in which were Noah and his sons, and his wife and his sons’ wives. For though the ark was one, and the door was shut, yet had things been suitably arranged. If the Church is shut, and you are all inside, yet let there be a separation, men with men, and women with women : lest the pretext of salvation become an occasion of destruction.

Wise words, because once a woman is let loose in a church, who knows what temptation might befall an innocent man?

Even if there be a fair pretext for sitting near each other, let passions be put away. Further, let the men when sitting have a useful book; and let one read, and another listen: and if there be no book, let one pray, and another speak something useful. And again let the party of young women sit together in like manner, either singing or reading quietly, so that their lips speak, but others’ ears catch not the sound: for I suffer not a woman to speak in the Church.

Ah yes, the very same notion that infests Angry Sydney Anglicans alienated by the appalling, shocking thought that a woman might imagine she's got something to contribute. Remember working mothers, you're verging on perilous idolatry; remember what mother's day truly stands for ...

Take it away Corinthians:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

What was that we were saying about literalism?

Now you might think the pond is pushing a barrow, but surely it's a smaller barrow than the one pushed by the men in charge of the Sydney Anglicans, as a quick refresher course in Muriel Porter's Sydney Anglicans and the Threat to World Anglicanism: The Sydney Experiment - and her account of the defeat in 2004 General Synod in relation to women bishops - reveals:

After the defeat of the legislation, Peter Jensen said he was pleased that the Synod had 'stood by the plain teaching of scripture'. Speaking during the debate, he said Sydney's objections arose from belief in the authority of the bible. 'The very book that brings liberation is also the same book that says "equal but different"', he said. 'Authority ultimately rests with God's Word.' (here).

Equal but different.

Shades of George Orwell. Oh the pond knows it's a breach of Godwin's Law, but who can resist noting that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Yes indeedy, he who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past, and so it comes about that Sydney Anglicans run their church in a style that would be applauded by first century middle eastern camel herders.

Remind us again St Cyril:

And let the married woman also follow the same example, and pray; and let her lips move, but her voice be unheard, that a Samuel may come, and your barren soul give birth to the salvation of God who has heard your prayer; for this is the interpretation of the name Samuel (Protocatechesis, 14, NPNF, s. 2, v.7). (here)

Strange how fundamentalist Anglicans, fundamentalist Coptics, fundamentalist Sikhs, fundamentalist Jews and fundamentalist Islamics - all fundamentally with men in charge - agree on this point.

All Jewish practices have their simple reasons as well as deeper, more spiritual explanations.

One obvious benefit of separate seating in a synagogue is that it helps ensure that the main focus is on the prayers and not on the opposite gender. There is no question that we don't act the same in a mixed crowd as we do in a same-gender one. There is nothing wrong with that. It is good and healthy that we are attracted to each other, but during prayers we shouldn't be trying to impress anyone other than G-d (It is customary to insert a dash in G-d's name when written or printed on a medium that could be defaced, or so the pond is assured here).

Get over there, you distracting vixen.

But enough already with the Jews, who seem a little obsessed with sex and hanky panky, and on to the mosque:

It is better for women to pray at home than at the mosque (A: whether they are young or old). It is offensive for an attractive or young woman to come to the mosque and pray (0: or for her husband to permit her), though not offensive for women who are not young or attractive when this is unlikely to cause temptation.

More hanky panky, and uncovered meat! Worse still, it seems that:

Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people). (here)

But luckily something like the back of a saddle guards against the interruption.

At last a solution to the problems of troubled Sydney Anglicans.

Let them seek out camel saddles, and surely that will annul the troublesome, worrisome, noisy ways of boisterous women ...

(Below: is it easier for a camel's saddle to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a woman to become a Sydney Anglican bishop?)

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