It's been a good week for the Sydney Anglicans because the papists, the Pellists and the Islamics have been doing all the heavy lifting.
With the pope going, a number of obvious points were made by all and sundry, including that loose Guardian canon, Giles Fraser, scribbling furiously that The pope's resignation has finally revealed that the papacy is simply a job:
The resignation of the pope, whatever the reason that motivated it, may well have a consequence far beyond that of its intended purpose. It reveals that the papacy is simply a job, an office. And by so doing, it rightly challenges some of the cult of personality that has built up around that office, as if the job affords the office holder some special proximity to God. It doesn't.
The purposes of the almighty do not flow exclusively through the narrow weir of the papacy. But this news isn't really news to Protestants, nor indeed to the English.
To balance affairs Fraser goes on to ravage Henry VIII as a cultural criminal, and it can also be said that at least he's not a Sydney Anglican.
But this astonishing news - that being pope is a job, and a sometimes onerous job at that, if you're of an age - will no doubt astonish Greg Sheridan, who, as already noted by the pond, made the astonishing remark, in Why George Pell is a 20-to-1 deserved favourite (behind the paywall because scientific research suggests that reading the brain dead can lead to brain death) that:
The Catholic Church and the papacy transcend Western civilisation. Their claims are universal.
You see, in the second sentence, Sheridan tries to hedge his bets, and talks of "their claims". But in the first sentence he simply asserts that the papacy transcends Western civilisation. That way lies transcendental loonacy.
The pond is of course, along with Sheridan, rooting for Cardinal Pell to be made the pope in the coming conclave. Naturally Pell, like an aspiring C.E.O. seized on the opportunity of Lent in his week-old Sunday Terror scribbles to repent, assess performance metrics, and promise to do better, put the old firm and shareholders into turnaround:
Every Christian has to subscribe to the "re" words of Lent: re-pent, re-turn, re-cover, re-pair, re-new, because everyone is called to repentance, not just great sinners. Jesus himself spent 40 days in the desert, fasting and praying, being put to the test by the "Evil One", the devil. So we have a good precedent for our efforts at renewal (although Jesus himself had no sins and therefore no need of repentance).
Indeed. Even re-tri anti wonti.
It helps explain why the pope wore a truly modest frock for the season, since you never know when you might end up in the desert, and why the frock Pell wore in 2008 for the very same season is the very model of a modern modest frock:
Remember to pack this sort of frock when heading out into the desert for forty days and forty nights.
But the pond is less sure that Christ died without sin and had no need of repentance. Apart from the way he was allegedly lugging every human sin, past, present and future off to his way too intimately related father, the reality is that he was born of a woman, and we all know what that means. Yes, every human born of an evil woman has been cursed by the fall, and the apple and the serpent, and if Christ used a special "get out of sin and go home with $500", why that's surely the sin of nepotism.
Ah well, theology was never the pond's strong suit, which is just as well, because that might have led to a career torturing small children, since the Dominican nuns surely taught the finer skills and arts of bullying and torture.
Still, we should be grateful the Pellists, on behalf of the rest of the mob, have promised to do better, and spend a heap of time on extra prayers, which will do wonders for the spiritually wounded and the mentally maimed and abused, in much the same way as prayers prevented the second world war and the holocaust, and we now live in an alternative dimension.
Catholics are also being asked not to eat meat on Fridays, an ancient tradition which the bishops in England have reintroduced for the whole year.
This Lent reminds us of the need for purification in the Church, to review our past performances and improve our act.
Yes giving up meat on a Friday is a perfect solution. That'll fix everything. The meaningless gesture as ultimate redemption.
Back in the day, this folly almost saw the pond swear off fish for life, with yellow smoked cod or haddock saturated in a vile white sauce a regular Friday horror.
As usual, you can find a reminder on the vast tubes, along with a handy recipe for Catholics wondering how to maintain the tradition of torturing children, by heading off here, where you will find:
A friend called me the other night looking for a recipe for smoked fish, not salmon but smoked Cod or Haddock. She had eaten it in a trendy restaurant in Dublin recently and wanted to make it for some friends. My mum used to make smoked haddock in white sauce when I was a child. The vivid yellow of the fish made it look like junk food drowned in thick, glossy pure white sauce.
A trendy restaurant in Dublin? Say what?
Looked like junk food? Oh that hideous yellow. And it tasted like it, and even now, reading this, a Hungry Jacks' executive is seeing a new way forward. Thanks Val, but you can keep sending out that recipe to wayward Catholics, and it'll make them as wretched as the pond.
But let there be no residual yellow fish bitterness here.
We look forward to the church getting its act together, and getting purified. Perhaps a ritual burning of gum leaves instead of incense would help?
Meanwhile, Geert Wilders has been doing his level best to inflame everyone about the perils of the Islamics, but at 2% or so of the population the spinning sounds merely paranoid silly.
There's more bloody Buddhists in the country than Islamics (or so the wiki says here), and soon enough the Jedis will be moving beyond their humble .5% to take over the world. (Gesturing, the force can have a strong influence on weak-minded Pellists and Islamics).
All the same, the pond has been distraught at the level of argument surrounding the Nederlands natterer.
Over at New Matilda recently, one Nick Riemer, under the header Geert Wilders Is a Lighting Rod For Racists, spent the entire piece confusing and conflating racism with religion.
Now it might well be that Wilders attracts racists, along with a wider sampling of weirdos and loons (including the Bolter, natch), but the constant comparison of religion to race reached some kind of apocalyptic climax in the final par
Wilders uses classic liberal arguments as cover for the corrosive poison he disseminates. A society that cares about the equality of its members cannot sit on its hands while racist forces celebrate their high mass.
Ye ancient cats and dogs, how did we end up with a high mass?
It's a great pity that people like Reimer refuse to accept that it is classically liberal and appropriate to have a go at religion and true believers (and if not, the pond would be out of business in a week, for all that it routinely and even-handedly endeavours to offend Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, Pellists, Sydney Anglicans, Islamics, scientologists, and even those of the Jedi faith who simply can't bring themselves to say that the first three Star Wars given unto the world by the false messiah George Lucas suck hugely, enormously, unimaginably. When we want a film about the empire's trade wars and boring politicians carrying on about them, we'll watch a show about the Dutch tulip bubble).
The pond finds the word bigot perfectly acceptable, and without the confusing conflation involved in labelling people who object to religious beliefs as a kind of racism:
One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ. (here)
It is of course the heavy burden and duty of every liberal to go around explaining how everyone and everything is fucked by their fanatical beliefs. Instead, sadly it falls to the pond to note that Nick Riemer's bio claims that he's a member of the English and Linguistics departments at the University of Sydney.
How can this be? Through his cheap rhetorical devices, he allowed any number of loons in the comments section to point out that race and religion are not one and the same thing ... and thereby damaged his argument against a man who doesn't deserve a free kick.
Finally, there was no way the pond was going to give the Jensenists a free kick, not when a couple of Jensists come out on parade.
First up was Michael Jensen, in More sausages anyone?, dissing Lent as a distraction, and proudly declaring his affiliation with fundamentalist Swiss ratbags like Ulrich Zwingli (Huldreich or Huldrych).
(There it is down on the right, with an imaginative illustration ... sausages).
Now Google Zwingli and follow his devious, furtive, secretive marriage, or his role in the suppression and execution of a bunch of Anabaptists, including the drowning of Felix Manz, as well as a tendency to resort to the sword and war mongering to settle theological disputes (and he who lived by the sword ...)
The pond would think twice about sharing a sausage with Zwingle. Jensen dresses the lad up as a freedom fighter, and naturally he dresses that other fundamentalist ratbag, Calvin, into the argument.
But it all gets a bit tortured by the time Jensen gets around to asserting that Christians in general are free-wheeling freedom lovers:
Have Lent, or, don’t have Lent. Eat sausages, or not. Give up Facebook, or not. Whatever: if I insist on it, or forbid it, I am adding to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Take that, fish-munching Pellists, but what's the odds of Jensen breaching any of the following terms and conditions contained in the Bible, which is, if you believe the Swiss fundies, inerrant and to be followed on all matters?
And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.
Um, excuse me, that hare thing? Does that include rabbit done in a nice red wine sauce with onions, in the French style?
And so on and on, and on, an endless bunch of rules and statues and commandments. Oh I know that Leviticus is an oldie but it's a goodie, because it shows what a weird bunch of statutes are these days ignored, especially by those who eat their shellfish, lobster and bacon in private.
Still, it's good to know that Michael Jensen is a sausage-eater. Let's hope they contain no pork.
Meanwhile Phillip Jensen turns up to talk about advertising morality. The pond felt compelled to include a snapshot of Advertising Morality? to note that right next to the piece are some job ads and a couple of splash ads, one of which proposes "gripping the heart" and "shaping the will". Godwin's Law forbids the pond from mentioning Triumph of the Will.
Anyhoo, the poor man has been watching too much telly, and worse still he's been watching too much commercial telly, because he just loves the creative world of advertising, which has so much more to offer than the ABC and The Midsomer Murders (perhaps because of the tendency of the vicars to get up to too much mischief).
You can read the whole piece, and only at the end do you realise that Jensen doesn't have the first clue about what to do about advertising, except wring his hands and blather.
Commercials are insidious, and are used by special interest groups (do the Anglicans and their terrible ads count as a special interest group?) But censorship is dangerous, and anyway no one knows if advertising is harmful. Except it could be harmful.
By the end, Jensen has got his knickers in a right old knot, and settles for taking out his frustrations on sex workers:
Prostitution is wrong. It is always wrong to pay for sex. It is an abuse to use power, expressed in money, to gain sexual favours that otherwise would not be given for sex. The spin doctors of the "adult services" industry cannot persuade parents to wish that their sons and daughters would grow up to become prostitutes. We know it's wrong. So why should the advertising industry be allowed to promote it? Is it because without God, our community is not able to make such moral judgments? (Romans 1:32)
Actually there's an argument used about cigarettes which also applies here, since prostitution has been around since long before Christians began appropriating the Jewish bible:
There may be a desire to have it (smoking) prohibited, but prohibition of substances and activities has been shown to be prohibitively expensive and difficult.
Indeed, thank you Phillip Jensen for your knock-down demolition of Phillip Jensen, and now can we conclude with a heart-rending howl of pain:
Censorship is always dangerous. It is always dangerous to give some people, especially those in authority, the power to control what is said, questioned or thought. Truth is very important and yet so hard to establish when information is suppressed. I hate the constant criticism of Christianity, but, because of it, I can discover the truth. Pity the poor Muslim, who is never allowed to hear criticism and so can never be told the truth. If I am not free to change my opinion or religion then I am not free to believe it either.
Poor old blind dudded Islamics everywhere, oh pity them, pity them, but it has to be said that there is absolutely no evidence that constantly criticising Christianity or Sydney Anglicans or Jensenists has ever helped them to discover the truth.
And with that, it's Sunday and time for a dozen rock oysters. Not all seafood is bad, and if it means breaking the statutes and risking hell, why what the hell. Toujours gai, Archie, toujours gai ...
i have had my ups and downs
but wotthehell wotthehell
yesterday sceptres and crowns
fried oysters and velvet gowns
and today i herd with bums
but wotthehell wotthehell
i wake the world from sleep
as i caper and sing and leap when i sing
my wild free tune
under the blear eyed moon
i am pelted with cast off shoon
but wotthehell wotthehell
do you think that i would change
my present freedom to range
for a castle or moated grange
cage me and i d go frantic
my life is so romantic
capricious and corybantic
and i m toujours gai toujours gai (the rest here)
(Below: and since the theme is fish ...)