Sunday, June 09, 2013
And so to a tour of the cults this Sunday meditation ...
Speaking of cults, it's hardly surprising that Will Smith et fils outing After Earth should have come a cropper at the box office.
These days anything to do with the cult is likely to cop a bout of mockery, of the kind to be found in Scientology Enthusiasts Start Support group for Will Smith.
And it doesn't help when the mainstream critics are terribly gloomy, as the NYT was in A Father-Son Outing Goes Terribly Wrong. In the usual way, the UK tabloid mentality saw reviewers go right for the jugular, in pieces such as Scientologists do sci-fi again ... and by Xenu it's another stinker.
Indeed the Mail Online tried to get all it feared and loathed about the film into its header, The striking similarities between Will Smith's new film After Earth and the teachings of SCIENTOLOGY as it tanks at box office and is panned by critics.
Others kept their headers a little simpler, as in After Earth Is Will Smith's Love Letter to Scientology).
Indeed it's possible to spend a pleasant, diverting couple of hours reading about how Will Smith and his flick and scientology have copped an unholy pounding, right up there with the pounding that John Travolta copped for Battlefield Earth, one of the pond's all time favourite stinkers.
Never under-estimate the power of the cult of the bad movie ...
By reading's end, it was almost possible to feel deep sympathy for Will Smith. Almost, but how much better if he hadn't spent so much money supporting a cult and its more peculiar teachings about education ... (yes study tech cops a battering in many of the pieces, but here in Australia the federal government helps out by funding schools dedicated to the L. Ron Hubbard way).
Speaking of cults, The Age yesterday featured a story about one of the few survivors of the Waco massacre featuring David Koresh and a two-month standoff, and you can read more in Prophecy of doom.
The survivor, Australian Graeme Craddock, made a poignant plea for the word "cult" to be avoided:
I don’t like the word “cult” – it can be used in a degrading way. The early Christian church – according to biblical record – had apostles, prophets and other people. They were part of the spiritual gifts. But anyone now claiming to be a prophet is automatically considered part of a cult. We believed David Koresh was a prophet. The attraction was that he was able to explain things in the Bible that no one else could.
The pond hung in with him up until the moment Koresh was in a dark hallway with a box of grenades, and handed one over to Craddock, asking him if he knew how to use it.
What that had to do with explaining things in the Bible that no one else could must remain a little obscure ...
It struck the pond as sounding a little cultish. After all, it's one thing for the pond to handle the shell of a grenade brought back from the Somme by grandpa, and quite another to grenade your way to heaven.
Speaking of cults, the big news through the week was that a couple of retired Catholic bishops were attempting the impossible, using an online petition - you can sign it here - to crank up reform in the church.
Geoffrey Robinson was out and about in the media all week, promoting his book For Christ's Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church ... for Good, and giving interviews that ranged from Phillip Adams here to the National Catholic Reporter here.
Robinson had the support of fellow retired bishop Pat Power, and their proposals are so simple and elegant, the pond couldn't help but think they were destined to fail:
Bishop Robinson, who retired nearly a decade ago because of disillusionment with the church's efforts to deal with clerical abuse, released a book on Tuesday outlining what some will consider radical ideas to put the church on a modern footing.
His long list of changes includes making celibacy voluntary, moderating the moral authority conveyed on priests, and greatly expanding the role of women in the church. (here)
Naturally the likes of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart and the Pellists have avoided the pair like the plague, and in the Catholic press, baying conservatives have described them as little short of Satanists, and certainly heretics deserving of a verbal stoning.
Robinson has said he doesn't want the stoush to turn into a Pell v. Robinson affair, but the pond remembers with fondness his willingness to describe Pell as an "embarrassment" to a lot of good Catholic people ... (here)
Well the pond has no dog in the fight, and wishing Robinson luck is likely to be a bad omen, but what a simple master-stroke it would be to make celibacy voluntary, mere centuries after the Protestants worked it out ...
But what chance that the Pellists of doing anything sensible? After all, it was only a few days ago that the Church was revising its figures yet again, this time lifting the victims from 620 to 849.
What's a couple of hundred extra victims when all's said and one (Victoria Catholic Church revises up number of child sex abuse victims).
According to the figures, the vast majority guilty of abuse were brothers (114) and priests (98), with lay people next (42), nine nuns, two seminarians, and two "unknown". No mention in this bald data of the tortured notions of sex and sexuality that lurks behind the abuse ...
Meanwhile, speaking of cults, it's business as usual over at the Sydney Anglicans, with Michael Jensen practising his sermons for the Eastern suburbs by brooding about group think in The problem of 'us'. Indeed.
More to the point perhaps, when discussing group think in the Sydney Anglicans, is the way that the group thinkers have now ensured one of their own has taken over Moore College, as you can read in Dr Thompson installed as new principal of Moore College.
Thompson is part of the conservative push, part of the old guard determined to stand at the gates and turn change aside, and he was deeply involved in the push to deny women a more senior role in the church, with this sort of unctuous blather a hallmark of his style:
...it is inevitable that those who voted down the bill would be demonized by the press and by the liberal majority in the General Synod. Some will be acting out of their disappointment and others from a deep seated opposition to evangelical Anglicanism. Still others, who had attempted to lead evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics into acquiescence to the proposed illusory protection, will be frustrated that they were not able to gain the confidence of enough to win the day. However, there will be no real progress until it is recognised that opposition to this proposal is not only perfectly legitimate, but arises from a deep conviction that men and women are equally valued by the God who created and redeemed them yet are intended to complement one another not simply duplicate one another. The teaching of Scripture on the distinction between men and women in the exercise of Christian ministry for the building up of the church and glory of Christ's name is not a time-bound relic of a bygone culture. It is God's good gift which enhances our unity and challenges Christian surrender to one of today's cultural juggernauts. It genuinely values women as opposed to devaluing them. (here)
Yes, it's an awesome example of Michael Jensen's group think at work, but it's also a reminder that the pond has no dog in this fight.
After all, the pond doesn't care to belong to any cult that would have the pond as a member ... and so enough of cults this Sunday.
Posted by dorothy parker at 6/09/2013 08:10:00 AM