Of Course, I Could be Wrong

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When The Oppressed Become The Oppressors
The Black Church’s Hatred Of Gay People

"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive."
(Titus 2:9-10 New International Version)

There are very few things in life that are sadder or more disappointing than when a group of oppressed, or formerly oppressed, people start to viciously attack another group of oppressed or disadvantaged people. The Jews in modern day Israel spring to mind immediately as probably the primary practitioners of this particular type of horrible forgetfulness. Whatever their grievances with the Palestinians you would think their experience, through the last two thousand years of their history, of being regarded as evil outsiders by those they lived with would have led to them being more peaceful and less arrogant in their response to Arab aggression and claims for self-determination in the Bible Lands.

But the Jewish citizens of Israel are not the only racial group to be guilty of this type of tribal selective memory. I remember well the vote in California that overturned a law allowing same sex couples to marry in the state. The biggest group of people who voted to ban such weddings were black Americans. Again, you would have thought that the African American experience of being regarded as not fully human would have led them to have a less judgemental, a less prejudicial, view of other groups of people who are "different" in some "natural" way to the majority and/or the most powerful members of society.

Newsmax has a report today about African American clergy breaking away from the Presbyterian Church USA over its embrace of homosexual marriage. Evidently the National Black Church Initiative, which claims to represent thirty four thousand black churches with fifteen million seven hundred thousand African-American and Latino members, has ended its connection with the mainstream church. With a decidedly unbiblical arrogance it accuses PCUSA of arbitrarily altering scripture to allow the extension of the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples.

Now, I am not going to bother arguing that same gender marriage is not against the teaching of scripture because, quite honestly, I believe the Bible was written by people, with all their inherent and learned prejudices, and not by God, and so is not a reliable and accurate arbiter of what is right and wrong. What I will say, however, is that people who do claim that the Bible is inerrant and use that claim to demand certain types of behaviour from everyone else should always, themselves, personally and collectively, scrupulously adhere to every instruction in the Bible or, at least, as I am a generous man, the New Testament.

Therefore, unless every single member of the National Black Church Initiative has never been guilty of adultery, fornication, impure thoughts of any kind, lust, pride or any other sin, deadly or otherwise; as long as none of them has been divorced and as long as every one of them has given their money away to the poor and refused point blank to borrow or loan money with interest, their self-righteous condemnation of their former co-religionists for being unbiblical is nothing but hypocritical cant. Furthermore, there is far, far more in the New Testament about the acceptability of slavery and the importance of slaves being obedient and dutiful to their "masters" than there is about same gender marriage. In fact, there is absolutely nothing about lesbianism, good or bad, in the Bible. Therefore, I have only one thing to say to the men and women of the National Black Church Initiative:

"Remember Onesimus, stop critisising your betters and get back to work, you lazy slaves!"

Alternatively, they could view their own righteously fought for freedom from unjust oppression and low status as a paradigm describing the freedom achieved for all people by Christ in his passion, death and resurrection, and start preaching the good news rather than the old and bad news that kept their ancestors enslaved and outside of the protection of the law for so many years.

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The Liturgy Of Palm Sunday

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin c. 1842
In the sacrament of the Eucharist, the communion in which we share, we are brought together, with each other and with Christ. This unity allows us to share each others joys and each others sorrows. It is part of the incarnation, the act of the Word, the son of God, becoming flesh, which allowed the divine Christ to know our human suffering. We cannot know the pains that Christ had to bear on the cross and we would not want to, but we can walk with him throughout this coming week of his passion. As we now partake of the bread and the wine, which is as his body and his blood to us, let us promise in our hearts to accompany him all the way.

At Saint Laika’s everyone is invited to receive communion and be in communion. There are no exceptions. If you have been pushed out of a church in the past or if you do not feel part of the institutional churches, for whatever reason, you are especially welcome here, and you will be among people who know exactly how you feel.

If you want to physically partake of communion you will require a small piece of bread and a small amount of drink (preferably made from grapes and containing alcohol). How you view the nature of this part of the service is completely up to you.

Click on the arrow on the far lefthand side of the sound bar to listen to the service now or CLICK HERE to download the podcast so that you can listen to it later at your own convenience.

Alternatively CLICK HERE to access the podcast via iTunes.

Join in with us as we worship God by CLICKING HERE for the order of service, credits and details of the music featured. The words in bold type are the ones we say together.

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We’re All A Bunch Of Nutters

A-scum-231x300There are only two headlines on the front of the English newspapers today. One contains the word "depression." The other contains the word "madman."

Fecking marvellous.

For those of us whose lives have been ruined because the vast majority of employers do not have the vaguest idea about the complexity of mental illness and regard all who have suffered from it as potential serial killers, this is the worst possible news.

I can just imagine a certain bishop of the Church of England smugly thinking to himself today that he was so right to ban me from parish priesthood and then sack me because I had been ill from depression. Heck, if I had been allowed to continue my vocation I might have crashed my church into the side of a Swiss mountain.

The Hypocrisy Of So Called Tolerant Islam

There is a hue and cry going up from France's Muslim community this week following the French government's clamp down on Islamic extremism which includes the stopping of welfare payments to claimants who have gone off to join ISIS.

"Islamophobia!" the French Muslims shout.

Maybe it is or maybe it is just common sense and a sensible way to protect the citizens of France, whatever their faith. Whatever, I can't help thinking that Muslims in democratic countries are being more than a tad hypocritical when they cry "persecution."

For example, "The Times Of Israel" reports that:

Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim cleric called on Tuesday for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula after legislators in the Gulf state of Kuwait moved to pass laws banning the construction of religious sites associated with Christianity. Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who serves as the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, said the destruction of churches was absolutely necessary and is required by Islamic law.

Last month, Osama Al-Munawer, a Kuwaiti member of parliament, announced his plans to submit a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in the country. He later clarified that the law would only apply to new churches, while old ones would be allowed to stay erect.

I seem to remember a whole load of Christians and other assorted infidels risking their lives, not that many years ago, fighting to free Kuwait after it had been successfully invaded by Iraq. Personally, I feel it is rather bad form to go pulling down the buildings of your saviours.

So, should the West start pulling down mosques as I'm sure we could find something in the Bible to support such uncharitable destruction? No, of course, not. A lot of people died or were generally persecuted in the past in order that we can now enjoy a reasonable level of enlightened democracy in our countries. It would be spitting in the cold, dead faces of such martyrs to turn the clock back to Christianity's cruelly dogmatic era. However, that doesn't mean that we should go all soft and wishy washy liberal when we are told about unacceptable acts of religious terrorism in countries where religion is used as a pretext to persecute others, whether that's Arabia, Kuwait, the USA or even my own country with its gay bashing, somewhat misogynist, established church.

I notice that the United Nations had all sorts of trouble enacting a simple decision to allow same sex couples, working for them, the same benefits as straight couples. Islamic states as well as China, India and Russia all tried to scupper the plans. They have accused the UN of legislating against the cultural norms of their nations which, it would appear, is true. But just because something is a cultural norm does not mean it is acceptable. If it can be stated that genocide is wrong, then it can also be stated that the persecution of people because of their faith, or lack of faith, or because of their sexuality, is also wrong.

I do not think that the enlightened should force enlightenment on the unenlightened by using military force or anything like that as such actions would be unenlightened in themselves. However, I do believe that if we strongly believe something is wrong then we should not continue to empower and otherwise support those doing the wrong thing. Of course, that would mean us giving up a lot of stuff that we love, such as oil, electronic goods and designer trainers and, let's face it, we're not going to do that. We are going to keep our mouths shut and allow our brothers and sisters in the Middle east, Pakistan, China and elsewhere to be persecuted even to the point of death so that we can go on texting and driving around whilst wearing our new pair of Nikes. You know, perhaps we are not as civilised as we like to think we are.

Landslide Win For Jesus

From MailOnline:

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Hundreds of believers have flocked to a hillside in Colombia after a landslide revealed the face of Jesus. The 'miraculous' discovery was made in the San Francisco area of Putumayo, Colombia, on Saturday. Since then police have had to be called in to control the crowds as believers from across the country have descended on the hill to witness the 'miracle.' Now some local landowners are cashing in by charging visitors to view the holy image, according to a local newspaper.

No way is that Jesus!

It's Data out of "Star Trek."

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Don’t Blame Me, Blame MadDad

Bob was about to marry Caroline when his father took him to one side and said, 'When I married your mother, the first thing I did when we got home was take off my trousers. I gave them to your mother and told her to put them on. When she did, they were enormous on her and she said to me that she couldn't possibly wear them, as they were too large."

I told her, "Of course they're too big. I wear the trousers in this family and I always will."

Ever since that day, we have never had a single problem.'

Bob took his father's advice and as soon as he got Caroline alone after the wedding, he did the same thing; he took off his trousers, gave them to his new wife and told her to put them on. Caroline said that the trousers were too big and she couldn't possibly wear them.

'Exactly,' replied Bob. 'I wear the trousers in this relationship and I always will. I don't want you to forget that.'

Caroline paused and removed her knickers and gave them to Bob. 'Try these on,' she said, so he tried them on but they were too small.

'I can't possibly get into your knickers,' said Bob.

'Exactly,' replied Caroline. 'And if you don't change your bloody attitude, you never will.'

Jobs For The Girls

Is there such a thing as coincidence?

The second female bishop in the Church of England is married to a bishop.

I wrote a blog about this couple when they first moved to Newcastle Diocese. In it I pointed out the unfairness of the Bishop of Newcastle arranging a job for Mrs White in his diocese so that she could be with Mr White, when he absolutely refused to help priests in his diocese, that he wasn't friends with, find a suitable position (e.g. me).

In other words, I am deeply suspicious that I am correct in my prediction that the allowance of female bishops will make absolutely no difference to the old school tie system of preferment that has always operated in my church. The only difference is that the Boys' Club is now the Boys' and (safe) Girls' Club.

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