Sunday, November 06, 2011

Theology Redux

I
The Ju-Ju gave us these magic biscuits. If you eat them, you will live for ever.

II
That’s not quite right. If you do the magic dance the Ju-Ju taught us, you will live for ever. Eating biscuits is an important part of the ceremony, of course, but it is the whole dance that’s magic: there’s nothing special about the actual biscuits themselves.

III
That’s not quite right. The magic isn’t in the biscuit or the dance; the magic comes from fixing your mind on the Ju-Ju and submitting to him inwardly. The dance is just a way of helping you focus.

IV
That’s not quite right. Since the magic comes from fixing your mind on the Ju-Ju and submitting to him inwardly, there’s no real need for anything else. Some people say that we’ve gone away from the Ju-Ju by giving up eating magic biscuits and dancing magic dances, but that’s not really true. It's just that we’ve spotted that our whole life is part of the dance, and all the biscuits we eat are magical.

V
That’s not quite right. The magic doesn’t come from fixing your mind on the Ju-Ju or submitting to him; it comes from living as he did, and working to put his political principles into practice in today’s world. That’s what he meant by “dancing”. And “magic” biscuits are biscuits which you share with people who don’t have any biscuits of their own; and that applies to all other kinds of food as well. And "for ever" means “in a world where no one starves or begs for bread; where everyone gives what they can and takes what they need; where health care is free at the point of need; and where countries settle their problems without wars.”

VI
That’s not quite right. The Ju-Ju came to show people that their belief in magic biscuits, magic dances and living forever was completely wrong, and, in fact wicked: that the whole idea of a magic biscuits which makes you lived for ever is, in fact evil. He was only interested in sharing food, socialized medicine, and countries solving their problems without wars. Some bad people came along and added magic biscuits and magic dances to his supposed teachings for their own ends.



54 comments:

  1. Is that intended as a progression? If so, then how interesting that social justice should be the step too far that starts us on the road to error.

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  2. It's not biscuits, and anyone who says it is deserves to be cast out. Anyone who takes the time to study the original text can plainly see that the Ju Ju expects us to eat flapjacks.

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  3. Is that intended as a progression?

    Rather the opposite, I think. One of those things is not like the others.

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  4. Sam: why do you pick V as the step where it goes wrong?

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  5. Neil: as I read it, IV is Protestantism and VI is salvation through works.

    But my point is: there is, in fact, no necessary connection between Christian movements for social justice and Pelagianism. So what does it say that an expressed desire to make the world a better place is a reason to suspect heresy?

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  6. VI is salvation through works.

    Did you read VI? I - V are different view of how salvation works; IV says there is no salvation and to think there is is wicked.

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  7. Sorry, 'VI says...'

    These Roman numerals are crazy (taptaptaptaptap).

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  8. Sorry - typo. V is salvation through works, obviously.

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  9. Right, so you can understand that an expressed desire to make the world a better place (V) is not a reason to suspect heresy, but an expressed view that the idea of 'salvation' is 'wicked' (VI) is a reason to suspect heresy?

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  10. SK - Point V is heresy and point VI is apostasy, isn't it? So the progression goes from the very specific (magic biscuits) to the very abstract (doing good), with Christianity inhabiting a sort of Aristotelian mean in the middle.

    But - once again - isn't it interesting that the line between unproblematic and problematic should be social justice and not (say) charitable works?

    To make my point explicit:

    And the priests looked down into the pit of injustice
    and they turned away their faces and said
    Our kingdom is not as the kingdom of this world
    Our life on earth is but a pilgrimage
    The soul lives on humility and patience
    at the same time screwing from the poor their last centime
    They settled down among their treasures
    and ate and drank with princes
    and to the starving they said
    Suffer
    Suffer as he suffered on the cross
    for it is the will of God


    - Peter Weisse, "Marat/Sade"

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  11. I think you have entirely missed the point. But it's not for me to keep explaining someone else's work.

    (Hint: Point V isn't heresy. It's not even semi-Pelagianism. Point VI is the only one with the whiff of heresy about it.)

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  12. STOP

    Under "V" and "VI" delete "in a world where no one starves ...problems without wars".

    Replace with, say "in a state of sexual chastity, sobriety, modesty of dress and simplicty of life".

    If desired, under I, insert

    "Once you have eaten the magic biscuit, the Ju-Ju expects you to live in a state of sexual chastity, sobriety, modesty of dress and simplicty of life" (or "Only those who live in a state of...may eat the magic biscuit.)

    CARRY ON

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  13. @Nick

    Could you clarify your point, for the sake of the less bright souls in the cheap seats. Is it

    1: "Some religious difference are just pointless, sectarian signifiers that don't really make any difference. You should have included them in your model."

    2: "All the relgious differences represented in your model are in fact pointless, sectarian signifiers that don't really make any difference."

    3: "All religious arguments are in fact pointless, sectarian signifiers that don't really make any difference."

    (I take it that you point is that "biscuit" and "flapjack" amount to the same thing, and not that some people will impose meanings on scripture so far fetched that they will EVEN claim that flapjacks are biscuits? [Although that happens too: cf the fellow who thinks that all Biblical injunctions against bestiality are really injunctions against misegeny, on the ground that beast "obviously" "really" "means" foriegner]).

    Thanks

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  14. The meanings of words are, of course constantly changing, and some people are completely unaware of the difference between "analogy" and "allegory". An analogy is a similarity between particular aspects of otherwise disparate things, on which a comparison may be based; where as "allegory" is the American politician who directed "An Inconvenient Truth".

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  15. Biscuits and flapjacks the same thing? Heretic! And that's before we get onto Americans saying 'flapjack' when they mean drop scone.

    As much as I had a clear point to make I think it would fall somewhere between theses one and two.

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  16. @Nick: Just to be completely clear: you are saying that

    A
    This biscuit is magic

    B:
    Everything is magic and

    C:
    There is no such thing as magic

    D:
    There is no such thing as magic and believing in magic is positively bad for you

    are basically saying the same thing and quibbling about vocabulary?

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  17. Under "V" and "VI" delete "in a world where no one starves ...problems without wars".

    Replace with, say "in a state of sexual chastity, sobriety, modesty of dress and simplicty of life".


    Cool. But the bit I found interesting was that you didn't.

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  18. No.

    Because the particular instance we were refering to did, in fact, believe in social justice rather than sobriety and chastity. ("Jesus is more concerned with what you do with your wallet than with what you with your willy".)

    But other instances of the same phenomeon could have been cited, and indeed have been: Mr Charles Dickens, Mr Woody Guthrie, Mr John Lennon, The Rev. Geraldine Grainger, Mr Douglas Adams, Miss Govey who taught R.E at Church Hill J.M.I. (It's not about magic biscuits, it's about being as good as you can possibly be; getting out and joining a trades union; "peace"; trying to love people you don't like very much; being nice to people for a change; owning up when you've been naughty and not running in the corridors.)

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  19. I thin Nick may not have got the memo that the Logical Positivists were wrong.

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  20. I thin Nick may not have got the memo that the Logical Positivists were wrong.

    I think Nick may not even be entirely clear what Logical Positivists are.

    Nick: Just to be completely clear: you are saying that ...

    are basically saying the same thing and quibbling about vocabulary?


    I don't think so.

    Look, it was an off the cuff reaction to your taking a discussion which I might not netirely follow, but could look details up on wikipedia, and framing it in a clear progression of straw men, and thinking that your biscuit faith needed a few branching heresies if it was every going to make a worthwhile game of Credo. I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.

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  21. The impression I got was that Nick was saying (flippantly), 'Magic ju-ju doesn't exist. Therefore all statements about magic ju-ju are logically meaningless. All logically meaningless statements are equivalent, therefore all statements about magic ju-ju are semantically equivalent, and it is very funny to mock the people arguing over the colour of unicorn poo.'

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  22. I think SK is correct to recognise flippancy, but is reading far more in than I intended.

    Religious people argue about weird little points that seem completely irrelevant to those who are not versed in their faith? I don't think the the filoque (spelling?) is worth losing sleep over, let alone killing over. At least some Christians have disagreed (yes, I know that the 4th Crusade was also about Venice trying to become Top Trading Nation), that does not mean it was not real to such people, but given that we now regard Christians killing Christians over such things as barking mad, I don't think we really need to worry too much about understanding such thinking.
    YMMV.

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  23. I don't see how they are straw dolls. There is some simplification in there, obviously, because that is how analogies work. There assuredly are Christians who say "we don't have sacrements; although really, that's because we think everything's a sacrement." Doubtless, I could have noted that although the Quakers are socially liberal and theologically liberal, the Bretheren and the Salvation Army (who take a similar view of Sacrements, I think) are theologically and socially conservative. I could also have imagine a sect where the clergy believed that III and IV were both true at once, but the laity believed V. Say, in a country that was both a monarchy and and democracy at the same time.

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  24. Are there any points Christian argue over which outsiders can see the relevance of? Or is it all Balrog wings?

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  25. contraception, abortion and divorce?

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  26. Off the top of my head: Should one defer to a possibly corrupt, but apastolic, Church authority, or should one follow ones own concience? (Aka, the reformation)

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  27. On the other hand, I don't think contraception is a comprehensible debate. Nor the CofE's current termoil over the importance of the Episcopal todger.

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  28. But you see, on my model, it's perfectly comprehensible. I: "The Magic Biscuit Making Spell only works if cast by an Elf (Players Handbook 2nd Ed, p52.) We have nothing against Dwarves; it just happens that that spell can't be cast by one." III & IV: Well, we don't really believe it's a "spell" in that sense, so it doesn't matter who casts it. V & VI: What did I tell you? The whole idea of magic biscuits is inherently Dwarfist.

    Granted, a group of clerics could get itself into a big muddle if, having decided that a Dwarf COULD cast Create Magic Biscuit, they still claimed that only an Elf could perform Ordination, and that biscuit making spells cast by Dwarves who'd been ordained by other Dwarves didn't work; particularly if all the clerics concerned were firmly in the V & VI camp. Very camp, in some cases. Although even that could be explained: "Right now, we regard ourselves as being part of the same religion as I & II; and they regard us as being in the same religion as them. Because I & II think that the Biscuit Spell can only be cast by Elves, it would be a great mistake to start having Dwarvish clerics, because that would make them believe that none of our spells were valid and that our whole church basically didn't count." To which someone else would reply "Well, we think Dwarf / Elf equality counts for more than unity between I/II and III/IV" And they might be right. It's all perfectly straight forward.

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  29. Andrew, I think you are actually writing to people who see that analogy and think, 'But I know you play this game where you pretend to believe in all this stuff, but surely you know at some level that all those rules were just made up by a bunch of dead guys with beards, and that it's not, you know, real, and that you can change the rules if you want to, so yes I know you find it fun to spend hours debating these rules as if they mean something, but you must realise (though I know that you mustn't break the immersion by saying so) that in the end it's all just playing around with words and at some point you'll leave it be and go and do something really with your lives, like play Dungeons and Dragons?'

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  30. NB: There may be a perfectly sensible Episcopal todger debate (two in fact, must there be one? and assuming there does, what can be done with it?) but I was attempting to answer SK's question about whether intra-church debates made sense to mundanes.

    And to your general non-believer the first todger debate is nonsensical. There's been a generation for which sit-coms about the weirdness of lady vicars are about as old fashioned as those episodes of Terry & June where Terry got upset because June wanted to get a job.

    There are a few old people who don't get that they lost that debate. Just like there are a few mad old catholics in the hills who insist that God sticks his fingers in his Holy ears and says la-la-la if anyone tries to pray in any language other than Latin.

    Does that make sense? I could probably paraphrase the whole thing into Glorantha if that would help.

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  31. Are there any points Christian argue over which outsiders can see the relevance of? Or is it all Balrog wings?

    It's always going to be Balrog wings for people who don't share your premises. Which is why there can be value in the much-mocked approach of explaining how Christian doctrine is relevant, in a very real sense, to how we live our lives.

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  32. @Nick - Female ordination isn't a good example of a you say tomato, but I say tomato debate, is it? You aren't saying "One side of the church is, amusingly, saying that women can be bishops; the other side of the church is, amusingly, saying that women can't be bishops, but to the rest of us "letting women be bishops" and "not letting women be bishops" amount to the same thing? You are that one side of the debate is (in your opinion) very obviously correct, and the other side is very obviously wrong.

    Isn't there a hell of an assumption lurking behind your language, anyway -- "gender differences are of no signficance"; "a woman is just a man without a penis"?

    There have been "flap jack / biscuit" type debates, though: no-one denies it; arguments about clerical vests and what is the correct way to genuflect. (Although it is possible that "crossing yourself from left to right" was significant in the way that "burning the Stars and Stripes" or " openly displaying a Swastika" is significant now.) And maybe "Yours is not the true church because I don't like your priest's vest" turned out to mean "You can't preach the gospel to the poor with any credibility of your bishops robes costs more than The Poor earns in a month."

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  33. I note that I don't know what actual idea "balrog wings" is meant to point to.

    Does it mean "Balrogs have wings" and "Balrogs don't have wings" are both equally true or equally false because there is no such thing as Balrogs. (Corollary: "Gandalf was a Hobbit" and "Gandalf was an Elf" are both equally true and equally false because there is not such thing as Gandalf.) The question: "Does it matter to God if and how we are baptised" and "Does God approve or disaprove of abortion" and "Is God a Trinity" and "Does the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son or from the Father Alone" are all literally meaningless (like "how many wallabies in a cabbage") because God does not exist.

    Or does "balrog wings" represent a particular kind of religious debate?

    Does it represent "the kind of debate which is important to believers, but doesn't matter to people who don't accept the basic tenets of religion" (e.g "Which kinds of Holy Orders are valid? Who is, and who is not, a priest?")

    Or does it represent "the kind of debate which is pointless even if you are a believer" (e.g "Do angels wear clothes? What language did Adam and Even speak?)

    Which category would you put the question "Can you remove the supernatural element from Christianity and still be left with something identifiably Christian?" in?

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  34. When I said, 'Balrog wings' I meant the logical positivist '"Balrogs have wings" and "Balrogs don't have wings" are both equally true or equally false because there is no such thing as Balrogs.' because that seems to be basically what the flapjack-mockery comes down to: 'you're arguing about something made-up and, okay, there might be an answer which is more consistent with the made-up things than other answers, but fundamentally don't you see that arguing about such made-up things is silly?'

    See for example:'Corollary: "There were Elves at Helm's Deep" and "Helm's Deep was an Elf-free battle" are both equally true and equally false because there are no such things as elves and, for that matter, no such place as Helm's Deep. Of course, only one of those statements is concistent with the book, but as the book was mad eup that doesn't make it 'true', and if Mr Jackson wants to rewrite it in such a way that in his version there were elves at Helm's Deep, well, you can say that isn't consistent with the made-up books, but surely you realise that having an argument about whether some made-up creatures were at a made-up battle is a silly thing to do, of the same kind of silliness as arguing abotu whether it's biscuits or flapjacks make you live forever, given that neither will actually make you live for ever.''

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  35. @Andrew,
    I shall point this out again. The question was about whether people outside the church could properly understand Big Theological Divides.
    Female Bishops is something which divides the church for reasons you explain, but (based on my fairly limited polling of workmates and lodgers) is something confuses those outside the tent.
    The 'no religion really, but CofE for Weddings and Funerals' tent anyhow. A different deal to Roman hangers on I expect.
    I am saying nothing about what different sides of the church think, I'm not particularly trying to say what I think.
    What I am saying is that the lay public no longer see a lady vicar as the least bit odd, and therefore don't really understand why some people do.
    The people who kick up a big fuss, I might go so far to say, are seen as the weirdos and the freaks. The Anne Widecombe-eque types who so loathe how God made them that they can't beleive that He could ever chose someone like them to serve him. They are not seen as a legitimate point of view. Just odd. Odder than most religious types.

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  36. Which is why there can be value in the much-mocked approach of explaining how Christian doctrine is relevant, in a very real sense, to how we live our lives.

    If you could explain to me how Christian doctrine could possibly be relevant in any sense, real or unreal, to the person who thinks that the basis of it was made up by a bunch of old men with beards wandering around the desert a handful of thousand years ago, then I would be very grateful.

    Because I honestly can't see how it could be, unless it's in the sense of, 'Here's how you can use made-up God-language to give a mystical gloss to the thing the Guardian is telling you you should do anyway.'

    I mean, I'm not a Marxist. How would a Marxist go about explaining to me how Marxist doctrine is relevant, in a very real sense, to how I live my life?

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  37. If you could explain to me how Christian doctrine could possibly be relevant in any sense, real or unreal, to the person who thinks that the basis of it was made up by a bunch of old men with beards wandering around the desert a handful of thousand years ago, then I would be very grateful.

    Perhaps the doctrine could be relevant even if its origin was suspect? I'd have thought Christian evangelism would be more your line than mine. But as a general approach, it's always good to find points of agreement if you're trying to engage with someone who doesn't share your views.

    How would a Marxist go about explaining to me how Marxist doctrine is relevant, in a very real sense, to how I live my life?

    Marxism claims to be based on observation of (social) reality rather than revelation, so it's a bit of a different approach. The great money trick is a classic and much-cited example.

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  38. Perhaps the doctrine could be relevant even if its origin was suspect?

    How? An example given above was abortion. Say we're discussing abortion and I say, 'Ah, here's a place where Christian doctrine is relevant to how we live our lives, because God did X and therefore you should do Y, as it proceeds logically from God doing X.'

    But then you say, 'But I don't believe in God, so why should I care what proceeds logically from what your made-up sky fairy did or didn't do? So what relevance has Y got to my life?'

    And I say... what? How can what the doctrine tells us about how we should live our lives be at all relevant to someone who doesn't accept the doctrine?

    The Tressell extract seems to not be about showing people how Marxist doctrine is relevant to their lives, but instead to be about trying to convince people that Marxist doctrine is in fact correct.

    And I agree that it would certainly be relevant to try to convince people that Christian doctrine is correct: that God does exist (and therefore X should influence our lives and we should do Y).

    But you were suggesting there was some way that Christian doctrine could be relevant to someone who doesn't believe in God, and I still don't see how that could be. If I reject Tressell's analysis and continue to disbelieve in Marxism, then Marxist doctrine continues to be irrelevant to how I live my life: if anybody says, 'You should do B because according to Marx, A' I will say, 'What relevance has what Marx says? Marx wrote a lot of guff, and also, had a very amusing beard.'

    So again I ask: you said that there might be some way to show that Christian doctrine is relevant to the daily lives of people who don't believe in it; please tell me how you think that might be.

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  39. Which category would you put the question "Can you remove the supernatural element from Christianity and still be left with something identifiably Christian?" in?

    I'd say that's actually two implicit questions: "what do we mean by supernatural" and "what do we mean by Christian". Insofar as it's about inclusion, I'd say it belongs to the "important only to believers" category.

    But - and this, I think, is the crucial point - a complete outsider(*) might accept the validity of your three categories but doesn't have a reason to care about them. On a meta level, the question "what do you mean by Balrog wings?" is itself a question of Balrog wings.

    (*) Of which I am not an example, or I wouldn't be having this conversation.

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  40. You aren't saying "One side of the church is, amusingly, saying that women can be bishops; the other side of the church is, amusingly, saying that women can't be bishops, but to the rest of us "letting women be bishops" and "not letting women be bishops" amount to the same thing?

    Of course, the real problem isn't women bishops, it's bishops at all; or, rather, the creation of a set of people called 'clergy' and saying they are in some way different from non-clergy. Whether women are allowed in the clergy club is rather an insignificant point when the main theological failing is to have set up the club in the first place (and was compounded by not getting rid of the club properly in the seventeenth century when you had the chance).

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  41. So again I ask: you said that there might be some way to show that Christian doctrine is relevant to the daily lives of people who don't believe in it; please tell me how you think that might be.

    Well... you might try to show that their moral intuitions converge on Christian morality and that Christianity is the fullest expression of those intuitions. Or, approaching from the opposite side, you could try to show that things that they find wrong with the world come from failures to follow Christian moral guidelines.

    (Or you could make Christianity directly relevant by successfully praying for miracles for them, I suppose - but I understand that approach is no longer popular.)

    I'm a bit confused here. Are you really arguing that the only valid form of evangelism is of standing on a corner with a megaphone shouting "Repent!"?

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  42. Well... you might try to show that their moral intuitions converge on Christian morality and that Christianity is the fullest expression of those intuitions

    I'm not sure how that would mean that Christian doctrine was relevant to their lives, rather than that Christian doctrine had just happened to come up with a moral framework that they agreed with.

    In practice of course they will probably agree with some of the moral framework and disagree with other bits (as I'm sure I and a Marxist would agree on some things). But just agreeing with a Marxist on some bits of moral framework doesn't mean the doctrine is relevant to me: stopped-clock syndrome.

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  43. @SK,

    But surely many philosophers have argued that modern "liberal-humanist" morality is descended from Christian doctine in the first place - and as Andrew's analogy shows. Surely then, in theory, it should be possible to formulate arguments that would be persuasive to an atheist about some moral question that didn't depend on Christ as deity for their force (because otherwise the progression in the analogy couldn't have happened in the first place).

    Of course, if salvation only comes from the biscuits and the dance, then there can be no such discussion. But the character of the Biblical Jesus actually allows the progression and makes such debates possible?

    Regards

    John

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  44. @ Nick,

    I'm not sure homophobia is entirely, or mostly, limited to Christians, but churches are one of the last institutions were some degree of discrimination is permitted. Surely then, the debate on the roles permitted to homosexuals in the Church is of the utmost importance to a large section of society, as a clear decision in favour of ending discrimination against homosexuals would be the last bastion of the traditional establishment to fall (even though, obviously, this is not the way the issue would be debated inside the churches)?

    Regards

    John

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  45. The Anne Widecombe-eque types who so loathe how God made them that they can't beleive that He could ever chose someone like them to serve him. They are not seen as a legitimate point of view. Just odd. Odder than most religious types.

    I don't know anything about Ann Widdecombe and I have no interest in defending her. However, I do know a number of Christian women (mostly Catholic) who object to female priests and have a view of marriage similar to Paul's as set out in Ephesians and I do have an interest in defending them (even if I don't agree with them about the existence of God). They would very much object to the view that they "so loathe how God made them." Your argument, I believe, is that if men were meant by God to have headship over women, that this necessarily implies that men are superior to women or that women are "loathesome" or some such. However, this view is expressly denied in the Gospels.

    "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."

    Even in the infamous passages in Ephesians, there does not appear to be any hint of an assumption, unless one imposes it interpretatively, that women are inferior to men and certainly not loathesome. Before urging women to submit to their husbands, Paul urges everyone to submit to each other, indicating that he does not view submission as inherently shameful or inferior. And while men are not urged to submit to their wives, there is a similar asymmetry in that only men are urged to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. I.e. for all his headship, a man is expected to die for his wife, but she is not expected to die for him.

    I don't know Ann Widdecombe and it's possible that she subscribes to a misogynistic theology, but I think it's also possible that you just haven't understood her beliefs. This does not go to the heart of your argument which is that in the U.K. she and others of her views are considered weirdos or freaks, which I cannot speak to, but I assume you're correct about that.

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  46. Homophobia strikes me as a difficult one since the debate within the mainstream churches bears little resemblance to the public impression of what Christians think about it.
    The general impression seems to be dominated by the virulent homophobes like the Fred Phelps and the Westbro Baptist clan - perhaps there are some doubts that Giles Fraser's orthodox enough to be called a Christian, but he's got nothing on the Phelps mob.
    So the mainstream Christian debate, which I think largely boils down to 'if everyone is sinful, are there some sins that particularly disqualify someone from the clergy or the episcopate' then it's not that the debate's incomprehensible, it's that it's not heard.

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  47. So the mainstream Christian debate, which I think largely boils down to 'if everyone is sinful, are there some sins that particularly disqualify someone from the clergy or the episcopate'

    You are completely and utterly wrong.

    Both sides agree that they understand members of the clergy are human and so will sin occasionally, but they expect them to at least try not to sin and, if they do, to repent. Both sides agree that persistently and unrepentantly sinning is falling short of the standards expected of the clergy, and sending out all the wrong signals.

    Neither side thinks that there are sins that would disqualify someone from the clergy, and sins that wouldn't. Both sides agree that any unrepentant sinning at all marks someone as unsuitable for ordination.

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  48. Coming late to the party again, with little to add, except:

    1) Due to illness, I've been short on my Magic Biscuit eating, and I really miss it.

    2) You're all just women without uteri and functional mammary glands to me.

    3) I agree that some of the things we once slew each other for seem small now. Hpwever, my church (The Episcopal Church (USA), in reaching a concordat with our national version of the Lutheran church, abandoned a few centuries of Hooker's definition of Magic Biscuits (faith in the heart of the believer) in favor of the doctrine of consubstantiation, and I still think this was a mistake.

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  49. NOTE

    Michael Martinez surely settled the question once and for all: prior to 1940, Balrogs did not have wings; after 1940 they did.

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  50. Speaking of which, I have coincidnetally just complete the first "release candidate" of my book on Mr C.S Lewis and Mr J.R.R Tolkien, the title of which is, co-incidentally "Do Balrogs Have Wings and other pressing questions."

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  51. That is great news - any idea on when it might be out?

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  52. Hmmm

    Mr Lulu sends me a proof copy. 2 days.

    I read it and scribble on the typos. 5 days

    I order another copy from Mr Lulu. 3 days.

    I give it to some suitably qualified proof reader (let's call her "Mum") for final approval 5 days.

    I push the "publish" button. No time at all.

    So "in time for Christmas" if that's what you were thinking.

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