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On OzPolitics and Bishop Holloway

A couple of items which attracted my attention in today’s Australian.

1. George Megalogenis: Nation leans to the Left.

This makes a great deal of sense, I think.

IT’S the trend that dare not speak its name because neither side of politics is accustomed to thinking about the electorate in this way. But Australia, for the time being, has tilted leftward in a way it has never done before.

Every Newspoll since Kevin Rudd became Labor leader in December 2006 has seen the Centre Left gather more than 50 per cent of the primary vote; a prospective landslide in anyone’s language. Centre Left in this context means Labor and the Greens. The Coalition, by contrast, has not reached 40 per cent on its primary since the previous federal election.

Even in its reform heyday of the 1980s, when Bob Hawke enjoyed record approval ratings, the Centre Left never had more than a month’s worth of Newspolls with a primary voting intention above 50 per cent, namely in June 1987. Back then the nation’s third party was the Australian Democrats, an offshoot of the progressive side of the Liberals. Today the third party, the Greens, is to the left of Labor…

The original in print has a handy graph.

2. Stephen Jewell:  Doubting cleric’s church in exile.

I have in the past referred you to Richard Holloway, former Anglican Primus of Scotland: here and here. He has just published a new book, Between the Monster and the Saint. Australian publisher Text has taken it up. On 6 April Phillip Adams interviewed Holloway. It was an excellent interview.  I have also uploaded the relevant extract to my new eSnips account.

 

Bishop Richard Holloway

I am reading Richard Holloway’s Doubts and Loves (2001) at the moment, and find in it an antidote both to cynicism and fanaticism. It really is a wonderful book. Lesbian writer Jeanette Winterson reviews it thus:
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2009 Jan -June

January

Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole

1 January: End of decade – or not; 4 January: Mothballed. 14 January: Re-opened as Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole; memorabilia 1: overview (also posted on Floating Life); memorabilia 2: great-grandmother — 1940s; memorabilia 3: the telegram – World War II. 15 January: memorabilia 4: the card — 1951; memorabilia 5: soror mea c. 1948. 16 January: memorabilia 6: Papua 1945. 17 January: memorabilia 7: RAAF in World War II. 18 January: memorabilia 8: RAAF in World War II – documents 1. 19 January: Memorabilia 9: RAAF in World War II – documents 2. 20 January: memorabilia 10: cradle roll 19 August 1945. 21 January: memorabilia 11: 1944-1945. 22 January: memorabilia 12: my grandfather in the 1880s. 24 January: memorabilia 13: 1993-4. 30 January: memorabilia 14: the graduation 1965. 31 January: January 2009 Report 1.

Floating Life

1 January: Floating Life and English/ESL in 2008. 2 January: Mendelssohn Bicentenary; Last 2008 in review post: my also-rans… Goodbye, Journalspace!; A whiff of sanity on Israel and Palestine. 3 January: WP stats and my latest; Yes, it’s on again; I hereby ban the word “fascist” from this blog…. 4 January: Hmmm… Been blogging for way too long…; Rationalising resources; Just a quiet Sunday afternoon in Surry Hills… 1; Just a quiet Sunday afternoon in Surry Hills… 2.

5 January: Joshua to Gaza 2009; My blog wordled, and Quote of the Week #1. 6 January: Radio National Poetry special: Five Bells by Kenneth Slessor; It’s hot, but so’s the cricket. 7 January: New Year blogging resolutions; 2009 book notes: 1; Yesterday’s crisis; What an amazing Test Match! 8 January: Breaking the silence on my English/ESL blog!; Two from regulars to this blog; Fascinating blogging and cultural phenomenon; A rabbi on Gaza; I’ve been writing an HSC English essay! 9 January: You can tell Thomas is on holidays…; Friday intellectual spot 1; Behind the news: Rosemeadow NSW. 10 January: DO ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS FIT YOU?; Five more from regulars to this blog; Reconciling cybercondoms with a low end computer; What’s new: Sunday 11 January to Saturday 17 January. 11 January: Sunday is music day 1; Sunday Floating Life photo 1.

12 January: Only the demons are dancing…; Quote of the week: Week 2 2009; Coming up on the photoblog. 13 January: Transamerica — SBS last Saturday night ****; More top viewing, and the pity of war; Is my blog changing direction?. 14 January: Here’s another “100 best novels of all time” post; Nancy Bird Walton; Memorabilia. 15 January: On this day I blogged… of course; Bloggies, bloggers, and internet filtering; Yes, it is a hot day in Surry Hills today. 16 January: Friday poem: 2009 #1 – Pablo Neruda; Meanwhile in Zimbabwe; Friday intellectual spot 2; Friday school holiday games in Prince Alfred Park. 17 January: Saturday is stats time; This post has no title. 18 January: Sunday is music day 2: Brahms Piano Quintet in Fm, 4th mvmt; Sunday Floating Life photo 2; Bonus poem: Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000).

19 January: Quote(s) of the week 3 2009 – and more; Surry Hills: coming up on the photoblog; Obama in Surry Hills? 20 January: 1949: I was there and even remember it!; We would all do well to read this. 21 January: Slowdown; My blog picks on the Obama Inauguration. 22 January: If the USA can have a new President…; Bishop Robinson’s “lost prayer”. 23 January: Friday intellectual spot 3: Frank Furedi; Friday poem 2009 #2: perhaps the shortest ever!; Freak shows – or how Irfan Yusuf spoiled this post with some bloody facts!; School holidays coming to an end; Cricket in Sydney. 24 January: What scored in the past week; Irfan Yusuf and the ranting nut-jobs. 25 January: What’s new: Sunday 25 January to Saturday 31 January; Sunday is music day 3: nothing if not eclectic!; Sunday Floating Life photo 3; Very rare and special: pics from M’s Chinese New Year Party 1; Very rare and special: pics from M’s Chinese New Year Party 2; Very rare and special: pics from M’s Chinese New Year Party 3.

26 January: If it’s Australia Day expect at least some party-poopers…; I’m not Jewish, and I’m offended…. 27 January: Top viewing last night: Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (2007) *****; Wet Monday. 28 January: Is it time to consider Linux? 29 January: Change and decay in all around I see…; I’m not an atheist but…. 30 January: Friday intellectual spot 4: Jerry A. Coyne; Friday poem 2005 #3 – Robert Frost “Design”. 31 January: Kevin, Peter, Malcolm … and Jim … on 2009 not being 1996…; RadarSync and other geeky things; January 2009 – posts with 200+ views.

February

Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole

1 February: January 2009 Report 2. 9-15 February: A week of respect and solidarity. 14 February: The bushfire and the Australian imagination. 15 February: Memorabilia 15: 1959 — or thereabouts.

Floating Life

1 February: To think about: CEO ethics; Sunday is music day 4: for Mardi Gras — and the Welsh; Floating Life Sunday photo 4. 2 February: What a pity I am retired… 3 February: Lots to think about – international, national, local. 4 February: Quote of the week, and book reviews 1; Journalspace is back; Jon Taplin on brain-dead economics. 5 February: Book reviews concluded; Rudd in “The Monthly” – but there really is more. 6 February: Friday poem 2009 #4 – Poetry on 3 Quarks Daily; Friday intellectual spot 5: 3 Quarks Daily and Dissent; Nice, but hot. 7 February: Saturday, Saturday…; To market, to market, to buy a fat hen…; Noted: major post by Jim Belshaw.

8 February: Sunday is music day 5 — Mattias Jacobsson – Concierto de Aranjuez, Adagio; Floating Life Sunday photo 5; Church of the holy bicycles…; BlogExplosion has reappeared. 9 February: Thinking about Victoria; 9-13 February: A week of respect and solidarity. 13 February: Re-opening today, but keeping to the bushfire theme; Instead of the Friday poem: Dorothy McRae-McMahon; 13 February. 14 February: Saturday quick stats; Still on the fires.

15 February: Sunday is music day 6: gay anthems; Floating Life Sunday photo 6: Mardi Gras Fair Day. 16 February: Last night I was 15 again…; If there’s a catastrophe anywhere the Jihadists have done it…; Four Corners: Two Days in Hell. 17 February: We also had Media Watch on ABC last night…. 18 February: For many kids Civics is arid, deadly dull and is thus hard to teach. 19 February: Our wet spell in Sydney seems to have receded…; Three blogs from Iraq or Iran; Seduced!. 20 February: Sad but true; Friday intellectual spot 6: Alan Wolfe on liberalism and New Scientist on religion; Speaking of pretty…. 21 February: The Saturday stats – last one for Feb; Breakfast in Glebe.

22 February: Bushfire memorial. 23 February: The 7.30 Report, the Australian War Memorial, Indigenous history. 24 February: Another great Monday night on ABC; Pakistan on the Brink – Four Corners. 25 February: Fifty years on – guess what, nothing is for ever!; Almost decent wireless broadband speed!; Bonds, King Gee owner slashes 1,850 jobs – ABC News. 26 February: Tori Amos on blogging; St Mary’s South Brisbane; Most popular photos February 2009. 27 February: Friday poem #5 – from Thylazine – Michelle Cahill; Friday intellectual spot 7: Tobias Ziegler on perceptions of ideological bias in research; Love Ned the Bear. 28 February: Irony (noun) – the Murdoch press thundering about purity in English Studies (see also “hypocrisy”).

March

Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole

1 March: February blog stats 1 – most visited posts; February blog stats 2 — totals.

Floating Life

1 March: Floating Life Sunday photo 7; Sunday is music day 7 – nostalgia; I’ve seen wordless posts before…. 2 March: Old books, old movies, old mentalities. 3 March: Oh dear, I am – and to my cost rather too often; 2009 book notes 2. 4 March: Surry Hills fauna; Pakistan: Sri Lanka Cricket team attacked; March 09 South Sydney Herald out…. 5 March: Time for a poll; Depression?; Notwithstanding the previous post…. 6 March: One-time pride of Journalspace – John Birmingham’s “Cheeseburger Gothic”; Friday poem #6 – A E Housman “On Wenlock Edge”; Catholic Taliban – very, very ugly…. 7 March: First Saturday stats for March; Recession solving teacher shortage?; Two from The Oz; “Must read” is inadequate for a post like Worldman’s latest.

8 March: Floating Life Sunday photo 8; Sunday is music day 8 — Blues for the Soul – Tropfest Australia 2008. 9 March: Pungent quotes from my Blog Rollers; Compass last night: Bridge Over the Wadi; Blog security — and my favourite blogging tool. 10 March: The American Dream – Vanity Fair, Howard Fast, and some right-wing flummery…; Really good blogging advice; Quote of the week: Iris Erlingsdottir. 11 March: Dr C says yes. 12 March: More on yesterday at Dr C’s; Old Sydney: sandstone terrace near Little Oxford Street; My “Irish Correspondent” is very sad…. 13 March: Friday poem #7 – Ben Jonson. 14 March: Bad Archaeology; March 14 Saturday stats.

15 March: Sunday Floating Life photo 9; Sunday is music day 9 — Paul Simon & Miriam Makeba. 16 March: BlogExplosion back on track. 17 March: Decline. 18 March: On race and policy: worth noting. 19 March: The nitty gritty of English. 20 March: Two issues fellow bloggers have taken up. 21 March: Who read what – week ending 21 March 2009.

22 March: Sunday Floating Life photo 10; Sunday is music day 10. 23 March: Who are you calling an ideologue? 24 March: Strange and sad. 25 March: Just a tad loaded, don’t you think? 26 March: The Great Firewall of Oz debacle. 27 March: Revisited The Mine, after a senior moment… 28 March: Saturday stats 28 March; I too was offered a free trip to China….

29 March: Sunday Floating Life photo 11; Sunday is music day 11: Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings. 30 March: A rather odd argument?; Power outage.

April

Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole

1 April: Blogs in March 2009 – the stats fetish post. 7 April: Memorabilia 16 – 50 years on. 14 April: Memorabilia 17 – Sydney University: Fisher Library c.1960. 17 April: Memorabilia 18 – to mark retirement – with a local addition; 19 April: Effect of BlogExplosion. 24 April: Memorabilia 19: wartime wedding.

Floating Life

1 April: Wet morning. 2 April: Straying on to Marcellous’s territory. 3 April: Four from Surry Hills Library: 1. 4 April: Good commentary on Australian economy; Saturday roundup 4th April; Uncomfortable but possibly correct thoughts on Afghanistan.

5 April: Sunday is music day 12 — June Tabor; Sunday Floating Life photo 12; Solo Sunday lunch: Batik Courtyard Cafe. 6 April: Four from Surry Hills Library: 2 – and two OzLit blogs; Google translator experiment. 7 April: Four from Surry Hills Library 3 – strange but good; On the juvenile rhetoric of the American Right our Right is right…. 8 April: April South Sydney Herald in colour; Fibre optic network way overdue. 9 April: Four from Surry Hills Library 4 – nasty doings in Iraq and the USA. 10 April: Quiet Good Friday post. 11 April: What was read in the week ending 11 April; Notelets; On OzPolitics and Bishop Holloway.

12 April: Sunday is music day 13 — Jeremiah Clarke (c. 1674 – 1 December 1707); Sunday Floating Life photo 13; Special art work at South Sydney UC. 13 April: Two thought-provoking articles from the SMH; Enjoying “The Story of India”. 14 April: 50 years on – 1: a classmate’s story. 15 April: Some non-fiction read recently: 1. 16 April: Book reviews on hold…; Oz blogs on BlogExplosion. 17 April: Friday poem #8 – Donald Justice; On Ashmore Reef asylum seekers – hold your horses! 18 April: Bean counting time.

19 April: Sunday Floating Life photo 14 – Easter Sunday; Sunday is music day 14 — nostalgia; Some non-fiction read recently: 2a. 20 April: Some non-fiction read recently 2b – the personal component. 21 April: An interlude. 22 April: Second interlude. 23 April: Some non-fiction read recently 2c – tentative conclusions. 24 April: Friday poem #9: Isaac Rosenberg 1890-1918. 25 April: Anzac Day’s bean count; On the Western Front 1917-1918.

26 April: Supplement to “Some non-fiction read recently”; Sunday Floating Life photo 15: Sirdan surveying scene. 27 April: Sunday is music day (on Monday) 15 — “Keating”. 28 April: Some curiosities of scientists; Depression and creativity. 29 April: Microsoft stole my bandwidth this morning; There really IS an autumn light. 30 April: Counting the unemployed.

May

Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole

1 May: So there goes April!.

Floating Life

1 May: Friday poem #10 – Elizabeth Bishop 1911-1979. 2 May: Autumn dawn – Surry Hills.

3 May: Sunday Floating Life photo 16 – not so cool; What’s new Sunday 3 May to Saturday 9 May. 4 May: Overdue DVD reviews. 5 May: Pondering the Defence White Paper. 7 May: Taylor Square Darlinghurst yesterday morning. 8 May: South Sydney and other matters. 9 May: May’s first Saturday stats; Perhaps I’ll write another Kubla Khan…; What’s new Sunday 10 May to Saturday 16 May.

10 May: Sunday is music day 16: Paul Robeson; Sunday Floating Life photo 17. 11 May: Parzania (2007) – definitely worth seeing. 12 May: Three thought provokers. 13 May: Solving the “boat people” issue. 14 May: Other bloggers have been so busy! 15 May: Friday poem #11 – D H Lawrence. 16 May: Tiananmen and all that – 20 years on; Who read what in the past week.

17 May: What’s new Sunday 17 May to Saturday 23 May; Sunday Floating Life photo 18; Sunday is music day 17. 18 May: End-game in Sri Lanka. 19 May: A very neat photo blog. 20 May: Roads taken and not taken. 21 May: Classics all, each in its own way. 22 May: Here it is, in black and white – and green. 23 May: Bean counting; What are they up to?

24 May: China looks back; Sunday is music day 18; Sunday Floating Life photo 19: lunch at The Clarendon. 25 May: Book reviews as promised…; Just site news. 26 May: Perception versus fact on crime in Australia; A Partisan’s Daughter. 27 May: Sol Trujillo as victim of malicious Rudd racist “adios”…; New Surry Hills Library: excellent. 28 May: Jim Belshaw’s new project. 29 May: Friday poem # 12 – Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. 30 May: Notelets for end of May. 31 May:

June

Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole

1 June: May stats on Floating Life. 4 June: My June 09 South Sydney Herald piece.

Floating Life

1 June: Sunday Floating Life photo 20 (on Monday). 2 June: I read the news today, oh boy…. 3 June: China, the USA, the car, and the environment. 4 June: June 09 South Sydney Herald; Busker on corner of Hay and Pitt Streets 5pm. 6 June: Obama and the Muslim world – not unexpected or without precedent; June Saturday stats: 1; Fashion victim.

7 June: Sunday Floating Life photo 21; Sunday is music day 19: Simon & Garfunkel. 8 June: Racism? Yes and no…. 9 June: Substantial food for thought on Radio National. 10 June: More on “Racism? Yes and no”. 11 June: And even more, I’m afraid…. 12 June: Pause: cub reporter again. 13 June: Second Saturday “Who’s read what?” for June 2009.

14 June: Sunday Floating Life photo 22. 15 June: BBC World Service: some food for thought. 16 June: Who killed Mr Ward? Four Corners 15 June 2009; Quote of the week: Naj in Tehran. 17 June: Seen in Little Oxford Street Darlinghurst. 18 June: Meme: 5 things I’m proud of. 19 June: More on things I’m proud of…. 20 June: Third stats fetish post for June; Bits.

21 June: Sunday is music day 20 — Korean singer Lena Park; Sunday Floating Life photo 23; Shakespeare Hotel: Rabbit and Sirdan. 22 June: June review catch-up 1; What a crock!. 23 June: June review catch-up 2. 24 June: June review catch-up 3 — “Sylvia” (2004). 25 June: UN Peacekeepers — a quiz. 26 June: Friday poem 13: Emily Dickinson. 27 June: Conflicting perspectives.

28 June: Sunday Floating Life photograph 24; Sunday lunch: Shanghai food to die for!. 29 June: Borrowed plumage; Indian students, racism, theatre news. 30 June: English/ESL nominated; The hidden power of language.

 

Bigotry is not confined to the religious or the right wing

AV has made a kind and much appreciated allusion to this blog’s recent travails. However, when he attributes the event to right-wing authoritarianism he is not entirely correct; certainly an authoritarian cast of mind and an antidemocratic spirit are involved. However, the source of the attack was not necessarily motivated by conventional right-wing politics, and certainly not by religion. On the other hand, excessive certainty and intolerance of criticism or difference were part of the picture. In those respects, the spirit of the attack was indeed, as AV notes, antidemocratic.

I can say that it is fairly certain where the attack came from, and what motivated it — the attacker’s problem, that, not mine. The attacker as good as left DNA all over the scene of the crime. In attacking me he also attacked WordPress.com, and I am sure they are not taking it kindly. They are also far more expert in these matters than either the attacker or I. It did amuse me to witness a log file from the time of these events which included a suggestion, obviously emanating from WordPress, that the hacker apply for a job with AutoMattic — the company behind WordPress. I take it that was ironic…

That brings me to two articles and a book which, it seems to me, are the antithesis of bigotry, whether that is religious or antireligious bigotry. I am not saying I agree with them, but I do say they are worth reading. The book is one of my Best Reads of 2008.

My theism is of the most modest kind and would deeply offend fundamentalists. I am thus a great admirer of the former Anglican bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, “a man who, for many conservative Christians, has stretched the definition of liberal theology past breaking point, while remaining for many non-believers the most humane and persuasive apologist for faith.” That comes from a review just published in New Statesman: Doubting Dawkins. Rather than quoting it further, I will simply commend it to your consideration. Holloway’s emphasis on the primacy of compassion does appeal to me.

The second article is from the USA and does raise some interesting questions: Jonathan Haidt, What Makes People Vote Republican? from Edge.org. Again, while not necessarily endorsing all that Haidt says, I do commend it as worth consideration.

…This research led me to two conclusions. First, when gut feelings are present, dispassionate reasoning is rare. In fact, many people struggled to fabricate harmful consequences that could justify their gut-based condemnation. I often had to correct people when they said things like “it’s wrong because… um…eating dog meat would make you sick” or “it’s wrong to use the flag because… um… the rags might clog the toilet.” These obviously post-hoc rationalizations illustrate the philosopher David Hume’s dictum that reason is “the slave of the passions, and can pretend to no other office than to serve and obey them.” This is the first rule of moral psychology: feelings come first and tilt the mental playing field on which reasons and arguments compete. If people want to reach a conclusion, they can usually find a way to do so. The Democrats have historically failed to grasp this rule, choosing uninspiring and aloof candidates who thought that policy arguments were forms of persuasion.

The second conclusion was that the moral domain varies across cultures. Turiel’s description of morality as being about justice, rights, and human welfare worked perfectly for the college students I interviewed at Penn, but it simply did not capture the moral concerns of the less elite groups—the working-class people in both countries who were more likely to justify their judgments with talk about respect, duty, and family roles. (“Your dog is family, and you just don’t eat family.”) From this study I concluded that the anthropologist Richard Shweder was probably right in a 1987 critique of Turiel in which he claimed that the moral domain (not just specific rules) varies by culture. Drawing on Shweder’s ideas, I would say that the second rule of moral psychology is that morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way.

When Republicans say that Democrats “just don’t get it,” this is the “it” to which they refer. Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. When Democrats try to explain away these positions using pop psychology they err, they alienate, and they earn the label “elitist.” But how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?…

The book is John Dominic Crossan, God & Empire: Jesus against Rome, Then and Now (Harper San Francisco 2007). You may read the Preface on that second link.

For a very long time I have been pondering the texts and wandering the ruins of the Roman Empire. Initially, I did so as a biblical scholar doing research for books I was writing on the historical reconstruction of earliest Christianity from The Historical Jesus in 1991, through The Birth of Christianity in 1998, to In Search of Paul, co-authored with the archaeologist Jonathan Reed of the University of LaVerne, in 2004. I presume those three books as prelude and preparation for this book on God and Empire.

I have always thought of the historical Jesus as a homeland Jew within Judaism within the Roman Empire. I have always thought of the historical Paul as a diaspora Jew within Judaism within the Roman Empire. For me, then, within Judaism within the Roman Empire has always been the absolutely necessary matrix rather than the annoyingly unnecessary background for any discussion of earliest Christianity. You can see that three-layer matrix, for example, in the sub-titles to the first and last books above. For the historical Jesus, The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant, emphasizes Rome,  Judaism, and Jew.   For the historical Paul, How Jesus’s Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom, emphasizes Jew, Rome, and Judaism. Whether you start or end with the Roman Empire, the Roman Empire is always there.

But there is now a further reason for studying the textual and archaeological history of the Roman Empire. Here is that newer but now accompanying reason. I have been hearing recently two rather insistent claims from across the spectrum of our religio-political life. The first one claims that America is now and/or was always an empire. That, in fact, the virus of imperialism came—like so many other ones—on those first ships from Europe. The second and subsidiary one claims that we are in fact Nova Roma, the New Roman Empire, Rome on the Potomac…

— from the Preface

Certainly the opening chapter is a brilliant exposition of the nature of Rome under the Julio-Claudians, a subject I have studied both at University, and as a sometime Ancient History teacher. Many of the remarks about contemporary America are also apposite. It is also good to find a very learned man who writes like a human!

That said, I am not entirely convinced by all that Crossan says. Yes, he does get up the noses of fundamentalists — and as far as I am concerned that is a big plus. (A Muslim Crossan — and I am sure this is possible and may even exist — would be highly desirable.) I also have to say that the agnostic side of my humble theism is offended by the unspoken assumption that the Mediterranean really is the centre of the world, as the Roman conceit of Medi + Terranean implies. A similar conceit made China, about which Europe and Palestine in the first century knew little and cared less, call itself Zhong Guo or Middle Kingdom. In all our historical and religious considerations, we need above all in the 21st century to take that fact on board. It is an uncomfortable consideration. It does not impact one way or another on our ideas about the existence of God, whatever that word actually means; but it does impact on our views about what God is alleged to have said or done. Inevitably, I would have thought.

TRIVIAL FOOTNOTE

My traditional “Saturday Stats” will appear on Blogspot.

 

Instead of a poem…

…I have decided to give you a couple of snippets from The World according to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith.

First, a statistician observes a passing woman.

Here, approaching him, was a 60-year-old woman, with two point four children, twenty-three years to go, with a weekly income of… and so on. Now there were carbon footprints to consider, too, and that was fun. This woman was walking, but had probably taken a bus. She did not go on holidays to distant destinations, Spain at the most, and so she used little aviation fuel. Her carbon footprint was probably not too bad, particularly by comparison with… with those who went to international conferences on carbon footprints. The thought amused him and he smiled again.

“You laughing at me, son?”

The woman had stopped in front of him.

Stuart was startled. “What? Laughing at you? No, not at all.”

“Because I dinnae like being laughed at, said the woman, shaking a finger at him.

“Of course not.”

She gave him a scowl and moved on. Chastened, Stuart continued his walk…

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Posted by on April 18, 2008 in Best read of 2008, English language, humour, reading, satire, Scottish

 

See where I am coming from…

If you visit my Classified Links page (WordPress) under Faith and Philosophy you will find much that inspires or interests me these days. Among the items listed is Radical Faith and at the top you will discover Richard Holloway, "a retired Anglican bishop [of Scotland, who] has become known for his radically trenchant views on official Christendom." His Doubts and Loves and Godless Morality really do inspire me. Even Richard Dawkins looks on him fairly kindly.

At the end of Doubts and Loves Holloway cites Walt Whitman:

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Posted by on December 27, 2007 in Christianity, inspiration, religion

 

Radical Faith

Link.

Deuteronomy 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

A bit extreme, most would say these days, and as hot as anything you might find in the Qu’ran.

It is not only from such obviously unfortunate passages that John Shelby Spong concludes that any simplistic view of the Bible as the literal Word of God is actually wrong, let alone unhelpful, but from much broader considerations. The negative case made in The Sins of Scripture by Spong, an avowed Christian, is I think irrefutable, though one might argue about this or that aspect of his case. Certainly any fundamentalist position simply becomes untenable in the light of what he says, which is hardly all that original anyway. Indeed, Spong is in many respects quite old-fashioned, a rather 1950s-1960s modernist.

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Posted by on March 22, 2006 in Bible, Christianity, faith and philosophy, interfaith

 

About the St Matthias Churches

It is of course a recognised ploy, with the sincerest good reasons like stopping young persons from going to Hell, that fundamentalists and literalists target adolescents. Even the Pope is at it. The Mine Christian group and the protestant classes in non-compulsory Scripture — not to mention the University of NSW — have long been captured by the keen young things from The Church of the Holy Jensens, advocating “divine inspiration and infallibility of Holy Scripture, as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.”

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Posted by on August 22, 2005 in Australia and Australian, Bible, Christianity, faith and philosophy, fundamentalism and extremism, local, Salt Mine

 

Your God is too small

Link.

Some fifty years ago I can remember the saintly (in the best sense) Reverend Cam Williamson of Sutherland Presbyterian Church recommending a book by J. B. Phillips, excellent New Testament translator, called Your God Is Too Small. I am delighted to see others recall it:
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Posted by on July 25, 2005 in Australia and Australian, Christianity, faith and philosophy, fundamentalism and extremism, interfaith, Islam, personal, Pomo, reminiscing

 

Radical Faith – Exploring faith in a changed world

From Scottish Bishop Richard Holloway:
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Posted by on July 24, 2005 in British, Christianity, culture wars, faith and philosophy, interfaith, Pomo