Showing posts from March 23, 2008

Wisdom from Canon Paul Oestreicher

This is not a religion of the book

Christianity needs to renounce its violent texts, and love its enemies, argues Paul Oestreicher

THERE ARE two related ideas currently in circulation. The first is that religion is harmful because it has, throughout history, been the cause of a great deal of violence. This is true. The second is that, if only the adherents of the three great monotheistic religions — Judaism, Islam, and Christianity — all three “religions of the book”, took their sacred texts more seriously and lived by them, then these outbreaks of violence would stop. This is untrue.

The first proposition needs no defence. The history of all three faiths is drenched in blood — blood shed ostensibly in the name of God. There is no dispute that, without sacred texts, they would not have survived, but the phrase “of the book” needs to be unpacked.

Islam insists that the Qur’an was dictated by God. A degree of infallible sanctity is attached to it, so that to insult the book in any way is a …

Gracious invitation

As I walk each morning I sort out my thoughts for the day. And I usually have a song or two racing through my mind.

So, this morning, I was thinking ---- that so much Christian preaching seems to be “in your face” proclamation, on the lines of “here is something I know, which you don’t know, and you need to know it”.

There is precious little humility in Christian preaching. All too often it is a matter of “the expert expounding to the neophyte” - notwithstanding that the expert with a clerical collar may be a fairly recent convert, who addresses sisters and brothers who have a life time of Christian experience.

I scold myself as a preacher who loves to preach.

My morning thoughts about preaching were tempered as I began to sing a hymn written by my former colleague, the Revd. J. Mary Luti, Minister at First Church, Congregational in Cambridge, MA. Mary is a wise woman, a great preacher, and a fine Pastor.

Her hymn has none of the “expert” about it. Instead, it is a hymn of grac…


Salmagundi (look it up!)

A bracing early morning walk. Diet and exercise are working. I’ve shed 18lbs. Now comes the hard part. Another 10-12 lbs to go.

Prayer service at Res. House. “J” and “Grandpa” started to argue in the Chapel. 'Twas over nothing, just the sparring between an old buck and a young turk.

Half an hour to kill. Wandered the neighbourhood of Res. House.

Chatted with “T” on the street. She is an outrageous blonde with a sad heart. We talked about what it meant to have a smile which masks deep sadness. A meeting point for “T” and me.

Next was “M” who was in a chipper mood on the street. He is the eternal optimist.

Then I saw “G” sitting on the pavement. “How are things with your wife?” I asked. “Not good” was his reply “I think that I should give up”.

“I am sorry to hear that”, I said, “but whatever you do, don’t give up on your children”.

He grinned. “Sometimes”, he said, “the Lord sends me the right messenger at the right time”.

We shook hands as I whis…

A very fine article on Barack Obama and his Pastor

The following very fine article came to me via a friend, the Revd. Noreen Suriner, who is the Interim Rector at St. John's, Northampton, MA.

Mr. Robinson's article is so much wiser than Hilary Clinton's "knee-jerk" response, in which she said that had Jeremiah Wright been her minister she would have (in so many words) left his Church.

Strange that she has said nothing about John McCain and his endorsement by an right wing extremist Pastor!

But Hilary Clinton seems to be saying too much, and thinking too little. Witness her lies ( according to her she "mis-spoke" - what ever that means ) about her visit to Bosnia.



An article by Don Robinson a member of St. John's in Northampton, MA
Turning away from racial enmity
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The past week has been a rough patch in the contest for the Democratic nomination. Just as it began to seem lik…

A weekend in Boston

I was in Boston for the Good Friday - Easter weekend, visiting my London friend Joe who is working there for a wee while. I stayed at his company condo in the Financial District.

I was at the Cathedral for Good Friday (I sat next to Cleanthe Marsh from St. James's --- much to our mutual delight).

There were four preachers - Bishop Barbara Harris, Dean Jep Streit, Canon Steve Bonsey and the wonderful Revd. Stephanie Spellers.

Steve and Stephanie were hot!

I was back at the Cathedral on Easter Day.

I discovered that the Cathedral has come to life in a big way. 'Twas a wonderful Liturgy.

(The Cathedral used to be like a morgue with Organ music).

I sat with Elizabeth Bonsey and the children (sans Noah). Bishop Bud had bailed out early that morning (with 'flu'), so Bishop Barbara Harris celebrated and Steve Bonsey preached. He was on top and rare form - a truly memorable Easter sermon. Annie Bonsey (12) read the first lesson with great aplomb.

Of course I had a post …


From "The Age" - an Australian Newspaper. My good friend the Revd. Dr. Andrew McGowan is quoted.


The resurrection of sin

Barney Zwartz
March 21, 2008

Is there still a place for sin in modern society? The language has all but disappeared, but the concept may awaken a greater sense of moral responsibility.

The terrible fire of hell will not afflict the bodies of the damned only from without, but each lost soul will be a hell unto itself, the boundless fire raging in its very vitals … The blood seethes and boils in the veins, the brains are boiling in the skull, the heart in the breast glowing and bursting, the bowels a red-hot mass of burning pulp, the tender eyes flaming like molten balls.— James Joyce's 1916 novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

THIS is the sort of language that traumatised generations. Such graphic injunctions about sin and its consequences (this was the most famous description of hell since Dante's…