Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Penn State University - "Non persons?" (2)


I have been preaching a bit this summer in various parishes in South West Florida.  (Three down, two to go).

It’s been my pleasure to preach from the (alternative) Old Testament readings which have been about the saga of ancient Israel’s monarchy, and more especially about King David.

Next Sunday I’ll be preaching about the time when David lusted after Bathsheba, had sexual intercourse with her, and then arranged for her husband to be killed in battle.

It’s a story of lust, lies and treachery, and it’s in the bible!.

It fascinates me that the chroniclers of ancient Israel were perfectly candid about the flaws of their leaders.

Those chroniclers never gild the lily.  Their stories of lust, violence, betrayal and double-dealing are remarkably contemporary!

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One of the great benefactors of my home city (Bristol, U.K.) was a man names Edward Colston (1636-1721).  H made a ton of money. He was a Tory MP for Bristol.

Colston used his wealth to build an almshouse, to endow a school (it is called “Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital and is still functioning), and to found another school (once known as Colston’s Hospital – and now surviving in the form of two schools – viz Colston Girls School, and the Colston School for Boys).

Edward Colston was so generous a benefactor to Bristol. He is not forgotten. Our major concert hall is called “The Colston Hall”, and within the city there is a Colston Street, a Colston Road, and Colston Avenue.

Colston was a trader – a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers Society.

He made his fortune by trading in cloth, wine and sugar, and also via his shareholding in the “Royal African Society” –  in the despicable slave trade.

A statue of Edward Colston dominates the city centre.

Some have suggested that the Colston statue should be demolished, on account of his involvement in the slave trade.

But I am not so sure that we should remove the statue, or expunge his name from the history of Bristol.

Rather I wish that we, like ancient Israel, would tell the un-varnished truth.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the Bristol City Council added seven words to the inscription under Edward Colston’s statue? Those words would be “He was involved in the slave trade”.

Thus we would honour his philanthropy AND also be honest about one source of his wealth.

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In that light I return to the story of the PSU coach Joe Paterno. You can read about this in my blog of July 24th 2012.

The PSU authorities had erected a statue of Mr. Paterno.

In the light of the PSU scandal that statue has been removed.

PSU has decided (alongside the NCAA) that Joe Paterno is now a non-person
.
I think that PSU is wrong.

I wish that the statue had been left alone -  as a tribute to the very great accomplishments of  Mr. Paterno as a coach, and as an historical reminder of his failure to act in the dreadful sex scandal.


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How odd it is that ancient Israel was able to be more honest than modern America and Great Britain




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