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Earlier open mic threads: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35.
Galatians 3:28 has been described as a ‘clobber verse’ in debates about gender equality and SSM . In referring to it here I am mindful of the saying ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ and I hope that I will not lean too far towards folly!
‘…you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ – I thought of this at church last Sunday when a friend sat next to me over coffee and said, ‘We are working together next Sunday.’ I appreciated her use of the pronoun ‘we’. She is one of our lay readers and she was referring to a service being held at our sister church next Sunday when she will be leading and preaching and I will be playing the piano. She said that she would ring me and tell me her suggestions for hymns and asked me to let her know if I could think of any suitable hymns myself. I will actually be out ‘on loan’ at the sister church because they have no musicians. I have lost track of the people in that church who have said to me ‘You are one of us.’
In contrast, after services at our own church many years ago, I was regularly thanked with these words: ‘Thank you for playing for us’ – as though I were an ‘add-on’ and not a member of the fellowship!
Maybe ‘you and us’ and ‘them and us’ attitudes have roots in something much deeper than attitudes to gender equality, SSM and so on?
Are you a Tim Keller fan?
I wouldn’t call myself a ‘fan’, but I really appreciate a number of things that he says.
Thanks. I’m curious your thoughts on these quotes. I feel like people quote him all the time in quips:
“It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances.”
“God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he knows.”
On the first one, it might be helpful to consider how large of a sample set we are dealing with. Also, are we really to believe that Paul didn’t pray for the healing of Epaphroditus, for instance (Philippians 2:25-27)? Given the few examples we are going from and the dependence upon an argument from silence in other cases, I find this an overstated claim.
I am not entirely comfortable with the second claim either.
Lately I’ve been doing some preliminary reading for a long-ish article I hope to write on the anti-ableist movement. I have some more reflecting and reading to do, but I’ll try to sketch out a few rough introductory thoughts here for general comment.
As someone with a physical disability, I have found many features of the anti-ableist movement to be troubling and even angering. I was not aware until recently that such a movement existed, and many of the attitudes the persons in it seem to take toward both their own bodies and toward non-disabled people are very surprising to me. Not to sound too trite, but I just wasn’t raised to think the way they do about themselves and other people, and I find many of their views to be destructive to themselves as well as others.
As a prominent example of a troubling feature of the movement, anti-ableist’s harsh, almost neurotic, policing of language has raised many red flags to me. Not only are everyday words, used in idioms or metaphors, alleged to have profound oppressive affects on the psychologies of disabled persons, but some words that accurately and directly describe certain disorders are also said to have latent potential for oppression. The ostensible fragility of the psyche of disabled persons is both questionable and insulting: not only would I not think to respond with outrage to common words in common parlance used with no intention to offend, I have emerged from a childhood where I experienced sporadic teasing and brickbats with (I hope) a more mature view of how to process the words of others. This isn’t to justify people who are intentionally hostile, but it does seem to me that cultivating a highly sensitive and entitled mindset in disabled persons is about the worst strategy for personal growth I can think of. I’m also troubled by the way that making every reference to a physical or mental infirmity as anodyne as possible blurs the distinction between health and sickness and also removes potential from our vocabulary to capture some of the humanity and pathos of certain conditions. Using a vocabulary about human illnesses that shows awareness that such illnesses are in some sense sad and wrong things, while also not denigrating the people who suffer from them, is not a task which anti-ableists seem to be cut out for. To say that a person is blind is, to me, to be more honest and respectful of that condition and the person behind it than to say something like “visually impaired.” I’m also concerned that trying to eliminate negative connotations from language about disability is a futile effort in itself. The goalposts are and always will be moving.
The issue of language in the anti-ableist movement captures some of the biggest problems I have with the movement. They seem to want to humanize disabled persons while at the same time erasing the inherent natural evil of their conditions. None of us are exempt entirely from natural evil with respect to our bodies, and the word used to describe such a thing should not be pared down until they lose all their emotional and descriptive power. The absence for anti-ableists of a Christian notion of creation, Fall, redemption, and glorification, all of which give meaning and sense and hope for people suffering from infirmities, is one that produces great imbalance in their thinking. I know that God created humans in health and strength; I know I am the way I am both because of the providence of God and because of the human fall into sin; I know that Christ’s death gives me hope that my sufferings can have meaning and a witness; and I know that Christ’s resurrection gives me hope that I will one day be healed.
As a corollary point, anti-ableists seem to be quite consumed in their identity as disabled persons, another danger that I wish I could warn them against. Sickness and disability isn’t accidental to who we are, but it’s also not the last word on who we are. I find forming a cottage industry of identity politics around such things to be an inherently destructive and unhelpful endeavor.
There’s a lot more that could and should be said, and I’m still working out my thoughts on these things, but I will leave off and open things for general comment.
Thanks for the comment, David. I have had frustrations similar to the ones that you describe when reading tweets like this.
I look forward to reading your article when you complete it!
Re: the recent posts on @passingthesaltshaker – I really enjoyed reading what Bronwyn, Hannah and April had to say. I also thought of former Chief Inspector Anna Guthrie of Warwickshire Police – I suspect that many of her former male subordinates would not agree with John Piper!
I did a Google search but so far have I found nothing about Anna Guthrie, other than the link below – she is mentioned near the end of the article.
I got the link wrong Anyway – a summary: Anna Guthrie’s police officer husband, Peter, was shot dead 42 years ago while on duty in Coventry. Anna later joined Warwickshire Police and rose to the rank of Chief Inspector. The newspaper article was about a 40th anniversary memorial of Peter’s murder. (I live in Warwickshire. I lived in Coventry at the time of Peter Guthrie’s murder)
Alastair – I have learned lots from your blog over the past few months and hope that you will understand that you are providing a great service to the church. I had a particular question for you. I am leading a small group of Christians through several studies on the church (as part of an effort to plant a church in my town). One of the upcoming topics I have planned is “Church as Sacramental Community”. I want to stress the importance of the sacraments generally, and the regular practice of the Eucharist more specifically. I’ve been assigning a short reading for these topics and was hoping you might point me in the direction of something that would make that case to a sympathetic reader, but without assuming too much theological training. Any thoughts?
On your question, I will have to give it more thought, but my first thought would be to recommend something from N.T. Wright’s The Meal Jesus Gave Us (I think it is published under a different name in the US) or Peter Leithart’s Blessed Are The Hungry on the subject of the Eucharist (Alexander Schmemann has some really helpful thoughts in For The Life of the World from an Orthodox perspective). I can’t currently think of a brief popular level piece that makes the sort of case that you are looking for, though. I’ll get back to you if I think of anything.
I’m surrounded by people who read/watched The Harbinger. Now it’s September, the stock market isn’t doing so well, and one of my parents just told me that 1) Matthew 28 is coming to pass, 2) we need to pack survival kits, and 3) I should withdraw all my money today.
I’ve never known how to view all the stuff about the end times in the Bible, so some pointers would be greatly appreciated. Also, pointers on dealing with my family and church at this time, as they all believe, more or less, that the world is soon going to hell in a handbasket. I want to remain respectful, but I’m also tired of being swept up in, and not knowing how to deal with end times-related hysteria.
Thanks for the comment, DS.
I am very sorry to hear about your family’s situation. You are definitely wise not to get caught up in all of this. I would advise reading someone like N.T. Wright on the gospel passages concerning the ‘end times’. I think Wright rightly recognizes that most of these use prophetic language to refer to a coming judgment upon Jerusalem in particular, which occurred in AD70.
Becoming acquainted with the history of end times panic—and history more generally—can also give some perspective. Our point in history is fairly quiet compared to many others and nowhere near as bad as many others. Imagine, for instance, living in 14th century Europe, where the Great Famine in 1315-17 killed millions, a third of the population died with the Black Death, the Western Church underwent the Great Schism, and many of Europe’s nations experienced political and social ferment. If that wasn’t the end of the world, we most definitely do not live at the end of the world.
Sorry – I meant Matthew 24, not 28.
Thank you for the perspective! This helps a lot. I guess this is the kick in the pants I need to start reading N.T. Wright. (And history in general, to my shame.) I live with my family, so I might get confronted at some point about why I’m not getting ready to live in a bunker, though thankfully I haven’t heard anything again about withdrawing my life savings. I will try to tread quietly in the meantime.
I hate the culture of fear this end times stuff fosters, along with the accompanying endless muttering about certain news items and conspiracy theories. I can still remember my sister as a child, sobbing with abject fear when she learned about the return of Christ. Unsurprisingly, reassuring her that she’d be in the rapture anyway, and wouldn’t have to be under God’s wrath like most of the world, was no real comfort to her.
Further to our private correspondance, but probably something that others might find helpful too.
Any simple guides to using the BCP that you know of? I’m sure it all makes sense once you get into it, but never having used it I find it all rather confusing.
Any thoughts on which version of the BCP to use? The 1928 version is a favourite among traditionalist Episcopalians in the U.S., but was done in America for Americans. You may prefer something else.
I’ve discovered a helpful online version with calendar at episcopalnet.org.
I’ve always used the 1928 version, but don’t have strong feelings on the matter.
Do you consider Alcoholics Anonymous a helpful tool for overcoming addiction? Do you think the 12 steps are biblical? Do you think defining oneself as a recovering alcoholic is valid?
Re: your first question, I have no personal experience but I know
a few people who have spoken well of AA, and also of Al-Anon. One person said that the addiction is never actually overcome, but that it can be managed, ‘one day at a time.’
Thanks for the comment, Alex.
I don’t have enough experience with or knowledge about AA to comment on how effective it is. I don’t think the 12 steps are unbiblical, but nor do I they are biblically commanded. I regard them more as a prudential response to a problem that may draw upon some Christian principles along the way (I do have problems with the implied notion that ‘higher powers’ are interchangeable).
Yes, I do think that, in the right context, understanding oneself as a recovering alcoholic is legitimate and potentially important. ‘Defining’ is a rather stronger word than I would use for this, though.
Been reading some Egyptian mythology. Interesting reversal of sex roles. The sky is feminine, while the land is masculine. However, this goes along with an interesting assertion of male fertility, without much, if any, need for women. Hence, the ability of the male to procreate through masturbation, with the female only there, at best, to stimulate the male. In many instances, women are simply referred to as ‘hands.’
Since Egypt is so close to Israel, do you see any impact on or reaction of the Biblical writers to this?
An interesting read on the subject:
No explicit impact upon or reaction to this mythology among the biblical writers comes to mind. It would be intriguing to explore, though.
I can’t think of anything off the top of my head either.
Have you read the Egyptian love poetry that had such an impact on the Song of Songs? Barbara Hughes Fower’s translation is excellent.
Yes, I have read some of that.
Have you read this book on the theology of shame? It comes with a preface by Jeremy Begbie.
No, I haven’t. It looks interesting!
Now this book looks very interesting?
Yes, I’ve read sections of that one.
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