Classic FM stopped its promotion of Eric Idle’s show ‘Not the Messiah’ due to complaints the station received from Christian Voice.

Oh come on, does this make anyone else cringe?

British Humanist Association:

The BHA reacted today to confirmation that the national radio station Classic FM stopped its promotion of Eric Idle’s show ‘Not the Messiah’ due to complaints the station received from Christian listeners.

The show, which celebrates 40 years of Monty Python, was originally promoted on air and on the station’s website and was the subject of a competition for tickets to a screening, but was dropped by the head of the station after some listeners reacted angrily to what they perceived as the promotion of a ‘militant atheist production’.

Does this not make our community look like petty, humourless, censoring….

This from MediaWatchWatch

Not the Messiah offensive to Stephen Green

Carmarthen’s leading comedy fundamentalist, whose star has been sadly in the descendent since he helped abolish the Blasphemy Law last year, has found something else to be offended by. Not the Messiah, a Handel’s Messiah style musical version of The Life of Brian, is being promoted by Classic FM.

The horror of this situation is passionately expressed by the director of Christian Voice in a round-robin email to supporters and on his website:

It has the song from ‘Life of Brian’ which ‘Brian’ sang while hanging from the cross, ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’ Crucifixion is not funny. It even has ‘Hail to the Shoe’ sung to the music of the Hallelujah Chorus. That isn’t funny either.

Green urges his supporters to PRAY that Classic FM pull the ads, nobody turns up at the cinemas, and that Eric Idle finds Jesus. He also wants them to write to the MD of Classic FM and let them know:

that his promotion of ‘Not the Messiah’ offends and insults you and Stephen Green. If you are a regular listener, tell him so.

Actually he says “Almighty God” instead of “Stephen Green” in the above quote. Sometimes it is really hard to tell the difference between the two. They are virtually indistinguishable.

Actually I love Monty Python, so this one’s for Christian Voice and Stephen Green:

UPDATE: MediaWatchWatch

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109 Responses to “Classic FM stopped its promotion of Eric Idle’s show ‘Not the Messiah’ due to complaints the station received from Christian Voice.”

  1. Rosalind Plowright OBE Says:

    I was quite appalled to hear of Classic FM’s decision to ban the promotion of Eric Idle and John Du Prez Oratorio, “Not the Messiah.”

    As the person who played Mandy (the mother of Brian) and as a Roman Catholic by birth, I believe I have more right than anyone else to pronounce a view on this short sighted decision of you and how poorly it must be seen by others who will hear this news.

    I will assume that all complaints will have come from religious bodies or people. I wonder if they had seen the show at the Royal Albert Hall? If not, is their view even allowable?

    The concept of Brian comes from the mysterious “Book of Brian” It tells the story of a baby born on the same night as Jesus who was mistakenly identified as the Messiah.

    How lucky that this book was written and/or discovered. From it have come two of the funniest and most entertaining pieces of artistic creativity ever. “The Life of Brian,” voted funniest film of all time in one of those TV 100 Funniest Films, and “Not the Messiah – He’s a very Naughty Boy” the oratorio.

    What better vehicle than an oratorio to tell such a story and what genius to use styles of music that today’s public, from youngster to classical music aficionado can relate to.

    I am disappointed that Classic FM allows itself to be dictated to by such a small body of extreme opinion. Their action shows them to be a radio station that cares more about a few uninformed Christian bigots than serving the public with a new arrival on the classical music scene.

    Ironically their decision will have huge numbers of people wondering what all the fuss is about and no doubt they will buy the DVD when it released in June. It will also probably help fill the cinemas to capacity tonight!

    Rosalind Plowright OBE
    Mandy – Mother of Brian
    Mezzo Soprano

  2. Webmaster Says:

    @Rosalind Plowright OBE, totally agree. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Stephen Green Says:

    It’s a pity more of us aren’t as serious about standing up for the Lord Jesus as atheist Eric Idle & Co are about trashing Him. The full story is at http://www.christianvoice.org.uk

  4. Otis Says:

    ‘If you have stumbled onto this blog and are not a Christian, get yourself a hot drink, pull up a comfy chair…..’.
    No thanks. Stephen Green tells me all I need to know about christians.

  5. Jim Says:

    Militant atheist production? Are they serious? It”s so sad that a certain demographic choose to be offended by such harmless satire.

    One of the great joys and blessings of living in the UK is that we have such a healthy irreverence for the establishment. Icannot think of any of my committed Christian friends who was offended by The Life of Brian. On the contrary, curiously it has helped some to think more deeply about their faith.

    This is indeed a sad case of a vociferous benighted minority trying to dictate their agenda to the majority. Hopefully they will not prevail.

    I’ll be there this evening as I’m sure will many of my Christian friends!

  6. Gordon Says:

    Stephen Green does not represent many Christians. I don’t believe in God, but I work all day with Evangelical Christians in a Christian organisation and this type of loony campaigning that demeans other people is just not representative of compassionate christianity. I can’t believe I am actually standing up for something I don’t believe in, but this sort of thing just gets Christians a bad name that they do not deserve.

  7. Patrick Says:

    I sang in the chorus of Not the Messiah. Hail to the BBC Symphony Chorus. While I am one of those horrible atheists (or “in the majority” as I prefer to call myself) that Stephen Green witters on about, plenty of my singing brethren are committed christians and even, shock horror, committed believers in other faiths. We all had a marvellous time with Monty and the Pythons, plus the thousands of deliriously happy fans at the Albert Hall, and none of the christians in the Chorus, to my knowledge, has questioned their belief on the basis of taking part.

  8. Gordon Says:

    I thought the whole point of Brian was that he is not Jesus and not the Messiah? Therefore it can’t be blasphemous or insulting to Christians.

  9. Stephen Green Says:

    Oh, JIm, we have a ‘healthy irreverence’ for the establishment, do we? (As if Jesus Christ and His honour is part of our godless establishment …) And thanks to fifty+ years of secularist government we also have a ‘healthy irreverence’ to human life, in the womb, in nursing homes, in Afghanistan and Iraq and on the streets of Britain, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to decency, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to God’s institution of marriage and family, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to the solemn promises made in marriage, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to parents, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to the innocence of small children, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to purity, chastity and fidelity, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to truth and honesty, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to other people’s property, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to Christian liberties, a ‘healthy irreverence’ to the commandments of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and all that is holy. (See: http://www.brutalbritain.org.uk )
    And so-called Christians have just stood by and allowed our society to become brutalised just so they would be accepted as inoffensive and having-a-sense-of-hunour by godless men.
    What a ‘joy’ and ‘a blessing’ to part of such a society, eh, Jim? A society which by your failure to stand up for righteousness you helped to create.

  10. John Says:

    If Stephen Green sees his opponents writhing in agony, it’s because the irony is so deep it burns. He certainly has every right to be offended by the work, not because it mocks Christ but because it mocks people like him. The very piece he singles out for condemnation, “Hail To The Shoe”, is about irrational religious groups silencing those who point out their irrationality. Sound familiar, Mr Green?

    Neither Life of Brian nor Not the Messiah are about Jesus at all (the title of the latter couldn’t be any clearer) but folks like those at Christian Voice must pretend that they are in order to cast themselves as martyrs in their own minds, victims of religious persecution. To acknowledge the truth – that they are perfect examples of idiocy wearing faith’s clothing – would require a degree of self-examination so many of them have been painstakingly avoiding for a long, long time.

  11. terry Says:

    Get over it Jesus wasn’t real he was just a mythical god some of us were forced to believe in as children. He just one of hundreds of son god s from Horus to Mithra all of whom are now buried in the mass grave we call myth . if you dont wont us to laugh at you then dont have such stupid beliefs.

  12. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    I can imagine Jesus telling Stephen Green gently but firmly to stop messing with other people’s behaviour and find something useful to do instead.

    Honestly, people like him completely miss the point. You want a religious parody? Look no further than Mr Green, an embarrassment to his faith.

  13. Roger Pearse Says:

    The idea that Christians would not be abused if only they kept quiet is a little strange. Does it work? Really?

    Full marks to Christian Voice for speaking up. They can hardly make our position in British society worse. Considering that we are demonised as hateful, violent people burning to kill and murder and censor and abuse children, what action could we possibly take that would cause the people so doing to speak worse of us? Fly planes into buildings? Well, aren’t we more or less accused of that now?

    All the establishment respect is power. If a group wants respect in our society, it needs power. That means NOT lying down and taking it. It means not allowing the state to appoint pliable scumbags to bishoprics (as it has done fairly consistently for centuries). And so on.

    But … a powerful church would be a very different church than we have now. Not sure I’d welcome it!

    I did enjoy Terry’s comment by the way. Isn’t it funny to see an atheist chanting his borrowed lines about Horus and Mithra (sic), evidently without knowing anything about either. One day we’ll get an atheist who knows his stuff, has thought for himself, and we’ll all die of shock! No danger yet, tho.

  14. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @Roger Pearse: Humility? Turning the other cheek? Courtesy? Respect? Not pointing out the sins of others sins but searching for your own? Getting a life? (No, that one’s not scriptural)

    You’re so angry with everyone. You’re frankly paranoid. Where does all this come from: “we are demonised as hateful, violent people burning to kill and murder and censor and abuse children”? Who are you talking about? Who is “we”?

  15. Gordon Says:

    Actually they can make the churches position worse. People like Stephen Green give Christianity such a bad reputation that it makes it harder to form relationships with non church organisations for work in the community.

  16. Jim Says:

    Stephen, I’m sorry to read how unhappy you are with the society in which you live. I do not share your unhappiness. If I could choose to live at any time in the past or to live now, my choice would unquestionably be to live now.

    You only seem to be able to see the negatives, but in reality there are so many wonderful and positive developments in our present day world. Man’s basic nature has not changed in the past 50 or even 5000 years. None of the “sins” you bemoan are new developments. They litter our history.

    What has changed is our freedom to report and openly discuss these issues. If I could point to one thing that I would wish to change, it is sensationalist media reporting. It’s clear that this reporting increases media sales, but it also provides grist to the mill for people such as yourself, who extrapolate from the particular to the general, and who draw on the rich vein of “shocking” stories to support their extreme position.

    I would argue that most of us who live in the UK live healthier, happier, more secure, more fulfilling, more liberated lives than our predecessors at any time in human history.

    We both live in the same country, but wheras your agenda seems to be to find all the awfulness you can, I rejoice in the enlighentment that we have discovered. Of course things could be better, and I do see it as part of my responsibility to leave the world a better place, but I don’t think we can do that by trying to roll back time.

    I admire your commitment and tenacity Stephen, but can you not see that with your approach, the only people that you will recruit to your cause are people like you. In what way is that going to change society? Not at all. Ironically I suspect that the unexpected effect of your approach is to alienate many people who might otherwise consider taking Christianity more seriously. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are a religious extremist by the measure of Christians in the UK, and arguably this is not a country that appreciates extremism of any persuasion.

    Give me temperate, thinking, rational, well informed, positive, forward looking Christians any day. Looking backwards is not a viable option.

  17. terry Says:

    @Roger Pearse: Why am I not surprised that you believe I know nothing about ancient history!? You have faith, that is to say a belief based on bad evidence, when in fact I could probably write a book on Jesus the Pagan God.

    You and Green have an infatuation inherited by your parents, religions run in families. You wonder why we laugh at your beliefs. Religion is a target rich environment for comedy, just read Leviticus its hilarious.

    Thankfully the church lost the ability to silence its critics or put them to death many years ago. What you believe in the privacy of your own mind is your business, I understand that the belief that God does not exist is simply beyond the pale for you! Nothing I say, no amount of evidence I place before you will convince you otherwise.

    Religion isn’t just wrong it’s dangerous. When the pope says ‘aids is bad but condoms are worse’, people die. In America when fundamental Christians deny medical help for dying children because they believe prayer and the laying on of hands will cure their child, their child dies of diabetes and appendicitis – easily treatable illness’s. Stories like this make any rational thinking person’s blood boil.

    Earnest Hemingway said, ‘all thinking men are atheists’. The superstitious believer doesn’t think, just believes.

    You and Green need to go away and think about what you believe any why you believe it.

  18. Tony Says:

    I say “congratulations to ClassicFM”. It demonstrates they are sensitive to their customers’ feelings. What on earth has a dated juvenile college-humour bad-taste comedy with ClassicFM anyway? ClassicFM is a welcome refuge from this sort of garbage for many of us.

    We live in a world where social mores can be very inconsistent. Hampstead thinkers wave their arms around over upholding the right to ridicule figures many sincere people respect – some even praised the Danish anti-Muslim cartoons which were created uniquely to offend. If listeners want ClassicFM to participate in political debate of mores, then we need to inspect our hypocrisies about bigger issues like the war in Afghanistan, Palestine and torture.

    Personally I prefer ClassicFM as a refuge for Rachmaninov and Dvorak away from politics which are available elsewhere in abundance. Some of the adverts get a bit tiresome already, but this Python one we are well rid of.

  19. Jim Says:

    Tony, I absolutely agree that choosing to air this competition demonstrated poor commercial judgementand a lack of sensitivity by Classic FM. I’m amazed they apparently could not foresee the controversy it would arouse amongst a section of their core listeners. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

    But by broadcasting the piece and then taking it off in response to pressure from a certain section of their listeners they implicitly accept censorship outside the rule of law, and an erosion of the freedom of speech which we enjoy in the UK.

  20. Stephen Green Says:

    No, Jim, by broadcasting the piece and then taking it off in response to pressure from a certain section of their listeners they showed respect, sensitivity and civilised behaviour.
    As for Terry, I can still hardly believe (so to speak) that the summit of your evidence to prove the worth of atheism was this:
    “Earnest (sic) Hemingway said, ‘all thinking men are atheists’.”
    That will be Ernest Hemingway the author, will it? The drunk who became an alcoholic, the bully who always boxed men smaller than himself, the mentally-tormented anti-Semitic liar who cheated on the first three of his four wives, who was described as ‘dirty’ and ‘unkempt’ by the third, the insecure bull-fighting and cock-fighting aficionado who finally committed suicide at the age of 61 by blowing his brains out with a shotgun? Yes, that’s him.
    Such a wonderful example of the thinking man’s atheist should encourage us all.
    http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/People_Profile/0,2540,15,00.html

  21. Terry Says:

    @Tony and Jim, we are all prisoners of literature. We are forced to talk about the books of Abraham and have to vaguely conform to these books, whether its Eric idle’s not the messiah, passing laws on gay marriage, allowing news papers to print cartoons of the prophet of Muhammad or banning blasphemy at the UN.
    We have scientific knowledge now and basic common sense. The world view of the authors of these books was so narrow that they have no place in conversation on human well being in the 21st century. If the religious believer cannot see this then they are lying to themselves. To a secularist, Moses, Jesus and Mohamed have as much relevance as Zeus Apollo and Thaw. It is time for common sense to prevail.

  22. Jim Says:

    Actually Stephen, on reflection I agree with you. I think I was being a bit too purist in my view.

    In principle I still think it’s a bad idea to suppress a view that conflicts with that of a particular group, even though it remains within the law. But I accept that this is a common sense decision, and hardly front page news.

    Regarding Hemingway – Yes, I’d agree – Hardly a role model for atheists, and a rather patronising statement for him to make. This however is more of an insight into the character of a talented but flawed personality than an indictment of atheism.

  23. Yewtree Says:

    I am pleased to see that there is at least one Christian with a sense of humour. Christian Voice are a narrow-minded bunch of bigots and I am outraged that Classic FM have stopped playing the trailers.

    In case people hadn’t noticed, The Life of Brian is not taking the mickey out of Jesus, it’s taking the mickey out of Christians – maybe that’s why Stephen Green can’t cope with it.

  24. Yewtree Says:

    @Terry. Thaw? Surely you mean Thor? (who is, incidentally, very relevant to some people, along with Zeus and Apollo). If everyone could see all these figures (including Biblical mythology) as cultural constructs that we superimpose on the infinite numinous wossname, I am sure everyone would be a lot happier.

  25. Stephen Green Says:

    If I were not being called a bigot by the likes of this Yewtree I should be concerned I was becoming like the false prophets (Luke 6:22-26).
    Before we get seduced by his clever words – NTM is not taking the mick out of Christ, of course not – it’s taking the mick out of Christians, you see – just take a look at the Libretto.
    It shows Eric Idle as an avowed atheist with an agenda and a big anti-Christ chip on his shoulder. The show opens with the words: ‘The Book of Brian’. It then mocks the Biblical apocalypse, which it calls ‘Apocalypso’, blasphemes the Christian doctrines of the awesomeness of God and depravity of man, refers to ‘The Evangelist Monty’ – and we are still only on page 3 of a 22-page libretto. Instead of the shepherds glorifying God, they ask ‘is it AD yet?’ and sing about how much they love sheep. Take a look for yourself, and see if all you hold dear isn’t being dragged through the mud, vilified and ridiculed:
    http://media.artsalliancemedia.com/static/montypython/pdf/Libretto.pdf
    BTW, Thor is ‘relevant’ to the New Age fraternity. But the Christian missionary Boniface chopped his oak-tree down and the power of Thor was nowhere to be seen. You probably need to have a sense of humour to appreciate that story. And the irony of Hemingway’s atheist quote…

  26. Caral Says:

    If I were not being called a bigot by the likes of this Yewtree I should be concerned I was becoming like the false prophets (Luke 6:22-26).

    Mr Green, I also think that your views are bordering bigotry. Do you think that we really need to stand up for God and shout others down in the process, just because they don’t agree with our views. Do you feel that perhaps you are doing Him and His kingdom a favour?

    I believe that He big enough to look after Himself and the whole of mankind.

    Perhaps we (Christians) need to focused more on sharing the goodness of the Gospel of our Lord, and we should only use words if we really have to!

  27. Yewtree Says:

    Interesting that Mr Green assumes I am a man.

    Actually Thor is relevant to Pagans and Heathens, not New Agers. And Boniface was a narrow-minded bigot too, unable to see that the pagans who worshipped Thor and the oak-tree were honouring the Divine in a different form.

    Yes, if my views were not diametrically opposed to everything you stand for, Mr Green, I would think that I had lost the plot too.

    Caral – your views sound far more inclusive and tolerant. Yes – the Divine is bigger than human concepts of it and cannot be encompassed in any one religion’s view of It.

  28. Yewtree Says:

    @Tony: Incidentally the Danish cartoons were not created especially to offend. They were created to start a debate about “blasphemy”.

    @Terry: just because something is a myth, that doesn’t make it irrelevant. Myths are powerful stories that inspire people. Robin Hood and King Arthur were probably entirely fictional (or very exaggerated versions of historical figures) but they have inspired people down the ages to emulate their values. Jesus may well be entirely fictional too (and I am certain that his miracles are entirely fictional and symbolic), but he is still an inspirational figure. (And the same goes for the other solar dying-and-resurrecting vegetation gods that you mention.) Unfortunately there are things which Jesus is reported as having said that inspire bigots like Stephen Green. But Jesus’ message of non-violence also inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King. It’s a mixed picture.

    In case you hadn’t already guessed, I am a religious liberal – so I say, fie on both your houses. It’s taking myth literally (whether you’re an atheist or a fundamentalist) that is the problem. Just relax and enjoy the stories!

  29. Gordon Says:

    Eric Idle is entitled to his opinion and as a free society he should be free to express it.

    I don’t want to live in a theocracy run by people like Stephen Green. If I did I can bet there would be precious little freedom for any other religions or even different strands of Christianity.

    This form of “christianity” is a thinly veiled excuse for the enforcement of a totalitarian fascistic state where thought crime really would exist. Rather like the taliban in Afghanistan.

    Thankfully its not going to happen and people like Stephen are (to pardon the rather biblical/shakespearian phrase) “pissing into the wind”. He is not even representative of most evangelicals, let alone most Christians.

  30. Yewtree Says:

    I am very glad to hear that Mr Green is not representative of most evangelicals, let alone most Christians. Unfortunately, because people like him shout the loudest, and because journalists like to interview religious extremists (presumably for the comedy or shock value), people get the impression that all practitioners of religion are mad fundamentalist bigots.

    And the irony is that people like me will automatically rush out and buy whatever film or book people like him disapprove of. So his protest has the opposite effect than the one he intended.

  31. Ashley Frieze Says:

    Stephen Green’s views do border bigotry, but from the wrong side. Such closed-minded fixed opinion cannot be debated. There’s no point.

    The important message here is that the Christian “Voice” is actually a minority opinion, within the nation, and also within Christianity. As such, it’s wrong to ban them from representing their views, but it’s deeply irresponsible to kow tow to their threats of protest – this suggests a large-scale validation of what is a minority set of beliefs.

    The best way to deal with these zealots is to ignore them. What are they going to do? Burn their TV licences again?

  32. Caral Says:

    If only we could ignore them, but as they seem to be appealing in mainstream media every day, and are being presented as the face of Christianity in the UK today.

    For two days we have the poe faced nurse, who has had to move to a desk job, because she choses not to comply with policies of the Trust she worked for.

    Then, we have the right wing evangelical bishops, coming out in support of her and CCFON and then saying this is persecution.

    Kyrie Eleison,
    Kyrie Eleison on us all.

  33. Gordon Says:

    May I say that nurses are not allowed to wear any jewellery apart from a wedding band. My wife is a nurse and thats the rule. It applies to everyone equally. Wearing a cross pendant is against the rules.

    And what would be the purpose of wearing a cross anyway? Surely evangelicals are not superstitious about things like this? Or is it some form of evangelistic thing?

  34. Ashley Frieze Says:

    One problem with arbitrary beliefs is when they are at loggerheads with the wider culture in which they’re being maintained. It’s reasonable to be allowed to try to get others to join you in your beliefs – that’s freedom of speech – but it’s not reasonable to expect that a minority should define what’s acceptable for all.

    I don’t think that disagreeing with someone’s beliefs, or setting regulations, which are considered reasonable in the wider culture, is a form of persecution. On the part of the believer, railing against these is a form of self-flagellation; being a martyr for an arbitrary cause. I can’t be even remotely sympathetic. It’s one thing to campaign to change people’s views, quite another to claim you’re being victimised by the fact that your own views are in the minority.

    If we keep fighting for one side or another, we keep fuelling what is an irrelevant debate. Let the Christian Voice people set fire to themselves in the street if that’s what they want. Let’s ignore them. While we’re not listening, they’re wasting their time and achieving nothing. That’s the only way they’ll learn.

  35. Aradiel Says:

    I for one thank Stephen Green, for had he not convinced Classic FM to pull the show, I would not have known it existed. I will now be sure to buy it.

    To sum up my views, all I can say is “whatever happened to tolerance”?
    Mr Green is entitled to his views, just like I am and just like Eric Idle is. However, he is not entitled to force his views upon others, just like how I am not. That would be facist.

  36. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @ Aradiel: “I for one thank Stephen Green, for had he not convinced Classic FM to pull the show, I would not have known it existed. I will now be sure to buy it.”

    Absolutely! I *loved* the Life of Brian. Will want to see this too.

    People like Stephen Green give Christianity a reputation for intolerance that it shouldn’t deserve. Sadly there are more and more idiots like him are trying to speak for us. Honestly, you could weep.

  37. Somegreybloke Says:

    Stephen Green, since you’re following this discussion, would you mind checking out a video I made? It asks some questions about Jesus, and I’d love to hear your response:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxP68cb2lT0

    Thanks.

  38. Yewtree Says:

    Yes, Mr Green is entitled to his views, but he is not entitled to speak for all Christians, any more than Emma Restall-Orr is entitled to speak for all Pagans, or than I am entitled to speak for all women, etc.

    Unless you have been elected as a spokesperson for the whole of a group, you cannot say that your views represent that group.

    Also, there is no right not to be offended. There is a right of free speech, freedom of religion etc.

  39. Somegreybloke Says:

    I think people like Mr Green believe that if you disagree with them then you’re not a True Christian by definition – and so they CAN speak for all Christians, because all Christians share their views. There’s no need to be elected – you just proclaim that your interpretation of the Bible is the only correct one and presto, you’re the Pope!

    Not literally, obviously. The Pope is elected (and is the antichrist, as any fule kno).

  40. Yewtree Says:

    The Pope is elected by a very small group of old grey men.

    I prefer the Jewish attitude to the Torah, which is that it’s fun to discuss all the possible different interpretations, and that every verse has seventy faces (seventy different interpretations).

    Which reminds me of…

    King Arthur: I am your king.
    Woman: Well I didn’t vote for you.
    King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
    Woman: Well how’d you become king then?
    [Angelic music plays... ]
    King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
    Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

  41. shadowfirebird Says:

    Yewtree, you may not be able to speak for all x, but you have certainly spoken for ME. Ta. I wish I had said all that. “Just relax and enjoy the stories”, indeed.

    (+1 for Christian Voice being a bigotted one, BTW.)

  42. Yewtree Says:

    @shadowfirebird – glad you enjoyed what I said :) Feel free to say it as much as you like – the more the merrier!

    I also wrote a blogpost based on my comment. http://stroppyrabbit.blogspot.com/2010/03/that-jesus-character.html

    @Webmaster – sorry, didn’t mean to hijack your comment thread!

  43. Romans510 Says:

    “If you have stumbled onto this blog and are not a Christian, get yourself a hot drink, pull up a comfy chair and then tuck into the following article written by one of the best in the business…”

    As an occasional Christian American by-stander on this blog, I am wondering where “webmaster” is exactly? Talk about being friends with the world! More Christians have been kicked and belittled on this site than any other Christian blog I’ve encountered. I find the scoffers’ acerbic arrogance stifling, and webmaster’s silence disturbing. Comfy chair? Hardly…more like standing-room-only during a “tar and feather” attack.

  44. Caral Says:

    @Romans510
    As an Anglican Christian. Perhaps the fundie ‘evangelical’ Christians need to be told to stop their nonsense. As they come across as a ‘do this and do that’ cos God’s Word says so!! This is of course, totally and utterly according to their very own, (and extremely new) biblical interpretation. And if you do not agree with their interpretation, you are then judged obviously, as not being a Christian.

    They certainly don’t come across as living the Risen Life in our Lord, and I believe that the majority of the Church in the UK are sick to the back teeth of them!

  45. Caral Says:

    @Romans 510.

    Apologies for coming across a little harsh, but I am not sure where you are on the other side of the pond, you appreciate just how dire the situation is becoming here. :(

  46. Susan Says:

    @Romans510

    Perhaps you should be more than an occasional by-stander on this blog, because the webmaster stands for Christ in my opinion.

    When asked by the Roman soldier to carry his coat, instead of running to the courts to claim “discrimination” he carries the coat and then offers another mile.

  47. Romans510 Says:

    Dear Anglican Christian (my sister in the Lord):

    No doubt the body of Christ has a few “warts” and such, but nonetheless, we are His body. The believing church is far from perfect. The only thing we can boast in is that we are bought with a price, forgiven! As Christians, we should be the first to call up our own – in love; not have fun at their expense. But when someone comes along (one who despises Jesus Christ) does the same, why stand by and do nothing? It’s like a brother or sister allowing the bully down the street to unleash on his younger, weaker sibling, yet does nothing…only stands there and watches it happen. We ought to be more tender-hearted. I appreciate your heartfelt response.

    Dear Susan: I’ve only been coming here for a few weeks now…perhaps you’re right and I’m judging prematurely. I hope I’m wrong.

  48. Yewtree Says:

    Hello Romans510 and all – I am not at all against moderate Christians (i.e. non-exclusivist, non-fundamentalist, non-homophobic ones), as I know some very nice ones. But I am saddened that a potentially valid mystery tradition has been so dragged in the mire by idiots who take it literally.

  49. Yewtree Says:

    @Romans510 – who are you accusing of despising Jesus?

  50. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @ Romans510 Says: “More Christians have been kicked and belittled on this site than any other Christian blog I’ve encountered. ”

    I suspect you may have identified the extremists – who are, I’m pleased to say, getting it in the neck from the moderates – as being the only Christians present. OTOH, this thread has more non-Christians on it than most of the ones I’ve posted on.

    From a Christian pov, the only tar and feather attacks I’ve experienced on this blog have been from other Christians who tell me I can’t be a Christian because I disagree with them.

    My impression – based I must admit entirely on web experience & the media – is that Christianity in the US is too often marked by literalism, extremism and self-righteousness. Many British Christians strongly oppose this trend and I think this may be part of what you are seeing.

  51. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @ Romans510: you use the phrase “believing church.” What do you mean by this? As opposed to what?

  52. Stephen Green Says:

    I think, Romans510, the sad thing is to find all these liberal Christians tripping over themselves to hate their brother (or if they jib at that, slagging him off will do just as well and is just as bad) in public while making common cause with those who detest Jesus just to look enlightened or clever or something.
    One Yewtree has said in another place: “If you have been brought up with the idea that “Jesus died for your sins”, or some other nasty, pernicious, insidious piece of mythology, …”
    http://66.102.9.132/search?q=cache:tXqBxRrTeEIJ:heartofflame.blogspot.com/+%22yewtree%22+blog+%22jesus+died+for+your+sins%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk
    How many on this site can say this: I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. (Ps. 40:8-9)
    Sadly, no evidence of such a frame of renewed mind here. Too many friends of the world. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll jump off this treadmill and seek the Lord in His Word. A time is coming when no man will be able to do His work.
    Yes, Sophie, I do take the Bible literally; anything less and I would have a pick-and-choose faith of my own making with a god in my own image. While we are on the subject, as we come up to Easter, I cannot think of anything more extreme than to die for the sins of others on a cruel cross. And I just hope and pray that some of the self-righteous here will see that only the righteousness of Jesus Christ justifies you before Almighty God and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

  53. Ashley Frieze Says:

    Mr Green, please jump of any treadmills you see fit to.

    As for a “pick and choose faith”, please be aware that all belief is of the nature of picking and choosing what to believe and what your source material means. If you claim to follow the Bible literally, then I imagine you don’t understand that all words change their meaning as time moves on and that the Bible as you know it has passed through various translations. At best, you follow an arbitrary oral tradition of interpreting the Bible, at worst, you’re just retrospectively justifying your own moral stance with reference to “some words”.

    Good luck with that.

  54. Romans510 Says:

    (Gulp….am I about to be tarred & feathered as well?)

    Hi, Yewtree: Are you a believer too? Because if you are, it’s hard to tell you apart from self-proclaimed atheist “Jim”. To answer your question regarding those who despise Jesus, I give you His words, not mine:

    “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” Luke 11:23

    “If a man love me, he will keep my words…He that loveth me not keepth not my sayings.” John 14:23

    But, shame on me! I referred to the written word and, according to you “moderates”, that makes me a hateful extremist. I pity you. How empty is your faith! (If there be any at all)

    To Sophie: point taken re “believing church”; a mere clumsy redundancy on my part. Still able to get the gist, I hope?

    Perhaps I was too hard on you, Webmaster. At least I can retreat to the “land of the free, home of the brave” (as imperfect as we are).
    You have to live with these stiff-necked folks on a daily basis! Delightful crowd to be sure, but I’m outta here.

  55. Yewtree Says:

    Yep, and I utterly stand by my statement that the belief that Jesus died for your sins is a nasty insidious and hate-filled idea. And there are many Christians who would agree with me (e.g. adherents of Christus Victor theology and the great Unitarian writer & theologian William Ellery Channing).

    There are at least 17 different models of the Atonement, and the belief that Jesus was a substitute sacrifice because God wanted to kill the rest of us is a particularly nasty version of it.

    Also, as Ashley Frieze says above , “all belief is of the nature of picking and choosing what to believe and what your source material means”. Very true.

  56. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @Stephen Green: “hate their brother”? And this from the guy who started all the finger-pointing in the first place.

    It’s very silly to try bullying people and then, when they protest, to label them as intolerant.

    You have definitely chosen the pick-and-mix path – ignoring all the wisdom of the Scriptures while creating a God in your own image: a humourless bigot.

  57. Aradiel Says:

    I find it funny how it seems that the more extreme Christians here are labelling everyone except themselves as people who “despise Christ” – how amusing.
    People can like Jesus, what he stands for and even believe in him.
    Just because they don’t agree with you does not mean they despise him and only demonstrates their point.

  58. Yewtree Says:

    @Romans510 – I am not a Christian, if that’s what you’re asking. I am a Unitarian. I believe in the all-pervading divine energy, that can be accessed via all religions. “The Kingdom of Heaven is all around you, but you cannot see it.” (NB – I do not speak for all Unitarians either; Unitarianism is a non-creedal tradition.) I honour Jesus as a deeply spiritual being; but I also honour the Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and other great mystics and activists.

    As to your quote from Luke 11:23, I prefer this from the gospel of Mark: http://bible.cc/mark/9-40.htm “for whoever is not against us is for us.” It’s much more inclusive.

  59. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    Yewtree Says: “I utterly stand by my statement that the belief that Jesus died for your sins is a nasty insidious and hate-filled idea.”

    I think that’s expressed rudely and because you don’t give any explanation as to why you think Jesus dying for our sins is hate-filled it’s pretty offensive on a religious forum. Why such passion?

    Perhaps I have become too accustomed to reading very thoughtful posts from atheists. These are people with interesting views and I learn from them. If you believe that all religions are equally rubbish you can say anything you like, I suppose. However because insults don’t provide any common ground on which to debate anything you’ll find yourself turning into an online caricature (a problem not confined to atheists) or even a troll. Posting such extreme stuff without any background makes dialogue hard work.

  60. Yewtree Says:

    Sorry if I offended you, Sophie. I practice 2 religions actually. Here’s the background of why I think that about penal substitution theology.

    http://khanya.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/salvation-and-atonement/ (an article written by my learned Orthodox Christian friend, Steve Hayes)

  61. Jim Says:

    @Romans510
    I’m one of those stumbled onto this blog and was not a Christian.

    In my humble opinion the Webmaster, with his light but sure touch on the tiller, does a far better job of recruiting the sympathy, respect and support of non-Christians than any fire-and-brimstone literalist I’ve had the misfortune to come across on the Net. Should not true Christians be more focussed on spreading the joy to those outside the fold, rather than squabbling amongst each other over who is more righteous?

    I’m no Spring Chicken, and I can assure you that this openness and tolerance to discussion is nothing new in the UK. And I speak from intimate experience of a wide range of strong Christian influences through various members of my family.

    Maybe the difference from when I was younger is that, thanks to the Internet, minorities can now make their voice heard just as loud as the mainstream majority. I think we all need to keep a mental volume control in our heads when weighing up the various contributions.

    I hope it is not lost on you that this blog does not purport to be the official voice of the whole Church in the UK, and yet to read some of the indignant posts, you might be forgiven that this is what some people mistake it for.

    No-one is forced to read or contribute to this blog. There are plenty of others which will more closely agree with the opinions of some of the more extreme contributors. It’s perhaps a bit like choosing your newspaper. People tend to choose the one that most closely supports their Worldview.

    I for one find this blog a source of great inspiration and of a pragmatic yet respectful consideration of all that Christianity in the UK encompasses. Long may it prosper!

  62. Yewtree Says:

    @Sophie: I feel passionately about vicarious atonement being bad theology because I do not believe that God is that vindictive, nor that people are that depraved. William Ellery Channing (19th c Unitarian) puts it very well indeed: http://bit.ly/9eCeIl

  63. Romans510 Says:

    Jim said: “…Webmaster, with his light but sure touch on the tiller, does a far better job of recruiting the sympathy, respect and support of non-Christians than any fire-and-brimstone literalist I’ve had the misfortune to come across on the Net.”

    Alas, I couldn’t resist, Jim. I’ve read your comments and have found them sincere. At least you’re honest and upfront about your beliefs while maintaining a somewhat civilized respect for others. And while I vehemently disagree with you, I respect your expressions nonetheless. However, that does not seem to be the overall mood at this blog. I have read Webmaster’s posts elsewhere and know that he is a dear brother in the Lord, so, to see such an unrestrained and rabid display against his own on his site is troubling. (But hey, that’s just me.) Upon more reflection, however, I’m beginning to understand his silence.

    And just so you know, Jim, as I hope you are well aware (having family members in the faith), Christians are not called to be sympathetic supporters to a lost and dying world. We are to be faithful witnesses of the One True God, Jesus Christ (as revealed in scripture alone), and we will be hated for that. To say nothing and remain friends with the world would leave us with your blood on our hands. We are each accountable. The alternative demise to those who reject Him is too terrible to contemplate. I don’t expect to receive your respect, sympathy, or support, since, other than the freedom to express ourselves, we have nothing else in common.

  64. Jim Says:

    @ Romans 510: Well, as you’d expect, I know that the only major thing we don’t have in common is is your faith. And the fact that I know we are not living in a lost and dying World. What a depressing thought to have!

  65. Caral Says:

    @Yewtree, I agree with you wholeheartedly on the penal substitutionary view of atonement. Yuk!

    I liked John Stott, where he critiques the loveless caricatures of the cross as “a sacrifice to appease an angry God, or … a legal transaction in which an innocent victim was made to pay the penalty for the crimes of others” as being “neither the Christianity of the bible in general nor of Paul in particular” and further that “It is doubtful if anybody has ever believed such a crude construction”.

  66. Gordon Says:

    Why are Christian fundamentalists always so nasty to other people?

    It seems the more fundamentalist someone is the less you would ever want to be stuck in a lift with them.

  67. Yewtree Says:

    @Gordon: are you referring to Mr Romans510′s belief that those of us who do not share his theology are going to burn for eternity, and that the world is a depraved place? I deplore his theology, of course, but his conclusion that he must therefore seek to evangelise others (to save them from the eternal fire) is consistent with his beliefs and, by his lights, altruistic. This is probably not the place for a Biblical exegesis of why his theology is wrong (others have done it elsewhere far better than I could – see http://tentmaker.org/ for example) but I don’t think he’s being vindictive.

    @Caral: most Christians that I know personally are also offended by penal substitution / vicarious atonement / satisfaction theology (at least in its crudest form – some of them subscribe to a modified version of it); that’s why I was quite surprised that Sophie found my comments offensive (though they were out-of-context).

  68. Caral Says:

    @Romans510

    Thank you for your response, and I agree that we need to be tender hearted to those younger in the faith. Yet brother, after reading your later response bashing Yewtree with the scriptures, I am a little perplexed.

  69. Yewtree Says:

    Dear Caral – the Bible can be used for many things; it can be used as a weapon of attack or a tool of understanding. For the latter purpose, I think it is better to compare it carefully with the scriptures of other traditions, as then it is possible to arrive at an understanding of what it might really mean. (Of course this procedure would be anathema to exclusivists and fundamentalists, but that is their problem.)

    I was really quite amused at Romans510′s use of Luke 11:23, as I knew that Jesus is reported to have said the exact opposite in Mark 9:40 (the link I posted has a commentary that attempts to reconcile the two, not entirely successfully in my opinion). But thank you for your concern that he was bashing me with the scriptures.

  70. Gordon Says:

    I meant when I meet these sort of people personally.

    They:

    a) Seem to know everything about me before I have opened my mouth (even though they don’t).

    b) Are quite clear that I am deficient in some way.

    I do meet a lot of Christians because of my work annd some are of this persuasion.

  71. Yewtree Says:

    Ah, I see. Yes that would be annoying. Well, those kind of people do have a very simplistic view of how the world works.

  72. Caral Says:

    Hi Yewtree,

    It was the irony of Romans510 posts. His initial comments, was that Christians were being kicked and belittled, and then he uses the Scriptures (totally out of context) to kick and belittle others.

    To be honest, I am not a big fan of comparative religion. As an orthodox trinitarian christian, for me, the plan and matrix of salvation (perichoresis, hypostatic union, and theosis) is only to be found in our Sacred Texts. Although having said perhaps the Tanakh could be helpful. ;)

  73. Yewtree Says:

    Hi Caral – nice to find a Christian who actually knows what perichoresis, hypostatic union, and theosis are. However, I believe that theosis is available via many traditions. Why would the Divine (the source of infinite compassion) restrict itself to one tradition only? If people of other traditions are not experiencing the Divine, then what are they experiencing? Also, helpful though the concepts are, there’s nothing about perichoresis, hypostatic union, and theosis in the New Testament, so I am a bit mystified when you say they’re only to be found in your sacred texts – unless you’re including the writings of the early Church Fathers. And perichoresis was a term originally applied to the Goddess Hekate. Also, you missed out kenosis ;) And I am not quite sure where hypostatic union fits in the plan and matrix of salvation – though I guess you mean that for Jesus to be genuinely the Saviour (in a Christus Victor sense of course), he has to be in hypostatic union and perichoresis with the other persons of the Trinity? And do you mean Orthodox with a capital O, or orthodox as in doctrinally consistent with others?

    You see, to me, the whole death, descent to hell (see Peter 1:3 for anyone else reading this), and resurrection myth is a metaphor for the death of the ego, descent into the underworld of the subconscious, and resurrection of the whole person, bringing the shadowy parts of the self into the light of consciousness – and this myth is repeated endlessly – Inanna’s descent to the underworld, the death of Tammuz, Adonis, Dumuzi, etc. So we need to go through that process internally in order to become whole.

  74. Caral Says:

    Hi Yewtree,

    Your reply really made me smile, and is interesting to say the least, especially that you have not come across more Christians, who have read around theology. I know that Kierkegaard suggested that we should all be theologians. Yet I am inclined to go along with JP2, who advised that we should have as a minimum of a speaking and reading knowledge of at least Koine Greek and Hebrew, before embarking on such a noble pursuit.

    Perichoresis, the interpenetration of the Father and Son, is found in John’s Gospel. “The Father and I are one”.

    For me, and Orthodox Christians theosis is only found through Jesus Christ. God, became man, so man can become like God. This is the heart of the Christian message, and this is what is so unique about Christ. Through the hypostatic union (man and God) in Jesus Christ, God entered into His creation, and become man. The doctrine of kenosis (Phil 2:5-11) is an consequence of the hypostatic union.

    I don’t doubt that other religions seek for the Divine, and possibly even experience the Divine. Yet it is only in Christ and through Christ, that theosis becomes a reality. We are encompassed into the Triune God (John 14:15-23) and we will dance with God for eternity.

    I did laugh at the thought of perichoresis being applied to Hacate. I had to look her up. Was that with her greyhounds? ;)

  75. Ashley Frieze Says:

    What happens if we apply Ockham’s razor to the question of what to believe when there’s such a diversity of possible ways to interpret the Bible and the apparent inconsistencies between the beliefs of people who call themselves Christian or even believers in God?

  76. Yewtree Says:

    @Caral – Ah, I got confused about what hypostatic union is – thanks for the explanation. I disagree with your view that “it is only in Christ and through Christ, that theosis becomes a reality” – how do you know, anyway? Also, perichoresis isn’t called that in the gospel that you quote.

    Why is it funny that perichoresis was originally applied to Hecate? It’s a perfectly serious theological concept. No, it wasn’t with her greyhounds, it was with her other aspects.

    @Ashley – “by their fruits ye shall know them” is the Ockham’s razor to apply. I am quite sure that the Tao transcends all attempts to describe it (“The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao”).

    According to atheists there is no objective reality which theology describes (and as a non-theist myself, I am inclined to agree). But some theology is definitely far more harmful than other theology, and some theology can be beneficial.

    For instance, the kind of theology that says that God dislikes LGBT people is obviously harmful; whereas the kind of theology that says God is Nature and Nature is God, or that God is Love and Love is God (and not a person) is harmless, and probably beneficial as it encourages ecological awareness; and the kind of theology that encourages people to be nice to everyone because “we are all made in the image of God” is surely beneficial. Also the kind of theology that says we don’t know if God exists or what She wants (e.g. Godless Morality by Richard Holloway) seems like a good thing to me, as it encourages people to be more humble and tolerant of others’ beliefs.

    Theology can be tested empirically by its effects on people’s lives. Bad theology will make people unhappy and cause harm; good theology will make people happy and altruistic.

    In my personal view, good theology includes old-style atheism (i.e. the kind that was more tolerant of other views), agnosticism, naturalism, pantheism, panentheism, deism, universalism, unitarianism, a lot of mysticism, and the interfaith movement. Most of these theologies recognise that mythology is a metaphor for the process of living, and is best enjoyed in the mode of fairy-tale. They also show respect for other philosophies and religions.

  77. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @# Yewtree “Sorry if I offended you, Sophie. I practice 2 religions actually. Here’s the background of why I think that about penal substitution theology.”

    Didn’t want you to think I’m ignoring you – sure you didn’t mean to offend and will check out the links you suggest. It’s just that RL has become demanding so I’m busy elsewhere. Will get back to you. Thank you for your response.

  78. Caral Says:

    @Yewtree,

    I know that perichoresis is a theology concept, I brought it up originally. :) For others that may be interested this gives a basic outline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perichoresis

    Yewtree it would be great if you would expound some more as to why “perichoresis isn’t called that in the gospel that you quote”. Perhaps our understanding of perichoresis are at odds. I have never come across used in any other context than the relationship of the Trinity. So I have learnt a new thing, thank you. Could you link me into a ref about hacate (hakate) and perichoresis. I have searched online but no results.

    Regarding theosis, how do I know?

    In my won study and quest for answers, the questions I asked was how does God evolve the man, that originated from dust (ok, quarks) into the divine.

    How does man become one with God? How does one partake in His nature. There is one only answer. God become a man. This to me is the Gospel. Though Christ, the God-man, His death and resurrection, we die and are raised to a new creation, we enter in the Triune relationship of perichoresis. It is just so amazing.

    God fused with flesh, so that flesh could be fused with the Divine.

    More info can be found http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis

    @ Ashley. In my opinion, theology and man’s understanding of God is not parismonious in any sense, and so therefore I don’t think that we can apply occam’s razor.

  79. Ashley Frieze Says:

    @Caral theology is made complex by itself. The question of whether to apply Ockham’s razor is entirely independent of how complicated someone’s philosophy has become.

    That said, I don’t expect an answer to my question.

  80. Caral Says:

    Ashley, perhaps it is the complexity of the nature and personhood at the centre of it’s study, that makes theology complex.

    That said, I don’t expect an answer to my question. :)

  81. Yewtree Says:

    @ Caral – I meant it was theological as applied to Hekate as well as to Yahweh (my source isn’t available online, sorry). Re the gospel – I meant the gospel doesn’t use the actual word perichoresis – you quoted “I and the Father are one” – perichoresis may have been applied to that verse later, but it’s not there in the original text.

    I prefer the theology that says we are all manifestations of the Divine. See for instance my address on this subject: http://heartofflame.blogspot.com/2009/03/what-is-messiah.html

  82. Yewtree Says:

    @ Ashley – did you not see my response to your question? or did you not find it satisfactory?

  83. Romans510 Says:

    To Caral:

    1. Hostile to true Christians (you call yourself one, but trust me, you’re no Christian)
    2. Otherwise, all-inclusive
    3. Despises Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross
    4. Slithers back into the dark when confronted by Scripture

    I repent of calling you my sister in the Lord….you, oh dead one, are an enemy of the cross!

    If there’s anything to be gained by visiting this stinking cesspool of a blog, it’s that I shall be more discerning and reluctant in joining myself to another professing Christian. I Praise God through Jesus Christ that this was not all in vain! Farewell!

  84. Yewtree Says:

    The more I think about it, the more apt the saying “By their fruits ye shall know them” seems. Caral tries to include as many viewpoints as possible in Christianity, has a nuanced view of it, and can have a reasonable and learned discussion of theology. Romans510 denies that Caral is a Christian at all, despite Caral’s professed belief in one of the central tenets of orthodox Christianity, and resorts to abusing Caral and the eChurch blog. QED. Ockham’s razor in action.

    Happy Easter everyone.

  85. Ashley Frieze Says:

    @Yewtree – I think your answer was thought provoking. Though I make a rule of trying to avoid answers about theological questions that depend on quoting the scriptures believed by the individual. It’s tantamount to saying “because it is”.

    Maybe all of religion can be summarised as “love thy neighbour” with a side order of “believe what you like, so long as it’s non-oppressive”. Sadly, that’s still hard to flesh out in concrete terms.

  86. Caral Says:

    @Romans510. I pray that you will grow in love and grace, and that your faith will be founded in the Truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    @Yewtree, wow, Ockham’s razor in action. Gosh, wouldn’t it make a great research project. ;)

  87. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @ Romans501: It tickles me to read you repenting of describing Caral as your sister in the Lord. I can just imagine you with your siblings: beating then up, sitting on their heads… You must have been a vile brother. You should know that you come across as belonging to entirely the wrong religion. You obviously skipped Brotherhood 101. Are you sure you didn’t intend to join the Taleban?

    BTW, Caral is a man’s name. I’m surprised you got it wrong because Americans seem to use a far larger variety of names than we do.

    Off with you, anyway. Shake our slime off your cowboy boots, and return to the land of the Palins and the home of the handgun. Give me 501s over 510s any day.

    @Yewtree: Have had a quick look at your links. It’s quite complicated – or I’m slow. Feel fairly knackered atm, so it’s probably me. In fact it’s almost certainly me…

    Anyway, am getting the first glimmerings and now beginning to understand your points. I think I’ve thought something similar but never clarified it before, let alone seen it explored properly.

  88. Yewtree Says:

    @Sophie – take your time :) it took me a while to realise that there was any other model than penal substitution theology (it’s one of several reasons why I went off Christianity for 25 years, and am only now appreciating the mystical side of it, because I have read around other traditions and reinterpreted it in the light of those). I once came across a blogpost by a Quaker explaining that there are 17 different models of the Atonement (can’t find it now unfortunately).

    @Caral: you have good fruit.

    @Ashley: I don’t have beliefs, I have working hypotheses, and a spirituality of appreciating the beautiful world in which we live, and sharing in loving community. For Unitarians, religion is about shared values and supporting each other’s unique spiritual journeys.

  89. Yewtree Says:

    @Ashley, re I make a rule of trying to avoid answers about theological questions that depend on quoting the scriptures believed by the individual.

    If you mean me as ‘the individual’, I regard the Bible as an important spiritual text, but I don’t take it literally, and it made hardly any sense to me until I reinterpreted it in the light of other traditions’ sacred writings. The only text that makes 100% sense to me is the Tao Te Ching.

    I happened to quote “by their fruits ye shall know them” because I knew it would be familiar to everyone here, and because it’s a valid, internally consistent and empirically testable proverb.

  90. Caral Says:

    Bless you and thank you, Yewtree, I am not unitarian, but I hold a similar view, we are all sojourners on a journey, and each of ours pilrimages are as unique as we are.

    Although I think I can hear Romans510 grinding his teeth before I even have said this :) But I love to meditate on the mystic theologians, they just have so much wisdom and knowledge to share with us. It is so sad that some fundies have through ignorance (hopefully) chosen to throw out of rich, rich heritage and tradition, and of course the baby with the bathwater.

    I pray that our Lord bless each and every one of us, as we we enter paschal triduum. Let us walk with Him, through His sacrifice, death and His glorious ressurection into eternal life.

    Amen.

    A it is so late, I thought I would add this prayer from Compline (night prayer)

    Lord, In peace we will lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.
    Abide with us, Lord Jesus,
    for the night is at hand and the day is now past.
    As the night watch looks for the morning,
    so do we look for you, O Christ.
    Amen.

  91. Yewtree Says:

    Bless you, Caral.

    Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
    no hands but yours,
    no feet but yours,
    Yours are the eyes through which to look out
    Christ’s compassion to the world
    Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
    doing good;
    Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

    (St Teresa of Avila)

  92. Yewtree Says:

    @Caral @Sophie – I thought you might enjoy this article about mysticism and its relationship with the mainstream http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/dry-bones
    “Dry Bones: WHY RELIGION CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT MYSTICISM”
    by Luke Timothy Johnson

  93. Terry Says:

    I’ve been away from my computer for a few days, just catching up on the posts. Thank you Yewtree for pointing out my typo, that’ll teach me to edit before I post.
    Did you notice the green comment?

    Quote: the summit of your evidence to prove the worth of atheism was this:
    “Earnest (sic) Hemingway said, ‘all thinking men are atheists’.”

    What a joke. Green even took the time to do a little bit of research on Hemingway. The main tenant of my posting was dangerous religious parents, Parents that do things to there children that an atheist wouldn’t dream of. But on this point Green is silent. That tells me right there everything I need to know about this mans moral standards. He cant bring himself to criticize other fundamental Christians for their stupidity. Fundamentalists hide behind the shield that so called moderate’s provide.

    I have a challenge for Green and there is a prize, the prize is offered by Christopher Hitchens. You have to think of a moral act or thought or saying that a person of faith would do but an atheist would not do. The corollary of that is to think of an immoral act committed by a person of religion that an atheist would not do. You have already thought of one before you’ve finished reading this post. From genital mutilation to flying plains into buildings, I believe religion is a force for evil in the world. Ones morals certainly don’t come from scripture.

    You’re Bible isn’t the good book, there’s nothing good about it. You’re God isn’t real. You only believe in him now because you were forced to as a child, as was I. Green has nothing to offer to the debate apart from Dogma.

    Anyway Happy Easter!!

  94. Jim Says:

    Terry. I guess you feel better for having a rant, but how has this moved the debate forward?

    There are too many people who call themselves atheists who are all to keen to fling mud at those who believe in God, but who are not then willing to go the extra mile and to explain the alternative. Without a real understanding of a credible alternative world view, these posts are just rants, which have the efect of just entrenching positions.

    So here’s a challenge for you: Explain morality from an Atheist persective – concisely.

  95. Gordon Says:

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    You don’t need to believe in God to know that this makes sense because its likely to benefit you by reciprocation.

    Its thought that this rule developed in small communities where people might only know a small number of people for their whole lives and behaving in this way ensured survival for everyone.

  96. Jim Says:

    Thanks Gordon but that was for Terry. I’d relly like to get hos take on this.
    And whilst this is good for a starter it’s very superficial. Life’s not that simple.

  97. Aradiel Says:

    @romans510 @Stephen Green
    My my. Dogs are meant to see the world in black and white, not humans.
    There are many degrees in between “love” and “hate”, yet you seem to think that if someone does not “love” Jesus as you do, then they must “hate” him.
    That seems more hateful of Jesus’ teachings and sacrifice than the positions held by those who disagree with you.
    For those that profess to love someone who you claim teaches you about love, you seem to carry a lot of hate.

    I think that this is an appropriate point to make:
    Tolerating something means that you put up with it, not that you like it.

  98. Yewtree Says:

    @Aradiel @Terry – Romans510 and Stephen Green have flounced off, as they didn’t like the liberal theology professed here.

    @Terry – I don’t think it’s true that the extremists hide behind the moderates – I would have said it was more the case that extremists shout so loud that no-one can hear the moderates. Also, journalists are generally uninterested in liberal religionists, as we don’t go round blowing things up. I don’t know if you read all the discussion here, because if you did, you would have seen how the extremists were very rude to the moderates.

    I’d say the Bible is a mixed bag. Yes, there are some really bad bits in it, but there are also some good bits in it. One has to read it as literature, with discernment and an awareness that it’s the product of a specific culture, as Richard Dawkins suggests. Have you ever read the Song of Songs? One of the most life-affirming and erotic poems around – and it’s in the Bible.

    @ Jim – I think you are right about engaging in sensible dialogue – rants (whether from extreme Christians or extreme atheists) don’t help anyone. Also, for the benefit of anyone who thinks that religion is or should be the only source of ethics, I recommend the excellent book Godless Morality by Richard Holloway.

  99. Jim Says:

    @Yewtree
    Yes. I agree. If as an Atheist I’m going to try to tear Religious Belief to shreds I really should have something demonstrably more intellectually fulfilling to take its place.

    I’m currently providing the support vehicle for a Charity Bike Ride across France and thought I’d be unable to connect. Seems I was wrong, so I’ll be bothering you guys each day I expect – just not sure from where!

    Interestingly there is a full spectrum of believers/nonbelievers on this trip, and we get on just fine. Yes, we have fundamental differences of opinion but we respect each other’s right to be different, and it’s so refreshing to find that no-one claims to be the ONLY true this or true that! ;)

    A bientot!

  100. terry Says:

    @Jim, I don’t have a supernatural alternative for the meaning of life as there isn’t one. For me, the meaning of life is the one one chooses for ones self under the principle that stops one from harming anyone else. There is a lot to say on this matter but to condense it down to fit into a post is very difficult.

    @Yewtree I don’t agree with you, fundamentalists do hide behind the so called moderates. For example Ayatollah Khomeini publicly offer money for the murder of the novelist, Salman Rushdie, an obvious affront to freedom of expression. The Vatican, the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, and the chief Rabi of Israel, to name just a few. For these men the main problem was the book, the satanic verse, not the murder by mercenaries but blasphemy was the crime.
    Remember religion kills.

  101. Yewtree Says:

    Hi Terry – none of those examples are of fundamentalists hiding behind moderates – the example of Ayatollah Khomeini is just an example of a fundamentalist being very obstreperous. The Vatican doesn’t seem to contain any moderates, so that’s not an example either.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury is a better example because there are some unpleasant fundies in the C of E. As to the chief Rabbi of Israel, I don’t know much about him – can you give an example of how he is a moderate sheltering a fundie?

    As I said, most of the time the fundies berate the moderates for not being fundamentalist and bigoted enough (as we have already seen on this discussion thread). So you still haven’t said anything to convince me of your assertion.

  102. Yewtree Says:

    @ Jim – have a great bike ride.

    The point about religious liberals is that we don’t think belief is the most important thing – we think values (honesty, trust, truth, love, wisdom etc) are more important. I don’t really believe in much – last time I did the Belief-O-Matic questionnaire I came out as 99% secular humanist – but I participate in religion because I love the spiritual practices, symbolism, mythology and community. My idea of the Divine is pretty abstract and Spinozan.

  103. Caral Says:

    @ Yewtree, “religious liberals don’t think belief is important?”. Haha! Speak for yourself. :)

  104. Yewtree Says:

    Hi Caral – I said “not the most important thing” :)

  105. Caral Says:

    @Yewtree, phew! I still don’t agree ;) But I don’t know or have have across religious liberals (especially christians) online or in real life.

    Can I ask, as you mentioned spinozan. Are your religious beliefs incline more to Panentheist or Pantheist?

  106. Caral Says:

    I lived a sheltered life :)

  107. Yewtree Says:

    I’m a pantheist, but many Unitarians are panentheist. Some Unitarians identify as Christian, others don’t (I am one of those who don’t, though I am interested in Christian spirituality).

    An early Unitarian, Francis David said “We need not think alike to love alike”, and Unitarians still hold to this idea.

  108. Caral Says:

    Fascinating.

    I had a quick look at good ole wiki

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism
    and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarianism

    I am all confused, :)

    I can’t quite get my head around how pantheism and unitarianism is held together? I thought that pantheism beliefs held that there is no personal or creator being, but the universe and all in it, is nature. (Wasn’t it Spinozan who came up with the idea of God or Nature). Yet unitarianism believe in a personal God and are theist.

  109. Yewtree Says:

    Hi Caral, not all Unitarians believe in a personal God. The page you were looking at was the historical doctrine of unitarianism rather than the denomination of Unitarians.

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