A bit of a Monday morning round up ...
As we reel from news of atrocities committed in the name of extreme Islam, this article is a useful reminder that there is a way to develop the application of sharia law which takes account of modern life rather forces modern life to conform to life as it was some 1400 years ago. Although not without its own cruelties and militarism, the Ottoman Empire "for centuries, .. peaceably ruled much of the civilised world".
Speaking of the Ottoman Empire, and as a reminder of its dominance over Christianity, it happens that Bosco Peters has posted this morning on a Stylite quest to reconstruct a chapel and house on top a pillar of rock in Georgia. It had previously been used by a Stylite "until the Ottoman Empire invaded Georgia in the 15th century."
Whether we like it or not, extreme Islam is a phenomenon in the history of religions of humankind. That history continues to take its twists and turns, including the rise and fall (and rise) of human allegiances to religions, and to specific convictions within those religions. Thus today we can jump from Georgia to Scotland to reflect on their census figures re religion, posted by Thinking Anglicans here. Protestants might reflect on the statistical stability of the Roman Catholic church. For Anglicans there is an interesting twist to the figures. Meanwhile in NZ we await publication of our 2013 census figures ...
It is not unknown on this site for the faithful adherence of Episcopalians to their prayerbooks to be observed, sometimes in conjunction with observations about Kiwi Anglicans somewhat 'loose' approaches to using our prayerbooks. Thus a post by Bishop Dan Martins, via Creedal Christian, caught my eye in respect of its liturgical observations of no less than a TEC House of Bishops' meeting. Creedal Christian's post carries the provocative title "Cognitive Dissonance and Liturgical Innovation in the House of Bishops."
But the Creedal Christian re-publication of +Dan's thoughts highlights something else, which also connects with the history of religions unfolding before our eyes through these weeks, the current mission of Pope Francis. Where is Pope Francis leading his church? He is saying things which progressive Episcopalians find congenial, yet he has actually done nothing to change the conservative doctrine of the Roman church.
Bishop Dan makes an astute and poignant observation:
" I find him a remarkable man, and am both humbled and inspired by his ministry. He is frighteningly Christ-like. But I also happen to agree with most of his positions on controverted issues.
And here's the deal: He isn't proposing any changes in either the theological or moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. None.
If I were a supporter of same-sex marriage, or abortion rights, I could find nothing in the Pope's statements that would lead me to hope that a change in church teaching in these areas is imminent. So why the sudden triumph of style over substance? I not only agree with his views, I also agree with the need he has expressed to change rhetoric and reassess priorities.
But many of the same voices that are raised in adulation of the Bishop of Rome still see Episcopalians who share his views as outliers, and benignly and charitably (more or less) consign us to the margins of TEC. Just sayin'."
I think the Ottomans and Pope Francis would get along fine. They understand the need to connect the doctrinal rock of faith with the pastoral fluidity of the world in which we live today.
(Added Tuesday) Time magazine weighs in on the Pope as a radical traditionalist:
"even if the teachings that put a kick me sign on the church could be changed by fiat, it would be self-defeating to do so. The mainline Protestant churches have all tried just that--throwing out the unwanted baby of the traditional moral code with the theological bathwater. Yet they're still drowning. Over the centuries, people have found plenty to complain about in the church's bans on abortion, contraception and extramarital sex. But that fact doesn't undermine the code's internal consistency--or its appeal to those who have found in it a tough but beautiful truth."
Too return to Islam, Cranmer poses an important question in this post. How can a religion of peace inflict brutality on its own members? Ditto, read this Telegraph post asking why we cannot call murder murder and terrorism terrorism?
Let the final word be with the Word of God, this time in the reflective hands of Fr Jonathan, as part of Anglicans keeping holy writ.