Monday, January 16, 2023

2023: what a year, and it's only 16 January!

2023 is off to a tumultuous start. American democracy barely functioning. Constitutional monarchy under threat in UK (by the unsparing revelations of the 5th in line to the throne, no less). Brazil experiencing a Trump-like attempt to overthrow an electoral result. Benedict XVI has died. Cardinal Pell has died. Some terrible storms disrupting life in NZ - we thought it was the summer holiday season. The CofE under convulsions again re That Topic. And also having conniptions, again, over +Philip North, who won't ordain women, becoming a diocesan bishop. 

Ever willing to assist, here is a picture I took, while on holiday, of splendid calm and peacefulness:

This is a plantation of Californian Redwoods, normally a coastal dwelling tree, in the sub-alpine district of Hanmer Springs, South Island, NZ. They were planted in 1930 and may live for 1000 years, so just babies, but calm, peaceful infants. Think what crises and calamities the world has lived through since 1930. These trees have grown as God would have us grow in Christ: faithful, maturing, fruitful, lasting (e.g. Ephesians 4:13-16; Colossian 1:19-29).

If a/the major question of this blog is, How might we become what Christ intends us to be, a unified people of God? , then a close second question is, What does it mean to follow Jesus Christ today?

How might we be faithful, maturing, fruitful, lasting disciples of Christ in 2023?

The answer, obviously, is to ... change "of" to "in" [smile].

How might we be faithful, maturing, fruitful, lasting disciples "in Christ" in 2023? 

Clearly, to the extent that we can be responsible human decision makers in respect of the course of our lives, we need to walk as closely with [note, another important preposition, see Mark 3:14] Christ as possible: through daily Scripture reading and prayer, through reception of and participation in the sacrament of communion, through openness to the work of the Holy Spirit, through various other spiritual disciplines.

But, we may also look to and give thanks for God's promise to us in Christ: that Christ will live in us and we will live in Christ (essentially, the whole of John's Gospel, much of the Pauline writings). To go back to the forest in Hanmer: those splendid Redwoods have grown by God's grace as God has gifted them rain, sunshine, carbon dioxide, etc. To become what God wants us to be is foremost a matter of God's grace, the Giver of life will gift life to us.

Yet, and yet, and yet: as we see, even in the first couple of weeks of this year, various people, otherwise at least baptised, possibly claiming to be some kind of ecclesio-political warrior for God, maybe holding powerful office with the support of church leaders, even holding high office in the church of God, proposing courses of action and/or propagandizing perspectives seemingly at variance with objective truth, or, just being foolish. The grace of God in growing us in Christ may be thwarted, tripped up or just thrown aside.

Although we can see this in certain people, living and departed, who currently exist in the laser light of news headlines, do we not see it in ourselves? 

Outside of the headlines, do not we ordinary mortals ourselves thwart the grace of God as we make choices that then lead - hopefully - to confession of our sins, to acknowledgement with sorrow of our capacity to not grow in grace, to stunt our maturing, to be unfruitful and to look like we will not be found to last the distance with God?


While not completely aligned with the topic above, I do not want to miss the opportunity to copy and paste a citation made in a commnet by Mark to the previous post:

Michael Sean Winters, writing in the National Catholic Reporter, on George Pell and his warrior approach to secular modernity:

"There are times when the church needs lions, protectors, prelates and others willing to man the barricades, at least in times of persecution. But the late 20th and early 21st century witnessed something different from persecution.

True, the acids of modernity, as political commentator Walter Lippmann once called them, were eating away not only at the faith but at the disposition to believe. The culture was becoming secular, but not the way late 18th-century French culture had become secular. People were not so much hostile as busy. They lost interest in the faith, failed to see that it related to their daily lives, and moved on.

Lions like Pell treated these developments as modern-day reign of terror and thought they could hasten the Thermidorian reaction, but they misdiagnosed the situation. Modernity was not producing anti-clericals in the mold of Robespierre but rather people who were alienated, drowning in materialism and plenty, needy.

The times called for pastors, not prophets, for accompaniment not thunderbolts, for missionaries and evangelizers not apologists, for lambs not lions."


Father Ron said...

Dear Bishop Peter. It's good to know that you and Teresa can enjoy the beauty of Hamner Springs. Our family will be taking us there over the Waitangi weekend. Even if it's raining one can always enjoy the benefits of the spa pools.

In the meantime, Pope Francis reminds us of our common human frailty. Whatever the circumstances of our world, we are all in it together, intended to be responsible for one another in an environment where naked ambition can rule other welfare of others. Politics and religious fervor can so often militate against our view of 'our neighbour'. Here is today's reflection from the Bishop of Rome on the reality of our human weakness in the face of God's power and willingness to redeem us all: -

Kalo Epiphania! (Christ still shows himself in the most unexpected places)


" We can ask ourselves: how do we look upon others? How often do we see their faults and not their needs; how often do we label people according to what they do or what they think! Even as Christians we say to ourselves: is he one of us or not? This is not the gaze of Jesus: He always looks at each person with mercy and indeed with predilection. And Christians are called to do as Christ did, looking like Him especially at the so-called “distant ones.” Indeed, Matthew's account of the call ends with Jesus saying, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (v. 13). And if any one of us considers themselves righteous, Jesus is far away. He draws near to our limitations, to our miseries, to heal them.”

Pope Francis'

Anonymous said...

Peter, I have read your comment on Ian Paul's Psephizo blog and it makes no sense to me at all. Ian Paul, as well as "Geoff", "S" and Christopher Shell give a very firm rebuttal to your speculation, noting that you are not making an argument from the correct exegesis of the Word of God (which is always how authentic Christian theology proceeds) but you offer basically an exercise in imagination - a game that anyone can play ("If Jesus was here today, I think he would agree with me."). In what way are human beings ontologically or morally different from 2000 years ago? How have we changed in our essence or our bodies and souls? Or are we essentially no different, while culture has changed - as it always does? This is the point of what Ian Paul and Christopher Shell say to you.
At no point have you interacted with and rebutted Dr Paul's detailed response to John Inge. Instead you attempt an end run around the issues, bypassing Scripture entirely. Your speculation uncomfortably reminds me of the bishop encountered in the afterlife in chapter 5 of C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce who tells his visitor that since knowledge is constantly changing, he is giving a paper on what Jesus would say today (were he alive) at the local theological society: "Remember, Dick, our Lord was a very young man when he died and he would have abandoned some of his naive beliefs had he lived longer."
We must be grateful to you for making up this deficit in dominical knowledge.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

That's not my point, William, but it is fun reading your witty take on what you think it is!

Ms Liz said...

William's comment sent me to the Psephizo blog where I return once *again* to That Topic (sigh). +Peter gives the discussion a bit of a prod and wow, there's quite a buzz! Interesting. I only read +Peter as encouraging people to consider whether there might be a bigger perspective than endlessly rehashing the same old line-up of Bible verses and related discussion.

[You know, like maybe recalling what Jesus said about the greatest and the next-greatest commandments. Or the woman caught in adultery where the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law no doubt thought they had a watertight case - but Jesus's instruction (which came with a condition) turned their blame to shame.] I didn't notice +Peter make any new *claim* or *revise* anything, contrary to some of the commenters!

"Outside of the headlines, do not we ordinary mortals ourselves thwart the grace of God as we make choices.." ~ +Peter, in today's post above.

"What decisions lie before us which we should make with an eye on being consistent with th[e] authority of Scripture when it requires of us that we do justly and love mercy?" ~ +Peter from the Psephizo blog

Thanks Bishop for stirring things up a bit and encouraging readers to question, and expand our thinking, and thereby (hopefully) save us from the pitfall of "not seeing the wood for the trees" :D

Father Ron said...

So, here again, William, you are arrogating to yourself what you seem to believe is the only 'correct' exegesis on matters concerning the complexities of human sexuality and gender - as if there only a single, cut and dried way of interpreting a few texts in the Bible. Even your Pope Francis interprets things differently from you, together with many ancient and modern theologians you may not even have heard of. You have said this, of Bshop Peter's contribution on this thread: -

" are not making an argument from the correct exegesis of the Word of God (which is always how authentic Christian theology proceeds)."

Might I ask what is the source of your own knowledge of Christian hermeneutic? Even your own Roman Catholic Church does not have a united voice on the matters of gender and sexuality that you seem to be questioning here. Tradition alone cannot possibly dictate the ways in which new revelation is interpreted and brought into the pastoral ministry of the Church.

Many of your ecclesial companions have had cause to reflect on the authenticity of outdated 'oughts and shoulds' of the Faith Community in a rapidly evolving community in which worship and ways of adapting to new insights into human development and a changing understanding of the human condition. The biological and social sciences have evolved from what was able to be understood in the era of the writing of The Scriptures.

The construction of the cosmos and the diverse biological make-up of our humanity has been found to be much more complicated than was commonly understood when the Bible was first written by fallible human beings. There was no divine teleprinter used in the conveyance of the Scriptures; which had, in the Christian era, to be later ratified and approved by human beings who compiled the canon of The Scriptures. Whatever happened to the books that were discarded - from the same source?

There were good reasons for Pope John XXIII's convoking of Vatican II - and even Catholic scholars are still arguing about the need for radical changes in the Universal Church that will meet the pastoral needs of ALL God's children. Valid exegesis may be more fluid than some of us might like. Jesus said: "You read the Scriptures BUT..." (The Word of God" had to become flesh before human beings could fully understand His message).

In your own Roman Catholic world, the scholars are still disagreeing on the correct exegesis of certain passages of The Bible, the origins of which are no longer a discrete reference to the lives of people in our world of today. For people like your Anglican friend Ian Paul, to insist on the inerrancy of Scripture on the basis of 'Sola scriptura' (A Protestant idea) is to deny the possibility of further revelation by God's Holy Spirit to meet whatever needs to freshly debated and understood in the context of a very different human environment.

If there was only one way of understanding the Bible, how come we have so many different Church communities in our world of today - each insisting on their own understanding of "What the Spirit is saying to the Church"? What we need is Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Human Experience; in order to exercise responsibly the gift of freewill instilled into each one of us by The Triune God.

Anonymous said...

Liz, you need to read Peter Carrell's comment again. Peter wrote:
"The question of fairness I am raising is not about whether Jesus or Paul were fair in what they said in the 1st century but about how we the church understand what Jesus would say to the changed church in our day. In my view, but clearly not in yours, it is *conceivable* that Jesus (and Paul, who was quite realistic about the desires of our bodies in 1 Cor 7), taking a “fair” account of what has historically developed for the modern church and society, would both uphold that marriage is between a man and a woman, and allow that some change of approach by the church to faithful, stable, loving permanently partnered homosexuals is permissible."
In other words: 'In *my imagination, Jesus, looking at the modern secular western world, would change his mind about whether sex outside of marriage is porneia or sinful as long as the two men or the two women were 'faithful' to each other.'
It is this astonishing cultural eisegesis, ignoring Jesus' own words as well as his knowledge of God's will as God incarnate, that drew Ian Paul's sharp rebuke.
That was the point of my (only semi-humorous) reference to the bishop in The Great Divorce. Either Jesus spoke as God Incarante or he spoke as a fallible human being with all the limitations of his time. Peter does not seem to realise that is the inevitable conclusion of his 'thought experiment'.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

"No, O Defender of the Holy Places, oil wells are not permitted here in your most sacred kingdom for they are never mentioned in the Holy Quran."

-- C20 Wahabi exegete.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear William,
Again, you are missing my point: the church has changed a number of things through the centuries. Were Jesus directly available to make comment on them, and were he to generally approve of these changes, it is fair and reasonable to suppose that he might see and understand homosexuality and the specific request for blessing of permanent etc partnerships as a fair and just extension of the changes made by the church.

Naturally my point has much less effect re churches which not only claim and can substantially prove to our Lord's satisfaction that they have changed nothing of his and/or Paul's teaching.

Let us know which church that is.

Mark Murphy said...

I love walking under redwoods. They have such a soft, feathery leaf litter - so different to the dry, dead-zone of pines.

Ms Liz said...

Hello William, I've read what +Peter said again as you suggested, carefully. But I approach what he said in a different way and I think that's why I receive it differently.

I don't think of +Peter holding this matter in his "imagination" so much as in his *heart*, i.e. searching for a response that's in keeping with the love and compassion that Jesus demonstrated in his earthly ministry to those who came to him. If I mis-speak I welcome +Peter's correction, but I respect what he said because I believe he's seeking to follow in Christ's footsteps and to minister faithfully to *all*. Surely this issue isn't just a matter of words but also of studying Christ's lived example.. his interactions with people here on earth and discerning what that reveals about the Father's heart.. and then looking at how that might guide our actions in the present. Moving on from the 'hearing' to understanding how to approach the 'doing', is certainly challenging!

Anonymous said...

Peter writes:
"Were Jesus directly available to make comment on them, and were he to generally approve of these changes, it is fair and reasonable to suppose that he might see and understand homosexuality and the specific request for blessing of permanent etc partnerships as a fair and just extension of the changes made by the church."
Peter, your statement fails basic logic. You are saying: 'If Jesus saw and approved of the changes we made, he would approve of the [other] changes we made.'
That's just arguing in circles, petitio principii. Don't Anglicans learn logic any more? (Logic isn't a 'Catholic thing', it's how correct thinking proceeds.)
A thousand if's don't make a therefore. What if the changes 'you'/'they' made in the past were wrong? What if Jesus didn't approve?
You used to be a critic of the American Episcopal Church but now you are deploying exactly the same "arguments" of Jack Spong.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

BW comments obliquely:
'"No, O Defender of the Holy Places, oil wells are not permitted here in your most sacred kingdom for they are never mentioned in the Holy Quran."

-- C20 Wahabi exegete.'

No doubt a question they discuss in Quranic classes. But, Bowman, this is a question which *you, as an American Episcopalian, should take up with John Chane, the former Episcopalian Bishop of Washington, who said in a Christmas Day sermon in that city in 2003:

"And what was God thinking ... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the sacred Quran to the prophet Muhammad?"

According to your bishop, Muhammad is one of your prophets and the Quran is divinely inspired, and so the question of the rightness of oil wells in Arabia is evidently a theological problem for Episcopalians. I think I am beginning to understand your energy problem a little better now, thank you. I hope you can advise Bishop Chase.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

As you know, William, Fanbois of John Spong is not a club I wish to belong to!

Perhaps an exercise in imagination is a step too far in that direction.

Is it more mundane to simply observe that the church is continually in a tension between changing as little as possible of its understanding of divine writ while making many tiny adjustments to the realities of contemporary life?

With an allied observation that on a number of matters we do have to do some theological imagining: Jesus and Moses and Isaiah and Paul and etc said nothing on IVP, contraception by natural or artificial means, euthanasia under extreme circumstances of lives in pain, precisely how we might respond to divorce [noting that on this matter even the Catholic and Orthodox churches take different approaches] and, we might currently note, the debate over whether a war is ever just continues.

Is it really a Spongian move to ask what Jesus might think of the 21st century church making a number of changes which suit most large groups of people in the church (women, those who are married (re divorce [and while hopefully never divorcing, presumably glad to know what the options are when and if all turns to marital custard] and contraception), that we won’t make one change (whether simply to SSB, even if never to SSM) for a group who are inevitably on the margins of church life?

Would Jesus speak with the strident conservatism “against” LBGT+ members of the church which is a feature of both Catholic and Protestant life in the West?

OK, so we know your answer, but does that mean we cease to pnder what Jesus would say in the current situation of our life together?

I can only assume that Catholic bishops around the world who are thinking aloud on these matters, somewhat in line with my own musings, are doing so with non-Spongian motivations!

MsLiz said...

Did Jesus ever condemn anyone for loving too much? Quite the opposite.

Luke 7:47
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — as her great love has shown. **But whoever has been forgiven little loves little**

Do the same folks who loudly condemn even *thinking* about easing a burden...
do they study, with the same intensity, what Jesus said about love?
Do they search their own hearts? I wonder.

Anonymous said...

"... a group who are inevitably on the margins of church life"

Have you never heard of Vaughan Roberts and Ed Shaw? They are vicars of large Anglican churches in England who say they have SSA. How are they 'on the margins' of Anglican church life?
Have you never heard of the 'Living Out' movement? Check out the web and read their stories - and what Vaughan Roberts had to say to his bishop.

I can attempt an answer to your other questions (and their underlying assumptions) from the CCC but I have already sent a reply to Ron Smith's questions which awaits an airing. In the meantime, I would encourage you to read Vaughan Roberts and Ed Shaw and to interact with them, as men for whom SSA is a real issue. Have you ever communicated with them?

I did read your very recent comment in the 'Psephizo' blog on polygamy and wondered what your point was. Do you want Anglicans to affirm polygamy today?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Mark Murphy said...

I just wanted to re-post an excellent conversation - they don't get much better than this - that Bowman alerted us too some days ago....

...which has prompted me to finally buy Tom Holland's Dominion and begin exploring further.

And it makes me wonder: what would Holland make of the current debate on SSB and equal marriage?

I can imagine him saying that the impulse to treat everyone equally, of equal human value, or possessing equal human rights, of justice and fair treatment for oppressed minority groups - that some Christians keep on saying is the Church selling out to secular culture - is a deeply, deeply Christian impulse.

Yes, homoerotic attraction was sometimes normalized in Roman culture...but that was against the background of slavery (and other sorts of caste-ism) being seen as legitimate. So I wonder if homoeroticism in the Roman period was often a case of the powerful doing what they like, rather than everyone being of equal value ('neither Jew nor Greek' in Christ etc)?

Of course it goes without saying, but...*the current movement for equal marriage in the church is not based on the worship of sexuality as an absolute value*, is not based on "the will to power".

So many other interesting pieces of this video....Tom Holland on grief if the "weirdness" of Christianity is lost, Stephen Meyer on the dangers of a "secularized hyper-Christianity" that is moral without believing in "the real" (i.e. liberal democracy, social media, 'woke-ness')...

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William
I had lunch with Vaughan Roberts a few weeks ago and I read Ed Shaw's (now widely publicised) letter, but that is beside the point. That some significant leaders who are SSA in churches are significant leaders doesn't change the general point I made which is that across nearly all churches, SSA Christians are a small if not tiny minority.

I admire not only the thinking but also the personal commitments of leaders such as Vaughan and Ed; but their teaching and example appears not to move all SSA Anglicans to follow their lead (witness quite a response to Ed's letter); and thus the question we continue to face (at least in the CofE and ACANZP) is whether we can find a way for different views and examples to be present in the one body ... noting that on other matters we have found that way.

Put another way, why on homosexuality do we have to all agree? Why this issue and not others such as pacifism or divorce/remarriage?

Anonymous said...

Mark Murphy writes: "Yes, homoerotic attraction was sometimes normalized in Roman culture...but that was against the background of slavery (and other sorts of caste-ism) being seen as legitimate. So I wonder if homoeroticism in the Roman period was often a case of the powerful doing what they like, rather than everyone being of equal value ('neither Jew nor Greek' in Christ etc)?"

Certainly not always, Mark - take it from me, I taught Classics for years, and continue to study Greek and Latin texts every day. Homoeroticism was expected and endemic in classical Greek culture for centuries for free men in Athens and elsewhere in Greece (it is highly praised in Plato's Symposium - strongly hinted at in the relationship between Alcibiades and Socrates - and can be found everywhere in classical Greek poetry; the cult of the beardless male beauty was usually extolled above females) and it was institutionalised as a kind of 'buddy' system in the Spartan education of boys. Old Roman culture was historically negative about homoeroticism but from about 250 BC the expanding Roman state came increasingly into contact with Hellenistic culture in Magna Graecia and Sicily, and Greek religion, culture and learning began flowing into Roman life. This became a tidal wave after the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC as great numbers of Greek writers, artists, doctors etc settled in Rome, inspiring Horace's famous epigram:
"Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes intulit agresti Latio."
- Captive Greece tooks its fierce victor captive and brought the artes into rustic Latium.
You can find plenty of evidence of a growing cult of homoeroticsm in 1st century BC Roman poetry, in Catullus and Horace, and even in Vergil (Aeneid books 5 and 9, Nisus an Euryalus) you find approving reference to the Greek custom of 'paederestia', romantic love between the erastes and the teenaged eromenos. The Wikipedia article 'Pederasty in ancient Greece' is a good introduction to this topic, a cultural practice deeply embedded in Greek life in the Classical period and not based on slavery.
That pagan Romans treated everyone, male or female, who was not free as objects for their sexual and other (ab)use goes without saying.
You must also remember that first century Rome was a highly cosmopolitan city - Paul's letter to the Romans is in Greek after all - and educated Romans usually completed their education in Athens. They often preferred to use Greek instead of 'rustic Latin'.
I am interested that you have come across Stephen Meyer. His book 'Signature in the Cell' is a fascinating discussion of the incomprehensible complexity of cells and proteins, and here and in his other books he develops the statistical argument for intelligent design in cellular structures. He is a significant philosopher of biology.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

Peter, I am glad that you met Vaughan Roberts in England and have read Ed Shaw's letter. Presumably you found flaws in their reasoning which you will expound at some point?
You state: 'the general point I made which is that across nearly all churches, SSA are a small if not tiny minority.'
But this is what anyone should expect. The recent UK census reported that 1.5% of the British population described itself as homosexual or SSA and these figures have been known for many years: just about all confidential surveys in the western world have come up with this figure. What is the point you are making here?

You ask: "Put another way, why on homosexuality do we have to all agree? Why this issue and not others such as pacifism or divorce/remarriage?"

Whataboutery is not a very theological way of thinking, but the short answer is that sexual sin is a salvation issue that can exclude unrepentant sinners from the Kingdom of God. I realise that quite a few western Anglican bishops are Universalists (as are some lay Catholics) and they don't think that sex outside of marriage is sinful or that anyone will finally be lost, but their theology is quite simply contradicted by our Lord in the Gospels.
Do you yourself think homosexual acts are sinful?

Is remarriage after divorce sinful? I'm sure most Protestants who accept divorce would agree that in some cases it certainly is, e.g. the man who dumps his wife and the mother of their children for a younger model. And I can say a lot of Catholics were not happy about Boris Johnson's 'church wedding' and questioned whether too much subtlety was at play. So I will not throw stones at Protestants!

Pacifism isn't an issue in the west today because conscription or the draft is rarely used nowadays. The matter only arises when men are forced to bear arms.

Peter, I wrote a concise but considered reply to Rom Smith's many questions to me about Catholicism and the Bible. Would you kindly publish it, please?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Mark Murphy said...

Mark Murphy said...

In line with their own apology this week, the Bishops will also be urging congregations to welcome same-sex couples “unreservedly and joyfully” and commit to a “radical new Christian inclusion founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it — based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st-century understanding of being human and of being sexual”.

Mark Murphy said...

Archbishop of York:

We are deeply sorry and ashamed and want to take this opportunity to begin again in the spirit of repentance which our faith teaches us. This is not the end of that journey but we have reached a milestone and I hope that these prayers of love and faith can provide a way for us all to celebrate and affirm same-sex relationships.”

Mark Murphy said...

Thanks for these historical examples, William. I imagine they're still not the same as a Christian marriage/Christian blessed marriage between same sex partners.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi William
In a rush, so briefly, and not comprehensively:
- I do not think we can expect celibacy for all Christian homosexuals, even as we admire the commitment of those who are.
- the point about "minority" is that we seem to be piling in on this group in a way that we do not on larger groups (such as women, the divorced): is that fair?
- we are not talking about homoeroticism: we are talking about how we manage our sexual desires, which for heterosexuals is marriage, and thus, for homosexuals, a reasonable question is whether there is a management/regulation approach which can be undertaken by a church which is reasonable and fair to all its members.
- thus, some of your German and Belgian confreres are also thinking out loud!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I wrote a concise but considered reply to Rom Smith's many questions to me about Catholicism and the Bible (January 16, 2023 at 11:50 PM). Would you kindly publish it, please? Thank you.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William,
Apologies: in my haste this morning I forgot to reply to your specific question about that comment, which I had already searched for.
Unfortunately, I cannot locate that comment, either awaiting moderation or in spam.
Google would apepar to have lost it!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, two losses in one day, first my answers to Ron Smith, then Jacinda Ardern.
Fortunately, the serious one can be recovered, Ron, by consulting the relevant sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium. Or ask the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. No vaccine required.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Father Ron said...

Serendipity or the Wind of the Spirit, one wonders?

MsLiz said...

William, your comment seems to imply that the loss of Jacinda Ardern as NZ PM isn't a 'serious' loss. If that's the case, in my opinion you're 'serious'ly mistaken. She stepped up and supported us through very troubling and challenging times (especially the Christchurch massacre, and the pandemic) and through her active and empathetic leadership she won respect, not just in NZ but around the world, she's done NZ proud. I appreciate her reasons for making her decision but I didn't see this coming and I feel pretty devastated right now.

Mark Murphy said...

Yes, I'm starting to feel how much political nastiness and cynicism Jacinda being in power as insulated me from, both globally and locally.

Feeling a bit exposed!

But fair enough, she must be exhausted.

She's held the country through some very dark moments. A thanksgiving service at the Cathedral is almost in order!

MsLiz said...

"A thanksgiving service" ... lovely!

Father Ron said...

Greetings Dear Bishop - to you and all your Readers. "Our Man in Rome' has another helpful reminder of the basic Gospel Message for today: -


" Indeed, to sum up the action of the Church in one word, the specific term “pastoral” is used. And to evaluate our “pastoralness” we need to confront ourselves with the model, confront ourselves with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Above all, we can ask ourselves: do we imitate him, drinking from the wells of prayer so that our heart might be in harmony with his? Intimacy with Him is, as a beautiful volume by Abate Chautard suggested, “the soul of every apostolate”. Jesus himself clearly said to his disciples, “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). By staying with Jesus, we discover that his pastoral heart always beats for the person who is confused, lost, far away. And ours? How many times do we express our attitude about people who are a bit difficult or with whom we have a bit of difficulty: “But it’s their problem, let them work it out….” But Jesus never said this, never. He himself always went to meet all the marginalized, sinners. He was accused of this – of being with sinners so that he might bring God’s salvation precisely to them."

Pope Francis"

Mark Murphy said...

Former prime minister Helen Clark, New Zealand’s first female elected leader, said that Ardern had faced “unprecedented” attacks during her tenure.

“The pressures on prime ministers are always great, but in this era of social media, clickbait and 24/7 media cycles, Jacinda has faced a level of hatred and vitriol which in my experience is unprecedented in our country,” she said. “Our society could now usefully reflect on whether it wants to continue to tolerate the excessive polarisation which is making politics an increasingly unattractive calling.”

In 2022, New Zealand police reported that threats against the prime minister had nearly tripled over three years. While police could not determine motives for every individual threat, documents they released showed anti-vaccination sentiment was a driving force of a number of threats, and opposition to legislation to regulate firearms after the 15 March mass shooting in Christchurch was another factor.


Two wonderings:

1. What's happening, culturally, spiritually, with this?

2. Do our church leaders - male, female, gay - experience similar emotional and spiritual hostility?

MsLiz said...

Hi Mark. Re your Q1 I immediately thought of Dr Siouxsie Wiles. She's spoken out regularly about the abuse she's suffered. I just checked her Mastodon account and found from 24 Nov last year, under a content warning of Covid harassment.. "I’m at the airport and just been confronted by a guy who called me “the crazy lady who shut down the country with Jacinda”. It’s going to be nice to be overseas for a few weeks where no one knows me and I don’t have to carry an alarm and be constantly on alert for people who want to cause me harm. What’s so unsettling is he’s just an ordinary guy, traveling with his wife and son. His wife called him off. Who knows how far he would have gone without her intervention".

It's very worrying to read this stuff.. it just goes on and on!


Re the video link you and Bowman shared. It was a bit high-level for me + I watched it late evening when tired.. but I got the impression Stephen Meyer (at the end) was against being 'woke' - did I get him wrong? When I see people use the 'woke' word they usually turn out to be anti-CRT, anti environment care, and generally anti- many things I care about. (BTW I found Tom Holland amazing to listen to, and will probably watch again some time).

Anonymous said...

Mark, this is also happening here up yonder.

Pastors-- even somewhat Trumpy ones-- have experienced this as much as the politicians. Nor are bitterly divided congregations rare.

Broadly speaking, when persons up here believe that material symbols of their identity are being disrespected by the same mass elite that they otherwise distrust, they take this disrespect personally. To conserve their agency and self-respect in the face of that, they opt out of a politesse and "act out" to show that.

The other side? Polarised by certitude that the aforementioned symbols are immoral, unjust, etc, they struggle to comprehend that--

(a) they may not own the symbols that they want to change,

(b) some support the established order only so long as it secures those symbols, and

(c) they are not unreasonably perceived as a powerful plurality taking from one minority and giving to another.

Ressentiment is a social force.


Mark Murphy said...

Re "woke": think we need a Bowman commentary here. The word gets used occasionally in NZ, usually by someone like Winston Peters, and sheds more heat than light.

Anonymous said...

There is a growing consensus around the world that the events of the covid pandemic were an extraordinary overreaction that could only have been possible in the day of the internet, 24 hour TV, globalisation, and the creation of a new clerisy invoking "science" with all the self-assurance of medieval clerics fighting "witchcraft".
The great majority of the population were not at serious risk from the virus, as the actual mortality figures and the age and health condition of those who died will show. But the damage to human rights, the education of children, the mental health of vulnerable people, and the economy (with rocketing inflation and small business failures while the mega-rich and big pharma got even richer) has been immense. All across the western world we are seeing significant excess deaths after the end of the pandemic (thanks in large measure to the omicron variant which gave herd immunity) which may be due to the denial of regular health care during the pandemic.
So it is only right that politicians (and their academic surrogates) who inflicted these unjustified measures on the population face the consequences of their actions.
That's democracy, folks! If it's OK to vent on Trump et al, the goose must expect similar sauce.
The problem is that too many people - and their careers and reputations - are still too close to these events for them to be objective. A bit like the good burghers of Salem in 1693.
One thing we can all take away: be very cautious of politicians who say "We are the sole source of truth."

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

MsLiz said...

Re "woke": since I asked the Q a link came through on my twitter feed that was helpful and timely.

Ron DeSantis general counsel had to give a definition in court which was given as: “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.” [And note the next line: "Newman added that DeSantis doesn’t believe that there are systemic injustices in the United States."]

The word originated from Black people themselves (in Harlem) and 'implies an alertness to “important societal facts and issues,” especially those of racial and social injustice.'

Link for above info:

The same publication has done 3 articles on 'The Origin of Woke', of which I've only read the first so far. Here's the link:

So..'Woke' used in a disparaging context is a red-flag word for me, signalling American RW views. Read the article - there's more there about what such views mean in actual practice.

MsLiz said...

"There is a growing consensus around the world that the events of the covid pandemic were an extraordinary overreaction.."

Tell that to the doctors and nurses across the globe who slaved long exhausting hours through the pandemic (and in too many cases lost their lives in their service to others).

MsLiz said...

In my email feed today, btw and this is a FREE link as I'm a subscriber to the Washington Post and can 'gift' a limited number of articles:

Article dated 21 Jan, in-depth Florida, DeSantis and anti-wokism

Please read...

Mark Murphy said...

There is no such "growing consensus", William! But there is a growing number of aggrieved, powerless citizens left behind by neo-liberal capitalism who are attracted to a staggering range of weird ideas, violent behaviours, and, sometimes, authoritarian leaders.

Death threats and misogynistic trolling is *not* "democracy, folks", nor is it a politician fairly "facing the consequences of their actions". In America, politicians are shot; in Britain knifed to death. That hasn't quite happened in NZ so far, though we are getting perilously closer.

Anonymous said...

"...a secularised, hyper- form of Christianity, which we call *wokeness*"

--Stephen Meyer at 1:03:30

Hi Liz

Have you watched the video only once? ;-)

I first heard *woke* used as an adjective when a black man living in a homeless shelter used it to describe himself. He was working his way out of that place by designing tee shirts and selling them online. When Donald Trump was later elected president, he was deliriously happy. Why? "He's woke too!"

Although uses of the adjective do have a family resemblance, its meaning depends on who is using it, when they use it, and to whom they refer.

When the black man used it (2015), he was boasting. As he saw it, being woke was being shrewd. He was one of those who realised that, although black Americans had won procedural equality in law and politics, there were also hidden forms of social inequity that he himself would have to overcome. He could do that, he was sure, building his own business and wealth.

After George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis (2020), I heard more people call themselves woke. This time-- COVID lockdown-- they were white liberals who were marching in the streets to stop police brutality against black folk. Woke? They had learned to see their society, they said, though the lens of the centuries-long experience of blacks in America. They trusted blacks to lead change.

But in yet a third usage, Stephen Meyer at the end of 2022 was using the adjective to refer to Other People-- academics, influenced more or less by Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault, who teach that European civilisation has fostered inherently oppressive societies (eg ours). More often than chance alone would predict, these cultural gate-keepers are materialist, yet they press an inhospitable secularism that is only intelligible as a byproduct of Christendom. They do not like his books.

Is Meyer then "anti-CRT, anti-environment care, and generally anti- many things I care about?" I do not know. But here up yonder, one could almost define *conservative intellectual* as *one who aspires to be interviewed by Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge*. Whatever he thinks about your topics, Meyer does so as a thinking conservative.


Father Ron said...

Sadly, William, there are also some people who haunt the blogosphere who also think they are 'the sole source of truth', They constantly quote authors who bolster their own biases - in the belief that their own bias has some authenticity. Donald Trump is still clinging to his own macho beliefs that have suited the agenda of his supporters among American red-necks (some of them purporting to be religious). I changed my political affiliation on the basis of Jacinda's charism of love and charity toward the Muslims in our community who were assaulted by reactionaries, who thought themselves to be the defenders of another - secular - faith.

Anonymous said...

Mark, the world would have done better if it had followed the example of Sweden - after their blunder over care homes, which was repeated in New York State by Andrew Cuomo. An emergency lockdown was needed but the whole thing went on far too long and deep with a massive overreach of state powers into the lives of ordinary people. Closing schools was unnecessarily harmful to children, especially the poor. The rocketing inflation in food prices is also disproportionately harmful to the poor.
I encourage everyone with an open mind to read the Great Barrington Declaration and the considered thoughts of Professor Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford and Professor John Ioannides of Johns Hopkins. Everyone knows the great majority of deaths was among the over 80s and among people with underlying conditions (obesity, diabetes, heart disease): the median age of death in Britain was 83 (81 for men, 85 for women). Some older nedical staff who had underlying health conditions were among those who died. But the still standing advice of the American CDC that children over 6 months of age should be vaccinated is totally absurd. Denmark has been far wiser than the CDC in its vaccination advice.
Mark, I encourage you to check out the YouTube channel of Dr John Campbell who has an independent voice and a balanced appraisal of the issues. As Dr Campbell says, "I would prefer to have a world of questions without answers rather than answes without questions."
Even the Papacy has apologised for the way Galileo was treated, you know!

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

Hello, Bowman
I wonder if you saw my questions qbove in reply to your quitation of a Saudi Arabian Wahabi cleric.
I refered to the Chrustmas Day sermon in the Washington National Cathedral by Episcopal Bishop John Chane of Washington in which he said God inspired the Quran and Muhammad is a Prophet of God.
Is this actually the docttine of the Episcopal Church?
I would really appreciate some clarification on this from you as an American Episcopalian.
I am glad you have come across the work of Stephen Meyer. I have read a couple of his books, in particular "Signature in the Cell", which isn't an easy read. Meyer and his colleagues have repristinated the design argument in a way infinitely more sophisticated that William Paley could ever have imagined, as well as uncovering ghe flaws in the pre-molecular understanding of life processes in Darwin's thought.
A closely related question concerns Origin of Life Studies. I would encourage you to look at the studies of this question by the organic chemist and nanotechnology expert Professor James Tour, a Jewish Christian academic at Rice University in Texas,
I am surprised if anyone hasn't come across the word "woke", which has been around for years. The word itself has ben around for years (it is from American black English vernacular for "awoken") and is similar to that 70s word "conscientized" which entered Marxist thought from the Portuguese and the Brazilian Marxist Paolo Freire.
You will find a very helpful discussion (actually a profound intellectual demolition job) of "Critical Race Theory" and the Catholic Church's understanding of race and prejudice in "All One in Christ" by Professor Edward Feser, one of the most able exponents of Aristotelianism-Thomism today, and easily the funniest philosopher in print today. His takedown of Dawkins, Dennett and Harris in "The Last Superstition" had me laughing out loud. But do read "All One in Christ" to understand the background of "woke", you will find it very helpful.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Mark Murphy said...

Hi William,

I'm very open to this conversation: to seeing how things could have been done differently, how our health systems produced quite narrow responses, to properly reviewing when the state over-reached *as well as* when it's actions were vital in saving many lives (as is largely the case, from what I can see, in Aotearoa) seeing when the language of individual rights came short - "body sovereignty" - as the virus painfully emphasized our interconnection.... weighing up the cost (mental health, economic) of lockdowns, as well as the surprising benefit (ecologically, mental health, huge drop in premature births and heart attacks during this time).

In my professional field, I have been outspokenly pro-vaccine but anti-mandate for many reasons etc. I do think vaccine mandates were largely unnecessary in Aotearoa, and helped to create the polarisation and extreme resentment that drove the parliamentary protests.

But I became increasingly disturbed as I saw some of my friends who held the above concerns become attracted to some very paranoid and frankly weird conspiratorial thinking, as well as being disturbed by the new level of open aggression and violent threat levelled at our politicians. With Jacinda Ardern, that aggression seemed especially intense as well as toxicly woman-hating.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Liz

"So...'Woke' used in a disparaging context is a red-flag word for me, signalling American RW views."

Fair enough. Nowadays, I only hear *woke* being used in conversation on the American right, or in quotations of it here or abroad. The trajectory of the word from left to right is about the same as that of *political correctness*.

The phrase *right wing* assumes a certain slice through the pie. It implies (a) that the American right is unified, (b) that the policy preferences of Republican and Democratic voters are clearly and consistently different, (c) the institutions (eg Hoover, AEI, Cato, Manhattan, etc) and ideas (eg David Brooks, Bill Kristol, Ross Douthat, William French, etc) of the non-left are creatures of the Republican Party or Donald Trump or even Rupert Murdoch. All of these are false.

Yes, a postmodern can form an identity around almost anything with an emotional charge and an echo chamber, and being a political wingnut is one way of doing that. So there are persons at the far edge of both of our two political parties who live as though all of the propositions above are true. And between the elections that actually distribute political power to state decisionmakers, the everlasting war of those extremes gets the most clicks. But again, they are motivated in part by delusion that rationalises antipathy.

If we are in Christ, we cannot be wingnuts on either edge. The First Commandment aligns our loyalty toward YHWH alone. Full stop. Security in his love removes all occasion for the fear, hate, and resentment of wing-nuts. Further, that security frees us to "try all things and hold fast what is good," which dissolves the delusions necessary to wingnut identities. And obviously one cannot participate in Christ's reconciling work by amplifying humanity's divisions. The Sermon on the Mount actually enjoins us to love our enemies and do the work of making peace. A person who lives out baptism and eucharist cannot think, feel, speak, or act as a wingnut does.

Between the hating extremes, those in Christ have plenty of room for civic action. As the aforementioned St Augustine famously explained, this is motivated by our calling under providence to a particular place and our proper love of its common good under heaven. There is a certain defiance of providence in doing little or nothing for love of the place where one works and sleeps while filling the mind with an intricate web of animadversions against parties and politicians far far away.

We celebrated Martin Luther King Day with a big party last Monday, so the Black church theology of non-violent resistance is the example on my mind. When protesters like the late John Lewis faced enforcers of Jim Crow laws like Bull Connor at places like the bridge in Selma, Alabama, they did so as the embodiment of a blessed community without injustice that they invited each battering, bruising, bloodying, breaking officer to join. Effectively: "Abandon your rebellion against God. You can only enforce injustice by doing moral injury to yourself. If you join us in building the just community that God desires for each of us, you will no longer harm yourself this way, and you will be received with open arms." Political action in Christ removes occasions of injustice and seeks the good even of those who oppose it. As William Temple also said ;-)

Anonymous said...

Mark, have a look at John Campbell's youtube channel.
Dr Campbell is a British nurse educator of many years and the author of standard textbooks on physiology. He has done a lot of medical education in Africa as well, and his physiology instruction videos have been watched by millions over the years. (I understand he is a Protestant Christian and occasional preacher as well but he never discusses his faith on his programme, which is strictly medical.) He's a very generous man and he gives away his scholarship free.
Campbell basically accepted and promoted the (UK) Government narrative on lockdowns and vaccines for a long time and he has presented daily programmes on the pandemic and all things covid-related, usually commentating on statistical data as well as explaining the evolution of pathogens. He is double vaccinated and has had a booster (as I have).
About a year or more ago, he began to take a more critical analytical view of matters and started raising questions about side effects, the incidence of myocarditis among men under 45, what vaccines can and cannot do, AstraZeneca and why it has been dropped, why Denmark rejects covid vaccines for men under 40 (contrary to the American CDC), and the question of excess deaths that nobody in government is talking about - the subject of his programme yesterday.
If you have never watched him, I think you will find him very interesting.
(As for politics, I don't really have a dog in that fight. The internet has enabled all kind of nutcases to seek their 15 minutes of fame, and actual violence cuts both ways. I can recall all those hotheads who called for violence against Maggie Thatcher - and the IRA came close to murdering her. Then there was the American "comedienne" who posted pictures of herself with the 'head' of Donald Trump. And we all know what happened to the Charlie Hebdo staff.)

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh.

MsLiz said...

"against parties and politicians far far away."

Unfortunately what happens in the USA impacts directly on us in NZ e.g. 'Counterspin Media' that was stirring up strife here in NZ during the pandemic is funded via Steve Bannon. When Jacinda moved quickly to bring in gun control measures after the Christchurch massacre, Judith Collins from the opposition recalled that when she'd try to bring in stricter gun controls when she was in government it'd been difficult to achieve anything meaningful because of fierce opposition from local gun lobby groups being supported by the NRA.

And the dominionists in the US Religious Right are determined to take their gospel global.

Anonymous said...

Here is some disturbing information disclosed by John Campbell's latest YouTube video on 'Excess Deaths among Young Adults 20-44", from statistics issued by the British Society of Actuaries:

Excess deaths in 2022 were 7.8% higher for ages 20-44 compared to 2019.
In the UK, in the second half of 2022 there were 26,300 excess deaths,
compared to 4,700 in the first half of 2022.
The number of deaths registered in England & Wales in week 1 of 2023
was 3,437 higher than if mortality rates had been the same as in week 1 of 2019; equivalent to 30% more deaths than expected.

Young men 20-44 don't typically die, so something strange and disturbing is going on; but the UK government is keeping tightlipped on this.

I know there are excess deaths being reported in Australia and America, and we really need some proper independent investigation of this.

The whole programme is worth watching but it is disturbing, especially in the question of US and UK indemnification of Pfizer (whose vaccine was released without any clinical trials) in December 2020. No explanation of this policy has been given. Do you have any ideas?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

MsLiz said...

"However, considering the low levels of excess mortality in countries in which COVID-19 transmission, infection and mortality rates were low during some of the analysed period (for example, Malaysia, Mongolia, Uruguay in 2020) or its entirety (for example, Australia, Japan, New Zealand), suggests that in many countries the greater proportion of excess deaths can be attributed to COVID-19 directly."

Analysed period: 2020/2021
Title: The WHO estimates of excess mortality associated with the COVID-19 pandemic ~In 'Nature', article published 14 Dec 2022

MsLiz said...

Just came upon this at RNZ..

A lot of the willingness to consider violence against the PM had been "imported" from the United States, Buchanan said, pointing out that some of the most influential outfits peddling conspiracy theories here were funded by similar, larger outfits in the US.

~Paul Buchanan, political scientist and former intelligence worker

Radio New Zealand, article 22 Jan 2023 7.46pm

MsLiz said...

Hi Mark.. about what you posted re PM J.A.

You quoted: "..showed anti-vaccination sentiment was a driving force of a number of threats, and opposition to legislation to regulate firearms after the 15 March mass shooting in Christchurch was another factor."

and: "1. What's happening, culturally, spiritually, with this?"

Sharing a couple of things..

1) RNZ article, March 2022, suggests a few factors behind the vitriol:

2) After J announced the stepping-down decision, T.Carlson shared it on FoxN with glee calling her an appalling leader twice, the most authoritarian leader that country has ever had, appalling abuser of human rights of her own people, ushered in an era of near totalitarianism,...

If he's aired similar views before it doesn't help but regardless of him, the firearms and covid measures on their own attract vicious rhetoric from outside NZ.. (see also my 3.20pm comment just above).

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz

Are you then rejecting MLK's practice of non-violent resistance? For those actually in Christ, it seems to have been commanded.


Anonymous said...


"pressure, threaten, and intimidate"

Since the Second World War at the latest, there have always been a few who have ranked their deep seated opinions above democratic civility. But down the Cold War decades, conservative parties could win elections without their support.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Republicans have had steadily declining success in national elections. Now that they need the votes and dollars of the not so democratic few, they cannot refuse them a certain presence on their platform.

In the eyes of some others, this legitimates a scepticism of government and institutions that frays democratic norms. Whether this can also happen in a Westminster party system is an interesting question.


MsLiz said...

Hi BW. In response to 6:49

I'm not rejecting the practice of non-violent resistance! But it may have its limits, and I can't truthfully describe myself as pacifist.

MLK's position was firmly founded on his belief in democracy but what would he say to his people if American democracy itself were on a knife-edge?

A few thoughts in my mind.. not arguments.

My father went to military camp and trained to go overseas in WWII but in the end was asked to stay here - he was an orchardist. His twin brother saw service overseas. Another close relative was a conscientious objector but served as a medic, including at Monte Cassino. My mother's older brother served in the Navy, killed when his ship was destroyed. I feel only respect for these members of my family who did their duty.

Bonhoeffer, because of his position in society could avoid active service but had in-depth knowledge of what the Nazis were doing. The decision for him was immensely difficult *but* he participated in the plot to kill Hitler and it cost him his life. Do I think he was wrong? No.

Many young men from wealthy families in America avoided the draft for the Vietnam war. John McCain served. Do I respect their avoidance of the draft and not respect John McCain's service? No.

Also, recalling Luke 3:14 (NIV) Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” Jesus didn't tell them to leave their job.


What do you do if one group in a democracy falsely deny the validity of elections, subvert the system in their own favour, aspire to enforce a "biblical worldview" on others including christians who don't agree with them.. and their worldview is rooted in white christian nationalism? Not to mention their massive resistance to meaningful gun control legislation despite much loss of life in the USA, including many children. What if they're willing to fight for their ideology in a battle they portray as good vs evil with Democrats *demon*-ised by default? This may've been unthinkable to most folk until the Capitol insurrection, but now?
MLK ('The Other America': "And so I refuse to despair. I think we're gonna achieve our freedom because however much America strays away from the ideals of justice, the goal of America is freedom."
Could he still say this with certainty in today's USA?

~btw I can see your 'postscript' but will respond separately

MsLiz said...

BW, interesting discussion I've kept, in 'The Washington Post' from July 2022, with Rachel Kleinfeld, a specialist in political conflict.

"One of the things we know about other countries that descend into greater political violence is that violence is preceded by a dehumanization phase. America is well along in that phase..."

"Sometimes it’s against Republicans who are not part of the antidemocratic faction. Sometimes it’s against Democrats. But either way, dehumanization normalizes the idea that harming those dehumanized opponents is legitimate."

"We know from other countries that have descended into really serious political violence that this is a trajectory, and we’re on it. We’re actually pretty far advanced on it."

[Here's THE important part]

"The research on leaders is incredibly clear. If enough Republican leaders started denouncing political violence — saying there’s a line in the sand in a democracy, and violence is it — we would see much less political violence."

There's more worth reading in the article so here's a 'gift' link for anyone interested and you *should* be able to use the link below without being a WP subscriber.

Gift LINK >>

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz

Quick thoughts.

Military veterans, black and white, were among those who marched in protest with America's Civil Rights Movement. To the Nashville theologians who were its strategists, their *non-violent resistance to evil* was not the same as the *Pacifism* that mostly ended with the Second World War.

If need be, the two can be separated: violate unjust laws, but shoot enemy invaders.

The former-- let's abbreviate NVRE-- applies to domestic conflict, has support in the scriptures, and at least quotes St Augustine as saying that "an unjust law is no law at all." In your travels, have you perchance read Henry David Thoreau's essay On Civil Disobedience or Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail?

The latter, Pacifism, opposes war between nations, is perhaps in some tension with the scriptures (eg Canaan), and is philosophically rather Kantian (cf Kant's On Perpetual Peace). Liberal Protestants reacting against the Great Power wars of the C19 preached Pacifism from late in the C19, and pressed Woodrow Wilson among others for a League of Nations to outlaw war. Most Protestant churches tacitly abandoned Pacifism with the outbreak of the Second World War.

That said, several small *historic peace churches* have theological commitments to NVRE that takes up the old Pacifism and goes somewhat beyond it. Mark's beloved Quakers are already familiar to readers here. The others (including my maternal ancestors) resiled against the tangle of religion and violence in a series of conflicts-- Hussite Wars, Bundschuh, German Peasants' War, the bizarre and tragic M√ľnster Rebellion, the Thirty Years War-- in central Europe.

That is, they emerged from the milieu that sparked what we know today as evangelicalism. If the Enlightenment resiled from the wars over state religion by minimizing religion to achieve secularity, these groups instead minimized the legitimacy of state violence to free the heart for faith.

Fleeing the terms of the Peace of Westphalia for the relative freedom of colonial America-- especially the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania-- these Europeans encountered African slaves and indigenous religion. Without hesitation, all the peace churches condemned ownership of persons. From this natural experiment, one might suspect that churches that found it hard to take this step were log-eyed by their toleration of too much coercion in the social order as a whole.

Each peace church was in its own way intrigued by both non-Christian and Christian variants of the religion of the Eastern Woodland tribes. One group, the Moravians-- yes, the calm ones that reassured John Wesley in that storm-tossed sea as he sailed to Georgia-- were so good at missions work among the Indians that one observer in the C18 felt sure that they were destined to spread over English, French and Spanish domains to the Pacific, a multi-racial church spanning the continent.

Not every good idea is a new one.


MsLiz said...

Thanks BW for the (1:49) info above

King's NVR is well known but I also see he called for "radical changes in the structure of our society"..

"Until his death, King remained steadfast in his commitment to the transformation of American society through nonviolent activism. In his posthumously published essay, “A Testament of Hope” (1969), he urged African Americans to refrain from violence but also warned: “White America must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.” The “black revolution” was more than a civil rights movement, he insisted. “It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism” (King, “Testament,” 194)."


and demanded immediate action..

“For years now, I have heard the word ‘Wait!’” King wrote. “This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never’” (King, Why, 83). He articulated the resentment felt “when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait” (King, Why, 84).

He explained that the purpose of direct action was to create a crisis situation out of which negotiation could emerge.


The 'anti-woke' party doesn't cut the mustard.