« Previous | Main | Next »

Open Thread

William Crawley | 15:02 UK time, Saturday, 28 January 2012

talktalk.jpgI don't often post an open thread, but some of you tell me it's a good idea because it lets you get stuff off your chest without throwing the direction of other threads. It also permits you to make suggestions about subjects we might give some more substantial space to on Will & Testament. Let's see. Expatiate at will (sorry about the pun). Keep it legal. The house rules still apply.

Apologies for the short sabbatical from blogging. Regular posting has now been resumed.

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Happy New-ish Year!

  • Comment number 2.

    Marieinaustin

    Nobody talkin to ya??

    Happy-ish New Year back to you.

    Mia, its an open thread, and if you want to get the room 'rattlin', you'll need to do better than a tardy insincerity. (smile.)

    Have a look at the following and see if you can come up with something we could all get our teeth into.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE

  • Comment number 3.

    Oh me. (sob!) I feel a bit like King Arthur here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y9f8849Geo

  • Comment number 4.

    Ok, here's a thread...

    Why are our ruling parties,still elected on the sole platform of religion and bigotry?

    How many MLAs would it actually, in reality, take to change a lightbulb? And what would be the associated pension arrangements for those involved in this onerous parliamentary task?

    How many press officers are employed by us in Stormont to service our 108 MLAs?

    Probably enough there to get started, ne c'cest pas?

  • Comment number 5.

    Shocked at three left-wing progressives (and one nationalist) drearily discussing on Sunday Sequence this morning how local politicians have not addressed sectarianism and discrimination, yet they ignored the fact that the historic absence of the Labour Party makes us concentrate politically only on that which divides working people - the border dispute.
    Actually they would not dare mention it, as Unison and Patricia McKeown traditionally have opposed the Labour Party taking members here, Dawn Purvis preferred to represent a Protestant progressive party (PUP) while Baroness Blood has the privilege of taking the Labour whip in the Lords and thus gets party membership but never lifted a finger to enable rank and file trade unionists to join.

    And what a dangerous lack of balance on the panel as well.

  • Comment number 6.

    I quite enjoyed the discussion with Purvis, McKeown and Blood. The truth is that the 108 MLAs are not going to solve the problems of poverty - what can they do? Northern Ireland is an economic basket-case with over 60,000 people claiming unemployment-related benefits and over 160,000 claiming sickness benefits. I would like to know how many FTE jobs have been brought to Northern Ireland by our MLAs and how much each of the jobs has cost taxpayers. Without a large subsidy why would any foreign company consider setting up in Northern Ireland where a culture of worklessness is so ingrained?

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm not sure about any of this at all, and am feeling slightly guilty for not engaging with the other comments on this thread. Since it's open and testament I want some ideas on Matthew 24:22 and also this tweet https://twitter.com/#!/meganamram/status/162275297717272576

  • Comment number 8.

    So glad Will has re-surfaced,...even if an open thread is a bit like letting the inmates run the asylum for a while! Nevertheless, at least we're starting with a clean sheet of paper! (Sorry to mix the metaphors!)

    Like Doddy, I'm going to give the political stuff a miss. I'm not on twitter, but interesting to read of someone studying Matthew 24, much of which has to do with the Return Of Christ. (See for example v30)

    Of course, people will debate exactly how and when Christ will come, but - from a Scriptural point of view - there is no doubting that He will! All 8 New Testament writers confirm it, and 1 verse in every 25 in the N.T. speaks about it.

    Preachers like me unapologetically encourage people to be sure they are ready!
    (see v42)

  • Comment number 9.

    What are the chances of a long dead 1st century Palestinian Jewish apocalyptic holy man and agitator coming from the sky to 'save the world' in 2012?

    How's that for a thread?

  • Comment number 10.

    STORY?

    I think you should look at the growing alliance between Catholic fundamentalists and fascists.

    Full story here: "Fascists join Catholic traditionalists at London Conference" (see link below)

    "Remembrance Sunday in London has for decades been desecrated by various British nazis turning up to parade through the streets of the capital: an infamous insult to those who gave their lives to defeat fascism seventy years ago.

    "As reported in December’s Searchlight, the National Front’s numbers were boosted at its march to the Cenotaph last year with new recruits such as Richard Edmonds, a former second-in-command in the British National Party, taking part for the first time since the NF split in 1980 and marching alongside some of the most violent survivors of the Combat 18 factions from the 1990s.

    "But away from the cameras the same weekend saw further connections being built among the elite of British fascism, where far-right Catholics associated with the Society of St Pius X are increasingly active. This Society was founded in Switzerland in 1970 by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and brought together clerics who opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in 1965."

    http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/archive/fascists-join-catholic-traditionalists-at-london-conference

    The main speaker at the conference was Hoocaust Denier Richard Williamson, who was excommunicated because Lefebvre ordained him without Vatican consent, but was pardoned and welcomed back into the church by Pope Benedict (see here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/world/europe/05pope.html?pagewanted=all )

    Williamson was thrown out of Argentina for holocaust denial and other antisemitic activity in 2009. In 2010 he was convicted in Germany of inciting racial hatred by holocaust denial in a TV broadcast.

    The subject of Williamson's talk at the fascist rally on Remembrance Day was "Church and State".

    There's a right good story to be getting on with.

  • Comment number 11.

    7. Doddy wrote:

    "... I want some ideas on Matthew 24:22..."

    These passages were written in the 70-80 AD period by people who believed that the 'coming of the kingdom' was imminent.

    They really believed it would happen within their lifetimes, as pastorphillip apparently also believes (and hopes) that it will happen in his. As every other convinced fundamentalist Christian throughout the ages believed it would happen in theirs.

    How many years, decades, centuries or millennia will it take before the penny finally drops?

  • Comment number 12.

    Another pair of boots for the Wandering Jew please. Hobnails if you have them.

    Hello again New. You were claimed for Christianity while you were away...

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi AF, hope you're well.

    "Claimed for Christianity" eh? That's interesting. Does that mean that they thought God had lost patience and killed me off? Or did they think I'd turned cheek?

    I wouldn't join any cult that would be prepared to accept me as a member anyway, to paraphrase Groucho.

    That wandering Jew; the guy how hasn't died since Jesus said that people listening to him c 30 AD would live to see the coming of the kingdom; he puts Forrest Gump in the shade, doesn't he?

    Have there been any recent sightings?

    That's a very interesting topic you raised btw. Hope it gets a run as a thread. See you soon.

  • Comment number 14.

    AF

    Newdwr is a 'Christian'. Gave his 'testimony' on this very blog just at the end of last year. Look up the 'War on Religion' thread.

    It's a bit like the Judean People's Front, he's a 'Christian' and I'm a Christian.

    Sorry Newdwr, couldn't resist :-)

    But, look, schisms are all the rage these days:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/26/alain-de-botton-temple-atheism

    so what I want know is, is he a Protestant Atheist or a Catholic Atheist, or maybe he's just an 'Atheist'!

  • Comment number 15.

    An atheschism? Well I never.

  • Comment number 16.

    Rjb,

    I was being sincere in post 1, to Will. In two days, this year changes from ‘new’ to ‘young.’ (goofy face)

    Re your clip: I couldn’t think of anything. Except that I haven’t seen any of those movies in way too long. And religion and spirituality and God and death and afterlife – all of it – really should be much funnier, in real life. Then end times threats would be much more enjoyable.

  • Comment number 17.

    So would politics.

    What if religion and politics were ‘the best medicine,’ instead of frequent nausea inducers?

  • Comment number 18.

    Peter

    so what I want know is, is he a Protestant Atheist or a Catholic Atheist, or maybe he's just an 'Atheist'!

    That's a tough one!

    I'd say given how New reads Matthew 24 he's a Fundamentalist Atheist. Hmm...maybe that needs to be a Christian Fundamentalist Atheist. You get the idea.

  • Comment number 19.

    marieinaustin

    I'm sure you are sincere, and if you are going to be sincere to anyone, Will's the very person!

    Peter M2

    There was an important and weighty distinction between the Judean People's Front and The People's Front of Judea - Beards! One group believed they were compulsory, the other that they should be voluntary.

    It was the Romans who told them that beards was the real issue.

  • Comment number 20.

  • Comment number 21.

    Re #10 - always wary of people who bandy about the term "fascist". Often used by lefty liberals to cover everyone they disagree with. In this case attempting to connect SSPX with saving the British National Party seems a bit of a stretch. As is the assertion they desecrate the annual remembrance day ceremonies every year. I don't remotely support their aims or activities but frankly have never heard of them in connection with 11 November.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well perhaps you should read the article then. And I know what you mean about the term "fascist", but in this context it has been used correctly and accurately. Are you suggesting that the Catholic Church wouldn't dream of having anything to do with fascists? The Holy See wouldn't have statehood if it wasn't for the benificent Benito... The list is as long as my arm. Why should this come as a surprise?

  • Comment number 23.

    Benito was a Fascist, in the same way that Hitler was a Nazi and Stalin a communist. Facts of history. I did read the article. It's trying to link a micro political movement with a splinter element of a micro group with connections with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has to deal with whatever regime there is - whether it's communist China, or Barack Obama - the Church has to deal with whoever is in power. In Fascist Italy the Church, I think providentially, negotiated a deal which allowed it to continue operating as a neutral during the Second World War, with massively positive results.

  • Comment number 24.

    Saint for Tomorrow:January 31
    St. John Bosco
    (1815-1888)

    "John Bosco educated the whole person—body and soul united. He believed that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play. For John Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Mass-on-Sunday experience. It is searching and finding God and Jesus in everything we do, letting their love lead us. Yet, because John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that come with talent and ability, he trained his students in the trade crafts, too."
    Full Text thru' link below:
    http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1277

  • Comment number 25.

    @21. Fionnuala,
    Aren't the SSPX folks still in schism with the Church?

  • Comment number 26.

    9. newdwr54 wrote:
    What are the chances of a long dead 1st century Palestinian Jewish apocalyptic holy man and agitator coming from the sky to 'save the world' in 2012?"
    ***
    For one who only fits the above description: zero chance. For Christ: Who knows? 2012 is as good a year as any.

  • Comment number 27.

    Well I used the lose term "with connections with the Catholic Church". Having lifted the excommunications from the bishops their status is "not quite in, not quite out". As individuals they are members of the Catholic Church but the organisation has no accepted standing in the Church and their priests and bishops are in an irregular position. Williamson clearly wants no reconciliation with the Church and seems to be in the sede-vacantist space. Fellay, does, I think and hope, want reconciliation and wants to find a way to face the reality of Vatican II, understood within the overall tradition of the Church. This means, of course, accepting the clear teaching of the Church on religious freedom and the ongoing role of the Jews in salvation history. The whole point of excommunication is to shock someone into a change of heart, not exclude them forever.

  • Comment number 28.

    pastorphilip (@ 8) -

    Preachers like me unapologetically encourage people to be sure they are ready!


    Good post, Philip.

    It's interesting that the preparation for the return of our Lord, as explained in Matthew 24, is ethical rather than doctrinal:

    Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.


    I am sure that those who have difficulty in believing in the return of Christ would accept that we ought to treat others well. Or are they saying: "Well, we don't need to believe in all that nonsense, so that means we are free to mistreat other people"?

    I'll leave that thought with the inmates.

  • Comment number 29.

    logica_sine_vanitate,

    I would have thought that a phrase like

    "Well, we don't need to believe in all that nonsense, so that means we are free to mistreat other people"


    would only be applicable to those who feel the only way to stop themselves hurting people is to be bullied into it by fear.

    You may personally feel you need a belief in your god to stop you mistreating others but that is a reflection on you - you should not project that particular failing onto others.

  • Comment number 30.

    It’s just “follow the golden rule” and “live every day as if it’s your last.”

    But the truth is, feet slip, and some days are just Mondays. If God’s going to hold it over me for dying on a Monday, or at the moment I slip, I may as well descend to hell this minute, rather than play Russian roulette my entire life.

  • Comment number 31.

    Pastophilip,

    people will debate exactly how and when Christ will come, but


    surely you left out the "and if"

    You may believe he is coming but even you cannot deny that there are many who debate from the if side.

  • Comment number 32.

    @28. logica_sine_vanitate:
    About Matthew Chapter 24.
    I've never quite understood the logic of getting all fired up about the 2nd Coming,Rapture,etc. While important,we have no idea when it will occurr:
    [verse36]" But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone."
    But,assuming the 2nd Coming is delayed, believers do know that we will each die & face a personal judgement.And as you point out, Christ will be looking at how we treated each other foremost.

  • Comment number 33.

    @30.marieinaustin,
    Thanks for your post.I hear what you're saying.I saw this online at Fr. Barron's site,maybe it might give some insight:

    "I would imagine that, if pressed, most people in our society would characterize “being a good person” as treating others with love, honoring the dignity, freedom, and inherent worth of their fellow human beings. And most would agree that ethical violations—stealing, lying, sexual misbehavior, infidelity, cheating, doing physical harm, etc.—are correctly seen as negations of love. But what is love? Love is not primarily a feeling or an instinct; rather, it is the act of willing the good of the other as other. It is radical self-gift, living for the sake of the other. To be kind to someone else so that he might be kind to you, or to treat a fellow human being justly so that he, in turn, might treat you with justice is not to love, for such moves are tantamount to indirect self-interest. Truly to love is to move outside of the black hole of one’s egotism, to resist the centripetal force that compels one to assume the attitude of self-protection. But this means that love is rightly described as a “theological virtue,” for it represents a participation in the love that God is. Since God has no need, only God can utterly exist for the sake of the other. All of the great masters of the Christian spiritual tradition saw that we are able to love only inasmuch as we have received, as a grace, a share in the very life, energy, and nature of God. "

    http://www.wordonfire.org/Written-Word/articles-commentaries/November-2011/If-You-Want-to-be-a-Good-Person,-It-Does-Matter.aspx

  • Comment number 34.

    Thank you, mscracker. I’ll take a look at the link when I get a chance.

    Since this is a public forum, with any number and type of readers…

    I wanted to clarify in post 30 - I meant that I may as well descend to the fire and brimstone hell. I’m just talking. I’m not advocating descending to hell-on-earth, specifically causing hell for others.

    (It seems unnecessary, but last year I was happily ranting about the government on a public forum -- right before the Tucson, Arizona shooting. For some reason, today I’m taking the nuts into consideration.)

  • Comment number 35.

    Dave (@ 29) -

    You may personally feel you need a belief in your god to stop you mistreating others but that is a reflection on you - you should not project that particular failing onto others.


    I'm glad you used the word "may", since you are clearly speculating.

    "you should not project" - If that is what I am doing, why "should" I not do it? Sounds like you're appealing to some standard of objective morality there...

    ...which is rather interesting, coming from you.

  • Comment number 36.

    "I am *sure* that those who have difficulty in believing in the return of Christ would accept that we ought to treat others well."

    If you're *sure* about that, why follow it with this:

    "Or are they saying: "Well, we don't need to believe in all that nonsense, so that means we are free to mistreat other people"?"

  • Comment number 37.

    “The first and great commandment is: Don’t let them scare you.” – Elmer Davis

    http://www.answers.com/topic/davis-elmer

  • Comment number 38.

    @34. marieinaustin
    " ...For some reason, today I’m taking the nuts into consideration.)"
    **
    Wise policy.
    :)

  • Comment number 39.

    Since this is an open thread, am I alone in agreeing with my father that BBC Northern Ireland's news reporters/presenters are singularly awful?

    Does that cosy ping-pong format make anyone else want to vomit? What is it about anyway? I've never seen it on any other network, ever. Watch at 6.30. Why do they share stories? Do they think all the back-and-forth adds drama or something? I can take Donna over Noel, but only just.

    I actually turn over if Chris Page comes on. Chris ("This story is so grave that I can only tell it through gritted teeth") Page. And I always turn off before Angie (Bandsaw) Phillips comes on.

    Why do they all sound like Daleks?

    The only one who's as annoying on the national news is Business Editor Robert Peston. Catch him at 10 because he's already been on. But watch Newsline and tell me they don't make you cringe.

    Why is Northern Ireland so brimming with naff everywhere you look...?

  • Comment number 40.

    Welcome back to the blog everyone. I'll be posting again soon. Glad to see I and my colleagues have impressed AboutFarce so profoundly. Feel free, everyone, to suggest topics for coverage here or on on air.

  • Comment number 41.

    LSV,

    "you should not project" - If that is what I am doing, why "should" I not do it? Sounds like you're appealing to some standard of objective morality there...


    I am beginning to worry about you:

    First you express a concern over your ability to contain yourself from mistreating people unless you have belief in your god and then you confuse my exhortation that you do not project this failing in your psyche with a moral absolute. I no more expressed a moral absolute than if I said you should not pass your flu on. That could just simply be a subjective standard based on my own psyche not some spiritually derived standard.

    Welcome back Will (a bit presumptuous I know considering it is your blog)

  • Comment number 42.

    Andrew #18

    Don't be ridiculous, it can't be Christian Fundamentalist Atheist, it has to be 'Christian' Fundamentalist Atheist.


    RJB #19

    Was it compulsory to believe that beards were voluntary?



    As for the Atheist Temple, the votes are in:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2012/jan/27/atheism-alain-de-botton?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

    Quite a religious bunch it seems.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi PastorPhilip.

    I just wondered what your opinon would be on these videos

    The link is the first of two videos

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi78PmRX46Y&feature=related

  • Comment number 44.

    Peter

    Ah! I'm showing my ignorance. I'm not up to speed on these nuances.

    *

    I remember commenting on Matt 24. a while back. So I looked it up, and turns out I did. At that time I posted links to a couple of different articles on the Kingdom of God by Geerhardus Vos. Those still stand, I wonder if they were read? I also wonder about the fate of Wright, Carson, Keller, Wenham, Clark and Bailey.

    Anyhow, to show I've no hard feelings here's an article on 'two age eschatology';

    http://two-age.biblicaltheology.org/beliefs_index/eschatology.htm

    And here's a chart on two age eschatology;

    http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/two-age-chart-color-pdf/

    If you want a present day example of two age eschatology think about my commenting and not commenting. In some sense I'm already not commenting and some day soon I will not be commenting. It has something to do with my repeating myself. See?

  • Comment number 45.

    Nice to hear you, Will. (Jeez, Helio will be popping in next.)

  • Comment number 46.

    Newthornley #43

    Time will tell. Many of these things are fascinating, but I have learned it is best to be cautious about them. After all, Jesus Himself said: "No-one knows the day or the hour....." (Matt. 24v36) (I remember some years ago seeing a book with the dramatic title: 'Christ returns by 1988!'.... Strangely enough, it hasn't been a best seller for a while!!) From Scripture, Christians know He IS coming - we need to be sure to be ready when He does. (see 1 John2v28)

    As someone else has said: "I'm not on the Planning Committee, but on the Welcoming Committee!!"

    It isn't that I'm not interested, but I think that's the right perspective.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hello Will,

    Thank God you've returned. Some people were going to need Librium...

    And don't take offence. It's only the news crew and that format that make me want to hurl. I suppose tonight's wasn't even the worst - just fairly moderately naff - apart from the obligatory bit of joshing at the end. (That after-church "humour". About the weather. Haw-haw. No thaw-thaw for a few days to come! Boom-boom! Haw-haw-haw.)

    And I had a late dinner.

  • Comment number 48.

    14. peterm2 wrote:

    "Newdwr is a 'Christian'. Gave his 'testimony' on this very blog just at the end of last year. Look up the 'War on Religion' thread."
    _________________________

    I'm Christian in the same way that I'm 'Northern Irish'. I observe the norms of a Christian society. Culturally I am 'Christian' and 'Northern Irish'. I don't *believe* in Christianity any more than I believe in 'Northern Irishism'.
    ________________________________

    "It's a bit like the Judean People's Front, he's a 'Christian' and I'm a Christian."
    ________________________________

    Aren't you confusing the Judean People's Front with the People's Front of Judea?

    Splitter!

  • Comment number 49.

    18. Andrew wrote:

    "I'd say given how New reads Matthew 24 he's a Fundamentalist Atheist. Hmm...maybe that needs to be a Christian Fundamentalist Atheist."
    _________________________________________

    But *not* a 'born again' Christian Fundamentalist Atheist! I'm old school.

    Matthew 24, was written for its time and of its time. No one's doubting the faith or integrity of its author - just his conclusions.

  • Comment number 50.

    "Helio will be popping in next"

    Probably just in time for the big 'do' at the opening of the new temple:

    http://churchofjesuschristatheist.blogspot.com/2012/01/atheism-20.html

    Seems the schism is gathering momentum.

    Odds on donkey rides, anyone?



    Andrew

    "I also wonder about the fate of Wright, Carson, Keller, Wenham, Clark and Bailey."

    In what way?

    And yes, nuances are real nuisances.



    AF

    "Thank God you've returned."

    I would if there was one.

  • Comment number 51.

    newdwr

    "Aren't you confusing the Judean People's Front with the People's Front of Judea?"

    Not at all. That would only be the case if I was confusing the Judean People's Front with the 'Judean' People's Front, and I'd never do that.

    But let me get this right, you're saying you're a 'Northern Irish' 'Christian' Fundamentalist Atheist?

    And what about this temple, newdwr? Would you go? And would that make you a Temple Atheist?

    And is it just me or has there been an outbreak of goodwill on this thread?

  • Comment number 52.

    26. mscracker wrote:

    [Re: What are the chances of a long dead 1st century Palestinian Jewish apocalyptic holy man and agitator coming from the sky to 'save the world' in 2012?]

    mscracker wrote:

    "For one who only fits the above description: zero chance. For Christ: Who knows? 2012 is as good a year as any."
    ____________________________________________

    So was AD 75, or AD 85. Those were closer to the projected time scales of the author of Matthew 24.

    Remember, Jesus is quoted as saying that people alive *then* would still be alive when the kingdom of God was established on earth.

    At what point is the 'cut off' reached?

  • Comment number 53.

    PM2

    RJB #19

    Was it compulsory to believe that beards were voluntary?
    ------------------------------

    I believe it was compulsory to believe that beards were voluntary, except at stonings, and only for female impersonators who bought gravel instead of rocks.

  • Comment number 54.

    51. peterm2 wrote:

    "...you're a 'Northern Irish' 'Christian' Fundamentalist Atheist?"

    Sort of.

    But you have to be very careful how you define yourself round here.

    The Popular People's Front of Judea (PPFJ) have spies everywhere.

  • Comment number 55.

    "Remember, Jesus is quoted as saying that people alive *then* would still be alive when the kingdom of God was established on earth."

    And they were.

    You see, there's been a subtext to this thread: that the Kingdom of God is more than a matter of beards...

  • Comment number 56.

    Dave (@ 41)

    I am beginning to worry about you:


    Only you know the sincerity of that comment.

    First you express a concern over your ability to contain yourself from mistreating people unless you have belief in your god and then you confuse my exhortation that you do not project this failing in your psyche with a moral absolute. I no more expressed a moral absolute than if I said you should not pass your flu on. That could just simply be a subjective standard based on my own psyche not some spiritually derived standard.


    Where did I express a concern over my ability to contain myself from mistreating people unless I have my belief in my god (sic)??

    Pastor Philip stated in his post #8 that he preaches that people should be ready for the return of Christ, with specific reference to Matthew chapter 24. This comment elicited the usual, predictable (and, I have to say, rather boorish) response from the opposing worldview.

    I made a follow up comment in post #28, where I noted that the preparation, which the pastor is referring to, is of an ethical rather than doctrinal nature according to the Bible passage in question. In the light of the fact that the ethical injunctions relating to this "preparation" are of such a nature that most people - atheist or otherwise - would see the reasonableness in them, I wondered what the big objection was concerning the mention of Christ's return. Often we are told that "religious" people can believe what they like, as long as they don't impose their morality on others. But here is an instance where the morality associated with the disputed idea (of Christ's return) is so reasonable, that I wonder why there was a need for certain atheists to make snide remarks. This suggests to me that their opposition to Christianity has nothing to do with "live and let live as long as they keep off our back". It's more like: "we do not tolerate your beliefs, even when the morality associated with them is something we agree with."

    Apparently, the concern of some unbelievers appears to relate to the fact that Christians need to operate within a context of "fear" in order to treat other people well. This implies that unbelievers do not need such a context (never mind the fact that one of the characteristics of secular society seems to be a grotesque proliferation of laws). The Christian gospel of grace is all about the inner transformation of a person's character, and the genuine reorientation of the will. It is not about legalism. That message is emphasised throughout most of the New Testament.

    The return of Christ is fundamentally about hope, but some people need to be reminded that this hope has a certain moral content. The teaching of the Bible is realistic - it acknowledges that some people do need a stick and not just a carrot. But this is certainly not the ideal way to motivate anyone, hence the affirmation that "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18).

    As for my reference to a moral absolute (or objective morality, to be more accurate), you told me what I "should" do. Now this "should" is either your personal subjective opinion, and therefore of no relevance to me, or it is an appeal to some objective requirement. If the latter, then I would be interested to know what this standard is, within the context of your worldview.

  • Comment number 57.

    33. Hi mscracker,

    That was a very interesting article. I disagree with most of it. I think he made several faulty assumptions, and I was annoyed by some of his wording. (chuckle)


    However, I could agree on his dislike of secular totalitarianisms:

    “And in the secular totalitarianisms of the last century, societies in which God was systematically denied, human dignity was so little respected that the piling up of tens of millions of corpses was seen as an acceptable political strategy, Lenin’s ‘cracking of some eggs to make an omelette.’”


    I wonder what he has to say about secular pluralism (imo, the answer to his worries about totalitarianism), which of course includes those with no belief in God.

    Meanwhile, here’s this:

    http://pluralism.org/pages/pluralism/essays/from_diversity_to_pluralism

  • Comment number 58.

    28. logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    "I am sure that those who have difficulty in believing in the return of Christ would accept that we ought to treat others well. Or are they saying: "Well, we don't need to believe in all that nonsense, so that means we are free to mistreat other people"?

    I'll leave that thought with the inmates."
    _____________________________________

    Believing in the return 'on the clouds' of a long-dead phantom is not unique to Christianity. Neither is treating each other well.

    If you want to see how Christianity suffers non-believers, look no further than the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch trials, to name but a few shameful episodes. Christianity thrives on its mistreatment of 'other people'.

    As for the 'return of Christ'... maybe you're right. Maybe Christ has been waiting for *this* particular generation (as it contains you). That's what lots of other Christians have believed for thousands of years.

    They were all wrong.

    But maybe *you* will be right? Maybe *you* are special?

    I'm not putting money on it, you understand; but it *might* be you.

  • Comment number 59.

    mscracker,

    57. revisited --

    Rev. Barron:

    “And in the secular totalitarianisms of the last century, societies in which God was systematically denied, human dignity was so little respected that the piling up of tens of millions of corpses was seen as an acceptable political strategy, Lenin’s ‘cracking of some eggs to make an omelette.’”


    See: He makes it sound as if “human dignity was so little respected”
    because “God (his God, to be sure) was systematically denied.”


    Therefore, I doubt he’d embrace secular pluralism.

  • Comment number 60.

    Be ready. Put on clean underwear. If Jesus doesn't show up, you might still get hit by a bus.

  • Comment number 61.

  • Comment number 62.

    2. romejellybeen:

    “Have a look at the following and see if you can come up with something we could all get our teeth into.”


    Geez. You sure knew what to post!

  • Comment number 63.

    William
    Without wishing to restart the (Thirty Years) War on Religion thread perhaps a mention in despatches for the efforts of Jessica Ahlquist?

  • Comment number 64.

    61. Peter:

    In response to that sickeningly upbeat trilogy I offer only the following:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZgBhyU4IvQ

    It's getting there all right!

  • Comment number 65.

    My thoughts on the Kingdom of God/Heaven (for the bearded and the smoothe - but def not for three day growth-ists):

    Matthew calls it the kingdom of Heaven coz he's a Jew talking to a Jewish audience. (Not being racist here, just identifying the ethnic group.) He is not allowed to say 'God' or it will only be worse for him and stoning by bearded people awaits. So he changed the term to 'Heaven.'

    Thus, the Nazarene's kingdom is very safely ejected to the realms of the hereafter where it becomes a future Butlins Holiday Camp instead of the powerful force to tear Princes from their throwns, raise up the lowly, send the rich away empty and give good things to eat to the starving.)

    Other evangelists call it the Kingdom of God, a more accurate term since there werent any beard-wearing, rock wielding PFJ's in earshot. For them it was a present reality inaugurated at Brians - I mean Jesus' - death and ressie. (Therefore Jesus' listeners WERE still alive when the Kingdom was 'established.')

    Hierarchs over the centuries have been petrified of a 'present' kingdom, too much trouble for them and many of them realised that they would be first against the wall. (For more, read Jose Miranda's, "Communism in the Bible." The book was sneaked into my seminary inside a chocolate cake.)

    Tin hat on.

  • Comment number 66.

    marieinaustin

    It has always been a fascinating subject.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoM46jRJnHM&feature=related

    I also love

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6axdZAxyt2g&feature=related

    Notice, all beardies!

  • Comment number 67.

    throwns - thrones

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi Pastorphilip

    I agree with you. There certainly have been a number of dodgy predictions.
    As you say, it's good to be on the welcoming commitee.

  • Comment number 69.

    Ryan

    Hope you are well.

  • Comment number 70.

    rjb I'm fine, I'd read the Alain de Botton piece in the Telegraph, but peterm2 had already posted the link!

  • Comment number 71.

  • Comment number 72.

    Mmmm. Maybe this would be more suitable subject matter for some posters on here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMpu8jH1LE8

  • Comment number 73.

  • Comment number 74.

  • Comment number 75.

    newdwr54 (@ 58) -

    Believing in the return 'on the clouds' of a long-dead phantom is not unique to Christianity.


    A rather strange statement, I must say, given that Christianity doesn't affirm such a thing at all. In fact, I am rather puzzled as to where this "long-dead phantom" fits in Christian theology. I have certainly never seen the concept anywhere. Perhaps you would be so kind as to elaborate?

    Neither is treating each other well.


    Ah good. You agree with the point I was making then (assuming you understood it).

    If you want to see how Christianity suffers non-believers, look no further than the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch trials, to name but a few shameful episodes.


    Well done for agreeing with Matthew chapter 24. There are professing Christians who mistreat others. Now I wonder who gave warnings about that? I'll leave you to guess.

    Christianity thrives on its mistreatment of 'other people'.


    If you say so.

    As for the 'return of Christ'... maybe you're right. Maybe Christ has been waiting for *this* particular generation (as it contains you). That's what lots of other Christians have believed for thousands of years.

    They were all wrong. etc etc...


    I get it. An atheist who doesn't believe in the Bible trying to argue a point on the basis of biblical evidence. Good one.

    Like I said, if you don't believe in the return of Christ, then why does it bother you so much? If Pastor Philip's warnings to his congregation are of no relevance to you, then please leave us to our "delusions". After all, given that the warnings relate to ethical teaching of universal acceptability, then what's your problem? Or are you just obsessed with thought crime?

  • Comment number 76.

    From my last post...

    Good one.


    Oh dear. I've just noticed that I've broken my belated New Year's resolution not to be sarcastic on W&T.

    Sorry about that.

  • Comment number 77.

    rjb @ 65

    I must say, in case you feel I always challenge you, that I am in agreement with your post that the kingdom of God/heaven referred to the literal kingdom that Jesus' Church constituted after He returned to the Father.

    The Bible outlines an organisation that included prophets, apostles, teachers, Bishops, elders, deacons, priests, evangelists (offices we have lost the meaning of over time), etc. It also appears that these officers of the Church were given power and authority. I believe that the Church did not maintain this structure and with schism and apostasy, the kingdom ceased to exist on the earth probably long before Constantine. Maybe that's why you have problems with the Catholic Church at this time. Maybe the Catholic Church has nothing to do with God and if that is the case then the Protestant Churches, who broke away from the mother church, have nothing to do with Him either. Just a thought.

  • Comment number 78.

    Will @ 40

    You asked for topics for the programme. As I have been harping on about the apostasy of the primitive church since I first contributed to this blog. It would make sense that an apostasy occurred, highlighted in the Bible a number of times, given the history of the so-called Christian churches with their schisms, conflict and inability to make sense. It would explain why atheists look upon Christianity as powerless, foolish, manipulative, etc. I even feel that way and I try to live as a Christian. Rather than take Christianity as a given, shouldn't we be challenging it to understand what it's role is in the world at this time, questioning it's authenticity, it's power and it's authority to represent God. A big topic but one that I never heard addressed.

  • Comment number 79.

    "In fact, I am rather puzzled as to where this "long-dead phantom" fits in Christian theology. I have certainly never seen the concept anywhere. Perhaps you would be so kind as to elaborate?"

    Careful New. It's a trap.

    New says: "As for the 'return of Christ'... maybe you're right. Maybe Christ has been waiting for *this* particular generation (as it contains you). That's what lots of other Christians have believed for thousands of years.

    They were all wrong. etc etc..."

    "Logica" replies: "I get it. An atheist who doesn't believe in the Bible trying to argue a point on the basis of biblical evidence. Good one."

    The "evidence" that Jesus has not returned is not in the Bible, to the best of my knowledge. Come to think of it, there's not much evidence for anything in the Bible, but that's a different story. I saw no chapter and verse in what New said.

    And even if he was using the Bible, how dare he. That's the preserve of believers and believers alone. I mean, you wouldn't get a believer cadging up some cock-eyed notion of what he thinks is science to have a pop at something science has ascertained, would you.

  • Comment number 80.

    63 Paul James

    Thanks for posting the story of Jessica Ahlquist and her successful campaign for justice. It is deeply saddening, however, that she has had to have the police escort her to and from school because of threats made against her by some extremists. Even local florists refused to deliver flowers to her home from well-wishers!

    Here is an interesting story about a 71 year-old Frenchman who is taking legal action against the Catholic Church because he wants to have his baptism nullified. His action has in part been prompted by feelings of abhorrence engendered by the numerous paedophile priest scandals. The court ruled in his favour, but the Church has appealed the decision.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2094001/Frenchman-71-takes-Catholic-Church-court-landmark-case-refuses-nullify-baptism.html

  • Comment number 81.

    PTS

    Hope this isnt too religiously thematized for you, but.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76RrdwElnTU

    We find some common terra firma at last. (Btw, Miranda was a communist, but dont let that put you off him.)

    Howwevvaaa...... "The Kingdom ceased to exist."??????

    There you pin-point the fundamental difference between us.

    Its a tiny point, infact, its only the size of a mustard seed.

    PTS, how can YOU, of all people, say that the Kingdom ceased to exist? How do you miss such a central, corner-stone, theme from the gospels?

    It has been here since Jesus inaugurated it, growing quietly, unseen, unheard, untrumpeted.

    Its the father who cradled his dead daughter in his arms at Enniskillen and said, "I forgive the people who did this to my daughter." Now there was a huge tree that gave shelter to the birds!!

    (There's a thing, read the book, "The Shack", if you havent done so.)

    Or the soldier who refused to obey orders at the My Lai massacre, or Oscar Romero.... or the many people who have been influenced by such people. And the millions who know its about the way we live, not Sunday mornings.

    And as for a man floating on a cloud coming back to reward and smite, that just seems to be out of character for the Nazarene I know. What would make more sense - and would be a tad more believable - would be when human beings eventually copped on and brought to fruition the values of the Kingdom, themselves.

    Then he may very well perform some cumulus celebration - then there would be something to celebrate - that we chose it and that it wasnt imposed. At that stage, there really wouldnt be a need for God. And certainly not for religion.

  • Comment number 82.

    I'm going throught a similar process myself. Apparently you're no longer allowed to defect, because after a sudden wave of requests, the church cobbled together some excuse about marriage for a change to Canon Law which basically removed your ability under Canon Law to have your registration nullified.

    I've also found out that in fact it's your confirmation record that is the more important if you want your name scrubbed.

    Whatever of it, I'll go as far as it take not to be counted in that oft-touted 1.3bn figure. Funny how Canon Law is so inconvtrovertible in some cases, then can just be dropped in others. Isn't it.

  • Comment number 83.

    A further note on Jessica Ahlquist. Her situation wasn't helped by state representative Peter Palumbo calling her "an evil little thing" on the radio.

    http://www.htrnews.com/article/20120131/MAN07/201310458/National-commentary-Inside-First-Amendment

    This was when the campaign of intimidation against her online, including threats of violence, was already well under way.

  • Comment number 84.

    @57. marieinaustin,
    Thanks for your post & the link.
    Not sure what Fr. Barron's thoughts might be on secular pluralism, but I saw he does have a forum thing going on thru' his site.Maybe you could pose him the question?
    I think America, overall, has been welcoming to differing faiths & beliefs, but that welcome has varied through different periods in our history & hasn't been a perfect thing.Just looking at my own family I see folks coming here from at least 3 different faith traditions, each having been persecuted/discriminated against for their faith/ethnicity in the "old country." And some came while it was still a British colony, so the British should get some credit, too.

  • Comment number 85.

    60.At 23:16 30th Jan 2012, AboutFarce wrote:
    Be ready. Put on clean underwear. If Jesus doesn't show up, you might still get hit by a bus."
    **
    If you were to use the "clean linens/underwear" as a device to describe the state of one's soul, that's a very good point indeed.Why obsess about the 2nd Coming when a personal interview could be around the corner?

  • Comment number 86.

    I can't call myself a keen rugby fan, but I can imagine that there will be many who are very disappointed that the forthcoming clash between Munster and Ulster is to be held on Easter Sunday.

    Knowing the beliefs of several Ulster players, not to mention a large number of their fans, at best this is highly insensitive, at worst positively anti-Christian. Seems the '30 pieces of silver' of TV money are to have the crucial say.

    The spirit of Judas Iscariot lives on.................

  • Comment number 87.

    Hi mscracker,

    I compliment you on your civility. Sometimes I feel like a barbarian next to you.

    Maybe I will check out Fr. Barron’s forum.

    My extended family is also very diverse: Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Buddhists (the original kind, from China) and Atheists. In all cases, mostly Agnostics. My immediate family includes all of the above, except Mormons. Incidentally I dated a Jew for two years in high school and on-off in college (aka uni). Well, his official religion was The Grateful Dead.


    “I think America, overall, has been welcoming to differing faiths & beliefs, but that welcome has varied through different periods in our history & hasn't been a perfect thing.”

    In the 80s, I lived in the middle of a big city (not Austin), where I attended a large public high school (aka state school). There is no way a prayer banner would have been displayed then. I believe it was in the 90s when people began to get all religious and evangelical, both Protestants and Catholics. I didn’t even hear the word ‘evangelical’ until 1999 when I ran into one of my childhood friends from Catholic grade school. We were both heathens in grade school, high school and college, and somewhere after that she became a Very evangelical Protestant. I still love her to death!

    “Why obsess about the 2nd Coming when a personal interview could be around the corner?”

    I agree with you on this, mscracker. Isn’t the end times really just our own end time? Revelation: In our lifetime, we’re really going to die! If you’re a believer, you’ll get to have your chat at that time. But maybe people wish they could be around for all the hoopla.

  • Comment number 88.

    rjb

    This feels better. Thanks.

    I know the establishment of the 'kingdom' is central to the gospel but so it appears are the prophesies about apostasy. I keep finding references which point to the Church (members and structure) ceasing to exist, not being spared and falling away sometime after Jesus established it. The purpose of this I do not know but it is mentioned so many times that it can't be ignored. Some of these references can be found at:
    Isaiah 29:13, 60:2
    Amos 8:11
    Matt. 13:25, 24:5, 24:24
    Acts 20:29
    Gal. 1:6, 3:1
    2Thes. 2:3
    1Tim. 1:6, 4:1
    2Tim. 1:15,2:18, 3:5, 4:4
    Titus 1:16
    2Pet. 2:1, 3:17
    1John 2:18, 4:1
    Jude 1:4
    Rev. 2:2, 13:7

    Give this lot a read and come to your own conclusions.

    I personally believe that the 'kingdom' is more than specific examples of good works and Christ-like acts. Of course, the gospel must include this but I for one, as an individual trying my best to develop charity, crave for clarity, authenticity, authority(through the type of officers mentioned in the New Testament), guidance and order that I am sure existed in the early Church. As I look toward the christian churches all I see is confusion and falseness and I have no confidence in them. Would you seriously recommend the Catholic Church to me given what you have been through and how that church comes across to the world? Who would you recommend that would satisfy my needs?

  • Comment number 89.

    A hymn for the opening of the Big 'A' Temple:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8qE6WQmNus


    Pastor Philip #86

    I understand the argument for keeping the 'Sabbath', I disagree, but I understand it; but who do you think is filling the boots of Judas?

  • Comment number 90.

    I forgot to mention my Muslim girl friend in high school. We dyed our hair-tips pink (circa '84). I hope if she ever went through a conservative phase, she came out of it okay. Her parents were fun back then too, even while religious.

  • Comment number 91.

    Pastor Philip

    I can't call myself a keen rugby fan, but I can imagine that there will be many who are very disappointed that the forthcoming clash between Munster and Ulster is to be held on Easter Sunday.

    Of course, Presbyterian, Puritan and Reformed types, like myself, place no extra significance on 'Easter Sunday', every Lord's Day is resurrection day. That said I'm stuck in a ditch between affirmation and denial of the Sunday Sabbath.

    Peter, how come you disagree? You might tip me in your direction.

  • Comment number 92.

    90.At 18:07 31st Jan 2012, marieinaustin wrote:
    I forgot to mention my Muslim girl friend in high school. We dyed our hair-tips pink (circa '84). I hope if she ever went through a conservative phase, she came out of it okay. Her parents were fun back then too, even while religious."
    **
    I had a friend whose grandparents immigrated here from Turkey.They were Sephardic Jews & were some of the most gracious, hospitable folk I've ever known.I've had just brief experiences with Muslim people but thought them very similar in manners & hospitality.

  • Comment number 93.

    Peter

    Sorry missed this one;

    "I also wonder about the fate of Wright, Carson, Keller, Wenham, Clark and Bailey." In what way?

    You alleged that these gentlemen may be able to help Newdwr out with his Matthew 24 problem. And since he's still at it - zombie Jesus being long overdue, that is - I can only assume he's routed every one of them. But I still wonder, has he really?

    Didn't Bob Dylan write a song about it? Blowin' in the wind or some such?

  • Comment number 94.

    Andrew

    #91

    ”Peter, how come you disagree? You might tip me in your direction.”

    Well, it’s been something of a process, and I suppose there’s still the odd twang of ‘Sabbatarian guilt’ whenever I read A.A. Gill on Sindays (opps!, maybe I’ll leave that typo in there!)

    There are a number of ways of approaching this, but, you’re there already, really, with what you have written - ”Of course, Presbyterian, Puritan and Reformed types, like myself, place no extra significance on 'Easter Sunday', every Lord's Day is resurrection day.”

    I’d just remove one word - ‘Lord’s’, which, interestingly, makes more of the ‘Lord’, if you see what I mean.

    There are other references, of course, and implications, and I’m happy to discuss them, but I reckon that by the time you've read this comment, you'll have worked out what they are.


    ...and did I really rattle off all those names in one sentence? There should be a law against that.



    ***


    General question to our atheist friends. I’m fully aware that it might be causing a smidgen of embarrassment, but, do any of you have any views on your newly proposed place of worship?

    Honestly, you’re be safer just watching Brian Cox on TV, he’s brill!

  • Comment number 95.

    Personally? De Botton has fallen out of my world. I think it's cheesy, much like his books. And I think it's ill-conceived: apparently he chose the City as its location because that's where people are most in need of reminding about the transcendent. Those bankers. Quite what effect this thing is supposed to have on them is beyond me. He wants to have fossils in it, I gather. Maybe he should have some amethysts in it too, for their high yin energy output.

    For all that I don't see why it should cause me any embarrassment either.

  • Comment number 96.

    Newlach@80
    "It is deeply saddening, however, that she has had to have the police escort her to and from school because of threats made against her by some extremists."

    because of threats made against her by some christians.
    FTFY

  • Comment number 97.

    82 AboutFarce

    If people could easily "defect" it might result in government funding for Catholic projects being reduced. I do wonder how many defectors there would be if the system in Ireland mirrored that in Germany where leaving seems a straightforward matter.

    "In Germany, where a record 181,000 Catholics formally split from the church in 2011, some terminated their relations by legally opting out of paying state church taxes. For the first time, he says, more German Catholics cut ties to their church last year than Protestants."

    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/religion/Voluntary-De-Baptism-Rising-in-Europe-137592823.html

    All political party leaders in Scotland back same-sex marriage:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-16816512

  • Comment number 98.

    I wouldn't hold my breath on the funding thing...

  • Comment number 99.

    General question to our atheist friends. I’m fully aware that it might be causing a smidgen of embarrassment, but, do any of you have any views on your newly proposed place of worship?


    We all have our crosses to bear [;)] and De Botton is one of ours. Just as some Christians have fatwah envy, apparently he has transcendence envy.

  • Comment number 100.

 

Page 1 of 7

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.