Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wise Words

A scientific or a rationally valid statement means that the power of reason is applied to all the data of observation without any of them being suppressed or falsified for the sake of a desired result.
-- Erich Fromm (1900-1980) –
-- excerpted from Man For Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, 1947. –

Friday, June 23, 2006

Speaking Some Sense...

Readers of this blog will know that I have a profound respect for the writings [and opinions] of John Shelby Spong.
I subscribe to a weekly emailing from him. And you can too. I will provide a link, later.
He always has such good stuff to say, along the lines of non-stupid theology.
And this week’s mailing was no exception:

John Ruddick from North Sydney, Australia writes:
"Is it possible that Jesus was inferring that some people were born gay in Matthew 19:12? It reads, 'For there are different reasons why men cannot marry: some because they are born that way, others, because men made them that way and others do not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.'"

[The Bishop responds...]

Dear John,

It is very difficult for anyone living in 2006 to say what Jesus meant in the early years of the first century of this Common Era.
First, to the best of my knowledge, Jesus left no written records and there were no tape recorders to record his words for future use. Our best estimates are that the earthly life of Jesus was lived between 4 B.C.E. and 30 C.E. He spoke Aramaic.

Matthew, who is the only gospel writer to record the text you cite, wrote between 80 and 90 C.E. or 50 to 60 years after the life of Jesus. He wrote in Greek not Aramaic. So, if Jesus actually spoke these words that Matthew attributes to him, someone had to remember them and pass them on by word of mouth for 50-60 years, translate them from Aramaic into Greek and finally to the English words that you quote. If that process can be navigated successfully and literally, we might begin to answer your question.

The next thing we need to raise is the issue to which Matthew is speaking when he had Jesus utter these words. The truth is that some people are born gay and others are born straight. Some have powerful libidos and some weak. Some are male and some female. Some are born with an xxy gene and others with only xx or xy. Some are castrated by religious zeal. Some are rendered impotent by sickness and others by surgery.

I find those who think that a particular text in the Bible addresses a specific issue today are operating out of a very superstitious view of the Bible. It is only when the weight of the Bible is employed in a particular human arena that I think it can be legitimately used. By this shall people know that you are my disciples, that you love one another. If you say that you love God and hate your neighbor, you are a liar. Love your neighbor as yourself. Welcome the stranger, care for the weak, embrace the outcast. Jesus is even made to state his purpose in the Fourth Gospel as "I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." These are some of the biblical texts that have cumulative power, that build a consensus and that counter the limited, mean-spirited prejudices that we human beings have used so often in the name of religion to violate the humanity of another child of God.

I know you probably wanted a yes or no answer. Unfortunately, the Bible does not lend itself to that kind of response.

-- John Shelby Spong

Couldn't have said it better myself!
You can subscribe, here.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wise Words

I will not make a poem nor the least part of a poem but has reference to the soul, Because having look’t at the objects of the universe, I find there is no one nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul.
-- Walt Whitman (1819-1892) –

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