Thursday, 24 July 2014

Some good news this week .... and then there is the usual stuff ....

It's good to able to begin with some good news - Meriam Ibrahim and her family have been allowed to leave Sudan and have arrived safely in Italy for an audience with Pope Francis [from the BBC here]
"Lasting less than half an hour, the meeting was "calm and affectionate", the statement noted. “The Pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous witness of perseverance in the faith.” It added that “Meriam thanked the Pope for the great support and comfort she received from his prayers and from so many others believers of good will.”
The Pope's personal secretary, Msgr. Yohannis Gaid, served as interpreter for the meeting.
Toward the end of the encounter, the Holy Father greeted members of Italian government who accompanied Meriam and her family on their trip to Italy.
With this gesture, the Pope wanted to show his closeness, concern and prayer for all those who suffer for their faith, especially for Christians who are enduring persecution or restrictions upon their religious freedom. .." [ZENIT]
An article at MercatorNet by Carolyn Moynihan [here] speaks of the 'muddled iconography' of women bishops: another unfortunate by-product of Canterbury's recent mania for doing theology on the hoof, often amidst acrimonious and fevered 'political' lobbying,  and always by way of obeisance to the spirit of the age: 
"..... No reasonable person disputes that women are able to do the “job” of an Anglican bishop: the liturgical role, preaching, teaching, administration, sitting in the House of Lords – whatever it takes. Of course they can. The objections have always been theological: for evangelicals, the teaching of St Paul about the headship of men over women; for Anglo-Catholics, breaking with the 2000-year-old tradition going back to Christ himself, who called only men to form the foundation of his church – a break which would put paid to eventual reunion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Coming from a Catholic perspective, my understanding is that the sacramental character of the priest as an icon of Christ is the heart of the matter. According to St Paul the church is the body of Christ, who is its Spouse and Head. There’s a whole cluster of anthropological and theological concepts at work in this aspect of Pauline theology (and other parts of the Bible) which would take a book to tease out, but they boil down to the fact that the whole church, men and women, is feminine (receptive) in relation to Christ, and that the priest in his key sacramental role represents Christ, who gives his whole life for and to her.
Anglicans, of course, are free to write the rules for their own church. However, they ought to be confident that this theological tradition is not arbitrary, but reflects the biological and metaphysical reality of the sexes .... "

'The Beatles and the Dawning of a New Age' [here] from Crisis Magazine makes a few interesting points about that decade of radical change and the triumph of youthful narcissism, the 1960s .
Of course, what no one then envisaged was that the apostles of adolescent rebellion would still be strumming their guitars and wearing their blue jeans into their 70s .... we now live in a world way beyond satire ....
"...Seemingly, the first thing to be “killed” was Christianity. This was the year of Lennon’s pronouncement that: “Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that.  I’m right and will be proved right … We’re more popular than Jesus now.” The contemporary press report went on to note that the Beatles had been reading, amongst other books on the subject of religion, the revived Gnosticism of the just published and best-selling, The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield—the new beliefs and repackaged heresies then flooding the West were being embraced with little or no critical faculty by Lennon and others. In contrast, Christianity was to be accorded no quarter; instead, the “prophets” of the age had decreed that that religion’s time had come and gone..."
After the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 (an event for which Russia undoubtedly bears a large responsibility for supplying sophisticated weapons to those of its allies seemingly incapable of moral, military or political sophistication) the war of words continues, somewhat eerily recalling the slide to war in 1914. 
The question no one appears to have asked is why a scheduled international flight was permitted - as if in peacetime - to pass over a region of such instability - if not exactly a war zone as such, then one which could explode into wider conflict at the slightest provocation. Reports seem to indicate that Ukrainian military aircraft had already been shot down in the same airspace by the same separatists later responsible for the MH17 atrocity.
Amid the escalating rhetoric, Peter Hitchens argues very sanely for restraint [here]

And the endless Israeli / Palestinian conflict continues  to stir up its partisans on both sides here in Europe. As an indication of just how intractable this situation is one could do worse than listen to this week's  'The Moral Maze'  on BBC Radio 4
 Listen and try not to despair ...

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