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Archive for July, 2012

Amid the controversy currently swirling in the US around Huma Abedin, a piece published by her late father Syed Abedin, as quoted in the Washington Post (26/07/12), stands out:

“For wherever there is a slaughter of innocent men, women and children for the mere reason that they belong to another race, color or nationality, or were born into a faith which the majority of them could never quite comprehend, and hardly ever practice in its true spirit; wherever the fair name of religion is used as a veneer, to hide overweening political ambition and bottomless greed; wherever the glory of God is sought to be proclaimed through the barrel of a gun; wherever piety becomes synonymous with rapacity; and morality cowers under the blight of expediency and compromise; wherever it be – in Yugoslavia or Algeria, in Liberia, Chad … in Los Angeles or Abuja, in Kashmir… there God is banished and Satan is triumphant; there the angels weep and the soul of man cringes; there in the name of God humans are dehumanized; and there the grace and beauty of life lies ravished and undone. When would men ever realize: in this game there are no winners.”

Amen to that.

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Maurice Wiles, who died not long ago, was a much-respected theologian with a reputation for clear thinking and writing.  So it was gratifying to find, the day before yesterday, in the Bookbarn near Bristol, a copy of his book The remaking of Christian doctrine (London, 1974).  I bought it, noticing that its previous home was Downside Abbey.

I’m finding it somewhat difficult to read, so dense is his argument, but at least one passage stands out, so far: “The two millenia of Christian history bear witness to men’s failure in discernment [of the truth of Jesus’ death on the cross].  The history books are littered with doctrinal accounts of the atonement which strike us as absurd or immoral or both.” (p62).

What are these accounts?  I think I can guess.  I’m reading on with interest.

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Art of Faenza, 14th century

The things we Christians get up to!  The estimable Project Gutenberg has available online a book called Curiosities of Christian History by Croak James, published in 1892.  It is an encyclopaedic compilation of thousands of anecdotes and marginalia about the Christian religion in the centuries before the Couner-Reformation.  Some are good, some are uplifting, some are horrible.  This one, about an artist and some nuns is just sweet: (more…)

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Islamic tiles

Throughout history, each generation has revisited and reshaped the “God” concept in continual attempts to get answers to humankind’s great questions.  Religions are nothing more or less than constructs designed to provide persuasive answers to those questions.  The answers are based on scripture, dogma and revelation.  This approach systematises our encounter with the divine,  but not always as we would wish that to be. (more…)

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