Wednesday, 8 February 2017

"will nobody rid me of this turbulent priest?" let's hope not...

That's what Henry II was supposed to have cried, about Beckett, and four Norman louts set off to do just that. 

An occasionally turbulent priest who blogs most interestingly gives us another angle on the potentially revolutionary force of spirituality, and I wish him more power to his elbow.

Apparently, according to Peter Sewald, Pope Emeritus (i.e. retired Pope) Benedict “sees his Church as a resistance movement against the bedevilment of this age, against the Godforsakenness of fundamentalist atheism and new forms of paganism.”

Weeping Cross, an Anglican priest blogging at, responds thus:

“This age may be subject to bedevilment, but all ages are: there’s nothing unique about the times in which we find ourselves.

The manifesto of the early Church wasn’t a doctrinal essay but an account of a life, and eventually four mutually-conflicting if complementary accounts of it. None of this was authoritarian or even stable: none of it could easily be corralled into a system... It would always be turbulent, disruptive, no matter what the world around it was like. It would always, will always, demand more than human culture can ever deliver. The Gospel will always be at odds with the age.

Notwithstanding the inescapably disruptive power of the Gospel at its core, the Church has been far from inescapably disruptive. It has crowned and approved of worldly power, used the secular sword to fight its battles and enforce its ideas – and less high-mindedly, its grubby self-interest – and showed only occasional bursts of conscience at its collaboration with the forces that nailed Christ to the cross. It has done very well out of it, thank you. And now, deprived of that long power, for the Church to make a virtue of necessity and suddenly to discover a counter-cultural mission is a bit rich.

One suspects that Benedict (and plenty of other Christians of all sorts of types) only see this age as especially bedevilled because Christians are not in charge of it.”

Wow. And that's a C of E vicar writing.

Leaving aside the claims of immortality and divinity which, to my way of looking at it*, were heaped on his shoulders by those who came after him, Jesus was a turbulent prophet, and paid a terrible price for it.

"The Gospel will always be at odds with the age." As is, surely, any truly contemplative, meditative practice, many insights of the sort usually described as "mystical." If we all lived as Jesus did, as Buddha did, as George Fox did, could our social and economic structures survive? Should they, in any case?

(* nothing very profound or distinctive, largely derived from reading Geza Vermes, "Christian Beginnings.")

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