Category Archives: Easter

Fossil Fuel Fast for Lent

In the bad old days you gave up chocolate for Lent. I confess I never have.

More recently as some in the churches have gone a very dark shade of green, the suggestion is to have a carbon fast.

http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2017/02/christians-urged-to-take-part-in-carbon-fast-during-lent.aspx

This year it is to to have a plastic fast. To some that means not using single-use plastic.  Single use plastic has been much emphasised recently but we need to go much further than that and consider problems beyond that.

My concern is that that these Lenten fasts are temporary and don’t focus on central issues.

But before being very serious , here’s my suggestion for a fossil-fuel lenten fast.

Now what about a FOSSIL FUEL FAST?

That is a great challenge but how would we do it?

Now you are not going to use anything made or brought to you by fossil fuels.

Let’s see what happens.

You get out of bed and take off your pyjamas/nightshirt/nightie and you are bursting.

You go to the toilet and realise that the water in the loo and in the pipes has CHLORINE in it made courtesy of Natural Gas by Big Bad Jim Radcliffe. So you go outside and your neighbours see you having a wee.

You come back in and feel rather sweaty and want a shower. Ooops you can’t ! The water would be riddled with bugs were it not for the Chlorine made by Big Bad Jim. You had decided to have a cold shower when you realised that the gas  is FRACKED.

You have a serious medical condition and need to take daily medication. But, you realise they are synthesised from gas or oil , so you decide not to take them on moral grounds.

You start to dress and then struggle to find clothes which a 100% wool, cotton or linen. In the end you go naked

You go downstairs, cold and sweaty, and dying for a cuppa. You are about to switch the electric kettle on and then realise that my GridGB says 47.3% of the elec is generated by gas, 6% by coal and 25% by nuclear (and greenies don’t like nuclear either). Though it went up to 35% or more during the storms – which stopped cycling!

You decide for some orange juice – but it’s in a plastic bottle.

Out of desperation you decide on a beer and realise you have a choice of an aluminium can or bottle – both made using fossil fuels.

You are thirsty so to keep your ideological purity you drink from the water butt  – and chew an insect.

You are hungry, but you can only eat organic as other food is grown with artificial fertiliser from natural (fracked) gas. You remain hungry.

You need to check your e-mails. Stop, both the phone and computer are full of oil/gas-based plastic. So you don’t. The electronic web uses a good percentage of fossil-fuel power.

You are standing there in your itchy merino vest , woollen trousers and shirt etc and thinking it is time for work. Oh dear , how can you travel;

The car is out

so is the railway and bus

That leaves the bike, but each tyre was made from 2 litres of oil and the aluminium frame consumed loads of fossil fuel in its making. The saddle is plastic.

So off on foot you go in a pair of ancient leather shoes.

As you go it starts to rain, a lovely cold, wet, driving March rain which soon penetrates your non-fossil-fuel woollen clothing.

You are freezing and realise this fossil-fuel fast is daft  and a rebellion like this will immediately result in your extinction. Shivering you go back home.

As you shuffle home you realise what a life your green heroes lead; some have private yachts and jets, others fly round  the world on a regular basis, many have mansions.

You say “SOD IT” 1000 times , run home get a hot shower, put on clothes regardless of material, have a cooked breakfast, check your email and ring your boss to say you’ll be late.

That evening you call into your garage and swap your Nissan Leaf for a diesel SUV.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Yes, this is all very far fetched BUT it is the logic of Dark Greens, even when their behaviour does not match their words. It is the logic of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibbin , Extinction Rebellion, Operation Noah Christian Climate Action and so much of the green movement today. Probably General Synod of the Church of England too!!

Yes, they are totally right that the planet is a mess and something has to be done to reduce the use of fossil fuels  and over-consumption generally. Pipe -dreams that it can be done by 2025 or even 2030 are just that and counter-productive. No amount of appeals to renewables can make it happen.

This diagram of June 2018 shows exactly why. Look at the tiny orange band for renewables and even the blue for hydro. Despite rapid growth recently renewables only produce a few per cent of the total energy demand whereas fossil fuels deliver a good 80%.

bp

No wonder every forecast of energy use recognise that fossil fuels will still be majorly used in 2050 , even if in decline. This is especially so for transport (when having electric vehicles actually means retaining fossil fuels to generate the extra electricity.).

The green mantra is that all fossil fuels are bad  and ignore the fact that coal is the worst both for CO2 and other pollution and gas the best. Thus all three are demonised. We need this

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Slide9.jpg

The more coal is replaced by gas the better, but that does not sit easily with a green outlook.

As well as giving energy, fossil fuels give an immense number of products – not only the scourge of single use plastic.

A good exercise is to start listing them; pens, kitchen utensils, car-parts, bike-parts, in computers and phone, medicines

This diagram lists those made from oil. A similar list could be done for gas.

oiluses

none of this is to say that fossil fuels are purely beneficial. Over the last 250 years they have given immense benefits to almost everyone on the globe.

 

But there has been an unacceptable price; the CO2 emitted is affecting the climate, which are anything but good.

Hence there need to be changes.

Activist greens argue for immediate drastic action as is seen with the recent activities of Extinction Rebellion. At best they are totally unrealistic and at worst they will be counter-productive and make both politicians and the public reject what is good in thier message.

Their claim is that governments are criminal and committing ecocide, but that ignores the strides (though very ponderous) that governments have made in the last few decades and that IPCC reports are listened too and acted on. Perhaps if they were not so full of virtue signalling they would see first how much fossil fuel they use and secondly that the slow hard graft by many in and out of government are bearing fruit.

As a result the whole issue of the climate is polarised, made worse by the frequent accusations of being a Climate Denier thrown at some, whether it is true or not.

Yes, I’ve poked fun at some of the green christian suggestions for Lent and then taken them one stage further.

Perhaps a better use  of Lent  (on top of the traditional Christian observation in prayer but not giving up chocolate) would be to getting fully informed of all the issues around climate and energy-  and that means studying publications from all perspectives and not just those perceived to be S-O-U-N-D and too our liking. I note that many Christian green groups simply only look to one side i.e. those with a similar perspective to Klein and McKibbin and ignoring those of Ecomodernism, or even Matt Ridley!

As well as that all of us need to look at ways of reducing our impact on the planet, and here I’d need to give a thousand green tips. For myself I have followed some but find others I need to adopt. These cover all areas from transport, use of water, gardening, energy in the house etc.

Think of one or two green things you can start this Lent and carry on doing them for ever.

Have a profitable and green Lent, but more importantly a purple one which turns to red.

P.S. Burning fellow Christians at the stake releases loads of P2.5  – so I am safe!

 

Can you be a Christian in the Church of England and not believe anything?

In the Church Times today , a certain G.B. asked a question, which I snapshot below.

churchtimes

(To those who don’t know the Church Times is the leading Church of England weekly, described once as a sub-Christian horror comic!)

I bet this person is echoing the views on many members of all churches of all denominations and not only the Church of England.

I am sure if I grilled every church member in any church a high proportion would say they agree with G.B. I suggest some would be church wardens, on the PCC, Choirmembers, organists etc – and even Sunday school teachers or equivalent.

I n response I’d say these view are widely accepted within our churches. However G.B. is not so much heretical as essentially someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ.

I can now hear the gasps of horror! But Fred has been a loyal Church warden for ten years. May has taught in Sunday School for 20 years – that’s service.

 

So what of his four points?

Original Sin. There is a bit of confusion here. Original Sin was put forward in about 400 AD, but the Orthodox and Coptic churches do not accept it. Neither do I. However all humans are sinful and marred by sin and thus need to be redeemed/saved by Jesus Christ

Jesus died to atone for sins. This is one of central planks of the Christian Faith along with the Resurrection. Remove it and there is no Christianity. Simples. I could either spend pages explaining or briefly say it is the heart of our faith. Once we realise what we are like – i.e sinful to use church lingo – then something needs to be done about it. This is the heart of the Christmas story which comes to fruition on Good Friday.

It is through Christ’s death on the cross that we are forgiven. The accounts of Jesus’ death in the four gospels should move us and it’s the substance of many hymns – old and new. It is something we never fully understand.

His bodily resurrection. Why is Easter the most important day for Christians? Not because of bunnies and chocolate eggs!! It is all about the fact – and fact it is – that the very dead executed Jesus rose from the dead, in a transformed body to show he’d conquered death and started a new life for all

The two – Jesus’ death and his resurrection – are the two sides of the same Christian coin and are the most fundamental beliefs. They are not negotiable. Without both Christianity is just another vague moral way of life – which would have gone extinct in 30 AD.

Right from the first Easter day the essential message of Christianity was that Jesus died and rose for us. This is put in many different ways in the New Testament and in the 2000 years since, but always focuses on Jesus died for us and rose again.

There is no other way.

Lastly The Virgin Birth. This is clear in the birth narratives of Luke and Matthew, but a good number of Christians in the last two hundred years have rejected it – wrongly in my view. However it is not as important as the death and resurrection of Jesus.

To conclude;

We need to accept that to say all people are sinful sums up the human condition as we are bloody-minded and unreasonable creatures who need sorting out. Fortunately God chose Jesus and not a whip. And the leads to the heart of Christianity

Christ has died

Christ is Risen

Christ will come again.

Fixing Easter Day; God’s April fool

Pinched from a Kiwi posting tomorrow already.

 

It is theologically very subtle!!!

 

After many years, an agreement has finally been reached to fix the date of Easter to April 1, whatever day of the week that is. Churches can decide to celebrate Easter Day on the Sunday nearest to April 1 if that is what they prefer.

Source: Fixing Easter Day

God’s April Fool – Jesus is risen!!!

 

tomb

 
Well, Easter Sunday this year is on April’s Fools Day!! To the village atheist that must seem very appropriate. But it is. Jesus’s resurrection was a big surprise and not expected. The early disciples were caught out by it and it must have seen like God’s April fool.
All the way through the gospel accounts of the resurrection, there is an element of surprise and the feeling that someone (God?) was having them on. It was far more than any of Roald Dahl’s tales of the unexpected or any practical joke or surprise.
In fact the resurrection was totally unexpected.
First, the women went early on Easter Day to anoint the body and to there horror the tomb was open and the body gone. According to John Mary Magdalene thought it was a case of body snatching. They went an told the disciples who thought it was an idle tale (Luke) – or thought it an April’s fool.
Secondly, John and Peter ran to the tomb to see what happened. They found the tomb, but didn’t believe in the resurrection. That came later. The disciples returned home without believing. I wondered what they were muttering.
Thirdly, later that that day two disciples were walking to Emmaus, seven miles form Jerusalem(Luke 24). Suddenly a stranger came alongside and asked what they were chatting about. They told him that they were talking about Jesus and the crazy claims of the women that Jesus was raised. They didn’t fall for April’s Fools jokes. The stranger tried to explain to no avail, but the penny dropped when the stranger broke bread.
Fourthly, on the first Easter evening most of the disciples, but sans Judas and Thomas were having supper (John 20). Despite locked doors Jesus arrived to be with them and they realised it was no April’s Fool, but actually Jesus had risen, though this was against all they had believed despite Jesus’ many hints.
Fifthly, after Jesus went, dear old Doubting Thomas arrived. He was never one to fall for an April Fool’s, as he was a bit of a Richard Dawkins, always demanding the evidence. His response to his mates claim that Jesus had risen was, No way, until I see the marks of the nails and sword.” He went off thinking his mates had fallen for a great April Fool’s!
Sixthly, DT aka Doubting Thomas. Spent a week chuckling but the next Sunday (which wasn’t Sunday then) was with his mates having supper in the house in Jerusalem. Along came Jesus as before and convinced DT it was no April Fool. He realised he was wrong and said to Jesus “My Lord and My God”. If the Romans had heard him he’d been executed for sedition. We here little of him as he went off to India and founded a church there.
Seventhly, the religious teachers tried to give life (or death) to the April fool’s and said the disciples had nicked the body. As Matthew wrote that this story is still told and still is!!
Eighthly, Jesus met the disciples for breakfast. One the advice of a carpenter Peter caught 153 musht or tilapia and they had them for breakfast. Jesus then embarrassed Peter by reminding him how he denied him but encouraged him by saying “YOU follow me”. (and so we must.)
Ninthly, back in Jerusalem forty days after April Fool’s Day (Matt28) Jesus told them to go all over the world and make followers of Jesus. They did, but didn’t get as far as your home at that time.
Tenthly, We are still at it telling everybody it was no April’s Fool, but some don’t care, even as they gobble their pseudo-chocolate Easter Eggs
So for us, even though it may seem God did an April Fool on us, it is for real and Jesus really rose from the dead. Everything else is an April Fool.

As Paul wrote, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom.”

To many the Resurrection of Jesus is a joke whether for April or not, but to Christians it makes sense and gives hope

 

P.S. I dont think claiming that Jesus rose with a physical body is tenable and to say it was spiritual or ethereal rejects the New Testament. Far better to follow Tom Wright and say the body is transphysical, but he was only restating ancient beliefs

 

 

The Doctrine of the Trinity in Three Words and Ten Letters

It is often said that many clergy shy away from preaching on the central doctrine of Christianity;

Rublev’s Icon tries to picture the Trinity

Image

God as Father, Son and Holy spirit, i.e the Trinity

trinity1

 Despite the teaching of the Trinity being central to Christianity and people are baptised in the “name of the Father, and the son and the Holy Spirit”, beyond a sermon on trinity Sunday it is often left out, and so often Christianity becomes either God and Commandments or vaguely about Jesus and nothing else.

One wonders if it is too difficult , but it can be expressed simply without recourse to three-leafed clovers . I find that a feeble analogy.

Above all, we as preachers and teachers need to teach and preach the Trinity, but simply so it can be grasp and then used as  the framework of our whole Christian life.

Simple it can be.

Following an excellent article on the trinity by Prof H E W (Hughie) Turner of Durham, the Trinity can be summed up in 3 words and 10 letters

That is simplicity

 OVER, WITH, IN

And is so much simpler that the Athanasian Creed, which though in the prayer book is neither by Athanasius nor is it a creed- it was written 200 years after Athanasius died!

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

quicunq

trinity

 To many the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity  with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is simply gobblydegook. No better expression is this extract from the Athanasian Creed, which was written 100 years after Athanasius died in southern France. Athanasius was one of the makers of the Nicene Creed a 100 years earlier.  Until 50 years ago it was expected to be read at Matins in Anglican Churches and I had great fun reading out a bit in my Trinity Sunday sermon once.

Here is an extract

 That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.

And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.

And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.

And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.

My favourite line is; –

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

Frankly, this helps no one and makes all Christian doctrine and belief seem absurd. Having taken the mickey out of these ancient theologians, I took a simpler approach and dealt with the Trinity in 3 words and 10 letters

OVER

WITH

IN

We start with God OVER us as creator and Father

DSCF9104

My favorite orchid – Southern marsh Orchid – not bad for the Creator!

and then move to God WITH us, or if you prefer it in Aramaic Emmanuel. As in Jesus we have God in human form who wandered around Palestine for some 30 years. Ultimately he was executed in a grisly death on the cross, but a couple of days later rose again. Here is God with us.

And thirdly, move to God IN us, the Holy Spirit who was sent by the Father (and the Son) on the first day of Pentecost to be IN us as Christians leading and guiding us.

All this is very brief and clearly needs expanding, but it gives a good and simple framework for understanding God as Trinity.

Image result for trinity

trinity1

Trinity Sunday 2015

So simple you won’t need a cup of coffee to recover

and so you get the Church’s Year in three words too

May be an image of text that says "Christmas was God with us. Easter was God for us. Pentecost is God in us."

(From J.John)

Image may contain: text

LENT; the Human Propensity to Fuck things UP

temptations

Lent is the time when Christians are supposed to be miserable. fortunately few are! However it is a good time to look at oneself and, if you are a Christian, see where you are falling below any kind of Christian ideal. Many miss the point by giving up chocolate or something similar, when what is need is a radical overhaul and sussing out the less obvious failings which mar our lives.

As opposed to much pietistic woffle Spufford’s book Unapologetic gives us much to think about. Have a good Lent and enjoy your chocolate.

Front Cover

unapologetic

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unapologetic-everything-Christianity-surprising-emotional/dp/0571225225/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424372282&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=Unapolgetic#reader_0571225225

This is a Christian book with a difference, as it breaks the norms of conventional piety with its definition of SIN as the Human Propensity to Fuck things UP. His aim is to provide a riposte to the new atheism of Dawkins and co without coming out with the usual patronising crap pretentiousness. I soon got the impression that Spufford was not one of those Christians had not had to invent any sins when he was converted, this is, IF he was converted at a CICCU mission! It is more likely that he stumbled or fell into a faith in Christ rather than having a classic conversion. Christianity to him is not an easy option, but the subtitle sums him up;

Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense.

At first that jars, as its seems to reduce the Christian Faith to emotionalism, but what he is says is that that the argument for Christianity is not an arid rationalism but a commitment of one’s whole person to Christ despite loads of loose ends. But, my intention is not to expound his book (which I can’t as my daughter has nicked it) but to seek to understand the value of Lent. But before I move on to that, here is the third sentence of the book;

“We are weird, because we go to church”

I suppose some will say I am weird, but I will leave that and move onto Lent.  Lent is the 40 days after Ash Wednesday and symbolically reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the Wilderness being tempted (see Luke 4 vs1 -13 and Matthew 4 vs 1 -11). Many take the accounts literally, and I suppose I began to move from a simple evangelicalism when I heard the vicar, Rev Shem Rubale, preach on this at the mine’s church in Uganda, when he said these were not actual events! So often Lent is all about giving up chocolate – which I never do, or some other irrelevant act. Some Green Christians say you should give up carbon! Neither is the point of Lent which is to reflect on what you are like before God and towards other people and how we show the Human Propensity to Fuck things UP – HPtFtU. Here there is a danger of inducing a false guilt and that can happen when churches over-emphasise sin and then trivialise it by reducing it to set peccadillos rather than deep-seated attitudes which mar relationships. However the other extreme is as bad.

It is easy to go on a guilt trip rather than properly assess our faults  and I reckon Monty did that towards the end of his life, feeling guilty for soldiers who died. Shortly before he died in 1976 Field Marshall Montgomery had a terrible night. He was consumed with guilt for all the soldiers he had killed at El Alamein. A friend was called him to calm him down. The consensus for the battle is that Monty turned round the course of the war and that compared to the 1st World War relatively few were killed. But these were still too many and Monty thought he had got it wrong. A case of  mis-diagnosed HPtFtU.

But to get back to ourselves and only ourselves.

In every aspect of life we get things wrong, however hard we try not to. It is all a result of HPtFtu (Human Propensity to Fuck things UP). This is an everyday occurrence in families, at work and at play. At times the slightest thing can cause lots of HPtFtU! We often overlook it because of the banality of the issues, but they are pervasive and cause many problems. Usually when we think of wrong-doing we think of massive issues like murder, burglary abuse and theft, rather than the persistent trivia of HPtFtU, which causes so much hurt, intentional or not. And then if we move to the Christian doctrine of sin, we will tend to think it is only involved in sex. Thus sin can become meaningless. But it is not when we think of HPtFtU, and gain a truer insight of what we are really like.

So what do we do with HPtFtU? Frequently it is pushed to one side and ignored, especially if we are self-centred. Thus the problem can get worse, and can result in guilt and depression. Guilt is a good thing when it leads to facing up to things, especially over serious wrong-doing, or our subtle nastiness. But the continual HPtFtU which dogs all of us does not lead to such specific guilt but a general malaise, which if we are self-centred can be overcome in the worst way by being callous, but for most it results in a feeling of being depressed or simply being low.

It is not helped as so often the advice is to try harder and keep the rules. Many religions are strong on rules; consider the emphasis of rules in Judaism and Islam. Frequently Christianity disregards Jesus and follows suit with lists of rules, which at times makes being a Christian oppressive. Too often our faith is reduced to following the Commandments ( and others which have no warrant from the Bible or Christian teaching). Right from the beginning Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount rejected the 613 Laws of Judaism and the detailed Laws of the Old Testament for principles summed up in the Two Great Commandments, – love of God and love of neighbour. However Jesus’ teaching recognises our inability to do right and so we cannot feel smug. In fact Jesus’s teaching starts with HPtFtU and gives a solution. After all, if following rules was all that mattered then the death and resurrection of Jesus would be pointless.

We can say (and thus would make an ideal Mothers Union talk – but some would iove it) Jesus came into the world to unfuck our Propensity to Fuck things UP and that is why Good Friday is so important. We could even say that Jesus died because of the HPtFtU among so many of his contemporaries and so we cannot condemn them without condemning ourselves. note that all the characters involved in the death of Jesus were much like us from Judas to Caiphas to Peter simply FtU. We also need to personalise the meaning of Good Friday onto ourselves as individuals and what we are like, rather than hiding behind general ideas of “sin”. However we need more than our HPtFtU being dealt with, we need a new start as well and hence the Resurrection, whereby Jesus overcame death and the human lot of HPtFtU and so enables us to move forward, rather than look back at our failures and get fed up. Too often we live our lives backwards being weighed down by our HPtFtUs rather than forwards with a new hope.

This is why Good Friday and Easter are the central focus for a Christian and not Christmas or even Mothering Sunday! Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christianity simply becomes a vague religion which will give no comfort, strength, purpose or hope. So whenever your HPtFtU gets you down consider the wonderful events we remember over Easter weekend.

The best story about HPtFtU is Genesis 3 of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which is obscured by questions of historicity. I like to think of a Hebrew teacher telling it to a group of Hebrews in the evening, whether during the Exodus or in a Palestinian village. Read the story and imagine the audience participation. “Is There a snake by you?” “They were naked!” “Had God got a cloak on”, “Did God shiver?” sewing fig leaves and the rest. Once it is seen as a story evincing the ambiguity of human nature and the HPtFtU, it comes alive and brings out so many human failings, greed to take something illicit, buck-passing by Adam to Eve and Eve to the snake, guilt and so on, resulting in a malaise of despair and sense of failure. Sadly this directness is lost in so many well-meaning theological discussions with talk of Original Sin, which comes out in extreme crudeness with Creationists like Ken Ham. To him it seems Jesus only died for Adam’s sin and not ours, as what Adam was supposed to do is magnified to Hitlerian proportions and we seem to morally good in comparison. A perfect recipe for moral bigotry but that is another issue!

I recommend Unapologetic as it is so liberating in its faith, but as we consider our Lenten theme we can see that Jesus came to unfuck the Human Propensity to Fuck things UP – HPtFtU. More about that another time and enjoy your chocolate during Lent and don’t worry if you become a bit weird.