Imagine, if you will, that you are a Swedish clergyperson. Or, to be exact, imagine that you a Swedish lady clergyperson in the Diocese of, say, Västerås called (for the sake of argument) Ulla Karlsson.
Next, imagine writing and publishing these words, perhaps in the main Swedish church newspaper, Kyrkans Tidning:
God’s pure lamb, innocent, slain for us on the cross, always patient even though you were despised, you took our sin upon you and struck down the power of death. Give us your peace, O Jesus. (Swedish Hymn)
Am I the only one who finds it repugnant to speak these words? The image of God and humanity that is depicted is horrible and grotesque! A fallen creature, a sinful human race, worshiping a God who is like a dictator from North Africa or the Middle East, who requires a human sacrifice to reconcile with his people . . . Is it not time that we in the church begin to talk about people in evolution instead?
There is no fallen creation and therefore the whole doctrine of the atonement is irrational! Throw out all the talk about sin, guilt, shame, blood, slaughtered lambs and other horrors! It has no place in modern times, among enlightened people!
Talk instead about love, love for fellow human beings, love of self, compassion, kindness, compassion, freedom, free speech, equality, courage, self-esteem, confidence, reparation and love again. That is what the world needs!
What, then, will happen to you? You have just publicly denied the Fall, Sin and Atonement, so you’re in trouble with the powers that be, aren’t you? What will be your punishment? Answers on a postcard, please, addressed and hand-delivered to yourself by the time you reach the end of this page . . . .
What do you get when a bunch of American liberals put on their version of the Greenbelt Festival in North Carolina? The answer, according to The Economist, was every bit as right-on as you might imagine.
About 1,500 people came to the American version, which explicitly pitched its appeal to artists and musicians, nonconformists, post-Christians, non-Christians, disaffected evangelicals and a liberal evangelical subset known as the ‘emergent’ church.
Instead of Bible studies, there were labyrinth walks. Instead of praiseand-worship music, there was hymn-singing in a beer garden and a bluegrass liturgy presided over by a tattooed female Lutheran minister. Visitors were greeted with buckets of water in which to baptise themselves, and tubs of mud to remind them that “dust thou art”. Lecture topics ranged from sex trafficking and social justice to authority in the church and interfaith relations.
Visitors could learn from Tom Prasada-Rao, a singer, how to chant Om and Hallelujah Hare Krishna, or hear Paul Fromberg, a pastor from San Francisco, talking about his 2005 wedding to another man. ‘God is changing the church through the bodies of gay men,’ Mr Fromberg told a packed session on human sexuality.
Further comment would, as ever, be superfluous.
What ap Rick
In an extraordinary bout of self-promotion, the Rector of Pennal, in the Diocese of Bangor, has managed to upset his bishop, The Daily Mail and all lovers of the King James version of the Bible. The Rev Geraint ap Iorwerth cut out of his bible all the bits he didn’t like, and mounted them on a ‘Wall of Shame’ – which formed part of an artwork (sic) displayed in church; meanwhile, he burned other bits of his bible so that its charred remains could be:
‘a memorial to the millions whose lives have been destroyed as a result of the cruelty of this kind of God and his followers. It is incumbent upon me as a church leader to launch a national investigation into the fact that so many Christians continue to support the regime of the cruel and vile God that we read about in the Bible.’
The Bishop of Bangor says that he will be investigating the matter – 30Days recommends that he starts by having a look at some of Geraint’s websites and, perhaps, reading this touch of autobiography:
Geraint ap Iorwerth, known as Geraint, ‘Ger’, appi, but prefers ‘ap’ (it’s Welsh for ‘the son of’- the Scottish equivalent is mac). B.A. (Open University) M.Phil. (University of Wales) Professional Masseur (CardiSchool of Massage) Writer, dramatist, spiritual guide, director of Hagia Soffia, a small multi -faith shrine or chapel in Southern Snowdonia, Welsh Anglican (Episcopal) priest. I’m currently in a space that is beyond both’ neo -Anglicanism’ and ‘post -Anglicanism, and probably post a few other things as well! I’m in a space that I’ve yet to find a word or label for . . .
And the winner is:
You are placed on three years’ probation and an enquiry is launched into your theological (sic) views. You are also informed that you have violated a fundamental part of your ordination vows.
However, you are neither removed nor suspended, so you can stay on as the pastor to the congregation in Aspeboda. (Or, in plain English, you get off scot-free – unlike your congregation.)
Copy for 30 Days should reach the FiF
office by the 10th day of the month: