Friday, January 26, 2007

The Old Testament Mass

It has been a busy week and I am just now getting around to a post on last Sunday's OT reading. Father Len gave a great homily, but the following passage (excerpted, emphases mine) really struck me for a different reason.

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit which they had made for the purpose... And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground... And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh 8:2-10, RSV)

When the lector read this, I couldn't help thinking, "What a great prefigurement of the Divine Liturgy!" The people gather together to hear the Word of God from the scriptures. The clergy give homilies to interpret what's been read. The people praise God, mourn for their sins, then gather for a feast of thanksgiving in praise of God. The only thing lacking in this Old Testament eucharistic celebration is the Living Word, the fulfillment of the written Word and the food for the Thanksgiving Feast. Okay, Christ is quite a significant "Only Thing," but I think my analogy holds up pretty well.

I am sure that little insight is not original on my part - (if it is, you should probably ignore it) - but it is original to me and further cements my faith in the integrity of revelation. Father Don always refers to the scriptures as a "seamless garment;" indeed it is. It's really cool whenever I see it for a new time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Headline I Never Expected to Read

Anglicans Oppose Gay Adoption

The Church of England has joined with the Catholic Church in Britain over a battle regarding gay adoptions.

On Tuesday, Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wrote to the British Cabinet and stated that the Catholic Church could not agree to a law that forces its adoption agencies to place children with gay couples.

According to the Times of London, the Anglican archbishops of Canterbury and York agreed later in the day, saying in a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair that "rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation.”

[…] The Anglican letter, written by Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, raises the specter of an argument over whether someone with strong religous beliefs can serve in the government.

[…] The archbishops say exempting church adoption agencies from the law would be similar to doctors who work for the National Health Service who can refuse to perform abortions.

Interestingly, the article does not say that the good Archbishops are opposed to gay adoptions, but rather they are opposed to interfering with the “rights of conscience.” Of course, rights of conscience are interfered with all the time. In the “free” USA, a pharmacist can be required to dispense emergency contraceptives against his conscience. Get together with some friends before the High School football game to pray for the players, and you might find yourselves asked to leave.

Still, like I’ve said many times before, when pigs fly, we should be properly thankful for the experience, not complain when they crash.

Friday, January 19, 2007

For Friday Relaxation - Two-Headed Monster Lizards?

Scientists have unearthed the fossil of a young, two-headed marine reptile that lived when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.

“My first reaction when I saw that fossil was of the ‘Oh my God!’ type,” said lead researcher Eric Buffetaut of the Center for National Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, France. “It’s something you would not really expect to see, because the chances of such a freak being fossilized are so slim.”

The discovery, detailed in of the Feb. 22 issue of the journal Biology Letters, marks the earliest known occurrence of a well-known birth defect, called axial bifurcation, in living reptiles. This double-noggin phenomenon occurs when an embryo is damaged and some body parts develop twice.

Buffetaut and his colleagues uncovered the remains [image] in the Yixian Formation in northeastern China, a rich fossil deposit famous for its treasure trove of feathered dinosaur and early bird remains. The creature, called Hyphalosaurus lingyuanensis, died at a young age during the Cretaceous period 120 million years ago, during the twilight of the dinosaur’s reign.

While a reptile, Hyphalosaurus was not a dinosaur. Instead, it belonged to a diverse group of primitive aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures called choristoderes. Some choristoderes looked like lizards or crocodiles, while others resembled miniature versions of plesiosaurs, ancient marine reptiles with barrel-shaped bodies, short tails, paddle-like limbs and, in some cases, long serpentine necks--somewhat like the mythical Loch Ness monster.

We Japanese science-fiction fans always knew it would be true! All we need is one more head and we have the newborn version of Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster! Oh happy day! This poor little critter probably lost in a fight with Baby Godzilla – hence the flattened condition of the fossil. The King of the Monsters, Godzilla himself, is probably reading this article at home in the Pacific depths somewhere. Long may he stomp.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dispatches from the Brave New World

British Couple Pay for Off-the-Shelf designer Baby
A British woman will be impregnated with a "designer baby" in the next few months, it has been revealed.

She will be the first British woman to undergo treatment at a U.S. embryo bank that allows would-be parents to select their child's characteristics over the Internet.

Customers can choose egg and sperm donors after seeing pictures of them and receiving details of their medical history, education and family background.

The woman and her husband, both in their 40s, paid around £9,000 for the service.

An embyro fitting the woman's requirements will be created over the next fortnight and she will fly out later in the year to have it implanted.

[…] The embryo bank is run by the Abraham Centre of Life, based in San Antonio, Texas.

[…] Late last year, the centre carried out its first two procedures, on a woman from Canada and a single mother from California. Both are now five months' pregnant.

[…] The centre allows couples to buy embryos which have no biological link to either of them.

It boasts that all sperm donors are college graduates, many of them to doctorate level, while egg donors are in their 20s and are mostly graduates.

The full service costs between $14,000 and $18,000 (between £7,100 and £9,100), according to the company's website.

Isn’t “buying embryos which have no biological link” trafficking in human beings? Excuse me, but if one can literally purchase an unrelated child, then I believe my beloved homeland has just reintroduced the practice of slavery. I am embarrassed that this clinic is in Texas. It’s not as if it were located in Boston or San Francisco; you would expect the people in San Antone to know better.

What happens if the child doesn’t turn out as desired? Most of the traits mentioned – looks, intelligence, and health – are governed by a whole slue of poorly-understood different genes, as well as by developmental factors. There’s no genetic guarantee the kid won’t turn out ugly, dumb, and sickly. Besides, the use to which “superior” traits are put is largely a matter of upbringing; it is perfectly possible for a person to be a smart, healthy, good-looking rapist or murderer. If your designer kid starts shooting heroin, flunks out of college, and ends up in a shootout with the police, do you get to sue the company for malfeasance?

Israeli Family to beget Grandchildren from Dead Soldier’s Sperm
Rachel Cohen was praying at her son’s grave when a call on her mobile phone brought news that she had been awaiting for four years. An Israeli court had cleared the way for her to become a grandmother.

The legal decision is unprecedented because her son, Keivin, who was shot dead by a sniper in Gaza in 2002, never knew the woman who will become the mother of his child. She was selected by a family charity and Private Cohen’s family.

A sample of the 20-year-old soldier’s sperm was taken after his death. His parents, who left Iran for Israel when Keivin was 5, petitioned a family court in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, “to fulfil his desire to start a family” even though Private Cohen had never made an official request for such a judicial step.

[…] Mrs Cohen said that she was guided in her decision by her dead son. “An hour after being told he had been killed I took his picture and started talking to him. I asked him, ‘Where are all the children you wanted?’ then looked at the picture and heard him saying, ‘Mum, it’s not too late. There is something you can take from me’.

“Then it came to me — ‘Your sperm, that’s what you want me to take from you’. Right there, I asked the officers who came to visit to make sure his sperm be kept.”

The family was assisted in its campaign by New Family, an Israeli NGO that described the ruling as a dramatic development for those who wish to make a “biological will”. A year later the family approached the medical sperm bank seeking permission to use it for insemination. When the request was turned down New Family began a legal action that concluded successfully for the family this week. There was a problem for a while in that the Attorney-General said that the only person who could ask permission for this was a spouse. Private Cohen wasn’t married and he had not prepared a biological will, but the family had testimony, including video recordings, in which he expressed his desire to have children.

Irit Rosenblum, of New Family, said: “The parents felt it was their mission to fulfill his wish. They had to go through psychological tests and then the next hurdle was to find a mother. It took a year and a half but we found one.

“There is a legally drafted contract between the mother and Keivin’s parents guaranteeing that their only responsibility is to be the grandparents of the child when he or she is born.”

I have great sympathy for the family, with their son being gunned down by some Islamic "hero," but something is badly twisted here. They found an unmarried (I presume) woman to bear the son’s child, and then have the chutzpah to make sure they have no more legal responsibilities for the kid than to “be grandparents.” It has been said many times that the nice part of being Grandma and Grandpa is that you get to have a good time with the grandkids, then give them back to Mom and Dad when the diaper needs changing or the tantrum starts. They can get what they want, and – should problems arise – they can just walk away. Whatever people’s conscious intent in the matter, there is something ugly here, disguised as love.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Bad Case of the Yeats

Posting has been very slow lately for two reasons:

  1. Most immediately, Central Texas has been iced up for the first time in several years and I have been housebound for most of three days. The roads aren’t too bad anymore, but I’ve almost gotten killed trying to walk (I was never very good at that in the first place – geek genes). Monday, I drove in, parked my truck, stepped onto the running board, and thought, “What a bunch of wimps; the roads aren’t bad at all…Waaaaah!” The roads weren’t bad, but my running board was slicker than a ski jump. This afternoon I drove in, parked my truck, carefully stepped over my running board onto the sidewalk, and thought, “What a bunch of wimps; the roads aren’t bad at all…Waaaaah!”

  2. I just haven’t had a whole lot to blog about lately. The goings-on in the Episcopal Church continue to go on their merry way, and I just can’t even work up a chuckle anymore. Christians continue to be persecuted; unborn babies continue to be slaughtered; the culture continues its slide to the bottom of the toilet bowl; I read the Epistle of Jude and figure, “Well, it’s not like they didn’t tell us this was going to happen.” Then I yawn and go to sleep. It just all seems so predictable. I think I’ve come down with a bad case of Yeats.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Bummer. Somebody pass the chips and salsa.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

National Council of Churches Funded by Atheists?

A new report says the National Council of Churches (That Nobody Goes To Anymore) is being propped up financially by secular foundations and other non-church organizations. At least two members of the clergy who were present at a news conference touting that report suggest that may be one reason why the NCC appears to have abandoned its original mission.

The report - titled "Strange Yokefellows: The National Council of Churches
(That Nobody Goes To Anymore) and its Growing Non-Church Constituency" - released by the Washington, DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy highlights the National Council of Churches' (That Nobody Goes To Anymore) growing dependence on liberal groups for funding and support. At a news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday, IRD spokesman John Lomperis noted the NCC receives large amounts of funding from non-church entities that promote liberal social and political causes, such as same-sex "marriage."

Lomperis, co-author of the report, shared his observations of NCC board meetings he has attended over the last three years. At those meetings, he says, he was "surprised" to hear talk of the Council receiving and pursuing grants from such entities as, the National Education Association, the Ford Foundation, and the philanthropies of billionaires George Soros and Ted Turner - both of whom, he pointed out, are avowed atheists.

… Lomperis and Wisdom were joined by several other conservative Protestants - Methodists, Presbyterians, and Orthodox - at the news conference denouncing the NCC's ties to left-wing political groups. Rev. Keith Almond, a United Methodist pastor, said reaching the unchurched for Christ and preaching the gospel are no longer priorities for many mainline denominations in the Council - including his own.

…Also speaking at the press conference was an Orthodox priest who echoed Almond's allegations. John Reeves, pastor of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in State College, Pennsylvania, commented that many of the outside funding sources sought by the NCC do not seek to advocate for Christian unity, but instead for "political and social agendas antithetical to orthodox, moral standards - especially in the areas of abortion and homosexuality."

…Reeves, who is former director of the Office of Church Growth and Evangelism for the Orthodox Church in America, says Orthodox Christians who are still involved in the NCC should follow the lead of the Antiochian Archdiocese and withdraw from the Council.

I was going to make a lengthy comment on this, but I just don’t have the energy anymore. What else do we expect? It certainly explains the Episcopal Presiding Bishop's apparent confusion of the Gospel with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

One More Thing I Could Have Lived Without Knowing

Polka Mass

Bishop J. Peter Sartain will officiate at a Polka Mass at 10 a.m. Jan. 28 at Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, 421 Doris Ave. in Joliet. The service will be in the main dining hall. Seating will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For additional information, contact Sunny Hill activity director Larry Lindholm at (815) 727-8711.
(from The Herald News (Joliet, Ill.))

In the Name of God, stop already!!! What is the deal with turning the Eucharist from a solemn memorial of and participation in the death of the Savior into a laff-riot freak show? Do these people really not know any better? Or are they deliberately desacralizing that which is holy? These sorts of things are so common that I can’t help but suspect the latter. If they manage to turn the Sacrament into a happy meal, then they have essentially succeeded in destroying the Church as the Body of Christ, at least locally. Can’t they see what has happened to the Episcopal Church in turning its focus from the worship of God to the mutual worship of the congregation?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's Not Just Moslems and Atheists who Want to Kill You

From (spelling from original article):
Christian pastors and believers are facing severe persecution in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in India in between 29 December to 7 January.

Bangalore (Karnataka): Pastor Robert and a church member Mr. Rajendran suffered severe injuries in a daring daylight attack inside their church, the Jeus Preethi Church in Laggere, Bangalore in Karnataka on 7th January 2007. A couple of men dragged Pastor Robert and beaten him up. They shouted and asked them to stop worshipping Jesus in that place. “We will crucify you in the same way that Christ was crucified”, they threatened Pastor.

The church member Mr. Rajendran rushed to the pastor’s defence. But the attackers detached the mike base from the stand and attacked him with it, causing severe head injuries which later needed 13 stitches. The pastor was attacked with the mike stand made by steel pipe on his face, back and head. Pastor has three daughters between the ages of 10 and 17.

Nizamabad (Andhra Pradesh): Pastor M. Gabriel of Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh was attacked on 6 January 2006. He is hospitalized due to broken ribs and head injury and his wife remains terrified as a result of the attack on their home.

Pastor Gabriel is a Dalit, and planted a church in Shivalingam village. He was warned against his christian services several times by the upper class Hindus. A mob attacked him while he was going back home after a prayer meeting on Saturday night.. They beat him up severely, using clubs. "He is severely beaten on the head that his face is fully swollen up and cannot open his eyes and was taken to hospital", Mr. Lion Francis, the Co-ordinator of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said.

Kaldurki (border of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh): A mob severly attacked Pastor Pavan Kumar and 14 believers at Kaldurki, a border village of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh on 29th December, 2006.

The Pastor and 15 members of the Hebron Prayer House of Bodhan in Andhra Pradesh, including 8 women and a baby hired a taxi and visited the house of Mr. Issac to conduct a prayer service at Kaldurki. As they were conducting the prayer meeting in the small hut, about 200 people surrounded the house. At first they sent the jeep away, damaging its glass. Then they entered the house, switched off the mains, and began to beat up the pastor and the believers. They made a heap of their Bibles, song books, sound system, etc, and set them on fire.

Sister Mariamma tried to prevent the pastor, but she was also terribly beaten and the attackers even stamping on her.

Nagashettihally (Karnataka): Pastor Michael and the believers of Nagashettihally, near Bangalore in Karnatake were attacked on 31st of December, 2006, the New Years eve.

Pastor and believers were putting up a shamiana to conduct the watch night service for the New Year at about 4 pm. Suddenly, a group of young men gathered and stopped them from putting up the shamiana. A woman church member, Anjanamma severly injured in an attack by one of the assailants who was trained in karate. She suffered from chest pain after the attack and was admitted to the KC General Hospital for observation for 3 days. The gang attempted to slash the face of the Pastor’s wife, Stella Geetha, with a razor, and another one also injured.

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) and the Christian Ministers of the Churches in India (CMCI) condemned the attacks towards christians in India and asking prayers for the persecuted Christians.

We normally think of Christian persecution as coming from either Moslems or Secularists, not Hindus. Most of the Hindus I run into are extraordinarily nice folks, though I confess to a thorough bewilderment at Hinduism itself. (Beloved but expensive daughter has a pretty good academic background in Hinduism – I really need to get her to explain it to me sometime.) I know that it is an extremely syncretistic religion, and prefers to absorb other faiths rather than eliminate them. However, there is no shortage of Hindu extremists in India, and there is a surprising amount of persecution.

I suspect their violence is related to three factors. (a) After the Moslem occupation of India for several centuries, some Hindus probably view Christianity as an invader. In a similar vein, a lot of people tie Hinduism directly to Indian nationalism. (b) Christianity, as an egalitarian faith, threatens the social structure by giving rights to the lower classes. The Dalits (Untouchables) are a primary source of Christian converts. The caste system, though theoretically abolished, is still heavily embedded in Indian society. (c) Christianity, as an exclusive religion, won’t be absorbed. (b) and (c) are largely the same problems the Romans had with Christians; giving hope to the underclass and refusing to worship according to the state religion.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bad Hymn Contest

Dr. Phillip Blosser has blogged a reference to what may well be the worst hymn ever written in the history of man on Earth, Oh God, That Great Tsunami.

O God, that great tsunami has stunned us one and all;
Our neighbors reel in anguish while homes and cities fall.
O God of wind and water who made the sea and sky,
Amid such great destruction, we mournfully ask "Why?"

How many folk have perished? We can’t their bodies find:
Life will not be the same now for those they’ve left behind.
More than a million mourners are grieving to their core;
O Jesus, Friend and Savior, you suffer with the poor.

Economies are ruined and lives in tatters lie,
Sewage is washed down-river while lonely orphans cry:
O Spirit, send your comfort and give us faith that cares.
For when our neighbors suffer, our lives are bound with theirs.

I particularly like the line about sewage being washed down-river. The authors missed an opportunity, since “sewage” can easily be rhymed with “new age.”

I have taken this atrocity as a challenge, and came up with “Oh God, That Last Big Twister,” written from the perspective of a Texan at the very Southern tip of Tornado Alley.

Oh God, that last big twister
has blown away my sister.
The trailer park's been tattered
And we've lost all that mattered.

We cower in abject fear;
It's broken all the beer,
And taken up to heaven
My AK-47.

In all this great disaster
We know You are the Master,
But still my hand I stick up,
Why did you wreck my pickup?

Readers, top that if you can.

Diocese of Texas to Vote on Definition of Holy Matrimony

The following Canonical Amendment has been proposed for the Diocese of Texas of the Episcopal Church, to be voted on at their diocesan convention, Feb. 9-10, 2007 in Austin, Texas (text courtesy of the diocesan website).


Canon 43

Section 43.1 Obligation. All members of the clergy, having subscribed to the Declaration required by Article VIII of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, shall be under the obligation to model in their own lives the received teaching of the Church that all of its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside Holy Matrimony.

Section 43.2 Definitions. As used in this Diocese, Holy Matrimony shall mean the physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of the heart, mind, and will, and with intent that it be lifelong; and the moral qualifications of a person, as that term is used in the Canons of the Episcopal Church, shall include conformity to the obligation set forth in Section 43.1 hereof.

SUBMITTED BY: The Rev. Jim Stockton, Church of the Resurrection, Austin.

RATIONALE (Rev. Stockton): Because a sacrament is such for the whole Church, and not for merely a portion thereof, authority to define a canonical understanding of a sacrament cannot and does not reside with merely a portion thereof, but with the whole Church. Authoritative definitions of the sacraments of the Episcopal Church are established by the Book of Common of Prayer and the Constitution and Canons of this Church. Canon 43 presupposes that a diocese has the constitutional and canonical authority to define for itself a sacrament of the Church. In so doing, it contradicts the fact that the sacraments are entrusted by God to the entirety of the Church, not to a portion thereof, and as such, it contradicts the catholicity and polity of this Church. Thus, it is bad law and Council should repeal it.

With regard to the covenant of marriage and the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, important facts bear on this proposal. The authority of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas derives from the authority of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. The Canons of the Church recognize that the state, not the Church, provides the civil and secular definition of marriage, and that the Canons of the Church define the sacrament of Holy Matrimony (Title 1, canon 18). For these reasons, the deletion of diocesan Canon 43 in no way alters those definitions of the civil covenant of marriage and the sacrament of Holy Matrimony that are truly authoritative for the Church and this diocese. While Canon 43 can thus rightly be regarded as moot, nevertheless, it provides the appearance and offers the effect of superseding the very authority from which its own authority derives. In this, it is troublesome precedent and invitation to future attempts to create particularized definitions of those most central mysteries that God has entrusted to the custody of the whole Church, i.e. the sacraments.

With regard to the controversies currently at work in the Church, it is important to note that because the state defines marriage and the Church does not, the Constitution and Canons of the Church do not provide for the marriage of persons of the same sex. In addition, both the Prayer Book and the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church establish the definition of Holy Matrimony as the union of man and woman. Thus, even in a state that may permit the marriage of persons of the same sex, the Episcopal Church does not recognize by practice or canon such marriages as Holy Matrimony. Only the constitutional and canonical legislative process of the whole Church in General Convention has authority to attempt to change this. Even in such an instance, the Church may only grant permission; it may not demand. In the case of the Diocese of Texas, the bishop has already indicated that he would not grant such permission, and that he does not grant permission for non-canonical blessings of same-sex unions. Furthermore, any clergy person engaging in sexual union outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony remains subject to the process of discipline under the Constitution and Canons of the Church (Title 4, Canon 1).

Thus, diocesan Canon 43 establishes no parameters for the Diocese of Texas that do not already exist. It does, however, provide support to the notion that an entity that is derivative of the whole Church may claim an autonomy and authority that it does not have. This has negative and destructive implications for parishes and missions in their relationships with the diocese, as well as for the diocese in its relationship with the larger Church. The question arises, ‘If the diocese may define a sacrament of the Church for itself, why may a congregation or priest not do likewise for themselves?’ Canon 43 gives the appearance of the same arrogance that some have criticized in the Episcopal Church in its relationship with other Churches of the Anglican Communion. It is a contradiction of the efforts of our own diocesan bishop and of others to sustain the unity of the Church and of the Communion. It thus diminishes the credibility of our diocesan claim that we are One Church and works against the on-going campaign in this diocese to realize that goal. It likewise diminishes the integrity of our share in the Church’s witness before the world to the broad grace and love of God. Diocesan Canon 43 is bad for all. Council should repeal it.

Since (a) this isn’t my problem anymore, and (b) I am trying to avoid taking cheap shots at my former denomination, I pass this along without comment. I will only state that the Standing Committee, which can recommend approval or rejection of a proposal, declined to put forward a recommendation regarding this item. There is extensive discussion of a legal nature, but (I quote) “The Committee Presents This Proposal Without Recommendation.”

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ex-vicar recasts the 10 Commandments

From The Telegraph (UK):
Forget coveting thy neighbour's ass — the 10 Commandments have been updated by a former Church of England vicar to cope with the stresses of modern life.

Simon Parke has recast the Old Testament commandments handed down to Moses on tablets of stone with a series of gnomic rules for life.

In his book The Beautiful Life, published yesterday, Mr Parke, 49, replaces the "Thou Shalt Nots" with exhortations such as "Cease Separation" for "Thou shalt not steal" and "Prepare For Truth" for "Thou shalt not commit adultery".

He says his versions are more challenging because they require people to change from within.

"Today's world is full of anger, fear and jealousy," he said. "We clutter our lives with activity, fearing emptiness and craving attachment."

Mr Parke, 49, who left the Church in 2003 after 20 years as a London parish priest to work in a supermarket, said: "I want some commandments that make me good," he said. "The old ones are negative and external rather than internal. I'm more interested in internal alchemy."

But Elaine Storkey, a Church of England theologian, said Mr Parke had shrunk the "huge social reality" represented by the 10 Commandments into trivial concerns about the "essence of the self".

Great Googly-Moogly! You just knew they guy had to be from the Church of England. He doesn’t even say “Tell the Truth,” but “Prepare for Truth.” What does that even mean?

What fascinates me about our times is not that they are tumultuous, or fast-paced, or even dangerous, but how unbelievably shallow they are. Whole philosophies are declared passé, while the most superficial banalities become cultural imperatives.