Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Modern Episcopalian Unitarian

I found the following little ditty on the website of a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Ottawa, Canada (tip of the gimme cap to The Clam Rampant). It seems to apply just as well to the Episcopal Church, any number of other mainline Protestant churches in the USA, and to a naumber of (thankfully aging and slowly disappearing) Catholic groups in the West. So many churches have become little more than High-Church Unitarians - it's sad. I'm reminded of the Bishop on the bus from hell in Lewis's The Great Divorce, who is far more concerned with his own internal philosophizing than with actiually finding the Truth.

I am the Very Model of a Modern Unitarian
by Christopher Gist Raible
Sung to "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from "Pirates of Penzance".

I am the very model of a modern Unitarian,
Far broader than a Catholic, Hindu, Jew or Presbyterian.
I know the world’s religions and can trace their roots historical
From Moses up to Channing, all in order categorical.
I’m very well acquainted, too, with theories theological,
On existential questions I am always wholly logical,
About most any problem I am teeming with a lot of views,
I’m full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty pews.

(Chorus members:
We’re full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty pews.
We’re full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty pews.
We’re full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty empty pews.)

I quote from Freud and Jung and all the experts psychological.
I’m anti nuke, I don’t pollute I’m chastely ecological.
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
I am the very model of a modern Unitarian.

(Chorus members:
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
We are the very model of a modern Unitarian.)

I use the latest language; God is never Father or the Lord,
But Ground of Being, Source of Life or almost any other word.
I never pray, I meditate, I’m leary about worshipping.
I serve on 10 committees none of which accomplish anything.
I give to worthy causes and I drive a gas conserving car,
I have good UU principles (although I’m not sure what they are).
I’m open to opinions of profound or broad variety,
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous piety.

(Chorus members:
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous piety.
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous piety.
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous pie-piety.)

I formulate agendas and discuss them with the best of ‘em,
But don’t ask me to implement, we leave that to the rest of ‘em.
In short in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
I am the very model of today’s religious liberal.

(Chorus members:
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
We are the very model of today’s religious liberal.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

God to Apologize to Sodom?

Not according to Rabbi Daniel Lapin in the article excerpted below from LifeSite News.

The recent death of Mrs. Ruth Graham, the beloved wife of preacher Billy Graham, has caused renewed reflection on her oft quoted comment: "If God does not judge America soon, he'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." Indeed, with the culture war raging on abortion and same-sex 'marriage', many a Christian has wondered about a coming purgation - a cleansing as in the time of Noah and the flood.

It may come as a surprise to some, but Orthodox Jews too have a belief in a coming purgation. As the man popularly known as "America's Rabbi" told, we are "moving towards some kind of enormous, humanic and historic upheaval."

Nationally acclaimed speaker and best-selling author, Rabbi Daniel Lapin spoke with about his newly released audio series "The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah", in which he looks at the similarities between the time of Noah and our present day.

Rabbi Lapin is the founder and leader of Toward Tradition - a ground-breaking coalition of Jews, Christians and other Americans united in fighting secular fundamentalism and promoting traditional, faith-based American principles of constitutional and limited government, the rule of law, representative democracy, free markets, a strong military, and a moral public culture.

Key to interpreting the Bible (the Old Testament) suggests the Rabbi, is the Hebrew language. In that language, he notes, the Bible tells that in the time just before the flood there were aborted babies. "Everyone is familiar with that section just before the flood, of giants," said Rabbi Lapin. "The King James translation refers to these people as giants - one thing, in the Hebrew, it becomes immediately very clear is that what we really are talking about is aborted people, aborted fetuses."

"In Hebrew," explained the Rabbi there is "one word for giants (and) aborted fetuses." Comparing the time of Noah to the current day, the Rabbi said, "Babies that are aborted eventually bring about a culture of death that destroys society."

Interesting, but I’m not sure I buy the claim, which is based on deriving the word “Nephilim” in Genesis 6:4 (usually translated either “giants” or “fallen ones”) from “nephel” (miscarriage). To the best of my admittedlymeager knowledge, that is not the traditional meaning historically ascribed to the text by the ancient Jewish scholars, who ought to know. I don’t think it effects the broader argument, however – the Egyptians certainly paid the price for male infanticide against the Hebrews (Ex 1:16) with the loss of their own firstborn.

Asked if Jews, like some Christians, feel a time of purgation is coming, Rabbi Lapin replied bluntly, "Yes, it is extremely intense."

The Rabbi stressed however that a Judeo-Christian view of the end of time is a hopeful one, in contrast to the secular view of the end of time which sees only doom and gloom. "There is a dichotomy here between a secular world view in which the end of time is hopeless," Rabbi Lapin told "It is doomed. It ends in oblivion . . . Right now it is global warming, a few years ago it was nuclear winter. Before that it was that we were all going to starve and die naked and cold when Thomas Malthus at the end of the 18th century made his predictions."

"The secular world view will generate an end of time picture of hopelessness and doom and by contrast a Biblical world view of both Jews and Christians shows an end of time picture that, while it may have its turbulent threshold, is a time of some kind of unimaginable solution to all human problems."

[…] As for God having to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah for not acting on America for its sins, Rabbi Lapin suggests God is in fact acting on America. "God doesn't necessarily act towards every culture in the same way," he said. "Every culture that adopts abortion and homosexuality as normal is a culture that begins to decline and eventually vanish off the stage of world history - that is God acting."

"That is precisely the point. It is not that hard to see in many ways the fortunes of the US of A are simply not where they were before these twin scourges became prevalent. Yes, He is acting - He is not going to have to apologize to Sodom at all. He is being very consistent. He may not be burying us in thunderbolts and mountains of salt but the damage that the US of A is enduring is no less fatal."

Interesting. There seem to be times in history when everybody seems to know something is coming, even if they’re not sure what. The time of Christ seems to have been like that, with Messianic expectations, people looking for heavenly portents, and mystery religions flourishing throughout the Empire. This seems to be another, what with end-of the-world scenarios two or three times a week on the Discovery Channel (Comet? Gamma-ray burst? Alien invasion? Take your pick!), doomsday cults all over the map, and a billion Moslems waiting for the Mahdi to show up and lead them on the final Jihad.

That, of course, doesn’t necessarily imply the Apocalypse. Nations have fallen under judgment and vanished since time immemorial, causing little more than a ripple in history. Just ask the Trojans, or the Carthiginians. That is not to deny, of course, that it might have felt a lot like the Apocalypse if you had the misfortune to live in Carthage in 146 BC. We all have a tendency to inflate the significance of both our own times and our own misfortunes.

Lack of Posts on This Blog

My apologies for the lack of posts recently. I am on a new project (at the Internal Revenue Service, may God have mercy on my soul), and have been a bit preoccupied. Even the Moslem Episcopal Priestess wasn't enough to get me going. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, look here.) I will try to be better.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Crime Against Humanity?

From LifeSite News for June 4, 2007:
A Polish railway worker has astonished his doctors by waking spontaneously after 19 years and talking about memories of his time in a "coma", the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday. Jan Grzewski was injured at work and while he was hospitalized, his doctors found cancer in his brain and predicted he would not recover.

After his doctors concluded nothing more could be done for him, Mr. Grzewski’s wife, Gertruda, cared for him at home, moving his body and feeding him by hand. "I would fly into a rage every time someone would say that people like him should be euthanized, so they don't suffer," she told Gazeta. "I believed Janek (an affectionate nickname) would recover, AP reported."

Cases such as Mr. Grzewski’s are being used around the western world as arguments for euthanasia by dehydration or withholding of nutrition for those in what is often called a "permanent vegetative state". Poland, however, a strongly Catholic country, continues to hold out against international pressure to soften restrictions on euthanasia. In March this year, a poll by Polska Grupa Badawcza found that a majority of Poles support strengthening the law protecting human life. 52 per cent of Polish voters would support a constitutional amendment to ban abortion and euthanasia in all cases.

Mr. Grzewski told Gazeta Dzialdowska, the local daily paper in the northern city of Dzialdowo where he is readjusting to life as a 65 year-old, that at the time of his accident in 1989, the shops were full of nothing but "vinegar and mustard."

Under communism, he said, "meat was rationed and there were huge petrol queues everywhere. Now I see people on the streets with cellphones and there are so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin." He told the media that people complain now as much as they did under communism: "These people walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning." But he told his wife that the world is "prettier" now than it was under then and he’s happy to be "back". "I could not talk or do anything, now it's much better," he said.

Gertruda noticed last year that he was trying to speak and Grzewski was returned to the hospital for further treatment. Wojciech Pstragowski, a rehabilitation specialist, said, "I am sure that without the dedication of his wife, the patient would not have reached us in the (good) shape that he did."

After regaining his ability to speak, Mr. Grzewski told his relatives that
he has memories of family gatherings while he was supposedly ‘comatose,’ at which they spoke to him, trying to elicit a response. Mrs. Grzewska, her husband’s doctor said, did the work of an entire intensive care team, turning him every hour to prevent bed sore infections.

"I cried a lot, and prayed a lot," she said. "Those who came to see us kept asking, ‘When is he going to die?’ But he’s not dead."

Grzewski’s prognosis is positive and his doctors expect him to be able to walk soon. "At the start, his speech was very unclear, now it is improving daily," Pstragowski said.

The EU is expected to take action against Poland for allowing Mr. Grzewski to live; the Florida Supreme Court is reportedly "scandalized." Bloody Poles are clearly standing in the way of progress and the New World Order., and Mr. Grzewski should be ashamed of himeself for embarassing those fine doctors.

Hmm...wonder how hard it is to learn the language? Nah - the weather's too cold.