Dark Brightness

Bleak Theology: Hopeful Science

Son talks: Barking madness and the trinity.


Oh dear. It has been one of these mornings. Son one has asked two important questions — what is social democracy and how does it differ from communism? Part of it is easy — socialists and communists confiscate the means of production and over plan it, leading eventually to an economic collapse, while social democrats confiscate the means of taxation and use this to distribute income, in the hope we will all be equal: taking the risk that they will break the market-based income they are in a parasitical relationship with. It can, work, but not if the left is going barking mad — not over the morality of this system, but who is first in the queue.

But the fight for equality has always been a bare-knuckle one. That’s because – in truth – it’s not based on equality at all. It’s about primacy.
Throughout the Eighties, as a debate began to open up within the black community in the US about attitudes towards women, a popular argument was that this represented a dangerous distraction from the “real struggle” for racial equality. Some even went so far as to claim black men had enough on their plates as it was, without having to shoulder the additional burden of worrying about “their women’s” distinct place in society. And that attitude is reflected in this week’s gender-storm. Julie Burchill is at least being honest when she tells the transgender community to get off her lawn: “Shims, shemales, whatever you’re calling yourselves these days – don’t threaten or bully us lowly natural-born women, I warn you”. The radical Left acknowledges everyone’s right to equality. But it also demands everyone takes a ticket, and gets in line.
Though those fighting the good fight would never be caught dead admitting it, they’ve spent decades constructing, and scrapping over, a tightly defined hierarchy of oppression. And that hierarchy is invariably a self-serving reflection of prevailing internal power cliques. On the Left it currently looks like this: Tier 1 Women, Tier 2 Black, Tier 3 Gay, Tier 4 Everyone Else.
What’s interesting, is that this hierarchy does not actually reflect actual influence or social advancement. So while the gay rights lobby has proved by far the most successful in altering perceptions, and securing legislative change, amongst the Left it does not enjoy the benefit of all-gay shortlists, shadow cabinet quotas, a dedicated shadow ministry, etc. And if gay activists or black activists within Labour’s ranks were to push for these things then it’s not the white, male dinosaurs they’d find standing in their way, but Labour’s women.
Don’t get me wrong; as Daniel Day-Lewis and Steven Spielberg are about to remind us, some civil wars need to be fought. And while I’m sympathetic to Moore, those of us who can’t even understand where her accusers are coming from could do worse than read this response. But seriously, guys, try and keep your eyes on the prize.

The trouble with the left is that their desire for “equality” == which translates as accepting their order of criteria for praise, privilege and funding, is something they want to insist applies to all people. Woe betide you if you adjust it.

This has consequences. It has led to a profound sense of mistrust of progress, with the ideal life being that of some form of pastoral savage that never existed. The left, like Marie Antoinette, play with these ideas, but do not live them.

It also means that the left feel quite moral when they try to destroy any institution that stands in the way of their current fashionable cause. This includes the ministry: those churches that have kept the presbytery to men now hold one of the few men only spaces left.

Anyway, the other question the son had today is why the trinity causes problems. He has no issues with it — in his own way, he is quite orthodox. The answer to that is that God called himself one — and one God, the almighty, was the point of difference between the Jews and Pagans, with their Pantheon running a perpetual soap opera.\

Out of my mouth — after church, but before I read the lectionary for today — came the words “the incarnation is an argument for the trinity”. Today’s reading is a case in point.

JOHN 7:14-31

14About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” 16Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

19“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?”20The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” 21Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. 22Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

25Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? 27Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” 30Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

LUKE 4:21-30

21Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'” 24And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

The Jews could not get their head around how Jesus could teach. He was a hick: a carpenter. In the sermon today, we discussed how he had been circumcised, how his parents obeyed the law by presenting him to the temple at the time of Mary’s ritual purification, and how he had been an exile in Egypt, had to probably support his family after his father died (Joseph is not mentioned after Jesus visited the temple as a young teenager) and how he had suffered all temptations. Paul had studied under a learned theologian: Jesus had become a carpenter. Jesus chose fishermen as his disciples — probably at the same time that Paul was a disciple of Galamiel.

The texts for today show that when he taught, people were shocked. For his teaching was gracious and true — and he clearly did not have the requisite merit badges to be able to do this. And when he stated that he was speaking the words he was given — they were shocked. In the first passage, he claims to be God. In the second passage, he offends the listener’s piety.

At both times, the congregation wished to kill him. For blasphemy.

Which brings me to the answer I gave my son: that on the last day (which we agree will be a time that all will be afraid) Jesus will correct our theology. Every one of us is in error. God chooses to talk to us through the witnesses and words of men — those who walked with him when he was incarnate and the scholars, mystics and theologians that have followed.

But we all have errors. We are all children of our age. There, praise God is still beauty in this world, but this world will end. But Christ will remain.


Note: photo of my sons was taken on a walk along the Orakanui River Track after Church today. More photos are at Shattered Light.