A couple of days ago Mick and his wife visited us for dinner. And he pleaded with me to stop the Sunday sonnets, or at least the Belloc ones. He hates them.
Point taken: some of them are not great. Belloc was Catholic, but as Mick said, a confused one. Sometimes I wonder if there were any other sort. For the Catholic clergy have decided to be original. To invent new things, new ways of looking at God. Not as far as some Anglicans, who want new ceremonies to celebrate castration (sorry, “Gender reassignment surgery”). For the sake of the virtue.
But I don’t care.
I think that repeating the same things is good.
The only way that we learn to multiply is to memorize the times tables. Unless you are able to do that, and do that properly, then you cannot use shorthand methods to estimate. The only way to learn to write neatly is to practice it. I recall having to relearn how to write legibly in my 30s when I was sitting my specailist examinations: after years of scribbling clinical notes.
And the only way you learn a piece of music is going into a room and play it, over and over, until your fingers have muscle memory and just move to the right places.
And the gospel deserves repeating. Belloc’s sonnets, not so.
1Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.
To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.
2Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! 3For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh ? 4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
I find it interesting that Paul said that under the Law he was blameless. He persecuted Christ. Killing people. Putting them in prison. He had no belief that he was righteous, because he was following the precepts and teaching of the Pharisees, which included that it was necessary, at times, for a man to die for the people. But when he realized that his zeal for the teachings of the elders meant he was as guilty of their evil as the masters, he repented.
Since he had a thick skull, it took Christ appearing to him to do this.
Paul was gifted: he was a disciple of Gamaliel, and at his trial no one disputed his qualifications. He uses the techniques of the Pharisees (and Talmudic scholars should study him, for his letters predate the Talmud, for in his day the Temple existed and the rabbis were living). The traditions and rules that he thought would bring him to a state of righteousness were shown to be a lie.
And he changed. He became, by the Grace of God,
Consider, for a minute, the teaching of this generation. That tolerance is above all. That all religions are one. That sexuality and gender are fluid, and it does not matter what you do: do what you will. These are all wrong. Observably wrong. The consequences of this teaching is despair among the natives, and death among the protected classes: either as a reaction from the new invaders to their presence (the amount of Gay bashing is increasing, but it is not Christians that are doing it. The number of female mutilations is increasing, but it is not the Christians that are doing it. It is the followers of Mohammed and that demon Allah), or from self hatred, self despair. For they look at the evil that the narrative and queer philosophy have wrought, and the wrong that they have done, and they are no longer proud, but shamed.
But in their destruction Satan rejoices. We should not.
Instead, we need to warn against sin. Not because we are more holy: we are not. But because repeated sin drags you to that gate, of eternal degredation and damnation.
The Church doesn’t spend all its time talking about the eternality of Hell, but mainly focuses on encouraging sinners to repentance and to embrace the resurrection of Christ. But even though we are definitely running toward something, we are also very much running from something. And the Church does sing about it often.
No one who loves God revels in this stuff. But it’s still real. And that’s why we sing about it. Teaching universalism means we would have to stop singing about this reality.
Andrew Stephen Damick
This blog repeats itself.
The basis of the lectionary posts is the daily readings, and they repeat.
And this is good. If you want original theology, there are the dying churches run by heretics.
I choose instead the gospel.