Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Travelogue III - Signs of the Times (Mt. 16:2-3) Christianity

In terms of Faith, I identify myself with the response of the Charlotte, North Carolina Mother Emanuel Church to the viscous mass killing on the Church’s sacred ground.  From profound grief the appeal of the Church was:  Peace through forgiveness and non-violence.  The televised revelation was evangelical - Joyful Good News – as opposed to the ‘radical’ Christianity of evangelical Ted Cruz:  Peace through carpet bombing.  Since the ‘Amazing Grace’ experience underlined by President Obama singing the hymn, religious services are important to me; however they, at best, just touch the edges.

        Oh death where is your sting? Where is your victory? (I Cor. 15: 55)


Clare College Cambridge, England

   Cambridge University is an easy trip by train from London.  Our first place to visit was Clare College.  Joanne and I intended to go to King’s College for Evensong, but we got lost on the beautiful grounds surrounded by stately medieval structures.  Getting lost was an embarrassment to me because I always believed that I was supposed to have been born in the Middle Ages – I thought I knew my way around – what’s happening? A security guard ushered us into a large but dark chapel with the assurance that there would be evening prayers; we sat down in choir stalls and waited; the environment became more familiar.  Just before we were about to leave, two people appeared, the Dean of the College and a friend.  They greeted us and invited us to pray.  We did Vespers, Psalms and some scripture readings.  It was a quiet and prayerful time.

   After prayers we talked briefly with the Dean – a young man with learning beyond his years.  I asked some questions and he willingly and candidly responded.   

  What do you think of the current presidential campaign in the U.S. and the quest for the votes of the evangelicals?  He noted that ‘evangelical’ had many meanings.  Evangelicals in the U.S. interpret Old Testament readings without nuance.  He said he thought this was done to achieve a certitude that, especially out of context, just isn’t there.

   Scripture scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. wrote in the Preface to a study of the writings and life of St. Paul:

I make my own what J.A.T. Robinson said in the conclusion to a much more challenging work, ‘all the statements of this book should be taken as questions.’ (1)

It seems to me that certitude is a matter of faith supported by common sense and a realistic theology.  The ‘radical’ Christianity of Ted Cruz is a Christianity of the Empire inaugurated by Constantine to support imperialism – peace achieved with violence.  It is a false Christian model that has been used throughout history.   

(1)  Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Paul a Critical Life, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 1997, p. v.

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