Friday, October 27, 2006

October 27th

Today is the 453rd anniversary of the death of Michael Servetus, polymath and unitarian heretic, burned alive at Geneva by order of John Calvin. I think it was 10 years ago today that I left a wreath with his name on it at John Calvin Presbyterian Church. I was told the other day that its name has been changed, to Willows Presbyterian Church, which was splendid. We cannot help it, after all, if the propagators of our memes have been bad eggs: but at least we ought not to name things after them.


Nato said...

Hey Dr.Clam - I'm not sure whether most people at the now Willows Presbertery would actually have understood the significance of your act, but hope/pray that those who did are genuinely repentant for the sins of their founding father.

Regardless of whether you personally accept Unitarianism (which I do not), it's terribly sad what people do in the name of Jesus that has absolutely nothing to do with what it means to accept a Trinitarian view of God.

While fundamentally disagreeing with both Unitarianism and Paedo-baptism (yes, I'm with Servertus on this one), I'm not about to advocate death for views which dissent from mine.

Having sat through a sermon last week from Romans where the emphasis was firmly on a Calvanistic world-view, it reminded me of the dangers of purity of doctrine (orthodoxy) divorced from living in response to Trinitarian truth (orthopraxis).
We've been church hunting since moving to Sydney and it's taken almost 4 months to make a decision.

Perhaps the biggest revelation for me regarding the trinity is that it means truth is fundamentally relational, because God is a relational being.

We could spend ages batting this one around, so perhaps the simplest way to respond lovingly to Servertus is to ask how he could have reached a unitarian point of view on a reflective reading of John's Gospel (esp. Ch. 1:1-14 and Ch.10).

If we approach the words with author's intent and not postmodern relativism as our foundation, and allow the context of 1st Century Palestine to inform our interpretation, it's very clear by the audience reaction to Jesus' words (particularly the Priests & teachers of the Law) that they were in no doubt of his claims to be God.

Time to stop soapboxing - or should that be soapblogging :-).
Dr.Clam, i'll respond to your historical post on my view of hell when I'm not the only adult supervising our 19 month old.

Nato said...

PS in a bizarre coincidence, my blog (and blogspot itself, it seems) redirect me to some site proclaiming bible studies that I have never visited before in my life... this some strange matrix like meme, a programmers practical joke, or something more strangely god-incidental? I know not...

Dr. Clam said...

I never did find a church in Sydney, but I think the fault is probably mostly mine. Also, I never realised before I moved that I was part of the most 'liberal' parish in the most 'liberal' diocese in the country...
From what I recall of Servetus' views- there aren't any books about him in the library down here, worse luck- his unitarian understanding was fundamentally relational: he did not deny the divinity of Jesus, but saw Jesus as one way an unchanging God relates/had related to humanity, and he saw each of the names given to God in the Bible- 'Lord of Hosts', etc. - as a different mode of God relating to Man.
Oddly enough, I have just come to check this blog from reading some of the short Surahs at the very end of Pickthall's translation of the Qu'ran, including 'The Unity':
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Say: He is Allah, the One!
Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
He begetteth not nor was begotten.
And there is none comparable to Him.

Marco said...

Just near the Willows they have built "Riverway". It includes a theatre, where the Catholic education office organised a cultural festival "Mulkadee", which resulted in a set of concerts last yesterday and today, with a week of inter-school workshops in preparation. Anyhow, Belinda was in the concert, and I went to watch it last night. The school she goes to (Ryan) has a dance group and they were dancing using chairs as props, and I would describe it almost like a pole dance (complete with fishnet stockings) but with chairs instead of poles.
Anyway to get to a point, it was like a dance of the seven veils. It is quite a contrast to say Muslim tradition of ultra-modest dress, and at least to me demonstrates naivety, at the same time sex education is quite taboo in the Catholic system. This brings me to that ill-conceived sermon by the Australian mufti. What exactly did he say and does he have the semblance of a point somewhere?

Dr. Clam said...

I know I would have been uncomfortable watching such a performance. I hope you complained to someone.

As far as Sheikh Hilaly goes I haven't followed the argument closely, and I don't really feel qualified on things originally said in another language and selectively quoted in a possibly misleading and selective fashion, but with those caveats I think the point he was trying to make was this one:
Men are more susceptible to conscious or unconscious sexual signals sent out by women than vice versa. So women ought to keep this in mind in their dress and behaviour.
This was a truism in our culture until about 40 years ago, makes perfect sense from the point of view of evolutionary biology, and as far as I can see the first bit is statistically true making the second bit common sense.
So, he used a crummy metaphor, and he clearly comes from a culture that is more misogynist than we would like. But it is ridiculous to jump up and down about him and ask why he wasn't deported.

Dr. Clam said...

And, when the Sheikh says he supports the jihadists in Iraq, he's no worse than Beazley. Supporting badness by commission is no worse than supporting badness by omission.

Dave said...

Well, I think his more moderate fellows may well regret his attention-grabbing techniques but then I've heard this whole affair armchair-analysed as largely an exercise in jockeying for position amongst influential Australian Muslim leaders. A good outrageous comment will get you headlines every day.

Me, I'd like to kick him and everyone else with this viewpoint squarely in the nuts, but I probably won't. Freedom of speech = commitment to supporting the views of even dickheads who should be kicked in the nuts.*

Parties demanding his deportation appear to have overlooked his Australian citizenship.

* Caveat: if I thought he was advocating rape, assault or any other methods more coercive than persuasion in order to achieve greater modesty - and I don't, though I think he's probably sailing pretty close to the legal wind in terms of incitement to commit a crime - then he should be required to feel the full weight of those merciless judges he seems to be alarmed about.

Anonymous said...

Well, as far as I'm concerned, the sheikh was making a point regarding the sin of "infidelity". Now comparing this with the several cases of infidelity that I know about personally, I would say that women's dress and behaviour was a huge factor in 90% of the cases which would support the general gist of his sermon. However, it seems that like many spiritual leaders he has muddled this with the issue of rape, primarily by the metaphors he has attached to argument. Essentially, he seems to have placed rape in the same league as infidelity as a sin. This is very wrong as the two are completely different beasts. From the cases of rape that I know about which are typical, mode of dress and behaviour were not even a factor in virtually all of them. They seemed to be mainly about power. Whether or not the scriptures set apart rape as a sin independant of infidelity, they should be considered as separate types of crimes.

Dr. Clam said...

Dave grokks multiculturalism. I remember a newspaper photo of a boy waving a toy gun to celebrate the fall of Baghdad, and nobody minded when they thought the photo was taken in Iraq, but when they noticed it was in Auburn they wrote huffy letters to the editor. I wanted to write one back, but didn't, saying, 'So? That's multiculturalism! And we like it!' If you don't want people in your country behaving differently from the way people in your culture behave, and thinking and saying things that may be objectionable to your culture, you have to deport them all.

[People asking why Al-Hilali wasn't deported are trying to score partisan political points by bucketing the Lizard- it was on Keating's watch, before Al-Hilali had Australian citizenship, that he would have been deported.]

When he was called upon to explain himself Al-Hilali certainly said he was talking about infidelity, but from what is reported about what he actually said he did so in a very ambiguous and sloppy way, at the least.

Marco said...

I know I would have been uncomfortable watching such a performance. I hope you complained to someone.
No way. I didn't say I didn't enjoy it :) I am still deciding whether I approve or not.

To save me reading the whole of the Koran and/or bible cover to cover; Do these monotheistic religions mention rape as something as a separate and bad thing rather than just another example of the sin of adultery? In their scriptures at any rate?

Dr. Clam said...

It would obviously be totally irresponsible of me to dissuade you from reading the Bible and the Koran from cover to cover. Pop back when you're done!

Don't worry, I'll complain.

Dave said...

I should have realised that the deportation malarkey might have something to do with partisan politics - but after ten years in the wilderness, I've begun to get used to the fact that it's getting harder and harder for the government's apologists to continue to blame everything bad on Hawke and Keating. Ah well, it's good to know there's still life in that old dog yet.

The trend towards sexualisation of children and young teenagers is to me a separate issue, about which I am sure there is a seething rant deep within me waiting to be unleashed. Although it occurs to me that I have no real notion of how old Marco's daughter actually is...

Marco said...

To me, it isn't a separate issue at all. School is one of the places girls learn about appropriate mode of dress and behaviour, as well as (hopefully) consequences of sexual activity either formally or informally. Although I particularly like most of the features of catholic education, the taboo on sex education is a particular weakness. In contrast, Islamic schools teach a strict dress and behaviour code from an early age. Clearly, in many ways the Imam's comments are in line with Islamic teaching, and Islamic codes are particularly against the sexualisation of girls.

For reference, the dance group was girls in grade 10 or 11. My eldest is in grade 8.