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Showing posts from September, 2018

Dancing on a Toilet Seat

From time to time, I open a newspaper. Things seem to be proceeding at a dizzying rate. We are dancing not on the edge of a volcano, but on the wooden seat of a latrine, and it seems to me more than a touch rotten. Soon society will go plummeting down and drown in nineteen centuries of shit. There’ll be quite a lot of shouting. (Gustave Flaubert, in a letter to a friend, 1850). As far as I'm concerned, these 170 year-old words could have been written yesterday. And no doubt I could find even earlier quotes to similar effect (though the analogy would be hard to beat). I can't decide if the timelessness of impending cataclysm is more reassuring than it is horrifying, or vice-versa. (Matthew 24:6 springs to mind).

Is it too much of a cliché to say this isn't how things were meant to be? Is it too naive to suggest it's not how they have to stay?

In The Very Good Gospel, Lisa Sharon Harper writes compellingly about the vision of creation's perfect 'goodness' as…

A Sinner's Prayer

As someone with a healthy recognition of my need for the mercy of God, as well as a less-than-healthy capacity for shame and religious anxiety (people, we really need to help each other learn the difference), Psalm 51 – King David's great prayer of contrition and repentance – has long been close to my heart.
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin! (Psalm 51:1-2) But I've had a growing unease with it ever since the following was pointed out to me. "Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight..." confesses David to God (Ps 51:4). Meanwhile, the short context-providing note at the start of the psalm explains the particular sin which has prompted this humbled outcry: "A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba."

If "gone in to&q…