From Chris Wakelin, Chaplaincy Treasurer:
When I lived in Nottingham, the local “Churches Together in Beeston” group one year organised an ecumenical event for Pentecost weekend. On the Saturday morning various “spies” had been sent into the local shopping area disguised as gardeners, window-cleaners etc. (more…)
From Peter Hardy, Chaplaincy Assistant:
In our culture, comedy does not have as high a status as other art forms. Compared with the gallery and the theatre, a comedy show is seen as something common, and perhaps even unclean. But I see it as every bit as cultured as a Tchaikovsky symphony or a Puccini opera. And in many cultures, such as the ancient Greeks and the Native Americans this was the norm. It is also often noted that the Jewish dialect of Yiddish has developed to be highly comedic, perhaps as a mechinism to cope with the hardships faced by the Jewish people. Indeed, as Jewish comedian Josh Howie says, he has gone into the industry of breaking down negative stereotypes of his people because there is a lot of money in it.
Many people deride the adult language (ironically calling it ‘childish’) or are offended by having their faith poked-fun at- particularly with the popularity of such anti-religious humourists as Tim Minchin and Reading’s homegrown Ricky Gervais. The novelist Yann Martel has pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in this latter stance:
“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging… and they think, ‘business as usual.’ But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words.” [The Life of Pi, (2003), p. 70]
The comedian Tim Vine has also pointed out that God created comedy (or at least a universe with a strong potential for humorous exploration) and therefore it is a good thing that He wants us to enjoy. And as Voltaire taught the world, religion has in principle nothing to fear from comedy but instead much to learn when it discloses situations which are indefensible. That God can take a joke is not merely a speculative wish- it is something that has long been enshrined within our scriptural tradition, for those who had ears to hear it.
From Chris Wakelin, Chaplaincy Treasurer:
This week’s Old Testament reading (Deuteronomy 18:15-20) reminds us of the dangers of being false prophets, perhaps allowing our own prejudices to affect how we represent God. At the same time it promises the people of Israel that there will come somebody who is able to speak authentically for God.
In the Gospel reading (Mark 1:21-8), Jesus does just that and we are told that the people were amazed by his teaching them “with authority” unlike the scribes. Later in the Gospels he criticises the scribes and the Pharisees for being certain of their own righteousness and of the sin of those who behaved differently to them.
I’ve always been rather suspicious of Christians (and others) who claim they “know” rather than “think” something to be true. This is especially so when opinion is sharply divided, as in the Creationist/Darwinian debate in the US or the ordination of women in the Anglican church. To me it is axiomatic that God never overides our freedom of choice – he doesn’t force us to be right, and as a result all our “knowledge” has to be provisional.
That isn’t to say we can’t be pretty sure about some things, such as God’s existence and his love for us, but perhaps we should always allow a little bit of room for ourselves to be wrong and God to reveal more of the truth to us.
As we’ve just come to the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, here’s a little bit of fun, with some truth in it alas: http://youtube/M0zIv2I37UU
See the Next Part of Theology and Doughnuts.
“Latine sonat, nihil scriptum in altum.”
(Anything written in Latin sounds profound.)
Well it’s Jonah. A Biblical story about the titular prophet. In our group we performed it as a pantomime, as a traditional British end to the year (it also marked the end of our look at the Old Testament).
“Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.” – Kahlil Gibran