Worship Styles, How do we feed the Sheep?

Being a student at an all-party college (that’s not a college where all we do is party, but rather a Training Seminary, where all traditions (Catholic/Evangelical, etc) train side-by-side) has it’s advantages and disadvantages. When I first arrived I thought that the chance to experience worship in many different forms would better allow me to feed the sheep. Different people from different backgrounds and different ages all thirst in different ways for different forms of worship. The question then becomes is it necessary for us to be trained in all of these different styles?


Send Me To Lesotho!

Hello Friends, Romans, Netizens!

I have come not to praise Black Xanthus, but to ask politely for your money!

I have been accepted by USPG to go to Lesotho on Mission. This will be a wonderful way to expand my horizons (which is probably why USPG call it the Expanding Horizons Program), but it’s very expensive. There is only a small donation available towards air-fare, and the rest of the costs have to be found by me. As such, I’m asking as many of the kind folks that I know to please, please donate.

For further information, see the Send Me To Lesotho! page, or simply donate now through PayPal. Donations from as little as 1 (or even less, if pay-pal will let you), are gratefully accepted!:



Nate Phelps Speaks Out

The Westborough Baptist Church, under the stewardship of Fred Phelps have often been in the news, and mentioned on this Blog for their extreeme attacks on people they consider to be against God. Their slogans “God Hates Fags”, and “God Hates America” are well known; they believe that God has cursed America for what they see as moral laxitutde. A documentary in the UK done by Louie Theroux, spent some time with them, investigating them. He saw a bit of how they acted, and witnessed some of the reactions to them. People throw things at them, shout at them, and yet the Phelps’ take their young children and their grandchildren along to these very unpopular events. They picket funerals of military personal, they once picketed a funeral of a murdered Amish Girl. They are, for may, the Antithesis of everything that Christianity is for.

In a moving story in the National Post, Nate Phelps talks about his life under Fred Phelps. From the story, it seems that Fred didn’t pick up his religious fervour from his parents, who Nate recalls once brought their grandchildren Christmas present, but they were chased out of the house by their son, and that they should take their pagan festival with them.

Nate Phelps tells a tale of physical abuse at the hands of his Biblical Literalist Father, who, despite early signs of being a force for good, (fighting for equal race rights in america), may have cracked under the pressure. Nate tells of a father who became addicted to Amphetamins to make it through Law School, which is what helped him fight for the equal laws. He had been to the fundamentalist Bob Jones University, before studying law, and it is probably there that Fred Phelps found his approach to the bible.

The result on Nate Phelps is that he has, for obvious reasons, moved away from Religion. Though he didn’t go the full hog, and denounce religion like Richard Dawkins, he still sees that some of Christianity is incompatible with the contradictions in the Bible*. He does, however, concede that some people find it comforting, and wouldn’t want to take it away from them.

He seems to be a soft spoken Taxi driver, who has had a rough time dealing with his childhood.

It is often the Children who are forgotten.


* This, of course, goes hand in with the way, and approach you have to the Bible.

Why is the Church Obsessd with Sex?

Recently, I’ve been debating with a few people I know, the issues of Sex and the Church. It appears that the Church seems to mask “sex” in the lofty idea of “morality”. It appears, at least on a cursory glance at relevant press releases. It all seems to revolve around precisely what the point of having “sex” is. Based on the Bible, they read it and see that the point of “sex” is for procreation, and so any form of “sex” that isn’t intended, or has the possibility of, producing offspring the Church can point too and say that that is imorral.

Speaking as an Anglican, when the Synod voted in the early 1900’s to allow men to ware Condoms, the basic argument was essentially torpedod. This move allows men and women to have sex for pleasure. The line that it should still happen inside Marriage is at least still strong, but the argument that morality should, as it is today, be linked to strongly to “sex” is patantly absured.

So, fast forward to 2010. The second biggest debate being held in Churches all over the world is about Homosexuality. Interestingly, by and large, lesbianism is forgotten about, but is generally linked together under the same barrier. The argument that if one passes they both will be accepted.

The debate often revolves around 3 issues. The first is that Homsexuality is “unnatural”, because the “sex” doesn’t produce children. This, I guess, it a logical line of thought, however, it only remains so if the Church is ALSO condemning every couple that doesn’t marry and start breeding straight away, or, for a more sane argument, any couple that cannot have children, or choose not to. The reason for the inclusion for couples that “cannot” have children, is that is precisely the arguement that is levelled at Homosexuality. That they cannot have children.

The next argument that it is unnatural is one that is difficult for both sides. One side holds up that homosexuality can be seen in nature, and the other counters with the fact that, from a certain point of view, Pedophilia is natural*. However, we should be talking about “consentual adults”, and not get ourselfs side-tracked with an argument over Pedophilia. Some would put forward a notion that God’s Design is that Man and Woman is the only way, however, we have no proof that this is so. All the examples that are given are given by fallen people, and the one perfect example is given by a celibate Christ, which is no help at all.

The argument that it “says in the Bible” has been answered before on this blog:http://blog.valhalla.jara23.co.uk/?p=285. This has been debated for many years, and is probably the only really sensible argument left. This at least turns the attention away from Sex, and more into a Didactic Reading of the Bible.

However, this issue is more insiduous than it may first appear. Homosexuality has caused the ArchBishop of Niger, Peter Akinola to say that Homosexuals are ‘deviants’, ‘perverted’ and ‘in rebellion against God’. He’s not alone in his comments. The entire idea that Christians could unilateraly hate a group of people because of what they do behind closed doors just seems bonkers.

Of course, I’m a liberal, who would rather spraed the love of God, than denounce people for a few badly-used lines in the Bible, so this post may be a little biased.

Christianity does not stop at Homosexuality, of course. All kinds of ‘deviant’ behaviour is ‘against’ God. BDSM, Furries, and all other kinds of sexual pleasures are considered ‘deviant’ also, but where, in this, is God’s Love?

We are called to be Excellent To Each Other. To just be nice to one another. Why is what people do in a loving relationship a problem?

Fundamentalists are all about a transoformational God, just so long as it’s not them that’s being Transformed.


*This is part of the “slipery slope” arguement. It is generally used to evoke emotional responses, rather than considered thought.

West Bro Baptists get a taste of their own

I found an article where a community in Seattle faces down the mad, biggoted West Bro Baptists, run by the Phelps’. This family believes that God is punishing the world for it’s acceptance of Homosexuals, they even decided to write an open letter to the family of Heath Ledger asking them where the funeral was going to be so they could picket it, because after the lie that was Brokeback Mountain, the world needs to be told the truth. Especially, so the letter goes, as Heath is now burning in hell.

It’s about time this bunch of crazies were shown that their approach to Christianity will not be tolerated, nor will it be accepted by the rest of us. Handily, here in the UK, one of the most useful thing our mad government has done was to ban the leaders from our country.

Not having that luxury, residents in Seattle set about producing protests against the protesters. Each protest that was planned was met by members of the community, religious leaders, and members of the institution that was being picketed. The anti-protesters were seen to hold hands and sing songs, drowning out the hateful remarks of the Phelps’. I think it would have been a sight to see. Nice to see people finally standing up to these biggots.


Some Loyal Readers found some photos

Automatic Excommunication for Abortion

… though not necessarily for murder.

This is one of those “I’m not really surprised” stories about the Roman Catholic Church. I was reading an article about how a nine-year old girl had an abortion after being raped by her father. A sensible act on an already traumatised child. However, the Catholic Church decided that it was necessary to excomunicate everyone involved (appart from the nine-year-old, who is too young to be automatically excomunicated).

To be excommunicated, is to be “removed from the body of Christ”. In a Roman Catholic society, this means that they will be treated as pariahs. Precisely what this little girl needs in her time of need. She’s been raped by her father, and now her friends, and perhaps family, won’t even talk to her. Of course, this state is only intended to last until such time as recompense has been made, that is, confession sought, and the pennance done. It may not have been the case for this nine-year-old, but it can esily be seen how a girl in a desperate situation could find themselfs without the comfort or support of their society, or their Church.

I thought that I would do a little digging into this, to see where it comes from. It comes straight out of the Catholic Canon Law:

Can. 1398 A person who actually procures an abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.


So, no room for thinking, or helping there then. Further, Murder does not seem to involve excommunication, unless you happen to murder one of the officials of the Catholic Church.

Can. 1397 One who commits murder, or who by force or by fraud abducts, imprisons, mutilates or gravely wounds a person, is to be punished, according to the gravity of the offence, with the deprivations and prohibitions mentioned in can. 1336.

With Canon 1336 reading:

Can. 1336 1 Expiatory penalties can affect the offender either forever or for a determinate or an indeterminate period. Apart from others which the law may perhaps establish, these penalties are as follows:

1 a prohibition against residence, or an order to reside, in a certain place or territory;

2 deprivation of power, office, function, right, privilege, faculty, favor, title or insignia, even of a merely honorary nature;

3 a prohibition on the exercise of those things enumerated in n. 2, or a prohibition on their exercise inside or outside a certain place; such a prohibition is never under pain of nullity;

4 a penal transfer to another office;

5 dismissal from the clerical state.


Notice the lack of excommunication. I suppose it doesn’t really surprise anyone, and probably makes sense when you consider that it would involve excommunicating people on crusades and the like. Apparently, however, the hard-line, and lack of press-savvy is to do with the new Pope’s strong adherance to Canon Law. The Catholic Church taking that walk down delusion lane where they think they still have pull globally. They don’t. Just in small, poor, places where people really need the support of the church, and those that must have an abortion could really do with the care and support of their community.

Still glad I’m Anglican (though I doubt we’re much better, just better at not saying it so loudly).