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Learning not to speak — 6 Comments

  1. Nice article – you are absolutely correct. Knowing when to be silent is a great skill. If I may impart a little personal experience – I lost a little boy some years ago. From that time I am very aware of people’s verbal reaction to death. I won’t go into it here, you would be very aware of the type of thing; “It was his time”, “He’s in a better place” etc etc etc. People mean well, they just cannot put the right words on it.
    So why am I making this comment? Wel in your piece you say “Jesus has no part in two little children dying”, and I understand what you are saying. But it’s hard, very hard for a parent to be told such things. It’s like Bertie claimimg credit for the celtic tiger, but not the aftermath.
    There are times when silence is perfect. But there are times when one must confront one’s beliefs. Anything else would be to deny oneself.
    I don’t get upset at people who try to sympathise or empathise with clumsy words. It’s the professionals I have a problem with. More articles please! I can’t drive to the pub!

  2. To lose a child must be the worst thing that can happen in life.

    I take your point about giving God the credit and not the blame. Your argument is good theology. Traditional Jewish understanding believed in a supreme God from whom all things came – the good and the bad, viz. the book of Job. The dualism whereby good things were ascribed to God and bad things to a force of darkness arose from Greek thought.

    A couple of weeks ago, I tried to address the problem of God’s tolerance of evil through Einsteinian physics: Einstein argues that past,present and future are merely illusions. If everything happens at once in space-time, then God sees everything in a flash. The science professor in the church choir thought it was an interesting line, but had inconsistencies. When I reflected, I realized that by arguing that God could not intervene to prevent evil, so equally, he could not intervene to promote good.

    The more things I see, the less I know.

  3. Thank you for the kind reply. Did I comment on your Einsteinian piece ? I think I did. No matter. (What’s matter? never mind).
    I’m genuinly impressed with “The more things I see, the less I know”. It could be used to typify or characterise some Anglican priests, but I do not do so.
    How many of your parishioners would be happy with less than certainty? I ask out of curiousity, not from any position of scorn or ridicule. You see I am frightened of people who are imbued with certainty.

  4. My apologies, you did indeed comment. I’m afraid I was a model of inattentiveness last night. I sat down to our Friday evening fish and chips with my son and daughter and said grace and my daughter said, “Dad, we have already said grace, were you not listening?” Obviously not.

    Uncertainty is biblical. The line from the Letter to the Hebrews that says, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” is always worth unpacking – assurance is in faith, not in certainty. Certainties lead one to a model of the cosmos and understanding of God that are on a line divergent from reality; so the Creationists become increasingly bizarre from the perspective of science, and those who gather at Knock today in the hope of an apparition appear deluded.

    I believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus (I think the redemption of matter is important) but I do so from a position of faith. Were I to start confronting my congregation with propositional religion, I would quickly be in trouble having a theologian, an emeritus professor, a couple of academics, and various other very well qualified people in my pews. Almost every congregation now has thinking people in it, the days when one could stand and recite things and expect people to just accept one’s words are long past.

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