Saturday, September 26, 2009

Was Jesus like a pirate? Should we be pirates too?

I have just been reading an interesting blog debate on this subject.

The romantic image of pirates often overlooks their violent criminal behaviour. But historically this behaviour can be understood. ‘Let’s plunder these ships for ourselves rather than for the government’, was the thinking behind piracy in the 17th & 18th centuries. As such pirates are anti-establishment rather than purely anti-social. Their behaviour could be seen as a critique of the established order of greedy capitalism rather than just as personal selfishness. So argues Kester Brewin in a recent series of posts.

Illegal rebellion in this way can be seen as a way of social change. Pirate radio stations originally transmitted new styles of music that the legal radio stations did not. But eventually Radio 1 was born. Similarly, illegal music downloads eventually gave way to legal ways such as Spotify. Change occurs and we realise that the pirates were there before us. In the same way, Kester Brewin argues that Jesus was like a pirate in the way that he broke the religious rules overturning the stated order of his day.

Is there a motif here for Christians? Well, we do seek to be radical and do things differently. This inevitably critiques the established order – both of the world’s way of working and of religious ways of thinking. So why is this idea controversial? I am oversimplifying it, but in an answer to Kester Brewin, Richard Sudworth posts that we should not so easily dismiss Christians with a different revelation who are actually following God. Pete Rollins then takes this up arguing the importance of being considered heretical in order remain orthodox and Richard Sudworth comes back, among other things, playing the faithfulness card.

I think there is an important tension here between producing change by overthrowing systems in order to make progress and maintaining cohesive effective systems. It isn’t that that Kester and Pete are going too far. Surely we should look for innovation and not be afraid to make big changes? But if posible, shouldn't we do this without alienating others? Yes, sometimes Jesus and Christians may appear like pirates but I think there are some dangers with this image and that it needs to be carefully balanced with the concept of faithfulness.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Birmingham Artsfest 2009

Last weekend we went to look around this year's Artsfest.

On Saturday we had some of Nettes' family with us who took part in the record breaking bhangra dancing. While they were doing that I took Callie to see a a Rainforest Symphony a taster for an interactive children's play by the Play House about the rainforest at the REP. There was plenty to see as we wandered around the stalls and exhibitions and caught two or three of the bands. We dropped in on the Barbar Institute of Fine Arts doing their usual story telling session based around a painting.

On Sunday Callie and I ventured into the city centre again exploring some of artsfest again as we walked over to Kidz Aloud in Carrs Lane Church Centre that happened to be on the same weekend.

I thoroughly enjoy this weekend. Artsfest has now become a regular tradition.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

revealing the secret identity of the Evangelical Universalist

The Evangelical Universalist is just one of the excellent books that I read over the summer. It argues well, from the Bible, the case for universalism – the doctrine that everyone is saved in the end. As this is such a controversial topic it is not surprising that the author published the book under a pseudonym. Many Christians might consider his conclusions as heresy.

Now this book has received some circulation he obviously feels the situation has changed slightly. The author feels that there are now enough people that have read the book and seen that universalism can be argued from the Bible, and so is a legitimate evangelical position – even if they don’t agree with it. Hence he now feels confident enough to reveal his identity.

So who is the Evangelical Universalist?

Robin Parry - the Editorial Director for the Christian publishing house Paternoster Press and author of Worshipping Trinity.

Thanks to Maggi Dawn for the tip off.