The Weird Sheep, the Scape Goat and the Carnival Clown (or Prophet)

The ‘weird sheep’ is a phrase I recently came across in a video interview with Bret & Heather Weinstein where they talked about the concept of the ‘weird sheep’, a theme they develop in their new book ‘A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life’. This intrigued me, because I’d not heard of the term before (at least not phrased exactly like that), yet the idea of it resonated. I had, however, heard of the ‘black sheep’. It’s likely we all know about this because we’ve all got one or two in the family. It could even be me, or you.

1. ‘Weird sheep’ was a great concept to think about. Every society needs those who do not fit the normative roles and expectations of polite society. They are the ones on the margins, those who say weird and wacky things, those who, when they are socially present, others raise a knowing eyebrow to each other, signalling that “we all know they are the odd one and we are the normal ones” = the normal ones who always think they know and see things clearly. But it is the weird one that will alert a complying, self-satisfied and generally happy to maintain the status-quo crowd that something is up, or wrong, or about to go down.

Continue reading “The Weird Sheep, the Scape Goat and the Carnival Clown (or Prophet)”

Advent ‘Greetings’ or “Hey, Boo!”

“Greetings” is the first word of the Christmas story. Today, it has come to mean a pleasant way to say hello to someone, but often, no more than this. Yet, in the Christmas story, the word “greetings” (Gk. χαίρω) is remarkably rich in meaning.

Mary’s role in the coming of Jesus Christ into the world is utterly unique (Luke 1). So the words had to carry deep meaning. ‘Greetings’ was a word related to rejoicing and a free gift of grace. Over the past 20 months, there has not been much reason to rejoice, and we’ve all needed extra grace to get through.

And yet, the simple word “greetings” carries deeper meaning. Linked to rejoicing and grace, but also the idea of being favourably disposed. We love it when people like us, when they are favourably disposed towards us. It might make us rejoice; or make us aware that this kindness is indeed a grace.

Continue reading “Advent ‘Greetings’ or “Hey, Boo!””

Going Back to God

The actuality of the Gospel call to repentence is very simple to understand, yet it is often only understood simplistically. There’s a lot to say about it as a fact, but that fact has several elements to it, so here’s the first one, as I make the distinction between do-ing and being. It is the difference between doing it ourselves by our own strength, making tough decisions to change, pulling up our “boot-straps” – so to speak. That may be part of it, but this leans heavily towards a works based righteousness that the New Testament condemns. Here, I look at not the do-ing, but the being, our very ontology. It is this that needs the overhaul that leads to newness of life in Christ.

Continue reading “Going Back to God”

The Abolition of Man / After Humanity: A Review

The Abolition of Man‘by C. S. Lewis (HarperCollins 2001 Edition) and ‘After Humanity – A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man‘ by Michael Ward (Word on Fire Academic, 2021).

A Review:

I don’t know how I managed to miss Lewis’s book up until this point. I found it engaging, not all inaccessible or difficult, but a little frustrating. I understand (I think) why Lewis didn’t want to tie his concerns to Christianity or even to theism. I also understand (I think) why Lewis reacts so strongly to the smuggling of a relatavist assumption into a school text book though the separation of fact and value, of course, finds its root deep in the Enlightenment far earlier than the authors Lewis has in his sights.

Continue reading “The Abolition of Man / After Humanity: A Review”

100 Years Ago Today – “We stand by the open grave in the faith of the Empty Tomb”

P. T. Forsyth died 100 years ago today on the Fourth Armistace Day 1921. He was cremated, at Golders Green, London, and I do not know how he is further commemorated there.

The cremation was preceded on Tuesday afternoon, 15 November 1921, by a service at West Hampstead Congregational Church.

He was a member there; it was next to Hackney College on Finchley Road. The building survives; it became a synagogue and is now flats. His son-in-law, H.T. Andrews, officiated with a gratifying number of Congregational great and good (among them the now Anglican R.J. Campbell whom Forsyth had so criticized at the time of the New Theology controversy).

The coffin was covered in bronze, yellow, and white chrysanthemums. At Golders Green T.H. Darlow officiated. The source is British Weekly 17 November, 1921.

There was also a report in the Times on Forsyth’s death 12 November 1921, and a report of the funeral on 16 November 1921. A further note: Dr Williams’s Library, London, has (in its Congregational Library collection) a small trove of Forsythiana, collected by his daughter, Jessie Forsyth Andrews. It includes a typed order compiled by him for a funeral service (not, of course, necessarily the one used for him) which the Revd W.F. Davies added in February 1953.

A prayer contains this most Forsythian of phrases: “We stand by the open grave in the faith of the Empty Tomb”.

HACKNEY COLLEGE THEN AND NOW

My own Forsyth tribute can be watched here in this very short introduction to him and his legacy.

What’s in a Nain?

‘What’s in a Nain? –  Raising the Widow’s Son  (Luke 7:11-17)

Every detail in the Gospel stories carries various degrees of meaning and clues.

What’s in a Nain? Nain is a very small town just about 14/5 miles south of Nazareth.

Both towns overlook the notorious Valley of Jezreel.

‘Jezreel’ a combination of two words:  ‘Almighty’ and ‘Sow’.  i.e. ‘God Sows’.

Which sounds rather lovely.

But in the Old Testament, terrible events happened here:

  • Jezebel was thrown out of the tower and eaten by dogs.
  • Ahab murdered Naboth and stole his vineyard.
  • Ahab’s sons were beheaded.
  • Deborah defeated Sisera.
  • Saul defeats the Philistines.
  • Egypt defeated King Josiah.
  • It is also next to Endor where Saul consulted a Medium before battle.

It’s looking pretty grim.

Continue reading “What’s in a Nain?”

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑