The Curmudgeon


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hypocrite Pasteur, Mon Semblable, Mon Frère

The Archbishop of Canterbury has confirmed, for the benefit of those Catholics who were unaware of the fact, that the Anglican and Roman faiths both believe in God. With his usual touching ignorance of what is going on around him, Dr Williams also claimed that the Anglican communion, which has been tearing itself apart over the private activities of consenting adults for almost ten years, is proof that churches can stay together in spite of their differences. The ecumenical glass is "genuinely half-full", in that many Anglicans are so close to the Catholic position that the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak can pull off an adroit bit of bigot-rustling at the price of a few nominal concessions. Dr Williams appears to believe that this is the first stage on the path to pontifical acceptance of female bishops: "When so much agreement has been established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the church," he wheedled, "is it justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?" Dr Williams insisted that "there was more uniting the denominations than dividing them"; but if he considers this a basis for unity his ignorance of human nature must be matched only by his ignorance of the history of Christianity. The very first adherents of the Jesus cult were a sect within first-century Judaism, who were persecuted by people with whom they had more than a little in common, namely fellow Jews like the Inquisitor of Tarsus. The Inquisitor himself, after his hallucination on the road to Damascus, got into an undignified squabble with his fellow cultists, Peter and James, over who was the best apostle and whether the burning issues of kosher and circumcision were vital to the health and integrity of the faith. A couple of hundred years later, the military power of the eastern Roman empire was placed at the disposal of the noisiest, most ruthless and most ethically flexible among the various competing versions of Christianity, the adherents of which duly went about eliminating those of their co-religionists who disagreed with them on such fascinating questions as whether the god of the Jews was different from the god of the Christians, whether Jesus was created or begotten, whether he was human or divine, and so forth. There are few better fuels for mutual hatred than having a good deal in common.


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