The immoral church?

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450px-Gargoyle_Dornoch_CathedralMore from Windsor. Informal conversations have brought home to me, with unexpected force,  the extent to which the church is vilified by today’s young people. They see it as fundamentally unjust because of its attitudes to, for example, women and gays. The movers and shakers of tomorrow consider the church to be less just and less ethical than the society in which they live. It is no longer fit to regard itself as a guardian of standards, let alone a preacher.

I hear from an impeccable source that no C of E bishop was willing to go on air to defend the official position on gay marriage. I wonder how many C of E bishops refuse publicly to acknowledge their own sexuality, and condemn those who do.

Is this relevant to the Church of Ireland? I rather think it is. It’ll be interesting to hear how some of its bishops explain the reasons why they’re in favour of ‘exorcising’ gay people. One even hears of church people who look forward to the identification of the ‘gay gene’ so that fetuses that have it can be rubbed out.

This, it seems, is the gospel of love. Kyrie eleison.

Calving time

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Calves but not as known in Laois

Calves, but not as known in Laois

Some of my parishioners are, as it were, calving at the moment. I’ve just missed the opportunity to be at a bovine obstetric event because I didn’t pick up the phone message soon enough. I asked to be called so that I could have the opportunity to stick my upper limb somewhere the sun don’t shine (normally finger tip and nasal aperture is as far as it gets).

When you see other mammals tumble out into the world, you realize just how immature the human newborn is in comparison. Why? I think it has to do with brain development. If we left if any longer to come out—that is until we were able to stagger like calves, or something similar—the brain would be bigger, the head would be bigger and it would get stuck as it tried to get through mum’s pelvis. So the nine month timing is a kind of compromise between the needs of the mother and the needs of the fetus. That’s my view anyway, and I doubt you’ll find any evidence to the contrary it so it must be right.

What of the placenta? It’s a miraculous organ, another compromise between fetus and mother. It invades the mother so that fetal blood can get near enough to maternal blood for exchange to occur. Too much invasion and mother suffers. Too little, and fetus suffers. Other mammals are very wise to eat the placenta. Why don’t we? (Some do, apparently, but it’s not common.) It’s nutritious, hormone rich, and, unless squeezed, full of blood. Fried I suppose it would be just like black pudding. Add two or three eggs for breakfast. Ahhhhh. I wonder, shall I start a trend here? There’s lots of theology in this.

Thinking mammals

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Rector at prayer

Maryborough school students are impressive. I went in this morning for the usual Friday assembly, and was commandeered to talk to infants about bones, a topic that was exercising them today. After we’d named some bones, and felt them, the conversation went something like this:

me: why do you think we need bones
them: to make us stiff
me: what would happen if we didn’t have any
them: we’d be like jelly
me: do you know any creatures that are like jelly?
them: jellyfish
me: and why don’t they need bones?
them: they float in water.

Smart infants, aren’t they? With the whole school, the conversation developed.

me: if bones make us stiff, how do we move?
them: joints and muscles
me: and why do we need to move?
them: to look for food.

Spot on, eh? And when I asked them why babies cried, they said ‘for food’. That’s why communication developed in my humble opinion (though SWMBO says my opinion is never humble).

me: can you think why moving would be hard if we didn’t have bones and muscles?
them: gravity.

And there, boys and girls, you have it in a nutshell. Impressive, huh?

The theme of the assembly was food, so we discussed different sorts of food: fruit, veg, cow, pig, sheep, octopus, squid, fish, crab. Even worms. Some of them told me about carbohydrates which moved us on to carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Some of them knew that methane was found in farts (the young ones had left by this stage, but I expect someone will complain). Some of them knew about cartilage and bone. The seniors told me we were mammals, and they knew that meant that mothers produce milk. Oh, the joys of being surrounded by people not yet disconnected from the earth. I told them that the milk-producing organ is the mammary gland. Presumably that’s why mothers are mammies, though I didn’t say that. The other thing I didn’t say was that the reason we move and seek food is in order to reproduce. That’s for secondary school pupils. What has this to do with church? Answer: everything. Work it out yourself.