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BEYOND BLASPHEMY

VARIOUS DEGREES OF BLASPHEMY.

By Paul Merkley.

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Two recent news items shed light upon the present state of prestige of the Christian faith in   our part of the world.

The first is an item about an ice cream company in Toronto and the part it is playing in the long-standing public campaign to deprive Christian faith of all dignity so that people can feel free to dismiss it altogether.

The second is a news item about the recent death and the solemn all-hands-on funeral at Cambridge’s   prestigious Cathedral of a greatly-admired man who publicly proclaimed contempt for Christian faith.

Some Things Are Not Funny.

NEWS ITEM: “Sweet Jesus ice cream parlour faces

backlash over name,” Toronto Star, March 25, 2018.

Powerful proof of the low estate to which the symbols belonging to Christian faith have fallen is the story of a Toronto of ice-cream company with many branches which calls itself Sweet Jesus For Life www.sweetjesus4life.com. This outfit has come to life so swiftly that nobody seems to have seen it coming, and so the  fact that there  is now a very large petition campaign to get it to cease and desist from its blasphemy has only just caught up to Toronto’s news media.

Everything about this controversy calls out the instinct for frivolity that lies close to the surface in every mind whose thinking-processes have been  flushed away by constant commercial advertizing. In some of the advertising of the Sweet Jesus Ice Cream company we find the familiar scene of a nativity in a manger — with an ice cream cone in the place of the Infant Jesus.

Some thoughtful people are calling upon Christians to “boycott” the Sweet Jesus Ice Cream parlour and its products company https://lifepetitions.com/petition/blasphemous-sweet-jesus-ice-cream. A worthy course of action, but can we not agree that calling upon Christians to “boycott” is superfluous? Any alert Christian will recognize that just to walk up to the counter and utter the name on that menu is gross blasphemy.

What is truly distressing is that the makers of this product are calculating that the number of people who despise Christian faith so greatly outnumber those who cling to it, that getting a giggle out of Christ is a financial winner.  Who can say that they are wrong? But the thought does occur: would they dare put the name of Prophet Muhammad in place of Baby Jesus? They would be dead before sundown.

Open mockery of my faith, the declared but nominal faith of a majority of Canadians, is a proven winner in the marketplace.  In recent interviews, the morons who own the Sweet Jesus Ice company claim that it could not occur to anyone that blasphemy is mockery and that a price should be paid for mocking the name of Jesus in this knuckle-dragging public way. These mockers know that it is hate speech and likewise know that nobody cares. We have  got to the point where getting a giggle out of the baby Jesus will promote sales.

Asking Christians to boycott this blasphemous commerce should be a no-brainer. The mere act of standing up to the counter and asking for this product requires standing with the mockers of Christ – just for the sake of an ice-cream treat.  Has it really come to this?

 

The Death of A Champion of Atheism.

But then – if nobody cares anymore about what is said and done with the elements of our faith, why is it that people revert to the repertoire of Christian faith and approach the professional  clergy for their services and for the use of their buildings when it comes time to bury atheists?

This thought occurs as I read the news-item about the elaborate funeral held last week for Stephen Hawkin, a prominent champion of atheism, in the Cathedral Church at Cambridge University. There was a procession into the church, complete with senior Anglican clergy in full costumes. Inside, a Christian religious service was officiated by the Rev. Cally Hammond, the Dean of Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University. There was organ music and hymns, including He Who Would Valiant Be, Sleep Fleshly Birth, and Jerusalem.

 

According to the New York Times,

Now Stephen Hawkin, the English cosmologist and black hole maven who died last week, and Sir Isaac Newton, the Englishman who founded modern physics, will rest together for eternity, or at least for its practical equivalent: the lifetime of the stones that make up Westminster Abbey in London.

Are these words  meant to be profound?  Or are they meant for a giggle? Or does anybody understand the difference anymore?

 

But really this is just blather –totally void of meaning. It does not rise to the level of blasphemy, I suggest a new word: sub-blasphemy – which I will define as blather struggling to rise to the level of blasphemy and failing.

 

At the funeral, there were testimonies, of course, to Hawkin’s contributions to the deepest science.  The vast majority of people who cannot get their minds around quantum physics or cosmology but who think that, being educated, they ought  to, depend upon the integrity of a very tiny company of people who do understand it (or say that they do) for the verdict that a great work was done by this brilliant man. The rest of us just take as given the judgment about the man’s brilliance and the related judgment about the meaning of this esoteric study. We trust that they are right and that no great consequences will ensue if they are not..

 

But among other complications is the fact that the great scientist paraded his scientific discovery as proof of the idiocy of believing in God.

According to the New York Times:

Hawkin became one of the world’s best-known and most inspiring scientists, known for his brilliance and his wit. [Hawkin’s] work focused on bringing together relativity — the nature of space and time — and quantum theory — how the smallest particles behave — to explain the creation of the Universe and how it is governed. He discovered that black holes, the fearsome hungry pits of bottomless gravity, were not final death but would leak and radiate, eventually exploding, recycling matter and energy in ways that still challenge physicists’  understanding.

Then comes this thought:

You didn’t need to understand the mathematics to grasp the notion of gaping maws sitting at the bottoms of galaxies or at the end of time, or the six-foot-deep hole with your own name on it.

If you will believe that that means anything, then you will believe anything.

Again, the New York Times:

It is hard not to perceive, peeking out from behind the math and inscrutable space-time diagrams on which this debate takes place, the need and desire of all humans for some kind of reassurance that death be not final, that something is left behind.

For himself, Hawkins has said:

We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

While clearly meant to be profound, these words are simple blather – totally void of any fungible meaning. Because it is so vague, it does not rise to the level of blasphemy, however. I suggest a word: sub-blasphemy.

 

But look again at those hymns:

He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster, Let him in constancy follow the Master. There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim ….

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit, We know we at the end, shall life inherit. Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say, I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

Nothing evasive or vague here.  Let’s pray that whatever friend or relative set upon this text as appropriate for singing at the funeral of this courageous man saw something in him that contradicted his professed atheism –something that he withheld from the world.

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A Most Miraculous Anniversary.

BY Paul Merkley.

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The Lord shall set His hand for the second time to recover the remnants of His people and He shall set up an ensign for the nations and shall assemble the outcast of Israel and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11.)

 

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SYRIA’S FUTURE

Syria’s Future.

By Paul Merkley.

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The Latest from the Syrian Front.

Just a few days ago, the United Nations appealed for an immediate cease-fire in Syria. This occurs as the people of Syria face a humanitarian crisis on the scale of that which now besets Yemen. In both places, the rattle of death is pervasive.  No-one anywhere in the land his head, for fear of having it shot off. Continue Reading »

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THE NEW PURITANISM AND ITS VICTIMS.

By Paul Merkley.

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The crude hedonism that overtook our popular culture in the 1960s is now turning-back upon itself and issuing in a new Puritanism, promoted by a new generation of accusers and punishers.  Continue Reading »