There are six things the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to Him:
A proud look, a lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
It’s been one of the more unusual sights so far this year, a Catholic bishop doing a brisk ‘speeding stroll of shame’ pursued by the press, as is traditional, in its role as society’s Baskerville hound; snarling with righteous indignation, and snapping photographs at the heels of those found to be wicked without redeeming good, and good for a front page on a slow day.
True to the role the bustling, battling bishop wore dark glasses, a closely zipped up black jacket and a black baseball cap pulled well down to disguise himself. On reflection I’m pretty sure the cap with ‘Sacred Heart Of Jesus’ embroidered on it probably didn’t help. The fiery, fugitive priest raised an angry fist at journalist, microphone and camera.
It was a sublimely ironic moment, a humbled prince of the church treated as a shamed and shameful quarry, and reacting like one. Not for him the nobility of suffering, as Christ did, the several Stations of the Cross.
And can you even do that in an airport? The Fall at The Baggage Check-in, The Scourging of The Media and The Stripping Of The Garments by Customs Officers, Simon Of Cyrene Helps You With Your Carry-On Baggage, The Bewilderment At The Duty-Free Shop, The Acceptance Of The Souvenir Tea-Towel of Saint Veronica, the.. well, you get the gist of it. For many years I thought St Pancras was one of the Stations of the Cross, which horrified some people as I recall. They were probably Christians it occurs to me now.
Bishop on the go - Dick Williamson.
Bishop Richard Williamson was consecrated by the Society of Saint Pius the Tenth, a catholic breakaway sect (contradiction in terms right there, you’ll notice) so right-wing, extreme and ultra conservative there’s been no place for them under Il Papa since Vatican 2, the reforming conclave of the early 1960s. The SSPX held that all the Popes after Pius X were so far from traditional Catholicism they were actually heretics. And so this little band of nutters (ahem, make that ‘true-believers’) was in fact the only true Church (don't they all say that?).
A month ago Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of the Society’s four illicitly consecrated bishops, including British born Williamson, who once said of Benedict, “His past writings are full of Modernist errors .. the synthesis of all heresies. So Ratzinger as a heretic goes far beyond Luther's Protestant errors,”. Benedict had the grace to let this go.
The 'heretic' Benedict XVI aka 'Evil Santa'
But four days before the excommunication was lifted Williamson appeared on Swedish television denying the existence of gas-chambers, and minimising the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. When pushed to the point he said he couldn’t believe it without proof, without solid evidence, he said. Apparently he’d not had time to read any of the mountain of books specific to the subject. But then, the SSPX, as they stylishly abbreviate themselves were so quasi-Fascist they sang the praises of France’s wartime Vichy collaborators, and ran Student Youth camps reminiscent of the Hitler Youth. But I digress..
The Pope demanded a retraction and an apology. Williamson’s reply was classic casuistry, the Pope didn’t accept it, and Argentina demanded he leave the country, which is where the stroll of shame, the ambulation of agony, the pedestrian penance, the cleric’s constitutional of condemnation occurred. It appears the Bishop has gone to Britain to stay with an old pal, David Irving, Nazi apologist extraordinaire, if we can believe the Daily Mail (and who wouldn’t trust that fine, upstanding fish-and-chip-wrapper?).
But why was it so difficult for the beleaguered Bishop? The evidence for the millions murdered by the Nazis, Jew and gentile alike, is mountainous. And Bish Dick certainly believes all sorts of rubbish without a problem. And Christians can believe so much extraordinary stuff with no evidence but faith and one single source document.
The Anchorstone from Noah's Ark - No, really..
For example: Original Sin, the Garden of Eden, Heaven and Hell, Moses parting the Red Sea, God doing ventriloquism as a Burning Bush, Pillars of Fire, Jonah and the Whale, walking on water, miraculous healings, demon-possessed pigs, Interventionist Angels, fallen Angels at work creating evil, the Power of Prayer, the love of a merciful God who drowned the entire world except Noah and his family, the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, the assumption (flying up) into heaven of Christ, the Virgin Mary and others, baptism that washes away sin, forgiveness of sins by the Church, and eternal life in a resurrected corpse.
And for Christians to believe that the Bible is the absolute truth, the unerring word of God, they also have to believe that children who mock bald people should be eaten by bears (2 Kings 2:23-24), that nothing proves true love like the gift of two hundred foreskins (1 Samuel 18:25-27 ), that talking donkeys are the key to enlightenment (Numbers 22:28-30), that there's no excuse for tackle-happy wrestling manoeuvres by the missus (Deuteronomy 25:11-12), that your scrotum needs to be in good shape before you go to church (Deuteronomy 23:1), and that a loving God will show you his back side if you’re a really good boy (Exodus 33:23). Moab, it seems, really is his washpot.
But mock ye not, oh ye of little faith.
Leave it to the faithful to mock themselves.
For, as those who know me know, I’m getting married in two weeks time in the Anglican Church of St John the Baptist. It will come as no surprise that I’m not the average Christian, not one who could be called orthodox or overly reverential. But I do believe in the power of a sacred and solemn vow, that family is who you say it is, and that love is the most important power on this tiny planet.
I also believe that any God who has the power, the wisdom and the fractal omnipresence to get a universe like this up and running has a sense of humour, and that any religious twaddle that can’t stand the test of ridicule isn’t really all that holy. And I believe that a God like that doesn’t need constant grovelling and worship, isn’t all that fussed over human sexuality, and doesn’t think women should hide their beauty, their intellect, or their creative power from the world.
And now, a prayer:
Red is for the blood He gave,
Green is for the grass He made,
Yellow is for the sun so bright,
Orange is for the edge of night.
Black is for the sins that were made,
White is for the grace He gave,
Purple is for the hour of sorrow,
Pink is for the new tomorrow.
Give a bag full of jelly beans, colourful and sweet,
Tell them it's a Prayer, it's a promise. It's an Easter Treat!
On second thought I’d not give that one to the kiddies.