Shire Network News #168 has been released. The feature interview is with SNN contributor Meryl Yourish about the "Obamacare" debate. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News asking you to "Consider This!"

This just in: Religious texts are not universally revered.  Liberal ministers shocked.  From the AFP article:

Christians voiced anger and dismay Tuesday after a Bible, which was part of an exhibition inviting viewers to add their reflections, was defaced with offensive and foul-mouthed scrawl.

Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art has decided to put the Bible in a glass case after the exhibit, called Untitled 2009 and part of a show entitled Made In God’s Image, was vandalised.

Artist Jane Clarke, a minister at the Metropolitan Community Church, asked visitors to annotate the Bible with stories and reflections, as a way of making it more inclusive.

But visitors to the gallery took the invitation a bit further than she had anticipated.

"This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all," wrote one person, while another described the Bible as "the biggest lie in human history" and a third wrote: "Mick Jagger and David Bowie belong in here."

The oh-so-easy point to make here — one made innumerable times on this podcast — is that if this were the Koran, then the phrase "voiced anger and dismay" could very likely be the mildest thing you’d read, especially if this took place in, say, Denmark, and included a few cartoons.  We’re repeating ourselves, but it’s worth repeating.

Now, has a link to other articles about the Metropolitan Community Church, and they are, unsurprisingly, a very liberal church.  I part ways with my SNN brethren and "sistren" on the issue of same-sex marriage.  I’m against it, and thus I am on the opposite side of the debate from Metropolitan as well.  They have, in my opinion, ignored what the Bible says on the subject of homosexuality.  And so it comes as no surprise to me, frankly, that the general public around the Metropolitan doesn’t take the Bible seriously; the Metropolitan doesn’t.  Thus this church may actually be having an effect on their community, though likely not in the way they planned.  Its irony in motion.

In addition, the display was rather self-serving.  Clarke said, "Writing our names in the margins of a Bible was to show how we have been marginalised by many Christian churches, and also our desire to be included in God’s love."  Oh please!  What do you mean by "marginalized"?  Thieves, murderers, guys who cheat on their golf scores and, yes, homosexuals are welcome in any church.  No one’s being marginalized.  Ya’ wanna’ come to Jesus?  Then come on down.  Ya’ just wanna’ find out what this whole "Christianity" thing is?  Pull up a pew and we’ll let you know.  Ya’ wanna’ be coddled and told you’re not really doing anything wrong?  Wellll, that’s not going to happen because we all do things wrong, and it would be lying to tell you otherwise, and that would also be wrong.  (Can I have an "Amen"?)

I would hope that the folks running the Metropolitan believes that theft is a sin.  If they do, then saying so is no more marginalizing thieves than saying what my church believes about homosexuality marginalizes gays.  We’re both doing the same thing, so this "holier-than-thou" attitude, so often attributed to conservative churches, seems to have a nice enough home at Metropolitan.  Irony is now becoming rampant.

Finally, this "desire to be included in God’s love" that Clarke mentioned is, for someone who knows their Bible, a given.  How well she knows it is her business (though she is a minister, the church’s former pastor), but here’s a quick refresher.  Most folks, churched or not, know the line, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."  This is Jesus standing with an adulterer and against some religious leaders.  Without asking, she’s already included in God’s love.  No need for liner notes with her name, no parades, no fanfare; it’s there.  Clarke’s own words seem to call that guarantee into question.  There’s no reason why her community would think any differently. Instead of salt and light, it sounds to me like the Metropolitan is presenting bland shades of gray.

Oh, and by the way, there is another line in that same Bible story that isn’t repeated as often as the "first stone" line.  The last thing Jesus says to here is, "Go and sin no more."  Can you believe it?  By calling what she did a "sin", He was marginalizing her!  Consider this!

Filed under: ChristianityPodcastsReligionShire Network News

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