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Source: (consider it) Thread: Relics: Superstition or Piety
Lamb Chopped
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Whoa! Rather a sweeping statement. First problem is, we really don't know everything there is to know about bodies, let alone about the structure of reality. I don't think heaven is a place you can get to by flying in a starship. Nor did the Jews AFAIK, though as Lewis points out, if you're going to permanently exit earth in a way that's visible to your followers (so they stop looking for you behind every sofa), you're either going to have to appear to go up or down (and down would have produced a very odd belief system!) Clearly there is some other senior "reality" into which Christ withdrew, and we can't sensibly claim to know the limitations of that reality, let alone how those structures, whatever they are, interact with a glorified human body.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
None of heaven being a place or bodies residing in it makes any real sense, even in the context of religion. Not Christianity, anyway.

I'm curious as to where you got this (incorrect, if 2,000 years of tradition are to be believed) view from. Why do you think so?
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
None of heaven being a place or bodies residing in it makes any real sense, even in the context of religion. Not Christianity, anyway.

I'm curious as to where you got this (incorrect, if 2,000 years of tradition are to be believed) view from. Why do you think so?
The bible is full of contradiction. Two thousand years of tradition hasn't cleared that up, so...
We humans can only look at things through our own perspective. everything that we see, and most of what we observe, has a physicality. It makes sense that this is how things would be described by Iron Age peoples.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Lamb Chopped
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I'm interested in the way you appear to think physicality is a lesser thing. Do you think that senior realities such as I described could never have physicality?

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I'm interested in the way you appear to think physicality is a lesser thing. Do you think that senior realities such as I described could never have physicality?

Is a senior reality like a senior moment? [Biased]
Any definition is a limitation. And our bodies define us. You want to have God outside our understanding, but still within our definitions. This is a contradiction.
God becoming human was God accepting limitation. That was the point. If God, as Jesus, were in anyway more than human, there was no point in the incarnation. So if Jesus then becomes one with Himself again, there is no point in maintaining any sort of limitation.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I'm interested in the way you appear to think physicality is a lesser thing. Do you think that senior realities such as I described could never have physicality?

Is a senior reality like a senior moment? [Biased]
Any definition is a limitation. And our bodies define us. You want to have God outside our understanding, but still within our definitions. This is a contradiction.
God becoming human was God accepting limitation. That was the point. If God, as Jesus, were in anyway more than human, there was no point in the incarnation. So if Jesus then becomes one with Himself again, there is no point in maintaining any sort of limitation.

Okay, whole buncha stuff here. I will attempt to avoid having senior moments [Biased] .

First, definition as limitation. A lot of stuff would need to be specified for that to make sense--if you mean it in the straightforward way, then discussing anything at all would be to limit it, and I don't think you mean that. Would you, for instance, accept that "a" and "not a" are mutually exclusive? because to name something is to call it "a" which I argue is to define it in opposition to not-a. If that's a limit, it is recognizing a limit rather than imposing one. To leave it undefined would not remove the limit, it would merely leave it unnamed.

"our bodies define us"--surely no more than our minds define us? We are defined by what we are. God is defined by what he is, whether he becomes incarnate or not. I can't see how incarnation would further define or limit him, in that sense.

I don't think the whole point of the incarnation was God accepting limitation. He has been doing that in any number of ways ever since he created stuff other than himself. To make room for the stuff, he has had to withdraw himself, so to speak--this option and not that option, this choice and not that choice. To say nothing of putting up with human beings with free will!

The point of the incarnation lies I think in the name "Immanuel"--God-with-us. Not that he is limited, but that he is now with us in our very form of being in a way that he was not before the incarnation. He has assumed human nature--has made himself a relative.

[ 10. January 2018, 21:04: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:

The point of the incarnation lies I think in the name "Immanuel"--God-with-us. Not that he is limited, but that he is now with us in our very form of being in a way that he was not before the incarnation. He has assumed human nature--has made himself a relative.

I disagree. The vast majority of humans never saw Jesus. You haven't.* So, God-with-us is not relevant if it was just a pop in for a visit. Neither was the pain of crucifixion if he knew he had a Get Out of Death card.
I have had a genuine I am going to die moment. This was not merely what I thought but what was also the likely outcome.
And I have had excruciatingly painful, but I'm going to be here tomorrow moments.
Knowing one is not going to immediately die, that there will be a tomorrow, makes a massive difference.
Becoming fully human is the only thing that comes close to Incarnation making sense.

*This is a different thing to experiencing god.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Lamb Chopped
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I think we're not communicating somehow. Of course becoming fully human is the point of the Incarnation.

What I don't get is why you think that God reversed the Incarnation at some point in time. Wouldn't THAT constitute popping in for a visit?

[ 10. January 2018, 21:49: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I think we're not communicating somehow. Of course becoming fully human is the point of the Incarnation.

What I don't get is why you think that God reversed the Incarnation at some point in time. Wouldn't THAT constitute popping in for a visit?

No. Just that there is no point in a body after the incarnation.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Gamaliel
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Why not?

It becomes an avatar then rather than an incarnation that persists into eternity.

Which is what the traditional view of it comprises, even if time and eternity aren't seen in purely 'linear' terms.

'That which has not been assumed cannot be healed',' as the Patristic saying goes.

In Christian theology, Jesus didn't simply slip on a meat suit only to slough it off like a snake-skin later. He joined himself to human flesh and took it back with him, as it were in a glorified form - only that's an inadequate way of putting it too.

Christ's body wasn't simply a vehicle for him to drive around in and then to swap for a new model or to abandon and return to incorporality.

Whatever we make of the accounts of the post-Resurrection appearances the Gospel writers seem keen to stress that Christ wasn't a ghost.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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lilBuddha
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You are describing what tradition says, not why it should be so.
A lot of how God is described doesn’t make sense unless one allows an imperfect human understanding of the divine.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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simontoad
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
I may be weird (chorus of, "Really?"), but in Gerogia and Lebanon I found mummified saints or monks, or objects that claimed to be relics, comforting.

For the deceased these were my sisters and brothers in Christ. Those who had, we pray, fought the Good Fight and gone to their reward. It was a visible reminder that Christianity did not start and end with the 21st century, but stretched back 2,000 odd years, and these Saints (or saints) had struggled as I do to live a life according to the teachings of Christ.

I don't, I think, turn my mind off; had the foreskin of Christ popped up I confess doubts would be in my mind. But visiting a holy place, or seeing a Saint from ages past, was wonderful to me. And rather emotional. So emotional in fact I broke down while travelling through Georgia.

Better people than me probably don't need these. I probably don't "need" them. But I can only write to the comfort and peace they brought me. Reading about their lives on the way there or on the way back only heightened the thought we are one Church in heaven and earth.

Beautiful stuff. I have certainly felt that way about places but not relics. Sometimes, mood and place combine to elicit a sense of the holy. Have you experienced some of the feelings you describe in nature Ian?

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Human

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
The problem I have with holy places or saint’s bits and bobs is that it runs counter to the general premise of the Christian God.

That this physical world will be redeemed in the age to come?

quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
If the soul is the only thing that matters, than bodily remains after death are philosophically worthless.

And our hope is, according to the Creed, the resurrection of the dead, not the perpetual disembodied existence of the soul.

quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
This seems wide open to problems - especially when there are overlapping claims of holiness, when other people don't agree with the designation and so on.

Not sure why that matters at all. If we threw away every category that people disagree about, we would have nothing left at all.

quote:
On a micro-scale it seems to be the root of many centuries of aggression in some parts. Thinking of the Church of the Nativity, that horrible, cursed place in Bethlehem.
So what? Should we throw out everything that people get aggressive about? There goes Christianity. Buh-bye. Watch your head on the way out.

quote:
I don't know anything about relics, I'm not quite sure how they fit into this thinking about "holy spaces".
You're the one who brought up holy spaces, so you will have to tell us.

quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
I do find relics frankly creepy.

And I find gay sex icky. I do not draw any practical or ethical or religious conclusions from that fact about myself.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
A body is a limit on the unlimited. An unnecessary thing.

It is far more of a limit to tie God down to what is "necessary."

quote:
The concept that Jesus rose bodily into heaven is a limitation of how our minds operate. None of heaven being a place or bodies residing in it makes any real sense, even in the context of religion. Not Christianity, anyway.
And yet it has been there from the very beginning of the religion to this very day. I want to suggest that there is something wrong with the lens through which you are viewing, if you think this thing does not belong in our religion.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
And yet it has been there from the very beginning of the religion to this very day. I want to suggest that there is something wrong with the lens through which you are viewing, if you think this thing does not belong in our religion.

Again, there are bit of the bible that are contradictory and as well as contrary to the nature of the God Christians generally describe. Many Christians do not have a problem ignoring or interpreting some of those bits differently than they have been in the past.
I am not saying what belongs or doesn't. I am saying it does not make sense to me from the words I read in the Bible and how Christians describe God.
ETA: I've heard Christians argue the very same thing. They do not think it belongs in their religion. This should not matter, though, the argument stands or falls on its own logic.

[ 11. January 2018, 04:28: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Golden Key
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np--

quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...: Oh yes, the holy foreskin always pops up. The dead people under glass, organs and body parts in all their shrivelled glory are bad enough. How much did our dear saviour have hanging anyway? ::shudder:: ::sacrilege::

Re your last couple of lines:

OTOH, there's artwork (Medieval/Renaissance?) that shows Jesus having an erection (on the cross?) as a sign of his resurrection power.

[ 11. January 2018, 05:54: Message edited by: Golden Key ]

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
Have you experienced some of the feelings you describe in nature Ian?

Yes. In the bush as the sunlight filters through the leaves. By a waterfall as I ponder the endless flow of water. On a hill or cliff as I survey the plains stretching out to the horizon.

A sort of communion with nature if you will.

While these places have not been marked as holy, and here is where I may be on shaky ground, I feel a sense of the divine. Of eternity. Of something bigger.

As I do when I see a saint, or deceased monk, or a relic. Or enter a church to be honest.

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mr cheesy
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I'm curious whether if makes any difference to anyone if the relic wasn't from the named saint after all..

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arse

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
You're the one who brought up holy spaces, so you will have to tell us.


Nope I started thinking about it because of your comment about localised holiness referring to a place.

quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:


By localized holiness I mean the idea that a place, or an object, can be holy in a way that other things are not, and remain so.



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arse

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Golden Key
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lilBuddha--

One way that Christians look at it is that God is joining with humanity--permanently. And bringing all of creation along. Healing all of it, and (in some interpretations) making us like God. Wedding imagery is used: Jesus as the bridegroom and (saved) humanity as the bride.

Did you ever see the first Star Trek film? Ailyeh and Decker joining. Mixing together. Quite a thing.

The Orthodoxen have a term for making us like God, but I don't remember it.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Gamaliel
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Theosis.

On the localised holiness thing, I have some sympathy with mr cheesy's reservations as it can, and does, lead to unholy turf wars such as we see at the Church of The Nativity and other sites.

More seriously, it has led to appalling events like The Crimean War and the continuing violence and unrest in the Middle East.

I don't know how we go about resolving that. Declaring a moratorium on holy sites, relics and anything else that's physical isn't going to sort that one out.

On Ian's point about experiencing a sense of the divine or the numinous in nature or non-churchy settings - well yes, it's another of these both/and not either/or things.

A lot of this stuff is culturally determined, of course.

Daniel Defoe responded very differently to places like Malham Cove and other geographical features we'd find scenic or romantic.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mr cheesy
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Well I admit to being jaded. I've been to Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the region several times - and the things I've seen make me sick.

And it isn't just about the occupation, for me it is that there is far too much religion in the atmosphere, far too many different groups fighting over "holy places" and "relics" and so on. The three great religions of the region (plus a bunch of other smaller ones) are fighting with each other and between themselves for this thing that is collectively called the "Holy Land" but amounts to little more than a pile of old stones.

I appreciate that this isn't inevitable and yet it seems to me to be a fundamental part of the theology of relics and holy places. It's a feature, as far as I can see, not a problematic unintended consequence.

The places where this stuff can go on without causing conflict seem to me to be due to a fairly unusual set of circumstances.

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arse

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
You're the one who brought up holy spaces, so you will have to tell us.


Nope I started thinking about it because of your comment about localised holiness referring to a place.

quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:


By localized holiness I mean the idea that a place, or an object, can be holy in a way that other things are not, and remain so.


If a holy tree falls in the forest when there's nobody there...

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Love wins

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Forthview
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One man's meat is another man's poison and one man's piety is another man's superstition.
Fighting between people of different religions or of differing points of view within the same religion may simply be seen in greater relief in places where many people congregate but it is just as bad amongst the believers in many evangelical sects who would probably show great disdain for any veneration of relics. these things are a continual reminder of our human imperfections.

Veneration of relics is not an integral part of the Catholic faith -veneration of life created by God is. The whole question of the authenticity of relics ( and this arm of St Francis Xavier would seem to be genuine) and the veneration due to them simply moves round in circles.

Obviously there are a good number of people who feel that it would improve their spiritual lives were they to be in the presence of a 'holy'relic,in the same way that many people would feel better in their everyday lives if they had attended a concert by Taylor Swift.

The first I heard in fairly modern times of these travelling relics was a visit a few years back to the UK of relics of Ste Therese of Lisieux. The Catholic bishops of Scotland said that there would be no interest here for such a visit (just in the wake of a major ecclesiastical scandal) and were surprised at the numbers of busloads of Scottish Catholics who went down to the various places in England to spend some time in the presence of the relics.I suppose that in evangelical terms it was a bit like an old time tent mission.

Of course there can be times when we feel at certain places a sense of something greater than ourselves,something which we connect with intimately.In a non-religious way I felt this once over 40 years ago when I was in Red Square in Moscow and I thought about all that had happened there over the centuries.

As some other posters have said ,for some people all of Christianity is simply superstition.
Piety is simply a way of looking positively at something which is God's creation.

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Gamaliel
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I find myself agreeing with both Forthview and mr cheesy. How annoying for those Shippies who want me to come down off the fence!

I've not been to the Holy Land but I suspect my reaction would be similar to mr cheesy's.

Nevertheless ... old stones are old stones with associations ...

As human beings I don't see how we can disassociate ourselves from those.

I don't usually watch the Michael Portillo railway journey things on t'telly but I found myself avidly watching his visits to Newport and Cardiff. Oh, the hiraeth!

I can't help but feel a flutter in my stomach when I see the Transporter Bridge or what's now The Principality Stadium on the site of the old Arms Park ...

So how can I criticise anyone who wants to stake a claim to particular sites in the Holy Land?

I'd like to think I'd draw the line at elbowing others out and so forth - but that does seem to be the inherent and instrinsic tendency.

Like the Patriarchs jostling for supremacy over the Holy Flame in Jerusalem at Easter and all that malarkey.

But then, does iconoclasm solve anything?

The Taliban going round blowing up statues of The Buddha, Puritans smashing stained glass or digging up and scattering Saint's bones?

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Mudfrog
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I think that if anything - a relic of a dead saint, a beloved building, a set of hymn books donated in memory of the late flower arranger - become more important than the worship of Jesus then it's nothing less than idolatry.

It's no good talking about how these things point to God - just look at what happened to the serpent on the bronze pole! It pointed them to the healing power of God and then they started worshipping the pole! It's like when I feed my cat and she doesn't realise the food is there. I point to the bowl but all she does is look at my hand and then bite the finger!

When I was a young trainee I was appointed to a small Lancashire town - Ashton in Makerfield, near Wigan - where there was a lovely RC Church called St Oswald's and St Edmund Arrowsmith. Oddly it wasn't famous for Oswald but for Edmund who I believe was martyred and burned in the 17th Century. Apparently someone managed to rescue his hand from the fire; and there it was, on a side altar under one of those glass domes you put clocks in.

I visited the Church to introduce myself and felt a bit sick as I looked at this wizened brown hand, venerated by the faithful and referred to as The Holy Hand...
A little later I moved into the nave and looked at the five truly beautiful stained glass windows. I asked someone who the figures were in the glass - the middle one obviously being Christ. Unbelievably the lady parishioner had no idea who the five men were - not even the Central One!
I learned later the other four were the Gospel writers (how ironic)
But after professing her ignorance of the stained glass figures, she immediately asked, with great excitement and fervour, 'Have you seen our Holy Hand?'

If I thought that was sad, how much sadder was I to feel a while later - and not a little angry - when one of the children of our Sunday School, who happened to come from a mixed denomination family (SA and RC), was upset because as part of her first communion she was going to be made to kiss the glass jar containing the very-clearly-seen Holy (sic) Hand as it was passed round the children by the priest.

To me that was unacceptable, but what can you say?


My second, and final so far, encounter with a dead saint, was last year when the present Mrs Mudfrog and I went to Crete and there in the lovely city of Heraklion was the Church of St Titus. In a side chapel was a glass case containing a bejewelled Gk Orthodox Bishop's headress - HERE it is - where, as you can see, one can gaze at the top of Titus' skull.

That didn't bother me too much I guess - as long as kids don't have to kiss the poor saint's remains.

I wouldn't nail any theses to any church doors over it, but it is a bit medieval and, as I said, dangerously close to being idolatry, IMHO.

[ 11. January 2018, 11:45: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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fletcher christian

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Anything can be idolatrous, even scripture. In fact, I think the idolatry of a particular holding of scripture above everything is possibly the greatest challenge to the church in our era. Old bones and relics have become a bit macabre in our day, yet there is something rather beautiful about those which are formed into something or bejewelled. It reminds me of The Tempest, when Ariel sings of Miranda's dead father at the bottom of the ocean, who experiences a little precursor to resurrection as his bones are slowly encrusted with a glittering coral to 'suffer a sea-change'.

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Mudfrog
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Yes, if the use of Scripture points away from Jesus it's idolatry.

As the songs says,
Beyond the sacred page I seek thee Lord...

and

Show me the truth concealed within thy Word,
and in thy Book revealed I see the Lord.

[ 11. January 2018, 12:45: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Anything can be idolatrous, even scripture. In fact, I think the idolatry of a particular holding of scripture above everything is possibly the greatest challenge to the church in our era.

Slightly lighter note, but I was amused that a lot of the Young Restless Reformed types were really into expensive, 'well printed' 'well bound' bibles.
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Gamaliel
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The thing is, though, in both directions now, how can we tell when:

- Devotion or veneration of a relic, favourite artefact or icon etc becomes an end in itself to the detriment of the worship of Christ?

- Close and wrapt attention to scripture becomes bibliolatry rather an encounter with the Living Word through the written word?

There can be some 'confirmation bias' going on too - that RC parishioner couldn't recognise Christ and the Four Gospel Writers in the stained glass window and yet knew all about the 'Holy Hand', therefore she doesn't know anything about Christ ...

Can we know? Can we tell? We don't have windows into people's souls.

That said, I've certainly heard RCs and Orthodox complain at what they see as excessive examples of 'popular piety' within their own settings.

An RC colleague once told me how disturbing he found it that Travellers (in particular) would come into his parish church and touch or kiss the statues in a particularly 'superstitious' way and run off with the Holy Water to use as charms ...

So we all draw the line somewhere or other whatever tradition we are from.

I'm not saying that 'anything goes', but one person's sincere devotion can become someone else's idolatry or bibliolatry ...

The common denominator these days, though, appears to be the level of ickiness involved ... and that's surely a culturally influenced thing?

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Gamaliel
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And 'confirmation bias' can go the other way too, of course ...

'That fundagelical is spending an inordinate amount of time poring over the scriptures and plotting out eschatological schemas ... therefore those aspects must be more important to them than Christ ...'

Hans Kung made what I felt was a very helpful observation in one of his books, that in RC circles popular piety can focus on 'objects' and things (relics, places forms of ceremony etc) to the point that these became almost 'cultic' ...

Whereas in popular Protestant piety the focus isn't so much on objects but on particular interpretations of particular scriptural texts - especially eschatological ones.

Again, a focus on those could become out of synch and unbalanced.

So I reckon it works both ways.

Trying to pin down when it crosses the line in either direction is easier said than done.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:


There can be some 'confirmation bias' going on too - that RC parishioner couldn't recognise Christ and the Four Gospel Writers in the stained glass window and yet knew all about the 'Holy Hand', therefore she doesn't know anything about Christ ...

Can we know? Can we tell? We don't have windows into people's souls.

Yeah, but that's not what I said.
She may have been a lovely Christian woman who worshipped Christ sincerely in the Mass but my conversation with her that morning showed what, for her, was the most important thing about the church building.

For her, the focal point was not the stained glass of Christ, nor even the lovely Italianate altar and communion rail, but The Holy Hand.

How did it point to Christ?
It didn't. It pointed to a man who was executed for his Catholic beliefs. We can't even say he was executed because of his allegiance to Christ because he was condemned by others who were also, in their own minds, committed to Christ.

Ironically, Christ was the common denominator between the two sides. The relic then is not of witness to Christ but intolerance of peripheral (to us) issues.

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G.K. Chesterton

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Mudfrog
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LOL The Holy Hand - 'How did it point...'?

[Yipee] [Big Grin] [Killing me]

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Yes, if the use of Scripture points away from Jesus it's idolatry.

I agree, though I suspect we'd disagree on what this actually constitutes.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Forthview
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It is more than possible that the woman in the rc church in Ashton in Makerfield thought that the most important thing in the church was the 'Holy Hand' - which, even I, so far away, have heard of.
For any Catholic the most important thing in a church, even for this lady, would be the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle or Ark of the Lord.
That being said, virtually every Catholic church will have the Blessed Sacrament where people can pray, but very few will have a 'Holy Hand' to show to visitors who might not be interested in that real treasure of the church, namely the Blessed Sacrament.Not all Catholics are interested in the art works in a church,many do not notice them at all.

I am really and truly sorry to hear of the child who was 'made' to kiss the reliquary in which the hand is kept. For many Catholics this would be considered a great honour, but it is possible that the non Catholic parent,as that parent had every right to do,expressed views which were different to those of parents who did not object.

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Firenze

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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Old bones and relics have become a bit macabre in our day, yet there is something rather beautiful about those which are formed into something or bejewelled.

Of course it can all get a bit out of hand. The original Fortean Times article referenced is no longer online, but it described the procedure for ‘identifying’ the supposed saints and martyrs whose bones would then be posted to the relic-hungry churches. Let’s say, it raises the question; If you believe these are the remains of St Dubious, does it confer whatever mana is supposed to inhere in relics?

[ 11. January 2018, 15:44: Message edited by: Firenze ]

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Anglican_Brat
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One friend of mine who was raised in an evangelical background, when she initially started going to an Anglo-catholic parish, was uncomfortable with the veneration of the Cross, "How is it not idolatry when you are kissing a Cross?"

That being said, how about singing "When I survey that Wondrous Cross" with gusto? Isn't that about devotion to the Cross the same way that kissing a Cross is.

The issue with idolatry, is the sin is in the intention. Is the Cross a way for me to draw closer to Jesus, or am I worshipping the Cross as God?

I think we can get a bit too excited about possible idolatry. I am more concerned about people worshipping money or power, than people possibly worshipping a relic of St Francis.

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Anglican_Brat
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quote:

For her, the focal point was not the stained glass of Christ, nor even the lovely Italianate altar and communion rail, but The Holy Hand.

When I was visiting Halifax, I visited the oldest Protestant church in Canada, St Paul's Anglican. St Paul's is historically and proudly low church, it would be a cold day in heck if a High Mass would ever be sung here: http://www.stpaulshalifax.org/

Curiously, what is striking about St Paul's, is the multiple memorials and plaques of deceased parishioners scattered throughout the church sanctuary. There is also several deceased remains buried in the church as well. It was much more than your routine plaques of past rectors, it seemed that pretty much any great parishioner was on there.

I suspect no one would dare use the word "relic" in such a Protestant place. But really, how is this any different than a RC church with relics of saints?

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It's Reformation Day! Do your part to promote Christian unity and brotherly love and hug a schismatic.

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Gamaliel
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A bit 'out of hand ...'

[Big Grin] [Killing me]

Now Mudfrog has got me started.

I have to hand it to him. And I take his point now he's put his finger on it ... but let's not manipulate the thread too much ...

(I'll stop with the hand puns now)

My guess would be that the RC parishioner simply took the stained glass for granted and hadn't even paid much attention to it, so yes, the focus for visitors she would expect to be the 'Holy Hand.'

Lots of RC churches have stained glass, not many can boast a 'Holy Hand.'

But would you have had the same reaction, I wonder, had you wandered into a medieval parish church (now run by the CofE rather than the RCs of course) and a kindly verger or warden pointed out a fragment of 14th century fresco, say, or a particularly quirky or noteworthy monument?

Would you go away muttering, 'Huh! That interesting piece of faded 14th paintwork or that quirky inscription was obviously the most important thing about his/her church ...'

On the issue of relics/shrines of 'martyrs' on both sides of the Reformation struggle, I remember visiting an interesting RC church on one of those heritage open day things they have in the autumn when historic buildings not normally open to the public over than on when they are in 'use' as it were, are open to visitors.

It had a shrine/memorial to a particular RC martyr of the Reformation years. I was struck by how even-handed the volunteer guide, a member of the congregation there, was when describing the events that led up to the poor chap's death - even correcting some imbalanced / potentially provocative anti-Protestant comments by some of the RC visitors present.

If we are going to be snarky about the RCs venerating relics of those executed during the century or so after the Reformation, are we going to criticise the Germans for celebrating Reformation Day?

Plenty of very Reformed folk make a big song and dance about their martyrs from that time.

Incidentally, a former Anglican priest turned RC told me about an ecumenical service held in Oxford I think each year where RCs and Anglicans pray together, remember those killed on both sides and ask forgiveness of one another and pray for reconciliation.

It's normally done in a fairly formal and, to his mind, lip-service kind of way ...

But on this particular occasion the woman playing the piano, an Anglican, stopped mid-hymn and began to cry.

It was so spontaneous and unaffected that it spread and before long everyone was in bits and the service couldn't proceed until they'd rallied themselves and pulled themselves together.

Afterwards, the senior RC cleric who had led the service said to my informant, 'Do you know, I've been attending ecumenical services for over 30 years. That was the first time I've ever felt we've got to the heart of it on either side ...'

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
quote:

For her, the focal point was not the stained glass of Christ, nor even the lovely Italianate altar and communion rail, but The Holy Hand.

When I was visiting Halifax, I visited the oldest Protestant church in Canada, St Paul's Anglican. St Paul's is historically and proudly low church, it would be a cold day in heck if a High Mass would ever be sung here: http://www.stpaulshalifax.org/

Curiously, what is striking about St Paul's, is the multiple memorials and plaques of deceased parishioners scattered throughout the church sanctuary. There is also several deceased remains buried in the church as well. It was much more than your routine plaques of past rectors, it seemed that pretty much any great parishioner was on there.

I suspect no one would dare use the word "relic" in such a Protestant place. But really, how is this any different than a RC church with relics of saints?

Quite simply because they don't ascribe any miraculous interventions to them, not call upon them to mediate or grant them answers to prayer. They are memorials, not means of communication.

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G.K. Chesterton

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
When I was about sixteen I bought a second-hand drum kit which the seller assured me had once been owned by Charlie Watts.

But I didn't become a famous drummer, which proves that relics don't work.

It is possible, though, that you became his equal in skill and that is why you are not a famous drummer.
A bit like the episode of Supernatural when the struggling artist, who sold his soul to the Devil, tells the Winchesters that he asked for artistic talent when he should have asked for fame and money.You should have hung out for Ringo's set - tish boom!

I think, on balance, I am pro-relic. Whilst I have always had a fondness for Ambrose Bierce's joke about the head of St. Denis become unquiet in a French monastery and, when challenged by the Abbot, announced that it was looking for a body of doctrine, I am also the proud possessor of a number of books about the Second World War that I have owned, unread, since the year 2000 and am in no immediate hurry to read and which I acquired when Grandma decided to pass them on to the family bibliophile, because they were Grandads. Frankly, my complete edition of the Church Dogmatics, my sentiments about which resemble Mr Charlton Heston's sentiments about his AK47, will go before they go. I am really in no position to pass judgement on some medieval abbot who was as pleased as punch to acquire the alleged shinbone of St. Sulpicus the Obscure and, assuming your houses are not festooned with photographs of your nearest and dearest, than neither are any of you.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
assuming your houses are not festooned with photographs of your nearest and dearest, than neither are any of you.

It is a very human think to attach significance to objects and places. My point is that this is exactly what relics and holy places are rather than loci of holiness or power.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
The thing is, though, in both directions now, how can we tell when:

.. and yet, even though he knew we had this tendency, and he knew the kinds of distortions we could make of them, God still gave us two very physical signs/sacraments.

I think a lot of problems can be avoided by a proper emphasis on these sacraments - as often the lack of any sacrament at all leads people to create their own, and I do wonder if historically popular piety created a lot of these practices in part because of the restrictions around Communion.

As to the places/things etc I'm fairly open to the possibility that God would work through them - though would generally resist moves to systemize such a thing.

Human remains seem a stranger thing to me to put along side traditional Christian teachings on hope , death and rest (presumably the saints family would have wished them to 'rest in peace').

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
She may have been a lovely Christian woman who worshipped Christ sincerely in the Mass but my conversation with her that morning showed what, for her, was the most important thing about the church building.

Or what she thought a visitor would be most likely to be most interested in. Knowledge likely gained through years of meeting visitors exactly like you and me.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
When I was about sixteen I bought a second-hand drum kit which the seller assured me had once been owned by Charlie Watts.

But I didn't become a famous drummer, which proves that relics don't work.

It is possible, though, that you became his equal in skill and that is why you are not a famous drummer.
Watts was rated twelfth in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Ever Drummers".

Actually, as something of a relic himself at 77, and still touring AFAIK, perhaps he is himself a demonstration that relics do work.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
When I was about sixteen I bought a second-hand drum kit which the seller assured me had once been owned by Charlie Watts.

But I didn't become a famous drummer, which proves that relics don't work.

It is possible, though, that you became his equal in skill and that is why you are not a famous drummer.
Watts was rated twelfth in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Ever Drummers".

Nice list, [Roll Eyes] they do not even include Chick Webb. They put Charlie Watts ahead of Billy Cobham? [Disappointed] Watts is a competent drummer, more meat and potatoes than virtuoso, though. Good enough for a rock drummer, but his jazz efforts are purely school boy.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Nice list, [Roll Eyes] they do not even include Chick Webb. They put Charlie Watts ahead of Billy Cobham? [Disappointed] Watts is a competent drummer, more meat and potatoes than virtuoso, though. Good enough for a rock drummer, but his jazz efforts are purely school boy.

You are probably right - I have not been near a drum set for over fifty years and wouldn't know.

You might like to take it up with the editor of RS.

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