Saturday 26 May 2018

Mock Christianity

It has been a strange experience over the last week to see so many people falling over themselves to praise the overblown performance of Bishop Michael Curry at the recent royal wedding. I didn't see it at the time myself but was curious enough to look at it following the media enthusiasm.  My suspicions (because the media weren't going to praise it if it really was spiritually sound, were they?) were confirmed.  A lot of heat but very little light. The fact is this preacher was not talking from a position of real Christianity. He was preaching a worldly, easy version of it, and doing so in a style in which hyperbole replaced substance and emotionalism made up for proper doctrine. He preached a Christianity that fully accepts you as you are at the moment. You are not an egotist and a sinner and you don't have to repent because you are basically quite good enough right now. You are not required to give up your ego or reject the world in order to find the narrow way which is the only way that leads to God. Nothing but love is required though for our preacher love appeared to be merely a kind of feel good, everyone's wonderful kind of emotion that is quite naturally directed to the soul in its fallen state. The more profound aspects of love which include sacrifice, service and suffering were skimmed over. You might say that it's a wedding so why should they be mentioned? But they are in the traditional Solemnisation of Matrimony which is, as this sermon was not, a proper spiritual document.

 I saw a clip afterwards in which the Archbishop of Canterbury was praising this performance (which is what it was) as being a breath of fresh air. No wonder modern Christianity is so enfeebled. It has no sense of depth or real spiritual knowledge which is why it replaces the metaphysical with the political as Bishop Curry did with his facile talk of love eradicating poverty. That is not what Jesus taught. You only have to read the Gospels to see that Jesus did not come to make the world a better place for human beings to live in here and now. He came to prepare them for entry into higher consciousness, the higher world of God's kingdom. Anyone who reduces Jesus's message to social matters is betraying his spirit, and, if a religious leader does that, then he is misleading his flock. The blind leading the blind. There are no two ways about this. Jesus did die for us because of love. Yes, absolutely. But that death was to make a crooked thing straight again not to leave it crooked because, well, crooked is good if that is what you are. God loves us but not as we are now in our present unrepentant state. If that is not made crystal clear then all talk of love is just an excuse to do nothing, and might even serve the devil.

Contemporary Christianity is emasculated because it lays too much stress on love. Obviously I'm not denying love is the foundation of the universe. But if love becomes an excuse to ignore or deny real metaphysical knowledge and proper theological understanding then it leads to the neglect of intellect which is our participation in the mind of God. Besides, it is not actually real love that is taught but a shallow, sentimentalised version of it that is more about personal feelings. That is not love. Love is not the all men are equal, warm and fuzzy thing this preacher appeared to be talking about and which seeks to make the kingdom of heaven in this world. It is the light of spirit which burns away all worldly falsehood and draws us upwards. The bishop did compare love to fire but his fire only seemed to burn in this world. Its flames did not rise above the clichéd platitudes of liberal ideology.

It seems to me that Christianity can be conceived of vertically and horizontally. It can be a religion that aspires to the pure air of divine being and spiritual truth as in, for example, the Gothic cathedrals and lives of the saints, and as in deep prayer and contemplation. Or it can be more of a social thing that may be religious but is not truly spiritual in any deep sense. This sort may be more immediate but it tends to seek to excite the emotions rather than pacify and go beyond them, and it relies for its effect on hyperbole and emotionalism. It is a crude approach to the mysteries of our being because it speaks to the lower parts of our nature, the emotions and even the physical body, rather than to mind and soul. It is more concerned with social justice in this world than salvation in the next.

Very possibly I will be thought uncharitable in making these comments but if anyone believes this sermon promoted the real teachings of Christ they are mistaken. There can be no real love until there has been full repentance and renunciation of worldliness. The politically correct is practically always spiritually incorrect.

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