Posts Tagged ‘ Wright ’

Literalism and apocalypticism

A (typical) quote from N. T. Wright that I forgot to publish:

„Yesterday’s literal statement may become today’s metaphor; tomorrow things may reverse again. Nobody takes all the Bible literally, and nobody takes it all metaphorically, whatever they may say; we are none of us as wooden as our slogans suggest. In order to interpret any passage, particularly any passage of apocalyptic, the way of wisdom is to go through it one step at a time, deciding what is literal and what is metaphorical on the way. When Daniel says “I saw four beasts come up out of the sea” (Daniel 7.2), the “beasts” and the “sea” are metaphorical (the “beasts” are human empires, and the “sea” is the source of evil), but “four” is literal. When he says that “the little horn was making war on the holy ones and prevailed against them” (7.21), the “little horn” is metaphorical (referring to an actual human ruler), but the “war” is literal. And so on. This, of course, requires caution in serious Bible study, something that is not always much in evidence.

Though I dislike technical terms in general, I find it helpful to use the word “apocalypticism” to denote the worldview in which certain people come to believe that their group is set apart from the rest of humanity, that it is righteous and all others are sinners, and, more particularly, that an event will soon occur which will sort things out once and for all. The sun and the moon will be darkened, literally not metaphorically; the Lord will descend from heaven and snatch the saints up in the air, literally not metaphorically; the Mount of Olives will be split in two, and rivers of fresh water will flow down to the Dead Sea, literally not metaphorically. And of course if you believe this sort of thing about yourself and your group, certain social practices follow: a tight drawing of boundaries within the group, a rigid exclusion of those outside, a carelessness or even downright rejection of most of the concerns of ongoing society, a focus on particular styles of worship and holiness. As history both ancient and modern will show, such groups are often internally fissiparous, fragmenting into smaller groups that then reserve for one another their bitterest anathemas.

My point is this: the duality between heaven and earth is very different from the dualisms of sectarian religion. The mindset that tends towards apocalypticism normally thinks of the heavenly realm, or the spiritual realm, or simply the non-physical realm, as always good, and the  earthly, material, physical world as always bad. Hence the readiness to imagine the present physical world being blown apart in some great Armageddon, and the sublime confidence that “we” – whichever group that might be – will be rescued from the ruin in a “heavenly” salvation that has left earth far behind.“

Sexskandal in der katholischen Kirche

Der anglikanische Bischof von Durham, N. T. Wright, nahm in seiner Osterpredigt kurz Stellung dazu, wie wir mit der katholischen Kirche (nicht) umgehen sollten, bzw. wer uns in unserem Umgang mit ihnen nicht leiten kann:

Just because it is now clear that the Roman Catholic church followed disastrous and reprehensible policies in relation to sex offenders within its own ranks, we should not be wallowing in it in the smug, snide, told-you-so tones of journalists who, having themselves long given up any pretence of Christian morality, love nothing better than pointing the finger at the teachers they once feared. Nor should we be bounced, through the half-truths of media comment, into concluding that all the church’s other teachings on related topics are fatally flawed and should be revised to fit with current secular morality. This is not the way, and the Press are not the people to teach us. Think back to those good news stories from Stockton and many other similar places. The national Press, of course, ignore all that, in order to return, like a sow, to where good mud is still to be found.

(Nur weil es jetzt sicher ist, dass die Römisch Katholische Kirche im Umgang mit Sexualstraftätern aus den eigenen Reihen einen desaströsen und verwerflichen Kurs gefahren ist, sollten wir uns nicht im süffisanten, abfälligen, ‚Ich-habs-doch-gesagt‘ Tonfall der Journalisten darin weiden, die als solche, die schon lange jeden Schein der christlichen Moral aufgegeben haben, nichts mehr lieben, als mit dem Finger auf die Lehrer zu zeigen, die sie einst fürchteten. Noch sollten wir uns durch die Halbwahrheiten der Kommentare aus den Medien dazu hinreißen lassen, darauf zu schließen, dass alle Lehren der Kirche im Bezug auf verwandte Themen nun auch fehlerhaft seien, und revidiert werden müssten, um mit der modernen, säkularen Moralvorstellung übereinzustimmen. Das ist nicht der richtige Weg, und die Presse sind nicht nicht die richtigen Menschen, um uns hier zu lehren. Erinnert euch an die guten Nachrichten aus Stockton und vielen anderen Orten. Natürlich ignorierte die nationale Presse sie allesamt, damit sie wie eine Sau wieder an den Ort zurückkehren kann, wo guter Schlamm sich finden lässt.)

Ein Edelmann…oder?