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956Today's Belfast blog, the 4th day of Christmas

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  • Jon Kennedy
    Dec 28, 2013
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      Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
      his soj
      ourn in Northern Ireland'
      My Google+ diary and Belfast blog

      Jon Kennedy        

      Today's Scripture: . . . many followed Jesus, and he healed them all, and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he brings justice to victory; and in his name will the Gentiles hope."

      From Matthew 12:15-21,
      from today's Orthodox lectionary readings.
      See the homiletical thought below.

      Today's diary

      Last night's party was at the home of a woman Church of Ireland vicar that I met via email before moving to Northern Ireland and who's been a friend since arriving. When I first heard years ago that the small church in Pennsylvania where I grew up, now a United Methodist parish in the American sense of that word, had been assigned a woman minister, I thought it a sad triumph for theological liberalism and feminism. But I've gotten to know several women ministers here and none have struck me as "liberal" or at least in the politically correct sense, feminists. They've struck me as having found their calling and probably exercising it ably (not being in their parishes, that can only be based on superficial interaction).

      So though I do not expect women priests to be accepted in the Orthodox church or even the Roman Catholic church, I'm surprised by my own change on this score. I think the Old Testament prohibition of women priests still holds for those communions that have "priests" in the Levitical sense, and that the New Testament prohibition against women "teachers" has been set aside in every denomination (most noticeably the Southern Baptists) in every sense except the ordained ministry, that I think they've already moved beyond the principle Paul was defending, and should probably admit it. I wonder if C.S. Lewis might have changed his opposition to women clergy, had he lived to see today's Anglican church. If you have a thought on this, please share it.

      Another man at the party brought a game I'd never seen before. You get cards that suggest topics on which you are to make up a story. As you "write" a sentence that pertains directly to any of the cards, you put the card down on the table. Others who have a card that pertains to your topic can interrupt and throw down that card, the first player having discarded all his or her cards winning that hand. (I wonder if "discard" originated in card playing.) Interesting concept, especially for a writer.

      Today's weather: Bright sunshine this morning, followed by cloudiness and light rain by early afternoon. No precip at this writing.

      Today's Christmas fare

      On the fourth day of Christmas. . .

      From the other blogs

      An excellent article in Fr. Stephen's blog for today is in line with the thinking of C.S. Lewis, as I understand him. The key thought:
      Much of what today passes for Protestantism is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is a thinly veiled cloak for the democratic spirit "at prayer." "Salvation by grace through faith" is a slogan for individualism, a Christianity "by right." There are no works, no requirements, only a "grace-filled" entitlement. For the ultimate form of democracy is the person who needs no one else: no Church, no priest, no sacrament, only the God of my understanding who saves me by grace.
      I'm not sure what he means by the first sentence, but suspect he feels Anglican and Lutheran expressions of Protestantism are more authentic than the freer forms (Baptists, Wesleyans, charismatics, independents), as the original forms of Protestantism have higher views of authority and sacraments in the church.

      And the news...


      You've surely heard that Duck Commander Phil Robertson has been unsuspended by A&E prior to the launch of filming for spring for the network's most popular show. You already know but I have to get my share of the credit for A&E's reversal. Click the photo for more details.

      Part 5, conclusion

      The following questions were given in a GCSE examination in Swindon, Wiltshire (U.K.). These genuine (or so it says here) answers are from 16-year-olds. Presumably a teacher or test grader added the comments seen here in parentheses. 
      Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
      A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas
      Q. Use the word 'judicious' in a sentence to show you understand its meaning
      A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face. (OMG)

      Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
      A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight

      Q. What is a turbine?
      A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head

      Today's quotes

      We can never tell how patient or humble a person is when everything is going well with him. But when those who should co-operate with him do the exact opposite, then we can tell. A man has as much patience and humility as he has then, and no more.
      — Saint Francis of Assisi

      You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
      — C.S. Lewis
      Homiletical thought: The theme of this short passage is justice. What does Justice for the gentiles mean? Presumably many gentiles envied the Jews (there were not a few "proselytes" among them, as the New Testament attests) because the Israelites were God's chosen and the gentiles did not have the same level of favor.

      As C.S. Lewis teaches, many of the pagan gentiles were moral people who lived clean lives and tried to please God in various personal ways. Many must have felt it was unjust for them to be excluded by God when their Jewish neighbors had a relationship with Him even when they didn't desire it. Jesus is saying here that that is about to change. Now gentiles have just as much access to the Father as the blood descendants of Abraham have; arguably even easier access because the gentiles do not carry the "baggage" of their religious presuppositions.
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      Feedback is always welcome.

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      Please pray for my mission to Northern Ireland. You can read my background overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.

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      © 2013 JRK
      Jon R. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis Writer in Residence