Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sometimes Atheists Have The Best Ecclesiology

I read Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy a while ago. Pullman is an atheist who made religion the adversary in this series. His latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, is a fictional biography of the life of Christ (He would probably say that is the case of the gospels as well). I will eventually get around to reading this because I think Pullman is brilliant and very insightful.

What I wanted to share was the prayer he wrote for the character of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane:

"Lord, if I thought you were listening, I'd pray for this above all: that my church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest. That it should wield no authority except that of love. That it should never cast anyone out. That it should own no property and make no laws. That is should not condemn, but only forgive. That it should be not like a palace with marble walls and polished floors, and guards standing at the door, but like a tree with its roots deep in the soil, that shelters every kind of bird and beast and gives blossom in the spring and shade in hot sun and fruit in the season, and in time gives up its good sound wood for the carpenter; but that sheds many thousands of seeds so that new trees can grow in its place. Does the tree say to the sparrow 'Get out, you don't belong here?' Does the tree say to the hungry man 'This fruit is not for you?' Does the tree test the loyalty of the beasts before it allows them into the shade?"

It is a shame that so much of Christianity seems determined to demonize anyone who is not in our fold. We view the "other" as someone to be converted, conquered, or closed off. We believe they have nothing to offer, so we lecture but seldom listen.

A prophetic voice has spoken; but do we have ears to hear?

HT: Experimental Theology


shallowfrozenwater said...

love that!

Don said...

Wow! I am impressed.I know some folks who should take this to heart.

Anonymous said...

That's actually pretty cool! I would say the dude has kind of nailed a lot of what Jesus taught during his life in that prayer...or at least the version of Jesus most of us could admit can be found in the scriptures.

Chad said...

Wow Andy! That was an awesome prayer. It's amazing where some incredible insight can come from.

Andrew said...

It is prayers like this, from the heart of an atheist, that make me think of Jesus' parable:

There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'

"'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.

"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"

"The first," they answered.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you."

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