Monday, March 17, 2008

On the cross: and true and false gods

The formidable Kim Fabricius has provided the internet with a copy of his brilliant and bracing Palm Sunday sermon, entitled Lose your Faith, via Faith and Theology; it is moving, bold, poignant - and theologically right on.

It's possible that his wife was right and he should have curtailed the refrain of 'Lose your faith' - or maybe repeated something in a mood other than the imperative. But on the other hand the boldness - parrhesia? - and honesty in what he says, being unwilling to 'make it safe' or even 'wrap it all up' at the end makes it. On the whole, it's a tour de force. Here's an excerpt, to whet your appetite for the rest:

(All content of this excerpt is from Kim Fabricius, and I'm sure he claims (at least) moral right to be identified as its author - just so we're clear)

This sermon doesn’t have three points, it’s got three words: Lose your faith! (I warned you I would be sacrilegious.) Yes, lose your faith. Lose your faith in God. For as the French mystic Simone Weil insisted, there is a kind of atheism that is purifying, cleansing us of idols. Lose your faith in the god that the cross exposes as a no-god, a sham god. Lose your faith in the god who is but the product of your projections, fantasies, wishes, and needs, a security blanket or good-luck charm god. Lose your faith in the god who is there to hold your hand, solve your problems, rescue you from your trials and tribulations, the deus ex machina, literally the “machine god”, wheeled out onto the stage in ancient Greek drama, introduced to the plot artificially to resolve its complications and secure a happy ending. Lose your faith in the god who confers upon you a privileged status that is safe and secure. Lose your faith in the god who promises you health, wealth, fulfilment, and success, who pulls rabbits out of hats. Lose your faith in the god with whom your conscience can be at ease with itself. Lose your faith in the god who, in Dennis Potter’s words, is the bandage, not the wound. Lose your faith in the god who always answers when you pray and comes when you call. Lose your faith in the god who is never hidden, absent, dead, entombed. For the “Father who art in heaven” – this week he is to be found in hell – with his Son.
I am just reviewing James Alison's book Undergoing God: Report from the Scene of a Break-in, and much of what Kim says resonates with Alison's unapologetically Girardian take on theology. While I am not a follower of Rene Girard, full stop, myself, he is insightful and even haunting in the way that his work illuminates Scripture, and helps to expose our own idolatries.

We need more people who are willing to wield the idol-hammer, not out of iconclasm (which, today, is usually more about the hammer-wielder than the icon), nor out of hatred of our images, but above out out of love for God - and, in God, love for humanity.

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