This week we are studying chapters 4, 5 and 6. Tuesday 19th May 2009, 7.45 in the Lady Chapel at St Michael's.
This is really a companion piece to the chapter on freedom as the suggestion is that it is fear which prevents us from being free. "Courage is a virtue that is universally attractive".
Radcliffe quotes Anil's Ghost "I wanted to find one law to cover all of living. I found fear."
The Church should be a community where "we dare to speak the truth to each other, to hear each other, to be vulnerable to each other, to be unafraid of each other." This of course is something which is incredibly hard to do. How many of us dare to do it with those closest to us, let alone in a Church with those we know less well?
As someone who was told that "the Church would be better off without people like you" after doing just that I am aware that it is a big ask - but it is the kind of risk that leads to resurrection - but only after a crucifixion.
In the Church we are often afraid of anger, and yet "according to St Thomas, courage teaches one how to be angry in ways that are fruitful." It is also "characteristic of friendship that it can cope with anger, and even grow through it".
This chapter is about bodiliness and the rejection of dualism.
"Christian teaching is founded upon our belief in the goodness of the body." I bet not many people are aware of that!
"the Church's sexual ethics differs from that of society ... it is about living relationships of gift rather than property exchange". This is not just about the "ownership" of women by men from times gone by, but also the idea of ownership of our own bodies - if I own my body I can do what I like with it - if instead we see sexuality as a gift we become vulnerable and relationship becomes a risk of "self exposure and intimate contact".
There is no point to the next quote - I just enjoyed it and wanted to share it!
A priest went "to say Mass at a convent. The sister who opened the door looked at him and said, 'Oh, it's you Father. I was expecting a man.' At a conference in Dublin, there were three sets of lavatories, 'Men', 'Women' and 'Priests'."
Eroticism is good, but can be transformed into the unhealthy extremes of " infatuation and lust". With infatuation we "are worshipping our own creation" and have put them "in the place of God". Lust makes "the other person a mere object, ... Lust closes our eyes to the personhood of the other".
Another great quote: "God is always the one who loves more than he is loved."
And so to truth.
"Meister Eckhart maintained that no one can attain the truth without a hundred errors on the way." And yet making errors is something that is often disallowed in Churches - we are a community which preaches forgiveness - and yet often we fail to forgive our own. "Finding the most bizarre [interpretation of the Bible] has been compared with identifying the most ugly statue of Queen Victoria: the competition is hot."
Rather a lot to digest on Tuesday!