Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

“Sin is the distance between us and God”
Bishop Gavin Ashenden

(this poor cherub or putti’s feet have frozen off / Julie Cook / 2018)

I think I’ve used the above quote before…
However, it doesn’t seem any less important or any less relevant than say, the other day…

The other day when listening to Bishop Ashenden’s rather reflective homily,
as well as the latest installment of Anglican Unscripted,
the good Bishop was reflecting on having been asked in an interview
“what is sin?”
or it may have been more along the lines of “what is your understanding of sin?”

Either way, the Bishop was about to be taken to a very public task, or so thought the
interviewer of all things cultural…

The very secular interviewer, after asking the Bishop the question regarding his take on
what sin actually was, in turn, told the bishop that he did not feel at all “sinful”
and so the notion of what a sin was, was totally irrelevant to him and therefore obviously
anyone else who wasn’t feeling the least bit sinful.

Well, this is where the good Bishop clearly demonstrates that he knows his ‘stuff’…

He tells the interviewer that “coming to God is not something that one can do cerebrally
or rationally”

He then goes on to explain, as I shared in my post the other day, that there are actually
two types of sin—
there is the sin that the Christian recognizes—
that being the distance between himself and God.
And then that of secular sin which is anything that runs counter to the current culture’s
perception of the normative.

Bishop Ashenden goes on to note that all the recent hashtag business, the #metoo etc,
frenzy is, plain and simple, nothing more than secular sin.

The Bishop watched the Golden Globes, I did not.

He has some choice words for those who, draped in black, captured the stage in an attempt
to make a pitch to their “dewy-eyed acolytes.”

Bishop Ashenden explains that as our society has become besotted by sex,
it has become simply our very present focus.
For it surrounds us in almost every aspect of our daily lives—
through advertising, entertainment, books, music…it is an obsession.
An obsession, that many have gotten quite good at ignoring.

Society has created a secular apocalypse with women like Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep
rising to the occasion of rounding up the feminist troops while intimidating and
crushing any questioning, or opposition or competing intentions…
a frenetic feeding frenzy of destructive shaming.
There is no room for remorse, healing, redemption or hope.

Yet oddly there are years of images with both of these women in cozy photos with the likes
of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, and Roman Polansky…
women who had chosen to ignore truly bad boy and even illegal behavior.

And so we are now left wondering…
What is it now that makes things different from then…?

Is it now somewhat advantageous?
Has the time of championing feminism come into its own as it is now the popular
cultural bandwagon.
Is #metoo putting the ‘me’ in all of us dangerously closer at the center of our own universe
at the expense of common sense, grace and mercy?

Or is it simply the bravado of self-deception found in a society steeped in the notion of
its own sense of self-righteousness?
Found in its notion of the importance of the ‘we ourselves’…
Never mind answering to an authority greater than ourselves…for there is none…
because we are the demigods who have no need of anything or anyone greater.

The Bishop notes that in this secular societal self-righteousness, there lies a deeper problem.

Pure hypocrisy.

And the thing is…none of the rallying cries or the saber rattling or the
rabble-rousing allows for or has room for the utter forgiveness and redemption
found only in Jesus Christ.
For found in the sinfulness of the secular, there is no way back for the sinner.
No hope for the fallen.
And no hope equates to immediate death.

A stark contrast to the mercy, forgiveness, redemption, and life found only in the hope
of Jesus…

And thus he leaves us not with the damnation found in the current culture’s angst but
rather with the hopeful words of William Blake

“To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.”

William Blake

Talking to LBC (London Radio) about sin, sex and God -(as captured by an Australian website.)

‘Operation Opra’: Secular self-righteousness – a mixture of morality, hypocrisy and revenge.

Fidei defensor, but who’s faith is it…..

“I do not choose anyone to have it in his power to command me,
nor will I ever suffer it.”

King Henry VIII


(A 1520 Holbein painting of Henry VIII, Getty image)

Four years following Martin Luther’s shot heard around the world with the nailing
of the 95 grievances to the doors of the Wittenberg Cathedral, a then 30 year old
British monarch published a very hostile letter condemning Luther’s act
of “holy” defiance.

Henry VIII had been on the English throne for almost 12 years when he flexed his royal
muscle by letting all of Europe know how he and Great Britain viewed Luther’s
new movement. The British crown would not, according to Henry, be following suit.

Henry had always been a religious man.
He heard mass five times a day unless he was hunting (then he could only hear three).
He was also deeply interested in theological disputes.

In 1521, with Lutheranism infecting the English universities, Henry wrote Defense
of the Seven Sacraments against Luther.

In recognition of Henry’s forceful piety, Pope Leo X awarded him the title
“Fidei defensor,” or Defender of the Faith.

But scarcely a decade later, Henry led a schism of his own,
cleaving the Church of England from the wider Catholic Church after Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s 16-year marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

(Histroy.com and Christianity Today)

Born and raised a devout Catholic and married to an equally deeply religious Catholic woman, the Spanish princess and widow of his older brother Catherine of Aragon, Henry appeared to be the most likely emerging European monarch to be the defender
of the faith outside of Rome…a monarch who would help stave the bleeding of a
now shaken Church in the wake of Luther’s shake up.

That was until both lust and power blinded Henry’s faith.

The Church of England was birthed not because of a German monk’s open defiance
against the Church of Rome, but rather because a married monarch wanted a woman he
was blindly besotted over.

Ann Boleyn toyed with Henry’s overtures, refusing to be his mistress.
If he wanted her, which he desperately did, he would have to divorce his wife
in order to marry and finally bed Ann.

The problem with such was that both Henry and Catherine were Catholic
and the Pope was not about to grant a divorce or annulment of a marriage that was considered by the church,never mind by God himself, as a sacred union.

It also didn’t help matters that Henry had grown frustrated that Catherine,
despite numerous miscarriages and a healthy daughter, had never born him a son
who would in turn be his heir to the monarchy.

Thus ensued a very hostile tit for tat between the man who sat upon the throne
of the British realm and the man who sat upon the the throne of Peter….

Henry, blinded by his lust and wants, was not going to let the Pope in Rome
dictate his life nor his wants nor his needs there in England.

In a nutshell, Henry, with the aid of a hand full of loyal clergy to the
British crown, defied the Pope…who in turn excommunicated Henry.
Thus the English Reformation and the Church of England was born as Henry became
the first, in what would become an ensuing long line of succession, known as
the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

And so is it any wonder that today the Church of England, along with her spawned
cousin The Episcopal Church of America, is in crisis…
as man’s agenda still continues to reign supreme.
How can anyone expect God to bless let alone honor an institution that’s
very inception was steeped in that of defiance, lust and selfish desire…

Many would scoff at such a simplified notion…
scoffing over such a thought as being nonsense as it is really all
so much more complicated than a king’s desire for divorce….

Yet is it?

For I can’t help but see the correlation.

The unraveling began when a monarch put his own wants and desires above that of
those he governed, as well as above his own faith and relationship with his Creator.

That is not to say that there hasn’t been deeply pious individuals who have
followed these denominations down through the ages….yet when something is conceived without the true Grace and or Blessing of God, how can anyone expect it to survive let alone thrive?

English schoolchildren remember Henry VIII’s daughter as “Bloody Mary,”
an allusion to the more than 300 Protestants the staunchly Catholic Mary I
had put to death during her five-year reign.
In truth, though, Henry VIII was by far the bloodiest Tudor ruler,
ordering tens of thousands of executions during the tumult of the English Reformation. (Henry’s most famous victims included his former top advisor Sir Thomas More, as well as two of Henry’s six queens—Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard).

History.com

“The Church of England will collapse under its own weight within quite
a very short time.
There must be a planning of a new idea…we must plan for a very different future…”

The Rt Rev Gavin Ashenden

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
After he had provided purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has
inherited is superior to theirs.

Hebrews 1:3-4