The Irish good Samaritan

A priest was preaching in a school in Ireland; his text the parable of the good Samaritan. As he went through the parable, he asked the children why they thought the priest and the Levite passed the injured man on the other side of the road, instead of going to help him.
One enthusiastic young boy put up his hand: "Because they could see he had already been mugged, Father".
Thanks to MadPriest!

MacLaine on campaign promises

It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he's in love, drunk, or running for office. 
- Shirley MacLaine
as quoted on Child of Illusion

Dickinson on stopping heartbreak

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
- Emily Dickinson
as quoted on

Seeing the Kingdom of God

People must not only hear about the kingdom of God, but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps and in imperfect form, but a real demonstration nevertheless.
- Pandita Ramabai
Indian Christian and reformer
as quoted on God's Politics

The Oz books

L. Frank Baum: The Oz books: 
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
Ozma of Oz (1907)
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
The Road to Oz (1909)
The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
The Magic of Oz (1919)
Glinda of Oz (1920)
Lyman Frank Baum (1856–1919) was an American author, actor, and independent filmmaker best known as the creator, along with illustrator W. W. Denslow, of one of the most popular books ever written in American children's literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, better known today as simply The Wizard of Oz. He wrote thirteen sequels, nine other fantasy novels, and a plethora of other works, and made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and screen. (Wikipedia)
The fourteen Oz books, written during the two first decades of the last century, form a corpus of its own. To this corpus could be added a couple of books not set in the magical land of Oz, but whose heroes and heroines later figure in Oz books, as well - The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912).

These books are, of course, aimed at children. A true adult, however, is a person who retains many positive childish properties, while discarding the negative ones. Therefore, the Oz books can very well be used as light reading by adults as well. They are charming and have been purged of the darker elements of earlier fairy tales (e.g. the violence of the brothers Grimm stories).
At the same time, there is a strong moral element in the Oz books. The fight between good and evil has perhaps been scaled down to a struggle between naughty and nice, but it is there, nevertheless. The place of females (not women so much as girls, but anyway) is much more emancipated than one could expect from stories a century old - queens and generals, and of course Ozma and Glinda, are often female along with male rulers such as his imperial majesty the Tin Woodman.

I cordially recommend the Oz books for any child or (true) adult who wishes to be entertained and excited, but not horrified. I've used them as bedtime stories for my childish self, and enjoyed them all!

Prayers for partnerships: Reactions in southern Finland

Last year, the General Synod of the ELCF decided to allow prayers for couples in registered partnerships (i.e. same-sex couples) to be performed, as long as these events are clearly distiguishable from marriages. In February, the bishops, as requested, gave instructions on how these events should be performed in practise.

This has given rise to strong feelings in different parishes around the country.
In Huittinen, Sinikka Ritakallio, a member of the Church Council, wants the parish to refuse to perform such prayer meetings altogether. This is not, however, in the power of the Church Council to decide. The bishops have given their instructions, and they, not the Church Council, are the foremen of the pastors. The Church Council can decide not to allow these prayers to be performed in the church building, but that's it.
In Nurmijärvi, the Church Council has, slightly surprisingly, reached a compromise that allows same-sex couples to be prayed for in the chapel, but not in the main church. It is said that this practise would show that the church doesn't equate same-sex partnerships with heterosexual marriages. I agree that the idea is discriminatory, but isn't the chapel a consecrated building just as much as the church? Wherein lies the logic?
In my own parish in Porvoo, we have a preliminary order of service for the event that it would be needed. I worked it out with the clear intent to balance between the needs of the parishioners and the instructions of the bishops, and I think I succeeded. At least, my colleagues approved. The other day, I was accosted by a man in the street, who talked a lot about how God does not bless sin. He never specified, but I assume that it was in context with this question, since both the local paper Borgåbladet and the church newspaper Kyrkpressen interviewed me about it the week before. I didn't rebut, for he was so elliptical in his statements that I easily agreed: God does indeed not condone sin. Homosexuality, however, is not a sin, of course.

Huittisissa yritetään estää homoparien puolesta rukoilu (Turun Sanomat 25.2.11)
TS: Huittisissa halutaan estää rukous homoparien puolesta (Kotimaa 26.2.11)
Domkyrkoförsamlingen först med förbönsformulär (Kyrkpressen 20.7.11)
Rukoukset homosuhteiden puolesta kappeleissa (Nurmijärven Uutiset 27.7.11)
Nurmijärvellä parisuhderukoukset kappeliin (Kotimaa 29.7.11)

Saudi Arabia: Yohan Nese and Vasantha Sekhar Vara

Two Indian Christians imprisoned without charge in Saudi Arabia for attending a prayer meeting have been released. Yohan Nese (31) and Vasantha Sekhar Vara (28) had been arrested on January 21st, 2011 when religious police raided an apartment where they were attending a prayer meeting with other Indian nationals.
The two Christians were interrogated, beaten and pressured to convert to Islam. The next day they were sentenced to 45 days in prison on accusation of converting Muslims to Christianity. Both men were detained for much longer than their initial sentence, however, although no further charges were brought against them.

Vasantha was released on May 30th after 129 days of detention, whilst Yohan was released on July 12th after 172 days in prison.
The conditions in the prison were horrible. Cramped into a cell with 700 other prisoners with hardly enough room to stand, the two men had to sleep in shifts, taking it in turns to sit.
Soon after both Christians were released from prison, they left Saudi Arabia and returned to India.

Sources: Friends of the Martyred Church, Compass Direct

Schoolboy Howler

The Jews were a proud people, but always had trouble with unsympathetic Genitals.

"Plant your own garden"

Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.
- Mario Quintana
as quoted on

"It's the fault of the gays!"

Earlier this year, I linked to a song on YouTube, called Bögarnas fel (The fault of the gays). This satirical song is written and performed by the Swedish comic group Grotesco, and I just loved it.
It has different people relating their woes and ascribing them to the gays. Some examples (my translation):
"My son killed four people with a hunting rifle, but somehow I feel it's the fault of the gays."
"My upbringing has made it impossible for me to be psychologically sound, but my family all agree: it's the fault of the gays!"
"The European Song Contest never seems to end, and it's the fault of the gays!"
Then enter a nun, a Moslem, and an orthodox Jew, all in distinctive garb, and sing about how all fundamentalism and all religious wars actually are the fault of the gays. It is rather hilarious, but unfortunately, of course, this satire is too close to the truth. Not that these things actually are the fault of the gays, I mean, but that this oratory is used far too often. There are preachers, for instance, who warn Sweden of earthquakes, floods and other calamities as divine retribution for a too permissive attitude tiwards homosexuality.
As I said, I loved this song. Except, perhaps, that the tune is so catchy, that it will ring in your head for a very long time...

I bring this up, because this song recently created some controversy. Grotesco performed it in the popular TV show Allsång på Skansen, a sing-along program aired from Skansen in Stockholm. As might have been expected, some people found it objectionable. Especially the satirical portrayal of Moslems, Jews, and Christians has been an irritant. The police are being asked to investigate whether the song contains hate speech.
The song does contain generalisations, to be sure. Not all Moslems, Jews, or Christians behave or talk as those portrayed. But some do, indeed, and it is those that are being satirized. We'll have to see what conclusions the investigation reaches.
I hope, however, that those objecting to the song take a good look in the mirror before taking legal action. The shoe is now on the other foot - are you sure that's not what irritates you?

Morality and the resources of the world

Feeling that morality has nothing to do with the way you use the resources of the world is an idea that can’t persist much longer. If it does, then we won’t.
- Barbara Kingsolver
in Backtalk
as quoted on God's Politics

No indifference to deliverance!

The heart which has been made free with the freedom of Christ cannot be indifferent to the human longings for deliverance from economic, political or social oppression.
- Samuel Escobar
Peruvian theologian
as quoted on God's Politics

Wells on clerical monogamy

The little lady in no degree embarrassed, pointed out to him a charming little woman as one of the subsidiary wives of the Anglican Bishop of London. She added encomiums on the episcopal courage - hitherto there had been a rule of clerical monogamy - "neither a natural nor an expedient development of things. Why should the natural development of the affections be dwarfed and restricted because a man is a priest?" 
- H. G. Wells
in The Sleeper Awakes (1910)

Three on capitalism

Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
- Thomas Jefferson

You show me a capitalist, and I'll show you a bloodsucker.
- Malcolm X

The point is that you can't be too greedy.
- Donald Trump

The quotations found on Child of Illusion.

Anglican women in authority

From the Episcopal blog, Telling Secrets:
I am reminded of a (perhaps apocryphal) story from the Diocese of Western Michigan where, so it is said, there was a diocesan convention floor debate on what to call women priests.
In frustration, someone said, "Well, what DO Anglicans call women in authority?"
And someone else said, "Your Majesty."
Works for me.