Friday, March 21, 2008

Ken Lee

No....not the supposed owner of Bing Lee but a smash hit number one song...

Ha, ha, ha, ha ha!! "...Ken Leee!! Talibo dibo dauchoo!"

Received it by email a little while back and been meaning to post it for a few days. Plainly English, for this budding rock star, is not even a second language.

"Yes ee shooo, ooo....
Ken Leee..."

Oh the aches, the aches. Or as Dr. Smith will have intoned: "the pain, the pain William".

Always preferred Harry Nilson's excellent version of the Badfinger song - though theirs, sans orchestration, is not bad either.

Good Goat Friday

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Gospel of Pilate

Well, hey, why not a Gospel of Pilate? If Judas can have one, then surely that other assassin of Christ is entitled to equal time.

Without these two men, who both played pivotal roles in the Crucifixion of Our Lord and Saviour, no believer today could enjoy the Salvation that Christ’s sacrifice has vouchsafed for them.

What set me to (again) thinking about this stuff was that we dropped in on friends last weekend and found them watching a dvd of Norman Jewison’s 1973 big-screen production of the rock-opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The Pilate presented in that Lloyd-Webber & Rice opus is — second only to the title character Himself, of course — easily the most intriguing portrayal in the show, albeit that he only gets barely about 15 minutes of screen time. (Priorities.)

As portrayed by Barry Dennen in the film, Pilate has a pronounced lisp — in conformity with an apparent tendency in cinema to camp-up the character, taken to sublime absurdity with Michael Palin’s rhotacistic Pilate in Monty Python’s The Life of Bwian Brian.

But little is actually known about Pilate — beyond his prominent role in the Scriptures as Procurator of Judea — that is not, at best, of dubious reliability. In the Sunday Age some time ago, Terry Lane described Pilate’s lot and function as “the daily grind of crushing little people”. While to a great extent that’s probably a fair characterisation — imperial Rome, after all, was necessarily and quintessentially a police/terror state — the fact is that various accounts of Christ’s trial before Pilate give the impression of the latter as an intelligent and complex character.

Indeed, a number of sources, including the Gospels, convey an impression of Pilate as being deeply conflicted regarding his role in Jesus’s fate. Further, among the Apocryphal texts, the Acts of Pilate presents a detailed narrative of Pilate’s active resistance to the Sanhedrin’s condemnation of Jesus.

An interesting modern treatment of Pilate’s role in the Crucifixion I’ve found is contained in the Soviet-era author Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita. Bulgakov’s depiction of Pilate discretely occupies several chapters of the novel, and was dramatised by Channel 4 Productions in a short feature (about 1 hour) called Incident in Judea.

For anyone interested in reading further, the relevant sections in the text of the novel are Book One, Chapters 2 (“Pontius Pilate”) and 16 (“The Execution”); and Book Two, Chapter 25 (“How the Procurator Tried to Save Judas of Karioth”).

There’s also a dream-sequence in the “Epilogue” in which Bulgakov floats a redemptive resolution of Pilate’s perdition:

To the moon stretches a broad path of moonlight and up it is climbing a man in a white cloak with a blood-red lining. Beside him walks a young man in a torn chiton and with a disfigured face. The two are talking heatedly, arguing, trying to agree about something.

‘Ye gods!’ says the man in the cloak, turning his proud face to his companion. ‘What a disgusting method of execution! But please, tell me,’ — here the pride in his face turns to supplication — ‘it did not take place, did it? I beg you — tell me that it never took place?’

‘No, of course it never took place,’ answers his companion in a husky voice. ‘It was merely your imagination.’

‘Can you swear to that?’ begged the man in the cloak.

‘I swear it!’ answers his companion, his eyes smiling.

‘That is all I need to know!’ gasps the man in the cloak as he strides on towards the moon, beckoning his companion on.

A reappraisal of Pilate is perhaps in order, in consideration of his reluctance — albeit, ultimately futile — to deliver Jesus to the executioner’s gibbet. Was he the monster that is portrayed in tradition? Or just a flawed man, hence a pliant and unwitting instrument of God, the Father and Son?

Had Pilate not yielded to the clamour for blood of the priests and the mob, Christianity may have been stillborn. And ourselves, doomed, for want of heavenly Salvation.

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Anniversary observed

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the USA... oh yes, and its cobbled-together Coalition of the Willing.

US Vice President Dick Cheney sums up these five long years thus:

“If you reflect back on those five years, it’s been a difficult, challenging, but nonetheless successful endeavour.”

I won’t reflect — yet again — on the fact that all the assumptions and projections made by the ‘architects’ in support of this appalling misadventure have been proved wrong, wrong, WRONG!

Personally, I’m sick to death of that whole futile ‘dialog’.

It’s quite evident that there is absolutely no set of circumstances that could possibly obtain, under which those nabobs could ever admit failure in this ‘endeavour’.

UPDATE: Australia’s former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has imparted another load of his wisdom on the punters:

“Obviously mistakes have been made, from time to time, during the five years.”

Obviously this has only now occurred to him; otherwise he would have leveled with his fellow Australians and conveyed any misgivings he might have had at the time. Right?

“I think in particular the Americans should have had more troops on the ground earlier than they did.”

I seem to recall at least one semi-desperate request from the US for more troops from its Coalition partners. Alex and his boss then apparently thought they knew better.

“The surge has been successful recently but that was very late in the piece, and I think it would have been better to have those troops a lot earlier.”

You don’t say, genius! Blah blah yadda yadda...

Please enjoy your retirement, Alex. As soon as possible. It’s on us.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

easter 'toons

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So...that's what it's all about!

The Parish Priest, advertising for "homestay" volunteers for World Youth day, mentioned this little tid-bit in the Catholic Weekly. The director of the Sydney archdiocese’s Liturgy Office, one Father Tim Deeter, has made plain Rome's and - a fortiori - our Cardinal's view of the creeping infection of "political correctness" in the administering of sacraments with the Roman Catholic Church in this country. Most particularly in Baptism it appears.

Fr. Tim decried the use of words in baptism that replace masculine terms such as "Father" and "Son", stating that words other than these are "not valid". Fr. Tim prefaced his remarks with the following from the Catholic Catechism:

The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ Who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to His incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in His Name and in His Person.

I am therefore, right. Furthermore, I am male and am thus extra-right.

Words such as "Creator" and "Redeemer", apparently being used in some sacraments, will render the child un-baptised and forced to undergo the sacrament properly and with suitable male lingo. Further, were you baptised with such language, any other sacrament (Holy Communion, reconciliation, etc) are too invalidated for you are the un-baptised.

It's not about the meaning of these sacraments, it's about the right gender forms. In an all-male church this is of significance. In the end Fr Tim is correct in that changing the wording of a ritual alters that ritual. And, I am as much adverse to "political crrectness" as the next bloke. It's just the ultra-sensitivity to gender that intrigues. That Christ's church has become so hide-bound to ritual and forms would, in my opinion, appall him as did the Jewish hierarchy of his day.

Much of this began because of the patriarchal society in which this religion was formed. The Judaic tradition is utterly male and the early Christian tradition followed suit. There is only one acceptable form of clergy in these religions ( as with Islam) and that is male.

I wonder, each time I hear the calls to register and pay for WYD, just what Jesus would make of his church. What he would make of the pomp, the courtly attire of power and the strict power structure that accrues to the top.

There seems a gradual loss of the original plot.