Wednesday, November 30

Bagel in Limbo

"I think I'm schizophrenic but I'm in two minds about it" goes the joke. The recent pronouncements by the pope seem to betray an absence of single mindedness within the catholic church. I don't mean this disrespectfully, but the pontiff has conceded that there is no such thing as purgatory after all - the place children go if they have not been baptised. Imagine how upsetting this must be to the parents of children who have passed on struggling to know what has become of them. A previous pope, Pius X, was sure there was purgatory. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Pope like Dr Who? They are really all re-generations of St Peter and so essentially the same person, but unlike Dr Who they/he never makes a mistake!

The other point of fuzzyness centres around the gay issue. Those who practice homosexuality are not allowed to become priests. However if a homosexual is able to behave "normally" for a year or two they may take up a position of Deacon in the church. Perhaps this is a bit like saying to someone born a cripple, "stand up straight and walk normally for a few years then we'll give you a job" For heaven's sake!

To be dogmatic one minute and then flexible the next is quite unsettling. My own conviction is that God, and in particular Jesus, offers us all the chance to be in the place we were meant to be, but don't ask me to explain it. I am single minded about my uncertainty and quite happy about that.

There is story about a rabbi on his death bed surrounded by devoted followers looking for a word of wisdom. Faintly the rabbi says, "life is like a bagel". The word spreads through the crowd waiting outside the rabbi’s house, “Life is like a bagel; the rabbi says life is like a bagel,” until finally, at the edge of the crowd, it reaches the town fool, who asks, “What does it mean: life is like a bagel?” The question spreads back through the crowd, “What does it mean, life is like a bagel?” until it reaches the bedside of the rabbi. “rabbi,” his assistant asks, “What does it mean, life is like a bagel?” “Nu,” the rabbi says, weakly shrugging his shoulders, “so life is not like a bagel.”


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