Sunday 6 January 2008

Arian Anglicanism and My Brain

I'm afraid Epiphany, or having a second bite at Christmas, is another occasion for having a brain transplant, at least on my travels listening to a visiting preacher. What is it that most preachers seem to need a historic crutch, unless they believe this literalist nonsense? People like me get criticised for having a knock at it - well, I wouldn't if they didn't blast the falseness of the history in the first place.

It is the Christian light festival - the substitute Old to New Year festival - with the focus on this new Incarnation being for the Gentiles too, so this bit of the myth gets a special emphasis. That's it. There is not one scrap of history. The guy was born, unknown at the time, in Capernaum or Nazareth. There is no astrology involved just as there is no astronomy. Yes, they may have remembered a comet hanging above the perspex dome (I know, they didn't have perspex then) many years earlier. So what? Did they? It is derived myth, an emphasis, a light festival. It is history-like, just as the stories of Jesus are biographical-like (with fragments of history hard to discern).

The ordinary public, they seem to know best: what they do is make the whole of Christmas a festival of lights (some of them can afford the electricity) and then use Epiphany to take them down.

However, in the evening, a Songs of Praise for Epiphany and another, shorter, historic crutch that again covers over rather than opens out the myth. But, this evening's liturgy had a set of responses that hit me between the nose. This was Arian, or let's say ante-Nicaean (as all formative Christianity was pre-trinitarian). Starting with that Arian-compatible Gospel of John, this also has Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. Good Arian stuff. The one and only Son, who came from the Father. Yup, that is Arian compatible. He has spoken to us by his Son. Yeah, that's it. And give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Yes. Arian, even Gnostic. The response is a bit awkward though: We have seen his star in the East, and we have come to worship him. That is not Arian. Oddly enough, even in trinitarian worship, we should worship through Christ to the Father.

What a bugger it is having a Unitarian background - of course Arianism is far older than the trinitarian, and nearly as primitive as the older messianic-unitarian synoptics. Nothing was intended to be Arian, it just sort of happened that way. And I was in a funny mood.

I actually think the litany is rather good, and as a magpie I have it for any future use, as I have saved the set of very good ethical and light focused prayers later on in the same service. The Spiritual Area, built up over a long time, shifts more towards the Christian today.

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