Friday, August 01, 2014

Psalm 137: “God, I wish you’d take the children of my enemies and smash their heads against the rocks”

There is perhaps no greater empathy aroused in times of war and strife than when we see the intolerable suffering of children; the desperate eyes of the innocent; the tears of orphaned babies, frightened, hungry, sapped of all hope and devoid of love. Their little mangled bodies lie on crimson sheets, spliced by shrapnel, traumatised by nightmares, soaked in the stench of their own urine. These images leave a wound far deeper than any weapon of mass destruction.

The newly-installed Bishop of Leeds the Rt Rev'd Nick Bains delivered yesterday's 'Thought For The Day' on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He tells us on his blog - Musings of a Restless Bishop - that it was "written in the face of the horrors of Gaza, Syria, Ukraine and all the other bloody conflicts filling the news screens, and with a strict word limit". His subject was Psalm 137 - the well-known lament which begins "By the Rivers of Babylon". He takes us from Boney M's jaunty disco dance hit to the psalm's final line, which is a disturbing imprecation. He writes:
Now, Psalm 137 is not a comfortable song; nor is it a song for the comfortable. It ends with a shrill cry of pain and hatred: “God, I wish you’d take the children of my enemies and smash their heads against the rocks.” But, it isn’t there to justify an ethic. It isn’t there to suggest it is right to think such awful things of other people’s children. It is there for two reasons: first, to confront us with the reality of how deep our own human hatred can go, and, secondly, to tell us not to lie to God (thinking he can’t handle that reality or the depths of human despair).
Christians tend to focus on the messianic blessings and sing about the glories of Zion: we love the psalms of thanksgiving, kingship and confidence, and meditate on those of remembrance and wisdom. About a third of the Old Testament quotations in the New Testament are drawn from the Psalms, which highlights their theological significance and liturgical importance to the Early Church.

But the Psalter is also full of bitter imprecations which offend modern sensibilities. Curses against enemies abound, often in otherwise sublime settings of supreme sacrifice, humility and brokenness. The Christian will naturally feel that that the spirit of anger and hatred reflected in these sections falls well below Jesus' teaching and moral standards: it's hardly an expression of love for one's enemies to pray that God would take their children and smash their heads against the rocks.

But the intense suffering of the Jews in exile naturally aroused the desire for such horror: we want to hate our enemies, and rather enjoy wishing upon them all manner of suffering and strife. The parents of Gaza are teaching their children that Jews are lower than pigs; the Jews of Israel are teaching their children that Palestinians are all terrorists; the Sunni 'Islamic State' in Iraq are beheading the cultic Shia and slaughtering infidel Christians; the Shia are fighting back where they can. The dismembered Christians might be forgiven as they pray in their bombed-out churches for their enemies to die and rot in hell.

But we must bear in mind the fact that for most of the psalmists there was no meaningful afterlife, and so no vindication of the righteous or judgment of the wicked. Rather like today, when notions of heaven and hell are routinely dismissed with the goblins and fairies of Neverland, we prefer judgment to be seen to be done in this world. The final lines of Psalm 137 cannot really be understood without considering that the psalmist was passionate about and impatient for justice:
Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom
in the day of Jerusalem;
who said, Rase it, rase it,
even to the foundation thereof.
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed;
happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth
thy little ones against the stones.
Such laments take us to the depths of helplessness and forsakenness. They are cries of distress when there is nowhere to turn: God has abandoned us and our enemies mock and scorn - or terrorise, persecute and murder. Impulsively but genuinely we want their children to be fatherless and their wives to become widows (Psalm 109:8f). And we hope to God that their bastard offspring don't grow up to be another generation of murderous devils.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Mt 19:14).
Those who are taught resentment and loathing will not easily find Jesus or enter the kingdom. Violence breeds violence and hate engenders hate. The way of Christ is peace. In our secular polis this may seem like sheer folly. But it is a choice we make in the hope and anticipation that God's love will finally prevail through the way of the cross, despite our inability to see how this may be possible when warring hearts are filled with grievances and pain.

There is nothing at all to be gained from smashing the heads of babies against the rocks. No, that way lies a world wracked by revenge and ever more violence.


Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Hard to find words appropriate. Poor little innocent.

Deeply moved by this image.

1 August 2014 at 10:26  
Blogger Nath said...

Very moving Your Grace.

There are many things that could be said but I think quiet reflection is probably more appropriate.

1 August 2014 at 11:11  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

[5:45] In the Torah We decreed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a wound for a wound.

Revenge is one of the teachings of Judaism copied by Islam. With the Jewish and Muslim Supreme Beings urging revenge, it seems peace will only dawn when one side has bludgeoned the other to death.

There is a glimmer of hope in that the above verse continues: ‘But if a man charitably forbears from retaliation, his remission shall atone for him.’ However, given the hatred of Islam for the Jews (and its contempt for Christians), it is all but impossible to imagine such forbearance being extended to non-Muslims.

1 August 2014 at 12:02  
Blogger Sidney Deane said...


Thanks for explaining that we shouldn't smash the heads of babies against rocks.

1 August 2014 at 12:10  
Blogger Shmu'el said...

Johnny R,

Little do you know, that the eye for an eye was never take literally by Chazal& therefore an eye for an eye is interpreted as actually referring to monetary compensation for damages. Makes your point null and void.

1 August 2014 at 12:28  
Blogger Caedmon's Cat said...

Thanks for your thoughtful article, Dr. Cranmer. The imprecatory Psalms always pose a problem to serious Christians, since it's hard to reconcile them with the teachings of Christ as well as the clear message that vengeance belongs to the Almighty alone. Although these Psalms are never in any way prescriptive of physical violence on the part of God's own people, nevertheless they point out that He is a God of judgment and justice. Every evil will be requited at His hand - including the horrors presently taking place in the various hotspots of the Middle East.

1 August 2014 at 13:14  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

So do Hamas and its allies want a cease-fire or don’t they?

The Paletinian Hamas and Jihad Islami also confirmed acceptance of the ceasefire, following which they fired two rockets into Israel.

1 August 2014 at 13:18  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

No, it's not about confronting us with the reality of how deep our own human hatred can go. Neither is it purposed to tell us not to lie to God. It's there to communicate the severity and reality of divine judgment - the instruments of which do not necessarily act according to the Geneva Convention. Confer with Assyria.

We aren't much enamored with the idea of divine judgment. But it's real. It's not five minutes in time out or a stretch on the naughty step. It is a horrifying reality. You can begin to understand the depths of that reality by contemplating this verse in Psalms. The judgment is visited upon the parents through their children. It will also be visited upon them. It is the totality of destruction that is in view - not just themselves but all those generations that would proceed forth through these children. They are cut off.

Don't minimize it.


1 August 2014 at 13:47  
Blogger Manfarang said...

"The United Nations representation in Iraq provided a higher figure, saying at least 1,737 people were killed in July.

"I am concerned about the rising number of casualties in Iraq, particularly among the civilian population. Children and women are most vulnerable," top UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said."

(The Daily Star)

1 August 2014 at 13:56  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Shmu’el (12:28)—Whether exacted in body parts or cash, revenge is revenge. Islam also allows compensation in lieu of body parts, at the discretion of the victim or his family, but ‘There is no indemnity obligatory for killing a non-Muslim at war with Muslims’ (Reliance of the Traveller section o4.17).

1 August 2014 at 14:12  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

If I were trying to market Christianity in the modern world I would give serious thought to chopping out all the child-murdering and genocidal passages and re-issuing the Bible in a more acceptable version.

Young people with no background in Christianity (probably most of them nowadays) will get the impression that there's no difference between Christianity and Islam if they read this kind of stuff.

Also, all the incitements to infanticide mean the anti-abortionists haven't got a leg to stand on.

1 August 2014 at 14:57  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Did Hamas violate the ceasefire or didn’t they? The Palestinian answer, from a senior official:
Don’t ask us, we don’t know.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian permanent observer to the United Nations, told CNN it was not certain Hamas had carried out the attack or violated the ceasefire.

1 August 2014 at 15:50  
Blogger rhian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 August 2014 at 16:44  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

seanrobsville said...

If I were trying to market Christianity in the modern world I would give serious thought to chopping out all the child-murdering and genocidal passages and re-issuing the Bible in a more acceptable version.

Good enough for Jesus (God if you insist) not to be too fussy about the OT but not 'seanrobsville' hmmm. Truth by omission eh, now there's a novelty.

Just as well death for heresy has gone out of fashion - unlike the child in the picture - you're a very lucky lad Sean.

1 August 2014 at 16:57  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...


Did Hamas violate the ceasefire or didn’t they?

Lets ask them to tea and put it to them directly; we all know that murdering Arab terrorists are simple honest and obliging folk especially when it comes to promoting their cause. :-)

1 August 2014 at 17:05  
Blogger IanCad said...

Poor little soul!

Yet, is that a smile on his face?

Who knows what courage lies at the heart of any one of us.

His testing time has come, and for his family, and for all.

Not many pastors like to tackle Psalm 137. So; Well Done! YG for bringing it up.

All we can do is to remember that God is just and sin is of Satan.

And; Yes! There is a penalty.

Carl may have the heart of the matter.

1 August 2014 at 17:09  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Jesus came to reject the violence and barbarism of the world at that time .The OT is a backdrop to Christianity and some of it is in direct opposition to Christian ethic
and the teachings of Jesus.

The afore psalm mentioned is a good example of why Jesus was sent to earth at that time in history because the world was so violent and slavery was endemic everywhere .Of course it still exists but without the major influence of Christianity the world would be in a far worse state. The New Testament, the teachings of Jesus is the most relevant text to Christianity.

In war it is just to destroy your enemies but not with the deliberate butchering of women and children. It is unnecessary and unchristian.

1 August 2014 at 17:35  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Strong stuff Cranmer, but one is now dispassionate about the whole affair. You have to be – the alternative would be to suffer an encroaching insanity. That’s how this man is affected by it thousands of miles away. How the people actually there are affected is beyond one’s experience thankfully, and he hopes it will remain that way.

No doubt the psalmists who penned those cruel prayers would have experienced exactly the same dispassion. Perhaps they witnessed similar first hand, took part in it even. Yes, they took part in it and by writing down their impassions, it formed part of their own healing process.

It is the ability to turn off in this way, and thus to continue your own part in the destruction which is a somewhat disappointing attribute that humanity possesses. Is it God given we ask ourselves. Why shouldn’t it be, the bad along with the good. Does God view us all with fury as a result ? Doubtful is this man’s answer. What we are is what God has ordained. We are exactly as he intended us to be. He has though given us the means to escape from the mire, but leaves us as individuals to do that, if we so wish it, and escape the madhouse that can be life without Christianity. That would be Christianity on its own, post OT, as seanrobsville extols. Let’s leave the thing behind somewhere. Christians don’t need it and one doubts whether Christ would approve of much of it either, to be frank.

1 August 2014 at 17:48  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

By the way, don’t feel too sorry for the lad in the picture. The muslims won’t be wanting him for a gunman or rocket assembler when he’s a youth. Not that he would have had any choice in the matter, as one is sure threats would be made against the families of the not so willing. All that’s left is the possibility of him being a suicide bomber. Who knows, with his Islamic ‘education’ still to be finished, there might be no stopping him, come the time...

1 August 2014 at 17:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


There are all sorts of things we could leave behind to make Christianity more attractive to the unbeliever. Who needs all that stuff about sin and judgment and death - and can't we modernize our view of sex somehow? But then it wouldn't be the Christian faith anymore. It would be the Episcopal Church.

Hell, if you really want to attract the masses then simply hold orgies in the church basement. Nothing will attract men to religion like free access to women. We could leave the OT completely behind and reconstitute Canaanite pagan temple worship. The culture is a long way down the road already.

God doesn't need our protection. We don't need to edit out the hard stuff to avoid offending the sensibilities of unbelievers. He is quite sufficient on His own to call people to Himself.


1 August 2014 at 18:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Sidney: "Thanks for explaining that we shouldn't smash the heads of babies against rocks."

I shouldn't, but Lol.

1 August 2014 at 18:09  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I've sort of lost it now after the images of that UN school were broadcast. I felt physically sick and had to leave the room. Empathy-wise, I'm with Chris Gunness's reaction during that interview. If that was the intention of Hamas then they've had a propaganda coup.

1 August 2014 at 18:14  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Carl, not like you to abandon rationale only to resort to outrageous hyperbole !

1 August 2014 at 18:15  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


If that was the intention of Hamas then they've had a propaganda coup.

And that's all they mean to Hamas as well. Children to be held up as pictures isolated from context. They have served their purpose in the struggle. The revolution needs martyrs. And what are a few children compared to the eternal struggle against the perfidious Jew?

Perhaps we should remember a few pictures of the aftermath of suicide bombers as well. Except those victims were just riding a bus one day. They weren't designated martyrs for the cause.


1 August 2014 at 18:27  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Hell, if you really want to attract the masses then simply hold orgies in the church basement.

The RANTERS in 17th Century England tried all that - didn't quite take off tho'.

1 August 2014 at 19:15  
Blogger Len said...

' Golda Meir' said;
'When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.'


Canon Andrew White on 'the God Channel' says he feels totally abandoned in Iraq the media have left afraid for their lives and it seems no Government except France is interested in helping them..

1 August 2014 at 22:05  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


"Is it God given we ask ourselves. Why shouldn’t it be, the bad along with the good. Does God view us all with fury as a result ? Doubtful is this man’s answer. What we are is what God has ordained. We are exactly as he intended us to be."

There's some very muddled theology in there.

No Original Sin, no spiritual damage to man and no need for Christ's atonement. Indeed, for someone who wants to ditch the Jewish Testament, its a very Judaic observation. The 'good inclination' and the 'evil inclination' are both God given and both, held in balance and properly exercised, serve the good.

1 August 2014 at 22:08  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


"simply hold orgies in the church basement"

And I always thought Americans didn't do irony.


1 August 2014 at 22:28  
Blogger David Hussell said...

The last lines of this Psalm are rarely read out aloud in church, and usually only read in private study, as they would clearly shock contemporary minds. Their bitterness reflects the deep pain of an exiled people whose culture had been uprooted, and they must be seen in that contact. It is also the case that rabbi's tended to exaggerate for effect. Our Jewish friends on this blog may wish to provide us with depth on these points.

Jesus knew the OT scriptures exceedingly well but his death, and resurrection, created the New Covenant which greatly improved upon the ethics of the Old Testament, thus starting a new page in humanity's relationship with its creator.

I fully support individuals or nations right to vigorous self-defence, but deliberate revenge eats away at the humanity, the basic soul of all who fall into its ways, thus setting up an evil cycle of counter revenge and destruction. Jesus knew that fact. The Sermon on the Mount, impossibly high and difficult to follow of course, is the finest, highest ethical statement ever issued, pointing us away from revenge. It is to be regarded as our ideal, albeit an impossibly high bar for most of us to throw ourselves over.

1 August 2014 at 22:48  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


"It's there to communicate the severity and reality of divine judgment - the instruments of which do not necessarily act according to the Geneva Convention."

As horrific and shocking as it seems to 'modern man', Happy Jack agrees.

Isaiah 13 makes prophecies about Babylon. One verse includes this awful outcome when God raises the Medes against them to exercise His anger on the Day of the Lord:

"Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces
Before their eyes;
Their houses will be plundered
And their wives ravished."

We overlook the Wrath of God at our peril.

1 August 2014 at 23:06  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

One minor correction, YG. Jews do not teach their children that all Arabs are terrorists. People will occasionally say nasty things at during times of conflict, but thesr are exceptions. The Israeli school curriculum is correct to a fault, where past Arab atrocities against Jews are not even taught anymore and the stress is on coexistence and tolerance; Israelis can serve time for hate speech and even anti-Muslim caricatures, Jewish day schools in the diaspora promote multiculturalism and will hire qualified Muslims and others, synagogues do not preach hate (my former synagogue had a likable and respected Somali Muslim caretaker) and everyone I know is careful about how we explain current events to our children. There is no equivalency.

2 August 2014 at 00:53  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Good point. What people fail to grasp is that the pronounced judgment is just. It has to be just since it comes from God. It fits the magnitude of the crime.

"WHAAAAT???" comes the shocked response.

And then we are into the nature of man and the nature of sin and the nature of children and election and God's sovereign right to judge. People are so used to this pagan concept of anthropomorphizing God into a giant man. He is supposed to think like us and act like us. Man wants to make God the analog of man. But that isn't who He is.

Again and again and again it comes back to "I am good. Who will judge me?" That is the destructive result of man's unbelief and rebellion. He refuses to accept that he is evil by nature and worthy of a terribly severe judgment.


2 August 2014 at 02:07  
Blogger Ivan said...

If there is no afterlife, what is left for the gods? They have do something for the living. The hooly psalmist obviously felt that his god lacked the mojo of the gods of his enemies. His tribal deity is nowhere to be seen, while those of his enemies are on a roll. God is on the side of the bigger artillery as Napoleon opined.

2 August 2014 at 04:27  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

How disappointing Jack that you still have little understanding of the significance of the OT in the bringing about of Christianity and fail to understand how some of it is anti Christian.

God's displeasure will not be manifested as human anger. It will be far more devastating than can ever be expressed in human terms.It will be a perpetual agony of loss through one's own fault...something along those lines. This is how it was explained to us. ...Smashing babies skulls are not the words of God.Jesus would never say this and He is the human embodiment of God.I fail to understand why you cling on to the OT claiming it is the Word of God. If it were true there would have been no reason for Jesus to come and change anything . Perhaps it is your conflicted self ,wanting to hold on to your Jewish roots in some subconscious way.

2 August 2014 at 10:10  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Look Jack, there’s something you ought to know. Erm, well, this is difficult. How can one put this. It’s erm, well, your beloved ‘Original Sin’. It er, it umm – it doesn’t exist. No such thing. There, said it. You see, it comes from the same source as smashing babies’ heads open, as you do when your in a fight. Lord, knows, I’ve almost done it myself enough times. Anyway, we won’t dwell on that. There was no Adam either. Or apple or snake. Let alone a talking one. It’s rather silly isn’t it really, if you think about it, erm, you know, the idea of a snake that can persuade a woman to eat a naughty apple. It’s damn difficult to persuade a woman to do anything I’ve always found, certainly nothing I want her to do {AHEM}. Oh yes, there’s another thing, forbidden apples. Where did they think up that idea. So, that’s it. No Adam, no Original Sin, and hopefully no more babies heads being smashed. There, you have it.

Good day to you...

2 August 2014 at 12:49  
Blogger Martin Marprelate said...

Psalm 137:7-9 should be read as prophetic:

'In the beginning of the fifth year of Darius happened the revolt of the Babylonians.....he besieged the city with all his forces.....As soon as the Babylonians saw themselves begirt by such an army as they could not cope with in the field, they turned their thoughts wholly to the supporting of themselves in the siege; in order whereto they took a resolution, the most desperate and barbarous that any nation ever practised. The make their provision last longer, they agreed to cut off all unnecessary mouths among them, and therefore drawing together all the women and children, they strangled them all, whether wives, sisters, daughters, or young children useless for the wars, excepting only that every man was allowed to save one of his wives, which he best loved, and a maid-servant to do the work of the house.'
[Humphrey Prideaux, quoted by C.H. Spurgeon in The Treasury of David, Vol.III]

The law concerning 'An eye for an eye' etc. was not supposed to be a standard but a limit for retribution, set against the standard of the wicked (Gen. 4:23-4).

If Babylon was recompensed for the slaughter of innocents in Jerusalem, one wonders what will be the recompense for Britain that has slaughtered 8 million or more of its unborn children? As someone has remarked, we are the generation that has murdered its children and our fate is to be murdered by the survivors (by 'euthanasia').

2 August 2014 at 12:56  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Martin Marprelate, “As someone has remarked, we are the generation that has murdered its children and our fate is to be murdered by the survivors (by 'euthanasia'). “

Bit off topic, but one is warming to that idea by the day. Doesn’t seem unreasonable at all. Let the guilty be known by their tattoos say I !

2 August 2014 at 13:21  
Blogger Len said...

IF there was no 'original sin' and a sin nature that we all inherited then Jesus coming to Calvary was unnecessary and the bible has got thing badly wrong.

2 August 2014 at 13:43  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


Jack has said it before - Jesus was a devout Jew - He fulfilled Judaism - and His message cannot be understood without reference to the Old Testament. The New Testament sheds light on the Old Testament and vice versa.

Let's be clear, God does not have 'emotions' like people such as anger, pity or pain. These are human words to attempt to portray Him. He just is - Perfect.

If you clean gold by dropping it in a solution that removes dirt, do you give the chemical and its reactions human attributes? No. How does one describe its actions? You can use all sorts of chemical terms to describe what's going on. But if you don't comprehend it, or want to explain it, you can use poetic language that describes what you are seeing. The solution strips away all imperfections and destroys it. Is it 'angry' or 'vengeful' or 'hateful'? No. Is it showing 'mercy' or 'compassion' towards the gold? No.

The God revealed by the Jewish Testament is beyond human comprehension and beyond our language. He has to be understood as a Being who will not accept in His created beings - angelic or human - anything less than His perfection. Yet He has given us free will. Human history, seen through this perspective, is about Him reuniting the fallen creation with Him - and ridding it of evil. That's the underlying message Jack takes from the Old Testament.

Jesus gave us an insight into God's perfection - His Love and Mercy - and God's plan for human redemption and salvation. He revealed the Jews had got it wrong too. However, this doesn't ditch the God of the Old Testament or its truth. Neither does it make God a cuddly man with a soft voice and a white beard who ignores evil. And evil has consequences - here and now as well as eternally for individuals.

"Perhaps it is your conflicted self ,wanting to hold on to your Jewish roots in some subconscious way."

Maybe. Jack was certainly raised with a deep respect for the Old Testament and for the Jews. It is Jack's view that nowadays many Christians want to disassociate from the attributes of God revealed in the Old Testament because they want to avoid the implications of accepting this.

We should all hold onto our Jewish roots.


By those remarks, if you actually mean them, you have put yourself outside of orthodox Christianity. Its no longer a question of "looking over and running around the edge of the box". You've fallen off the edge and landed on the wrong side!

Do climb back in; there's a good fellow.

2 August 2014 at 13:44  
Blogger Len said...

There seems to be some confusion about the identity of God amongst some in the RCC?.
The O/T God is the same as the N/T God He has not changed or become a 'different person. This was a common heresy once I believe?.
What changed everything was the atonement (for our sins) by Christ at Calvary.
God can now look at believers through the atonement of Christ at Calvary.We are living in a period of Gods Grace when we have the opportunity to be saved through Christs atonement if we accept Christ as Saviour.
But there will be a time when all those not in Christ who have rejected Christ as their Saviour will fall under God`s Judgement for all their sins.
It is a decision we all must make and to bear responsibility for that decision.

2 August 2014 at 13:52  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


Please do not confuse the Inspector's muddled wittering's for that of orthodox Roman Catholicism. He may claim this faith but Jack can assure you his views are closer to those of Pelagianism - an early heresy roundly condemned by the Church.

2 August 2014 at 14:20  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Jack can assure you his views are closer to those of Pelagianism

Ah-hah! The truth finally comes out. Jack is a Pelagian. We always suspected as much.


2 August 2014 at 14:53  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

[Whistles innocently]

2 August 2014 at 14:54  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Bad man ....

2 August 2014 at 14:58  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Jack. There is no Original Sin. No need. In his raw state man is easily corruptible and prone to be that way. It is not sinful per say, but worthy of pity if anything. To defy the will of God is sinful, but to stagger about in stupidity, being the victim of your own misfortunes, that’s pathetic.

2 August 2014 at 16:31  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


You're free to believe what you chose. All Jack is saying is that it's not orthodox Christianity as he understands it, and its most certainly not Roman Catholicism.

2 August 2014 at 19:09  
Blogger meema said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2 August 2014 at 21:29  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Jack. All this Original Sin stuff was worked out by church councils centuries ago. The problem being is that then Adam and Eve were real people. We know better now through science. Time for a revision, don’t you think ? Shouldn’t think God would mind one bit, welcome it even, he being truth and all that...

2 August 2014 at 22:34  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Inspector @ 22:34

Yes, a very fair point.

But Jerome, in the Fourth century, considered 'Genesis' to be mythical: in the sense of truth told in a simplified form. Among the truths he took from it was that the human race had become estranged from God.

If the issue of historicity occurs to us, and God exists and is the source of our reasoning power, then the problem must have occurred to God as well.

Despite knowing that humans would go on to discover stuff, God still chose to record the truth about the human condition in that particular form.

2 August 2014 at 23:06  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


"We know better now through science. Time for a revision, don’t you think ? Shouldn’t think God would mind one bit, welcome it even, he being truth and all that..."

And the scientific evidence you're claiming is where and shows what?

The Church doesn't require you to believe Adam and Eve were "real people" in the sense you suggest - you know, with registered births listing their origins as dust and their address as the Garden of Eden.

The story of creation and the Fall is a true one, even if not written according to modern literary techniques. It uses figurative language but tells of a primeval event, an actual deed at the beginning of the history of man that marked the whole of our human history.

Are you suggesting science has proven that there were multiple first parents; many sets of Adams and Eves? It remains a teaching of the Church that there was one set of parents, and it was they who committed an offense against God, and that offense has had lasting effects for mankind.

You cannot simply dismiss the story of Adam and Eve, the Fall and Original Sin as mere fiction. The question is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings or a pool of early human couples. Science might conjecture that men did not take their origin through natural generation from Adam and Eve, or that they represent a certain number of first parents. However, where's the proof?

2 August 2014 at 23:33  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


"Despite knowing that humans would go on to discover stuff, God still chose to record the truth about the human condition in that particular form."


As the Catechism puts it:

"Methodical research in all branches of knowledge ... can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things the of the faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are"
(CCC 159).

2 August 2014 at 23:37  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Jack. As it stands, Eve was created from Adam’s rib. Enough said.

How in God’s name is that going to cut it today ?

You are what the betting industry would call a ‘mug punter’, sir.

3 August 2014 at 00:27  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

And what part of "figurative language" have you failed to grasp, Inspector?

3 August 2014 at 00:45  
Blogger Len said...

If God had said He took some of Adams DNA and created a woman would that suit you better Inspector?.
I wonder how God would have explained DNA to early Christians?.

The attack by Satan is always on the Word of God the integrity of God so if the 'Genesis' account' can can shown to be 'questionable' then the whole Word of God can be made' questionable'.This is why many people reject the Bible as a 'fairy tale'.
This is what Darwin 'achieved' by his highly questionable theory of Evolution(which is losing credibility with scientists today)and is the ammunition that atheists use to discredit God.
If the foundations are destroyed what can people do?.
Restore the foundations of Christianity which is the Word of God!.

3 August 2014 at 09:46  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Len @ )9:46

Exactly so.

I can imagine a description of the creation of Eve that would have us in C21 scratching our heads in puzzlement because it described processes we don't know about yet, and don't even know we don't know about.

The beauty of the 'Genesis' account is that it can work at many levels, and across time.

3 August 2014 at 10:03  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hi Inspector,

Aside from being silly on race, sex and sexuality, you are quite close to Judaism in many ways.

Kol hakavod (:

3 August 2014 at 17:36  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


My thoughts too - except he doesn't accept the Old Testament. Still, we can leave that small matter with his new coreligionists to sort.

Can you recommend a mohel in the Gloucester area?

3 August 2014 at 19:25  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hi Happy Jack,

I think Inspector would love our Shul Kiddush ( which comes with fine malt whisky). But I think he is best left as a 'secular' Roman Catholic? I know, I know, that is too Jewish a concept(:

3 August 2014 at 21:06  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

I say you two. The truth will always hold out, come what may.

3 August 2014 at 21:47  
Blogger Shmu'el said...

Inspector as a MOT? He is welcome if he wants to, but no-one can force anyone to be a Jew. What about his wife?

3 August 2014 at 23:12  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Hannah but he can be secular, no problem, just not a Catholic with a Jewish take on Adam and Eve and the nature of evil. It's like a Jew believing Jesus was the Messiah. No, it just wont do.

Shmu'el, who knows he may be the last surviving member of one of the lost tribes. If memory serves, he's already been circumcised. He is unmarried so the Yentas can sort him - no cats though. What an asset to Judaism and its a free transfer with no strings.

4 August 2014 at 23:34  

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