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2004-06-02 We're in trouble if God's word is eternal

I wonder if all the people who ate meat on Fridays, before it was done away with as a sin, are feeling really fed up in Hell. Or was it a venial sin, not a mortal sin? Hopefully some of them managed to make atonement in Purgatory, and reached Paradise. Or has Purgatory dissolved, in the same way that limbo, with all those unfortunate unbaptised infants, disappeared into thin air?

 

Im really confused. Things seem to be done away with all the time, when it suits. Surely if the Church is to be taken seriously in the 21st Century, it needs to continually evolve and move with the times. Even Hell is a word which has been misinterpreted throughout the ages. Hades was nothing more than a common grave of humankind with no moral or judgemental distinctions. Hell was a grave, a covered place, but with Miltons Paradise Lost and Dantes Divine Comedy Hell took on a whole new look.

 

Adam brought death, and Christ did away with it, but was it literature, and even the Church itself which made hell into what it is now? For years, it seems that the Church retained its flock by means of fear, misinformation and laws that come and go. I was shocked to hear a caller to Joe Duffys show recently say that she saw a divorcee taking communion. The mans marriage had broken down, he had fallen from grace and was in a state of mortal sin, and ought not to receive the host, in much the same way that I am not to take communion at a Catholic mass. But I have, many times.

 

Several of my friends have fun in pointing out that, according to their religion teachers, Protestants wont go to Heaven. Little do they know however, that I have built up a credit of indulgences, and I am so gonna fly through Purgatory.

When a loved one dies, we sometimes hear that God needed another angel, or we are fobbed off with God moving in a mysterious way, but how are we expected to love a God who has those sort of motives?. If Gods word is eternal and unchanging then we really are in trouble, because according to the Old Testament, supermarket staff and everyone who works on Sunday ought to be put to death (Exodus 35). We ought to sell our daughers to slavery (Exodus 21), though Leviticus 25 says that your slaves ought to be from a neighbouring nation - Hmm, an English slave, maybe I could get used to that. Chapter 18 says that homosexuality cannot be condoned. Chapter 19 says that you mustnt trim your hair, or round it at the edges - take note Alfie! Priests ought to announce anyone with a skin disease from the altar as being unclean (Lev13) - thatll pack the churches. Farmers must not have two different crops in one field (Lev19) and no-one ought to wear a garment made from two types of thread - there goes that cotton/polyester jumper.

 

While savouring a stunningly beautiful meal in Donaghys Coach Lane recently, my sister sat opposite me, sinning, by eating ostrich (Lev11). Prawns are a sin too, as they have no fins or scales. Nobody must have any contact with ladies when it is their time of month as they are unclean, that is until they sacrifice two turtle doves on the altar seven days afterwards (Lev15). Anyone who curses ought to be stoned to death by the entire community (Lev24), well, feck that.

One of my favourite walking places in England was the tiny village of Shere in Surrey. In Sheres village church, there was a hole in the wall next to the altar, where centuries before, a lady had herself bricked in for years with only a view of the altar. I am sure God no longer expects this sort of extreme devotion, so maybe we can be more lenient on some of the more out-of-date laws of God, and those made up by the Church along the way. Then the Church can concentrate on other more pressing issues such as racism and intolerance which is sadly very much still in evidence in our society. Who knows, maybe even celibacy can be done away with. While we are at it, let the Pope retire.