More Than a Provocation: Sexuality, Media and Theology

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Stefanie Knauss

More than a Provocation

Sexuality, Media and Theology

1. Auflage 2014
230 Seiten gebunden
ISBN 978-3-525-60450-2
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht


Sex, Media and theology – a provocative mix. Reactions can vary from rejection to openness and curiosity. This volume follows the latter path: on the background of changes in contemporary sexual culture and theological developments in the reflection on sexuality, three media – internet, advertising and film – are analysed with respect of their representation of sexuality and their contribution to theological reflections on sex. This shows: sex in media is more than a provocation; it provides an inspiration for theological thinking about human beings, their relationships with others, and also with God.

It sounds fascinating doesn’t it.  V&R have asked if I might like to review it, so I’ve said of course.  These sorts of things are outside my usual stomping grounds- which is the perfect reason to look into them.  More anon once it’s read and reviewed.

Being ‘Nice’ Isn’t the Goal of Christianity

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There’s a brilliant essay in The Telegraph which makes that important point in a striking way, in a discussion of the TV show “Rev”.

Here’s a thought for the day: Most people are “nice”, but Christians should be nice with a purpose.

I am not a fan of the sitcom Rev, which depicts a vicar trying to be kind to his parishioners – with hilarious consequences. His congregation is small, full of delinquents, and the eponymous clergymen is often driven to drink by their unholy antics. Justin Welby disagrees with the show’s depiction of Anglican life because he notes that many churches are growing. The Rev’s, by contrast, conforms to a self-lacerating vision of Christianity as nice but niche.

But self-laceration is the stock-in-trade of the 1960s liberal Christian tradition, and Rev is its fifth gospel. The priest character is full of doubt, constantly questioning his vocation, reluctant to preach about sin and contemptuous of those who do (evangelicals are portrayed, inevitably, as gurning bigots). It’s never entirely clear why he wants to be a priest at all. Except, perhaps, to be nice to those who undoubtedly need it. Rev imagines Christians to be social workers in dog collars: faith is far less important than acts of kindness. Which is all very nice, but hardly conducive to filling the pews. If the church only ever gives, then people will only ever take from it. What’s the point of committing oneself to a faith that asks nothing in return – including firm belief?

Read it ALL.  It’s a shame more theologians don’t have as much sense and comprehension as a historian.

Today With Zwingli: Positive Feelings Towards Some People Aren’t Possible

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Huldrich_zwingli 8In his Commentary on True and False Religion Zwingli writes, in his discussion of the Sacraments,

If I see that a thing was written from love of God and one’s neighbor, I overlook many errors, just as many persons, no doubt, considerately overlook mine. When, however, occasion offers, I fill in the gaps, reverse the order, unravel the knots, connect wandering thoughts, without, however, discourteous strictures on anybody by name, that peace may be preserved, which some are so bent upon disturbing.

I make two exceptions, Emser and Eck, for they are pests to the teachings of Christ. Their own wanton recklessness has forced me to write pretty sharply against them and by name. For the former without any warning so arrogantly attacked me unawares that I should have been a renegade to Christ’s teachings (for it is His work, not mine, in which I am engaged), if I had retired before a man singing his song of victory before he had come into my sight. For he wrote against me in such a way (and published the book) that he tricked me into waiting for six months to see if he were going to send me a copy.

The other laid a snare for my destruction, and sending most absurd and lying slanders to the assembly of the Swiss tried to get the start of me, so that, if his scheme succeeded, I might seem to have been rightly slain, and that he might sell himself for a high price to the Romans and the tyrants of Germany. When I disclosed his crime (and it could not be denied), good gods, how he raved! So I beg all the readers of this Commentary to judge it with a free mind and without passion, and to remove what they see is foreign to the purest teachings of Christ, employing not decrees and condemnations of their own but the spear of the heavenly word drawn from the writings of both Testaments.*

It’s best to get along if you can, but it’s just a fact that all of us have people we will never get along with.  In most cases, this isn’t our fault.  It’s theirs…  #AmIRight…

At least Zwingli (and Luther and Calvin) were honest about it.  There’s nothing worse than some soul patch wearing emergent pretending decency when inside they are little more than seething pots of rage (probably because they are so tiny in stature).  The world is too full of that sort.  Would that there were more honest people.

*The Latin works of Huldreich Zwingli, (Vol. 3, pp. 179–180).

On Theology: An Observation

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Great exegetes make great theologians and great theologians are forged in the furnace of exegesis.

Tertullian Hits the Nail on the Head

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[W]e did not get eyes to minister to lust, and the tongue for speaking evil with, and ears to be the receptacle of evil speech, and the throat to serve the vice of gluttony, and the belly to be gluttony’s ally, and the genitals for unchaste excesses, and hands for deeds of violence, and the feet for an erring life; or was the soul placed in the body that it might become a thought-manufactory of snares, and fraud, and injustice?

I think not; for if God, as the righteous ex-actor of innocence, hates everything like malignity—if He hates utterly such plotting of evil, it is clear beyond a doubt, that, of all things that have come from His hand, He has made none to lead to works which He condemns, even though these same works may be carried on by things of His making; for, in fact, it is the one ground of condemnation, that the creature misuses the creation.   – St. Tertullian

Quote of the Day

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The best theology refuses to be innovative. – A.J. Swoboda

Graham Tomlin Has Rightly Comprehended Luther, and Paul, and the ‘New Perspective’ Heretics Need to Give Him (Tomlin) A Read

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NPP people (all 4 of you) – take a few minutes and read this incredibly intelligent essay by Graham Tomlin.  Here’s his conclusion-

tomlinOff with thee now, to read it all.

People Don’t Like It When Their Idols Are Destroyed

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I wrote 4 years ago concerning the destruction of images in Zurich in 1524:

Zwingli’s reforming efforts were in full swing in June of 1524 and the images which besotted the city’s churches were removed at the order of the Magistrates. As Philip Schaff notes

In the presence of a deputation from the authorities of Church and State, accompanied by architects, masons and carpenters, the churches of the city were purged of pictures, relics, crucifixes, altars, candles, and all ornaments, the frescoes effaced, and the walls whitewashed, so that nothing remained but the bare building to be filled by a worshiping congregation. The pictures were broken and burnt, some given to those who had a claim, a few preserved as antiquities. The bones of the saints were buried. Even the organs were removed, and the Latin singing of the choir abolished, but fortunately afterwards replaced by congregational singing of psalms and hymns in the vernacular (in Basle as early as 1526, in St. Gall 1527, in Zurich in 1598). “Within thirteen days,” says Bullinger, “all the churches of the city were cleared; costly works of painting and sculpture, especially a beautiful table in the Waterchurch, were destroyed. The superstitious lamented; but the true believers rejoiced in it as a great and joyous worship of God.”

Schaff also remarks

The same work of destruction took place in the village churches in a less orderly way. Nothing was left but the bare buildings, empty, cold and forbidding.

The ‘good’ people of Zurich weren’t too happy with Zwingli about it all and in the middle of the month of June, 1524, they organized a demonstration, marched to his house, surrounded it, tossed eggs and stones at it, and chanted ‘down with the great devil!’  The Magistrates sent soldiers to disperse the crowds and that was essentially the end of the ‘Drive Zwingli Out of Town’ movement.

Schaff observes concerning Zwingli’s attitude towards images

It should be remarked also that he was not opposed to images as such any more than to poetry and music, but only to their idolatrous use in churches. In his reply to Valentin Compar of Uri (1525), he says, “The controversy is not about images which do not offend the faith and the honor of God, but about idols to which divine honors are paid. Where there is no danger of idolatry, the images may remain; but idols should not be tolerated. All the papists tell us that images are the books for the unlearned. But where has God commanded us to learn from such books?” He thought that the absence of images in churches would tend to increase the hunger for the Word of God.

This is patently correct.  And it is also relevant in our own day, even now, four years after that original post- when idols are attacked and their worshipers react vigorously and in many cases vociferously.

For instance, the misdeeds of the Florida Pastor Mr Rev. Coy have come to light by his own admission.  That he is virtually worshiped by some of his followers (his, not Christ’s) is made evident by the reaction to any mention of those moral failures.

If you want to get hate mail- point out that no one but Christ should be exalted and watch the fit-pitching commence.  People in 1524 didn’t want their idols touched and people don’t today either.

Nevertheless, the task of the iconoclast must continue unabated, even – and indeed especially – when the complaining thereof begins.  Theologians are beholden to God, not to the blind followers of the blind.