Zoomtard’s Series of Unfortunate Events

Part 2 of my account of the week in the land of the bowler hats must begin with the Cathedral of Durham. In many ways this is the typical kind of English cathedral. For example, its Romanesque architecture and 1000 year old heritage betray a certain “Romaness” to proceedings even though its an Anglican church and the Church of England was only formed at the start of the 1500’s. How did this happen? Well, the Anglicans robbed it from the Roman Catholics of course. Therefore its a typical English Cathedral in that it was robbed from a weaker minority. So with that prejudiced introduction, let me force my views on Hogwarts down your throat.

See, the Cathedral of Durham isn’t just where the Bishop lives or where the displaced Catholics left 500 years ago as Cathugees, it is also the basis for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. In fact, I took a delightful evening-time stroll around the courtyard I had seen before in the Potter movies and I somersaulted across the green where he learnt to fly on his broom to the delight and applause of the children and their posh parents who were hanging around Durham in the absence of a hunt to go to.

The cathedral is absolutely beautiful. I love cathedrals and this one was suitably massive, stained glassed and filled with tombs. It portrayed God properly as a fabulously wealthy and reclusive interior decorator who doesn’t take calls from any fans no matter how impassioned they are and who likes nothing more than a steep, narrow passageway leading to a panoramic view of the city. Dan Brown would say that the tower stairs I refer to were designed by Gnostics to represent the vagina of the divine goddess but I think he is crazy because vaginas don’t curve. You are sick Mr. Brown!

The Bishop of Durham used to be an idiot. I mean, sure he probably spent a few years at “uni” (that is what they call it here in the Empire) but he caused a lot of fuss because he didn’t feel like believing in God anymore because he was very sophisticated and liked some rare French cheese and read some Foucault and saw a diagram about how stars make the nice shiny light they give us. I might be simplifying it a bit but all’s fair when you are mocking a dead guy (well, an old guy).

But now the Bishop of Durham kicks ass. He actually is a living legend (in that people will be reading his books in 500 years) and his name is N.T. Wright. In honour of his excellence and the excellence of his mighty fine seat I thought I’d write a short poem to honour him. Also, I like the fact that people will be able to successfully google “NT Wright poem” in the future.

A Free Verse Ode To The Bishop of Durham

Oh you gotta get to know the Bishop of Durham
A Protestant called N.T. Wright
N is for Nicholas, T is for Tom
With Jesus, the Christ, he is super-tight
Ain’t got none of his predecessors shite
World famous as a theologian and writer
NT when he is a big fat theologian
Just simple Tom when he is a simple writer
He’ll explain it all, make your soul feel lighter
Creation, Resurrection, Salvation and Sin
Beat back the damage of liberal theology with one of his books and a celebratory glass of gin.
So glad I could visit the Bishop of Durham
NT Wright you gotta love ‘m.

I never promised you the poem would be worth your time or the 3 minutes it took to compose. In fairness though, you know all you probably need to know about him now.

In the Cathedral bookshop a crazy man who had that smell that said I should have washed two days ago, accosted me in the theology department. He walked up behind me while I considered spending a fortune and said, “Are you a theology student?” And I said yes because you know, technically I am and also I seem to secretly like mentalists robbing my time. He told me not to fill my head with that guff (oh alright then sir, I’ll drop out of my course immediately on your advice) and instead to trust the Spirit. Indeed. He pushed a book on me by a chap called Donald Prince about demon possession controlling the clergy of the Anglican church. He felt far more at home when I told him I was a Presbyterian (because these labels matter to crazy men) but he was shocked to hear that my baptism was at birth instead of being an adult full immersion effort so popular amongst zealots (its popular amongst normal people too, but the zealots go for it in a big way). Anyway, this lad and his wife reckon that going to study the Bible at college is a waste of time because the Holy Ghost can give you all you need. I quickly stopped trying to argue my viewpoints because he didn’t really give a shit. He knew the doctrine he had adopted and he didn’t need to hear anyone else’s opinion. Yet at the same time he was mighty pissed off that evangelicals don’t want to listen to contradicting views from the periphery. I don’t think I want to waste a Sunday morning listening to a sermon on how demons possess the soul of Archbishop Rowan Williams. But you never know if it was done creatively, like in iambic pentatamater, it might be amusing for
a while.

He gave me the ISBN of a book I should read to try and “save my ministry” (I’m so glad you diagnosed it as dying from looking at my back from across a bookshop) and it was on the receipt for a Daily Mail. Maybe its subliminal messages in hateful tabloids that cause this saddening craziness in my co-religionists?

So weirdoes aside, the day in Durham was lovely. I got the Nellie McKay album and am even more sure I support genetic engineering now since she should be cloned so everyone gets to enjoy her hilarity and her piano greatness.

I have lots of funny and sad and downright weird stories about the work conference thing but I feel quite unsure about writing about them online. I could get in trouble if I was misinterpreted because my not very veiled identity would be totally punctured if I told the anecdotes and the web has a way of confusing tone. But I felt the whole time I was there like I was about to say something that wouldn’t be appreciated by the group. In a Mafiosi kind of non-appreciation. I didn’t feel safe to be a shit-stirrer, honest or passionate. Instead I bit my tongue, read 4 really good books (1, 2, 3, 4) and longed for the comforting green fields of home; where the stirring of shit is almost a sacrament, where honesty and freedom to disagree is a sign of confident faith instead of a disturbing possible threat to the “doctrines” and where passionate argument is the only way we know how to decide anything. Basically, I didn’t feel I could be myself and that is a fairly big (but not personal or fatal) indictment of a Christian organisation. The upside is that I love the guys I work for even more now that I see how hard it is to achieve (and how much work it will take to sustain) the relationships we have.

Your Correspondent, Responsible for Jessica Biel’s nose job

4 Responses to “Zoomtard’s Series of Unfortunate Events”

  1. The Holy Ghost can give you all you need. Are you denying this?

    We’ll see who’s laughing next week when I can shoot lasers from my eyes and throw fireballs.

  2. stig says:

    Rhyming Durham with “love ‘m”? Sin with gin? Yes! Made my day.

  3. […] While the talks were coherent (but in some cases barely intelligible- I think you get more funding in theology if you use words with many syllables) they felt like they were mildly irritating mind games, not worship. They didn’t seem to be talking to the real world, to people’s hopes and hurts and all that stuff that Jesus was so fascinated by, to the mission of the Church and most importantly, they seemed disconnected from God. Vain speculation does not lead to doxology. But then along came the theological trinity of Stephen Williams, DA Carson and NT Wright (who has featured on this site many times before). Their three talks, all in one day, were astounding. Williams talked about God’s soverignity, which means that God can do whatever he likes since he made everything that is. Carson talked about God’s wrath and argued beautifully that the judgement of God is liberating because it is neccessary that we have a God who does punish injustice. But touchingly, inspiringly and relevantly, he ended his talk on the wrath of God by arguing that this doctrine should produce one clear result in Christians- tears. In the face of the kind of thing that is happening in New Orleans, we should be brought to tears by that suffering and by the evil that rapes and pillages and shoots at supply-bearing helicopters in the midst of it. He also clearly expounded that idiots like this who view natural disasters as examples of God’s wrath in return for particular people or group’s sins to be talking nonsense in the highest order. It was passionate. It was relevant. It was a joy to hear. And finally Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Tom Wright spoke on the Doctrine of God and Christian Origins. In plain terms, he argued that the Gospels, which are narratives, are narratives for a reason. God is telling a story. If we strip away the story thinking it to be entertaining adornement to get to the heart of the matter in the form of propositions, then we are committing a crime against the text. The Gospel stories, the adornment, the different perspectives offered by the different authors, are like load bearing beams, not plaster flourishes. If you remove them, you have an empty shell ready to fall in on itself. […]

  4. […] So for those of you who aren’t theology nerds, or even Christians (why not! Christians have THEOLOGY! How sexy is that? Too sexy for you it seems), I should explain why I love this NT Wright fellow. He is the Bishop of Durham. That is, I think, the Vice-Vice President of Anglicanism. So if there was a 24-esque thriller made about the Church of England, then Tom Wright would be the one pulling the strings in the assasinate-the-President-for-economic-gain intruige. He is also an amazing public speaker. But what you will really love about Tom Wright is his writing. He has an astounding gift for making the most complex and weighty issues seem simple. He can make theology page-turnable. The man can make deconstructionism seem page-turnable. He writes in two categories. Heavy, academic theology is published under the austere NT Wright title and more popular, mainstream works are published under Tom Wright, which is surely the name of the man down the road you could borrow a lawnmower from. Do I need to point out (again) that he is a New Testament theologian called NT Wright? How can he be wrong? (I disagree with him on a bunch of things, by the way, Mr. Heresy Police) […]