I now feel safe after two years to publish this posting without fear of a flogging in the vestry of our local church
A bit of controversy last week over the Very Reverend Sheik Rowan Atkinson (yes the ecclesiastical comedian) the mad Mullah of Lambeth (AKA the Archbishop of Canterbury or ABC as he is know to his dwindling flock) and his pronouncements about the incorporation of Sharia law into UK society – he didn’t really say this but its good to ham it up.
I do call into our local church on occasion and bowling in there last Sunday there was a gaggle of the faithful standing around and musing over the recent lecture given by ABC and his apparent call for the inclusion of some parts of Sharia Law alongside Common Law. Not withstanding the lack of insight evident about what Sharia actually is – which is more a comprehensive way of going through life informed by the Qur’an and further elaborated by the words of the Prophet as captured in the Sunnah – that covers conduct of the faithful through life as well as more mundane legal precepts. Lots of huffing and puffing was in evidence (I assume from you ed.) about sanctity of Common Law etc etc then we looked around – and talk of the devil in waltzed Mullah Colin Grahame AKA the Reverend Collin deacon of … . He had just got back from blessing the local lap dancing club … and we asked his opinion. ‘We could always call the offertory the whip round’ (polite chortling) and have young Sheila (i.e. an eighty-five year old denizen of the church) up the belfry to call the faithful to prayer (more polite chortling then having had this brilliant idea in five mins the deed was done) and ‘we could have one or two verses from the Holy Qur’an instead of the New Testament’ (muffled suppressed chortling) and have a ‘show of hands to see who’s been pinching from the poor box’ (lots of laughter) …
Then followed a more meaningful consideration of what is actually wrong with thinking about applying rules and ways of living as they have been captured in Holy Works right across the world into our everyday life (surely that’s what we do as Christians) – there is not much talk of stewardship, ethical behaviour, and the right way of going about with ones fellow human beings nowadays. It not so much about Law, as doing the right thing, because it is the right thing to do, and this sort of thing has underpinned the great religions for thousands of years. OK Sharia law as it seems to us as practiced in some countries is not acceptable, but the sentiment, that one has to take on board these; responsibilities, rules and prescriptions that were written down for very practical reasons years ago is correct. Codified, the rules were a coherent way to manage ones society – in the heart of where Islam was borne, at that time, it was a pretty fragmented violent pagan society. Islam bound together that society within a set of coherent laws and rules. Sharia law was set-down a thousand years ago (Judaism 2,500 years ago) and needs perhaps more a reflective approach now (as it does receive in many advanced Muslim countries) but the basic ethics that underpin Islam underpin Christianity as well.
Over the week the ‘Colonels from the Shires’ have appeared from the woodwork at Synod meetings complaining that no ‘rag-head’ law will hold here but they are a tiny minority – and we are not about to accept calls for the resignation of ABC from Sun Editors and journalist hacks who think ‘communion rail’ just won the franchise for the East Coast Line or the 2.30 at Lingfield. So this controversy will fade into the past and we will move on – although it must be said that ABC would be wise to have one of his minions give a future lecture a ‘butchers’ before it goes out.
After the service in the pub we reflected over the debates and controversies around this issue – that is until someone piped up – ‘Crap we left Sheila in the bell tower’
Some Links if you would like to know more about this issue and what ABC actually said