Home > Bp. Breidenthal, Fisks, Sanctification, SSB's, Theology > Who Needs Ice-Cream?? : Responses to Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter Sermon, (Part 4 of Many)

Who Needs Ice-Cream?? : Responses to Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter Sermon, (Part 4 of Many)

14 June 2010

Continuing on my fisk of Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter sermon.  I may have one more fisk in the noggin, but am still thinking about how to write it. 

The Emperor of Ice Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Wallace Stevens  

Love that poem!  It reminds me so much of this ‘sermon’: 

And the yes to which we are called in all our relationships with one another.  We are called not only to say yes to God but to each other to each one of us: ‘Yes, I am glad that God created you, I am glad that God sustains you, I am glad that you exist, I am glad that we are together no matter how challenging and difficult that may sometimes be; Yes, yes, yes.’

The problem is that sometimes we can hardly imagine ourselves saying yes so unreservedly to God and to our neighbor.
– Bp. Breidenthal (Easter 2010 Sermon)

As I indicated to my friend PBS earlier in this series, our bishop devotes a great deal of emphasis on this particular ‘sermon’ to re-casting God’s character such that He always says ‘yes,’ (and therefore, we may infer that we ought to say ‘yes’ more frequently also).  To me, there is no coincidence between Bp. Breidenthal’s sermon on the “yes” aspect of God’s character, with the date that he had set for Same-Sex Blessings to commence within our diocese.  I hope the reader can see the connection as well. 

What’s often troubling in such sermons is what gets left out.  God may compels us to say ‘yes,’ but He also compels us in many situations to say, ‘no.’  A cursory reading of the Decalogue reveals both positive and negative commandments.  So, it is incomplete to offer up a view of God as simply the God of the affirmation;  And since He compels both yes and no, the object of His laws are different from simply a yes for the sake of yes, or a no for the sake of no. 

Simply stated, God’s laws are an expression of His character;  in particular, His holiness. 

But there is another thing that bothers me about the bishop’s sermon.  Living in a state of perpetual and “unreserved” affirmation to ourselves and our neighbor (and yes, I am aware of the wording of the bishop’s sermon – I simply deny that he means what he says about our affirmation to God).  And it is this – a state of perpetual and unreserved affirmation is what one finds at a wake.  This is the situation described in the Wallace Stevens poem.  A covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, on the other hand, has God’s holiness in view, unlike ice-cream or the end-all-be-all of life to the Natural Man, the orgasm. 

So there is a great lurking irony to the bishop’s Easter Sermon.  Did you catch it, Gentle Reader?  The god of perpetual affirmation “lives” within the context of a wake – a party centered around a dead person.  This celebrates a “god” of death, not of life, which is what Easter is supposed to be all about. 

Thankfully, our God far surpasses any wannabe emperor of ice-cream. 

He is risen!  Alleluia!

– Elder

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