ONTD Political

Church in Wales inquiry after rector burns Bible pages

6:57 pm - 07/22/2011
The Church in Wales says it is investigating after a Gwynedd rector burnt some pages from the Bible.

The Reverend Geraint ap Iorwerth of St Peter ad Vincula Church, Pennal, also cut up pages from the King James Bible to create an artwork.

Unveiling it at a church event, he said it revealed a "cruel and vile God".

The Bishop of Bangor said: "Destroying parts of the Bible we don't like is disrespectful and will offend many people."

Mr ap Iorwerth told BBC Wales he had burnt scraps of cut up the passages at the public event because he had been making a statement as part of an art experiment.

He said he had had nothing but support from people at the church near Machynlleth, close to the Gwynedd-Powys border.

'Gobsmacked'

He revealed his controversial piece of art at an event to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

He said: "I find it highly offensive that people would think I have given my life to serving that type of God and that I would regard the words of the King James Bible as sacred truth.

"I cut out all the nasty bits of that Bible, the language of which is being celebrated all over the place this year, because I don't think you can separate that language from the God it is representing.

"I was gobsmacked no programmes or articles are representing the cruelty, revenge and hatred of this version of God."


The artwork, which also contrasts the language of the Bible and the festive greetings of Christmas cards, is mounted on a 9ft by 7ft board.

Mr ap Iorwerth wants to show it in a gallery and also promote it as an alternative Christmas card , because he thinks it will provoke thought and discussion.

He said it is the "most-popular" version of God as cruel that he takes exception to, whereas he thinks more attention should be paid to God's life-work and the view that "God is love".

"People have told me they turned away from the real message of Jesus because of this God - that this version put lots of people off him as children.

"My version of God is Jesus, who was pure compassion and unconditional love.

"The King James Bible should be praised for its language but not for the God it represents - the two need to be separated."

He said he burnt the pages, which were the remaining scraps of those he cut up to make the display, as a "symbol of all the suffering in the world".

"The point being that some people are more concerned about destroying a few bits of pages than about those who have died after suffering."

He said he had not yet heard anything of an investigation against him and will be pursuing his own "evangelical" investigation after the summer into "how such a cruel God has so prominent a place in national life".


'Wrestle with'

He said he also planned to create a "wall of shame" at the church naming all of God's "cruel actions".

The rector claimed "incredible" support from parishioners.

The Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, said destroying the Bible, or passages from it, would cause offence to many.

He said: "I have therefore written to the Reverend Geraint ap Iorwerth and will be investigating the matter further.

"There are parts of the Bible that we struggle to understand today because culturally our life is so far removed from that period in which the Bible was written.

"However, it is not given to us to pick and choose - sometimes the most challenging parts are those which we need to wrestle with most of all."

Sauce has pictures

Well, this is ... unusual. I originally saw this on the television news, which featured a little old lady who was one of his parishioners and who said she had been at the burning, understood where he was coming from, and hadn't been able to find anyone who'd been there and was offended. Ah, Welsh Christianity, keep on keepin' on.
staringiscaring 22nd-Jul-2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
Wow, I think this fella is pretty chill. Welsh Christianity is awesome!
lemonsherry 22nd-Jul-2011 06:44 pm (UTC)
damn.
frillywitch 22nd-Jul-2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
BAMF
dangerousdame 22nd-Jul-2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
I know several members of the clergy, including my father, who take issue with parts of the bible. They re-interpret it, or try to understand why it was written, or even decide not to associate themselves with it.

I admire people who don't see the bible as unassailable. However, I will never be comfortable with burning parts of a book you don't agree with.
ceilidh 22nd-Jul-2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
I admire people who don't see the bible as unassailable. However, I will never be comfortable with burning parts of a book you don't agree with.

This!
quizzicalsphinx 22nd-Jul-2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
He makes a good argument for the symbolic reasons behind this, and a lot of them are reasons I myself happen to espouse but . . . somehow I am just not-on with this. Possibly because burning books in any capacity has so many associations rooted in ignorance and bigotry.
doe_witch 22nd-Jul-2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
Welsh nonconformism ftw. XD

Edit: I also agree that there are problematic aspects to burning a book in protest, but I think it is much more problematic to burn a book that "belongs" in some way to a different culture than yours, e.g. Westerners burning the Qur'an. Then you're not just protesting the book, you're making a very clear statement against a group of people. It's also different when you're burning a book because it's genuinely oppressive in a way you've experienced and you wish to purge yourself symbolically, as opposed to burning a book because it says things that bother your privileged sensibilities. I know at least one person who'd like to burn their copies of their former religion's holy texts because of the suffering they experienced while a member, and I wouldn't say they were wrong to do this at all.

Edited at 2011-07-22 07:45 pm (UTC)
bethan_b_bad 22nd-Jul-2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
+1

Basically, all of this.

(Also, your icon is making me crave mojitos. *sad*)
madkatstar_pir8 22nd-Jul-2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
This is awesome. Hopefully it doesn't get damaged by religious diehards like the Piss Christ was.
echoandsway 22nd-Jul-2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
This is different from the usual "making an angry statement via art using religious iconography" for one important reason: he's an active priest of said religion. What he's doing *does* have more power.

I find this really interesting: if I read right, he's critiquing the cultural tendency to *want* a wrathful, vengeful deity -- while also promoting the peace and love, blue-and-pink image, when convenient (the use of the Christmas card imagery). It doesn't seem to be about a rejection of God Himself, but a statement on how many Christians view and use God -- the aspects of Him they prefer to emphasize.

As for burning the Bible, I don't like book-burning, or mistreating any book of revealed Word, but this sounds theologically complicated.
rjdaae 23rd-Jul-2011 01:36 am (UTC)
I find this really interesting: if I read right, he's critiquing the cultural tendency to *want* a wrathful, vengeful deity -- while also promoting the peace and love, blue-and-pink image, when convenient (the use of the Christmas card imagery). It doesn't seem to be about a rejection of God Himself, but a statement on how many Christians view and use God -- the aspects of Him they prefer to emphasize.

I think it's interesting for the same reason. And that contradiction is definitely something that's prevalent in modern Christianity (as well as in the past). Just as a personal example, I've noticed it in various religious tracts and pamphlets I've seen: there's always a picture of Jesus (or related happy 'salvationy' imagery) on the cover, but the inside text pretty much ignores what Jesus said entirely, and draws from either Leviticus or Paul (those beacons of love and acceptance). :/
spyral_path 22nd-Jul-2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
I don't have a problem with taking an object you have bought and paid for and turning it into art. What I'm having difficulty with is the reverend picking and choosing the parts of the bible he believes in, and that he seems to believe that the depiction of a vengeful god is exclusive to the king james version. He's right in that the god described in some bible passages is full of revenge, cruelty, and hatred, but that's the judeo-christian god. The stories of every living thing that didn't make it on to the ark drowning, the first born sons of Egypt all being killed, sodom and gomorra being blasted off the planet, they were all there before king james. If you call yourself a christian you need to be able to reconcile that aspect of god with your idea of a gentle loving god.

I can't reconcile the two, which is why I don't call myself a christian.
gildinwen 22nd-Jul-2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
This

ETA: It's the fact that he seems to draw a line between the vengeful god and likes the nice God. Ummm they're one and the same. The King's James Version didn't just make it up

Edited at 2011-07-22 09:30 pm (UTC)
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x_butterfly19_x 23rd-Jul-2011 12:20 am (UTC)
What a hero.


The Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, said destroying the Bible, or passages from it, would cause offence to many.

Mr ap Iorwerth told BBC Wales he had burnt scraps of cut up the passages at the public event because he had been making a statement as part of an art experiment.

He said he had had nothing but support from people at the church near Machynlleth, close to the Gwynedd-Powys border.


Hee.
mephisto5 23rd-Jul-2011 09:55 am (UTC)
People who are confused about why he was burning the KJV might want to note that it's the 400th anniversary this year, so there's a lot of pro-KJV stuff going on.
gildinwen 23rd-Jul-2011 11:10 am (UTC)
So he burns it? And he specifically talked about the two versions of God which are present in all versions of the bible, not just the KJV. I get what he's going for but the way he's going about it is problematic. Especially as he seemingly enjoys the *language* it uses.
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