Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Purple Potatoes and the Creed

What do purple potatoes have to do with the creed? 'Not much,' you think. 'Purple potatoes and the creed? Forget it!'

In our school work we recently discovered a new book about the creed. It was written in the Second World War by a priest called Fr Ronald Arbuthnott Knox. (I love that name!) Fr Knox was chaplain to a girls boarding school at the time. While he was with the school he decided to give a series of lectures on the topic of the creed. These lectures were later published as a book called 'The Creed in Slow Motion.'

We love trying new books, and with a name like Arbuthnott, well, we had to try this one. We fell at love with it at once. Fr Knox's lectures were very humorous, written as he would have spoken them to the girls in the school. He takes the creed line by line, sometimes only a few words at a time. In fact, in the whole of the first talk he didn't manage to get past the words 'I Believe.'

Using the creed Fr Knox goes deeply into our faith and what we are actually professing to believe every time we recite the Credo. The words that we rattle off so blithely every time we recite the creed mean a lot more than we actually realise.

In our latest chaper, Fr Knox was talking about the words 'Our Father Almighty.' In this chapter he talked about the powers of God, and how he really is our father in heaven. Fr Knox first tells us that God can do anything, but he can't make a contradiction. God could make an immoverable post, and could make an irresistable ram, (as in a battering ram, not a male sheep) but he could not have them exist together. They contradict each other entirely.

We often ask God, "Why did you let this happen? Why did you let So-and-So die? You could have saved them."
Well, God could have, but God gave us free will. When God gave us free will, he also gave us the consequences of free will. We can choose what we do, and many of the bad things that happen in the world around us happen because of our gift of free will. If God intervened every time we knelt down and asked him to do something, then the gift of free will would be a bit of a joke. It would be like God giving us a gift with restrictions. "I'll give you free will, but nothing will happen because of that." That is a contradiction. For the gift of free will to be real, we have to have the consequences of free will as well as free will.

But there are other bad things happening in the world. The earthquake in Christchurch and the Tsunami in Japan for instance. Man didn't make those. No choice of free will produced those disasters. So God must have let them happen. But why? Doesn't God love us? Does he want to punish us?

No, God is our father and he loves us. But, like any good father, he must teach us to be obedient, to love him blindly and without question. He sends us sufferings to mould us and make us better people. If a person is spoil and indulged and allowed to do whatever he or she likes, then they become warped. Their characters grow into shapes they were never meant to become. As Fr Knox himself says:

"If your parents spoil you, you become something like those purple potatoes with holes in them, instead of those nice white or pink ones which you put in your basket."

No one in our family wants to become a purple potato with holes in it. We want to grow up to be good white and pink ones. So, whenever someone is behaving in a spoil manner, we tell them, "Don't do that or you'll grow up to be a purple potato with holes in it!"

As you can see, Fr Knox has cleverly tied purple potatoes into a talk about the creed. It is surprising how much there is to learn about the creed. And also, how many interesting things, such as purple potatoes, Fr Ronald Arbuthnott (I still love that name) Knox can bring into it.

Fr Knox's book, "The Creed in Slow Motion is available as a Kindle book from Amazon.


  1. After we have finished "The Creed in Slow Motion" I am going to buy "The Mass in Slow Motion". The fun will continue!

  2. That is so interesting. Fr Knox sounds like he would have been a great man to listen to speeches from. Captivating, with a sense of humour, and with a great topics.