Monday, April 25, 2011

A Real Fire-Breathing Preacher

Jonathan Edwards is considered by most historians to have performed one of the earliest examples of "fire and brimstone" preaching. His famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," took the whole concept of Christian love and forgiveness and turned it upside-down, inspiring generations of intolerant fundamentalists who endure to this day. While a survey of Edwards' life shows him to have been a more nuanced, moderate, and Enlightenment-minded theologian than his most famous work would suggest, its shocking imagery has generally rendered him a mere caricature to both modern critics and supporters of the Christian faith.

Reverend Andy Salmon, a vicar from Manchester UK, represents a completely different sort of fire-breathing preacher. He literally breathes fire!

The fire-breathing Rev Andy Salmon will be one of the star attractions at a ‘new age’ festival to be held in Manchester Cathedral on May 2.

Traditionalists have raised eyebrows but the 50-year-old Salford vicar, who has used his skills during sermons, said Christians should be open-minded: 'I guess there are some people within the church and outside it who think it should be predictable and safe. But I think the church needs to be searching and asking questions. As Christians we do have beliefs, but we should also be open to exploring human spirituality.'

The event - the Spirit Of Life Festival - will also feature tarot cards, crystal healing and dream interpretation.

Describing his flaming-impressive skills, the dad-of-three added: 'I pull it out of the bag every now and then. Normally, it's for the children's parties but I have used it during sermons when I want to make a point.'

Clearly in performing at such a festival Reverend Salmon marks himself as anything but a traditionalist who might sympathize with Edwards' violent words. But I will say that a well-timed burst of flame in the middle of a church service is guaranteed to make quite an impression!

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