Friday, 29 February 2008

Christian Varieties

A new webpage of Christian Varieties Down the Ages has been added on to the Pluralist website. It is found at Learning - Religion - Denominations - Mapping the Lines of Churches. The URL is:

It consists mainly of a diagram of main varieties of Christianity from origins, but in keeping with other webpages there is an emphasis on Anglicans, Arian tendencies, Unitarianism and Liberal Catholicism.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Let People Partner in Church

The Oxford Mail highlights a discrimination that not all Churches or churchgoers accept - that a registrar cannot come to a church to see a civil partnership made. Indeed, it has been refused the title of marriage in deference to some Churches. Quite simply not all of us agree with this. Civil partnerships should be offered to heterosexual couples and marriage to homosexual couples too, and it is up to Churches and not the State to decide whether they would like to marry all or discriminate (this would be one area where Churches could continue to discriminate, in the actual marrying, but could not discriminate regarding the recognition of marriage say in matters of employment or provision in the secular field).

Offering marriage or civil partnership to all would subtly change the definitions of each to everyone and give a form of association to some that would involve legal force. It might mean gay people in partnerships deciding to marry, and presumably the act of marrying would render the civil partnership superseded, whereas transferring to civil partnership would first need a divorce. At the moment there is an equality that is not an equality between one group entitled to marry and another group entitled to civil partnership, and this is yet again another example of British untidiness of definitions.

In my case, I was married to Elena in a Unitarian church with a registrar present. He heard the legal words and we signed his book. I even wrote the service. This marriage has to be recognised by the Church of England or anyone else, and it cannot be treated in a discriminatory manner despite the fact that it never used any trinitarian terms. The Church of England and anyone else has to recognise Civil Partnerships when it comes to matters of pensions. So it would have to recognise gay marriage. But here it is the State that is failing to offer Churches the freedom to decide to be inclusive.

The following is from the report:

Church wants gay weddings

By Debbie Waite

The Unitarian congregation at Oxford's Harris-Manchester College is calling for gay couples to be allowed to marry in church.

...although they are now entitled to many of the same rights as straight couples, they are still not allowed to tie the knot in licensed places of worship.

Retired Oxford solicitor and member of the Chapel Society of Manchester College, Gavin Lloyd, believed this was an affront to their human rights.

Next month, he will forward a motion at the annual meeting of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, in Hertfordshire, calling for the Government to end the discrimination.

Mr Lloyd said: "The object of this motion is to be fair to all couples.

"And in the interests of fairness, there should be a legal entitlement for civil partnerships to be ratified on the same terms as marriages - in churches, mosques, synagogues and temples."

The Unitarian movement accepts homosexuality. It has gay and lesbian ministers and provides church blessings for same-sex couples.

Royal Mail workers Brenda Chandler and Lynne Moody, of Bicester, were able to have a blessing at St. Columba's United Reformed Church in 2004, but the Civil Partnership Act prevented them from making their union official "in the eyes of God".

Ms Chandler, 57, said: "We would have loved to have formed our civil partnership in church, before God, as we are both great believers.

"And we have had many friends marry since, who would have liked the same."

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Creeds and Credos

Though I have a Unitarian background, I am not against creeds as such - basic statements that offer some historical where-from and give basic definitions. I was opposed to the Unitarians adopting an Object to "uphold the liberal Christian tradition" on the basis that this was credal and a fundamental change, and involved double-speak when people said it was not.

The last service I took was in 2002, which was an adapted Eucharist (it was too divisive - it was a reflection of my own movement and a demonstration of my increasing marginal position in the Unitarians). During the service I produced a credo - a statement of sorts:

In this church
We the people, its congregation, have many interpretations
Of matters spiritual and religious

The creative spirit is behind life, within life, and makes us artists of meaning

We hail those gifted with clearest sight
Like Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Gandhi
We remember the liberal Christian tradition, evolving and changing in continuous revelation
We recall the Humanist tradition, with its appeal to rational thinking
We import the Eastern traditions, with their timeless philosophies
And we live again the home Pagan rebirths, with their natural insights and their spiritual sensualities
All of religions' stories are an endless resource
Who give basis for our redirections
Means to continuously learn and self-correct
To be artists of meaning
And be saved into the good life.

The "clearest sight" reference is to a Unitarian hymn which then refers to Buddha, Krishna and Jesus. There is no upholding in my credo at all, just points of reference. I see creeds as points of reference.

Yet there is no creed in scripture itself, and the nearest is in two of those letters Paul did not write: 1 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13.

He appeared in human form,
Was shown to be right by the Spirit,
And was seen by the angels.
He was preached among the nations,
Was believed in throughout the world,
And was taken up to heaven.

If we have died with him,
We shall also live with him.
If we continue to endure,
We shall also rule with him.
If we deny him,
He also will deny us.
If we are not faithful,
He remains faithful,
ecause he cannot be false to himself.

El Hassan Bin Talal (1998), Christianity in the Arab World, London: SCM Press, 19.

I don't have any real problem with the Apostles' Creed. As it happens, it is not quite fully trinitarian, and is constructed from several biblical passages (no one passage contains it all, of course). Incarnation of a kind is in John but has to be built up elsewhere, and there is no virgin birth in Mark or John. John does not mention the ascension and downplays the power of resurrection in the sense that the job it does is already given in incarnation, and nowhere is there a doctrine of the Trinity. This (in so far as the Apostles' Creed promotes such) has to be elaborated from a late baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 and Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians. Church universal concepts come out of Matthew 16: 18-19.

The Nicene Creed is clearly extra-biblical. It goes further and makes assumptions not in the Bible. When evangelicals assume it is supported in the Bible, it is not - not quite. There is the argument that one can lead to the other, but there were several directions doctrine could have travelled, including most notably the Arian - as it did. The gospel of John is entirely consistent with Arian views, and the gospel was resisting the gnostic but going in that direction. And so was that included as Pauline. How else might these lines be interpreted:

He appeared in human form,
Was shown to be right by the Spirit,

And was seen by the angels.

The resurrection of the body was later enforced as important, and it mattered to do this against the Gnostic tendency. The tomb stories thus became significant, not just as explanations of the absence of tomb worship but as emphasis on the body and the material.

Well the Nicene Creed is a definer of the central tradition, but with contemporary theology it and indeed the Apostles Creed is looking a bit creaky for some. Of course the big get out for the Nicene Creed is the "We believe" - the origin of this being Constantine and bishops in council, so it might even be more accurate, I've heard it quipped, for the statement to begin, "You believe."

The Creed was revised in 381 under Emperor Theodosius and elucidated in 451 when Christ was declared fully man and fully God. This was the ever continuing effort against Arianism. The Latin version had added the Filoque clause - and the Son - of course to the Nicene Creed. When the Normans achieved control over southern Italy, and thus Catholic power by Pope Leo IX (1043-1059) was asserted over what had been a Byzantine diocese with the Greek population there, the Patriarch Michael Kerullariaus retaliated by closing Latin churches in Constantinople. He ignored the Pope's protests and the Pope then chose the Filoque clause, the marriage of Greek priests and the Greek use of leavened bread in the Eucharist as theological excuses to excommunicate the East, whilst from the East's point of view the Pope by this action of separation had taken Catholicism away from Orthodoxy.

The Arianism that emerged in the left wing of the Reformation was not the same as the one about a divine being that was the first born of all creation. The Arianism of the Reformation emphasised the humanity of Jesus and that therefore his divinity was subordinate in amount, and then Unitarianism held it as potentially no more than anyone else could achieve. The Socinians were pre-rational biblical literalists who could see no doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible (they set up the Minor Reformed Church in Poland - to be squashed by the Jesuits); the first British Unitarians from about 1780 were rational and materialist biblical literalists.

The point I am making here is that the argument has never been settled by the Bible alone, and cannot be so. My own view is that it is not the Bible's job to settle the argument anyway, nor is the Church particularly restricted in its own interpretations. Each and every Christian Church has the right to decide its own doctrine - from how many councils before and from changes in understanding since.

This brings me to the changes recently in a tiny Church body whose own history has been maintained one its surviving leader and Deaconess died in January 2008. The Ancient Catholic Church (a Church begun in 1950) recognises the Apostles' Creed, does not use the Nicene Creed and has its own statements.

The Act of Faith

We believe that God is Love and Power and Truth and Light; that perfect justice rules the world; that all His children shall one day reach His feet, however far they stray. We hold the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of man; we know that we do serve Him best when best we serve our brother man. So shall His blessing rest on us + and peace for evermore. Amen.

The Seven Principles governing Divine-Human Relations

The Fatherhood of God
The Brotherhood of Man
The Communion of Saints and the Ministry of Angels
The continual existence of the human soul
Personal responsibility
Compensation and retribution hereafter for all the good and evil done on earth
Eternal progress open to every human soul

The latter struck me as being similar to some of the tablets seen on the walls of older Unitarian chapels and churches, but this (in keeping with H. P. Nicholson) is more soul and spirit orientated. this Church is part of the Liberal Catholic family, where there is recognition of the historical Creeds but, arguably, some reluctance to use them and a preference for simpler and more liberal statements of faith.

I mention all this because of a potential after recent developments for perhaps some Anglican Churches to move in a more relaxed direction regarding doctrinal inheritances: something that a number of Anglicans might welcome.


Bishop Alistair sent this via email by way of information:

You may be interested to know that The Act of Faith of the ACC, is actually from the Liberal Catholic Church, and our Seven Principles governing Divine Human Relations are actually the Seven Principles of Spiritualism and the official statement of faith of the Spiritualists' National Union among others:

The seven principles were given in 1871 through the mediumship of Emma Hardinge Britten (1823 - 1899) in a message from the spirit of social activist Robert Owen (1771 - 1858) and are generally used by the spiritualist movement throughout the world.

Gay Quake

Last Sunday (24 February) the church I attend made available the LGCM inserts that were in the Church Times. I took one, and very good it was too. Then last night having read it I sat at the computers and the floor started being a bit like jelly and I watched the plastic shelves thingy shake. I went downstairs and outside to see if anything had happened, like an explosion in a nearby house or some such. Today came news of an earthquake centred not too far away at Market Rasen. Reminded that Schlomo Benizri of Israel has said unrestrained gay sex and inclusive legislation causes earthquakes, then clearly the availability of this publication locally caused the area to shake. Of course, for any gay people having sex at just before 1 am last night, the earth really did move.

Have a Cup of Tea on Me

I've made my first appearance on Episcopal Café at Daily Episcopalian (scroll down) called The View from England. It's just a sweeping statement of an overall view of Anglicanism here and there with a little bit about me in the form of an introduction. I'd have preferred A View From England as I am but one viewpoint but I didn't set the title. I have some difficulty registering to make a comment there, so I'm sorry if I seem to be ignoring people there. I suppose my basic point is that with the Catholics having split - with the dogmatists gone into marginality, then the evangelicals seem to have found an issue by which to do the same. The same could come to actual liberals; I mean, since I wrote my piece I note that even in Affirming Liberalism that there are those who argue that liberalism is inadequate alone and those who consider it is self-sufficient. The same kind of binary tendencies pop up all over the place.

Monday, 25 February 2008

The Communion Partners Plan - A Question

We assume that "Windsor Bishops" - those whose orthodoxy that the Archbishop of Canterbury does not doubt...

The matter is further complicated by the fact that several within The Episcopal Church, including a significant number of bishops and some diocesan conventions, have clearly distanced themselves from the prevailing view in their province as expressed in its public policies and declarations. This includes the bishops who have committed themselves to the proposals of the Windsor Report in their Camp Allen conference, as well as others who have looked for more radical solutions.

...will create their pastoral connections with outside bishops whilst retaining their membership of The Episcopal Church and loyalty therein (cough). More testing, presumably, is a situation where a (declared by them) "liberal" bishop has an orthodox parish which now goes via its liberal diocesan bishop to seek extra pastoral care via a Windsor Bishop nad may be then an outsider.

It is limited to pastoral care; but what happens when some strategy is decided, or some advice sought, that has a more institutional impact, when the persons consulted are not TEC and its methods and ways, but more directly the pastoral bishops elsewhere. There is a rice paper fine line between pastoral support and, in effect, overseeing in the fullest sense from outside.

Can this distinction be maintained?

Plus the fact is that Archbishop Gomez is involved in this Communion Partners Plan, committed against boundary crossing, and yet he has himself been involved in consecrating to boundary cross into TEC space - this man who runs the Covenant Design Group to apparently preserve and centralised the Communion. These three seem, each to the other, rather incompatible. The Communion Partners plan depends on an interventionist Communion Covenant, which is hardly likely, and the consecrating of boundary crossers is incompatible with a plan that is supposed to reject boundary crossing - but only if the distinction is maintained between pastoral support and wider decisions.

The problem is all bishop-priest-deacon-laity relationships are pastoral, and even administrative and system decisions are there for the pastoral relationship.

It could just be that the GAFCON separation is all the cleaner and more honest, and the more practical and simpler to understand. They are easier to reject too, but the Communion Partners Plan seems to have the characteristics of the Trojan Horse.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Non-Juridical Connections

Let's look again at this plan among Communion Conservatives.

Some bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC) are so conservative that they regard TEC as having gone beyond the bounds of orthodoxy. Rather than try to remove themselves and dioceses from TEC, as has happened at San Joaquin (Bishop Schofield), and will with Pittsburgh (Bishop Robert Duncan) and Fort Worth (Bishop Jack Iker), they want a solution that keeps them in TEC whilst having a relationship with outside overseeing - a pastoral visitor.

If they do as San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and Fort Worth, then the bishops will be inhibited and then removed, the dioceses they thought they had taken being restored to TEC.

The Presiding Bishop has apparently offered nihil obstat (‘no objection') to a scheme that keeps dioceses in TEC but allows outside pastoral oversight via Partner Bishop Dioceses working through each (conservative) TEC diocese's existing bishop. So it is diocese based. There are thus non-juridical links to Partner Primates, and all this supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Thus the pastoral connection outside of TEC comes via TEC dioceses whilst, in some reality, ignores much regarding TEC and the Presiding Bishop. This is supposed to follow Camp Allen Principles and consistent with Dar es Salaam findings (Primates meeting in February 2007) and is thus pro-Communion.

None of this addresses issues of dioceses not ordaining women. The Church of England Provisional Episcopal Visitor scheme (for the purpose of not recognising women priests) is not the same as this oversight.

Gosh - all this over one gay bishop, and various apparent (more than real) innovations regarding doctrine. Would it be so!

What is the outcome of this? Presumably the Communion Conservatives will wait for a Covenant that could discipline and marginalise TEC and yet leave themselves fully Communion compliant via their dioceses. TEC would be second division Anglicans whilst they would bask in first division Communion recognition. Presumably TEC would be within its rights to replace such bishops over time - it remains the Church under which such dioceses were formed. Should TEC come on board the supposed new Covenant dogma (no gays and a list of orthodox precepts), then the need for foreign pastoral non-juridical connections is no more.

It has to be said, however, that such a Covenant will come up against so many objections (from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, United States, much of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, legally in England) that there would either be a very large instant second division of Anglicanism - surely preposterous - or the revised and compatible with them Covenant cannot do the disciplining job that such Communion conservatives would seek.

Furthermore, if TEC is deemed to be on board with a Covenant as revised and inclusive as so many Churches wish, if there is a Covenant at all, then the necessity for these non-juridical links will be no more and these conservatives will have to revisit their strategies. These Communion Conservatives will then be in limbo land. They will either have to choose TEC discipline, or the bishops and clergy and whoever else could run off elsewhere and leave TEC.

GAFCON might be sitting and waiting, of course, as it will be out on a separatist limb, and where the bishops of the San Joaquins of this world will be found already.

Splitting the Opposition

At first the news came from just The Daily Telegraph that at last there was a deal by which there could be oversight for American traditionalists that still kept structures within The Episcopal Church (TEC).

The reaction is trackable in Stand Firm.

An important response came from Bishop Jack Iker, one of those who will attempt to take his diocese out of The Episcopal Church - that will respond by having him removed and the Diocese continue, as with Bishop Schofield joining the Southern Cone. Iker said:

This sure is news to me. Not only have I heard nothing about such a proposal - neither have I agreed to participate in it.


[6] Posted by Bishop Iker on 02-22-2008 at 10:32 PM

Stephen Noll, who produced some theology about orthodoxy for the GAFCON crowd, soon wrote:

As to Bp Iker's igrnorance on this matter, I suspect any deal-making which involves the ABC and 815 will be with the "Windsor Bishops," not with Bps. Iker, Duncan and Schofield, nor with Abps Akinola and Orombi. They are no longer welcome in the Common Room.

[19] Posted by Stephen Noll on 02-22-2008 at 10:57 PM

As an attitude to this, someone wrote:

Jesus does not do any deals....on to GAFCON.


[23] Posted by Intercessor on 02-22-2008 at 11:03 PM

What this move does is weaken the opposition. It provides for those Communion Conservative types (Radner, Seitz etc.) who would gain a space for within present TEC structures prior to any Covenant action against TEC, in an intended processes of seeing TEC return to a Communion Conservative form of orthodoxy. However, in so doing the effect now is to isolate GAFCON and indeed weaken all the opposition. It makes GAFCON appear indeed to be schismatic, whatever it may say about itself in the Anglican Communion (though it speaks with forked tongue). This person sees what the insider arrangement is not - it is not producing a third province (the first two being The Episcopal Church and the Angican Church of Canada):

I just with [sic] that Lambeth could find it within its inclusive, tolerant, pluriform truth awknowledging [sic] heart to recognize a third North American Anglican province including all the US and Canadians that want nothing more to do with their national churches...

[25] Posted by AndrewA on 02-22-2008 at 11:06 PM

Here again is Jack Iker, seeing how he is now on one side of the "solution" fence, whilst Communion Conservatives are on the other. In other words, they are split:

Stephen Noll is exactly right in #19. The Lambeth Palace/ACO office will no longer deal with “the extreme right.” They want to deal with those reasonable “Windsor Bishops.” But they will not stand up and be counted when the push comes to shove.


[27] Posted by Bishop Iker on 02-22-2008 at 11:07 PM

As a result those who have developed the insider-outsider plan become accused of scheming:

Well, your Grace +Iker: when Lambeth and Mr. Rowan Williams won’t deal with the people that really matter, yourself included, then we all know that the attempt is insincere at best, duplicituous (not to say mendacious) at worst! No, I think the “ABC” is a write-off, and - if I, a lowly commoner, dare give advice, it’s to simply go to GAFCON and forget Lambeth!!

(I’ll dare say it’s simple deceitful manoeuvering to undermine GAFCON)...

[34] Posted by Sasha on 02-22-2008 at 11:27 PM

Someone here has a hotline to God:

The ABC and his cohorts have been playing us for fools for far too long. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I have discerned that the ABC and his like-minded Revisionists lack honesty, integrity, godly conviction, and faithful courage. I am sure I am not alone on this discerning.

I will be a fool to continue to hope on the words (that keep changing) of this bunch of men and women (Revisionists all) with very little Christian conviction and love.

Fr. Kingsley+ Arlington, TX

[56] Posted by Spiro on 02-23-2008 at 12:13 AM

Of course the question is whether and inside plan will go through or be accepted by other than Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, and if it goes through whether it will work. This person thinks that:

This plan is DOA. [Dead On Arrival]

If this plan involves the “Windsor” or Camp Allen bishops, it is DOA.

If it doesn’t involve those bishops who are preparing to leave or have left ECUSA, it is DOA.

This is not a problem that ECUSA can solve.

The only thing that will stop further defections from Lambeth, and further defections from ECUSA is for the ABC to disinvite about 30 ECUSA bishops from Lambeth, agree that the human sexuality "debate" was settled in 1998, and move on, without ECUSA if necessary.

[62] Posted by Randy Muller on 02-23-2008 at 12:19 AM

Well actually the Archbishop has repeatedly said that the 1998 resolution 1:10 represents the Mind of the Communion, about which it is or will be his privilege to cohere in his own mind. However, he wants the Communion via the Covenant to deal with The Episcopal Church, and so all these conservatives must be patient. The Communion Conservatives themselves are waiting for such actions: the legitimacy of action via the Communion. Here is an example of their weakness:

This being said, I worry about ABc Drexel Gomez. His stamp of approval of the abysmal revisionist-pandering Covenant draft perhaps signals a shift....

The orthodox or at least the comm-con variety will be placated (duped), yet again. Any wavering provinces, like Tanzania, will show up to Lambeth.

[71] Posted by robroy on 02-23-2008 at 03:17 AM

Then came a sort of confirmation of the insider-outsider plan.

It's up here now: George Conger report on Religious Intelligence

Doesn't look like anything new. No consultation with Pittsburgh or Fort Worth. No way of compelling liberal bishops to participate. The Presiding Bishop supports it - enough said?

Thinking Anglicans has picked it up too.
[76] Posted by John Simmons on 02-23-2008 at 06:49 AM
Here is some detail:

On Jan 31 Dr Williams met with Archbishop Gomez, Bishop Stanton, Prof Seitz and Dr Ephraim Radner and gave his backing to the emerging “Anglican Bishops in Communion” project, agreeing to issue invitations to the primates of the West Indies, Burundi, Tanzania, the Indian Ocean and Jerusalem and the Middle East to offer primatial pastoral oversight to the Episcopal Visitors.

The Presiding Bishop was briefed by Bishops Stanton of Dallas, Smith of North Dakota, Howe of Central Florida, and Bishop Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana on Feb 21, giving her “nihil obstat” to the Communion plan, one participant reported…

Here is one explanation from a horse's mouth. The best people to split an opposition are always the opposition themselves, of course. As well as splitting - weakening and isolating - the opposition, fracturing gives the best chance for the Anglican Communion of surviving the shock of some not turning up and meeting elsewhere first:

No. 19 is right.

It might be helpful to look at this story the other way. If avoiding schism is the endgame of the ABC, then a plan that causes more fracturing of the Communion would easily be thought to be a far preferable solution. Let’s face it. It is all about avoiding schism at this point rather than resetting the church back on its rails....

[77] Posted by Mrs. Lawrence on 02-23-2008 at 07:09 AM

I have always taken a view, because I have met it so often, that one should never underestimate the ability of an institution challenged to find strategies to look after itself. Of course institutions can fail, but in general those who attack at it are at first dealt with. The institutions here are the national Churches, and they will look after themselves. In that some in GAFCON pull away means that they have to deal with their own isolation, and Communion Conservatives will wait for the Covenant to do its trick - except that such a Covenant will simply run into the rejection of it by too many Anglican Churches.

Friday, 22 February 2008

GAFCON - the Second Question

The first question regarding GAFCON and the double meeting in Jordan and Israel is whether Jordan, still in Bishop Sulheil Dawani's diocese, is far enough away to constitute not spreading their division into a diocese that seeks reconciliation. The second question is whether the second part is actually a pilgrimage like GAFCON claims.

A pilgrimage is, basically, a walk, with stops at holy sights and lots of spiritual stuff going on. People travel light and undergo a little hardship. This seems to be different. This is only open to anyone on the last day, June 29. Otherwise the pilgrimage is for the invited. It contains bishops-only meetings. There is a keynote speech on the last day. So it looks a bit like a conference sort of pilgrimage after all and in Israel. The first part is described as a consultation but the second, this pilgrimage, includes worship, prayer, discussions and Bible Study - rather like the Lambeth Conference - which is a conference.

No one has heard a response from Bishop Dawani (illustrated) or his Archbishop.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Resurrection Discussion

On Wednesday 20 February the In Depth Group (of St Mary's, Barton-upon-Humber) met to discuss Resurrection. It was based a little around the chapter called 'Thinking about Easter' in Tony Windross's book called The Thoughtful Guide to Faith published in 2004 by O Books of Ropley, Hampshire. There will be a further discussion of resurrection, brought forward so that it falls within the season.

The memory of the discussion is mine and is part of my website. There is only limited reporting of others' expressed views, in so far as they relate to mine, and no connection is made between others' views (that is, to track them as coming from the same person). The page is an update as it first contained my submitted paper only. It now follows the discussion on that webpage.

The webpage can be found at Learning - Religion - Denominations (scroll down) - In-Depth Group Discussion and Paper (February 2008) .

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Is Jordan Far Away Enough?

Consistent with earlier wobbles, and disputes, but from the point of view of its own success and probably rebuilding a reasonable relationship with the Global South, GAFCON has made what looks like a sensible clawing back decision. It is meeting (for presumably those all important resolutions or equivalents - though called an "initial consultation") outside the hothouse of Israel. GAFCON has seemingly given way to advice from the locals and will be in Jordan not Israel from June 18-22 and it goes to Israel for a collective walk from June 22 through June 29. It is an invitation only double event; it seems some will go to Israel only and some (from Muslim countries) may only get to Jordan.

The question is whether now Bishop Suheil Dawani will welcome GAFCON into his patch. He could unless he has been offended by the publication of local scandals and divisions involving him and his predecessor. Of course he may consider that Jordan is hardly far enough away.

Cyprus was the alternative for the conference, as suggested by an offer from Bishop Dawani.

Bishop Suheil closed the discussion by saying that for the sake of making progress in this discussion he would like to suggest that Archbishop Akinola either reconsiders the venue and time for the conference, or divides his program into two parts: to have the conference in Cyprus, and to have a pure pilgrimage in the Holy Land.

Should Archbishop Akinola be ready to accept this suggestion, Bishop Suheil would warmly welcome him and his pilgrims.

Why has GAFCON moved? It is probably because of practical reasons about getting into Israel and having a conference in time. It also looks humble, whilst not actually going to Cyprus or far enough away and so Peter Jensen can make it look like consultation.

"We are very grateful for the feedback that we have received on the many complex issues that confront us," said Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney and a member of the leadership team.

Mark Harris includes the information that Jordan is still within the Diocese of Jerusalem and the implications of this. GAFCON always suits itself.

The Jordan part includes the pilgrimage leadership, theological resource group, those bishops serving in majority Islamic settings and other key personnel. The pilgrimage part has worship, prayer, discussions and Bible Study.The pilgrimage includes meetings for bishops only and a keynote speech followed by Holy Communion on Sunday June 29.

Those who are not invited can only join the final morning of the pilgrimage on Sunday June 29. The press can attend specific events and press briefings. Those who are invited to the full pilgrimage indicate their acceptance to the Primate, or lead Bishop, and they get issued with a unique "pilgrim number". Such pilgrims have to pay up by April 15 2008.

GAFCON Unitarianism Shock

In a shocking revelation, only equalled by the equivalence of the Lambeth Conference 2008 and Unitarian logos, the theologically right wing GAFCON indicates that it will be meeting in a Unitarian chapel. Here is the picture from the .PDF file of information on the conference in Jordan and the pilgrimage in Israel. Note the central place of the Unitarian flaming chalice. A spokesman did not say, "This is because we share Puritan roots. We are the new Puritans."

Illustrations. Top left: the GAFCON window; top right: the old Unitarian chalice design; bottom left the new Unitarian chalice design; bottom right: the Lambeth 2008 Conference logo.

Misrepresenting On and On

Revd Canon Aaron Mwesigye, church spokesperson wants to make a correction. He said:

Some press stories have misrepresented our position...

The plain fact is that we are simply not attending the Lambeth Conference in July 2008, but we are still very much a part of the Anglican Communion.

He also says:

It is the Americans who have seceded from the Anglican Communion because of their decisions and their teaching... They have departed dramatically from the historic faith, teaching, and practice of the Bible and the Anglican Church.

How can they still be Anglican when they don't believe what Anglicans believe?

No they haven't. They have not seceded at all. So now he is misrepresenting the Americans. Of course, should the Americans remain part of the Western Anglican Communion then by logic the Ugandans will secede from this. So was he and his Archbishop right in the first place?

A reminder. Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda was reported to have said:

Our leaders have done the right thing to boycott that conference and if possible they should secede from the Western Anglican Church.

The provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda Aron Mwesigye apparently said:

Anglicanism is just an identity and if they abuse it, we shall secede. We shall remain Christians, but not in the same Anglican Communion.

Gosh there is some rotten reporting in African and Reuters journalism. Journalists are always getting the blame. These journalists seem to write down quotes from church spokespeople entirely the wrong way around, and now the spokesperson is saying that the Americans have seceded. However, these inept journalists apparently did get it right about Ugandans not attending the Lambeth Conference, which would mean that the Americans are therefore seceding by being invited in (well all except one who was duly and properly selected by democratic means). So that must mean the Anglican Communion is seceding from...

Well the Americans are not seceding, according to the Brazilian Anglicans. The Most Revd Mauricio de Andrade said:

I believe The Episcopal Church of the United States has been showing all of us an example of the path to unity and reconciliation, because they have met all the requests for visits that were made and answered all the questions that were posed. They have spent time, money, and energy to meet the primates’ requests, always with generosity and openness. I think we need to keep in mind that we are Anglican. We are seeing a disregard of our richness and our ethos, that is, autonomy of the Provinces.

Thus Anglicanism receives a definition, and includes the Americans, which clearly flies in the face of what Aaron Mwesigye claimed. Mauricio-de-Andrade added:

The Anglican Province of Brazil has already spoken out against the creation of a new pact, because our way of being Anglican has already been defined in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. We are not nor do we want to be a mere federation of churches. We wish to continue in communion with Canterbury, a symbol of our unity, as full members of the Anglican Communion.

Is this an anti-Covenant statement? It is saying that the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is sufficient and enough to be a communion. I hope they are invited in to Lambeth 2008, which wants all attending bishops to be in favour of the Covenant process.

So this is Anglicanism, with autonomous Churches all of which recognise Canterbury. This, he thinks, makes a communion not a federation.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

One Address and One Sermon

Correctly speaking one address and one sermon given at St. Mary's Church at Barton-upon-Humber have been added to the Spiritual Area - Anglican Worship section of the Pluralist Website. The address, by Vivienne Rowett, was given at Candlemas and involved the display of my painting based on the Luttrell Psalter image. The sermon, by Diocesan Reader Dr. Peter Large, was given at Lent 2. With Lent 1 already in place this means three weeks in a row of homilies from the pulpit.

GAFCON Inconsistencies

Here is the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter [correction] Jensen, giving three of more reasons why he is not going to the Lambeth 2008 Conference:

First, we remain thoroughly committed to the Anglican Communion, its good health and its future...

Second, our non-attendance at Lambeth does not remove us from the Anglican Communion, or damage our continued participation and standing...

Third, the Anglican Communion has been irreversibly changed by these developments and this Lambeth Conference is not able to turn the clock back...

Hang on: if the Anglican Communion has been irreversibly affected, why be thoroughly committed to it and why stay in it?

Let's see how Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda puts this commitment to the Anglican Communion and staying in:

Our leaders have done the right thing to boycott that conference and if possible they should secede from the Western Anglican Church.

Then the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda Aron Mwesigye said:

Anglicanism is just an identity and if they abuse it, we shall secede. We shall remain Christians, but not in the same Anglican Communion.

Hajji [note the Muslim name] Katende of Makerere, a theologian who reads his Bible directly off the page, said:

Homosexuality is going to be a very difficult issue to resolve and I think it will eventually lead to the break up of the Anglican Church, just like the Anglican Church initially seceded from the mother Catholic Church.

So that's cleared that up then.

But apparently the absentees, wanting their cake and eating it, will be sending their opinions to Lambeth:

According to Ms Barfoot [she who revealed this strategy years ago], Archbishop Orombi is due to summon theologians across the country to brainstorm on the document and their opinion will be forwarded to inform discussions at Lambeth.

Can't Chris Sugden and Martyn Minns just write it together and post it to Lambeth well in advance?

Monday, 18 February 2008


I see a lecture by Tom Wright at the Fulcrum website. I ought to read it more fully, and probably will, but having skimmed it I find it on initial impressions to be little other than a combination of politicking for the Archbishop of Canterbury, some over the top secularism bashing, and other devices and nonsenses about postmodernism. I just wandered off rather quickly: I cannot be bothered with this stuff. How depressing this spread of poison is becoming.

Yet I did read and closely this lecture to Sea of Faith in the Churches on the decline of churchgoing and belief by Dr. Kristin Aune of the University of Derby. This, rather than some intellectualised opinionated politicised twaddle, stays close to the research. That it was delivered to Sea of Faith is neither here nor there.

The next lecture featured by Miles Howarth is also interesting, from a different point of view. An issue for me has been small, dispersed, liberal, sacramental groups and whether they can gain a congregation. There are discussion groups arising all over the place - there are new ones that have been listed on the Progressive Christianity Network website. This extract is about Miles Howarth's experience of setting up a group which is about worship and not just discussion:

Here’s a tiny example of a way forward. In the Chelmsford area where I now live, my wife and I opted for the DIY approach. Some 30 years ago we became founder members of a small, very informal Unitarian Fellowship. It continues in being, achieving attendances of anything between 6 and 12, twice a month. It’s far from a big achievement but better than nothing and it serves our needs. Its membership ranges from a URC elder to humanists. In many ways it resembles a Sea of Faith Local Group but the difference is that, for most of our members, it’s not an occasional respite from the mainstream churches but it acts as the main focus of our spiritual lives. Why do we come together? What do we do with our time together? Good questions, which we are always asking ourselves. We just plan ahead and make it up as we go along. It’s very participative. Leadership needs to be shared as it makes heavy demands on one’s time and imagination. We get to know each other very well - bringing a good measure of mutual trust, tolerance and dependence. We put together, and then periodically review, affirmations about what we stand for. Most members feel the need to apologise if they can’t come to a meeting. We’ve developed a social dimension. Groups like ours in Chelmsford, and SoF Local Groups, will come and go. They lack the underpinning which a building, a longstanding tradition and a funding base provide. In a sense their flexibility is a strength. One learns to cope with impermanence and to put one’s trust in oneself and in the human spirit. Perhaps a good definition of faith.

I find this quite fascinating: a local effort that brings together those interested who then build faith together and have a fellowship. I wonder if there is a way that such as this can be combined with Independent Sacramental Ministry on liberal lines - or are these two entirely different phenomena?

Meanwhile, here is something coming up on Monday 14th – Wednesday 16th July: A Future for Liberal Christianity?

Ian Bradley and Peter Francis explore doctrine, worship and other issues from a liberal perspective and ask if liberal Christianity has had its day.

Cost: £108 (that is, for those with plenty of money).

Some Advice to a Friend

Here is some advice already in a public space, the National Unitarian Fellowship Forum.

I want to repeat the latter part of it here. I knew her from the early 1990s in a Sea of Faith Conference. She is an example of one of those who feels an acute sense of religious loss, and has had an attachment to generally Catholic forms of Christianity but lacks the substantive belief that would carry easily and made a switch to the Unitarians (the chalice illustrated below is the older design). So in the public space I have suggested:

There is a huge difference between even the story of a Church calendar year in the Episcopal setting and the lack of it in Unitarianism - the latter has Christmas without Advent and Easter without Lent, or at least without them in any meaningful emphasis. And some people need to have the dark seasons so that the bright bit is all the brighter.

You have to take the theological freedom to yourself, to say no to the nonsense and clearly whilst still taking in some of the story. It is a high wire act. It's about employing your intelligence whilst inhabiting the artistic forms and the drama. You do not need the presence of God to inhabit a good story, but you can also think that God might be what is at the very end of it all. It may be necessary to keep killing God in order that there is any God at all.

I would see Unitarian starkness in a positive light. It is perhaps its own Lent, in that the Puritanism it has never lost is stark and represents a kind of loss. Maybe at Easter you can consider it in terms of your own freedom to make your way ahead. I just suggest this as a possibility.

I would not be too worried about the God loss: you could say that God has brought it upon himself. If the birds are your way to contact what should be a God contact, then it is far more practical and useful and alive. Leave God in his coffin.

Feed the birds.

I inhabit the same constituency of religious loss, and what to do about it. Those of us in this space need something light, manageable, simple, and yet with some sort of content, and free to make of it what we may. I have more confidence about my pathway than my friend, as I have been in the same places and crossed the same boundaries and done much thinking. It is why I am such a fierce opponent of present ugly Anglican machinations, as these take so little account of people and where people are. It should be about spaces people can inhabit for their own spiritual purposes that only they really understand. The rest is so much construction.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

In More Than One Camp

This is somewhat autobiographical with comment about the present day situation: it is an example of how a bigger picture ties in with the personal journey.

I've always been a person with one foot in one camp and one foot in another. I have always known my main loyalty, and kept it until I have declared to myself something otherwise. In 1989-90 I was a student in Unitarian College. Whilst I was at that time pretty much a religious humanist and had experimentations with neo-Paganism, and was very ecumenical with students of other denominations at Luther King House, there was no question about my loyalty to the path I was on. Unfortunately I don't always give out these signals, and when the MA university course I was on told me to make my answers less complex, when I had tackled these issues in my just completed Ph.D, and so I moved to a psychology adult education course instead, I was regarded by some of my local opposition as suspect. This opposition was the ideological one of local traditional Unitarian Christianity; I was not on board with something I regarded as much as a construction as trinitarian Christianity. There had been a lot of theology under the bridge since the Unitarian Christianity so many wanted to hear, and I did not speak.

Prior to this my feet were usually in Anglican and Unitarian settings, with additional ventures beyond. Originally - 1980 - I was an agnostic in a Methodist setting with friends. In 1982 a short-lived venture to Essex for some months and the Anglican Chaplain there lit some sort of candle, and research kicked off about 1982 into these Methodists and evangelical Anglicans for comparison that became a Ph.D basically into the sociology of theology as practised in academia and on the ground such as in these two churches.

When I was confirmed at University I invited Bahais over (they didn't come) and I later fell out with them when I discovered a grip on archives and doctored self-deceptions about their own history, and inconsistencies between claims and practices. They had a meeting in the Unitarian church in Hull (on the link the map and the photo were done by me) where I went to ask some embarrassing questions (they took me outside, I was so embarrassing) and I noticed the Unitarian statements on the wall. Despite even (incredibly) thoughts of Anglican ordained ministry, I gave the Unitarians a try for seven weeks until saying thanks very much but I'm Anglican - only for my Anglican Tillichian-like liturgical translating to collapse and therefore I returned to the Unitarians while still going to Anglican services in a non-communicating way.

After Unitarian College was ended in contradiction - even the Principal left - I spent one and a half years with no religious involvement. The Unitarian revisit in Sheffield did not last more than a few visits, but I did appreciate and gain much from the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. I only stopped going to their meetings because they are not in the area to where I moved (New Holland in 1994). I also got on very well with the Anglican rector in Clowne and even took a service to a men's group, who were sort of sat there open-jawed from what I said but this gave the rector some space for his own public searchings.

In 1994 I reconnected with the Hull Unitarians and they were doing well, but I was regarded with suspicion because I had let the side down in Unitarian College. Ideas about a theology group cum men's group were resisted, particularly by the women there, and then around me came a storm over trust deeds that basically caused many to leave. In effect I was the last to go years later - I finally left in 2004 over the treatment of a minister, once again asking the most awkward of questions and being described in reply as a "non-member" which was true but a final statement of my increasing marginality. It has afforded a full time minister since via rejigged historical funds, but I gather it keeps struggling with a handful of people. Such is the way with tiny churches - it could revive in the future and may take hitting an absolute crisis at the end of this generation to do so. I don't know.

From 2004 I made occasional if regular visits to Anglican evensongs and the like, and was making all sorts of theological adjustments; my year of sixth form teaching did adversely affect attendance, as did turning up on some evenings at 6 pm to find that this was the week they had met at 4 pm. So when I thought about going I sometimes decided not to do so. The most local church was simply too evangelical for any kind of spirituality to take hold. When the sixth form work finished, and when a new priest-in-charge was put in place, I decided to make a serious attempt at involvement, and build human relationships in that community (if slowly).

The one thing always lacking in the Unitarian setting was the depth of spirituality, and this has been the driver of shifting towards the idea of the pathway and the Marcel Mauss (etc.) social anthropology of a coming in and a going out, ritual gift and exchange, and binding community. The Christianity prevented by Unitarian conservatism has been possible within the Anglican setting - a sort of radical-liberal, apophatic, non-realist but possible transcendence, spirituality, which is extreme (both dark and point bright-light), and a real engagement with the tradition on a moderate Catholic tilt. So this has been quite a changing and developing period, with revived thoughts of ordained ministry that more often than not go nowhere. My view on this is to pursue it, and I do, but equally it keeps hitting too many walls and is not in the position that it was back in 1984 and 1985, and then properly pursued in 1989-90 in the wrong setting. My Unitarian adventure I regard as an unforseen and misinformed mistake - a proof that even a liberal grouping can be sectarian, especially so when devolving everything means no checks and balances.

The problem now is not the local Anglican setting. I appreciate it very much, and also the mixture of different loyalties within the one place. It is with the bigger institution. It is becoming horrible. It could be that it is experiencing strong pains at a point before structures are shifted around (violently, possibly) that can do some sorting out.

The run up to the Lambeth Conference 2008 is part of this pain. Schismatic Anglicans of African biblical literalism and ex-pagan signs and wonders spirituality are trying to impose their understanding on everyone else on the argument that others are imposing upon them, and doing it via a tiny minority of modern day Puritans in the West who have turned into a Trotskyite-like bunch of schemers. More tragically, in the wake of their challenge, a former liberal-ish but Catholic Archbishop has bought their ideology and placed it into the run up to Lambeth 2008. This is a poison, as seen at the machinations of Lambeth 1998, that has been turned into a holy writ and a solution of centralisation and clericalism via this Archbishop. The poison is thus spreading all around, and, though there are the usual lapdogs of compliance (for example, Fulcrum), others are trying to be terribly nice about their opposition, and yet are being railroaded bit by bit into something that at once might happen and yet cannot work.

The Anglican institution is basically a sick patient but the diagnosis seems to be to inject more poison. It won't work because the Americans, Canadians, Irish, Welsh, Scots, New Zealanders, most Australians and even (legally - the railroading going on here is bizarre) the English won't have it. It is like a car that has a screaming engine, coming towards a solid wall, where the recommendation is to push the accelerator harder. Bishops may only go to Lambeth on the basis of agreement with the Covenant, to do it on the basis of the Advent Letter, with a Windsor Continuation Group to keep the car on the track, and at the same time the schismatics have set their own show in motion. Why the Eastern Catholic model is not more appealing I do not know; it would be more consistent with dispersed Anglicanism.

As for me, well the longer view is that this institution will crash and then there is likely to be some sort of fractured, frustrated, institution, where things go on but there are all sorts of rotten leadership matters swirling around. My own view is that half the inability to make sensible local decisions and plans is because of what happens at the upper echelons where chaos reigns and the crash is taking place.

Yes I have a foot in another camp. It happened last year. Someone asked me to give a talk on why liberal groups cannot get together. So I said yes, and looked into it, and discovered more about fragments I'd only noticed without much consideration. This is the Liberal Catholic tradition, the one that took a peculiar turn with the Old Catholic tradition at that time into Theosophy (1910s). It also took a turn into the esoteric - the magical.

Then something reconnected with my past. During difficult Unitarian College days I used to receive some pastoral support from the more sensible and liberal end of Manchester area Unitarianism. I raised then the matter of the Free Catholics, who rose in the 1920s to produce a sort of Oxford Movement affected Unitarianism. I received shakes of the head about such a movement - it had gone outside what was acceptable. My neo-Paganism really was a form of this - a creedless symbolism, a kind of open pathway.

Now via the talk I discovered the Oxford based Ulric Vernon Herford and his earlier Free Catholicism along with that of Lloyd Thomas, and then a group that related to these as well as to the central Liberal Catholic esoteric tradition. I also discovered that, as a result of the Old Catholic Arnold Harris Mathew reordaining hundreds of Anglo-Catholic priests, the Anglican Church has a historic animosity to this Liberal Catholic tradition.

There is nothing like an historic animosity to get my bloodhound nose on the trail. I don't take these animosities at face value. I regard a wall in the way as something to reduce or even knock down. When a few in the know locally I'd approached even made fun of episcopi vagantes, I decided to find out. I don't agree. The episcopi vagantes are a very diverse bunch, but I have found those I have related to and spoken with to be solid and knowing full well their tradition and basis of operation. They have a distinctiveness from Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism, but there is much in common - and what is in common matters more.

It has become a clerical tradition, and it was that from the point where Arnold Harris Mathew was told by Old Catholics that there were lay people congregated waiting for him and there were not. But these clerics do minister and often do so in valuable ways, to those who simply do not fit existing systems, and this includes rites of passage ministries. My interest is in the liberal end of these many varieties, whilst a curious outcome is people like Arnold Harris Mathew and Ulric Vernon Herford give rise to the very orthodox specialities down espiscopal lines too.

An example still at the liberal esoteric end is the Ancient Catholic Church where there is now a holding the name and history of a group that once had a very active life in part of London and could be developed again. Under H. P. Nicholson it was a Catholic and, incorporated into that, a Spiritualist Church that grew to around three congregations and about 5000 people. Revd. Deaconess Pam Schroder drew on a an agreement to use Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd in Clapham that expired with her death in January. Her colleagues, as in The Liberal Rite, took over effective management, and drew in another now independent bishop who had been a priest in the Liberal Catholic Church International. Another group of interest is the Open Episcopal Church, which is trying to look more "standard" through its ecumenical efforts and, I think, could trade off some of its liberalism. It relates to Arnold Mathew Harris more directly than the LCCI. The complexity then of Liberal Catholicism is how it is tied up in the inheritance, however passive, of Theosophy, of the esoteric, and also of (elsewhere) the Unitarian.

Now the esoteric does not attract me. I'm too much of a rationalist, perhaps. However, the Anglo-Catholic argument "against magic" is tainted. Anglo-Catholics believe that priests have episcopal derived orders with power that make real presence at the altar table possible. That power may be in conjunction with the supernatural - the active Holy Spirit, but it is a power they believe is invested in the person and that the person as a priest has a life changing ontological deposit. They are not simply a people used, and they cannot have it both ways. So the argument against magic does not quite work, but even if they reject power (as against grace - but who said power disqualifies grace?) then magic can still work as a service, power turned in on itself as should be kingship. I just don't buy the argument against magic from this perspective.

My view about ritual is more social anthropological, and is entirely non-magical. Perhaps this makes me more (Reformed) Anglican and less Liberal Catholic. However, the Free Catholic and Liberal Catholic is non-credal, though the Liberal Catholic has varying degrees of expectation regarding belief in real presence. For me, real presence is an issue of semiotics: not presence, nor magic, nor power from the Holy Spirit (etc.), nor indeed Christ being present whilst the contents remain accidentally the same. Just as Marcel Mauss and such social anthropology relates to structures of linguistics (and on to poststructuralism of linguistics), so does real presence.

For me, Theosophy is just one historical accident and does not trouble me. I am myself still pro-Buddhist (it tells a lot about pathways and personal salvation) and I have sympathy with aspects of modernist Hinduism. I would though focus upon the non-esoteric and the non-theosophical, even if I can be accused of having bits of those in my make-up. My interest then is more purely radical Catholic.

If it was for me to decide, I would want a combination. I would also want to incorporate the liberal Anglican, but really liberal Anglican in the sense of liturgical practices and no doctrinal demands - whilst containing the sense of what you believe relates to but is not identical with what you pray.

Mad Priest has been stating on his own blog that the schismatics, Fulcrum, the Archbishop, the Covenant, is not going to take Mad Priest's basic credal Anglicanism, to which he is committed. He will oppose additional impositions and fight. He speaks with a fresh voice. The Anglican project is just so ugly at present. I too want this policy of imposition to collapse: the idea put to me that this Archbishop of Canterbury is someone else and only presenting a biblicist imposition as a way to get more to attend and produce a better more tolerant outcome I simply no longer accept. It is the same argument made about Tony Blair - yes, he presents this right wing image but you'll get a little bit of socialism. What we got was what he presented - he became that self-illusory person. I give the Archbishop the integrity that his personal changes made with "the job" are real. Thus he ought to go and his rotten policies tied up with him.

As for me, I'm just a nobody finding a way through tangles that most people do not even consider. I cannot tell where it will go now, but like most people reading this I am monitoring the outcome of Lambeth 2008 with a keen interest. The connection is that nothing can happen to me until after it, other than pursuing a non-conclusive path.

Well Done Darling

What a humiliation for this government - having to accept the inevitable of nationalisation of Northern Rock (according to the BBC some minutes ago). The government has mismanaged, but this they have mismanaged like no other. They were scratching around trying to find a buyer, even having Branson on a trip to China with our hapless Prime Minister - when anyone could have told them that the collapse in worldwide credit that brought Northern Rock to its high-risk fall was the same reason they could not raise money to create a bale-out. The government has massively increased public debt to rescue one small bank. Why did they not listen to Vince Cable, who foresaw the inevitable outcome and simply plan for it? The government cannot find money for this, that or all sorts, and yet it can for the wars it fights and suddenly could in huge quantities for this Newcastle based bank.

Meanwhile we head for a mirror image of the 1970s - rising (cost) inflation and restrained output, so that we enter a new form of stagflation. The answer to such inflation is not to try and wrench it out of the system, because this will but create an early 1980s all over again - which is not necessary as industry and business is, this time, reasonably efficient. In fact there is little in the way of successful manufacturing left, and communications means that many service industries go abroad too. This is why the financial system is in such turmoil - it redistributes money via Western ownership but not Western activity (except financial and the later end of the production-distribution chain) but relies on debt to keep up spending - when the actual medicine is the need to save. Do that and unemployment will rise sharply. This is the stagflation trap that we are in - there is no further room for manoeuvre.

Well done, Darling. Your boss knew when to move on - but as was said recently, the good staff player does not necessarily turn into the good overall manager. One takes researched decisions, the other takes quick choices and acts with decisiveness. Here he did not, and his new staff player has been overpromoted. Indeed the whole cabinet is a bunch of minnows to leave but one fish, the Gordon himself.

Friday, 15 February 2008

GAFCON Longs For Former Captain

The diminishing GAFCON rump have replied to the twenty one English bishops (who wrote to the GAFCON walkers-off and asked them to turn up at Lambeth 2008 so that in the course of the three week game of Anglican cricket they could turn the St Andrews' Draft Covenant into something madly evangelical).

The GAFCON group won't play cricket because their boundary crossing players are not recognised by the captain, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and can't be in the team, whilst all but one American can turn up and play. Unfortunately for GAFCON most others are going to play in the team and it is by no means clear how many playing in the Canterbury Eleven will end up playing in the Jerusalem team at all - that is if they even have a ground to play in and a fixture date because the local umpire does not want them there either.

Another objection is that there will be thirty - precisely? - activists in the crowd at the Kent ground focussing on these players if they were to turn up and play.

We are also mindful of the press interest in the Conference, and in the presence in some form or other of Gene Robinson and his male partner, and of 30 gay activists. We would be the continual target of activist campaigners and media intrusion. In these circumstances we could not feel at home.

One wonders if the thirty have tickets already.

Meanwhile in the sweet letter about why they won't play, they pitch it in terms of the rules of the game, and that only they and some others recognise the proper rules out of the almanac, and they mention the previous captain, George Carey.

In 1998, we had great difficulty in making our case heard in the face of the process of the conference. At that conference we were blessed with the leadership of Archbishop George Carey who has always been a champion of orthodox biblical teaching on sexuality. We have come to the conclusion, from the failure of the instruments of the Communion to take action either to discipline the Episcopal Church or to protect those who have asked the Communion for protection, that there is no serious space for those of an orthodox persuasion in the councils of the Communion to be themselves or to be taken seriously.

Given that these letters and other correspondence come about as a result of advice, from a variety of sources, one wonders which hot button was wanted to be pressed by mentioning his name. Let's cause a bit more trouble! This previous captain was something of a failure in charge of the team (though, set against his crass attempts at populism, no one understands the present captain's instructions, as he has to keep apologising to the team for "any unclarity" in where he places his team).

Many who comment on the 1998 game say that there was a late effort among the tail enders which resulted in quite an entry into the almanac, at section 1:10, and that these were heard all too clearly, in fact far too well. It is this section that the present captain calls 'The Mind of the Communion' despite the fact that it did not reflect the rest of the game. Despite this the GAFCON team think now that their players won't even be taken seriously. Presumably they do underarm bowling.

Meanwhile they claim that, although they will be playing at a different ground, among themselves, and according to distinctive rules, they are still somehow part of the bigger team, even though they will not play with it. Perhaps they long for a good game of cricket despite taking their bat away.


On Thinking Anglicans Colin Coward makes a point I was reluctant to make on the assumption that surely these African primates don't have all their writing done for them. This was posted on Friday, 15 February 2008 at 9:43pm GMT

I'm going to make an assumption, which is that Chris Sugden is the author of this letter. Chris has been involved in every initiative of the global south secessionists of late and is masterminding the disastrous GAFCON event. This is a pilgrimage, according to some, and an alternative to Lambeth according to the statement issued by Henry Orombi of Uganda on Thursday.

Whatever, Chris is wrong about the numbers of LGBT people coming to the Lambeth Conference. At present, Changing Attitude and Integrity are expecting about 50 of us to be present.

The idea in my head though was only someone close to the British media would realise how this man presses a button, in that he had popped up during the Sharia controversy to effect of again undermining his successor. There is the additional possibility that he is booked for GAFCON and thus he will be used as a high profile figure in the weeks before Lambeth 2008. He would indeed attract loyalties relating back to 1998 when the resolution 1:10 was passed with him in the director's chair with this description of events from Bishop Richard Holloway:

18. The nadir of these developments was the 1998 Lambeth Conference. The Lambeth Conference, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury every ten years, brings together the Anglican bishops worldwide. Some of us were hopeful that the 1998 conference would establish a commission to examine the theological and moral status of homosexuals in our Church, and that this might lead to a healthy dialogue and improvement in way the Church dealt with the subject.

19. The move to a more open position was supported by some prominent and respected bishops, including the recently retired Archbishop of Capetown, Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Laureate and probably the most respected Anglican in the world.

20. The search for a compromise was defeated by coalition of dissident traditionalists from the USA, Africa and Asia. Worse, a resolution condemning homosexuality was passed. Worst of all was the tone of the debate, which was marred by booing, hissing, and insults. One bishop likened it to a Nuremberg rally. It was the most horrible experience of my life.

Carey may well be attracted to such publicity that using him in 2008 would achieve. But this use is consistent with the Trotskyist method - producing a figure around which others are attracted, drawing on the fond memories among some of a true revolutionary in times past, but ultimately whose head is chopped off at the appropriate moment should he ever be more than a figurehead for current purposes.

The Archbishop's Donald Rumsfeld Questions

In this ongoing spirit of avoiding unclarities (note the use of a double negative here) here are some questions regarding the Anglican Communion:

  1. What don't Anglicans know that they can disagree about?
  2. What don't Anglicans know that they must agree about?
  3. What do Anglicans know that they can disagree about?
  4. What do Anglicans know that they must agree about?
  • The first is an unknown unknown
  • The second is an unknown known
  • The third is an known unknown
  • The fourth is a known known

Answers with explanations in your own heads, or to me via any means, or specifically add a comment regarding any or all questions. Note that the difference is between what Anglicans must agree about and what they can disagree about. You must present what is unknown first in each case of it being unknown and known (although you can do it in whatever order you like in rough). Show your working - but, I hasten to add, not show you're working.

The best one of those giving a decent response beyond their own heads (the work has to be a known known) gets a prize. The prize is that you can select a Rowan Williams speech or lecture and I'll rewrite it according the Sir Winston Method or similar, so long as I am directed to an electronic version of the original.

By the way, I used to be as unclear as the Archbishop, so, although the pot might be calling the kettle black, I did receive quite a bit of scrubbing and cleaning using bleach, biological powder, detergent, other substances and steel wool some years ago, and my Fog Index did turn into mist.