Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Proposal for the Communion

The Archbishop has made this statement from Lambeth Palace:

I am aware that the Anglican Communion Covenant process continues to be described in some quarters as punitive and juridical, whereas I have argued, as most recently in my Presidential Address at the General Synod, that it is none of these but serves to enhance relationships between local Churches or provinces rather than weaken them. In this regard, I shall propose to the coming Primates Meeting and subsequently to other Instruments of Communion that 'relational consequences' that follow from actions taken outside 'the meaning of the Covenant' shall be limited to no more than the introduction of an ecclesiastical naughty step or naughty step for short.

When a province creates an action that generates a response for the consideration of the Standing Committee, and the process of discernment finds that the action is outside 'the meaning of the Covenant', a declaration shall be made that the named local Church is placed on the naughty step. The Church will still be able to make its contributions in all other activities, but Churches and our ecumenical partners will be reminded for each contribution of that Church that it is currently on the naughty step.

We think that such a Church so placed would like to come off the naughty step, and this would enhance our relationships. I further propose that we imagine that the naughty step is quite narrow, and that no more than two local Churches should be on the step at any one time. To place one more on is to decide to take one off. Furthermore, a named and so designated Church should be put on to the naughty step for an announced and fixed period of time only, and then to be placed back on to the naughty step only if the Church repeats the action it has taken. It is possible, therefore, for a Church to find itself going to the naughty step quite often, but in between times we will still be able to enhance relationships, and also being placed on the naughty step is no definition of a lack of love for the province so placed.

However, otherwise, this action I do propose as sufficient. I look forward to responses from other leaders of the Anglican Communion.

Chadderbox on the Synod Vote

George Hudson: I know I'm a humble weatherman and mayor but occasionally they give me my own programme here on Radio Chadderbox: something to do with staying in the north. I'm noticed up here. So here we are at York Station waiting room and I have with me Bishop Graham Monarch, Bishop John Sackme and Archbishop John Sendmehome who were at the recent Synod Vote in the Church in England that voted to send the Anglican Covenant to the dioceses. And also with me is Lesley Bloke, one of the blogging opposition that arose in recent weeks to campaign against it.

Graham Monarch: Ah well we saw them off, with all their misinformation.

Lesley Bloke: Are you trying to depress me after my campaign? You didn't see us off.

John Sackme: It's not off, its ongoing. Going going and not gone.

George Hudson: Is that so, in that...

Graham Monarch: It was a thumping majority. Very significant. Overwhelming support. I would repeat my advice I gave to Reverend Brokeback before I walked off. Go and lie low for a while - a long while. Ha ha.

George Hudson: I mean, well, I'll come to that... You made your own intervention, John Sendmehome - Archbishop.

John Sendmehome: He, the other Archbishop, is my very good friend. I pray for the Covenant.

Graham Monarch: The Archbishop in his commanding Presidential address gave such a magnificent lead. Overwhelming support.

George Hudson: Talking about 'lettuce pray', the Covenant is more carrot in the Synod but more stick abroad - no?

John Sendmehome: You are that jolly little weatherman, aren't you? A man had a lettuce salad in a sandwich bar and gave the waiter five pence in addition to the price. He said it's the tip of the iceberg.

George Hudson: I am asking if the text is ambiguous to some extent, so it can be punitive with punishment to some, as in weaker relationships, but can be dressed up as enhanced - if I may use the word, ha ha - inclusivity for others, as in stronger relationships.

John Sendmehome: It's like a man and a woman are having therapy for their sex life. The counsellor asks the woman, 'How do you respond to having sex?' She says she likes it infrequently. He asks if that's one word or two.

Graham Monarch: Let me explain. There must be punitive steps for those who will not accept the invitation - for that is all it is - to enhance their relationships with one another.

George Hudson: But there was the GAFCON statement that some say has holed the Covenant, killed it.

Graham Monarch: Far from killing it, the Synod gave the Covenant a life-giving boost. Overwhelming support.

Lesley Bloke: It is dismissed by those it was meant to appease. They have come to the liberals' rescue. It won't survive now. Thanks GAFCON!

Graham Monarch: No no. GAFCON is a subset of the Global South. You can actually map the Anglican Communion: if you take one of those wargames with a map, like I do, you can push archbishops here and there, which is very exciting, and soon you see that this is a project that is bound to be victorious. John Swallow is a primate, he's in favour, Mountaineer Anus, he is in favour. And Ernest Ian, who likes a cuppa in Africa, he's in favour. Archbishop Dung - he is GAFCON and yet voted in favour. So these are like ballast in front of a glacier pushing its way down to the sea - and so we move our pieces from the Alps on the board and victory is ours.

George Hudson: A glacier, not an iceberg. Cold places then, though we are getting the bite of the continent presently. Russia has been remarkably warm when it should have been so much colder, however.

John Sackme: Think about all the rubble dropped by a glacier - a solution that has consequences worse than the problem.

George Hudson: By the way, as glaciers come down a valley, they meet a melting point beyond which they cannot go - so, er, I'm suggesting it's not well liked, this Covenant, and might not go as far as you would like, Bishop Monarch.

Graham Monarch: No, it was attacked from left and right. But an overwhelming majority. Let me explain. Adverts appeared in the Church press from the left. We soon corrected them, our essay writers who must stay up very late at night because we do produce some very long essays. Andrew Goodgod has been very prolific. He can keep going and keep going with his word processing. He amazes me.

John Sendmehome: This woman who'd read lots of novels got a new computer and went to a computer class. She selected a password to protect her work -
- and when the teacher asked her why she chose that she said it had to be at least eight characters long. Why do they do that Graham, such length, my loyal colleague? Can't you keep it short and sweet, like a good joke?

Graham Monarch: Because we need to show that we have the theology now and so write lots of essays. Essays are in the Anglican tradition. The liberals used to do them but now they write adverts. Ha ha. So we soon put them right on that one, regarding Puritans and Hooker and the three legged stool.

George Hudson: What purity and prostitutes and what to sit on when they are at work, sort of thing?

Graham Monarch: Ha ha, no no. Let me explain. Hooker was a theologian. Much more narrow than the liberals would have you believe. It's the use and abuse of Hooker.

George Hudson: I've heard about that sort of thing.

John Sackme: But the Archbishop made a clever use of Wesley, a much more complex character than many realise. I suspect the same is true of Hooker. Wesley, the High Churchman who had doubts and had a sort of evangelical conversion after which he matured. What is essential, he had asked, and what can we disagree upon and still be together. A very good teaching Archbishop, you know.

Graham Monarch: But what we want is agreement that is organic, not like a network.

John Sackme: Anglicanism is a fellowship of disagreement, surely.

Graham Monarch: No no. That is too loose. Let me explain. It is a middle way, like they have in Buddhism. We opt in, of course, and become fully involved in the representative bodies. You don't have to opt in, but then you can't be representative though you are still there, just not quite there there. But there. The key leaders are in favour and they are representative, and there there there. I am telling you that the key people, the people that matter, Archbishops and bishops, are in favour.

George Hudson: So you're saying it's about leaders, and that the right is mainly in favour and the left is, what, in favour? You are saying, actually, it is institutional - who is in and who is out.

Lesley Bloke: We know who is out, yet again. Lesbian and gay people. If the Church of England approves the Covenant, then it will determine that gay and lesbian people can never have equality in ministry and blessings. That's what it is actually all about. It freezes.

George Hudson: Like now. Minus one, minus more.

Graham Monarch: Ha ha. Let me explain. We saw off the left. They were roundly defeated. If they want to come on board, well they know how - and I am conservative about sexuality myself. The right, yes, the broad right is in favour. But the Church in England has shown it is in favour. So we know where it stands. It is a most representative Church.

Lesley Bloke: We shall campaign on, in the dioceses and when the Synod actually makes its decision - that is when we will get a vote against "relational consequences". Anyway, I'm conservative in that I believe in the virgin birth and bodily resurrection, in a mythical way though so if they didn't happen it doesn't matter.

John Sackme: I'm afraid I won't be there. I shall be writing about faith rather than religion and flogging my succession of books. I might present you all with a few surprises when I am less institutional myself, a bit like Lesley. Oh, you're ordained?

Graham Monarch: Well individuals, especially retired ones, can write about what they like. Active bishops have responsibilities.

John Sackme: I haven't gone yet, and I think I'm higher in the pecking order than you. I haven't exactly been made Bishop of Timbuktoo. Are you missing the excitement of Islington?

John Sendmehome: When Tim and John to Sherborne went, They met three women cheap to rent. There were three and they were two, So John booked one and Tim booked two.

George Hudson: We are coming to the end. So to summarise. Bishop Monarch - your position then.

Graham Monarch: This is a Church and a Church has rules, and we have other Anglican Churches coming together organically, and that has rules. We have essentials we agree upon, and not as woolly and unlimited as some on the left would think. We put them right. The future is with the broad evangelical position with, I think, a more solid conserving Catholic one. It is sad that some Catholics have left us, and sad the way some unrepresentative evangelicals might be leaving us, and have already in the United States where they are no longer part of the Anglican Communion. Humm, and the liberals are just defeated. Overwhelming support, highly significant; the federal model is dismissed, and I do so love to push my bishops on the board.

Lesley Bloke: We can still campaign. We can gather together, think about our strategy, and try to change minds. We'll never change Bishop Monarch's mind, of course.

John Sendmehome: A history teacher asked a classroom if anyone could give names of three kings that had actually brought happiness to people. A pupil put his hand up and said, "Smow, Drinn and Fuh."

John Sackme: I'm looking forward to retirement.

George Hudson: Well, thanks to you all and I just want to say that the wind across us now is very cold. So a lot of churches will be very cold as well, indeed not much will be moving for a long time according to the long range forecast. Better go to traffic and travel.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Be Realistic

Some liberal Anglican bloggers and comment makers are stating that the Covenant vote is not a defeat: some would even have voted to send it to the dioceses.

I'm afraid I just don't agree, and do not having been someone who has persisted with opposition when others have said it will go through and have wondered how to oppose. Much as his blog gives me the creeps, never mind the strongest subjective feelings of opposition, I have to agree with Peter Ould and his assessment of the General Synod vote. This vote that was a thumping defeat for people opposed to the Covenant. It shows further what this General Synod will be like: mainly subservient to authority; and even if the opposition vote grows, they will pass it (all things being equal - and perhaps other events will intervene). The dioceses will discuss it and yes, do get them to vote no where possible. But a majority voting 'yes' will be enough, as a majority will be in Synod, simply because the bureaucrats have to have this thing because they have invested so much in it - even if it is useless.

Rowan Williams thinks that the gay and lesbian issues can come in via theology into the General Synod, to be re-examined. That must mean re-examining Lambeth 1998 1:10, but it was typical of his this way that way talk to get what he wants through. He puts bureaucracy before people, and that is contemptible. He ought to be treated disloyally. But this is not what these people are doing, and it is not what they are likely to do. The opposition should grow, from those who 'passed it on' to those persuaded otherwise, and to those who see that events make the Covenant more ridiculous. But that Synod vote was a mountain to climb.

There will be no gay equality in ministry and in celebrations within the Church of England for a very long time. Maybe the likely male-female equality will help move this on, but then it will be up against the Covenant and also up against the Church of England being the chief Church of the Anglican Communion. Just as it had to pass the Covenant, and must, so it must be the most conserving of the Western Churches. The Church of England will remain homophobic.

My view is that each and every liberal person ought to examine themselves regarding their own ethical and theological outlook. The liberally inclined must ask of themselves what exactly is their theology? Are they so part of the Anglican fold that, really, they have no option but to stay and just fight a rearguard action? Is there not a better, so-called 'mainstream', denomination for them? Would not a dedicated liberal denomination (socially or theologically or both) suit them better? Yes, other Churches are considerably smaller, and some have had a tough time without the revivals that they once used to receive. Some have not got the same theological resources - but then why not? Perhaps so much theology is making black look white. Maybe this issue is one for a revival of these smaller Churches, however, or one of those issues that will accumulate.

I would like to suggest that there is not a national Church any more. The Church of England is too detached from the national consensus that has developed on these matters and few people pay it attention. It has no right to be a national Church. I do not want it to represent me in any sense. I doubt, though, that this national status is the main reason for resistance to change. The reason for resistance is that people fellowship with others locally and do so on a broader set of reasons than theology. But just how grumpy do you have to be, just how nationally out of step but locally friendly before you start looking elsewhere because what you state and sing about isn't what you actually believe? Yes, had I stayed south of the Humber I would have continued to attend the C of E where were my friends, but I was keeping active silence on greater chunks of the liturgical material and was quite open with my disagreements and I did also attend the Unitarians. It could hardly have gone on forever. Now I have moved I have made the break, and the Covenant vote just confirms that break.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Narrowing Church of England

From the stance of the Church of England only, one has to admit that the Anglican Communion Covenant is passed. Resistance will be futile. Basically it will go to the dioceses, where the pressure, bishop by bishop, will be on to pass it and send it to General Synod again. Supporters will say, as they did this time, at least pass it on to the General Synod where it can be decided upon. When it gets to the General Synod afterwards, they will be told by supporters that the dioceses supported it. The majority is clearly there, in the General Synod, even if some supporters this time voted in favour only in order to pass it on.

It has been a clever stage by stage strategy and at the final point the dioceses will exert the same kind of moral pressure for General Synod to pass it as an Act of Synod that the Covenant will itself exert in terms of stopping innovating changes.

However, we know that GAFCON has called the Covenant inappropriate and regards it as completely flawed. At the same time, one reason why the General Synod passed it on was because its punitive elements were the 'relational consequences' that proponents were still able to describe as institutionally inclusive in intention. If there is any attempt to go back to earlier drafts, or to do what GAFCON wants (attach the Jerusalem Declaration and put Primates in charge) then it will not go through. The proposed Covenant isn't going to be changed again.

The result is that the Covenant may be dead in the water, or perversely may exclude the GAFCON provinces from the inner ring of the Communion whilst possibly not even excluding the North American provinces. It used to be that Stephen Noll and others were advising a rapid signing of the Covenant precisely to fix early on who was in and who was out.

Another and more concerning development might be that the Covenant is introduced and then gets changed by the signatories (as it can be) that then stiffens it up to be the punitive measure that some want to see and other supporters never wanted. It then becomes itself an object of dispute, just as opponents have warned.

The GAFCON decision means that, Covenant or not, there are provinces and supporters now committed to entryism. This means they will set up confessing fellowships of "our people" who will aim to infiltrate and take over parishes and theological colleges, and set up alternative structures of internationally operating bishops with oversight. Everyone will be following the money: either paying, receiving or observing. The minority of Conservative Evangelicals will use such international ballast of a different Anglicanism to subvert and advance their cause. It will be an interesting test of money and numbers and institutions. They've already captured one more theological college in England.

As for me, it confirms my move back to Unitarianism. There are larger, more basic doctrinal and belief reasons for finally giving up on Anglicanism: I am beyond the Anglican boundary anyway. But I am a Martineau and Newman type Unitarian, that's to say of a broad and ecumenical and a somewhat anti-institutional type. This outlook makes me oppose covenants (beyond informal ones) and indeed creeds.

The institutional winners are Open Evangelicalism, and one must be thankful that their form of evangelicalism allows for women bishops. Yet this is a group that punches well above its numbers, and where the longer term future is a division by showdown between Conservative entryists and marginalised liberals feeling the pressure.

The Anglican losers in this are principally gay and lesbian members, who now must accept that the Covenant will deny them being equal people in the Church of England. I noted the Archbishop of Canterbury's twist in the wind towards more theology on the gay and lesbian issue that would impact upon Synod (thus Lamberth 1998 1:10 cannot be 'settled') but the effect of the Covenant will come first and this will be its main imposition.

Institutionally, the losers are Modern Church Union and Inclusive Church. The latter is more socially inclined and again is part of the lost cause of gay and lesbian equality. I should say that those Modern Church Union people who want a broad and inclusive theological faith are now in the wrong Church. They ought to cut the rope on to which they still grip, rather than try to lose themselves in the nurse of liturgy in which they don't actually believe. Not all MCU members are like this, but some are and hope for something broader that isn't going to happen. Some in Sea of Faith used to be on the edge, but almost all of them are now well outside the boundary and how some carry on (particularly clergy) beats me. It will be interesting to see just how much MCU President John Saxbee in retirement in Wales takes his "too much religion and not enough faith" in an open ended direction, and whether he will be like Richard Holloway (the former Bishop of Edinburgh). Nevertheless, the MCU is now right up against the fence and some of its people are beyond, even in the moat.

'Orthodox' gay and lesbian members might try the Metropolitan Community Church or, even if liberal but basically trinitarian, something like the Open Episcopal Church. Liberals might try the Quakers or Unitarians or, just about, the United Reformed Church with a liberal tendency and a Free to Believe pressure group. Perhaps the Church of England has decided to be more sectarian and use more clergy-led gimmicky with such as Fresh Expressions, but it certainly has not decided to be theologically broad. Indeed from the later 1970s on it has gone in precisely the opposite direction. The Covenant will now be its constraint, the fridge into which all theology will go for preservation.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Rhetorical Devices at Synod

Yes, I think we should 'Check against delivery' - indeed, with the proposed Covenant: that is the point.

What indeed will it deliver? Will it deliver what the principal author wants of it, or something other? As far as I can see, people just do not agree that there is opinion and settled doctrine, or where one becomes the other. That scrap is what will kick the Covenant all over the place, the moment it exists. In fact, it is happening already.

He obviously isn't very optimistic regarding this General Synod, as with media expectations, because he says:

...what I should really love to see in this Synod is all of us disappointing expectations.

He hopes for:

...joined hands, let alone joined-up thinking, a body in which the Catholic Spirit is invisible.

Ah yes, joined up thinking: but whose? And is not Rowan Williams's Covenant exactly that kind of thing that is an opinion, not so much a joined up piece of opinion, compared with the opinion that says that his pet project will cause more trouble than it is worth.

Clever rhetorical device is "loyalty" - to others and to him. But loyalty might extend further. He argues against party lines and made up minds: OK then - what about his? His mind on the Covenant seems all in one direction, as with his fewer pals in the Open Evangelical camp.

I don't think we are doing the job for which God has called us here if we reproduce the worst aspects of secular partisanship.

Clever that. Secular equals bad, God equals good, and God is on his side. Not that people can think outside Synod, to take time and discern outside Synod.

Then he throws one in just to confuse the troops. It is:

The need for some thoughtful engagement that will help us understand how people who read the same Bible and share the same baptism can come to strongly diverse conclusions is getting more urgent, because I sense that in the last few years the debate on sexuality has not really moved much.

This is breathtaking, from him. Should it move? Is he saying it should move? What do the Covenant users think of that, in the potential to use the Covenant so that the debate precisely does not move? Aha, and then another rhetorical device: the argument being biblical freeze versus those who just promote culture:

It is unthinkingly treated by some as almost the sole test of biblical fidelity or doctrinal orthodoxy; it is unthinkingly regarded by others as one of those matters on which the Church must be brought inexorably into line with what our culture can make sense of.

But he's not saying that this rhetorical device is true because theology has been done, as he knows theology has been done and published. So why use the rhetorical device then? Because he says it is rather about how the Synod does it. Yes, but did he not say himself that the mind of the Communion was settled against such theology outside? He says he should take some of the blame. OK, so is he changing his mind? Why should such Synod-using-theology move on then? Does Lambeth 1998 1:10 need revisiting? What is it then this time to "arrive at shared understanding"? Perhaps a bit more 'Continuing Indaba', perhaps then a new way of producing decisions or holding them off.

I have a sense of confusion-shuffle here. But one thing is clear. No longer, then, can he say that Lambeth 1998 1:10 is settled, as located within the Church bureaucracy.

But he wants a decision on the Covenant, and only his way. Things cannot go on as before. No, but they won't with the innovation of a Covenant - that's for sure. And he agrees with that too. He thinks it "a greater illusion" that the Church of England can derail the process. Well, let's see.

Vote against it and let's see how the Archbishop of Canterbury is an Instrument of Communion when his Church is on the outer ring, cast out as ecumenically unrepresentative of Anglicanism. That'll be interesting. Perhaps that's what really worries him. Imagine the Church of England says no - who will say yes and what would it then produce useful to them? The words 'drawing board' might then be heard, not that the picture is anything other than the realities of now.

His threat is the "piece-by-piece dissolution of the Communion and the emergence of new structures in which relation to the Church of England and the See of Canterbury are likely not to figure significantly." But the likelihood is that this will happen anyway, according to the present realities: and will with a Covenant to become itself another matter to kick around.

Anglicanism is already balkanising into those who want a Covenant only if it has a Jerusalem Declaration added and Primates in control, those who would have the Covenant with a bit more teeth but might accept this final draft, those who don't actually want it, and those who cannot have it.

The casualties are not areas of interaction: they will simply go on as of now, with links and connections between the compatible sections of Anglicanism. Some document isn't going to paper over the cracks - chasms.

In the end, he admits, that disagreement may still be so, and rupture, so he wants to formalise the rupture. Is that it?

Is it not better to let the differences be more organic, more shifting, than have some Standing Committee make declarations of who is in and who is out, and decisions about what is incompatible with the Covenant, what may not be incompatible, but never what is compatible.

Only Rowan Williams could justify this mess:

To say yes to the Covenant is not to tie our hands. But it is to recognise that we have the option of tying our hands if we judge, after consultation, that the divisive effects of some step are too costly.

Costly in what terms? In doing something, deemed to be right, but not to do it, because it offends some? So imagine doing all that theology, and moving on a debate that has become frozen, and then coming in Synod to a conclusion, only then not to do it because the bureaucratic consequences are negative? Because a Covenant says so - do it but go to the outer ring?

This is pathetic reasoning. It is religion by institution, and the end of reasoning. It isn't even necessarily religion by scripture of tradition. It is utterly bankrupt.

The Covenant is not and was not a way to "build up durable and adult bonds of fellowship." That was available by existing Anglican means, was it not - the gatherings. Rowan Williams's argument is shot through. The gatherings as were will achieve the maximum amount of brotherhood and sisterhood available: his document is a bureaucratic project. Churches make their decisions, and Anglicans above and beyond these then come together or not.

Look, I don't agree with the apparent fundamentals, so who am I to suggest what to do? But I can wish good wishes. The issue is to save the integrity (as best possible) of the Church of England, and then the informal gatherings of Anglicans.

The issue is not to kow tow to the rhetorical devices of one Archbishop. He will be gone soon, but Christianity has a lot to work out that is bigger than him, of which Anglicanism is just a part and facing up to these issues.

Demonstration of Open Evangelicalism

Should the Anglican Covenant go through the Church of England General Synod on its way to the dioceses, there will be pressure if the dioceses approve for it to be passed at the Synod making the final decision. That is the game plan to get this document through.

Given the responses in various blogs over the years, the liberal end of Anglicanism in Europe and the United States seemed prepared to give this process a run for its money. I was always against it (though I've moved on) and the Modern Church Union (as now called) was against it, but now the liberal strand is more of less unified into opposition. Part of this is because there is no longer any attachment to the person whose project it has been throughout, the Archbishop of Canterbury, although those alongside him in the Synod may still feel his presence and not want to be seen to be voting against. Mainly though, and one would hope so, the document itself is realised as one designed to undermine the plurality of Anglicanism and create a less responsive Church.

The Conservative entryist end was against it because that gathering created its own Jerusalem Declaration and Primates' Council for an international confessing Anglicanism, made to parallel and even replace existing structures - this is what entryism means. Now it is clearer that the Covenant is rejected unless it becomes a doctrinally explicit document under the Primates Meeting. In other words, the entryism has to be into the Covenant itself for the Covenant to be worthwhile. But this won't happen, as it is the final draft - although the Covenant once passed can be altered (which, on its own, is another warning to liberals).

It is all a bit of a mess now, and as has been pointed out, the language is vague and contradictory. For example, the Standing Committee can only say in effect, at some exhausted end point, that a proposed action is not incompatible with the Covenant: it cannot say that an action is compatible with the Covenant. This might be consistent with the way the present Archbishop of Canterbury speaks, by double negatives and understatements, but it is part of the indirectness by which apparent conversation and representations will slow actions to a minimum. Nothing will receive any sort of approval, only delay and more delay. It still centralises and internationalises such delays to important innovative decisions, and could therefore be said in effect to affect the law and rule making of the Churches.

Don't pass what you don't want: but the cynical betting is still that it will be passed. It will likely be passed in the Church of England and in a number of provinces. And what does that mean?

At one time the Church of England had two noisy spikes and one amorphous middle towards actual liberalism. There was the high spike of Catholic types whether papal or loyal to the end, and the other of evangelicalism. Both were doctrinal. The evangelical constituency had a traditional element, but it mainly refreshed its appearances, because unlike traditionalisms and Catholicism it uses contemporary culture to project people over its high dogmatic wall. In that Catholicism and Protestantism often clashed over what they did, a managerial broad Church kept the institution together. Its liberal wing learnt to keep its head down, popping up every few decades to reveal what was kept private within the universities and tied up in an incomprehensible theological language. The occasional media controversies were no news to the educated and trained.

Over the last thirty years it is arguable that ideological liberalism has kept its head down more. The controversies were less doctrinally threatening, but all the more noisy. Legitimate space for dissent seems threatened. A cut off point was found that had a consensus: that of Sea of Faith, of postmodern non-theism seemed out (although some non-theism, non-objective approaches get away with it because they are conserving of doctrine as identity-making - Hans Frei and Lindbeck, inheritors of Karl Barth, and the bizarre bubble-Platonism of the Radical Orthodox). Since these developments, however, the cat has been out of the bag for a long time and liberalism became more of a target because it was more noticed. The grounds have also shifted, less about ideas and more about people and who they are and what they do. These issues are less easy to hide, and the Internet exposes everything anyway.

That once broadly liberal, negotiating, managerial function has broken down. It has broken down as traditional Catholicism has become ever more weakened and is now on its deathbed. Also, in the situation of secularisation, it has failed to hold enough people in while the evangelicals have done the (also largely unsuccessful) recruiting. It leaves a mainly renewing evangelicalism, and one that increasingly looks abroad for ideological and cultural support, and a liberalism - an unstable dyad replacing a once more stable triad (as in Simmel's institutional sociology).

It leaves the more moderate, so called open evangelical position in the centre. It isn't the old broad Church, but where the evangelicals met the broad Church, where some loyal to the institution evangelical theology happened. It is quite small because it is that mixture of committed evangelical position and some preparedness to do theology. It has been socially radical in terms of poverty, but ignorant in terms of progressive views of identity (because of ideas of sin). Given a relative absence of sin in being female, they have tended to support the ordination of women, whereas the conservatives as "our people" are starting to cohere against it - at least within Anglicanism. The conservative entryists don't accept the open evangelical position as a new negotiator - sometimes damning it as liberal evangelicalism that has to be attacked first because it provides cover for actual liberalism.

But the people who support the Covenant is precisely that middling position. So getting the Covenant through is really important for them, and to confirm their position as the new managerial grouping. They see themselves as the future. The arguments of such as this group, though, seem to rest on stressing the complication of the Covenant text, as if it binds institutions together in always a positive direction. They write in huge volume and repetitively, as if this is good enough to make the argument. In contrast, their opponents get straight to the point.

The open evangelicals are vulnerable, however, because they could well be forced to decide whether to get into bed with the more conservative position or with the more liberal position. Also, they have tied themselves to the policy of this Archbishop of Canterbury, and he is not going to last forever. Failure of the Covenant to pass must force his resignation, but once passed he may well decide it is up to someone else to steer the ship (and participants may want a new way to choose a chief bishop). If it is passed and becomes the football some predict, then he will probably go too because the international refereeing will become one conflict after another, played out at the international level, probably before a break up.

A Covenant will cause more tension, not less, and it is better not to have that additional focus for tension. Disperse it, as Anglicanism is balkanising anyway across the world. But on home turf, in the Church of England, the open evangelicals want to make their point about their own sophistication of the new centre, and that means passing the thing through all its stages. But that mere act won't stop the international and national Anglican wars, and indeed if the Covenant does become as its detractors think, the victory of that group will be short lived.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Covenant on Midweek

Lord Melvin Blagg: Welcomb to Gumbria in Gockermouth, sorry Gockermouth in Gumbria (I don't know why I get dose de wrong way around) here in de Lake Distric. For Midweek Talk this morning we are discussing firstly matters of Anglican disagreement, and later on we'll have our arts review, our round of book reviews and intellectual approaches to watching films. I have with me Reverend Virginia Lake, who will describe herself shortly, a Bishop Harold Wilson at the centre of a disagreement of opinion as we shall see, and the more well known figures of the Most Reverend Rowanov Dreedri, Archbishop of England, and de Most Reverend John Sendmehome, Archbishop of de North. Now apparently two good colleagues Rowanov Dreedri and Harold Wilson have fallen out with each other, and John Sendmehome is friendly with both, and Reverend Virginia Lake is going to help mediate with the help of John Sendmehome. But dey are here wiv me now. Virginia - tell me about your background first.

Virginia Lake: I am the Director of the Anglican Confrontation Organisation called Unity Faith and Order that operates under SHADO - the 'Secretive Hierarchical Anglican Doctrinal Organisation'. I operate underneath Lambeth Palace and Rowanov Treetri carries the operational name Commander Straker, as he is the 'Ed Bishop.

Melvin Blagg: Not very zecretive den.

Virginia Lake: Well everyone knows about it. The secret part, as with all Anglicanism, is in the actual rule book as opposed to the formal rule book; it's an acquired taste, what you find out after joining. It's part of the Sense Inference Detector, or SID.

Melvin Blagg: So what is du dispute about den?

Virginia Lake: To cut a lot of representational conversations short, the upshot is that Harold Wilson here wants the UFO to be renamed DMC; indeed he thinks John Sendmehome could Run DMC.

Melvin Blagg: DMC sdands for?

Virginia Lake: It would stand for...

Harold Wilson: Disunity, Mistrust and Chaos.

Virginia Lake: Bishop Harold Wilson seems to have, in effect, broken ranks. From a stance of initially asking questions, he is turning into episcopal opposition. He has raised an objection, one bishop among others. This is unusual, as the House of Bishops tries to show collective responsibility by demonstrating that all of them agree.

John Sendmehome: Gimme de Covenant, it is what we want; give it to us hard and straight, as it's on the communin' plate; and yeah we know what it's for, keep it just like with clause four. Walk this way, walk this way.

Melvyn Blagg: Bishop Wilson?

Harold Wilson: [Puffs on his pipe several times] I think the Covenant will not lead to Unity, Faith and Order, but Disunity, Mistrust and Chaos.

Rowanov Treetri: I have to say, without engaging Bishop Harold directly, that I did not think that after so many stages of being able to pass the Covenant through several passage points as part of the Windsor Process that people would be other than perhaps worn down and forgetful; but it would seem that possibly the necessity of it going through Synod on it is called the nod so to speak might be lost and replaced by a more active conversation that is prior to letting the dioceses discuss and approve it and put pressure upon the General Synod later to pass it as it had been passed all the way down the line including among the dioceses and for it to slip along to its final approval here as it has done here before and might elsewhere in the Anglican Communion. And whilst one might pray for the participation of interest groups to be toned down somewhat, in preferring a larger prayer for the Anglican Communion, I do think that one of the bishops starting to be so obviously public in this manner is a matter of intense disloyalty to my tenure of office, if I may put it in that manner.

Virginia Lake: I really do wish people would read the text. It is ever so gentle, and just the sort of thing we need for mediation. Is it not to enhance relationships, to bring together those who can agree to participate in what is a process approach to disagreement, in holding to inaction during the ongoing conversation where we can get together?

Rowanov Treetri: Indeed arguably I designed it for patience, so that one culture that might go ahead with a process might wait for another culture to thoroughly change before it goes ahead so that all can move together under the auspices of the Unity, Faith and Order office, as guided by the representative Standing Committee and the importance of united bishops.

Melvyn Blagg: Bishop?

Harold Wilson: [Pauses while puffing on his pipe]

Melvyn Blagg: Bishop, dis is radio.

Harold Wilson: There has never been a Brighton Conference about this, or any other conference; in the only consultation there has ever been, an online poll that fanatics can click several times, four times as many voted as normally do, with 86% against. This must count for something. Although lots of people are posturing in favour of this Covenant, I cannot find anyone who agrees with it.

Rowanov Treetri: But in formal terms the bishops are united, and surely this counts for far more.

Harold Wilson: We appear to be united. Now that I have apparently broken ranks, you don't want to talk to me. You want to freeze me out. You are taking sanctions.

Rowanov Treetri: There must be relational consequences.

John Sendmehome: My father told me never to talk to strangers. We haven't spoken since. Hey, let's get more rhythm. Me and the Archbish, we the Treacherous Two, I come with drums and him his thoughts, we make a Hullabaloo; he give them thoughts, an' mine are so naff, he puzzles everyone, an' I make 'em laugh. He's not that old, but he looks that way, he's just like Grandfather Flash, But when it comes to the Anglican way, it's just like car crash smash. Walk this way, walk this way.

Melvyn Blagg: Right. What is du solution?

Virginia Lake: I'll make an official point as produced by my office. These may not represent my own views. In enhancing the relationships between those who slowly and patiently hide their disagreements into the process, those that disagree more openly like Bishop Wilson will not lose their entitlements as bishops but rather become part of the newer, layered, more pluriform gathering, where they are clearly on the outer ring, do not any longer represent the bishops - for example in ecumenical representations - and thus as restricted retain the essential unity of the core bishops.

Rowanov Treetri: Of course I would not desist from this view myself, and equally this is my official self as opposed to my private self which I do in fact now habitually conceal when in the public arena. We recently lost five bishops...

John Sendmehome: Hey they were known as the Furious Five. Walk this way, walk this way.

Rowanov Treetri: And we would not wish to lose any more if we can help it, and so the need to redesign a more restrained, restricted, ecumenically representative Catholicism. Reverend Lake: the minimum required is the bishop's tacitly inactive disagreement.

Virginia Lake: Bishop, could you do this?

Harold Wilson: [Pauses while puffing his pipe] I could add this into the conversation.

Melvyn Blagg: Would dis do it?

Rowanov Treetri: This could indeed do.

Virginia Lake: This indeed shouldn't be an impossibility. Well what a victory for the Covenant. We do have your tacit silence bishop?

Harold Wilson: I add no further comment.

Melvyn Blagg: Well I must say dis is du first time in my experience dat a radio discussion has had a useful burpose. But now some book reviews. What have you been reading, Virginia Lake?

Virginia Lake: The Archbishop's excellent book on Dostoyevsky.

Melvyn Blagg: Rowanov's, of gourse.

John Sendmehome: Hey man, I'll stick to Dusty Springfield, and er Run DMC. Sorry, Run UFO. Well, she runs UFO. Good idea, man.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Music Voluntary

The final stage of being a music provider in the church I attend is to plug the gap of music supply. It is to write it myself! This last week I opened a new hymn book at a tune a service provider wanted, and because it is a song with a Russian traditional history there is no usable source for it anywhere. So I found a music composition program that forces correct composition as you put in the key, the timing and the notes. So from a personal base of musical ignorance (I cannot read music) I laboriously copied a tune from the hymn book and, when done (a steep learning curve but speedy) not only did I get a decent .PDF output of the music but it also produced a very good piano .WAV output that was much more refined than the usual .MID output (the old fashioned but instrument-transferable and low kilobytes computer generated sound). Able to hear different instruments too by composition copying and pasting, I created a four verse hymn of varied instrumentation. To do the introductory part, I could have edited a sound file; instead I made it much cleaner by doing it from the composition.

In future I'll keep the instrumentation more simple (in the same way a word processed page achieves more through less) but it does mean nothing is beyond the preparation and production of music. Who'd have thought it. I'm not actually taking a service again until February, so unless I become a one man band then someone else will have to sit behind the curtain and press the pause button for what I have prepared - as I do each week.

People keep talking about me and this whole provision as if I am something of an expert. I am not. I really am tackling a lot of this from ignorance. But the success is that I have an objective - by illusion and reality to produce music as convincing as possible and at the highest quality possible for a service. All it needs then is bit by bit preparation. And next week I put in motion significant improvement to the delivery, such as the church buying a mixing desk and new amplification where I can establish a variety of means of provision.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Anglican Communion Football Squad

The Archbishop of Canterbury has picked his football team for the world cup held in England. The goalkeeper and one defender will play in Manchester. The centre forward and two wingers will play in Liverpool. The midfield will play in Birmingham. Others may travel between the stadia during the game. Apparently some of the substitutes have crossed a continent to play for Rome.

The idea is that they are of like-mind in each place, but the team is somewhat dispersed. Being unable to play with each other, they will nevertheless come together when a Covenant is signed between all the players, although then the team will be picked by a committee decided by the players, to somehow play on an inner and outer pattern, who can't even play together at the moment.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Five Go Down - Chadderbox

Lara Crofter: It is good to meet here in the studio Bishop Stanley Urwin Eggs...

Stanley Urwin: Not Eggs, OGS. Ogslogsiyo.

Lara Crofter: Not eggs then, but you are a flying bishop. And Bishop Barry Broadarse, Archbishop Rowanov Treetri, Archbishop John Sendmehome - what are you doing here?

John Sendmehome: I heard they were coming to Grimtown so I came too. The road and the street both agreed that the green tarmac strip on the edge was crazy - a right cycle path.

Lara Crofter: But you have come on your own and over the Humber Bridge.

John Sendmehome: Hey lot's of people come on their own. You know, there's Father's Day for fathers, Mother's Day for mothers and Palm Sunday for people who come on their own.

Stanley Urwin: Has anyone in this little ol' studiolahole heard of Yankee Doodle Dandy, me duckiefolds of the Anglicola Catholy worldy yo?

Lara Crofter: Hey? What? For a different voice, it says here, we have Bishop Anthony Wedgewood Bigg. And a Roman Catholic, Archbishop Vince Hill.

Vince Hill: Just Catholic will do.

Lara Crofter: Why are you different Bishop Bigg? You look different.

Stanley Urwin: He hasn't got his frockeries on, my lovely leesy cheesy.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: What does it matter if I wear a tie? I believe in the Reformation, in that we are a confessing Church, in the love between the laity and their proper presbyters, and in crushing pliers on to people's fingers who don't agree.

Lara Crofter: Oh. Now then gentlemen, all of you are gentlemen, welcome.

Stanley Urwin: Some more or less than others so be do da, wouldn't you be tumpty told. Good all.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: Do you go to church, Miss Crofter? [speaking very slowly]

Lara Crofter: No, I'm just here doing my job and I want to ask my first question.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: I don't care; there are no such distinctions with God and his desire to love all his children and for them to obey, and I know this. Your mortal soul is in great danger and you threaten the godly Kingdom by your disobedience. I need to report you to the nearest presbyter who's reliable and your attendance is required, but only in a Bible believing church with a presbyter all can love and a curate all can like.

Lara Crofter: Well thanks but no thanks.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: It is not an option and your disobedience is noted by God. He chooses, you don't. He will judge you and he will judge the Church. It is why our Church must be correctly formulated and it is not the Church I joined any more.

Barry Broadarse: That we can agree on. It has become one where you are expected to click heels and march in time to the fu-nding liberal elite.

John Sendmehome: I went to a chiropodist's once. It said outside: 'Time wounds all heels'. Sort of opposite to the Gospel, really.

Barry Broadarse: Your liberal gospel maybe; nasty stuff. I tell it like it is.

Lara Crofter: Well, tell us. A moment has arrived when resignations have been announced. You are going, Bishops Urwin and Broadarse, and three others, and the ordinariate is surely on its way.

Stanley Urwin: No no no, humm; well I shall have to seeko whether I shall escalo upitty into the ecclesastico Catholodysitu; but no, what about the Sainty Wilfrid and the other incandesky still on this banker of the Tiberius shuss? He and four otherry rutheries are going going gone will be but I like it here and in Walsingcookedham but not us preparedio for just the hospice tally ho.

Lara Crofter: Do you always talk like that?

Stanley Urwin: You'd be very beautifully if you were a manhole.

Vince Hill: Our wonderful Holy Father in all his inspiration has indeed set in motion this arrangement with which we will all have to work carefully and with some delicacy as with the roses of picardy regarding existing arrangements and structures, minimising the disturbance and potential for upset, but this is nothing less than his inspired leadership.

Barry Broadarse: Yes, it is like we have left the evil of the SS no less with a home run from Colditz and its synodical governance and, liberated like doves across the sea from all this deviousness and damned criminality, we have joined civilisation: nothing but a true and proper Church, run with real gutsy authority. I am going and so are the bishops Andy Burnham, Isaac Newton, Wallace Barnes and Silk Road.

Vince Hill: Well we have to welcome all who wish to enter the Catholic Church, and reluctance must never come into it.

John Sendmehome: Apostacy, apostacy: a Scotsman has a poss to see if there is any money in it.

Barry Broadarse: Some may join after the ordinariate has been running a little while.

Lara Crofter: Bishop Broadarse, you call your colleagues bishops but don't you have to accept that they are not? You won't be on the other side but surely you are not now either.

Barry Broadarse: I have answered this before. We are bishops like Methodists have ministers, so we won't be bishops just like Methodists don't have priests but they have ministered and we have overseen. They say they are ordained, and they ordain, but we ordain them again, that is we as of now but not we as of later, when we would ordain them again if they were Catholic. But it is inspired and wonderful of the Holy Father to recognise that Anglican forms have the potential for Catholic worship, whereas I cannot see sufficient in Methodism for example.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: Why ever not? If they are properly selected Bible believing presbyters then they are just as apostolic by their confession; of course, they have fallen into the error of thinking that women can head mixed congregations and that is not possible, and in that we seek proper oversight and legal solutions for our Church that is now also seeking to enter into biblical error and heresy like the Methodists, which members of a Society we propose can avoid.

Lara Crofter: This is what it says here, that some want a Protestant society and some want a Catholic society. You could have lots of clubs and societies couldn't you? Like a Veggy Society for example, why not have a Veggy one?

John Sendmehome: We could grow our own.

Stanley Urwin: Well we will grow our only own society ees so we want it with Saints Hilda And Thomas is it or so be told, and what would yours be beetle bop de loola?

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: The Society Of Saint Augustine Global Evangelisation is coming soon.

Lara Crofter: So it is Protestant SOSAGE and Catholic SSHAT. Archbishop Treetri, what do you think about the societies SOSAGE and SSHAT?

Rowanov Treetri: Well the Archbishop of the North and I hoped, but indeed in the light of events failed, but in that we could again make some proper provision that would satisfy both sides regarding the Catholic wing of our Church, and the proposers; but I would like to think otherwise than that it must necessarily fail to meet both side's aspirations, a criticism that I would not accept either as regards the proposed Covenant, for example, in that the final draft is not intended to fail to meet either legitimate diversity and keeping people together at the table: although an element of multiforming the Anglican Communion is a way that some see as disciplinary whereas at least there is a more central table and an outer table where we can, so to speak, still pass the salt.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: But this is the point, our national Superintendant, our Moderator. If the central table you propose passes the salt to the lesser table, then the salt loses its saltiness, and what use is such salt if they then pass it back to the central table? The only way forward is for us to have the salt in a sealed container, for the one table ideally in a properly constituted confessing fellowship, for we either confess the faith or we do not. And those who don't can be prepared for the fires of hell, and perhaps we should send them on their way very warmly. Now we might say, this is just Communion business, but it is the same at home as abroad, and we need the Society Of Saint Augustine Global Evangelisation, and we need our SOSAGE to be ready and the barbecue for heresy.

Lara Crofter: Are they going to be granted their societies?

Barry Broadarse: Not from the fascist General Synod they won't. But they don't solve the problem of a corrupted episcopacy, and the ecumenical goal is so bloody great that it is time to unite by going.

Vince Hill: Look around and you'll find me there, and you'll find our managerial master the Pope there too, welcoming the Anglicans with his understanding of Cardinal Newman, who would never have bypassed the structures of the Catholic Church like this. Let us hope that the newly ordained priests will be able to go out and assist existing parishes for which we have so many shortages now.

Rowanov Treetri: I would not say otherwise except that there are a number of tensions in the Church that need to be talked through. And we can see that although we regret people leaving, most will undoubtedly probably stay, and on the basis that we pay more than Roman Catholics and offer pensions, we can probably not offer more than something like a code of practice, but the proposers and supporters of women's episcopacy may not be soon in their desired outcomes but have to wait and discuss much further before the legislation goes through, nevertheless keeping the matter moving along on a discussion basis. That relates, yes, to SSHAT, but as for SOSAGE I am not so sure on what basis we can bring that in. The issue on the SOSAGE side is not so much that but is much more the gay one, I think, where we can continue to ask gay people to ask themselves about self-sacrifice further so that we hang on to the discussion for much much longer and thus not see the need for an effective SOSAGE being made.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: Do not string along our SOSAGE, Moderator, like you string along everything else. The gay issue is a symptom of the malaise or cancer that is rife, from which we need a sanitised area, a place composed of sound believers assisted by sound overseers. We do not want to see our young people - and by 'our' I mean those whom we know to be Bible believers, not the generality - going off elsewhere with their ministry after attendance at our two main ordinand centres that we largely fund ourselves. You see, they give oaths of obedience to bishops and their heirs and successors, and we cannot know outside a society who will be their successors. These men need SOSAGE.

Stanley Urwin: He is righto about thatty wold.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: And also legally they can be and must be ordained among fellow male ordinands without females. Bishops now must make that provision, when requested by our people, but what if this changes? Women cannot be curates liked by their congregations and presbyters loved by their congregations: not when the congregations have men in them. You seem not to be a believer, Moderator, our national Superintendant, and your leadership is like a colonial privilege or a British Prime Minister at a Commonwealth meeting whereas we should have a chosen Bible believing Moderator.

Rowanov Treetri: There is no doubt that there exists some difficulty within Anglicanism of differences about the nature of authority. I was in India recently and praised difference and variation in religion in general, but clearly in our Anglican Church there is rather a strained version of diversity we might say, though it is because we have high expectations from the different perspectives of the unity we should achieve and that is the positive side, I think, to be welcomed.

Vince Hill: This sounds like Gas Street to me. Unity needs structure, a structure of Cardinals and Archbishops, bishops and priests in archdioceses and dioceses and parishes. We mess around with these structures, bypassing lines of proper authority at our peril, but we have at least the great leadership of our pontiff above the cardinals with his direct interest in the new ordinariates.

Lara Crofter: We are coming close to the end.

John Sendmehome: Looks like we are, the end to a particular witness.

Lara Crofter: I've learnt a lot, though I don't know what about. Do you think, then, that the Church in England will have women bishops soon?

Stanley Urwin: Not while we don'ty wonty have what we don't weedy needy. The Sin Synod can still voty nowee no, and that'll doodle do for me oh. I love just getting up in the morning, saying thanks for that to my friendly friendissio, you going off in your Anglican tat and me in mine, and enjoying meeting all the boysio in townsing up and down the landed gentry tree Treetri.

John Sendmehome: It's a good yarn, this.

Stanley Urwin: Beautififul materiality to the touchtush indeedio.

John Sendmehome: It's a good yarn that you tell very well, except you talk funny. Hey I'm the comedian here.

Bishop Barry Broadarse: Let them have women bishopesses. Nothing will stop them and let it become the Protestant Church it wants to be with all these women.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: It is not a sound Protestantism that I could recognise. I don't remember John Knox at the Reformation saying, suddenly, now we are Reformed we will have women presbyters. He knew his Bible if anyone did. No, we cannot have an unsound Protestantism. Well liberalism is its own thing, its own virtual religion, a sort of dressing up of appearances.

Stanley Urwin: Now come come on to me there now don't ooh naughty boysyoats.

Lara Crofter: My researcher tells me, Archbishop Treetri, that according to a Bishop Monarch you could be the new Catholic leader of the Church in England, now that these other Catholics are leaving.

Rowanov Treetri: Only in the sense, I think, that I wish to see our Communion as not less of a Church, as more a collection of bishops and archbishops in communion on the Catholic side, but also guided properly by belief and not just orders of consecration with a full use of the guidelines of the Bible. Since arguably in the eyes of some I stopped being a theologian, I have had to see the much more limited view that my employment approach to reading the Bible allows, although there is a level of ambiguity allowed by where the centre of gravity happens to be in our Communion as at present in the representation of any one point of view. So I would agree more with Bishop Bigg if there were more people like him at the time. Perhaps we could live with SOSAGE and SSHAT if there are few involved, but I doubt the General Synod will agree with something that looks like a Third Province and restricted episcopacy by another name.

Lara Crofter: Gosh and I thought going shopping was complicated. Perhaps we need the weather from George Hudson.

George Hudson: Lara, there is a cold front bringing north westerlies veering north, obviously resulting in precipitation of a persistent kind, of both seasonal causality and due to the Jet Stream moving further north.

Lara Crofter: George, stop speaking like that. Where are you?

George Hudson: Platform four, Doncaster, and it's cold and wet. There are quite a few people here cleaning the platform and it's already clean but people on the dole have to do what people used to get paid for.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: The Bible says if you don't work you don't eat.

Lara Crofter: That's good you said that George, 'cause people can text in about that. I'm sure they've loads of opinions on the unemployed being forced to do community service, than on something they don't know anything about or couldn't care less.

George Hudson: Hasn't stopped them before. Anyway, plenty of anoraks needed in this weather.

Lara Crofter: Thanks to my guests and hope the weather doesn't affect your travel too much.

Stanley Urwin: Any of you boysyo fancy coming baccalaureate with me where I can getty changeo in my hotelier roomy nice and warmo and cuddlyo? It's a course for the curioser and curioser don't you knowno.

Rowanov Treetri: No no I shall accompany John and talk about the coming Synod.

John Sendmehome: How come a man was arrested for having a first class ride on a second class ticket, when he was in a second class carriage with his girlfriend? The British Transport Policeman caught them at it, and he didn't think too much of the girlfriend.

Lara Crofter: That's misorgy mis orgyanistic. Misorg. She's probably a lovely lady.

John Sendmehome: Misogynistic? Hey it's my Church you're on about love. Anyway, time to go. Did you hear about the excited naturist clockmaker down on the sunny beach who never needed a watch?

Rowanov Treetri: Humm: as your colleague, your Archbishop and, er, your Moderator, I think it is time we were all going.

Barry Broadarse: Good God the man has shown some leadership at last. Keep going and you'll be coming to Rome.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Theological Quiz

Not a bad effort, this quiz but it assumes a level of Jesus centredness that my answers did not indicate.

You are a Modern Liberal. Science and historical study have shown so much of the Bible to be unreliable and that conservative faith has made Jesus out to be a much bigger deal than he actually was. Discipleship involves continuing to preach and practice Jesus' measure of love and acceptance, and dogma is not important in today's world. You are influenced by thinkers like Bultmann and Bishop Spong.

Modern Liberal 82%
Classical Liberal 82%
Emergent/Postmodern 79%
Roman Catholic 32%
Charismatic/Pentecostal 32%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 29%
Neo orthodox 25%
Reformed Evangelical 18%
Fundamentalist 0%

You are a classical liberal. You are sceptical about much of the historicity of the Bible, and the most important thing Jesus has done is to set us a good moral example that we are to follow. Doctrines like the trinity and the incarnation are speculative and not really important, and in the face of science and philosophy the surest way we can be certain about God is by our inner awareness of him. Discipleship is expressed by good moral behaviour, but inward religious feeling is most important.

Friday, 5 November 2010

That Nazi Speech in Full

Ruth Gledhill, increasingly forgotten behind a paywall, has popped up again with a big splash equating a talk by Wallace Benn at Reform with Hitler and 1939, associating that with a photograph of a Nazi compliant family around the wireless, mis-selected by Ed Tomlinson, the Anglo-Catholic on his way out of the Church of England. It is all a nonsense, of course, driven by the worst demands of journalism for someone otherwise vanishing. His words as given (there are edits) were:

I'm bound to use an analogy, and I use it quite deliberately and carefully. And it slightly frightens me to use it but I do think it's where we're at. I feel very much increasingly that we are in January 1939. We're in and what we mustn't do is create a phoney war. But we need to be aware that there is real serious warfare just around the corner. It's actually arrived in some ways already. And we are in a challenging and serious situation.

Over several issues we may find... I've only two years left before retirement but the Church of England into which I was ordained is not the same Church today. Some decisions it may well make over the next five years are going to marginalise some of us and are either going to push us either to the very edge or out of the Church and that is a very serious issue. If you feel in your parishes and if your folk wake up to this - they'll wake up pretty quick and you should help them to wake up - if that's moved over already [?]. If they understand that the rector they like and the curate they love - sorry, like and love: I use them interchangeably (they may love the rector and like the curate), love and like; but if they suddenly realise that the ministry that is caused by only God's grace - that church to grow that they love: they may not get in another generation.

You see, there are some of our younger guys in theological colleges who may not be able to take the oath of canonical obedience if no proper provision is made when women bishops come into the Church of England, which is about taking an oath of obedience to a bishop and heirs and successors. I mean that's a very serious issue and it is a legal issue and to which there has to be a legal answer. But the Saint Augustine Society has... We need to be careful when we talk about a missionary agency; it's not like the old missionary societies CMS and the old Crosslinks and so on, but actually a society of mission presbyters for England, which has lay membership and Church membership - but is committed to mission, but is a way of Gospel envitled [?] people networking, standing together, supporting one another and having what I call sort of silver and gold membership...

And sometimes when you say to our Church folk, "Well you know there isn't such an issue here for our folk and we're quite happy with the relationship and thank God for that," but actually over the border in the neighbouring diocese there may be people pulling their hair out... Some of us don't have too much left to pull out!


To be fair to us sometimes that slowness [to change] has been a good thing, I suppose, not to be pushed around by the kind of wind of change... And sometimes not [error?] to avoid confrontation on second order issues, but that's not where we are now. We have major confrontation on first order gospel related issues and an inability to grasp hold of the nettles and deal with them. That becomes damaging to the Church.

Most of us here will know - probably all of us here will know - that when the New Testament uses (when Paul uses) the word 'sound' doctrine it is healthy doctrine, because when the Church moves away from apostolic faith and apostolic commitment it becomes unhealthy. The literal meaning of the word is as joints dislocated and that's what we're seeing. And when those of us who want to stand by the Gospel and the Bible are accused of dividing the Church are being troublemakers, it's actually those who are introducing novelty into the Church that are the troublemakers. The people who want to move away from apostolic faith and life, truth and lifestyle (the apostles' model for us, the foundation of the Church): they're the ones who are dislocating the Church. If we don't deal with this the whole Church suffers as a result.

...'We'll give you an answer that it is really an old boy's network; it's all about social connections.' But actually it's always been at best, always been: we're a confessional Church. It's always about what you believe. And it isn't about an old boy's network. You see, what's happening I think in the Anglican Communion is the same thing that happened in the Commonwealth a little while ago. People are saying we want to belong to the Commonwealth but we don't want the British Prime Minister to always be the Chairman and always tell us what to do or stop us from doing what we know is the right thing to do. And so as the global Church has become - in the two thirds world, the Global South generally speaking two thirds world, has become stronger and found its voice. It is not prepared to be pushed around any more by the liberal Western Church. And thank God they're not. It's very healthy. And so we are seeing a whole shift really in terms of power and influence from the West to the new world, so to speak. That's a good thing.

The context of this is enough: of a selected folk ('our younger guys') as in the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans on the one hand, and then selected churches and parishes into the proposed Saint Augustine Society with its own chosen bishops. It is just another way of having a third province or non-geographical diocese. The Church of England General Synod is as likely to accept this as it was a third province or non-geographical diocese, simply because the whole GAFCON/ FCA business is of a Church within a Church, structurally embedding the entryism of Conservative Evangelicals. It is sufficient to understand this without going into the realms of Nazi fantasy.

However, according to Gregory Cameron, Modern Church and Inclusive Church aren't Nazis but the nearest to an ecclesiastical version of the neo-fascist British National Party and a bunch of little Englanders. So good to see the spread of reason about Englishness and a National Church from a bishop exported to the Church in Wales. Obviously some of these hierarchs are getting worried.