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Where has the radical freshness of christianity gone? How come the symbol of a martyr who was tortured so much he was resucitated three times before, literally, losing his head for his faith become the flag for a national football team…

Perhaps we in the West, and especially in England of whom the symbol is the national flag just wanted to know George was a soldier and a saint and lets not talk about how he peacefully made his protest of faith and was then tortured and killed for it – Let’s talk about dragons instead… And whilst we are here – here’s a question: Would we return George to his state so they could kill him? Nowadays we do send, or propose to send, folk back to countries which kill folk for their views on the grounds that we get a ‘guarantee’ from the state in question re looking after the asylum seeker – we have courts defending their rights not to be packaged out to be killed as there are protests in the press about the money they cost us… Is this the behaviour of a country St. George would want to be symbolic of?

Would he rather his flag would be waved around for a sporting event where, if not caught, a cheat is seen as herioc – the dives, the ‘ruff and tumble’, the penalties gained.. the list of the behaviour goes on… but if the team wins then the sins are washed clean and the flag can be waved in glory…

Victory was never George’s aim in his conduct and that’s a problem for the church and for society – he went and did what? St. George’s story is not boring so why do we not tell it?

Here’s quote from Vivian Stanshaw from 1983 –

Aparthied and prejudice,come before a fall,

but patronage is even worse, you’re walking towards that wall…

from his rare work of genius ‘Sir Henry at Ndidi’s Kraal’

I’ve had this thought for a while and have tried to figure out exactly how it works but I think going to history may help…

A while ago I managed to trundle through this work Constantine’s Bible which debunks the idea of the selection of the books of the New Testament as forced by the Emperor Constantine except by the power of patronage… True, there is the Council of Nicea and all that but what we do not talk about and thus do not see is the habitus of power that Constantine gave to the church… Thus clergy when given a nice big house, virtually, all said ‘Thankyou’ and with all those comments about trusting power from St Paul – hands were shaken and the church went to bat for the state – a boring conclusion.

Well it is now but way back Then when it seemed that the levers of power were influenced by the church – and indeed when the church managed some tight manouvring to have actual physical, legal and state granted [no matter how grudgingly]  power the the church was exciting but not for the reasons it should have been and as we make progress of the church moving away from the state’s machina for governance [note the sermons of the First World War and those before that for fighting for ‘King and Country’ – just like St. George?] we are left with the stain of granted patronage – we had the patronage of lords or the great and the good [whoever they are] and then the priests could trickle down the patronage of sanctity from God… I’m sure the fines for not going to church managed to keep some bums on the pews, right up into the 1900’s… and now when we see patronage for the skeletal effect it is when not given freely or only on demand the story of christians looks boring because we’ve lived the wrong story for far too long… and have been unable to come to grips with the fact that the history of christianity shows how we remember and honour those who stand against the powers that be whilst we find ways of twisting the story so that we no longer need to feel guilt for our normality…

no wonder we’ve grown dull.

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I was at the Hay on Wye Festival and saw Rowan Williams’ conversation with AN Wilson [as opposed to AN Other…] and was strangely affected by the conversation (reported Here in a very curtailed manner but what do expect from an hour?) and Rowan’s answers to questions…

Now, I feel, I must point out that Rowan is not one of my heroes – true I did admire the way he was not outright derided, rail-roaded, cut or spliced by either Dawkin’s conversation with him in his last outing – or by his editing department… but I do think Rowan Williams is a great mind and a spiritual giant in his own way – which doesn’t seem to be mine…

Later after the conversation I saw AN Wilson and almost approached him to ask ‘Why did you give him such an easy ride?’ but turned aside when I came to the realisation that grilling the Archbish wasn’t on the agenda… some of the questioners were obvioulsy trying to merely curry favour and point out their own goodness whilst others were of a more cunning ilk… This is to be expected with the head of a denomination but I was disappointed, pointedly, over one question and Rowan’s answer…

A humanist [self-confessed] asked Williams about whether he would want to join the humanist cause as some in his denomination did not have the same views over various issues – this is of course a cunning question and Rowan asnwered it in like manner. He basically turned the invitation around and asked whether or not he could count on the questioner, and their ilk, to be an ally…

Not that he was prepared to defend folk under his leadership.

It is this casual casting off that I found troubling. Either you agreed with his views or you were under a critical appraisal by the great leader. As the Archbishop I, from the outside of the anglican fold I have to admit, assume that he should defend those within his fold – alright, both sides have thrown brickbats at each other so there is no easy line to hold them all together but from the front of a meeting he was prepared to just cut adrift a raft of his clergy. Shouldn’t he be standing up for them despite their disagreements?

As a leader of a faction such a stance would be the norm. As the leader of the whole Anglican shebang I found it less than wholesome.

Other than this Rowan Williams has indeed used his position to, umm, effect…

He has been able to give Dawkins a target that, despite his best attempts, he failed to hit. Rowan also put out a report about the drastic state of our children is in. These are not small things and no doubt they are not the only ones…

However he did sanction the great apologist for totalitarianism the job of writing the A Good Childhood report – Lord Layard. And gave the rather double-speak equivalent regarding selfishness – ‘extreme individualism’…

Being able to use his position and take a stand but feel unable to come to the crunch and use the exact words he means and then ask for help from outsiders rather than defend others who differ in their views despite being his clergy I have to ask –

What use Rowan Williams as Archbishop of the Church of England?

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I wouldn’t have started from here…

Up to now I’ve been having a go at folk who throw stones – which is a self-serving task if ever there was one – from liberals like the Inclusive Church to conservatives such as those from Forward in Faith – and because I’m more aware of one side (the one I happen to agree with more) it could be seen that I’m actually against what they stand for…

Lambeth has finished and folk with big hats and long sticks will be going back to whence they came – from all over the world and it is at this point I’ve decided – some may say at long last – to try and give a positive view of what I think ‘The Church’ should be like. Which from a standpoint where you don’t actually own up to a tradition is more difficult than you might think – the only point I can stump up is that I’m a contemplative christian. If I were an anglican I could easily point to ‘my‘ church and say that this is what it should be like except for this bit or we’re far from where we should be but we are traveling in the right direction and it should take us over there somewhere. This is true for whatever denomination or tradition that has a readily recognizable set of creeds and structures that I could have picked.

But first – a couple of points [surprise surprise] some are defining the problem as being irrelevant to modern society as the church does not embrace ‘our’ modern cultured views… The inclusive church would say that about the issue of gays and lesbians and that we should just accept them… reading around blogs though and we find that folk from other places in the world are using the same argument for opposing ends – folk think that to allow gays as bishops is despicable and they laugh at us – where we come from… So how do you decide on which is right. Well according to utilitarianism – You Don’t Have To! They are both right for where they come from. This, to me is unacceptable and I found an interesting short as I plunged the cobwebs of the Telegraph‘s site trying to find an article about something else I recommend that if you feel the church should be ‘in step’ with the ‘host’ or general media created cultural idea check this out for the obvious flaws…

Secondly, the problem as I’ve tried to point out is also about theological differences – when one bishop says you must believe in x, y and z and the other bishop says ‘why don’t we think about that…’ you’re in for a battle of wits where both can only stay if they each feel respected and valued despite the differences.

Well, I’d start by saying we shouldn’t have priests and bishops and folk with even longer titles. This does cause a ripple of ‘Shock! Horror!‘ when I normally drop this in and then the old chestnut – That could never work! If we took just a moment to have a look around – Sikhs don’t have priests and that does not seem to have done them any harm – they have a book by their guru and they read that and sometimes ask a learned sikh they know to interpret meanings so they can go off and think about it… If we are going to stick to our guns as christians then we should feel rich in comparison – not only have we the bible but Jesus said that we would have the Holy Spirit, in person, to help and guide us as well. Not that the sikh’s don’t believe in a god as they too are monotheistic (according to the BBC… here) and just as a note before I leave this bit – If any sikh reads this and wants to correct any information or just plain add to any debate (including starting one) then please feel welcome to post a comment.

I was heartened to read Bishop Alan‘s pieces on how the Indaba process picked for Lambeth works and this is a good model… Here‘s a post which describes how a ‘session’ worked. At least I think it’s a good model as described. There are points I’d make such as making sure that the ‘leader’ was a rotating post – not held by any ‘special’ hands.  So for those who haven’t clicked through – the indaba process involves a group which share their views together – not overly large but far from being mono-idea’ed. Being able to share a view and to know that you are listened to as the group sees you – which is a far cry from saying things in print or crying from a media stand for others to merely hear or see the words…

How would this feed into an even larger group to form a unifying tradition/collective?

Well, from that I’d hop to the tribal representative system as described by Pete Ellis Beresford in ‘The Celtic Empire’ where one indaba group would appoint someone that they trusted to represent them – those representatives then meet in groups and send a representative and once you reach the ‘highest’ group they could pick someone to be a spokesman for the whole shebang… The question is then ‘Haven’t you just instituted a hierarchical structure? Well, yes – temporarily because as soon as the representatives go back to their group and report – they are done unless they are picked the next time and if they haven’t represented the group well enough – there’s a good chance they won’t be picked next time.

And any work which is out of step of enough of folk will get winched back next time around. Well, that would my hope and my idea for how the church should operate. But the whole thing about the small group is that they can worship God together and be known for who they are and hopefully respond to each other’s needs.

Of course this does throw out a heck of a lot of traditional institutions from virtually all the denominations – the Quakers would be the one’s left most unscathed [as far as I’m aware]… but for those who say that these precious traditions – and there is no doubt that some of them are good and even the ones that aren’t that good were mostly started for good intentions – all started from the false premise that we should accept what the holy men of the early church and beyond decreed – even in the Book of Acts we can see if you compare it to the teachings of Jesus – that the earliest churches we have a record of were beginning to go ‘off track’… Not that we shouldn’t value it for what it was but why compound error upon error?

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Just as a quick note/warning this post is going to be a medley or smorgasborg of different strands with the main theme as the title… So if you reach that which you are interested in then you can either keep reading or just plain go enjoy yourself somewhere else, dear reader…

On the cinematic front I’ve been off to watch acouple of movies recently – WALL-E and The Dark Knight

Now I’ll start with WALL-E and I have to say that I was looking forward to seeing this but if any of you, like me, don’t like musicals then it is very difficult to enjoy this film. WALL-E seems hooked on a track from ‘Hello Dolly‘ (or so the wife informs me) and that is fine – after centuries of undertaking it’s programmed task some foibles/errors in the programme will crop up – what it is is a block for those who don’t like the choice of what the droid is stuck on [and don’t get me started about ABBA!] so after the ruined start I was looking for some good hard sci-fi to kick start my interest… and it never came – true it was vaguely enjoyable but some things were glaringly either absent or wrong – starting with the pile of ‘space trash’ the rocket had to get through to escape Earth gravity. If it had got that bad how would it have left Earth still so warm? Apart from the question that it would have taken a huge amount of junk to create that barrier.

Other than that there is nothing new here for a sci-fi watcher – the dystopic society that has developed on the ‘Mother Ship’ is an old tried and tested one. Nevermind that if through the centuries they didn’t recycle the ship would be stripped of all it’s inards leaving possibly only the life support and folk left in frozen accomodation and that’s if they were lucky….

So a disappointing film from my particular musical intolerant viewpoint…

What is also disappointing is the whole thing that’s been going on around the Lambeth Conference

Apparently it has been a ‘bit dull’ for some – especially The Times as they regurgitated an article from the Archbishop of the Southern Cone [or Mexico Southwards down to the end of South America for the rest of us] a one Venables who said sometime ago that Bishop Gene Robinson should be sacked – which was also ran as a paragraphed bulletin in the Telegraph (and when we get to a point that’s worth sourcing – I will try…) But folk have been doing their best to throw a few spanners into the works if not stones…

But that’s not to say that they aren’t trying to make some important and real work on some issues – take that old nut of homosexuality – there’s this piece which tries to tackle violence and intolerance towards those who do not conform to some folks prejudicial view regarding gays and even there existence in some places on this world… and we can only hope that the relevant folk will stand up and take note – but wait, didn’t that get covered in Gafcon? Well it did, but it’s probably a good thing to reinforce the work they did here.

On the other hand there’s also the meeting they had about rape and beating – including wife beating and the whole thing about the evils of domestic violence be it physical, emotional or spiritual and it’s here that we get stuck in the old stone throwing. There was a report in the old rag Telegraph about Bishop Catherine Roskam who basically accused the bishops from the ‘third world’ of harbouring wife beaters in their midst…

And whilst I admit, somewhat to my disliking of this particular truth, that some cultures in the ‘third world’ do accept or condone domestic violence at the level of education and status of bishop – I think you have to be honest and say that it is no longer about geography. Domestic violence occurs in all societies and classes – and it’s not just by men, there are women who beat their partners (male and female). So in the end I think leveling this sort of accusation to only one part of the grand collection of bishops and archbishops is false. It’s on the same level as me going up to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asking him ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’ and just to be clear, I don’t think he ever beat his wife – or anyone else for that matter.

Even Giles Fraser has managed to get into throwing stones from his particular sideline – there’s a couple of posts – the more interesting one is here and the other one is there. Before I get into his particular stones I’ll just take a couple of sentences from his lesser piece –

I am sure that there are many terribly important things going on in Canterbury. But, speaking to some of the people involved in the meetings and prayer sessions, I think it sounds a dreary and draining experience. Anglicanism is all rather Calvary at the moment. But there is so much more to God than this. Christians ought to throw better parties.

Which seems to show just how tortured he had to write that particular piece, after all Lambeth is not supposed to be a PARTY – it is a serious meeting at which Rowan Williams is trying to hold the anglican communion together… and what Giles in this piece is objecting to is a motion where practices which might fracture it should be placed under a ‘moratorium’ ie an agreement to stop being disruptive, whilst bringing some folk nearer to being reconciled [Isn’t that what Giles wants?] – and while I may agree with same sex blessings [as they are called] the sharp question for Giles and his friends in the ‘Inclusive Church‘ [which means – if you agree with us – feel included.] is do they want to just have their cake and eat it locally or do they want to try to get to where they want within a still global church?

Peter Mandelson on his piece about the collapse of the latest trade talks makes some interesting views on how a deal falls apart or for the sharper eyed amongst us – hints at how to reach a deal all can sign up to –

One side insisted they would not accept any formula that did not let them protect small farmers – especially from subsidised exports from the United States.

The US complained that the measure effectively meant new restrictions on US exports of soy and cotton.

There is something to both arguments, and important principles involved.

But what seemed to get lost in Geneva was the fact that a principled argument does not have to mean an argument on which no compromise is possible.

Technical experts in Geneva spent hours hammering out a compromise that would have met the concerns of both sides.

Neither side felt able to pick it up. That is what makes failure – when we were so close to success – much more difficult to explain.

emphasis and italics mine and so back to the post…

More recently I have watched the latest Batman movie [if you wondering where this bit was coming] and I liked it – it was a gripping sequel and everyone played their parts well and I can only do it justice by reccomending it to all and sundry [who are old enough… ie 12 upwards] but the thing I want to pick out and is a bit of a spoiler if you haven’t seen it yet so rejoin the post at the emboldened start of the next paragraph –  is that at some point in the film Batman tells Commissioner Gordon to blame him for crimes he didn’t commit – nevermind the ones he did –  to save another’s reputation and it is this which sticks out in the midst of the anglican squabling – no-one wants to compromise on the reactionary front.

It is also what Mandelson was saying – both sides need to compromise but the church in the US hasn’t compromised at all despite the terrible toll that both the homosexual issue took but also over the liberal theological movement that steamed ahead – so rather than traditionalists being stuck in the muds they’ve been winched relentlessly from their positions and even offering [after the bishoping of Gene Robinson] a voluntary moratorium which would have eventually made all the sacrifices they made and the successes of the liberal movement the de facto status qou ie ‘normal’ but that wasn’t good enough for them then and they still may hold that it’s not good enough for them now.

Where is the heroic ‘Batman’ figure who is big enough to take the intransigence of the liberal movement and prepare to offer themselves up for the sake of the communion? Instead of saying

Blake would have seen the Windsor report and its children as a form of tyranny, in which legalistic religion (the “stony law”, as he called it) triumphs over the creative religion of the Spirit. And so do I.

as Giles finished his more interesting piece – he is in an unenviable position to offer himself up for the liberal movement to try to hold everything together after all Mandelson finishes his article re the Doha trade talks with this –

But we can be sure of one thing: we would all have been winners from a Doha deal. Without one, we all lose.

And we can be sure that if there is no deal or agreement from Lambeth the same is true for the anglican community as a global entity [and if we are thinking What does that matter? then think about Desmond Tutu – when the South African government was thinking of trying to gag him Archbishop Robert Runcie told ‘them’ that if they touched Desmond Tutu then they would be touching all anglicans, and Desmond Tutu was allowed (for whatever reasons) to continue unabated…]

But of course who would be likely to take the sins of others on their shoulders? It rather reminds me of Calvary and the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us – perhaps the failure of any within the anglican fold {so far} to be able to make this step shows in sharp relief just how much we need to accept Jesus’ sacrifice…

and that his admonishment that the first person to throw a stone should be without sin doesn’t excuse the rest being flung once someone has decided that they are good enough…

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or tipped off by an anonymous commentator.

I don’t know quite when Giles Fraser’s attempts to bring the Church of England up to his standards began but he does seem to reduce the issues to their basest levels. Over women he talks about misogyny and to an extent he’s probably right, about gay couples or priests he says it’s all about gay sex and when the news of the episcopal church’s attempts (starting with a strange co-ownership) to take parish churches as if it had built and paid for them manage to get over the pond – it’ll be about money, no doubt – something he’s quite keen on [for the gospel of Capitalism please see The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists].

According to this article Gile’s believes that this fuss is about gay sex –

Liberals were horrified to discover that some Anglicans were little more than fundamentalists in vestments; conservatives were horrified to discover that some Anglicans had gone native with secular humanism. Gay sex started it all. And the more the headlines rolled in, the more the cracks widened.

Of course he’s talking about the current row that started in the Episcopal Church which is the North American branch of anglicanism and how it is now finding a wider brief – one which does threaten the communion if folk can’t actually decide to respect different points of view (in the teeth of believing their counterparts are wrong).

The problem is that the ‘culture war’ between the conservatives – be they evangelical or anglo-catholic and the liberals goes back some way before all this and the tension has never been released.

Bishop Pike went off on a theological review and found that he didn’t really believe all that much and what shocked the conservatives was that he wasn’t censored for his views in any way [I think if you stop believing in some things that are central to a tradition you should give up that tradition – like, say the trinity? NB – I think his view of Jesus as breakthrough and saviour is enough, if only just, to be a christian – not perhaps a member of a denomination founded on the 39 Articles…] That was back in 1966 – so hardly current but here’s the rub – this is about the squeeze placed on the conservatives by the somewhat interesting liberals… through the decades.

I’ll be coming back to today but first – let’s continue the journey…

After 1966 and whatever storm that caused came the ‘Philadelphia 11‘ in 1974, eleven woman ordained ‘irregularly’ by ‘retired or resigned bishops‘ which were, in the end rubber stamped, as were the four irregularly ordained in 1975 by George W. Barret in 1976. The factor that makes this slightly more curious is that in 1971 the church of england had granted that there were no theological grounds for which women couldn’t be ordained. Women have been ordained over the years after that in the episcopal church and a good thing too.

But to say that Gene’s ‘elevation’ [ok – I’m against the whole bishop thing anyway] to Bishop wasn’t what broke the peace – I remember reading stuff around this time and what those hatefilled conservatives said then was that they wanted the liberal drive to at least pause so they could assimilate where they were – which would have meant a status quo where Gene was, generally accepted or tolerated. The vote for the next archbishop then went to Jefferts Schori a known liberal mover and the back broke… but before Bishop Robinson was the problem for conservatives is to ignore another Bishop – John Shelby Spong with his twelve theses

In fact there are those who think that the split goes back to the 1920’s – such as Fairfield.

All I remember was over the controversy surrounding David Jenkins as he prepared to be the Bishop of Durham in 1984 – no irregular ordination of women… some think it went back further to the 1960’s and then there was the ‘Sea of Faith’ of which I was oblivious – to be honest…

My point is that over here in Blighty we have no real understanding of the continuous drive of the liberals who were prepared to do ‘irregular’ ordinations to have their own way. To say that all these folk are just loonies is, in my view, unfair and damaging. What they are are desperate after being up against ‘the wall’ of their convictions and are seeking help from whoever will give it – despite the fact that they probably would prefer help from places which don’t seem to be so homophobic. The irony here is that during GAFCon these folk were able to move the African bishops into a more gay friendly stance…

The church is moving and in some good directions but the background of the relentless liberal drive in north america is not going to comfort anybody of a conservative nature anywhere… It might be best that there is a split and no-one throws stones [not even the second and third one – and legal action against a parish counts in my book] in an attempt to let folk go with as much love as possible. Those who wish to move on would then not be opposed and those who wanted to stay where they are (or in the past depending on your point of view) could stay there.

After all – it’s not very liberal to drag folk kicking and screaming, Giles.

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getting in the press at the moment – the registrar who has successfully defended her ‘christian’ stance against registering homosexual couple’s civil partnership on grounds on religious toleration – somewhat ironically… just over a quarter of bishops in the anglican fold are staying away from Lambeth – the big tent occasion within the anglican fold… and on Friday Giles Fraser had a go at those faithful followers who keep the machinery ticking whilst on Sunday he’s published as one of the top thirty influential anglicans, helped no doubt that he was on the judging panel… Gene Robinson that one who’s appointment was the last plank on the fire before it was lit over in america hasn’t been invited to Lambeth so Giles Fraser has invited him over… The question of whether or not the helpful folks are not representative of the anglican fold in england – just think Giles believes that you should subscribe to the church of england and then does his own thing – is that sort of fudging mentality typical of the anglican fold?

So with all this and the rather strange refusal for citizenship because she, as a wife, was ‘too submissive’ in france I’ve been thinking about fences.

The rather odd view of the registrar has been protected and I think it’s right, even if she’s wrong. Somebody else can feel empowered to do that rare thing – to stand out. Despite all the talk about ‘individualization’ society has lost those who do make a stand on their own, folk seem more concerned about not being concerned… I think that in the end the registrar and those like her should be treasured – she is the equivalent of a dinosaur and should be afforded in the wake of her being prepared to lose her job and whatever security [and since money is needed for security her job = her security within society, not necessarily within her spiritual view] that came with it she should be seen as part of an endangered species and a close eye kept upon her. Partly to make sure she can remain fearlessly defiant but mostly so that we can learn from her as we would from an extinct creature’s doomed lifestyle.

And that requires fencing of a rather different style than that required for a garden. It requires the thought that each should be able to think their own thoughts – true, I’m all for debate but not about imposing my view {if you don’t like what you read here – you can either enjoy the view, start a debate by leaving a comment or just plain leave the blog to return at your own whim – Dear Reader} and that’s where I think the liberal agenda has little clue of how to carry dissenters with them – bound and gagged is just as fine as mild rumblings as long as you adopt the reality that they see… but perhaps I’m being kind – Giles wouldn’t want to hear, or others to hear, hate speech

In wales they have voted against women bishops because there were no satisfactory safe-guards for those who disagreed and now the big bishop has said that he would be prepared to appoint an actively gay bishop – hardly a comforting thought to those traditionalists who couldn’t stomach a female bishop… and I wonder – if we could have fences that would allow and respect others points of view – might we not get further and might we not get there harmoniously? If I debate with someone and I am secure that despite our differences my views are going to be respected then I feel more secure to change my views as the arguments are those which loose not the folk who hold them.

Giles Fraser’s ongoing crusade gives no comfort to those he disagrees with and Gene Robinson’s presence around Lambeth will not comfort those who do not believe in gay clergy – the question I’ll examine is whether or not more will now stay away than had previously declared their absence…

Good fences may, at times, make good neighbours but one things for sure – a neighbour who wishes to dig in your garden and change the pattern of the plants that you have cared for or not is not going to endear them – whatever their motives and this goes to the heart of the problem.

Those who disagree with Giles will leave him, mostly, to his own devices whilst he would seek to meddle with their world. I’m sure that Fraser’s reaction to this would be that the status quo is bad, harmful and wrong and needs changing what he doesn’t see is that digging up folks flower patches, or whatever, can only bring out the neighbour shouting and screaming ‘Get off my conscience!’

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about the women bishops thing [nevermind the rather odd observation that it’s always ‘women’ and not ‘female’?]…

There’s a long list of different links to other folks thoughts to be found on The Church Times Blog here… and there is a good variety of thought but instead of just leaving it there – I am wondering what consequences will this have on Lambeth in the light of GAFCON? Just because some think it’s right – some have pointed out that it may be the wrong time to have had that vote… Indeed we have Gene Robinson, the gay bishop who thinks that being ‘straight’ gets in the way of being accepting of others (whilst that in no way tends towards a line that would exclude ‘straights’) going round and giving speeches – on his marriage plans all I have to say is that if he’s been with someone for twenty years – it’s about time and now he can but don’t bishops have diaries and secretaries to tell them what they’ve got planned? It’s not as if after 20 years he has in any way been secretive and if he liked June another year would suit – what harm would it have done? To say that he has no ulterior motive to get married prior to flying over to the Lambeth conference I feel is disengenuous.

But what does it say? Well, apart from being not strictly ‘on topic’ it does show the mindset of some who just want to add pressure to the liberal movement – today the women bishop thing, tomorrow? I noticed a blog as I trawled for Giles Fraser on google and came across a blog called ‘An inch at a time…’ which goes to the heart of the problem – there is an outright unwillingness to even pause or waver from the liberal agenda.

One of the pioneers, blinded by the light of his own cause, Giles Fraser wonders why folk want to or will leave for other denominations in the same article [in the New Statesman] that he derides their views as ‘weird’… I’ll admit here and now that I have singled out good old Giles before, and probably will again, and I think I should in some way explain my behaviour… in his column for the Church Times he argued that those opposed to ‘radical liberals’ amongst others were guilty of ‘hate-speech’ and I feel that this is bad for him and damaging for those who read it – whether or not they agree with him, especially since he seems to miss that some of  those speak from deeply held convictions as Rowan Williams has observed.

Giles is an important figure in the ‘Inclusive Church‘ which thinks that this vote is ‘another milestone in the long process of removing the barriers to inclusion in the Church of England’ in the press release about the vote for women bishops. Which is all well and good except that they know that this may make some feel that they are excluded, and some of their reasons aren’t anything to do with hatred or prejudice but a view that the church of england should move closer to the church of rome in which case this is a step in the wrong direction in the worthy if misplaced goal of unifying the body of Christ – misplaced in the sense that one size does not fit all and perhaps being able to acknowledge that would help the denominations to work ever closer together rather than in conflict – theological or otherwise… Here I have Andrew Burnham the Bishop of Ebbsfleet in mind. And of course even the Russian Orthodox Church has found this vote painful, as well…

There cannot be far from such minded individuals the recent history of the american wing of the anglican world which is going ever further in the liberal direction and here we have Giles view on love – ‘…my view is we ought to celebrate real love however and wherever we find it.’ from a Thought for the Day which most evangelicals and conservatives would have problems with, nevermind the rest of us – we wouldn’t necessarily celebrate a ‘real love’ that broke up a marriage, for example – true once the dust has settled and either there’s a reconciliation or the partner leaves with his/her ‘lover’ we may appreciate the commitment and love that has eventually surfaced despite it’s background. However – should we ignore all else but ‘true love’ – has Giles watched one too many Walt Disney films?

And talking about how others see the christian world as it’s wrapped up in this issue over bishops there’s a good post on Bishop Alan’s Blog. The problem is that there is no escaping these issues if you want to – some years ago the conservatives in america asked for a pause in the liberal drift – only to find no breathing space to be found so the choice is – either swallow whatever convictions you have or join the debate and now we have had Gafcon and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans… and as they come to Lambeth those who have come to the traditionalists’ aid and those traditionalists will not forget what they have had to suffer [in their minds, at least]…

In the meantime we can only hope that folk who would seek genuinely to try and make a settlement for everybody to feel that they can stay without worrying about being shoved ever further against the wall of their convictions – and here I have to ask the question; don’t we want our vicars/priests/bishops to be faithful folk with the convictions of their beliefs? Here is an article of one such as that which is a far cry from the ostrich like mentality of Giles’ comment

The traditionalists speak a lot about being pushed out. Actually, no one is pushing them out.

Well that’s right as long as you think that actively denying their beliefs is fine… Into this mess comes Lambeth and the equally righteous lot that attended tGafcon save for those who are boycotting it – surely this issue will cast a shadow over Lambeth and whatever debates it has – whatever anyone else wants or hopes.

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