Thinking Anglicans

opinions this weekend

Giles Fraser in the Church Times writes about China. See Watch what else China is doing.
Unfortunately the website has truncated the article; as a temporary measure I have copied the full text below the fold.

Andrew Brown has written on Comment is free The discussion of religious differences online is not a game.

And earlier in the week, he wrote The religion of politics.

At the Telegraph Christopher Howse wrote At the Gate of the Year.

Rather more interesting is the blog article by George Pitcher titled Exposed: Christian unity preached in church.

Jonathan Romain writes at The Times about Time and chance in the hurdle race of human life.

And earlier, Libby Purves had written about Richard Dawkins, the naive professor.

Giles Fraser: Watch what else China is doing

MAO ZEDONG died in 1976, and since then, two big things have happened to China. The first is the explosion of the Chinese economy. Everybody has been talking about that. The other is the explosion of religion.

The distinguished sinologist Professor David Ownby went so far as to tell a United States congressional committee: “I would wager that the growth rate in popular participation in both official and unofficial religions in China has been equal to, if not greater than,the growth rate of the Chinese economy over the past 25 years.”

So, while many of us are glued to the Olympics, it is worth reflecting on the treatment China has been dishing out to the persecuted religious organisation, the Falun Gong. Although it is less well-known in this country than the Dalai Lama and the Buddhist struggle for Tibetan autonomy, the Falun Gong is arguably a far more significant organisation.

Mao once claimed that “religion is poison,” and he systematically repressed faith. Yet, in the decades after his death, China experienced a charismatic revival. It began with the popular rediscovery of traditional Chinese medicine, and developed into claims of miraculous healings, and some thing remarkably similar to speaking in tongues. The whole phenomenon had a New Age feel, and became amazingly successful, gaining up to 100 million followers (more than the 77 million we claim for Anglicanism).

The star of this powerful revival, known as the qigong, was a former government official and amateur trumpet player, Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong. His writings became essential reading for millions of Chinese, filling parks around the world with stretching Falun Gong exercisers.

The Falun Gong might seem a bit wacky for Christian sensibilities — rather gnostic, from the stuff I have read from Master Li — but it is a peaceful organisation, whose teachers are not allowed to charge for handing on their version of enlightenment. It just got far too big — with a larger membership than the Communist Party — and this flashed red for the deeply anti-religious imagination of the Chinese government.

So, in 1999, the Falun Gong was banned,and derided as an “evil cult”. Li Hongzhi now lives in New York. But many of his followers are not so lucky. According to the UN, 66 per cent of all Chinese torture cases involve a member of the Falun Gong, and half the labour-camp population are members. Many believe that there is an extensive programme of forced organ-harvesting taking place. Amnesty International has been jumping up and down to highlight this wicked persecution — and so should we.

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Father Ron SmithettuSpirit of Vatican IIFord Elmsorfanum Recent comment authors
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Keith Kiber
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Keith Kiber
Cheryl Va.
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At one level, I empathize with Andrew Brown’s comments. At another, the internet gave souls a chance to articulate that which had been repressed. It’s all very nice being polite and civilized, but when that means glossing over pedophilic priests or aiding and abetting wife bashing, then that civilized veneer needs to be washed away. When a local diocese is caught up in sanctimonious back-slapping and gloats over others’ suffering, then the internet provided recourse to find righteous souls who are indignant at suffering and oppression. The future of Sodom and Gomorrah hinged upon finding sufficient righteous souls, there was… Read more »

ettu
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ettu

As a scientist and applied biologist, I find Dawkins to be strident, petulant and quite boring.

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

Dr Pitt’s mean strategy could backfire, given the humane and reasonable content of the leaked letters. Today I am in Oxford and I stumbled accidentally on a case of a young Nigerian man tortured, brutalized for his gayness in Nigeria. Anglican bishops had better get up their prophetic voices on this issue. Their performance so far, notably at Dar-es-Salaam, covers them with shame.

orfanum
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orfanum

I’ll second that regarding Dawkins, or should that be Dorkins…(sorry , couldn’t resist). In a way, D and the ID people deserve one another, they are both strident, deal in absolutes, and seem appallingly bad at the observation of facts; Dawkins for example can do nothing but squirm and fall back on a specious species of hack metaphysics when confronted with the question of our observed reactions to such facts as music, poetry and meaning in our lives. Given that he cannot easily explain from his own self-limited palette of argumentation the evolutionary necessity of such things, I am hardly… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

[Might Dr. Pitt face ANY repercussions for her (ungracious, at least) actions? An ethics board of her medical association review, or something?] “there is no need for atheists to understand what theologians say because they already know that the theologians are talking about something that doesn’t exist. This dismissal, in advance, of everything your opponents might say as meaningless is the hallmark of all popular philosophical or religious discussion on the internet.” Ain’t that the truth—and not just of atheists. I’m still smarting, because a “Catholic Anglican” poster to TA, has (thus far) completely ignored my testimony, addressed to him,… Read more »

cany
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Dr. Pitts comment, and particularly the following, underlines what I have said all along: That the purpose of the revelation (while clearly not acted on during Lambeth by ++Williams) was to “help” traditionalists, though I went so far to specifically say the Gafconites: ““As for why I decided to offer [the] letters to the public arena … I became almost sure for various reasons that the liberals knew far more about Dr Williams’ personal views than the TRADIONALISTS did and, if so, the BALANCE should be redressed.” [emphasis mine] Balance? Good grief! Williams slapped around the No. American churches during… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Dawkins does nothing of the sort – there is no need for a god-person at all to experience human emotion or reactions.

I have seen him speak twice and read a couple of his books and I find him convincing and erudite

Craig Nelson
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I don’t go in for Dawkins bashing, though I don’t agree with everything he’s written I think he’s a really thought provoking writer that religious folk should engage with instead if feeling threatened and scared all the time.

I think James Allison’s writings are a good antidote to this.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Yes the most disturbing thing about Rowan at this latest Lambeth is his rather complete unwillingness to: (1)step back from policing and punishment as institutional wavers offered in the main to the conservative Anglican realignment campaign – yes it is and was and probably will be still funded by USA rightwing (very rightwing some wold say of Ahmanson, Scaife, and other funders of public record) – and of course: (2) his utter and total failure to make any inside Lambeth space, not even by invitation, to hear the honest and true voices of just those queer folks across several modern… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Yes, James Allison is a fascinating writer.

orfanum
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orfanum

I think Dawkins sees cultural information as simply being transmitted as efficiently as genetic information (by analogy, which is not something that is scientifically verifiable), but does not particularly give the information thus conveyed any intrinsic purpose (see The God Delusion, p.195-198. Interestingly, the reason for creating the meme analogy in the first place was somehow to ‘demonstrate’ that the gene theory wasn’t the only ‘Darwinian game in town’). Dawkins to me makes a leap of faith from a distinct branch of scientific enquiry to dismissing those (‘libruls’ included) who believe in God, mostly in my reading of him by… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“As a scientist and applied biologist, I find Dawkins to be strident, petulant and quite boring.”

As a physician, I concur. Add to that soulless, uninspiring, and fundamentalist. But then again, I returned to faith after 20 years or so of a scientific approach showed me that, while medicine was great at dealing with the physical and measurable, but it really can’t conceptualize, let alone fix problems with, the things that make us human.

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

“his utter and total failure to make any inside Lambeth space, not even by invitation, to hear the honest and true voices of just those queer folks across several modern generations who have been on the front lines of living and testing this change that is so often preached to be a doomed (and worse, immoral?) social experiment.” Or even the voices of those brutalized in African homophobic societies. Paradoxically, the evangelical voice that the world heard at Lambeth was that of the bishop who was not invited. TEC have a mature and responsible attitude to gay ethics, and are… Read more »

ettu
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ettu

Orfanum – I agree that the word “why” is the only one that is both necessary amd sufficient to clarify the dichotomy between science and faith

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

‘Spirit of V.2.’, …”because the Bible tells them so? “ Yes, indeed. This is the root of the whole problem in our Anglican Communion today – the different ways in which we interpret the Bible. On the most recent ‘Trinity Institute’ web-site offering, there is a remarkable video of a black Harvard Professor agreeing that some of the evangelical churches are in danger of bibliolatry. The position of the Holy Book in the chancel, and its primary place in ethical and moral teaching, is seen by some church communities as the entire focus of God’s Word – in a way… Read more »