Thinking Anglicans

opinions in mid-November

Roderick Strange writes in The Times ‘In Heaven we shall see each other as we really are’.

Earlier in the week, Libby Purves wrote The key to rubbing along in perfect harmony.

Last week in the Church Times Richard Harries wrote Gangmasters need tighter controls.

Michael Reiss wrote The case of Adam’s navel.

And The Revd Professor Alison Milbank was interviewed by Terence Handley MacMath. (Best line: Fresh Expressions is a brand of cat litter in America.)

Over at Cif belief Mark Dowd wrote All aboard the ARC.

And the speech by Rowan Williams on New Perspectives on Faith and Development, was reproduced at Cif belief under the title Relating intelligently to religion. Here’s the short version:

Presenting a broader agenda for development, which seeks to define human flourishing as more than just material well-being, Dr Williams suggests that all engaged in the process would benefit by rediscovering their own humanity in the humanity of the other. This would lead, he suggests, to a ‘proper distribution of dignity’. Dr Williams acknowledges the challenges to collaboration in the perceptions secular development agencies and faith communities have of each other, but emphasises the overwhelming benefits, indeed the imperative, of both to commit to mutual learning in order to collaborate for the well-being of humanity and the planet.

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Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

Archbishop RW thinks that the language of human rights “has become very detached from any specific appeals to revelation or to the divine. It has become strongly legal in colouring: rights are the liberties you can legitimately claim, a set of entitlements, the absence of which needs to be rectified by some authority, legal or political. This is a model that has served well in some circumstances; but it has increasingly been recognised that on its own it presents a negative (or at least a rather thin) view of the human good. What needs to be struggled for is simply… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

Brava Libby Purves!

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Typically with Rowan Williams, idealization and theory building trump real world considerations. Just as he cannot quite really connect the dots between negative church preaching about queer folks and real queer folks actually getting punched in the face; so RW cannot quite imagine that a wonderful new alliance between civil government and religion would end up going all wrong. Yet. The real world cases recently before us in news and blogs are not all that encouraging. Item one is the wonderful new alliance between Uganda Anglicans and others religious, with the Ugandan government – all to achieve new levels of… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Me too. Thanks lots to Libby P. Power corrupts …

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Thanks, Libby. Some gentle sense in a turbulent world. Power does indeed corrupt and there seems to be nothing worse than those who feel they have lost power wanting to take it out on their imagined enemies.

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

Rowan’s silence on the Uganda anti-homosexual laws is immoral and unethical. He protects the right wing reactionary elements in the Church of England while he treats American Episcopalian’s and Canadian Anglicans like they have a plague and do not deserve dignity and respect. I use to think Rowan Williams was a gentle soul but I no longer believe that. Spineless might describe his behavior and I would not be the least surprised if at one of his future public speaking engagements in some church or cathedral, a very vocal outcry from lay people and clergy awaits him. It will be… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

I see that “sperm donors” and “surrogate mothers” are taken as normal and natural by some people here — perhaps even regarded as a matter of human rights. Perhaps it this galloping expansion of human rights claims that RW is worried about?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“I see that “sperm donors” and “surrogate mothers” are taken as normal and natural by some people here — perhaps even regarded as a matter of human rights.”

ONLY that they be available to same-sex couples, on the *same basis* as opposite-sex couples, SV2. Surely you can see that’s only fair?

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

“I see that “sperm donors” and “surrogate mothers” are taken as normal and natural by some people here “ I am not sure where Fr Joe is coming from here. These arangements are becoming very commonly known though I believe have not been uncommon, if less well known, for a long time. I have certainly baptised and prepared for confirmation several children who just happen to have been born with the assistance of a turkey baster and sometimes a borrowed womb. The only discussions of human rights I have been a party to in these circumstances have related to the… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

“Perhaps it this galloping expansion of human rights claims that RW is worried about?”

Other people’s ears are closing more quickly to whatever Rowan Williams worries about the longer his mouth stays shut regarding Uganda.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“I wish The Church of England elected their bishops in the same manner as the Episcopal Church in America. At least the voices of the People of God might be heard.”

Well, the silence from our Pesiding Bishop has been pretty deafening also.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

But if sperm donation and surrogate motherhood are ok, why not human cloning?

JCF
Guest
JCF

[Aware that this thread is veering off-topic(s)]

“But if sperm donation and surrogate motherhood are ok, why not human cloning?”

What is it about sperm donation and surrogate motherhood that even SUGGESTS human cloning, SV2? I don’t see a link (beyond “Vatican agin’ ’em all!”).

To me, it’s as *specious* a question as “if two men can marry, why not a man and a dog?”

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Hard Spin to divert a polarized discussion from its going central hot topic – bringing up alleged iterations of Doomsday / Brave New World disaster – is a favorite hermeneutic ploy of nay-saying (usually conservative) believers. If you eat store bought bread, then surely you will end up eating horse dung sooner or later, won’t you? One also sometimes can discern and provisionally infer a familiar, I’m rubber and you’re glue so whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you – ploy. I’m with USA comedienne Wanda Sykes. If you do not want to conceive via any modern… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Martin Reynolds, of course sperm donation and surrogate motherhood are common practices — but how does that make them morally innocuous?

If there is no objection to reducing human fatherhood or motherhood to an anonymous biological provision of genetic material incurring no human connection would not cloning be a cleaner arrangement?

Childish is the suggestion that my thoughts on this are just Vatican ideology — folks, you are supposed to be THINKING Anglicans.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Childish is the suggestion that my thoughts on this are just Vatican ideology — folks, you are supposed to be THINKING Anglicans.” – Spirit of Vatican II – But surely, Spirit, you can detect that children who are actually ‘wanted’ will be happier in any environment than those who are brought into the world as an ‘afterthought’ and with no prospect of a loving parental relationship? This is one reason why the Vatican’s banning of the use of contraceptives is so blatantly anti-humane. Not all sexual activity can be channelled into intentional parenthood. This limitation would condemn most human beings… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

You are right Fr Joe, I have already made the leap to think that the methods used here to bring a new person into being are neutral. Some of these practices may be older than civilisation and apart from fertilised egg implantation don’t require medical intervention.

Cloning brings a whole new set of challenges and choices and I guess I see these things as poles apart, perhaps I shouldn’t?!!?

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

How’s this for an ‘Opinion in Mid-November? – “He believes that what is going on in Anglicanism right now is nothing short of a new Reformation, similar to what Luther kicked off in Germany five hundred years ago. For the Anglican Church worldwide, he said, it will be mean a complete shift in orientation away from Canterbury, the historical spiritual home of Anglicanism, to Africa, the faith’s new spiritual home.” This statement on ‘Virtue-on-line’ is speaking of self-proclaimed Archbishop Robert Duncan, ACNA, on last week-end’s visit to Canada for the first Synod there of ACNA in North America. Bp Duncan… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“If there is no objection to reducing human fatherhood or motherhood to an anonymous biological provision of genetic material incurring no human connection would not cloning be a cleaner arrangement?” SV2, you’re still not telling me where this idea comes from: assisted reproduction = “human cloning”. I find nothing intuitive—much less “clean”—about it. Any freshman biology class will inform one of the strengths of biological *diversity* (e.g., if anything, one would take genetic material from MORE THAN two sources for reproduction, not less!). More disturbing, is that you seem to equate two men/two women desiring to have, and nurture, a… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

I’m wondering how cloning would make a cleaner arrangement?

I also fear a definition of “parent” that is limited to mere biology – are we supposed, as Christians, to be no more than animals, or seeking the higher ideal?

MarkBrunson
Guest

“. . . human rights has become very detached from any specific appeals to revelation or to the divine.”

Perhaps, that’s because the spokespersons for the faiths based in revelation have been so diligent in stripping away anything resembling human rights, welfare or well-being from their very public theological stances?

This is something Williams should realize, his having been a leading proponent in divorcing “the church” from the real-world, demonstrable harm its positions cause.

Once again, Williams clearly lacks the discernment and intelligence to provide leadership.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Spirit,
You do understand the biological difference between producing a completely unique person with his or her own DNA from two parents, and replicating 100% the DNA of one individual?

If you do, how can you possibly treat the two as remotely biologically and morally alike?

The morality of assisted reproduction can be discussed on its own merit swithout making unsuitable comparisons.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“. . . human rights has become very detached from any specific appeals to revelation or to the divine.”

I’m always astonished at this strange underlying assumption that God could ever be against human rights.
Human rights are, after all, nothing more than the values that help us to try and eradicate man-made inhumanity and injustice towards other human beings.

To identify human rights may be complex and difficult and fraught with errors, but once a genuine human right has been discovered, it automatically becomes a theological truth.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

I’m surprised at the answers given to my perfectly innocent question. Some say nurture is more important than how a child was born — no doubt; but irrelevant to my unease. Others say that contraception is very right and natural; I agree; but the issues I raised are quite other. Other say that my “slippery slope” argument (“no questions about sperm donation today; no question about cloning tomorrow”) is a typical ploy of reactionaries — yes, but it ain’t necessarily always so. Martin Reynolds ‘made the leap to think that the methods used here to bring a new person into… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Slight correction: Vatican condemnation of artificial contraception would be relevant to IVF or artificial insemination even where the parents are a married couple, in that the sexual act and procreation are disjoined. But assisted procreation between a married couple seems to me quite natural or at least neutral.

If I had to choose between adopting a child and using an anonymous donor for half of its parentage (who would then conveniently disappear from the scene) I would find it more moral and loving to adopt.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“..to bear a child genetically her own and then hand it over to someone else with no bond other than that specified in a commercial contract” – Spirit of Vatican II – This is rather demeaning of any adoption process, which ought to pre-suppose that the adoptive parents have a desire to nurture the child they are to adopt. The conception and birth of a child does not always happen with the informed consent and goodwill of the parent(s); so that when a child is born – into whatever circumstances – to be assured of at least one loving parent… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“If I had to choose between adopting a child and using an anonymous donor for half of its parentage (who would then conveniently disappear from the scene) I would find it more moral and loving to adopt.”

As someone adopted as a child, I do think that there can be a certain biological fetishism involved in modern technological “fertility treatments.”

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

“the only way such a child can live up to its potential is through the loving nurture of an intentional ‘parent’ figure. I can’t see too much wrong with that.” I think it is rather tragic that a mother has to part with her child and have it adopted. Also I think the child should, as far as possible, have the right to know who its mother was. But I was not talking about adoption in what you quote. I was talking about surrogate motherhood, where from the start the mother forswears any maternal bond to the child to be… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“A child of a gay couple who asked “who was my mom” would be told “just some woman we paid to carry you in her womb” — and that is demeaning it seems to me.”

Really? You really think that this is the way that any couple, gay or straight, is likely to address this issue? You don’t give parents much credit, do you?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Spirit
Techniques to assist reproduction were not developed for gay and lesbian couples, yet in your last contribution you single them out as acting immorally when they turn to surrogacy or sperm donation.

Do you have a general problem with these techniques, in which case we should discuss them independent of the sexuality of the prospective parents of the resulting children, or is this a particularly anti-lgbt parenting thing?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

” A child of a gay couple who asked “who was my mom” would be told “just some woman we paid to carry you in her womb” — and that is demeaning it seems to me.” – Spirit of Vatican II – You seem so very sure of this VII, that I’m almost hesitant to suggest that the gay couple might just request of a single woman friend, who is sympathetic to their desire to adopt her child, that she become the biological mother of the child of one of them – conceived by artificial means (as may also be… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Instead of “what ifs”, SV2, this is a very fair-minded, balanced portrayal of one such real-life case:

http://www.allmovie.com/work/beyond-conception-men-having-babies-347766

No, it’s not all sunshine-and-roses—but so what? (How many pregnancies are? How many aren’t?). The alternative to this chosen arrangement is banning it—and THAT would be a violation of *human rights* (that phrase again) that I would find intolerable!

MarkBrunson
Guest

The problem is, there is no consensus among right-thinking Christians, or ever has been. Right-thinking? Do you think anyone but God has the right to make that decision? Do you believe that Benedict from Bavaria would consider you right-thinking? Let’s say we set down a whole book of law on what everything means and Anglicans in this illusory worldwide church in Williams’ demented imagination all have an answer to every point you bring up . . . So, are we then “right-thinking” to all Christians everywhere? Does that eliminate the Reformation, the Great Schism, Luther, Calvin, the Anabaptists? If you… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

I already stated that, though it is condemned by the RCC, I see in vitro fertilization as an aid to conception as a natural or neutral thing. It is a red herring to suggest that I have difficulty with surrogate moms and sperm donors only when gay couples are involved; quite the contrary; I find it more troubling when a straight couple uses such “techniques”. Why would a husband want his wife to bear another man’s child? “Really? You really think that this is the way that any couple, gay or straight, is likely to address this issue? You don’t… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Mark Brunson, your reply is flying off in every direction. You have no moral problem with surrogate motherhood and sperm donors (either anonymously commercial or as third parties welcomed on a familial basis into the life of the couple). I, like many people, do find this troubling. I do not see what is ridiculous about my position. Of course I use the phrase “right-thinking” ironically. Actually it is a phrase used by dogmatists, and here I am targeting the liberal dogmatism that too easily assumes all “right-thinking” people support it. “Right-thinking? Do you think anyone but God has the right… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

JCF, I said nothing about banning sperm banks or surrogate mothers.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Because I don’t agree with you, my answer is “flying off in every direction?” Interesting. Perhaps you were unable to follow the first time. Read again. So, you have problems with surrogate mothers and sperm donors. So what? What, in fact, *is* your point? You haven’t been too clear, yourself, about what it is you’re trying to prove/make clear/settle. What does any of it have to do with Williams’ – and indeed, all religious leaders’ – inability to relate to the actuality of the world around them, to offer anything of value to the world they accuse of refusing to… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Spirit

I think a lot of people are not so attached to the concept of biological parenthood as you seem to think. A husband would not think that his wife was having another man’s child, but that he and his wife together would be bringing up a baby and be his or her parents.

If you have ever spoken to parents who have children that are biologically theirs and who have also adopted, you will find that most of them feel feel exactly the same about all the children.

Biology really does not matter that much at all.

BillyD
Guest

“Another red herring; of course they would sugar the pill, but the message would be the same: “Well, dear child, we wanted to have you so badly that we got a really nice woman to be your mother/a really nice man to be your father; but it was conditional on your not knowing her/him because of the terms of our contract.”” Lots of parents can pitch of these sorts of answers in demeaning ways, it seems to me, unless you subscribe to the theory that all children heretofore have been conceived intentionally, by people in valid marriages, after due thought… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
Guest
Jerry Hannon

“Lots of parents can pitch of these sorts of answers in demeaning ways, it seems to me, unless you subscribe to the theory that all children heretofore have been conceived intentionally, by people in valid marriages, after due thought and prayer, while thinking about the Baby Jesus.” – Billy D Brilliant. Having had three children, first as a Roman Catholic and later as an Episcopalian, I can assure you that there were no such thoughts in our heads at the time, nor should there have been. Perhaps the problem is that too many people are separated, in very unreal ways,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Parents — whatever their sexual orientation — truly loving and caring for their children — however conceived or received — is what matters.’
– Jerry Hannon –

Thanks, Gerry, for your input on this subject. I can’t help but echo your sentiment here – along the lines of “suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not – for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven” (however, conceived!). The most important thing here is that children are wanted and properly cared for. This is not always the case with ‘naturally conceived’ children.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

I take it then that none of you have any “moral” misgivings or objections to sperm donation or surrogate motherhood (whether anonymous and commercial or by a loving arrangement with a friend of the couple? I wish, though, that you would make an argument for your case rather than fly off at tangents or treat the matter as merely a frivolous debate like that about the number of angels on a pin. So, Ron Smith, Erika Baker, Jerry Hannon, Martin Reynolds, BillyD, Mark Brunson, JCF, drdanfee, please give me a REASON why we should regard these techniques as natural, neutral,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Spirit I have never said they were trivial matters. My point had always been that they are not exclusive to lgbt people and that they should be discussed as topics in their own rights, not tacked on to the lgbt debate. And I have also said that your fears that the resulting children will be told or made to feel that they were somehow cheaply purchased without any regard to their human dignity are, according to my experience, misfounded. From my point of view, once you have uncoupled biological parenthood from the real thing that develops through lovingly bringing up… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

I can think of several reasons, SV2. 1. Sperm donation and surrogate motherhood have always happened. Not necessarily in the medicalised way they now do, but people have always cared for children that were not necessarily biologically theirs. Women who wanted children have generally found a way. The turkey baster method isn’t exactly new. This suggests to me that, as so often, the Church laying down the law on what is and isn’t acceptable in how people order their family life, has the potential to turn them away. 2. Insisting that children should only be conceived between a husband and… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

SV, I personally don’t doubt that there’s a moral component to IVF and the rest of the things we’ve been discussing, as there is a moral component to most things. On another thread I’ve even said that I think there can be a sort of biological narcissism involved in “fertility treatments.” What I reject is the (forgive me) ludicrous arguments that you’ve advanced against it, and the apparent obsession you have with their use by gay couples. On the other hand, in one aspect they obviously are “a jolly good thing,” or ought to be by someone who belongs to… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“please give me a REASON why we should regard these techniques as natural, neutral, or a jolly good thing. Give me a reason for regarding it as ridiculous to worry about such trivial matters.” – Posted by Spirit of Vatican II As long as you don’t exert POWER-OVER by banning these (hardly novel, in the main, or at least in principle) “techniques”—as you said you wouldn’t, above—I really don’t care whether you “worry about” them, SV2. I mean, I think that excessive worry about other people’s lives is your loss—but it’s also your choice (just as the techniques are their… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

I see that the US Bishops are in no doubt that sperm donation and surrogate mothers are profoundly wrong (“straining at gnats” is too facile a response). They use the slippery slope argument in the reverse direction from me, tending to see artificial contraception and insemination as just as bad as sperm donation (whereas I tend to agree with Anglicans that these procedures are aiding Nature rather than tampering with it; the bishops do raise a troubling point about IVF, the extra embryos produced). That something is “obviously a jolly good thing” because it results in the birth of human… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Spirit: One Question at this juncture: How does one determine who has the right to life when at least some children are born without any real preparation – they just happen along? Such children – especially when born to parents who did not really want them – are not nurtured as befits their dependent status. We are talking here about a class of children who are actually wanted – by their prospective parents (whether straight, gay single or married). Now. My real question is: Are those children accredited by you with a ‘Right to Life’ or not?

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

“It is argued that sperm donation or surrogate motherhood are also as old as humanity, in that couples arranged for the husband to impregnate another woman, or for the wife to be impregnated by another man, and then adopted the child as their own. I suggest that such practices were far rarer than adoption and that they received little ratification from the moral reflections of humanity.” Ever read the story of Abraham? . … sorry. I think it was probably more common than you think. I don’t disagree with you about adoption, and like Billy, I think there can be… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Spirit That US Bishops don’t like sperm donation is neither here nor there. Rome doesn’t like gays either, or condoms even for HIV prevention (which I consider to be positively immoral). Morals have to be argued not simply stated or demanded. You didn’t like me saying “Once you have uncoupled biological parenthood from the real thing that develops through lovingly bringing up a child, there is no reason why sperm donation, for example, should automatically be morally wrong.” But I cannot do more than that. If something is not intrinsically morally wrong, then the morals have to be weighed individually… Read more »