Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 8 July 2017

Bosco Peters Liturgy The Bishop’s Mitre

Jem Bloomfield quiteirregular Morality and Message: The Church of England, Young People, and LGBT Issues

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Linda WoodheadKurt HillFrogholeExRevdLavinia Nelder Recent comment authors
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Susannah Clark
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Really perceptive article by Jem Bloomfield. “I am deeply concerned that our current situation is preventing thousands upon thousands of young people from hearing the Gospel.” Working as a nurse in a school for 1200 teenagers, I have to say that this is the message I pick up from them too. It’s not that these teenagers reject the Church message on LGBT issues out of lascivious immorality. It’s that they regard the Church’s perceived discrimination and vilification of gay sex as immoral and disgusting. It is a huge turn off. And of course, young people will often latch on to… Read more »

Froghole
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Froghole

On Wednesday Dr Paul’s article about an item of ecclesiastical millinery elicited 36 comments; on Monday the distressing story of Mr Ineson (and the ‘response’ of the authorities to his complaints) elicited 27 comments. Someone has now thought it necessary to write a rather acid piece as a riposte to Dr Paul’s nearly pointless article. Mr Peters’ piece tells me relatively little, but does provide a useful illustration of the extent to which parties within the Church really detest each other. Quite apart from the various abuse scandals, increasing marginalisation of Christianity in modern society, the remorseless demographic decline, the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

After scanning Bosco Peters jejune article, I thought, seriously? Perhaps Mr. Froghole’s consternation about the relative priorities of the subject matter can be calmed by the fact that a number of the comments on the mitre issue in the earlier thread were flippant. I know mine were, and it is just the kind of comment the issue pleads for. Besides, sometimes a certain perspective sees humour where others have been conditioned to discern gravitas. Example: A friend of mine who had never attended a “high mass” kind of liturgy complete with fancy vestments and swinging thurible remarked, ” Someone should… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

“There are moral principles of inclusion and justice which are central to [young people’s] lives, which they see the Church as transgressing.” And yet, these “moral principles” don’t stop kids from flocking to evangelical megachurches, nor affirming mainline churches being in decline. That’s the conservative rebuttal to articles like Bloomfield’s: if inclusion’s the answer, why are we the successful ones? Personally, I’m not convinced, and believe that style’s far more important than substance: evangelical churches happen to be the ones with services in a modern style. If affirming churches were a success, conservatives would just switch it about and accuse… Read more »

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

Ah Froghole, debates about mitres are proxies for more compelling things. Episcopal hats is a straw man representing liberalism (=those abominable gays and uppity women). Militant evangelicalism has always picked on the easy target fripperies of the church, but the underlying agenda is always deadly serious. It might appear to be about headgear: it’s actually about decline, orientation and all the things you flag up as being more worthy of our attention.

Far more impactful truths are conveyed through drama giocoso than the warblings of castrati.

Susannah Clark
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Sorry, a couple of typos in my last line. Should read:

“Big conservative churches may claim success for attracting 200 people in their city. The actual score of their kind of message, however, is +200 and -20,000. In short, an evangelistic disaster.

crs
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crs

“…an acrid debate about mitres provides incontrovertible proof that the Church is institutionally insane”

I could not agree more.

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

Jem Bloomfield’s article brings strongly to mind another aspect of LGBT issues, namely that a very large number of LGBT people, though often hungry for spiritual nourishment, would never entertain the thought of entering a church. The constant, loud voice of homophobia is all they hear, and some of the very people to whom Christ reaches out are chased away before they ever reach the door.

Linda Woodhead
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Linda Woodhead

Froghole’s observation about the absurdity of the debate about mitres reminds me of the story about the Russian Orthodox Church on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution: busily engaged in a fierce debate about the colour of vestments.

rjb
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rjb

I don’t deny that there is something engagingly abstruse about the heated arguments over episcopal headwear. And I don’t doubt that many of the people who have strong opinions on the subject (myself included) would admit that it might not be the single most pressing issue facing the Church in the modern world. I would even dare to suggest that perhaps the number of comments below the line on TA might not be an infallible barometer of what is most important to the various thinking Anglicans who post here. But I really don’t like the line of argument that runs,… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

James Byron, young people aren’t flocking to our liberal churches because they don’t know they exist. Their knowledge of church is limited to what the see in the media. And that is all about Christians not wanting to let gay people rooms in a B&B, not wanting to bake cakes and of priests being punished for getting married. As a very aware and involved same sex married woman I’m finding it very very hard to identify affirming churches for people, because so few make sure they’re visible. If liberal churches want to attract young people they have to find ways… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

As to the young flocking to the mega-churches, some data show that they do not stay very long. Lots of candy in the window, little substance.

James Byron
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James Byron

Well said, RJB! I’ve kept out the mitre skirmishes, ’cause I’ve no strong feelings either way, but have followed with interest, and such debates do appeal to the traditionalist in me.

We could, though, all agree that it’s a crying shame that the Bad Vestments blog went quiet a few years back. 😉

James Byron
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James Byron

Couldn’t agree more, Erika. Liberal churches desperately need (for want of a better term) a sales strategy. (I know, I know, but that’s what it is.) Evangelicals know how to evangelize, even if their retention rates fall short. Liberals must learn.

They also need to be culturally accessible, with contemporary music and audio visual at least some of the time, and socially engaging, with the cell groups and networks that evangelicals have.

Copy evangelicals? No. Liberal churches can keep a distinct ethos, with ritual and robes aplenty, not to mention open-minded teaching: but that can be combined with cultural accessibility.

Lavinia Nelder
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Lavinia Nelder

The young people in the Evangelical Churches in my neck of the woods seem to be the offspring of existing church members and their close friends. The local AoG church runs a busy evening Youth Club in response to the closure of all the secular youth clubs. Loads of kids from the school I work at go there, but they are very skeptical about anything ‘religious’ they are told. What I am finding is a huge interest in spiritual matters, but the established churches aren’t regarded as the answer because of the ‘hate’ in them which they don;t see as… Read more »

ExRevd
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ExRevd

Thanks Froghole. I also wish sincerely that there was more debate on this site about graver issues e.g. The Grenfell disaster and all the questions about social justice and division that underline it (which may be of less interest outside of the U.K. but has been a profound wake up call here). Among other things, prayers for the local churches (and mosques) involved in the relief effort, those trying to restore confidence in local government, and the task facing the Anglican lay man who has been charged with chairing the enquiry. PS thanks also due to Froghole for starting another… Read more »

Froghole
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Froghole

@rjb: You may well be right about the email I wrote – in the heat of a Saturday afternoon – was ‘blustering and righteous and totally empty’. However, I considered the elision of the revelation of Mr Ineson’s treatment with a piece by Dr Paul on a subject which many people would consider trivial to be somewhat unfortunate. Moreover, I am not certain that Dr Paul (who, incidentally commented BTL in one of the Cranmer articles about Ineson) was necessarily promoting his arguments about the subject in as light-hearted a spirit as it might perhaps warrant. It struck me that… Read more »

Kurt Hill
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Kurt Hill

I confess I have some sympathy for Foghole. To utilize, or not to utilize, a particular vestment or other accoutrements are not points of principle—they are adiaphora. What irritates many of us, however, is the absolute refusal of some people to change their judgments in the face of empirical evidence to the contrary. Eye witnesses can write that Archbishop Cranmer wore a miter during a Consecration service in 1550; or, that a miter was carried on a cushion before the body of the late Bishop of London in 1663; or, that Bishop Seabury wore a miter at the first Anglican… Read more »

Linda Woodhead
Guest
Linda Woodhead

Froghole’s observation about the absurdity of the debate about mitres reminds me of the story about the Russian Orthodox Church on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution: busily engaged in a fierce debate about the colour of vestments.