Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 2 May 2018

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley The Real Takeover of the Church of England

Jenny Humphreys Women And The Church Changing the Culture of the Church of England

Anna Norman-Walker ViaMedia.News Windrush & Rudd: When “They” Are “Us”!

Victoria Stock pisky.scot My Family

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Robin Ward
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Robin Ward

I am amused that the term ‘Staggers’ apparently triggers elitist micro-aggressions against working class people, whereas ‘The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley’ is evidently an entirely transparent way of introducing yourself.

Kate
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Kate

“And so the Church of England continues its merry way, the last refuge of the 18th Century.” – Archdruid Eileen. I think 1938, Interested Observer thinks 1968. Archdruid Eileen thinks C18. Any other suggestions? In real life today I am dealing with a high street bank which genuinely believes it is OK to discriminate (even if illegal) so long as they do it politely. I think that is essentially the problem Eileen is describing. The institutional Church is entirely comfortable discriminating so long as it does it genteely and tries to recruit people who can do that, preferably in a… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“They are my LGBT family – but they’re also more than that. Whether straight or gay, young or old, grumpy or not so grumpy, we see each other at our best and worst, and we’re still there for one another. They’re friends for life, and they’re my family.” – Victoria Stock For me Victoria’s piece is one of the most important linked on TA in many months because it describes so eloquently the end-point we need to reach and explains why it is important. As I keep saying, the key is unconditional welcome in every parish. Every LGBTI Christian should… Read more »

Flora Alexander
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Flora Alexander

About ‘Staggers’. OK, it is in-talk and I would only use a term like that in conversation with someone I am confident would recognise it. But please don’t assume that Oxford talk implies public school. It really doesn’t.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Thanks for posting the The Rev. Canon Anna Norman-Walker’s article on the Windrush generation. It is a very moving and insightful addition to the coverage of the story by the secular press.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

I trained as an ABM selector in 2000 (now it would be called a BAP adviser – evidently someone who can counsel you which sandwich to choose). I was taken aback at how the procedures and assumptions we were taught discriminated against working class people. I raised some of these issues during the training, which probably didn’t make me popular. There were other issues too. I remember one question about what was the candidate’s most significant spiritual experience. We were told certain answers should be marked as wrong. That’s not on – if someone describes to me a formative spiritual… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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I don’t have a clue what ‘Staggers’ means.

Anne Lee
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Anne Lee

What a wonderful piece by Anna Norman Walker. I am deeply ashamed of our Government over this immigrant debacle. A lovely photograph of Marvellous, his sister and brother. Thank you so much for writing the piece Anna and for TA for giving us the link to it.

RevPeterM
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RevPeterM

It is amusing how Robin Ward and Flora Alexander focus defensively on the staggers terminology, rather illustrating Archdruid Eileen’s point.

It really doesn’t matter that not everyone who gets to Oxbridge is educated in the commercial sector, because such neat equations rarely happen. Instead we all observe that Oxbridgeans are disproportionately posh.

And the posh (and rich) try to control the language by making their ways and terminology normative.

Even when, as in this case, their ways can give us no understanding. Staggerering!

Flora Alexander
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Flora Alexander

I don’t actually disagree with Archdruid Eileen’s argument. I was reacting rather irritably to the idea that Oxford is overwhelmingly posh, and I recognise that this is a trivial digression from Archdruid Eileen’s essential point. For the record, Oxford admissions recently show that 55% of students are state-educated; still not enough, but it is a majority. And ‘Staggers’ is an Oxford theological college with a catholic tradition.

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

I had always thought that ‘The Staggers’ referred to ‘The New Statesman’. I am reasonably au fait with CofE in-language but I had to look up ‘Staggers’. It is the name which alumni use of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford college, St Stephen’s House. It reminds me of the way public-schoolboy rugby fanatics refer to Twickenham as ‘Twickers’. All totally meaningless to most of the world.

anotherFRDavid
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anotherFRDavid

The vast majority of those involved in the selection of candidates for ordination in the Church of England over many years have shown overwhelmingly they absolutely do not want people from what was once known as the working class as vicars, archdeacons or anything else for that matter. The points made by Archdruid Eileen are as ever amusing and, as with the best humour, unerringly point to unpalatable truths. I ought to know as it has been my experience throughout selection, training, ordination and ministry. My parents were solid working class, we lived in a council house on a brand… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Dear Tim (Chesterton). No wonder you don’t know what ‘Staggers’ means, you are an acknowledged, beloved Evangelical. ‘Staggers’ is St.Stephen’s Theological College, Oxford (Anglo-Catholic).

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

I went to St Stephens House theological neither posh nor rich and emerged from it the other end neither posh no rich. I’m still neither.

What people seem to be missing-even the normally astute Eileen- is that the college nickname ‘Staggers’ is used self-mockingly, part of the camp culture which functions (at SSH anyway) to deflate the sense of self-importance that is an ever present danger for ordinands. It’s use is a piss take, not a sign of public school snot.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Tim, ‘Staggers’ is the nickname for St. Stephen’s House, the high church theological college in Oxford. I went to Wycliffe Hall (“Wickers’), the evangelical equivalent, even though I’m from a working class background and was a shop assistant before training (though I admit to being an editor before that, and to having a degree). If I remember rightly Cuddesdon, the broad church Oxford theological college, was nicknamed Cudders. ‘Wickers’ is a very distinguished college: one of its ordinands has the distinction of being the first person to please not guilty to murder by reason of diminished responsibility. The story is… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Thank you, Victoria (Stock) for your moving account of your experience in the Scottish Episcopal Church as a member of the inclusive congregation of Old Saint Paul’s. It is the bravery of people like yourself – prepared to stand up and be counted in the theological forums of the Church – so that your personal circumstances and your vibrant faith can be seen to be integrated, wholesome and refreshing.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Instead we all observe that Oxbridgeans are disproportionately posh.” Oxford, yes. But in the “posh universities” league tables, Cambridge usually only comes in fourth or fifth, sometimes even lower if you include the farming and music colleges as well as the universities with “university” in their name. Bristol, St Andrews and Durham routinely out-posh Cambridge. The 2015 numbers in a digestible form here: https://thetab.com/2015/11/10/how-private-school-is-your-uni-2-61597 And as an indication of how troubled British education is, note that the classic metropolitan redbricks like Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester all hover around 20% privately educated and UCL and Imperial 30%. It’s just not as… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
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Staggers is, as everyone knows, a station of the cross.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Stanley Monkhouse, ‘staggers’ and the stations, hilarious! In these parts staggers is a reference to alcohol withdrawal. You know, like in the Stan Rogers’s ballad, Barrett’s Privateers, where “the cook is in the scuppers with the staggers and jags.” It’s a drinking song very popular with the Royal Canadian Navy. ( :

Tim Chesterton
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Ron, it’s more likely that the reason I don’t have a clue what ‘Staggers’ means is nothing to do with being evangelical. It’s the same reason you’ve never heard of the town nicknamed ‘Speedy Creek’ in Saskatchewan. I left England long before I knew nothing about theological college nicknames, and have been a foreigner since 1975.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

To ‘anotherFRDavid’.

My dad had a similar same experience as a working class boy from Leicester. He left school at 16, served his national service in the RAF, then worked as a commercial artist for twelve years – during which time he was trained as a lay reader and led services in many different parishes in Leicester diocese. He did his theological education at St. Aidan’s Birkenhead but always felt the system was designed for middle class university boys (in those days they were all boys).

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Mr Gillis, that sounds like midrash on psalm 107, vv21 ff. Regarding toffs and Oxbridge, I was at a university on the edge of the fens 1969-1972. This northern state grammar school boy was not alone, though in a minority. Not a bother except for a few ignorant oiks mocking my flat Cumbrian vowels (very handy for Latin) and sentence construction (Norse influence I maintain). Within the last decade I’ve been an Assistant DDO and I can confidently state that the best candidates I came across were both women without formal education after school who showed remarkable depth and great… Read more »

Flora Alexander
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Flora Alexander

I have something to add to Archdruid Eileen’s list of suggestions. If you are speaking at a church meeting, do not introduce yourself by mentioning your Oxbridge college, or the college at which a son or daughter is currently studying. I have now heard this done on three separate occasions, at Deanery Synod meetings. The speakers seemed quite unaware of how damaging to inclusiveness this is.

Lavinia Nelder
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Lavinia Nelder

I can confidently state that “Staggers” is a condition that horses and sheep are afflicted by.

Also that the patronising attitude to the lower classes who might want to be involved in Church life from diocesan staff is also alarming. Notable are the forensic accountant whose concerns about a diocesan budget were dismissed possibly because his accent is too regional for anyone other than his mother to understand.

and then people wonder why attendance is declining…

Jo
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Jo

I grew up in the CofE, son of a (scholarship to private school; Oriel and Westcott) priest, inheriting the sort of accent one might expect, so I come at this from the side of privilege in this discussion. It never occured to me that there was a class prejudice issue in the CofE, and I’m pretty horrified by the stories that have been related here. The way people have been treated is simply not ok, and goes some way to explaining why Anglicanism continues to skew so worryingly middle class. My question is: how does this culture change? I’ve met… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Is it really surprising that class prejudice is alive and kicking in an organisation that loves to stress how important people are at every opportunity?

Jo
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Jo

I would say I’m shocked rather than surprised, particularly at how systemic it seems to be. The nature of privilege, to my shame, is that one often doesn’t notice these things until someone points it out.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

As a frequent visitor and part-time resident in England, it certainly seems to me that class prejudice is alive and thriving in the CoE, because I rarely hear non-posh accents in church. My experience may be limited, I travel around worshiping where ever I go, but that’s still a small sample. It’s great being an American in England, because we are free of the phenomenon where people know our postal codes and educational journeys every time we speak. Prejudice is hard to root out. I’ve just had a major round fighting unconscious gender bias in my role as a leader… Read more »

David Emmott
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David Emmott

Kate; ‘Is it really surprising that class prejudice is alive and kicking in an organisation that loves to stress how important people are at every opportunity?’ Did you mean to say ‘how important *some* people are’? I would have thought that an organisation [sic] that believes every human being is a child of God, and every Christian is an ikon of Christ, should stress that people are important. And that this is a counter to class prejudice. The accents thing is depressing nevertheless. I think it is good that we hear other than just local accents in church, from clergy… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

David, I agree with what you say.

But Kate is right to spell ‘organisation’ with an ‘s’. That’s the correct spelling in the UK. In the US it’s spelled with a ‘z’. (Which is pronounced ‘zee’ there, but ‘zed’ here.)

David Emmott
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David Emmott

Thank you Janet. Just to clarify, I used the word ‘sic’ after organisation, not as a comment on the spelling (I get irrationally upset by Americanis/zations!) but to quote Kate’s word while wanting to query its appropriateness applied to the Church. Essentially the Church is an organism, not an organisation. It goes wrong if it sees itself as the latter. Inevitably it has organisational characteristics, but the short-term nature of the organisation needs to be seen in the context of the eternal nature of the Body. If the organisation gets ‘up itself’ and starts judging people according to worldly values,… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

David, thanks for the clarification. People from all over the Communion comment on here, so I. thought perhaps you were an American who wasn’t used to our spelling.

Re. ‘organism’ vs. ‘organisation’, I agree that the Church Universal is an organism. However church denominations can share characteristics of organisations – and of late the C of E has been revealing itself to be, in several respects, an organisation. And a dysfunctional one at that.