Thursday, 16 December 2004

More from Jayne Ozanne

Update Friday
The Church Times has this article
Archbishops’ Council distanced from ‘self-destruct’ prophecy
and also a link to Jayne Ozanne’s own website:
where the full text of the article is also available, together with a brief biography.

The Church Times article says in part:

A CHURCH OF ENGLAND spokesman has distanced the Archbishops’ Council from the views of a retiring member who has predicted that the Church of England will “continue to implode and self-destruct”…

…The paper was circulated at an Archbishops’ Council meeting this month, but not discussed.

The C of E spokesman said that one of the Council’s strengths was “the wide range of perspectives offered by its members. Jayne Ozanne is setting out her personal view, as she is clearly free to express it. The Church of England encourages a lively exchange of views at every level.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Ozanne said that it was not a case of her against the Council. She said she had received positive responses. “I really care about what is happening. There are some deep-rooted issues that we do not like to talk about while we focus on the presenting issues.”

Ms Ozanne said that her document was “not exactly” good news for the Church of England, but was good news for the Church in England. Although she would be happy to discuss it with the Archbishops, there had not been an opportunity to do this so far, she said.

The CEN this week has published Is this the end of the Church of England as we know it? which sets out Jayne Ozanne’s views in full. This puts her previously quoted remarks into context.

The CEN also has a news report which refers to the earlier stories about her document:
Church leaders ponder the future

Earlier TA articles here and here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 December 2004 at 5:59pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

I wonder if this slightly paranoid vision of the future is one that comes frequently to those that feel that they only have the answer, and that consequently,no one is listening to them. It is a shame that it is not more widely shown that the Anglican Communion has a fabulous gift in its variety and balance between the arcs of its mantle. How lucky we are to be able to move without fuss or recrimination between working out our faith on the ground, and rejoicing in its mysteries...( or are we?) Perhaps the problems of credibility and integrity lie in the issues of inclusion that have dogged the Church recently. It makes this a little hard for us as a community, let alone the rest of society, really believe ourselves when we say we desire unity. How did Christ manage it?

Posted by: Clare Jackson on Thursday, 16 December 2004 at 8:54pm GMT

As I recall, Christ managed "it" by being betrayed, abandoned, & getting lynched -- no wonder it doesn't seem to be a popular option (though the ABC may well be working on it). I have always been puzzled by the Evangelicals (I was reared Baptist myself & I knew why I became an Episcopalian), but I never proposed excluding them from the church! As so many of the "Network" bishops are already refusing to speak with bishops who voted in favor of Gene Robinson's consecration, it is rather difficult to see how we can "dialogue" our way out of the situation!

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Thursday, 16 December 2004 at 11:45pm GMT

"As so many of the “Network” bishops are already refusing to speak with bishops who voted in favor of Gene Robinson’s consecration, it is rather difficult to see how we can “dialogue” our way out of the situation!"

(sigh)...and because I live in one of those dioceses, I'll say that I'm very disappointed in our bishop for that behavior. Makes us feel very cut-off from the rest of the church.

For the record, I am not a member of the "Network" and refused to be counted as such, no matter that our bishop dragged us (in some cases kicking & screaming) in to it.

Posted by: David Huff on Friday, 17 December 2004 at 6:11pm GMT

Jayne Ozanne's paper does what pretty well every prescription for the church has always done: it starts from the answer. (Which is a shame since she has been associated with careful listening to others.)

Commentators instinctively predict that the revitalisation of the Church will occur if it is re-formed in the shape of their own spiritual experience and ideals. Otherwise people will continue to leave the church. In Ozanne's view, and somewhat contrarily, the church will prove unacceptable if it seeks to be 'socially acceptable to all'. (Not that long ago this was fiercely defended as the core 'genius' of the CofE. Times change.)

Conviction-based approaches have in fact helped enabled the CofE to manage its decline - it has been a mechanism by which the varying sub-traditions in the Church jostle together, vying with one another for a greater voice and influence in the shared context of overall shrinkage.

Pretty well every prescription to resist decline has been tried and failed. Maybe (in accord with this paper) it is time to give up the search for renewal and simply to try to be true to our faith, each in our flavour of fear and trembling (I wouldn't share her brand). And maybe this should be done without expectations of a better future. Perhaps this is not winter yet, only the beginning of autumn.

To 'work' (whatever that would mean) each group would benefit from the challenge of having to take seriously extended networks of links with Christians with whom they profoundly disagree (as, for example, the Anglican Church has hitherto managed). The problem with the 'common bond of grace and truth' is that we only value sufficiently people we agree with.

Ozanne's comments are in a healthy tradition of apocalyptic warnings to the Church of England from within - see Archbishop Garbett for example. It has not yet materalised. It is impossible to tell whether it yet might. In reality the whole instinct of the church is steady modification not dramatic change. But it recurrently seems as the only way to attain any tiny incremental change is to cry 'apocalypse'.

Posted by: Paul Bagshaw on Friday, 17 December 2004 at 7:11pm GMT

You can probably imagine that I don't find it comfortable as an Evangelical, holding to the original teachings of Jesus and the apostles, when current society, and the disproportionately liberal church heirachy, is moving away from what I consider to have been better beliefs and moral standards.

We are measurably suffering the consequences of abandoning traditional christian moral behaviours. Things like suicide, violent crime and murder rates are hugely up in the last 50 years, and "booming" is a good word to describe the current STD rates, and associated deaths! This is NOT good news!! But few liberals, outside or within the church, seem willing to accept they may have made a mistake.

And now the drive for sexual "inclusiveness" seems to have the potential to bring about the exclusion of everyone who isn't deemed inclusive enough (ie liberal)!!

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 17 December 2004 at 11:47pm GMT

In research, one is not used to finding too many clear-cut statistics. Therefore when one does find them, one has found things that are as obvious as one is going to get in this not-always-clear-cut world.

Dave is right about the post-1960s statistics - they are enough to make one weep; to deny this is to be in denial. And sao unnecessary - since we had the right answers already, and just turned our backs on them for the sake of individualism and short-term pleasure.
But the point is that this is what Christians predicted all along. Every time a legislative change happens on moral issues, Christians give a biblical perspective, and generally they are proven right by the way things pan out. So why doesnt society just listen to the Christians? At least our propositions are time-tested.

Prior Aelred - As you're puzzled by evangelicals I may be able to help as I was brought up AngloCatholic / broad Church, & was educated by liberals, & therefore can see things from different sides of the fence. I think there is one key to understanding many evangelicals, and it lies in the phrase used by Alister McGrath: 'a passion for truth'. Wd be interested to know what you think. :o)

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Sunday, 19 December 2004 at 6:13pm GMT

Dr. Shell wrote:
"In research, one is not used to finding too many clear-cut statistics. Therefore when one does find them, one has found things that are as obvious as one is going to get in this not-always-clear-cut world."

And you have not found them here. To state that Dave's comments have statistical validity is a bunch of smoke and hand-waving. Truly sir, while I agree that there is much ill in the world, you don't actually intend to imply that correlation = causation ? Post hoc ergo propter hoc ( is both a statistical and logical fallacy, and as someone who had two semesters of graduate level research design and statistical analysis pounded into his head, I simply couldn't let this sort of thing slide ;)

Posted by: David Huff on Monday, 20 December 2004 at 2:34pm GMT

"To state that Dave’s comments have statistical validity is a bunch of smoke and hand-waving."

Err, it is a bit more worrying than "smoke and handwaving" David; many of these aweful things are 30 times to 50 times higher than before! I don't need to get into a huge discourse to make the point that in many ways things have got much, much worse over the last 50 years.

You would have to be pretty deep in denial to miss the causal link between the encouragement of promiscuity and increases in sexual diseases, infertility and associated deaths! And I think that suicide and murder are pretty good indicators of something other than increasing personal well-being, fullfillment and happiness?

Liberalism claimed to be bringing liberation from oppresive constraints and unnecessary social taboos.. leading to personal happiness and fulfillment. Would you ever consider it's getting something wrong ? This isn't some political game or theoretical scenario - people are depressed, sick and dying. :(

Posted by: Dave on Monday, 20 December 2004 at 6:48pm GMT

Hi David

I think some of the problem lies with the mistaken view that the world is made up of neat cause-effect relations. The cause is one 'thing' and the effect is another 'thing'.

I find this mistaken. Too great a distinction is sometimes proposed between causes and correlations. There are clusters of associated things. The model we need is therefore that of a nexus or web. For example, one sin leads to another: premature smoking, premature sex, lying, lackadaisical attitude to work - all these will be found in the same group of schoolchildren.

One needs to ask the question: wherever we see a 'correlation', isn't it rather suspicious that the correlation exists at all? It may be purely coincidental (some common ancestry) - but more likely it's part of an overall nexus that produces the net result.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 23 December 2004 at 11:28am GMT
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