Saturday, 30 December 2006

New Year weekend: columns

In The Times Katharine Jefferts Schori writes that A new year is a fine time to search for shalom, Isaiah-style.

See also this video at YouTube of Katharine Jefferts Schori, then Bishop of Nevada and Presiding Bishop nominee, answering the question: “What are the priorities for the new Presiding Bishop?” Recorded May 1, 2006. (hat tip JN)

In the Guardian John Sentamu writes that Ethics must shape our global economy.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about Our splendid but unseen synagogues.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 December 2006 at 8:23am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

If KJS's vision is only a quarter achieved by the time she leaves office, then the world will be a much better place. I only wish that Christians were more in a position to bring it about - but, that said, it may be surprising what we can achieve.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 30 December 2006 at 12:45pm GMT

++KJS's "Times" column reminds me of a quote attributed to Frank Weston, once Bishop of Zanzibar: "We cannot claim to worship Jesus in our churches if we do not seek out Jesus in the slums. It is madness to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the sacraments and Jesus on the throne of glory, when you are abusing him in the bodies and souls of his children who have little or nothing. Now go out into the highways and hedges and look for Jesus in the ragged and naked, in the oppressed and the hungry, in those who have lost hope, and in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them and when you have found him, gird yourselves with his towel of fellowship, and wash His feet in the person of his children."
revLois Keen

Posted by: Lois Keen on Saturday, 30 December 2006 at 2:08pm GMT

Now dats wad ahm talkin bout. You go girl.

At least, you can get on board the MDG even if your have not signed off on this or that or the other doctrinal conformity beyond our customary Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

It isn't that hard to find people in need, at least not in the USA. Just take a short drive in your own immediate local region - say for a two or three hundred mile radius in most instance? - and chances are high you will encounter some need - justice, healing, support, Shalom, Tikkun.

Prospero a~no nuevo

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 30 December 2006 at 5:08pm GMT

Bravo Christopher Shell and drdanfee !
A wonderful new year message from the PB and quietly challenging .

Also the piece of UK shuls / synagogues was terrific. Quietly moving.

Posted by: laurence on Saturday, 30 December 2006 at 7:38pm GMT

KJS has done well to plug into the work that is already inspiring others. She is modelling what Jesus also did, drawing along side others and encouraging them forward on their journey, inviting others to come and help.

Rev Lois, your posting was beautiful.

Sentamu's article also links into this. He talks of the need for ethics. KJS makes manifest what happens when one embraces that ethics.

As one AIDS campaigner recently said "The Christians are coming! We might not agree with everything they say or how they do things, but when they get involved, things change."

What is also delighting me is watching this insipiration dawning not just in Christianity but also in the other faiths and movements. I have wept tears of happiness over the last year at some of the developments in Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist (et al ... faiths), as well as the improved dialogue with humanists, secularists, scientists...

I had a funny daydream this morning. A runner reporting back to S's military headquarters. "Sire, Sire, I've got dreadful news!" "What is it man? spit it out." "Sire, the soldiers are repenting!" "What! Who will fight my wars!"

Snicker, another volley of arrows courtesy of the Daughter of Zion.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 30 December 2006 at 8:42pm GMT

I don't know why John Sentamu has to knock economics departments as a whole - there always has to be an enemy somewhere. Otherwise ethics must come before theology too.

I warm to Katharine Jefferts Schori's inclusive approach to achieving some of the basic needs in this world. She has it right that these goals should be well above the bickering that goes on. The message as a whole is consistent with having an overall vision about diversity in the world and via meeting its needs a unity brought in of that diversity.

The once Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Cheetham Hill is run as a museum in a very authentic way by observant Jews. I bought my Authorised Daily Prayer Book there.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 30 December 2006 at 8:52pm GMT

Oh, shoot, who doesn't agree. But one is so tired. Please tell me what I should do: I teach ethics. I also publish in this area, and on global ethics in particular.

I'd go to church, in the past when I went, and hear priests preach stuff that made no sense. How can I say, "Yes, Father, behold the handmaid of the Lord," when I disagreed or though it was just bs. There is such a disconnect between what I believe and what these guys are saying -- the only way I could deal with it was by leaving the church. Of course I agree about fixing poverty, fixing AIDS -- who doesn't? But I can't buy into the thing wholesale.

You'll call me conservative but ... -- it isn't some screwy notion about gays. It's that core issue: Is there a supernatural being, an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being? Does God exist? I listen to this bull and the bottom line is that they don't believe in God. I believe this being exists. I look to the Church to help me get closer to him but what I get is bs because they don't believe the stuff. That's why the Church is folding: the priests don't believe in God. Why is this so hard to figure out?

It ain't the ethics -- it's the metaphysics. They don't believe in God -- in the supernatural, an another world, in the idea of a future life in which we'll contemplate and enjoy God forever and ever.

Posted by: LogicGuru on Sunday, 31 December 2006 at 5:19am GMT

LogicGuru may have had unfortunate experiences, though I wonder whether his conclusions are based on charity, but I am unconvinced that his (?) analysis is correct. It may just be that the God believed in by many clergy is a bit bigger and rather more uncomfortable than the knock down miracle worker of the Southern Baptists....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Sunday, 31 December 2006 at 5:37pm GMT

There was a survey last year that indicated that a significant number of priests actually questioned whether God really existed.

Then we have the other group of idolatrous priests who find the idea of a God that encapsulates all of this universe's space and time (and possibly an infinite number of others) just too big; so they try to reduce God down to the characteristics manifested in one ridiculously shortened human lifetime.

And I can relate to the ethics issue. I still think my failing an ethics subject from a theological college because I made an ethical decision on how to handle the exam questions will go down in history as one of the funniest course failures ever. (Up there with Einstein struggling with maths at school).

Based on my experiences, I am not surprised that those who have been trained in more robust ethics are bemused by the ethical inconsistencies in conduct and thinking.

A practical example. Usury is bad in the bible, but we can choose to participate in usury provided we stay within reasonable boundaries. Homosexuality is bad in the bible, but we can't choose to put up any reasonable boundaries and demand complete abstinence. Ethically, we should be consistent. Complete ban homosexuality and usury OR reasonable boundaries homosexuality and usury. If people must repent of homosexuality, then those that demand the repentance should repent of usury.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 31 December 2006 at 9:16pm GMT

The issue of the divine is as much about essence as existence; in any case we are communicative creatures with specific language and more general symbol systems (like music and artwork); the difficulty is that when we look back over life and see a story, or sets of stories, whether and in what way there is a divine story.

There is more mileage in God as Being than a being. Call it what you like, but I am not persuaded that there is a Big Daddy with ears, and if prayer is about depth and reflection then the first (and maybe only) people who hear it are ourselves, and that we are either to respond with helplessness or action.

I'm not quite the hardcore non-realist that I used to be, but I am still persuaded that religious actions into the symbolic are realised out of the symbolic. Whether that involves extra movement than went in is the interesting point, and where I am not as rigid as I used to be. The spiritual gift that may follow a material input may just have a dynamic outside of the inputted communicative action.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 4:31am GMT

"a significant number of priests actually questioned whether God really existed."

And I should hope they (we?) do, at least from time to time. It has excellent Scriptural authority, after all - though there it is cast in the form of whether God manifests the qualities which make him worth worshipping (eg book of Job and much Wisdom literature, some of the psalms...).

I do not discredit in any way the faith of those who never, even in the darkest night, find themselves asking, "Am I kidding myself?" But more of us dance on the edge, I think, challengd to discern a coherent God within the chaos of human existence, and it's often in that area of liminality that remarkable things happen.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 10:43am GMT

Very thoughtful and thought provoking posts from Cheryl, Pluralist and David. My thanks. This business of 'realism' and 'nonrealism' and their inter-face seems crucial to thinking and seeking today. For myself, I find CG Jung and jungian writers very helpul here. Their concepts of the Colletive Unconscious (and not just the Freudian indiviual ucs), archetypes and synchronicity are very helpful to these considerations. I wish more christians would draw on this rich tradition which abutts Taoist , buudhist, Jewish mystical; and folklore traditions. Many others do so benefit. Works like the Tao Teh Ching, I Ching and other eastern texts are of practical spiritual use. Also modern texts like the Tao of Pooh and various applications of the I Ching of people in commerce, and various other fields.

Chritian writers who are jungian, are a good way into jungian thought for church members. The Episcopal priest and jungian analyst John Sanford has written many books on the teaching of Jesus, dreams, and ministry and witness, and spirtiuality. Very outstanding was his book Burnout. Also, Eugene Monicke has written about the Grunwald Crucifixxion Tryptych & AIDS (book title eludes me at the moment), and a marvellous book, Phallos: Sacred Mystery of the Masculine.
Listen to the Voice Within by Christopher Perry (SPCK) is another very practical book of value to christians of all kinds.

I think the neglect by the Churches of this vibrant and practical tradition of 'soulmaking' is tragic, yet symptomatic of the Churches' malaise. I say tragic because it has so much to give to the Churches, so much that is desperately needed. Many of us have have had to look or go beyond the Churches and their timidity, on our spiritual quest.

Happy New Year !

Change is possible for the individual for starters ----what will 2007 bring ?

Posted by: laurence on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 1:12pm GMT


I found God because I was grappling with the question of "did God exist". At the time I was thinking through the creationist debate and their perspective that God's consciousness is only 5000 or so years old.

At some point I came to realise that humanity's articulate collective consciousness might only be 5000 years old, but that God's consciousness preceded humanity's. I then questioned when did it end and when did it begin? I then accepted that there could be a consciousness that began the universe and would be there after the universe ended, but doubted that it could have a personality and communicate.

It was a surprise when it did. There are many undocumented "coincidences" that TA subscribers have seen over the last year or so. Some of the major ones that convinced me are on my testimonial page.

But this was the real clincher for me

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 3:23pm GMT

There's nothing wrong with a little doubt from time to time. Doubt means that you;re really attempting to deal with some of the logical contradictions inherent in believing in God. Doubt is not the opposite of Faith; certainty is.

Posted by: ruidh on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 3:53pm GMT

"The goals offer a form of deed-based evangelism that reminds people of faith that we can do little to improve a person’s spiritual health while that person contends with starvation or disease." ++Katharine Jefferts Schori

Yes, and near those depths of desperation is *the* moment when, most often, "spiritual" and "physical" and "emotional" health can start to be restored...the healing and the Evangelising must work together.

Action and more REAL action from Episcopalian/Anglicans and please HELP stop the bickering and arrogance as to whom is spiritually/morally healthy *enough* to stand before God and receive "Communion" with one another...this, should be high on the "agenda" at the upcoming Primates Meeting.

Who are the "deciders" on Earth? Truth is a inside job! Certainly not Christians (clergy or laity) who "cast out/exclude" and demean their fellow Christians while refusing to stand at Baptismal font/Communion rail with them because they are the LGBT tainted *others* who aren't *healthy* enough to share Sacraments.

Such petty and unholy discrimination IS the abomination in 2007 that we FACE and must turn away from and fully address at the Body of Christ in order for much REAL healing OR service to begin outside of our religious community/ can we carry any message of peace, love and healing with simultaneously PREACHING and encouraging such vile behavior toward one another at OUR CHURCH?

The PRIDE of selfrighteous will not allow us to HELP heal anyone us in any deep, meaningful and growing/lasting way until we FACE our very own sinfilled insanities/realities on the subject of Human Sexuality.

++Katharine, we must finish putting our own Episcopal/Anglican house in order FIRST. HONOR and TRUTH before God must be our priority because people are still being damned to Hell and demoralized/harmed/murdered from such everyday fear/hate that is REAL BIGOTRY directed agains LGBT people worldwide...quite a mission/challenge for us to PREACH and EDUCATE against the destruction of millions of human beings from the disease of FEAR and HATE which I imagine is larger than any other known disease worldwide.

Happy New Year from The Global Center of Anglican life!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 6:36pm GMT

Anybody remember JBPhillips' book, Your God is Too Small?
or, from MacLeish's play J. B. - based on the Book of Job - If God is good he is not God
If God is God he is not good
Take the even, take the odd.
I would not stay here if I could
Save for the green leaf on the tree
and the little bird in the wood.
(I may have the first two lines reversed)
Struggling with the reality of suffering and God's response continues - from time to time - to challenge me to let God be God and just ask what my task is for today.
Columba Gilliss

Posted by: Columba Gilliss on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 7:14pm GMT

"Doubt is not the opposite of Faith; certainty is."

Cue for the Babel Fish scene from Hitch-hiker 1....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 8:42pm GMT

I agree. It was part of the reason I stopped going to Church years ago. I started going back when I realized that the real challenge is not opposing faithless priests, but to "be still and know" that God is God. It is a sad truth that many of our clergy are happy with The Gathering of the Community but uncomfortable with what it is the community has gathered to do. Some are so uncomfortable with the latter that they deny it is anything other than a memorial act, with only the most vague and grudging concessions to the supernatural. They can only understand faith in terms of social justice, or worse, in terms of societal compliance to the dictates of their rule book.

I found the opposite of this among the most liberal Anglicans you can imagine, actually. Lefties for whom the sacramental transformation of the simple things of this world into the vehicles of Grace, for whom the Tradition is something to be grappled with and followed, not explained away or ignored in favour of the "plain word" of Scripture, for whom faith IS about the mystical, whose understanding of justice is informed by their sacramental and mystical faith, not the other way around. I've never experienced that kind of faith in the reality of God anywhere else, even if I don't always agree with the way the faith is put into practice. It did a lot to make me comfortable with a Church where, if anything, the things that drove me away are as bad if not worse than they ever were.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 2 January 2007 at 4:04pm GMT
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