Thursday, 22 November 2007
more from Drenched in Grace
Here are links to audio recordings of two of today’s keynote talks.
Both of these presentations were outstanding and I strongly recommend listening to it all.
Louis Weil on When Signs Signify
Lucy Winkett on Our sound is our wound
(Text versions of these will also be available later.)
Meanwhile the full text of two other talks are already available:
Each of us was given grace: an address by Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa (audio linked here previously).
Out of the silence: an address by the Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby
(Dr Moughtin-Mumby was unable to be present but her address was read by the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church.)
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Thursday, 22 November 2007 at 11:36pm GMT
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Church of England
Louis Weil's presentation about symbols working beyond a simple literalism (and too often being interpreted at a such a level for validity) relates to my own reading at the moment - Douglas Davies's book Theology and Anthropology, Oxford: Berg. He too relates Christian religion as active and related to embodiment: it goes on to notions of grace and merit, giving and receiving (exchange).
Thanks for these links Simon, I confess that I prefer to read rather than listen, I absorb information better that way.
Dr Jenny Plane Te Pa’s talk was simply inspirational. Her strategy was similar to Paul's as she chose to come "not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power" (1 Corinthians 2:4)
I would have loved to quote so much of what she wrote but settled for this one: "We are... being challenged in the current circumstance not so much to focus too intently and singularly on the bad behaviour of the few, but rather to focus anew the very good behaviour of the many whose exemplary regard for the sacredness of ALL others whom God has created points us all toward that way in which God would probably say that grace is to be truly expressed."
Her desire to avoid biblical posturing was wonderful, but since I just love to make everything we do biblical (chuckles)
2 Corinthians 3:3-6 "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts... God has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
I also loved Rev’d Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby’s paper. It was an insightful reminder that God doesn’t just serve up pleasant dishes but even the unpleasant, and that sometimes it is necessary to bring bad news in order that good might come from the healing. The book of Ezekiel is difficult but it is also inspirational, God confronts the legalistic harshness of his people, and confounds their opportunistic dodgings. God repeatedly confronts us “Is it my ways that are harsh, O Israel – or is it yours?” God confounds and announces that the one who does the sin dies for the sin, we are all judged for our own sins and we can not palm responsibility onto another. Further, woe to the prophets who fail to give the fair warnings, like Jonah, there’s no running away from being God’s watchtowers and those who announce peace when there is no peace are considered to be Baal prophets who are prepared to sacrifice others.
Yes, she is right, there is a strong tradition of God speaking in silence and it is not only to be found within the Hebrew Bible. As she notes Jesus was both to hear and to speak the voice of God in wilderness and silence.
Her lessons about moving from academia into a parish were insightful. So, if internet forums such as TA were considered a parish community, we could be seen “ministering” to each other and it begs the question of what kind of ministers would we be called?
From Lucy Winkett's address:
On a lighter note I am reminded too here, while we're on the subject of vestries, of the distinction with which I am sure you are all familiar and for which I am indebted to my friend Mark Oakley, that you can always tell which denomination's vestry you're in by what is hanging on the wall. In a Roman Catholic vestry you'll see a picture of Jesus's sacred heart; in a Methodist vestry you'll see a picture of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and in an Anglican vestry what you'll invariably find on the wall is a full length mirror.
Reminds me more seriously of the quest for the historical Jesus - but obviously it's a reference here to the Anglican Communion and Church of England having turned in on itself and causing much self harm.
Very good from Lucy Winkett; here is another telling chunk:
Our current predicament in the UK with our own internal and shrill conversations reminded me of the story reported in the press last week of two men in Mexico who are the last known speakers of an indigenous language: they've fallen out with each other and are not speaking. So the very language they're speak is under threat. That tragic story can be translated into a situation where the disconnection between Church and society in twenty first century Britain is clear.
You will know of the ordinand who was told by his bishop that before the next time he saw him he wanted him to go into a betting shop and place a bet.
The ordinand was outraged; "What possible good could that do?" He would refuse. Anyway it might even be immoral.
The bishop insisted: "Go into a betting shop and place a bet."
Three months later the ordinand returned.
"Well, how did it go?"
"It was horrible. I couldn't find the betting shop at first - then I did see one on the high street. I walked up and down outside, and I really didn't want to go in. Eventually I plucked up courage and I did go inside: there were a load of men watching the race on TV, I didn't know what I was supposed to do, but I went up to the counter - in the end I was too scared to ask anyone. I placed the bet and watched the race; I couldn't wait to get out; my heart was pounding."
"Never forget," said the bishop, "that's how most people feel about going into church."
Moving story about the Mexicans - but wrong connection from Lucy Winkett. It is more an example of what is transpiring with the Anglican Communion's internal debate. It renders much of our language completely irrelevant in the eyes of the world. Though, I remain confident that 'the Victory is certain' to quote Bonhoeffer, so the true message of the gospel will never become extinct. The liberals certainly seem to be undergoing a death and are due a resurrection soon in terms of 'church politics'. The NPs of this world are due a certain death within the AC, but no doubt will rise again on the margins of Christianity with new and rather odd bedfellows.
...and re the story attributed to Mark Oakley! He clearly got it from somebody else. For the version I heard was that the Catholic church had a crucifix on the wall - the Methodist a plain cross - and the Anglican one a mirror. I had to laugh too because that is exactly what is up in our vestry!