Saturday, 27 June 2009

opinions rounded up

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times that Without a shared moral code there can be no freedom in our society.

Robin Gill wrote in last week’s Church Times about Synthetics — the new moral playing-field.

This week, Giles Fraser writes about a white-water ride of old atheism.

Over at the Guardian Christine Allen writes about the Catholic Church and social justice.

At Cif belief Afua Hirsch wrote about The boundaries between race and faith. For the background, see this news report.

And Antony Lerman asks What can religion offer politics?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 27 June 2009 at 8:07am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

What? No columns on the death of Michael Jackson? How very, very refreshing, as the saturation coverage in the US has passed the point of absurdity. Bless you.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Saturday, 27 June 2009 at 12:24pm BST

But what do those columns on Michael Jackson's death mean? What is it saying to us ?

I think we should or rather could, listen with open ears and hearts.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 27 June 2009 at 9:28pm BST

"For well over a century, popes and councils of bishops have issued letters and documents that have added to the church's tradition of teaching; analysing and reflecting on the challenges of the day, whether it be peace, capitalism and socialism, international trade or ecology." - Christine Allen, in The Guardian -

However, one of the aspects of social justice which seems to still cause trouble for the Roman Catholic Church is its insistence on outlawing the use of contraception among the faithful. One of the problems with 'social directives' in the Church - whatever their origin - is when people ignore them holus bolus, refusing to accept their limitation, on the grounds of human need.

Christine Allen cannot surely be so naive as to think that the majority of her fellow religionists would go along with her opinion, stated in her article, that Rome is defensibly correct in its moral assertion on every issue concerning human sexuality that proceeds from the Roman Catholic magisterium?

The fact that a large percentage of Catholics today ignore the teaching of the Church on contraception (Italy being one instance of lower birth-rates in the European Community), should surely warn the R.C. hierarchy of the increasing credibility gap between the official teaching of the Church and the attitude of a majority of its nominal membership.

Also, the issue of the continuing insistence on priestly celibacy, which may one day see the collapse of parish ministry as we now reocgnise it, is one more area in which the Church must seek to maintain relevance to the real needs of the Church and those called into ministry. While such issues are ignored by the magisterium, there is a diminished credibility attached to the efficacy of its teaching role.

Our own Anglican Church, also, has to re-assess its pastoral role in the Church and the World - on issues like the acceptance of the LBGT community and the vailidity of women's call into the ministry of the Church. After all, the Church exists for the sake of the World - not the other way round; echoing our Lord's admonition to the Jews: "The Sabbath was made for man - not man for the Sabbath".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 29 June 2009 at 7:11pm BST

Fr Ron
"However, one of the aspects of social justice which seems to still cause trouble for the Roman Catholic Church is its insistence on outlawing the use of contraception among the faithful"

This goes beyond mere social justice. Denying life saving protection to HIV ravaged Africa is a moral crime on a grand scale.

It's no good Christine Allen complaining that people focus on those nasty little bits the church gets wrong and doesn't applaud it for what it gets right. When you're that far outside the morally acceptable, you cannot expect people to applaud your sweeter side.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 at 8:15am BST

"Denying life saving protection to HIV ravaged Africa is a moral crime on a grand scale."

Erika, I am not a supporter of Rome when it comes to birth control in general, and I agree that opposing condoms in the age of AIDS is gob smackingly ignorant. But why is it a moral crime for the Church to oppose the use of condoms when it does not seem to be all that much of a moral crime for male truck drivers to have unsafe intercourse all up and down Africa, then bring the infection home to their wives? In a good many instances, that isn't about ignorance of safe sex practices, or of obedience to the Church. It's often just some macho thing, and surely endangering people's lives for your own macho image is every bit as morally outrageous as the actions of Rome. Yet, there's all kinds of, likely ineffective, public complaining about Rome's behaviour. How many blogs talk about the irresponsibility of, at least some, African men? Not trying to absolve the Church here, it's just that the moral outrage seems a bit one-sided. And that at least in addition to pointing a blaming finger at Rome we should be equally condemnatory of those men who refuse to practice safe sex on the grounds of distorted masculinity. It isn't all about the evil Church abusing it's power yet again to the detriment of the innocent.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 at 2:42pm BST

I agree, it is just as morally wrong for a truck driver to cruise through Africa and then infect his wife with HIV. I don't recall absolving anyone from personal responsibility - if anything, I'm so liberal that I often fall off the edge because for me, it's all about the individual's responsibility before God and not about following some church discernment.

And yet, seeing you brought this argument into play, I have yet to hear a truck driver claim that what he is doing is not only morally acceptable but God's will.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 at 7:38pm BST

"It isn't all about the evil Church abusing it's power yet again to the detriment of the innocent."

No, it isn't, but by golly the [leadership of the] church should be the first to wake up and lead the way away from bad behavior. In this instance, it's outright abandonment of any solution to a problem.

There use to be a philosophy in both Anglicanism and [Roman] Catholicism that decisions on doctrine were made to incrementally bring those outside the scope where brought closer to the ideal by making decisions in that doctrine to bring those populations closer. What has happened to such? Gay marriage would bring an undesired population closer to the ideal of fidelity, and contraception would bring help bring about unwanted pregnancies.

It's a no-brainer, and you wonder why the church is laughed at; especially by the younger generation.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 at 9:11pm BST

Erika and Choirboy:

Absolutely. I was perhaps a bit peevish. But, I still think it's way too easy to take potshots at the evil power abusing Church. Perhaps because the Church does abuse her power. And I have made the argument in the past that by refusing to bless gay union, we have not called whole groups of gay people to faith and fidelity.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 2 July 2009 at 4:38pm BST
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