Saturday, 26 September 2009

opinions before Michaelmas

In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes Holy days are an annual check to mission drift.

In the Guardian Naftali Brawer also writes about Yom Kippur.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser tells us What’s right with the neo-cons.

Cif belief this week posed the question Have extremists retaken American Christianity? Answers came from Harriet Baber, Stephen Bates and Sarah Posner.

The CofE’s College of Bishops issued a statement about climate change.

George Pitcher wrote Assisted suicide: The worm has turned.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 8:31am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Giles' essay is a refreshing take on the neo-cons.

Posted by: John B. Chilton on Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 2:47pm BST

Giles, I've got to differ with you on this one. Conservatism got muddied up with the "religious purists" in the states, and lost sense of proper financial restraint in the midst of a idealistic war against justice and peace issues. It is this shift that is both attracting and creating religious zealots from the hinterlands in the USA, and obscuring the priorities of our last national election. It's the tail wagging the dog and not the other.

And the Guardian article of H. E. Baber has it backwards as well. It is Christian Extremists in the states that are influencing policy (still are). Look at W. Bush's very first policy decision, to de-fund AIDS education in Africa, and even President Obama is caving in to alterations in the pending health care bill to not fund abortions, hospices and family planning clinics. This is all driven by right-winged religious groups.

I will grant you that the movement's origins was myopic and parochial in the states, but thinking that this can't happen in the UK is equally provincial. It has already begun.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 4:00pm BST

"..Thus they (the neo-Cons) came to be regarded as latter-day Crusaders, forcing through a clash of civilisations. Better internationalists would have been more respectful of difference, recognising that what works in one country may not work in the same way in another."
- Giles Fraser -

In this final paragraph of his item on the neo-cons, Canon Giles is also putting his finger on the pulse of the would-be 'neo-cons' in the Church, the dissenters from the three-legged stool of historical Anglicanism, who would like to impress their questionable uniformity on the different Provincial Churches of the Communion.

Unfortunately, both for them and for the Church, their 'new conservatism' is a revisionism which will ultimately squeeze the Church dry of any radical transformation from first-century idealism, into the Gospel territory of 'in situ' Christianity. "Behold, I am doing a new thing!"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 9:32pm BST

H. E. Baber has it backwards as well...This is all driven by right-winged religious groups.

My point was that most individuals involved in these groups are religious because they're right-wing rather than right-wing because they're religious.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Sunday, 27 September 2009 at 12:25am BST

" Professor D Michael Lindsay, a sociologist of Rice University, told the Washington Post: "Movements do better when they have something to oppose. It is easier to fund raise ... easier to mobilise volunteers because you have an us versus them mentality and that plays very well right now for the Christian Right." - article by Stephen Bates -

Surely this is the story of the 'Religious Right' - wherever it may be found - especially in America at this time, where President Obama's push for a Gospel-tyle medical benefits for all is being opposed by right-wing fundamentalists.

Naturally, the anti-abortion lobby is most concerned that no-one gets help from the state to terminate any unwanted pregnancies - whatever the circumstances, regardless of the fact that the children born of such situations may be neither wanted nor ultimately cared for by their parents.

Christian charity requires of the Church at least; to care for the sick, the poor and the disenfranchised among us. The least the Church can do is to support any effort of the state to care for the least advantaged among its citizens.

How unfortunate it is when Christians of any ilk find it easier to oppose something which seeks to ease the burden for those whose needs are greatest among us.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 27 September 2009 at 12:55am BST

With all due respect Dr. Baber, if you think that the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan, and Rush Limbaugh have not inflamed, excited and motivated the public in the influence of public policy, I think that you should reconsider.

As you know, leadership and group dynamics, as well as the command presence of a speaker/leader should never be underestimated.

Those "Tea Parties" that happened in Washington, DC three weeks ago were not spontaneous events. They were planned, funded and executed by the influence peddlers that have too much control of our country, and they have tried mightily to do the same to the Episcopal Church.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 27 September 2009 at 6:35pm BST

Choirboy, I'm skeptical. When I was marching in the streets in anti-war demonstrations long ago people who didn't approve were convinced that the whole anti-war movement was planned, funded and executed by Moscow, Hanoi and a local Communist fifth column.

Demagogues like Falwell (now, by the way dead), Buchanan and Limbaugh exploit popular sentiment--they don't create it. And in any case the public sentiment that drives the tea parties and tax-payers revolts isn't religiously motivated. It is just plain distrust and hatred of government as such, which the religious right has exploited--not created.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Monday, 28 September 2009 at 5:55pm BST

So perhaps we shift, from pondering questions about the extremist domination of USA religion-politics-policy; to the question of why a possible Market Exists for this extremism?

My best guess so far - pending some crucial new/hidden evidence or indicators - is the sheer mass and depth and rate of global change. A deep sense, often uspoken on the extremes (note plural S) - is that we all ride the unruly Tiger. In too many ways and instances to number, actually.

Everybody is searching for a sense of balance and functional centering in the midst of some of the most dramatic changes we have ever seen, on a global scale no less. We teeter on so many brinks we cannot clearly perceive all the impending changes. We have many catastrophe or crisis indicators upon which we can focus; yet we have little glimpse of our shifted new ways forward - let alone of ways forward where we are all together, across our differences.

In a sense all this is quite biblical - idols and shrines and child sacrifices babble their advertising all around us, every single day from far and wide. Pick me, each yells, then you will be happy and safe and sound.

Unfortunately, the global civilizations that know much - all of the available recorded history, for a new first time in history - have much to which and for which to become accountable. Not the time to dump critical inquiry-scholarship, then, in a rush to simplify by dumbing down. Ironic, that phrase, Intelligent Design. It posits a God Creator who makes all manner of things, magically, just by thinking of them like a two-year old child wishes.

The dark sides of nearly everything beckon and sing and dance anew. Claiming to be whole, Claiming to be best, Claiming to be holy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 28 September 2009 at 8:43pm BST

Now that Michaelmass has arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand, may we at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Christchurch offer our Love and Prayer for all of you in the Anglican Communion who are able to celebrate the angelic host in the presence of God. Prayers and Blessings

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 28 September 2009 at 9:34pm BST

I guess my distrust and perhaps over-emphasis on "conspiracy theories" comes from my instinct to follow the money. Like the Ahmanson family who funded the whack-jobs trying to tear the fabric of the Episcopal Church, (along with -Duncan getting "saved" by the 'academy' down the river at American Bridge and Steel), one should look at the motivations of those who are raising cane. I still thinks it's beyond just being opportunistic.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 28 September 2009 at 9:58pm BST

Father Ron Smith

Lovely church. The wooden Gothic reminds me very much of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Our parish is St. Michael's, too, so Happy Patronal from one to another!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 at 1:24pm BST

Thanks, Ford! "How good and wonderful thing it is brethren (& sistren) to dwell together in unity"
Good to know that there is something about the Church that we can celebrate in common. Agape!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 at 10:37pm BST

I thought I was the only one to use the faux plural "sistren"! Sometimes written 'sisterns'. Dear God, there's someone else out there with my sense of humour!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 at 1:39pm BST
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