Saturday, 20 February 2010

opinion for the start of Lent

Karen Burke wrires in a Comment is free column in The Guardian about The death of Methodism? Not quite. The Methodist Church might change, or even merge with the CofE. But Methodists don’t need an insitution to be who they are.

Robert Colquhoun writes in the Times about Men, sex, and the Church. Images of a passive Jesus do not encourage red-blooded males to go to Church, but where can men find an authentic model of male Christianity?

Theo Hobson writes in a Comment is free column in The Guardian about An illiberal establishment. For bishops to say that establishment keeps Christianity in the public square is a self-serving betrayal of the gospel.

Ripon Cathedral is hosting a series of lectures on Religion and Politics – The Role of the Church in Contemporary Society during 2010. James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool, gave the first of these this week with the title ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’ - Really?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Lent, death, Room 101, and wads of cash.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali writes in the Telegraph about Promoting life rather than death. It is absolutely right for us to feel compassion for those who have a terminal or an incurable illness and for their near and dear ones who wish to relieve them of this burden, even if this means the death of the one who is ill.

And finally Jonathan Bartley looks ahead to later in the year in a Comment is free column with That papal Thought for the Day pitch. Pope Benedict may fill BBC Radio 4’s religion slot when he visits this year. What will he be able to get past the producers?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 February 2010 at 1:51pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

I hoped to find something useful in Robert Colquhoun's article. The title should have warned me. Sex, sex sex and an adolescent purity craze.... is that really all that contemporary Christianity is about? I despair!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 20 February 2010 at 7:14pm GMT

I thought Theo Hobson's piece was very punchy. Particularly this:

'Liberal Christians do not want Christianity to disappear from the public square; we want it to get a better hearing there. We want to communicate it to our unbelieving peers. And while bishops retain their pre-modern privilege, and keep the smell of Christendom alive, this is all but impossible: liberal people are confirmed in their rejection of this religion. Christianity must learn a new way of existing in the public square. And the first step is to renounce its old claim to own the place.'

The last sentence is especially good.

Posted by: john on Saturday, 20 February 2010 at 8:59pm GMT

Robert Colquhoon's article in The Times about the need for a role model for the Christian male, I find rather sexist. Obviously, his male ego requires something different from Saint Paul's *In Christ, there is neither male nor female* understanding of the Christian philosophy of human complementarity. The fact that John Paul II was what he might call 'a real man' should have no bearing on his ability to disciple Christians, who are all equal in the sight of God.

The writer's obvious fear of being thought *different* from his macho-male colleagues is the sort of attitude that keeps women in perpetual servitude to the male ego, and perhaps one of the fears at the heart of present-day opposition to the ordination of women.

I remember, as a (male) Franciscan Novice, being introduced to a group of elderly nuns, each of whom felt obligated to curtsey to this young whippersnapper of a male religious. Needless to say, I was mortified, and ever since have made it my task to further the cause and dignity of women's ministry in the Church.

Sexism, in any shape or form, can be the most intimidating form of discrimination - against anyone - Christian or secular. To imagine that Jesus becme incarnate as a human male in order to show God's preference for the masculine gender in his human creation has long been one of the main reasons for patriarchal religious domination. This is perhaps why this Mr. Colquhoon became a Roman Catholic - the most prominent advocates of male supremacy in the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 21 February 2010 at 3:10am GMT

"It is a shame that the lecture is so dominated by discussion of ancient times, for the really interesting questions about church and state relate to modernity. The essential question is this: should Christianity accept the thrust of liberal ideology, and reform itself away from the Constantinian model? The Church of England has a long history of evading the question:"
- Theo Hobson, Guardian article -

This extract from Theo Hobson's take on the words of the Bishop of Durham ought to conjure up some urgent conversation among the Bishops of the Church about the need of reform - away from the state-protected Constantinian model of 'being Church' in the world of today.

No doubt this particular Bishop is interested in the fact that the English Church still has clout within the English House of Lords, which, to others of us in the former Colonial Anglican branches of the Church is seen as an anachronism.

The sort of rhetoric that has been expressed in the Upper House of late by Lordly Bishops - especially on the subject of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation - is something that perhaps we partner Churches in the Communion who have different views on the subject may wish had not been uttered - at least, not in the name of the whole Communion whose provenance we share.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 21 February 2010 at 3:36am GMT

RE: Robert Colhoun's article one wants to exclaim: Modernity: Thy Name is Brute!

It's the enormous 19th century change in the Social Roles of Genders (of which there yet was imagined only one ;=) that makes the male persuation of the 20th Century wanting to be ruff, un-feeling, and in all contrary to the Role of Woman.

A Therapy of Revulsion.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 21 February 2010 at 12:16pm GMT

"I remember, as a (male) Franciscan Novice," - Fr. Ron Smith

Well, now it's easy for me to understand why I so greatly appreciate you, Ron.

As you may know, the new Bishop of Long Island in TEC, my diocese, is also a former Franciscan, as well as a former RC priest.

And, while I was never a Franciscan, I am a graduate of St. Francis College in Brooklyn, and was educated by Franciscan Brothers.

I still have a great affinity for all things Franciscan, Anglican or Roman, and somehow feel that if we were willing to drop the contrivances of the official Roman church, and of the various Anglican Communion churches, and instead became (otherwise unidentified) Christians in the spirit of Francis of Assisi and his followers over the centuries, we would be much better for it.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Sunday, 21 February 2010 at 1:35pm GMT

Surely Colquhoon is answered by James Jones - engagement is the positive way.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Sunday, 21 February 2010 at 2:26pm GMT

Let's see, Jesus of Nazareth traveled the countryside for 3 years, without benefit of Jeep or Land Rover, offering comfort and healing. He boldly condemned the religious authorities of the day (at least for those who had ears to hear), he comforted the afflicted, afflicted the comfortable, proclaimed a new approach to worshiping and communing with God, denounced the rigid literaltism and orthodoxies of his day, conversed with Roman governors, shook up the Temple square, and willingly suffered torture and death for what he believed in.
Yes, Mr. Colquhoon, Jesus of Nazareth was a real effeminate wimp, all right.
Now imagine if he had been slain as a gladiator in Rome! That would have been a manly man, eh? Jesus ben Hur of Nazareth? With the lance and mace as Christianity's symbols, instead of the wimpy cross?

Posted by: peterpi on Sunday, 21 February 2010 at 6:00pm GMT

Even having read him, I'm still rather glad that Robert C says he has finally found his way ...

... trouble is, he wants his peculiar-personal sense of a Real Manly Way to dig in deeper among us. Worse, he will justify urging us with those very flat earthisms that serviced the used and abused men are men and women-children are not dominance theories. RC wants his unquestioned male dominance legacy bought off, traditionally, by recrowning that sort of male as king, even in church life?

RC urges a closed category, Real Men, just when the true modern empirical evidence about sex, gender, gender identity, gender roles and so forth - deeply in a dynamic life cycle context of human development? - is beginning to be trust-worthily known (apparently so far as recorded history goes, for the first hypothesis-tested empirical time). There is so much more to men, women, sex, being embodied - than the obvious fact that sperm can meet egg, and make a baby? Alas, oh dear me.

Whatever progress RC says he has been able to make, his explanations still seem to urge an adolescent puritanism upon us as the preferred (and religious) cure for an adolescent sexual adventure-ism. ... still about self, confirming one's studliness? Connecting, with whom? A man who proved himself by having orgasms now proves himself by not having orgasms? Embedded in a weary systemic idealization: men are men - celibate men are Real Men - (everybody else is definitively not)? Seems like Imitatio JP2 all right.

And, yes, human embodiment is a lifelong royal road - intellectual emotional, relational, spiritual, moral? ... Being sexually active does not automatically make you a a Real Man, let alone a much better man, than not being sexually active. The celibacy he now preaches sounds nearly as emotionally and morally shallow - immature in a sense of still being rather ignorant of real relationships with real people as people, not as part of a self-serving Dominance-Adventure Game? - as the sorts of 'getting some' he says he pursued, trying to sleep around in college. Sounds like he didn't sleep around enough to meet the people/women beyond the game; any more than his celibacy now lifts him beyond Real Male Adventures/Games?

Oh well, it's the Times ... after all. What in the world did I expect to read there?

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 21 February 2010 at 11:19pm GMT

Colquhoun: "I learnt that men are called to be the initiators of human love. A man's body has 'stamped' into it the call to initiate relationships."

And on the Eighth Day, God (the Father) created the erection? O_o

Oy Vey. Suddenly having another flash of solidarity with Mary Daly (RIP---may she Rage In Power!): "When God is Male, Man is God."

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 22 February 2010 at 12:37am GMT

What JCF said!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 22 February 2010 at 9:59am GMT

Just got around to reading Colquhoun and at first thought it was a joke - you know, a 21st c. sendup of 19th c promotion of a Manly Man's Rugged Christianity.

But now I see he's in fact serious in believing that only men may initiate human love because their equipment in on the outside. I bet he thinks masturbation is a sinful spilling precious human seed. I wonder if he thinks only men experience sexual pleasure? I say, put him in a time machine and send him back to, oh, 1879, and he'll be a happy man.

Then again, I've read lots of coming out stories that read a lot like this: envy of other males' apparent easy comfort with their own heterosexuality, having superficial sexual relations with women, finding a religious reason to worship his penis ... just sayin'

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 22 February 2010 at 1:44pm GMT

Cynthia, there is a saying in the hills, the bigger the truck, the smaller the p----.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 at 2:41am GMT

Colquhoun's piece made me think of the song "Thank God I'm a Man" from *Shock Treatment* and I couldn't stop laughing at it.

We have met the enemy and it are silly.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 at 4:57am GMT

"This isn't to say that Methodists do not cherish their institutions and structures; it simply means that Methodists are prepared to change and evolve in order to respond to the challenges of the 21st century." - Karen Burke, The Guardian -

Not a bad philosophy really! Perhaps we Anglicans around the world would do well to listen to this Methodist wisdom. We, too, need to 'rattle our dags' (as the aussies might say) and get into gear with the needs of the Gospel in the 21st Century. Then, we might become a worthy partner in the Gospel with the Methodists. After all, the Wesleys were true believers in the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist - as well as in the Body.
The only difference was, they chose to accept the call of Christ to 'go out into ALL the WORLD and preach the Gospel'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 1 March 2010 at 10:09am GMT
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