Saturday, 20 March 2010

equinoctial opinion

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a lecture on Faith, hope and charity in tomorrow’s world at Lincoln Cathedral recently.

Hans Küng writes in the National Catholic Reporter about Ratzinger’s Responsibility: ‘Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over, we need a change of attitude’

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Celibacy and child abuse. Many people blame celibacy for Catholic sexual abuse. But it’s much more likely to have played a role in the cover-up.

Theo Hobson in The Guardian If Quakers were more Christian. I admire the Quakers’ anti-authoritarian and minimalist ethos. But they’ve thrown the baby Jesus out with the bathwater.

Antony Lerman in The Guardian Embracing the religious marketplace. Faith leaders are naive to think that religion is marginalised. It benefits from a previously unimaginable freedom.

Geoffrey Rowell has a Credo column in the Times: Verses that lead us towards a greater understanding. The two great commandments that Jesus gave us are the love of God with all our heart, mind. soul and strength, and the love of our neighbour as ourselves.

Christine Allen in a Guardian Comment is free column writes Romero, a beacon of hope for the poor. Oscar Romero died 30 years ago. Yet he can still teach us much about good Christian values.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about A Primatial problem in Parliament.

Sebastian Bakare in the Church Times asks Who is behind the persecution? The plight of Anglicans in Harare raises questions of responsibility.

In a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph, Taking the God out of good, Christopher Howse reviews The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 12:21pm GMT | TrackBack
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I've just finished writing the biography of the Third Marquess of Bute, Catholic convert and critic of his church. He had numerous run-ins with the hierarchy in the 1880-90s. One thing he most criticised was the belief of the hierarchy that priests were above civil law and not liable to it. It strikes me that it is this belief which lies at the heart of the current disgraceful paedophilia which the Roman church has allowed to flourish, rather than any sexual frustrations. Bute could see that it was an impossible position in the Victorian era - but it appears it is taking the Roman Catholic Church another hundred and thirty years to see the same thing (if they do now see it!)

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 1:35pm GMT

In a tragic and frightening irony as we approach the 30th anniversary of the death of El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, an unsuccessful (thank God) attempt was made on Thursday to assassinate Bishop Martin Barahona, Bishop of the Anglican Church of El Salvador and Primate of the Anglican Communion in Central America. Further information on the Lead section of the Episcopal Cafe: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/news_reports/more_about_the_attempted_shoot.html

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 2:58pm GMT

What does Theo Hobson expect? The issue regarding Jesus is his moral and ethical character, and this is not something that is exclusive. We all have those, and what matters is morals and ethics. Today I spent time at a Unitarian "congregational assessment" with a very wide range of beliefs, but no one has exclusivity about anything, because everyone can change their views and most people do. I conduct worship, and it reflects my views but it relates to who is there and who I know - why I did a service and pushed it towards Ibn Sina because of who was attending.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 6:02pm GMT

I find it extraordinary that Theo Hobson feels able to advice to the Religious Society of Friends having attended one Meeting for Worship. One Meeting, one meeting house, one Meeting / community.

In fact, lateness does, in fact, disturb the Meeting for Worship, (though Friends are tolerant about human nature)

I am tempted to ask will he visit all the Churches etc over the coming Sundays and then offer his 'solution' to their 'needs' ? But I don't want to be (too) sarky !

I find G-d present myself in many places where the word is unused. On the other hand, G-d hard to detect, in settings where the word is in evidence, as we know only too well. As for Jesus one might say "Ditto!". Though he is no longer a baby of course- so needs neither protective Hobson style manger, or help in avoiding life's plug 'oles !

I would instead encourage him to go again and again and again. In fact, I think having gone into print like this, it will seem, rather -negligent if he doesn't bother to....

I am looking forward to Theo Hobson's second piece on Quakers (to be) published a year from today at the very earliest.


Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 8:51pm GMT

Theo Hobson might be interested to know that there are Friends' Meetings that are explicitly Christian, as the Ohio Yearly Meeting http://www.ohioyearlymeeting.org/

I understand that some Christian Friends even organize themselves into what looks like a typical Protestant congregation, with minister, programmed worship, and sacraments; the late President Nixon was from such a group, I believe.

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 21 March 2010 at 9:58pm GMT

Here's a link to a specifically Christian Friends group in the UK:

http://www.plainquakers.org/

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 21 March 2010 at 10:00pm GMT

Bishop Sebastian Bakare, until recently in charge of the Anglican Diocese of Harare, draws our overdue attention to the fact of ongoing persecution of Anglicans in that Diocese and in other parts of Zimbabwe. The lingering scandal of Mugabe's corrupt governance still goes on - despite the yet-to-be achieved promise of 'stability' under the new coalition government.

There can be no doubt that the fear of further reprisals in one of the things that prevents other Christian communities from offering support to the embattled Anglicans in the Diocese - and other parts of Zimbabwe - where naked injustice still prevails. However, this is not a purely religious issue. The whole country still lingers under the cloud of Mugabe's systemic corruptive regime, with it's policies hell-bent on subduing democratic reform. If the U.N. were to step in, no doubt certain African countries - who do nothing to help in this situation - will cry 'Colonialism!'

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 21 March 2010 at 10:30pm GMT

'Theo Hobson might be interested to know that there are Friends' Meetings that are explicitly Christian, as the Ohio Yearly Meeting' http://www.ohioyearlymeeting.org/

I understand that some Christian Friends even organize themselves into what looks like a typical Protestant congregation, with minister, programmed worship, and sacraments; the late President Nixon was from such a group, I believe.

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 21 March 2010 at 9:58pm GMT

Yes, this innovation and move away from Quaker historic belief and practice is to be found in the USA (where else!) and Africa. These meetings are known as ''programmed worship' and the traditional 'waiting on the spirit' mode is known as 'unprogrammed'.

A meeting exists in London in the Ohio style and a few in Scotland.

However, most of the UK Quakers who do see themselves as Christians are ordinary members of the ordinary Meetings that come 'under' / comprise 'Britain Yearly Meeting'. And there is no pressure to say, "I am this/ I am that." That goodness.

The absolutely KEY thing is that 'there is

that of God in every one'.

Or to say the same thing differently

the Light shines in all

irrespective of religion, state of life, gender or anything

My own Meeting has people with Christian, Hindu, Moslem and other backgrounds (and none). No distinction is made between people.

Heavy (over-) use of explicitly 'Christian' imagery and words would make the meeting more limited, of less use. Restrict it. I include myself in this as a 'Christian'.*

* greatly abused, misused and over-used term, as far as I am concerned; and inimical to gospel.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Monday, 22 March 2010 at 9:16pm GMT

Here's a link to a specifically Christian Friends group in the UK:

http://www.plainquakers.org/

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 21 March 2010 at 10:00pm GMT

Yes indeed A Meeting in Stirling , Scotland.

(Also refers to Athens and Ohio !)

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Monday, 22 March 2010 at 9:19pm GMT

There are a lot of Quakers in our area, or at least there used to be - Rhode Island has a long history of religious tolerance not found elsewhere in New England. Lots of place names attest to Friends' history. I believe that the surviving local Meetings are of the non-Christian pattern you describe, Rev L.

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 at 1:26pm GMT

'... Lots of place names attest to Friends' history. I believe that the surviving local Meetings are of the non-Christian pattern you describe, Rev L.'

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 at 1:26pm GMT

I would'nt want to call it 'non-Christian pattern' though. Quakers don't go in for labelling and there is no requirement to adhere to or confess any Creed or set of beliefs. I think calling no-Christian would be misleading.I recognise the sematics is difficult, but the whole point of waiting on (& in ) the Light is being led into (an) experience of T/truth and Light and Spirit / G-d is that it is 'experimental' - experiential. It can not be contained in language in any complete way -- or in my view, at all.

Of course, some would say that, without necessary / insisted upon beliefs, in sacraments, Trinity, formal Atonement etc that those of us who are members of RSoF are not Christians at all.

Christian language & imagery clearly works for those for whom it works ! -- and that's great, and many other kins of imagery and words and paradigms also work for others.

I am convinced a lot of the disagreements in religion are in fact, about & around our use(s) of language.

So the silence in Worship and beyond worship can be welcome ; and also a pointer to something profound

the ultimate dimension

perhaps


Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 at 6:47pm GMT

"Yes, this innovation and move away from Quaker historic belief and practice is to be found in the USA (where else!)"

I have a friend who occasionlly take a break from Episcopal liturgy on Sunday and goes to, as she puts it, "sit with the Quakers." She's very much into contemplative prayer. The meeting is in a small town south of Harrisonburg, Virginia.

I also know about a traditional Meeting in Central Ohio. A friend of mine and her dad went to a memorial service for a friend of her dad's. The meeting was mostly silent, with the exception of the fire in the big fireplace, which popped very loudly from time to time. My friend's dad was a Korean War veteran who flinched badly whenever the fire popped. They were glad when it was over.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 at 7:25pm GMT

"I would'nt want to call it 'non-Christian pattern' though."

How about "non-sectarian"?

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 2:32am GMT

Alas, Hobson misses the point *again*

Try looking at:

http://www.quakerweb.org.uk/qfp/

There a precision here which is neither pedantry nor dogma but an unceasing attempt rather to articulate the inner light of the spirit, with nothing beardy-weirdy i.e., vague, about it - Quakers, even from my limited experience of them, know more than most about living concretely in the world, and how to discern, avert and thwart the sometimes subtle but often devastating powers of earthly institutions and preoccupations.

Keep going, Theo: you might learn something.

Posted by: Achilles on Friday, 26 March 2010 at 6:25am GMT

I think that Theo Hobson's essay was very much to the point. As Anglican bishop J.S. Whale observed, the difference between the "inner light" and the "outer darkness" is razor thin; many Friends no longer seem able to discern the difference!

It should be noted that there are explicitly Christian Friends meetings both in Great Britain and in Ireland, especially Northern Ireland.

For an incisive commentary, see Allistair Lomax "http://www.rcquakers.lomaxes.me.uk/article/response.html"

Posted by: William Rushby on Friday, 10 September 2010 at 2:31pm BST
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