Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The New Yorker on the CofE

Updated

There is a major feature article on the Church of England in The New Yorker dated 26 April, which is now online but is only available to paid subscribers and available to all via this link: A Canterbury Tale.

However, others have now written about it, so it is worth mentioning here.

Here’s the abstract from the New Yorker itself: Jane Kramer, A Reporter at Large, “A Canterbury Tale,” The New Yorker, April 26, 2010, p. 40. It starts out:

ABSTRACT: A REPORTER AT LARGE about the battle in the Church of England over female bishops. Today, women account for nearly a third of the Church of England’s working priests, and most of them are waiting for the investiture of the Church of England’s first female bishop—a process begun in 2008, when of the laity, clergy, and bishops in the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted in favor of removing the last vestiges of gender discrimination from canon law. Not everyone is pleased. Thousands of conservative Anglicans—priests and laymen—still refuse to take Communion from a female priest, and would certainly refuse to take it from any priest ordained by a female bishop. For the past two years, they have been threatening to leave the Church at the first sign of a woman in a bishop’s mitre. The next session of the General Synod, in July, is going to consider, and is expected to approve, the draft for a change in canon law that would open the episcopate to women. If a large number of militant conservatives do leave then, the Church of England and, with it, the churches of a worldwide Anglican Communion, will fracture…

The Living Church has New Yorker Article Features Abp. Williams.

USA Today has Anglican fight: Can a woman bishop speak for God in England?

And Episcopal Café has Ash in the air, and the CofE in The New Yorker.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 7:23am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England
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"The next session of the (Church of England) General Synod, in July, is going to consider, and is expected to approve, the draft for a change in canon law that would open the episcopate to women. If a large number of militant conservatives do leave then, the Church of England and, with it, the churches of a (sic) world-wide Anglican Communion, will fracture."
- Jane Kramer, New York Times -

In the U.S.A, where this press item will be widely read, there may be some expression of surprise, that the Church of England - presently part of the same Anglican Communion as the Episcopal Church in America - is still having to come to terms with the idea of women as bishops in the Church, when women priests have played a growing part in the mission of the Church - in England, as well as in the U.S.A, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and other parts of the Communion.

In a secular world, where women are now entrusted with leadership roles in most areas of common life of the community, it stands to reason that modern Churches have finally come to realise the value of women's contribution to society at large and in the ministry of the Church. In the USA, for instance, women have been elected and affirmed as bishops for some years now. So that for the 'Mother Church' of England to be seen to balk at this further step in the affirmation of women's ministry will be a matter of some surprise - that is, to all but a small group of conservatives who have already formed their own schismatic church body on this and other issues, including the acceptance of LGBT persons as members and ministers.

We, in the Global South Churches of New Zealand and Australia (though not part of G.S. Singapore) are also very used to the presence of women at conferences of clergy and bishops, and we do wonder what all the fuss is about. If, indeed, the ordination of women to the episcopate in the UK causes a fracture within the Communion, will it be any worse than the fractures caused already by the schismatic actions of CANA, ACNA and AMiC, which are presently being celebrated in Singapore?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 11:33am BST

“The issue of women bishops is a straight choice. A bishop is a bishop is a bishop, not a male or a female one… As a pastor, I can understand and care for the people who don’t want women, but as a bishop I would say that we can’t withhold truth and justice in the name of unity.” Rt. Rev. Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford

Why is this so hard to understand?

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 2:32pm BST

evensongjunkie, because goshdarnit! Jesus of Nazareth was a circumcised Jewish bearded male, and bishops are supposed to be imagio Christi, so bishops have to be circumcised Jewish bearded males! Except for the Jewish part, and the circumcised part, and the bearded part, and the ... wait a minute! We have to draw the line somewhere! And besides it's always been done this way. If male bishops were good enough for St. Paul, they're good enough for us.
***
That's a wonderful declaration by Bishop Pritchard.

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 7:15pm BST

In fact, peterpi (Tuesday, 20 April), not only bishops, but every single human being (according to the Scriptures) is made in the image and likeness of God - who cannot be limited to either female or male. For : "God is a Spirit, and those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth."

If, indeed, our likeness to God were only in our human form, then not even all men could be given credit - in isolation from anyone else.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 at 12:55am BST

"goshdarnit!" Whoa there cowboy, thought you were going Backwards in Bigotry, whew, scared me for a lick! LOL.

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 at 1:48am BST

Fr. Ron Smith, that passage you quote is wonderful. I hope you recognized that my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek. I support WO -- deacons, priests, bishops, archbishops, or even, one can have hope for our fellows across the Tiber, cardinals and popes. I don't at all buy the "Jesus and the apostles were male, so the priesthood and episcopate have to be male" line of reasoning. God is indeed a Spirit. A Spirit that does not balk at calling His/Her human creatures with two X chromosomes instead of one into His/Her service.
evensongjunkie, LOL, but I didn't want to use a more common and blunt phrase (but was nonetheless clearly inferred) that might run afoul of our gracious host at Thinking Anglicans.

Posted by: peterpi on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 at 8:10pm BST

"We can’t withhold truth and justice in the name of unity.” Rt. Rev. Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford

That is a profound explanation of why some Anglicans with integrity and in good conscience feel they must embrace principles of respect that end marginalisation in their structures, even if others reject them as a result.

Not everyone has to agree. But it is sound explanation of the way conscience and faith can lead Christians to acts of integrity, even at the cost of uniformity.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 at 8:18pm BST

Peterpi, Of course I knew you were a supporter of women's ministry. I was only - perhaps a bit clumsily - trying to extend the point of the comparison. Thank God we can still bring humour into our discussion of the situations of the Church - otherwise, we might all be attending the homophobe/misogyny-fest in Singapore. Now that's something to worry about. And how many English Bishops will be there, I wonder? (NO FOCA's Mr. Sugden is not yet a Bishop.)

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 at 11:43pm BST

We are never going to get anywhere as long as journalists and outsiders fail to understand that in The Episcopal Church, we ELECT rather than ELEVATE individuals to the episcopacy. Priests, deacons and laity with guidance from the Holy Spirit and gathered in prayer elect from a slate of candidates that has been presented by a team elected by the diocese. Bishops here are not selected by the Presiding Bishop or by the House of Bishops alone. Once someone has been elected, the election process must gather a majority of ayes from the Standing Committees and bishops diocesan of the church. Our process makes a huge difference in how we understand the episcopacy.

Posted by: Lee on Thursday, 22 April 2010 at 4:23am BST

On a slightly different note, after our cathedral's weekly evensong last evening, +Jack Spong was to have given a lecture. Sadly, he couldn't have bothered to make evensong, along with the Dean (who had taken him out to dinner I suspect).

Worship is still central to what we're about, liberal or conservative, gay-hating or gay-friendly, that is why the church exists. We fail that point, we might as well disband forever.

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Thursday, 22 April 2010 at 5:07pm BST

Evensongjunkie
“Sadly, he couldn't have bothered to make evensong”

I know it’s so easy to throw mud at Spong, but please, unless you actually know that he hadn’t already attended worship somewhere that day and know about his motives for not coming to evensong, it would be better to say “Sadly, he did not attend evensong”.

Worship is central but not compulsory and attending or not attending doesn’t always say something about your attitude to worship in principle or any given church in particular.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 23 April 2010 at 9:21am BST

For once I can agree with you all. Please do the logical, helpful thing and vote for Women bishops with no concessions for opponents. then have the grace and love to allow those of us disenfranchised by such a decision to enter the Ordinariate with our buildings

We can then worship with integrity and so can you and we might even learn to live alongside one another.

What would be foul is to give us nothing and grant us no concessions or help either. That would be mean, spiteful and shoddy

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 11:38am BST

Nah Ed, you can whine, but you can't take the house with you.....

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 12:10pm BST

"vote for Women bishops with no concessions for opponents. then have the grace and love to allow those of us disenfranchised by such a decision to enter the Ordinariate with our buildings."
- Fr. Ed Tomlinson -

Good try Ed! However, don't expect your present Church Comissioners to hand over their patrimony to the Church of Rome - your new love. Generations of Anglicans have worshipped in the lovely old churches of England and Wales, and I'm pretty sure they would not have approved of surrendering their buildings - simply because of FOCA's failure to accept the dignity of women in leadership. There would have to be some more substantial reasoning than just that for opting out of Mother Church and giving away their heritage.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 12:14pm BST

You know, my boss at the rail shop (sheds) doesn't like his boss either. Disagrees how to run the railroad (way), how to maintain the locomotives, what capital projects they should be doing, etc., etc. Imagine if he was able to whine to the Board of Directors and get a special boss, just for him. One that would come around to the shop occasionally and listen to him, pay special attention and take the Stand that he believes is the Right way to run the Railroad. Gets the paint to paint up the locomotives in the original paint scheme that they came from the builder forty-fifty years ago (even though it's ugly, outdated and actually incorrect - one the Seaboard Railroad was using as an interim scheme before it's merger with the Atlantic Coast Line) and won't appeal to anybody, except the ultra-former-railfan that frequents the property once every three years. At the same time he doesn't want to do the turbocharger change-out, as that's too hard of labor and besides, the locomotive won't smoke, clagg and thrill the triennial railbuff.

Now he's got his special boss, that runs offense for him at the Board meetings, circumventing the Superintendent of Operations (and pissing him off mightily, as the riding public sees this shop rat as some sort of kook, and declining revenues confirm it). Ridership is in the tank, because the public doesn't want to ride behind a diesel locomotive that is being run like steamer and breaks down every other run.

So now he says, give me the railroad, after the rest of us have plugged money into the operation to try to make it work.

Give me a break.

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 2:57pm BST

foamer: (FOE-mr) FOaming At the Mouth Railfan. Found in unusual locations, found in large herds at ends of platforms at Finsbury Park and in weeds around Horseshoe Curve. Adorned with cameras, video-recorders, out-dated rail company patches, pins and ubiquitous pen and pad for locomotive number recording. Marked traits include but are not limited to salivating uncontrollably around steam locomotives and rare rolling stock. Can engage in wild uncontrolled behavior on fan trip special excursions and museums. An incredibly unique ability to distinguish between a Griesley Pacific and a Merchant class 4-6-2. Thinks Alco is still in business.

Posted by: evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 4:11pm BST

So it is OK to make it impossible for my faithful congregation to worship as they have since the foundation stone was laid and yet also demand the building to put forward an expression of faith causing major schism across the world, unrecognised to Christians in all other major denominations and unrecognisable to Christians down throughout the ages.

You liberals really are a hoot! What hubris you show and what little understanding, love and care you have for those of us who simply are unconvinced by your agendas. I wonder how you would respond with the shoe on the other foot....

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 2:39pm BST

Ed
I personally would happily give you the buildings, but for compassionate reasons not because you have a right to them.

We talked about this before - you have joined the Church of England and have explicitly agreed with its system of governance.
Through its appropriate channels your church has now made lawful decisions about its own future and you have absolutely no grounds to complain just because they happen not to agree with your thinking.

It has nothing to do with being convinced by what you call liberal agendas, but with complying with the decisions of your church reached through the appropriate channels.

If the boot were on the other foot, I expect you'd want us to accept the right of the church to govern itself.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 6:49pm BST

"So it is OK to make it impossible for my faithful congregation to worship as they have since the foundation stone was laid and yet also demand the building to put forward an expression of faith causing major schism across the world, unrecognised to Christians in all other major denominations and unrecognisable to Christians down throughout the ages. - Ed Tomlinson -

I all depends here Ed what you actually mean by 'cause'. IMHO the 'cause of the present stand-off might equally be the conservative intolerance of certain members of the Church of england who WILL NOT accept the theological stance that "In Christ, there is neither male nor female". What you discern as unacceptable, or 'unrecognisable to Christians down throughout the ages' may just be the result of prejudice - and not a presently valid reality. The tolerance of Slavery was only one of many such widely-held beliefs until very late in the history of the Church. Likewise, it may be said that Misogyny - and a refusal to accept the leadership of women in the Church - is no longer a 'valid reality'. Tradition is not the most reliable indicator of justice!

Your employment in the Church of England, and the consequence of your loyalty to the canonical rules of that Church must surely require of you some degree of obedience to its statutes? Or do you really believe that if you leave its jurisdiction you are entitled to take the furniture?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 30 April 2010 at 12:56am BST
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