Thursday, 15 July 2010

General Synod: comment roundup

Here’s some more articles about General Synod from people who were actually there.

First, there is the GenSyn blog of Alastair Cutting and Justin Brett. Alastair has written this very helpful article Synod: updates on the blogs. And earlier he had written Lots of reasons to vote against the Archbishops amendment.

Justin’s own blog is The Dodgy Liberal and he wrote several commentaries on the women bishops debate: Women Bishops - Day 1, then …and the next day and finally Women Bishops Day 2.

Jeremy Fletcher has started his own blog. He wrote several “live blogging” articles and also On voting against, and then Women Bishops – Where now?

Colin Coward wrote on the Changing Attitude blog: General Synod and women bishops - is the Holy Spirit calling the church to adulthood?

Justin Brett appears yet again at the Church Mouse blog, with What the papers don’t say.

John Martin wrote several articles for the Living Church:

Synod Prepares for Grueling Debate
A Narrow Loss for the Archbishops
Understated Critiques Ensue at Synod
Synod Approves Plan for Women Bishops
Life After Synod

Rod Thomas wrote about it for Cif belief Opponents of women bishops are part of the church too

Over at Reuters Miranda Threlfall-Holmes wrote a guest piece, Pragmatism beats idealism in fight for women bishops.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 11:38am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

"Experience of what has happened in Canada and the US shows that over time, people become less and less tolerant of traditionalist positions."

Rod Thomas in his interesting (and in my mind helpful article) is arguing not against women bishops but rather that there needs to be suitable provision for those who in good conscience theologically disagree with women episcopacy. Whether we agree with him and the traditionalists or not, what he is calling for is unity in diversity isn't it? Surely that has to be better than just liberalism and that being the only way? Of course, the same could be said of the traditionalists needing accepting the liberal position on this....

Posted by: Bob on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 1:27pm BST

I kind of agree with you, Bob, in principle but there are some things that are simply not tolerable, and which therefore cannot be considered for inclusion in that 'unity', which may still be full of diverse opinions, even though the intolerable within it has been named; to put it country simple, to resist someone's bigotry or racism is not to dehumanise them. For someone to insist on a differentiation that elevates them compared to others, that's no longer maintaining one element in the diversity of views but to discriminate. We are all different, and we can all discern differences. But in my view it's not about the differences that don't make a difference, etc., it's about the course of action that is taken once a difference is perceived. Those who support female Bishops have not primarily sought the expulsion of those who do not (although some exasperated tempers have had people here say some things quite harshly); those who oppose it though are wanting a segregation that implies those outside their homogeneity are indeed lesser in being.

The supporters are willing to share a bench. The opposers want their own throne. These two positions are not the same.

Posted by: Achilles on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 3:55pm BST

Rebecca Lewis Says:

July 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm
I wish that I could believe my honoured place in the church will persist with nothing but grace. However, the proponents of women bishops have done nothing this weekend to allay my fears. Everything I’ve seen from women in the last 5 days (the men seem to be more restrained) has been crowing, victorious, patronising and thoroughly un-Christian. I do not believe that I will have long to wait before I am forced to accept their ministry or leave.

Posted by: Neil on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 5:20pm BST

Well reading Rod Ts comments was very interesting, for starters. I got totally stuck with this claim:
Quote
The Bible insists on the absolute equality of men and women, but gives them different functions in the church, so that men can show leadership through self-sacrifice and thus reveal the character of God, and women can demonstrate Christian discipleship to the wider church, thus helping us all follow Christ better.
Unquote

I guess RT and I live and pray on utterly different planets, in far different solar systems. Not to mention knowing completely different sorts of real women and real men in society and in church life. I can hardly count the number of times in USA Bible Belt life when I would have truthfully been able to describe most of the male leadership I've seen, both from some distance and via upclose/personal witness, as much of anything even dimly similar to 'self-sacrificial giving'. Ditto, for Anglicans-Episcopalians.

If that is what is supposed to be going on in all the male leaders who carry on about, say, the queer folks hot buttons; I'd say the guys were missing the self-giving bullseyes by miles?

Either I just happened to have a very badly-fatally skewed sample, gathered willy-nilly over six decades; or RT is gone over the falls enhtirely via some sort of over-idealizing of the real men who actually lead our real churches? The repeated sacrifices involved in the preponderance of church life male leadership is always somebody else's sacrifice, not the real particular man who happens to be busy leading at any given moment. Just sayin.

Besides men: what kinds of discipleship are women who walk obediently-submissively-dependently behind men ... five to ten standard statutory feet is said to be one folk rule? ... so that God can be properly honored?

And how do either of these fake, over idealized claims add up to any sort of equality or common sense fairness?

Can't add it up at all, then. Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 5:35pm BST

Many thanks to the bloggers who describe-communicate some sense of the human-sized face to face in the last synod days. And how nice to have Miranda TH urge us all to remain pragmatic.

I still can't quite connect the dots however; to see what the pragmatic solution might be, nor how the human-sized face to face can trump the immense fear and hostility towards women upon which all the standard preachments disseminated in reply so far, depend.

Glad TEC got over this hump, the stumbling block that threatens to collapse the CoE big tents, in favor of no go women zones, period. Once that happens, of course, I won't be Anglican in England. God's brute hostility to women obtains in the very way God created them, non-male. Nothing anybody can do about it; take your beef to the Creator of the Cosmos. Okay, I get it; I just don't hear it as shining revelation truth.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 9:10pm BST

Is that YOUR position, Neil? If not, say so. If it is, please don't hide behind the words of someone else (chosen, methinks, for the purpose of the writer's gender, ala "See, a *woman* says so!")

[FWIW: I know nothing about Ms Lewis, but in point of fact, EVERY oppressed group has their self-hating oppression-rationalizers. Their elevation by the dominant group, into spokespersons, is virtually ubiquitous.]

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 10:17pm BST

I personally took strong exception to Rod Thomas' willingness to be economical with the actualité in his article for the Guardian; had he wished to compromise he could have withdrawn his own amendment and urged instead that the Archbishops' amendment be carried.

His failure to mention the decisiveness of the vote against his amendment was also misleading; the General Synod saw what he had to offer and turned it down in no uncertain terms.

Andrew Brown has noted that his elucidation of just what Reform's 'traditionalist' views are is needed because it would never occur to the vast majority of Anglicans that such beliefs would be alive and kicking within our own church.

The logical corollary of accepting Rod and his Reform as a part of our church is Creationism being taught in Church of England schools, along with a special syllabus for girls which will fit them for a life in which they will not be able to take decisions.

After all, there's no point in training a woman as a doctor when her diagnosis and/or treatments would have to be approved, or altered, by her husband; the GMC wouldn't tolerate it.

Equally with the legal profession; the term 'my learned friend' doesn't mean 'my learned friend and her husband', and the Judicial Appointments Commission is not going to appoint a judge who has to text her husband before she sentences someone.

If someone spent decades deliberately working out a plan to make the Church a laughing stock they probably couldn't come up with anything better than this...

Posted by: chenier1 on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 10:25pm BST

Where to begin with Rod Thomas? How about the first line?

"The news from Synod is that the Church of England may begin to consecrate women bishops in the next few years, with little provision for those who feel less comfortable with the idea."

Little provision? Try, "not the sort of provision that we wanted, which would have prevented women bishops from being full, proper bishops, and validated our smug self-righteousness in the process." There is more than ample provision for traditionalists in the draft measure. Synod has already bent over backward.

"The Bible insists on the absolute equality of men and women, but gives them different functions in the church..."

I believe the technical term for this sort of argument is codswallop.

"These are theological issues, not ones to do with justice or fairness."

Actually, justice and fairness are theological issues, too. If your theology allows, let alone encourages, you to dispense with justice and fairness, I suggest there is something tragically flawed in your theology.

"Experience of what has happened in Canada and the US shows that over time, people become less and less tolerant of traditionalist positions."

I take it Mr Thomas has extensive experience in Canada and the US. (I'd love to see his passport.) In fact, provision for traditionalists in Canada has generally been a matter of allowing for a temporary anomaly in which existing opponents to certain changes are not deprived of their ministry, but there is no desire for open-ended perpetuation of new opponents. It's as if, having given up capital punishment, we continue to pay the hangman his salary until he retires, but we don't go out advertising to employ new hangmen.

"In some ways the church needs to be in step with wider society because unless we are speaking the language of people around us, we won't be understood. But that doesn't mean that we have to adopt every practice that the world around us advocates."

Actually, what has happened since the 19th century is that the rest of Western society has generally taken on board the Christian principles of the value and equality of every person, including women and gays, whilst the Church has been beset with people who want us to stay in the 19th Century, or preferably return to the 18th, as a stepping stone to the 17th.... Maybe if the Church actually began to live out the Christian principles....

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 11:56pm BST

Who, exactly, is Rod Thomas?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 11:59pm BST

@Fr Ron - According to his Guardian profile: "Rod Thomas is vicar of St Matthew's Elburton, Plymouth, a member of General Synod and chairman of the Reform council."

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Saturday, 17 July 2010 at 1:19am BST
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