Saturday, 26 March 2011

opinion

Martin L Smith at Episcopal Café asks What are bishops for?

Bruce Kaye, writing for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, asks Does Fresh Expressions misrepresent the Gospel?

Mark Vernon gives his answer to last week’s The Question (Who is in hell?) in The Guardian: Rob Bell’s intervention in the often ugly world of American evangelicalism. “In its treatment of hell, the pastor’s book holds two Christian truths in tension: human freedom and God’s infinite love.”

Fred Clark writes on his slacktivist blog about The paradox of pitchforks, a devilish problem.

Craig McQueen at the (Scottish) Daily Record writes about How the King James Bible still influences the way we speak 400 years after it was written.
Meanwhile Giles Fraser has a Thought for the Day about the King James Bible and this comment article in the Church Times: In praise of Shakespeare, not Jesus?

Chris Arnot reports in the Education section of The Guardian that Religious leaders are out of touch with issues of sexuality, survey reveals. “Results also indicate young people are finding it difficult to combine their religion with their sexuality.”

A newly published paper A mathematical model of social group competition with application to the growth of religious non-affiliation by Daniel M Abrams, Haley A Yaple and Richard J Wiener has prompted these two responses.
Wendy M Grossman in The Guardian: I’ve no faith in this idea that religion is dying out
The Church Mouse: Mathematicians predict religion will become extinct in secularised nations

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

Re the argument that religion is dying out, the model assumes that consumers' decision to be or not to be religious is determined by an interest in "compatibility" with other consumers. This is the way it worked decades ago when VHS beat out Beta. To end-users the two VCR formats were virtually indistinguishable. The issue was compatibility: everyone wanted to have the format that most other people had--whichever it was. So VHS beat out Beta.

However even where compatibility is an issue it isn't always decisive. Consider PC vs. Mac. Early on compatibility was a big issue, but there was enough of an intrinsic difference between the operating systems and hardware so that for a minority of consumers it trumped their concerns about compatibility. So Apple survives--though it remains, and always will remain, in the minority.

And I think the same will go for Christianity. You just have to take the model seriously--but recognize that when it comes to religion, whether it's Mac use or Christianity compatibility isn't the whole story. The Laodiceans, who just go with the flow, will wash out but the True Believers will stick regardless of what others do.

I got my first computer, Apple IIc, in 1984. I was confirmed in 1970. Still with Apple and still Anglican.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 11:16pm GMT

From the Guardian report on the Sheffield study of religion and sex:-

"Other respondents consider institutional religion a social control mechanism that excessively regulates gender and sexual behaviour..."

Isn't this what the churches have been doing for the past 2,000 years and why they are now in such a mess about sex and sexuality. The social control mechanism is breaking down and without it the churches don't seem to know what they are for any longer.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 27 March 2011 at 9:24am BST

This is Putnam in American Grace: yes, the decline of religion in the US really is all about sex and sex roles. So what do you do about it?

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Sunday, 27 March 2011 at 10:03pm BST

Fancy that - religion and sexuality hard to combine ! Who'd have thought it !
The Churches have been so helpful in this regard, have nt they.
I guess there's grace before / after; pulling prayer and ejaculatory prayer (no pun intended)come into their own. For starters.
And yet religon and sex are so physical, so embodied. No body - no religion. No body - no sex.
I have nt always enjoyed trying to work it out for myself -- not when young; but it has got better, and, yes -- more enjoyable working all this stuff out in practice- a work in progress, like all creativity, spirituality ....
We have to find spaces for metaphors and feelings and aspirations in which sex + religion get into bed together, and maybe come together, sometimes.
Language can help us, and the unintentional puns flood in from the shared world of eros + spirit - it would appear.
Pop song and Lied, porn and opera and oratorio may also inform --and help us to play together + feel.
There will always be splits, splitting off and projection of the erotic, but the incarnational possibilities of eros + love are ever there
that is Here

+ Now...


Love bade me welcome

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 28 March 2011 at 11:23am BST

But my soul drew back

According to Putnam, it isn't simply sex in the narrow sense but what might broadly be construed as "family values"--especially sex roles.

Women are overrepresented in churches BUT the women you find in church aren't representative of the popoulation. You'll find fewer working outside the home than women in the general population, and far, far fewer with careers rather than jobs--in particular far fewer with non-pink-collar careers.

This isn't a matter of ideology in liberal churches however it remains an entrenched feature of the church culture. Go to church and (if female) you'll be hustled into cooking, catering, cleaning and child care.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Monday, 28 March 2011 at 3:36pm BST

'Go to church and (if female) you'll be hustled into cooking, catering, cleaning and child care'.

That may well be so but if you are male and wanted to do these things you would be looked at with askance and if you wanted to be involved in child care you would automatically be suspected of being a paedophile. Steroetypes work both ways in church as in society generally.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 8:49am BST

Bruce Kaye's article is severely deficient on at least two points. Firstly he is grossly out of date; +Stephen Croft left the Fresh Expressions leadership two years ago! It is now led by +Graham Cray, the author of the original Mission Shaped Church report which kicked off the whole initiative.

Secondly, in establishing a specific Fresh Expression "church" the local parish(s) are not only consulted but are asked to give permission. In practise (and I am a trustee of one)we find that it is precisely the local parishes who support the Fresh Expression initiative. They are well aware that they usually (like most of us) lack the skills or time to invest in these risky but exciting initiatives. The wisest and best parishes are turning out to be liberal with their power and authority rather than nervously possesive over their parish territory. The invention of the automobile has long since destroyed parish boundaries anyway!

Posted by: John Waldsax on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 9:53am BST

How I deplore the American practice, which has taken over here, apparently of appending bishops' names with a '+'. It is quite unnecessary and fosters an unhelpful bishop cult. Also, it has been adopted here with, I imagine, little thought. But there is *more at stake than punctuation and English styles !

* the Gospel ?

Still, I do applaud many aspects of American spirtuality and literature. So must nt grumble too much !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 1:14pm BST

Agree that the gender stereotypes work against men as well as women. I'm not suggesting that women are especially "oppressed" worse off but just that in the Church even more so than in the surrounding secular society, men and women are DIFFERENTLY off. And difference as such in role obligations and expectations is bad for both men and women because it constrains choice.

Right now however professional women are especially turned off because the assigned roles in church are so remote from what we do in the world outside. Listen up Church: I have data and it's pretty clear that failure of the churches to accommodate the growing number of "non-traditional" contributes significantly to overall decline. When women drop out (or fail to join) they take men and families with them.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 6:05pm BST

"Bishops who pray don’t pretend to have answers to everything, and they can foster our humility"

- Martin L. Smith, priest and spiritual director -

Perhaps this is the greatest temptation for bishops in the Church today - to imply that they do have an answer for everything. The only problem when not enough time is taken in the discipline of daily prayer (preferably Eucharist - where Christ is the focus) is that not enough reliance is put upon spiritual guidance, where the political solution is often more pressing.

All the great Saints - among whom Godly bishops seem to proliferate - have been advocates of the discipline of daily Eucharist and Prayer. After all, this is where the Presence of Christ is most available.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 at 9:30am BST

"How I deplore the American practice, which has taken over here, apparently of appending bishops' names with a '+'. " - Laurence Roberts.

Where have you been, Laurence? The practice of *preceding* a bishop's name with a + (albeit usually with his surname replaced by the name or abbreviated name of his see) has been around in England for centuries.

What I find irritating is the American practice of priests placing a + *after* their name. Long may that remain solely an American affectation.

Posted by: RPNewark on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 at 4:44pm BST

Not so RPNewark on (Wednesday, 30 March 2011).

Some bishops in the C20th started signing with a + before their name. That is one thing. On that I made no comment. Nor did I comment on 'see names' like Cantuar or Liverpool. My objection, as I said, is to everyone else doing it for them, and effectively replacing the title bishop, or words 'The Right Reverend' with a cross, which is both inaccurate and unncessary.

Yes, for ministers to place + following their names, also strikes me as a tad pretentious, and totally uncalled for.

Where have you been RP ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 31 March 2011 at 6:59pm BST
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