Monday, 25 February 2013

Women Bishops Consultation - response by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has written this excellent response to the Consultation document on women bishops legislation.

Schrodinger’s Cat Theology? Response to Women Bishops Consultation

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 10:09am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Old, predictable mantras from Ms Threlfall Holmes. Thankfully no longer a member of General Synod her uncompromising stance will have less influence. All power to the elbows, now, of those who are genuinely seeking proper and positive compromise.

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 11:05am GMT

Well I liked it ...

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 11:48am GMT

Miranda Threlfall Homes response is a well thought through and useful piece of work. It should be taken very seriously as it probably represents the authentic mind of the Church of England.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 12:02pm GMT

Benedict, by all means let us compromise with discrimination.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 12:15pm GMT

How can a detailed response to a document which has been recently put out for consultation be made up of 'old, predictable mantras', Benedict?

But helpful to see a demonstration of the sort of 'respect' and 'honour' that opponents of women's ordination feel should be given to those who don't agree with them.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 1:18pm GMT

Au contraire, Benedict. I think you will find you had your last 'hurrah' in November. Supporters of women's ministry have been seeking 'proper and positive' compromise with your ilk for the last twenty years or so, to no avail. The cannons are drawn up outside the courthouse.

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 2:21pm GMT

One thing the aftermath of the Synod vote did prove was that all those claims about honour and respect from the liberal constituency were nothing more than eyewash."Trust us ...." I think not!

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 3:40pm GMT

There can be no "compromise" with the impossibilist positions or diametrically opposed theses, only toleration. The question remains, given the catholic notion expounded by Ignatius, just what is happening when there are bishops not accepted as such by members of their own church. It would appear that there are two churches coexisting with a minimal administrative connection, a kind of marriage of convenience. That is a solution (call it a "compromise" if you will) to the current problem, but it is not one that many seem to find attractive.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 5:20pm GMT

What a difficult question. How to include everyone when one small group insists on excluding some?

The only hint that discrimination is hurtful is a reference to demoralized female clergy. It is indeed a humiliating situation for them. Also bad is the astonishingly hurtful example for girls. And of course, the fact that discrimination is likely a major factor in secularization. Thus many don't hear the Good News because of culturally based prejudices packaged as the theology of bad news.

I still think the best solution is radical equality, one female and one male bishop per diocese. I still suspect that this particular discrimination is highly time limited. I'm certain that no diocese is monolithically anti WB. Perhaps a few parishes are, as people self-select where to worship. Consequently, "provisions" at anything but the local level don't make a lot of sense.

Even if those local provisions are deemed satisfactory by the those insisting on discrimination, what happens when WB's participate in ordination? Are the "traditionalists" going to accept those new priests and deacons as valid? There's no way to cater to that without violating one of the goals of the framework, that to not have a two-tier system.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 6:11pm GMT

The Schrodinger's Cat article is excellent. She lays it out in strong logic and strong theology. Women are equally created in the image of God and that has implications.

"we need to be very clear indeed that it is the people who hold these views who are 'accepted and valued', not the views themselves."

Yes! Value the people but not the views. The discriminators are saying that women are not created equally in the image of God. That is an absolutely devastating message to girls, women, and men as well.

And yes, it seems to me that in the discussions I've read, so much has been about helping the discriminators feel "welcomed and valued" with a "sense of security," but not the women, the objects of the discrimination. She says: "We would like our theological worth and equal status as children of God to be fully affirmed. It may be that this is fundamentally incompatible with those who do not agree that this is the case also feeling fully affirmed. If so, the Church will have to choose which is the more important statement to make."

It's likely that CoE will have to make a choice. Provisions are fine at the local level, but what about ordinations later on and a whole host of sacramental and administrative actions?

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 6:31pm GMT

Benedict,

Whatever your views about the issue, it does not reflect well on you to be dismissive of other participants in the debate: as I'm sure you're aware 'Ms Threlfall-Holmes' has a doctorate, and is entitled to be referred to accordingly.

Posted by: Hannah on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 7:12pm GMT

I have several responses here: (1) I really do not think that 'Thinking Anglicans' (which prides itself on its 'thought') should 'steer' debate by flagging-up particular expressions of opinion as 'excellent'; (2) reference to 'those opposed to women bishops' is on the one hand correct, BUT on the other hand profoundly misleading, because most of those who hold that view want to 'deal', and the question is the terms, not the principle; (3)M. T.-H. frequently writes ungrammatical English; (4) 'attractiveness' (TH) is not the criterion - the criterion, in my view, is decency and the grace not to squash people who in good conscience (yes, I do believe that) do not accept WO or women bishops and just want a little space.

Posted by: John on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 7:33pm GMT

What Miranda suggests cannot possibly work unless it embodies what the HoB said in December 2011 namely:
'Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;
· In choosing bishops to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes for parishes requesting this provision, diocesan bishops will seek to identify those whose ministry will be consistent with the theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate underlying the Letter of Request;
· The archbishops and bishops commit themselves to seeking to maintain a supply of bishops able to minister on this basis. This will obviously have a bearing on decisions about appointments and on the role of bishops occupying the sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough (which will, as a matter of law, continue to exist even after the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod has been rescinded). "

Posted by: Geo Noakes on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 8:30pm GMT

John, I was not referring to any innate attractiveness (or "beauty") in the proposals, just the lack of support that various proposals seem to garner.

For instance, one option for people who "in conscience" cannot accept the ordination of women is to leave the church that ordains them, for one that doesn't. We are long past the age in which only one church was legal in England; one is free to join another church, and there are a number on offer that meet this criterion. I do not see this as an indecent proposal, or one that is "squashing" anyone or wounding their conscience. However, many seem unwilling to accept this proposal.

An alternative is, as I suggest (though without the ultimate provision of two bishops in every diocese raised by Cynthia) some form of separate bishop for those who cannot in conscience accept the ministry of the diocesan. My point is that this in effect creates two churches, a situation not unlike that outlined above, though with some overlap of administration. But the problem for many seems to be just in that overlap -- as in, will the "special" bishop be answerable to the diocesan, or wholly independent -- and some seem to be holding out for the latter, which is the nub of my question: Ignatius said that the church IS the people in union with its bishop. If they are not in union with the diocesan, are they really part of the same church? And if not, is this really more about pensions, stipends, and property?

Those are real concerns, and I understand them, and a further proposal would be to offer some kind of "separation" agreement to those who feel the rules have been unfairly changed out from under them. That seems to me to be a far more honest course, and one that doesn't introduce a dodgy ecclesiology of Schrödinger-Bishops.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 25 February 2013 at 10:46pm GMT

" It would appear that there are two churches coexisting with a minimal administrative connection, a kind of marriage of convenience. That is a solution (call it a "compromise" if you will) to the current problem, but it is not one that many seem to find attractive." - Fr. Tobias Haller -

This is an excellent summation of the situation facing the Church of England - should Women Bishops be ordained - with alternative oversight provided by the Church to cater for those who will not receive their episcopal ministry.

Whatever arguments come up for this ecclesial fudge - even the seemingly important 'pastoral accommodation' for dissenters - it will provide a split-personality ethos in the English Church.

Q: When is a Bishop not a Bishop?
A: When she is a Woman.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 5:56am GMT

John wrote:

"I really do not think that 'Thinking Anglicans' (which prides itself on its 'thought') should 'steer' debate by flagging-up particular expressions of opinion as 'excellent'"

I agree. The owners and moderators of this forum should remain neutral when they are offering material for the consideration of members; but I accept they remain free to express personal opinions in the comments section that follows.

Posted by: Labarum on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 5:58am GMT

Erm, no John and Labarum. This is from the About TA page:

"Thinking Anglicans will actively report news, events and documents that affect church people, and will comment on them from a liberal Christian perspective."

So actually, it makes sense that they would offer their own opinion on Miranda's article, leaving others to agree or disagree if they wish.

Posted by: Nick Nawrockyi on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 8:21am GMT

I thought the excellence of Miranda Threlfall-Holmes' blog resided in its thoroughness rather than the views expressed.

In any case, as with any privately run site, we post as guests and if we don't like the way it's operated we have the choice of withdrawing our participation.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 9:45am GMT

John, if you are going to lecture us on 'decency and grace' then it might have been better to leave out your third response to Dr Threlfall-Holmes' article?

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:11am GMT

I suppose any stick is good enough. In response to John, writing as a grammarian and retired university teacher of English, I cannot see how MT-W's English is ungrammatical and it is surely shooting the messenger to object to the word 'excellent'. MT-W has provided us with an excellent and thoughtful analysis and I would take Benedict and John a lot more seriously if they actually engaged with the arguments in an equally thoughtful and a coherent way. Equally, as Pam Smith points out, we are guests on this blog and are not compelled either to read it or comment. Benedict and other members of his party ask for respect and honour. That cuts both ways. To use Labarum's phraseology: I would like the opponents of WO to have the 'decency and the grace not to squash people who in good conscience accept WO or women bishops and just want a little space' It is not respectful to dismiss views as carefully expressed at MT-W's so cavalierly. Perhaps, Benedict and Labarum, you would be kind enough to provide us with a similar analysis of the Consultation Document from your perspective.

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:14am GMT

I agree that Threlfall-Holmes' assessment is excellent, because she gets to the heart of the matter:

1. Most of the current dilemmas actually come down to the hasty and ill-conceived nature of the 1993 Act of Synod which is now coming home to roost.

2. The example of the 1993 Act of Synod indicates that haste or knee-jerk reactions to the drama of the November 2012 vote are to be avoided in favour of clear and careful reflection.

3. Those who are opposed to the admission of women to the historic episcopate need to help those of us who are in favour understand where the line in the sand is, and if it truly is the admission of women itself, we need to acknowledge that line if it is a point beyond which reconciliation is not yet possible.

Posted by: Peter Sherlock on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:21am GMT

Pam, I'd agree with both points there. However, it is one of the flaws of the species that there isn't really a decent genuine Anglican debate chamber on the internet - not sure Ship of Fools cuts it, although it's probably the closest. I often find that the best debate is below the line, and the best places, from very different stables, are here, Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate, and probably As the Sun In Its Orb.

Problem is, the host or more often supportive claque majority can always close down the debate with "this is a Liberal/Vagantes/Ordinariate/whatever blog, go somewhere else if you don't like it."

Posted by: primroseleague on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:28am GMT

Cont

The danger is that they become hermetically sealed islands where the majority are in accord, with only a few dissidents on the margins.

Consequently, in my experience there's a lot of goodwill on the ground between pro and anti OW types in the parishes, but if they both only read their own propaganda of choice, whether it's the Watch website or Liberal digests like TA; or New Directions or the Ugley Vicar on the other side, then you can see why people end up talking past each other and thinking that everyone rational shares their pov...

There is a gap in the market for something that TA is very close to being, but isn't - sort of a totally non-partisan Anglican "let's talk about everything with good humour, and here are all the source documents from all parties, presented dispassionately, with no party line."

Posted by: primroseleague on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 11:29am GMT

"Problem is, the host or more often supportive claque majority can always close down the debate with "this is a Liberal/Vagantes/Ordinariate/whatever blog, go somewhere else if you don't like it"

I have not noticed the hosts of this blog trying to close down any debate. Nor has any majority of commenters here tried to do so.

Instead, there has been criticism of the hosts for expressing their own opinions when they have never said that they were impartial.

Instead of criticising the hosts for possible expressing their opinion (the word "excellent" could indeed have referred to the depth of MTH's analysis rather than the views she expressed), it really would be better if those who have a different view explained their side of it.

I have to say, yet again, those who don't like what is being said here are simply throwing their negative feelings into the room without substantiating anything with a single intelligent argument.

We would actually really like to engage with them properly but they're not making it very easy for us!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 1:16pm GMT

For some reason MTH has really rattled your cage, John, so I knew you would make some sort of negative comment, though you really are scraping the barrel with the comment about her English. Perhaps one has to be a Latin teacher to understand your strictures. Could you please make some more constructive contribution to the debate? What, for example, would your solution to the problem of accommodating those who cannot accept women as bishops actually look like?

Posted by: Helen on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 1:57pm GMT

Daniel wrote:

"To use Labarum's phraseology: I would like the opponents of WO to have the 'decency and the grace not to squash people who in good conscience accept WO or women bishops and just want a little space' It is not respectful to dismiss views as carefully expressed at MT-W's so cavalierly."

1. The words attributed to me are not mine.

2. My observation touched forum protocol, not the opinion of moderators or members.

Posted by: Labarum on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 3:13pm GMT

Continued:

3. My own opinion:

a. It is proper, for theological reasons, to promote the ordination of women to all orders of ministry in the Church Universal.

b. It is tactless and maybe even improper, for reasons of Church polity, for one tiny branch of the Church Universal to proceed to ordain women to the historic presbyterate and episcopate without international consent. As far as I can see that consent is still not forthcoming: the novelty has not be received.

c. Notwithstanding a. and b. promises were made to honour the reservations of a significant minority, and the provisions made when women were ordained to the presbyterate now need strengthening (and not weakening) because women in the episcopate raise a broader and deeper range of issues. Promises made should surely be kept.

d. When a minority in the world wide Church introduced this novelty they further impaired the unity of the Church - sacramentally and administratively. Where the supporters of the novelty are in a local majority the responsibility the principal duty to accommodate the local minority lies with them. If those who have introduced the novelty really believe history is on their side (it probably is) they have little to loose and much to gain from a maximal provision for the conservatives. Parallel jurisdiction would (if they are correct) be a short lived compromise.

Posted by: Labarum on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 3:19pm GMT

sorry Erika, I thought my comment was generally pretty supportive of TA - it certainly wasn't intended to be criticism of the readers or readership; in fact, I was agreeing with Pam!

I was making the more broad point that there doesn't seem to be the space for non-partisan engagement with the issues anywhere on the internet - an anti WO individual commenting on TA is taking their life into their own hands just as much as an avowed liberal would be somewhere else.

There is a consensus on this board about many things, as indeed there is on other boards about other things, which could do with robust challenging (not because it's wrong, but because it's unhealthy for views to be continually self-reinforced)but the odd lone voice here and there is incapable of doing that; you need weight of numbers. Until swarms of "Traditionalists" are happy to come and comment here, and liberals to go to the other places, I just don't see much progress - other than SoF style heavy handed modding I'm not sure what the answer is to that. That's why, as I said, I think it's often easier in the parishes, face to face, where both parties have to confront the whites of the eyes.

Posted by: primroseleague on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 3:25pm GMT

Primroseleague,
Apologies!!
I noticed as soon as I had posted my comment that I used your paragraph but then moved to a criticism of other posters here and that I should have made that clearer.

I would say, though, that TA is the only forum I know where no-one is censored unless they become too rude or go on and on and on making the same point over and over again.

Compared to other blogs, the moderators very rarely make any comments in the actual post, although the selection of posts alone clearly shows that this is a liberal blog. And I would still say that we cannot be sure what the “excellent” that started this debate referred to.

I don't know why "swarms of traditionalists" are not happy to come here. We engage with them - robustly - but that should not be a problem.

Now, I'm clearly biased, but I do tend to find that the breadth of argument from traditionalists is often rather limited. That's partly because when you have already decided that only a particular range of arguments is permissible and that everything outside that range is "heresy", you cannot engage constructively with many of the points people make here.
I don't think anyone stops traditionalists from doing so.
But I would ask you to read just this particular comment thread again and show me where the traditionalists have engaged constructively.
Surely - it's possible? Or are there no coherent arguments in their favour? Why do they not make them? And again, I exempt you from this charge, because you have actually made constructive contributions here on earlier threads that did help me to understand some things better.

Just saying that something has been done for 2000 years and that most of the other ancient churches don’t support it is not considered a credible theological argument round here. But I presume people’s traditionalism rests in a little more than that?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 7:01pm GMT

My apologies, Labarum, for mis-attributing John's words to you. More haste, less speed. On the matter of forum protocol, we will agree courteously to differ.

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 9:59pm GMT

I'm happy to "take my life in my hands" and I don't mind a little robustness. I don't think that I have (or at least would give myself) a theological "label" but I started commenting here in a genuine attempt to understand more of something I understood little- that is "Liberal" and "Inclusive" Christianity but I find it increasingly hard.

I think it is important to try to further understanding because that is challenging, mind-broadening and as it tends to allay unfounded suspicion it helps with tolerance of difference if necessary.

But I'm afraid that serious challenges laid to the underlying presumptions I find here are all too often met only with the type of response that I must therefore think that,

"women and LGBT persons are underserving of the dignity of men..."

"...every single woman called to ministry is delusional"

"LGBT persons deserve the hate and everything that happens to them"

And that to argue is "no different from anti-semitism, colonialism, and racism".

It really is very disappointing- I don't hold any of those views and I do not believe that I have ever posted anything that suggests that I might but it is assumed that I do because I venture to ask about presumptions.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that I am a anti-semitic, colonialistic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic bigot. Surely the responsibility of a liberal blog is to tell me WHY I'm wrong not just to tell me, (however forcefully and repetitively), that I am. The strength of the invective does nothing to convince- in fact, probably the opposite- it seems to hide a paucity of real argument. I have to say that is the opposite of what I had assumed a liberal blog would be like- I thought it would by definition be the forum most open to different ideas, however challenging those ideas may be. I thought that was what liberal thought was: I fear that I have learnt that instead it regards all arguments that challenge any idea of "inclusion", including salvation through other faiths, as closed. In many ways therefore I wonder what there is left to discuss. Perhaps that is why the threads with the most discussion are those which deal with how to erradicate any non-liberal dissent from the church- it seem that most posters think that is the only task left.

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 12:07am GMT

Labarum, justice for women needs to wait for the international church? Justice is a "novelty?"

Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa have WB's. Some of us have had WO for decades.

You would have women and girls in England endure humiliation until Africa comes around? Is that correct? I don't want to put words in your mouth. I have seen others support this view.

The problem of the "international church" is that many of the cultures are horrifically oppressive of women. Poverty, rape, powerlessness, patriarchy. We have to wait for them to catch up? Is that the argument?

If that's the argument, then it might be a good idea to take another look at MLK's Letter from the Birmingham (Alabama) Jail. Alternatively, it might be a good idea to work very vigorously on the Millennium Development Goals to educate, empower, and lift up women and girls in impoverished situations.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 5:09am GMT

Johnny
I hear what you're saying and I agree to some extent.
But you know, many of us have been commenting here for years. And we have been having the same basic conversations for years.
As soon as we have finished a round of "these are the basic arguments and this is why we believe you ought to re-think your views" with one person, another one pops up who is new to TA and who would like the whole cycle to start again.
There's a limit to what can be done. And having the same basic conversations over and over again is not why most of us read TA.

I noticed when you first asked about the new church in Sheffield that you did not know anything about the background in the US and in Britain leading up to it. But TA has been posting about it for years and we have discussed it for years.
The answers you were given were coloured by years of discussion and by the assumption that the subject matter itself is well known.
To you our answers made no sense and you got increasingly frustrated.

It is not possible for everyone here to start explaining the background of every post and the complex thinking behind it. It would take a long time, it would take over the thread, and it would bore most people here rigid. Even if it could be done, having done it, another person would start reading TA and would want us to do it all again.

There has to be an onus on new readers to educate themselves about the history of stories and about the various theologies underpinning people’s views. You can google every topic and include “Thinking Anglicans” in your search to find many posts and comment threads to read through.

And I would also say that a liberal blog is open to all kinds of challenging ideas. What it is decidedly not open to is repeated demands that it must tolerate oppression and intolerance.

And as for “discussions about salvation through other faiths being closed” – no, they just haven’t come up in a TA blog post recently. We try to stick to comments about the posts the moderators put up here. It’s not always possible and conversations to get side-tracked. But this is not a blog for general “today I feel like talking about this “ discussions.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 8:33am GMT

"b. It is tactless and maybe even improper, for reasons of Church polity, for one tiny branch of the Church Universal to proceed to ordain women to the historic presbyterate and episcopate without international consent. As far as I can see that consent is still not forthcoming: the novelty has not be received." - Labarum -

This sounds very much like a comment from a dyed in the wool Roman Catholic - perhaps not really attempoting to comment as a 'Thinking Anglican'.

Since when has the Anglican Communion had to appeal to either Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy to make decisions about who may or may not minister in its ordained ministry? The days of submission to the Roman Magisterium disappeared at the Reformation. Remember the adage: "The Pope has no jurisdiction in England" ?

Rome, in fact, does not officially recognise Anglican Orders as valid in any case. So why should the Church of England be required to do what Rome does? Catholicity does not depend on umbilical connection with the Bishop of Rome. At least, that's what I believed when I was ordained.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 8:48am GMT

Some interesting responses to my post. They illustrate Jonny's observations.

"Catholicity does not depend on umbilical connection with the Bishop of Rome. At least, that's what I believed when I was ordained." So did I, and still do. The Roman Church is no different to the Anglican Communion - it is but a broken fragment of the Church Catholic. I do, however become increasingly concerned that on some very significant points of doctrine the Anglican Communion is moving more and more from the historic consensus of core beliefs.

The responses I have seen to far to my post do not seem to be an engagement with my rationally expressed views, but and attempt to parody and rubbish them. They same strategy is used by so called liberals to when "discussing" homosexuality. As soon as the charge of "homophobia" is raised all rational discussion becomes impossible.

Posted by: Labarum on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 10:23am GMT

In these days, and for obvious reasons my mind keeps returning to what Joseph Ratzinger (AKA Benedict) has to say about the dictatorship of relativism


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI#.22Dictatorship_of_Relativism.22

It is the fate of un-anchored liberalism to degenerate into totalitarianism.

And I say that, not because I am a Roman Catholic, or an Anglo-Papalist, but because I was raised a "Prayer Book Catholic", and remains true to that tradition as a child of the Oxford movement, and of Newman.

It is most telling that Benedict has been at very great pains to honour Newman - he saw it all coming.

Posted by: Labarum on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 10:33am GMT

Erika,

"But I would ask you to read just this particular comment thread again and show me where the traditionalists have engaged constructively.
Surely - it's possible? Or are there no coherent arguments in their favour? Why do they not make them?"

Obviously I can't answer for everyone. I think Johnny has a point in that people might be put off by the sort of reception their points get - there is an assumption that it must be because of sexism, mysogeny, discrimination etc. People just give up - I read far more than I comment certainly, but then I have had good exchanges with you. The only ones left regularly commenting from the Anti POV are not as constructive IMHO, but then if they're just going to sneer then I can't say what their motivation is.

Posted by: primroseleague on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 12:00pm GMT

Cont
There are people that would engage, I'm one of them, but as I said yesterday for one reason or another this just doesn't seem to be the place, because it must always be "let's go the den of the self-defined liberals and talk to them." There needs to be some neutral ground. It's not just one way though. On the "Conservative" (AC or ConEVO) websites you can count the commenting/challenging Liberals on the fingers of one hand, so they become self-reinforced in their views too....

The other point is that lots of compromises have been put on the table since WO (which in itself was a compromise from the anti side), but all of them are apparently off-limits for revisiting.

What's the point of repeatedly saying what would do when one side won't listen? (BTW that applies to conservatives v the vote that failed in the HoL but passed the other 2, as well as to liberals v the vote that failed in the HoC but passed the other 2).

I'd like to revisit the latter proposal, but then as a "conservative AC" I would say that....

It's just so tiring, that I suppose many that disagree with the general line here have just given up even trying to engage - as must be the case in reverse on other sites.

Posted by: primroseleague on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 12:03pm GMT

It occurs to me that the best and most productive discussions in all walks of life (with the possible exception of Nixon going to China) rarely occur on the home turf of one or the other parties to them...

Posted by: primroseleague on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 1:08pm GMT

Primroseleague,
I did reply to Johnny but my comment didn't get through. And a few threads back I replied to Johnny about his WO proposal for a third province and it didn't get through although I posted it three times.
There's clearly a glitch in the system.

One of the main difficulties is that these are very old conversations and that people here have been having them for years. There is no "FAQ" section or now "Newbie" corner, and so we finish a round of conversation and then someone else comes in who hasn't read it and who wants to start the whole debate again from scratch.
That doesn't work, ultimately. If people want to know why, for example, a Third Province was rejected from the outset, they need to do some googling and revisit the debate of 20 years ago.

I agree, there is a lot of sneering on both sides and there shouldn't be.
But believe me, there isn't a single argument against gay people and women I have ever heard that I do not believe to be rooted in misogyny and heterosexism, although I will accept that those making the arguments would genuinely not see it like that.
After years of debating these issues, I cannot unthink that and start a fresh conversation with someone who has not debated these issues before as if I was still making up my mind.

ED NOTE: on reading this comment I went to look in the spam file and found your earlier comment, which I have now approved.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 2:29pm GMT

In terms of an appropriate forum for discussion on this issue, surely shipoffools would work? Specifically the "Women Bishops - what now?" thread on the "Dead Horses" board.

Almost a month ago I threw out a challenge to fellow shipmates to come up with constructive ideas for how best to proceed: only nine responses, the last of which was on 9 February, and two of which came from me.

There is great potential for discussion, and constructive discussion at that, but I just don't see it happening. Get involved!

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 2:40pm GMT

Labarum, I can only say I don't see any evidence to support your point "b." in terms of church history. The notion that development takes place globally rather than locally does not appear to be self-evidently true, or true on the basis of other evidence. It may express a desideratum or a modus vivendi, but it does not reflect how Anglicanism, for example, in fact emerged: as local innovation, some of which was not "received" for several centuries (e.g., the common cup and vernacular liturgy.)

The incarnation itself, and the birth of the church, did not wait for global assent, but happened. Reception came afterwards.

At the same time, I do respect your appeal for toleration. I do not think that appeal need rest on your point "b." for validity. Minority views should be respected whether they are the wave of the future or the deposit of the past.

My concern here has been purely practical, as to how -- and to what extent -- separate episcopates in parallel can be said to represent a "church" and if there might not be a better solution to the dilemma.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 3:32pm GMT

Helen,

I don't think it's any old stick. But I'll just say this: I have many objections to this piece, but what they all boil down to is this: 'I want' (better than 'desire') 'pity/compassion' (better than 'mercy') 'not sacrifice'. That, for me, trumps everything, and, since the great WO and women bishops debate has been won (and, in my view, rightly so), it does so here too. The piece we are talking about here (and others by the same writer) seems to me a compassion-free zone - and I really dislike it.

P.s.: I am perfectly aware that I personally frequently fail to live up to this great principle, as you among others have kindly pointed out to me.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 4:07pm GMT

Perhaps some contributors do not realise how provocative their language can be. To consistently describe women's ordination as mere "novelty" is not calculated to promote calm and open discussion. It is a word which demeans the whole process by which women came to be ordained in so many reformed churches, as well as the ministry of the women priests themselves.
The word "liberal" perhaps raises the wrong kind of expectations. As a "liberal" Anglican I do have principles, including the conviction that no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of gender or sexual orientation. Views which challenge these principles I cannot accept. Yet I was brought up in a church which did not acknowledge homosexuals (and indeed in a country which legislated against them) and which maintained an all male priesthood. I have lived through all that and encountered all the arguments for maintaining the status quo. I'm afraid they no longer convince. I also know too much about the Bible to be able to accept the inerrancy of Scripture. There is no going back.
I wonder therefore how much discussions on the Internet can achieve.

Posted by: Helen on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 4:51pm GMT

Dear All, what a breath of fresh air to read some of the above- may we all, (me included I hope), be encouraged to engage graciously and robustly with each other or as primroseleague says there is great danger of the forum being lost to anyone would cannot immediately prove themselves by rhetoric to be a card-carrying liberal. I had thought of just giving-up my enquiries myself so am heartened.

Two things I am interested in re. this thread.

First could someone list the "compromises" that supporters of the consecration of female bishops have made? What I read repeatedly are two things. One is that the compromise is for women to offer/continue to minister in a church that has parts that do not recognise their orders. I'm afraid, however noble that may be I can't see it as a "compromise"- it is simply the recognition of a fact. That fact will not change whatever is "done" about the consecration of women because no step Synods or anyone else makes can change peoples' minds. Acceptance of the inevitable is not compromise. Moreover isn't it a "score draw" because the "antis" have to accept a church with clergy they don't recognise- thus it seems to me that it is a compromise on both sides.

Secondly, I see that the offer of some sort of "alternative provision" is said to be compromises. However the suggestion is always that the "provision" will only be by way of the female bishop being "the bishop" and inviting someone else in/delegating roles. That as I read it has never been acceptable to the "antis". To offer something that is known is unacceptable is not compromise. Anyone can make any number of "offers of compromise" if it is known in advance that the "offer" is regarded as no compromise at all because it doesn't address the issue. (Of course the same can be said on both "sides"- that again would be a "score draw").

So everyone, what am I missing in the history of this seemingly sorry saga?

Secondly, Cynthia keeps suggesting a male and female bishop in each diocese. Might that not be a possible solution? If not, why not?

Thanks all,

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 6:13pm GMT

Tobias wrote:

"My concern here has been purely practical, as to how -- and to what extent -- separate episcopates in parallel can be said to represent a "church" and if there might not be a better solution to the dilemma."

Parallel jurisdiction? I can't see a better solution: I can't see another solution. But you are right, if we branch into two (or more) episcopal "bloodlines" we become two (or more) churches. And yet Orthodoxy seems to be able to live with overlapping geographical jurisdictions looking to different Patriarchates; and the Roman Church manages to live with the extra-diocesan jurisdictions of the Religious Orders - and has made room for the Ordinariates.

Yes, it's untidy, but I think we have to live with some very untidy compromises that amount to a limited and controlled schism, or we will catapult ourselves into a full blown schism.

(See the other thread on events in Sheffield.)

Posted by: Labarum on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 7:56pm GMT

Helen said:

"Perhaps some contributors do not realise how provocative their language can be. To consistently describe women's ordination as mere "novelty" is not calculated to promote calm and open discussion. It is a word which demeans the whole process by which women came to be ordained in so many reformed churches, as well as the ministry of the women priests themselves."

I agree language can be inflamatory, language can be mis-heard and language can be wilfully mis-reported.

I said precisely "novelty" - that which is new. I did not say "mere "novelty"". The spin is in the "mere", and I did not write the word "mere".

I had though, an understanding of how "novelty" might be heard, and chose to write it anyway in order to illustrate the dynamics of the discussion in a future post. (This post.) Would "innovation" have been a better word? Probably not, for there is a strong motivation to discount contrary views.

A couple of weeks ago I was described as a "discriminator" - that is a word like "homophobe" - it closes down rational discussion.

Posted by: Labarum on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 8:35pm GMT

The difficulty I have with John's recent comment is that the WO and women bishops issue has not been "won" in any practical sense. There are no bishops who are women in the Church of England ; there can be no bishops who are women in the forseeable future however much the current House of Bishops might find it easier if there were; and what is now being give n voice to in the various consultations that are taking place is the way ordained women are still being discriminated against in by overt acts, or else lack of recognition of the extent to which the C of E still thinks in discriminatory ways. No space in this comment column to give all the examples but there are many, and more coming to light all the time.

Posted by: RosalindR on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 10:15pm GMT

John
I didn't mention sticks; you are perhaps referring to a different writer.
You appear to me to be sitting in judgement on MTH in a way that is unfair, almost as though you are conducting a private feud against her on this blog-hence the accusation (bizarre) of ungrammatical writing. I find this unpleasant.I think you would be better off defining what "compassion" would mean in terms of a real settlement of the WB issue: that would make a constructive contribution to the debate.

Posted by: Helen on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 10:34pm GMT

Thank you, Labarum. That is very helpful. I agree it is a messy solution, but then, we are in a bit of a mess, in my opinion, and any tidying up will require that we deal with that mess.

The ideal has always been the enemy of the real. To me the church is at its best when a "settlement" can include people who disagree profoundly and yet recognize in each other some sign of grace. Ultimately I believe that how we treat one another is more important than the extent to which we agree.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 11:01pm GMT

Johnny wrote: Surely the responsibility of a liberal blog is to tell me WHY I'm wrong not just to tell me,

Here it comes. I just wrote about homophobia, addressing Labarum, so I won't repeat that mini Bible study here. For you, it'll be WB's, and women and girls in general.

One of the two creation stories says that God created male and female and he created THEM in HIS image. Male and female, both created in God's image. God probably isn't a He, actually, that is likely linguistic.

Fast forward to Jesus. Jesus broke taboos each time he spoke with women, such as the Samaritan Woman, healed them, or taught them. Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the Resurrection. Jesus's most harsh words are against the establishment for using the Law to exclude and demean people. There are lots of books on this, She Who Is is my more recent favorite.

Paul is rude in one letter to one specific situation where he tells women in that church to be silent. He also wrote that in God there was neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, slave nor free...
Women were leaders in the early church, so the oppression happened later.

Most important, in my view, is that Jesus left us with a good measuring device for determining false prophets from real ones. Jesus said that you can tell by the fruits of their labor. The fruits of homophobia and misogyny are depression and a host of mental and physical illness, even suicide (especially amongst gay teens). The fruits include horrific events such as the death penalty for gayness in Uganda and yahoos murdering Matthew Shepherd in Wyoming, not that far from where I live.

I like better the fruits of the prophets, Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu. Liberation. Compassion. Justice.

So what exactly are your reasons for supporting misogyny and homophobia? Does that mean foreign meddling in the CoE is OK?

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 3:17am GMT

"un-anchored liberalism"

I can't speak for other liberals. In TEC we are solidly anchored. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (followed by the story of the Good Samaritan - Samaritans being HATED by the Judeans). "Don't judge," "take the log out of your eye..." As well as the example of Jesus hanging with the outcasts and being criticized for healing on the Sabbath and breaking the cleanliness code to serve people of all sorts. "Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with God."

We are anchored. And we have our Baptismal Covenant. Several times a year we pledge to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

We are anchored. And we have the examples of MLK and Desmond Tutu.

It is a huge mistake to think that the liberals aren't firmly rooted in the justice and social conscience of Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 3:53am GMT

Cynthia wrote:

"It is a huge mistake to think that the liberals aren't firmly rooted in the justice and social conscience of Jesus Christ."

Which of course is a massive problem given the difficulties of "The quest for the historical Jesus"

But in general I am again taken to task for something I did not say. I did not say "all liberals are "un-anchored", I said that the subset of liberals that is un-anchored run the risks seen by Newman and Ratzinger. Where a belief in objective truth is surrendered to relativism (post-modernism) the danger is that subjectively grasped values will be imposed by force (totalitarinaism.)

And so many of these discussions move beyond reason - where there are no agreed truth-rules, resolution of differences comes by force - force of arms in the worse case, but in many cases by bullying.

Posted by: Labarum on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 9:24am GMT

Colleagues,
Can I return us to where we began, please. Miranda Thelfall-Holmes has written a careful, detailed and thoughtful analysis of the issues surrounding the consecration of women bishops which was designed as a contribution to the Synod consultation. Moreover,she submitted it under her full name. I am sure that there are good and proper reasons for people concealing their true identities under a pseudonym, unlike MT-H, but this makes me less likely to treat their comments with full seriousness. The piece was immediately dismissed by what I can only call a sneer from Benedict which perhaps set the tone. The comments make interesting reading but have wondered a little off topic.

Could I please make a plea for someone to write an equally thoughtful and detailed response, under their full name to MT-W's piece setting out their reasons for opposing the consecration of women bishops. We need something longer than 400 words to engage properly with the issues. I have read 'Consecrating Women' but I did not find that intellectually convincing.

I think that we use the term 'liberal' too indiscriminately. These labels are not helpful. However, I would recommend Ian Bradley's 'Grace, Order, Openness and Diversity' which sets out to reclaim liberal theology.

Daniel Lamont

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 9:32am GMT

A Google on "Labarum" will reveal my identity as part of the Oremus family; but yes, to get back on topic would be good.

Posted by: Labarum on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 10:27am GMT

Helen,

It has been won. The chief (not the only) reason it has not yet been implemented is the refusal of some 'liberals' to 'give' just a bit more. That is a failure of compassion in my opinion. I am not alone in this opinion, even among 'liberals', even among some 'liberal' theologians, even among some women priests.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 10:27am GMT

Daniel
"Could I please make a plea for someone to write an equally thoughtful and detailed response, under their full name to MT-W's piece setting out their reasons for opposing the consecration of women bishops."

I agree that an equally thoughtful and engaging piece would be desirable. But I hope it will not engage with why women should not be bishops.
As John points out - that debate has been had and the principle of women bishops in the CoE has been accepted.
All we are talking about is the implementation.

And so I would like to see thoughtful engagement with what those opposing women bishops suggest should happen now. A simply treatise on why women should not be priests or bishops would only re-open yesterday's debate.

Today's debate will have to move on from there. A contribution would, of course, explain the writer's reasons for opposing women bishops but this would only be the basis on which to develop the outline of a solution to the current impasse.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 10:41am GMT

Erika,

"I agree that an equally thoughtful and engaging piece would be desirable. But I hope it will not engage with why women should not be bishops.
As John points out - that debate has been had and the principle of women bishops in the CoE has been accepted.
All we are talking about is the implementation."

I sort of see what you're saying - although surely if you don't understand where the antis are coming from then it might be hard to see how the implementation can work - so it has to engage with why THEY believe women should not be bishops?

Also, your argument here does have a ring of "what's settled can't be changed" which is ironic given what we're discussing!

Posted by: primroseleague on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 11:01am GMT

Primroseleague
what's settled can't be change is indeed right.
We are not talking about WHETHER women can become bishops in the CoE, we are only talking about the terms on which they can become bishops.

And the objections and their reasons are relevant in working out the terms the antis can accept. To that end, they must be included in the argument.
But only as a basis of developing the answer to the question the church is asking.

The provisions Evangelicals require will be different to those Anglo-Catholics require, precisely because of their different theological objections.
But we are way way past the point of just stating those objections as if that meant that the CoE would change its mind about women bishops.
That would be to miss the purpose of this debate completely.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 12:50pm GMT

Labarum writes: And so many of these discussions move beyond reason - where there are no agreed truth-rules, resolution of differences comes by force - force of arms in the worse case, but in many cases by bullying.

I think we can agree on the bullying. And it is worth examining the reality of the bullying. I'll skip Hitler. I live and work on a route that occasionally takes me to Laramie, Wyoming where Matthew Shepherd was murdered, practically crucified and left for dead with tears frozen on his face. My route takes me past the hospital where he died. Those yahoos justified their acts because they "knew" that God hates fags. In Michelle Bachmann's congressional district (she's one of those awful tea bag GOP people) the schools passed an anti-bullying policy including LGBT kids. The local conservative "Christians" insisted that the policy be removed and they threatened the jobs of any teacher or principal who enforced it. Teachers and principals turned a blind eye to bullying. The suicide rate amongst the teens in this district sky rocketed.

Perhaps this doesn't happen in the UK, but US hospitals still see a lot of domestic violence against women. And rape. And women tend to suffer depression and a host of mental ills related to how we are treated in society, with many of us suffering discrimination and repression. I've been to the Third World, First World suffering my not be as horrific, but it is still horrible and senseless, and frequently deadly.

Passionate words in defense of the oppressed is not bullying. I'm sorry if you see it as such. Do you think Jesus was bullying the Pharisees in his various outbursts?

Real suffering comes of discrimination. Real suffering comes when the church says that anyone is lesser in the eyes of God. I think that given the oppressive history of the church, that it takes an interesting array of rationalizations to continue to hold the oppressive position.

Are there any Witnesses to suffering in the UK? Or has CoE become so irrelevant that it neither causes nor consoles suffering in the broader society?

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 6:05pm GMT

Erica, John and Primroseleague seem to be sure that the question as to whether there should or should not be women priests and bishops has been settled. I'm afraid that I am not so sanguine as I am inclined to see certain people using the matter of implementation as a rearguard means of fighting the principle. I hope that I am proved wrong. There is a just call for compassion but in my experience not a lot of compassion has been shown by some to women priests - bullying is more like it. However, to rephrase my request, I would like to see a reasoned and detailed position papers which set out a) what the conservative Evangelicals and b) the conservative Anglo-Catholics want from the implementation process. What would be a compromise too far would be any implementation which created women bishops whose roles, rights and responsibilities were in any way different from male bishops. A first and second class episcopate would be quite unacceptable. There does seem to be a movement on this thread - but maybe I have misread it - to accept a church with a church.

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 6:07pm GMT

Daniel,
I would say that the shocked reaction to the vote in November shows that the question of women bishops really has been settled. There is no way this church will tolerate for the current situation to continue for long.
And if it tried, Parliament would intervene.

And I agree 100% with the proposals you are looking for from conservatives.

I am also not at all sanguine about a church within a church. I have never understood how complete internal separation in order to retain unity makes any logical sense at all, and the theology of a church in which different groups have to be structurally protected from each other is a dangerous nonsense.

But then, I have also always felt that the PEV scheme was theological nonsense because there is not a single bishop in the CoE at the moment who does not guarantee sacramental assurance - wanting a right thinking bishop to boot was only ever Donatism. The church within a church was de facto started 20 years ago. It's only because the principle is likely to be extended to bishop level that the consequences of it become much more apparent.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 7:19pm GMT

Cynthia, please stop hectoring me.

I agree with much of what you say. Violence and bullying is always to be resisted.

I wonder how you would respond to someone who quietly and politely said to you that they believed homosexuality to be an objective disorder of our God-given nature?

By the way, hectoring is another word for bullying.

Posted by: Labarum on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 8:06pm GMT

I hadn't read all the comments so I issue a general apology to all (and Erika in particular)for my ignorance and lack of prior research as a "newbie" and for boring people. I will try and post much less and research much more.

I had failed totally to appreciate that this is a site really designed for those steeped in all things Liberal/Inclusive, who have been posting "for years" and no longer wanted/needed to consider the underlying theological propositions and no longer wanted to debate them.

Perhaps there could be a "newcomers" section that make these expectations clear so that others don't blunder in here.

Again I'm sorry.

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 8:18pm GMT

Daniel, you're absolutely right. At the GS debate last year there were loads of speeches about male headship etc. For people opposed to women priests and bishops delay is good, and indefinite delay better...

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 8:57pm GMT

As a regular lurker and occasional commenter, ex CofE / FinF / member of +Richborough's flock, now living in Canada since 1996 and a Roman Catholic since 1999, I'm going to take the bait and chime in with what I think is a workable solution. Have at me.

For the most part, traditionalist catholics are looking for an unbroken male episcopal line, with no women involved along the way, and for their own bishops to have sufficient authority. Given experiences elsewhere in the communion, they don't trust women bishops not to carry out forced visitations and to appoint sympathetic clergy. Neither do they trust that non-legislated provisions would last long - in other provinces, voluntary or goodwill arrangements have been overturned quickly.

Those on the pro-side are completely unwilling to accept extra-territorial dioceses or structures on the one hand, and any differentiation between male and female bishops on the other.

Therefore the CofE is at an impasse. I can't see any way of reconciling these two positions at all.

Personally I don't understand why any traditionalist catholic would stay in the CofE at this point and not join the Ordinariate. However, there may be a number of reasons rooted in attachment to buildings, communities, family, history, and so forth.

Therefore I would propose that instead of trying to provide for the traditionalist catholics inside the CofE, it would be better to work together with the Roman Catholic authorities to smooth the transition of that constituency to the Ordinariate. Such a package could include an openness to church sharing or leasing, financial support for clergy departing the CofE until they find secular employment or RC chaplaincy positions to support themselves, and the establishment of some kind of cooperation. This would be both at the parish and grass roots level such that community ties between those in the Ordinariate and the churches they have left can be maintained as strongly as possible, and at the national level reflecting the shared history and heritage of the CofE and the Ordinariate.

If this was done properly then "on the ground" there need be only minimal difference in the everyday functioning of the parishes/groups in question. Indeed, many Roman Catholics used to mistakenly come to my old parish, attend Mass and be shocked afterwards to discover it was a CofE church.

I think this would reap significant ecumenical benefits and would best exemplify "live and let live."

I can't speak for the evangelical constituency, but I think provision there would be more straightforward, because they just need a male bishop. Someone else can chime in on what would work there.

Posted by: Clive on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 8:57pm GMT

Some comments above are tending to the *ad hominem*. Please do take care...

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 10:56pm GMT

The word "novelty" has connotations Labarum. So has "discrimination".

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 11:02pm GMT

"I wonder how you would respond to someone who quietly and politely said to you that they believed homosexuality to be an objective disorder of our God-given nature?"

I would refer them to the psychiatric manuals that have used science to differ with that assessment and note that scientists have removed gayness as a disorder.

I would also politely wonder how this person arrived at the conclusion that they can speak for God when God has clearly created gay people? And provided them with loving partners?

I would challenge them on the word "objective."

Since this particular thread is about MTH's excellent argument, I would add that God created female and male in God's image, and that has implications. I would likely remind the person that the church used to burn uppity women as witches.

The abstract discussions have a use. But really, this all needs flesh and blood. What happens when your child is gay? What happens when your daughter or wife gets called to ministry? What happens when you see the injustice?

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 12:23am GMT

Johnny
I don't think I said that this site is "for" people who have been reading it for years. It's just how it is - people HAVE been reading it for years. And every so often someone comes in who start off by berating us for having the conversations we're having and not the ones they would like us to have. I have tried to explain that this is not because we are wickedly ignoring people who disagree with us but because we have been having those "back to basics" conversations several times before.

As for this site being largely frequented by liberals - yes, it is. I admire conservative people who stay here for long periods of time. I could not cope for long on conservative sites. But, unfortunately, because most of us here are liberal, certainly as regards the full inclusion of gay people and women, it can happen that people like you end up feeling beleaguered. Again, that's not because we are out to get you but because for every robust post of yours about 5 of us will reply with a robust alternative comment. The imbalance is just part of the fact that it is a liberal blog.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 8:14am GMT

Labarum,
what I would say to the person who quietly believes me to be disordered is that, willingly or not, they provide the intellectual framework for those who then use this justification to go out and bully me and murder my brothers and sisters.

There is, ultimately, a very clear dividing line between those who believe in full equality and those who, for whatever reason, don't believe in it and who think that their personal belief gives them the right to interfere in our lives.

I have friends who believe that homosexuality is against God's will. But they do not argue that point loudly in public, they do not try to prevent gay people from having the same civil rights as they do and they do not try to stop their church from including us fully at all levels on the same terms as straights.

As soon as you do that, you assume a power over me that is completely unjustified. And the real issue here is power. Once you indicate that it's ok for one group of people to determine what another group of people can or cannot do, you begin to oppress them and you align yourself with all the other oppressors, each in their own way.

The other point is that moral views develop and change over time and that what once was perfectly normal becomes unacceptable and immoral.

You would no longer say that you quietly thought that blacks are inferior and hope that anyone would accept that to be a perfectly acceptable stance.

Society is getting to the point where those views about gay people are beginning to be seen as immoral. And increasingly, people in the church see them as immoral too.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 8:24am GMT

Erika says:

"I would say to the person who quietly believes me to be disordered is that, willingly or not, they provide the intellectual framework for those who then use this justification to go out and bully me and murder my brothers and sisters."

A big issue, I will agree; but of course they make a false and morally reprehensible justification for offering others violence.

Whether you agree with it or not The Catechism of the (Roman) Catholic Church is very careful and very clear:

"2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm

Posted by: Labarum on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 9:35am GMT

Labarum,
I am not Roman Catholic.
And I believe the Roman Catholic view to be intrinsically immoral.

In fact, I really go along with Roman Catholic Theologian James Alison that the RC church has NO doctrine on homosexuality because it has not yet taken on board that it is something people are simply born as.

The assumption that something is dis-ordered assumes that there is a normal "ordered" it can be measured against.
That made sense while people thought that gays were defective straights, or people wilfully going against humanity's God given straight nature.

In the last 50 years or so, we have come understand homosexuality as a completely normal variant of being human.

I look forward to the day the Roman Catholic church will develop a moral theology that is based on the new anthropological understanding of humanity.

See also http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng59.html

Ignoring new realities didn't make the Roman Catholic church right when it condemned Galileo and it doesn't make it right now.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 10:27am GMT

Could someone please point out to me the logical flaw in the following sentence?

If one supports a policy that discriminates, then one supports discrimination and is oneself a discriminator.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 11:57am GMT

I wonder why Clive's proposal hasn't been more widely explored. Have all the clergy and parishes that were ever going to join the Ordinariate now done so, or does the Ordinariate still represent an option here?

I imagine sticking points would be stipend, pension and buildings (churches and clergy housing). Generosity from both sides would be needed.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 11:57am GMT

Erika wrote:

"The assumption that something is dis-ordered assumes that there is a normal "ordered" it can be measured against.
That made sense while people thought that gays were defective straights, or people wilfully going against humanity's God given straight nature.

In the last 50 years or so, we have come understand homosexuality as a completely normal variant of being human."

Two answers to that strain of thought:

1. Apply Hume's Law

http://papernun.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/philosophy-of-transgenderism-humes-law/

2. Consider Original Sin

We need to consider whether homosexuality is a reflection of man-in-the-image-of-God, or whether it is a consequence of the Fall. Any Christian ethics cannot necessarily equate the natural with the good.

Posted by: Labarum on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 12:25pm GMT

Alistair,
I know quite a few Anglo-Catholics who oppose women's ordination but who are decidedly not Roman Catholic. There is more to Roman Catholicism than not wanting women priests. These people could genuinely not join an Ordinariate or convert.

And the Ordinariate is no option at all for the Evangelical objectors to women's ordination. And, just as some Anglo-Catholics, some Evangelicals also appear to need a bishop who agrees with their theology, not just any male one.

The Ordinariate exists, anyone who wants to is welcome to join it. That's about it, I would have thought.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 12:37pm GMT

"Any Christian ethics cannot necessarily equate the natural with the good."

Indeed. And the key, as Cynthia pointed out before, is the question what fruit each bears.

And we know that gay people are capable of living the same happy, productive, caring and giving lives as straights and that they contribute precisely as much to society.

Conversely, we know that marginalising gay people and assigning them a lesser moral status leads to them being bullied, beaten up and murdered just for who they are. It leads to self disgust, unhealthy lifestyle choices, depression, mental illness and suicide.

Which is precisely why the majority of people in our society and in our churches have now come to the conclusion that it is immoral believe in an intrinsic lesser moral value of gay people.

We've managed that same process when we became aware that blacks were equal to whites and that their equal treatment was a biblical imperative.
We're in the middle of undergoing precisely the same process with gay people. And the outcome will be precisely the same one too.

Most of us have already understood that.
The rest of the church will catch up. Eventually. The Roman Catholics will probably need another few hundred years.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:04pm GMT

"some [...] also appear to need a bishop who agrees with their theology"

This is surely at the heart of the problem, though, isn't it? I am sure there are plenty of parishes NOW who do not have bishops who agree with their theology - conservative evangelicals in Salisbury or catholics in Lichfield, say.

Are we to say that anyone should be able to request a different bishop if we do not agree with the theology of the one in whose diocese we reside? It has been positted that the 1993 Act of Synod provides a possible precedent for that...

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:18pm GMT

Alistair, I agree.
But with the institution of the PEV scheme 20 years ago we have given the green light to choosing a bishop because he agrees with you. There is still not a single bishop who threatens sacramental assurance. The PEV scheme was never about that.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:40pm GMT

Erika,

Yes, there is more to Anglo-Catholicism. Nonetheless there is a large constituency (all of the CofE Catholics with which I remain in touch included) who might seriously consider the Ordinariate if not for practical and/or emotional concerns about finance, clergy support, and buildings. Now, we could climb on a high horse and say "just do it" - I did just that, and let go of my beloved music and incense and proper liturgy in exchange for dreadful dreary folk masses. But we all have to stumble along the path as best we can and for this group of people, why not help them?

I don't believe there is a workable solution within the church - the circular discussions here bear that out.

There has been a great example here in Canada of a friendly and easy move into the Ordinariate of an Anglican parish. I remain convinced it is something the authorities should explore. No, it might not be for everyone but I believe it would be for a significant number, and would ease the advent of women bishops to that extent.

Posted by: Clive on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:48pm GMT

Clive
have I misunderstood the Ordinariate? I thought now that Rome had set it up, any Anglo-Catholic parish in the CoE could join it without any problems. This is not something that has to be negotiated with the CoE, only between the parish and its priests.
Which is why I said that there is nothing left to do - those who want to join it already can.

And at the time, Rome made it very clear that they did not want those joining to bring their churches with them but that they expected them to fit into what was provided for them by the Catholic church.
There seems to be very little the CoE could do even if it wanted to.

But I still don't think that it's the right approach in any case. What characterises the WO opposing Anglo-Catholics is precisely that they want to stay in the CoE and that they want the right provisions to be able to do that. They do not want to be shunted across to Rome, that would be a defeat for those who are fighting to stay where they are.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 3:03pm GMT

...defeat...fighting...

Shows how badly the whole process has degenerated. It is so adversarial now that one wonders if anything can be achieved.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 4:25pm GMT

I'll preface my remarks by saying that if an alien came and saw a people who believed in a triune God and bodily Resurrection of Jesus, it might think we're crazy. And yet I believe.

Coming from the Greek Orthodox Church, I am an alien looking in on the doctrine of original sin. I think it's insane. Yes, people get distorted by the world, but babies come in innocent. I believe that Celtic Christians skipped that doctrine as well.

The RC position on gays is morally wrong. "Natural law" is an excuse to indulge personal and cultural prejudices. And it's handy for maintaining the status quo, which of course, is made up of a dominant group wanting to maintain their dominance.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 4:42pm GMT

Erika wrote:

"And the key, as Cynthia pointed out before, is the question what fruit each bears."

That is indeed the key to the failure of agreement in current issues - women's ordination, homosexuality . . .

The Liberal Christians will allow a modern secular utilitarian ethics to trump classical understandings; the more conservative Christians will not, resting as in former times on Scripture, (Tradition and Reason) where Reason is grounded in "Natural Law" as developed in Scholasticism.

The Conservative Christian ethics tend to be deontological, the liberal consequential.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism

This a makes resolution of differences difficult because each is playing by different rules.

Posted by: Labarum on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 4:56pm GMT

Erika,

thanks for your posts at 12.37 and 3.03 - they put my/our predicament well. It can be quite lonely posting on here from the Trad AC pov, but I've been doing it long enough now to actually value everyone's input, and especially when it's clear someone "gets" it, even when I know they don't agree. Have a great weekend.

Posted by: primroseleague on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 5:12pm GMT

Cynthia wrote:

"Coming from the Greek Orthodox Church, I am an alien looking in on the doctrine of original sin. I think it's insane. Yes, people get distorted by the world, but babies come in innocent."

The Western Doctrine of Original Sin and the Eastern Doctrine of Ancestral Sin are not so far apart:

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Original_sin

Posted by: Labarum on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 6:37pm GMT

Erika,

Yes, that was the original position set out by the RC authorities, but I think driven by the facts in England - that because of the nature of the CofE as a state church, bringing a building across was not an option. Nonetheless, I think this is an impediment to a very significant number of people joining the Ordinariate. If the CofE expressed itself open to sharing churches or to lease arrangements I believe we would see a significant increase in interest in the Ordinariate. Certainly if financial support was in place to help clergy transition that would help a large number of priests who currently feel unable to move across. I know several who would make the move if not for wives and children to support.

As to those absolutely determined to stay in the CofE? I don't see how that can be possible without accepting WO. It isn't possible in any other province that has ordained women. You can't be an Anglican in Canada and not accept WO. You can't be an Episcopalian and not accept WO. It won't be any different in England. The "fight", such as it is, is lost for opponents of WO. The vote delayed the onset but made provision less likely. There is no provision that is acceptable to opponents that does not make women bishops different from men bishops and therefore can be acceptable to proponents. The stalemate will persist until a Synod is elected that will pass the single clause. That is the only end game for the opponents. Helping them leave with goodwill and generosity is the best that can be done.

Posted by: Clive on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 7:06pm GMT

Clive and Erika:
Both your comments above seem to suggest that Church of England parishes can opt out of the C of E to go to the Ordinariate. This is not the case. Individual members of C of E congregations can choose to go to the Ordinariate. They can do so as a group if they wish, and their priest can go with them to form an Ordinariate group, but the parish, and its church buildings, remain as part of the C of E. It may seem like nit-picking, but it is a very important principle, both in the case of the Ordinariate and in the case of Christ Church Fulwood. C of E parishes consist of a geographical area and everyone who lives within it. Because of our established status the parishioners - churchgoers or not - have certain legal rights to marriage, baptism etc. in that church, and the parish priest has legal obligations to provide such spiritual care as they need. (That is why the matter of whether Christ Church Fulwood is or isn't part of the C of E matters, since if it is it needs to comply with those obligations, and work in obedience to C of E canon law on these things.)
This is one of the main reasons why I choose to be part of the C of E - I think it is profoundly after the pattern of Christ to consider oneself obligated to serve everyone in the patch, rather than just those who happen to want to come along, sign on the dotted line, give money etc. This geographical rootedness and unconditional availability to those in the parish is the essence of the Church of England. When groups of people have left a C of E church for the Ordinariate, the parish and its church have very much remained in existence, serving their communities just as they did before (and often recovering and growing remarkably well after years of tension.)

Posted by: Anne on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 7:15pm GMT

Labarum
"This a makes resolution of differences difficult because each is playing by different rules."

For me, it's much much more simple than that. I imagine myself on Judgement Day standing next to a teenager who committed suicide because he was gay in a country that kept telling him that he was sinful and morally inferior. And I have to stand in front of God and look at the teenager and say "sorry, but that had to be a consequence we had to accept for the sake of feeling morally pure and holy. Jesus, tell him that I was right not to help create a society in which he could have been wanted, loved and safe."

I'm not interested in abstract theology. If it requires "modern secular utilitarian ethics" to help create the Kingdom for all on earth, so be it.

If you can genuinely defend any course of action that leads to damaging the life and mental health of millions of people - in the name of following Christ, of all people! you have seriously lost your way.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 7:29pm GMT

Anne,

You've missed my point. Yes, what I am proposing is that those who wish should leave the COfE and join the Ordinariate. No, they can't take the building. But they could share it or lease it and cooperate at any number of levels with the remaining CofE parish. Ways that might make diminished parishes more viable after many have left them.

Add an Ordinariate Mass at a different time on Sunday in the same building. Why is that so hard to imagine? There are already shared churches - Milton Keynes, for example. And if the CofE made transitional arrangements for clergy support, that would be a very Christian gesture toward those who can't live with the new reality - or from the liberal perspective be a small price to pay to remove the roadblocks in Synod.

It seems to me that some very new and creative thinking is required to come up with ways in which this can be something better than a one-side-wins-all situation.

Posted by: Clive on Friday, 1 March 2013 at 10:56pm GMT

"The Catechism of the (Roman) Catholic Church is very careful and very clear."

I'd say it's this passage of the Roman catechism that's "disordered."

Evil, really.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 1:44am GMT

"We need to consider whether homosexuality is a reflection of man-in-the-image-of-God, or whether it is a consequence of the Fall. Any Christian ethics cannot necessarily equate the natural with the good."

Who, exactly is qualified to make this distinction? How would we know that they are qualified? Is it possible that "the fall" is actually too literal? Maybe "the fall" is metaphorical? Maybe sin has something to do with hurting others, not arbitrary rules for consenting adults...

We already know that this anti-gay thread is based on anti-science, medieval thinking.

What was the argument against women? I've lost track.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 6:39am GMT
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