Saturday, 3 August 2013


Rachel Held Evans writes for CNN about Why millennials are leaving the church.

John Flowers and Karen Vannoy write for Ministry Matters Why Worship Shouldn’t Feel Like Family.

Some of our readers may find this new blog helpful: The Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass.

Stanley Hauerwas asks Does Anglicanism have a future? The priority of the local and the inevitability of conflict at ABC Religion and Ethics.

Benny Hazlehurst writes for the Church of England Newspaper about Demythologising Pride.

Linda Woodhead writes for the OUP blog that Wonga-bashing won’t save the Church of England.

Giles Fraser argues in The Guardian that Far from confining itself to matters spiritual, the church has a duty to get involved in politics.

Andrew Goddard writes for Fulcrum about Sexual Revolution: Responding Reasonably and Faithfully.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 11:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

I can't help thinking what a sterile article Andrew Goddard's is. Nothing about pastoral care, or love for that matter. Nothing about the lived experience of faith by LGBT people. Just doctrine discipline and all about the church.
My own reading of the Gospels leads me to believe that Jesus was not that interested in doctrine, discipline and the church/religious institution. But he was interested in people and how we respond in love to them and ourselves. Paul Vallely in his article on Ppe France classifies him as a person who puts people before dogma, as I believe Jesus did. There is none of that in Andrew Goddard's article, and therefore, for me, nothing of the Gospel.

Posted by: sjh on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 1:25pm BST

I get the idea with Pope Francis that he isn't particularly interested in doctrine, dogma and formularies. He doesn't want to change them, he just wants to breathe easier with them and to allow the faithful to be less burdened by them.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 3:39pm BST

"The Low Churchman's Guide to the Solemn High Mass" -- what a hoot! (I am one who, in regard to Solemn High Mass, Ritual Notes, etc., has "been there, done that.")

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 4:05pm BST

Yes, the Churchman's Guide is hilarious!

I agree with sjh about Andrew Goddard's piece. It is cold. Someone needs to tell him that the path is 1b; there's is ample theological rationale for changes to the homophobic teaching.

It's an analysis devoid of any input from actual gay people, let alone gay Anglicans.Woefully wrong headed.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 6:47pm BST

The Hauerwas piece is simply bizarre. "The voluntary nature of the American church ... lacks the ability to resist accommodation to economic and political powers."

Um, the democracy, the deep listening to many voices, has shaped TEC. We weren't exactly accommodating GW Bush and company. We have Civil Rights MARTYRS for crying out loud. We have Episcopalians protesting on "Moral Monday" in Raleigh, NC, in opposition to current economic and political powers.

The CoE is immune to "accommodation to economic and political powers" because of its parish system being grounded in place?

He further lost me with this quote from Yoder: "The medieval church remained largely pacifist. The peace concern of the medieval church was institutionalized by the designation of holy times and places, which were to be completely exempt from the pressure of war."

Um. Peaceful? Except for the Crusades, pogroms, and witch hunting, the church was a total bastion of peace.

The conclusion about not having to be uniform, globally, and responding to local needs makes sense... But the way he gets there is a bit tortured.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 7:50pm BST

"The conclusion about not having to be uniform, globally, and responding to local needs makes sense... But the way he gets there is a bit tortured" Cynthia

I wanted to thank the editors for giving us the link to this piece by Hauerwas, but perhaps I need to respond to Cynthia's concern. I always find Hauerwas' line of argument a bit tortured, but usually worth the effort. In this case, part of the difficulty is his discussion, in turn, of Davie, Yoder, Rowan Williams, Kaye, Diognetus, Williams again, and finally Wendell Berry. Perhaps, Cynthia, it would be worth placing your pretty valid criticisms on Hauerwas's comments section - I would be very interested in seeing how he responded.

Having said that, I particularly appreciated the analogy Hauwerwas draws between Berry's discussion of farming, and the realities of local parish ministry. As a very new Vicar of a parish, I was able to draw on this analogy in discussion of Sunday's gospel about the farmer who kept building bigger and bigger barns. We do need to allow the particularities of the local scene to shape our life and ministry.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Sunday, 4 August 2013 at 10:40pm BST

Rachel Held Evans' Article for CNN is provocative but also important to take in. From her perspective, as an evangelical in the U.S., she obviously has a most interesting take on what her contemporaries - of at least some of them - are currently experiencing in the life of Con/Evo Churches in the U.S.A. Her suggestion that many intelligent young people are not turned on by louder music, trendy ministries, or anti-gay propaganda, must have a real effect on the attendance quotient of young people.

Rachel's suggestion that there is a turning of some young people towards the more traditional, liturgical worship of the established churches; which concentrates upon the worship of God and the nurture of all people in their congregations; gives hope of a more open, loving and authentic Christian community, in which young people can thrive, being nurtured rather than entertained.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 5 August 2013 at 10:00am BST

Thanks to Benny Hazelhurst for his article and in the Church of England newspaper too.

I went to Brighton Pride last Saturday and was glad to be there to witness this immense celebration of the rich diversity of humanity. Yes, there was some hedonism but hardly any naked flesh and there were some floats advertising bars and clubs. But what impressed me were the number of floats and groups from the public services, four fire brigades, police and prison services, local government, self help, advice and housing groups and even a group from Asda! The police and the Christian group got cheers, the Gay Conservatives were booed (in spite of same sex marriage Section 28 is not forgotten).

What also came home was the huge disparity in the Christian welcome from the city centre churches. I could see no activity in St Bartholomews, just off the main route, St Peter's, formerly redundant but now a HTB Church Plant in the centre of the thickest crowd was shut. What missed opportunities. Only St John's Preston Park, just beyond the festival grounds, offered a place for relaxation and refreshments and its rainbow flag greeted motorists entering the city. Here the Bishop of Chichester, fresh from his welcoming of the LGCM conference to Brighton earlier in the year, preached at the Pride service.

How sad that it is left to a brave suburban church to offer Christian hospitality and how remarkable that after years of silence the Diocesan has at last generously recognised the size, importance of the contribution made by the many gltb people in this city and the Diocese.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 5 August 2013 at 10:10am BST

"How sad that it is left to a brave suburban church to offer Christian hospitality and how remarkable that after years of silence the Diocesan has at last generously recognised the size, importance of the contribution made by the many gltb people in this city and the Diocese."

Wow. In the US the urban churches are typically gay friendly and the suburban ones hit and miss (though increasingly welcoming).

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 5 August 2013 at 3:22pm BST

Linda Woodhead's article is superb. It points out, precisely and forensically, why selective concern isn't convincing. The CofE has voted to exclude women and has spoken officially of its desire to exclude gays: its sudden burst of concern for the poor just looks like a diversionary tactic. No matter how genuine Welby's concern for the poor is of itself, for as long as he speaks and votes against rights for gays, and leads an organisation that will not grant equal rights to women, his concern for the poor just looks like picking and choosing.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 5 August 2013 at 4:15pm BST

So, Richard, the new(ish) Bishop of Chichester is in one important respect at least a positively good person? Seems to me that that respect counsels cutting him (and people like him) a bit of slack in other areas. Because 'liberal-conservative/traditionalist polarisations' don't do proper justice to the kaleidoscopic realities of the C of E (and of most Christian denominations).

Posted by: John on Monday, 5 August 2013 at 7:14pm BST

Linda Woodhead's article is definitely sobering. I would like to think that one can address poverty even if one isn't perfect. However, the major issue of our time is equality, of all stripes. The idea that a worker isn't making a livable wage, when the CEO is making xx Million $'s or £'s is an equality issue. Same with single working mothers who can't get the same wages for the same job as men. Unequal access to education and opportunity, safe from discrimination and bullying are all part of the equality equation.

Given the horrifically awful language of the bishops against equal marriage, and their willingness to compromise on the dignity of WB's (and by extension every female on the planet), the picture definitely becomes one of a church unable to bring the Good News to anyone other than their private club members.

Deep breath. What would Jesus say? Really? What did Jesus have to say about inequality in his own time? What is he saying now?

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 5 August 2013 at 8:52pm BST

" Same with single working mothers who can't get the same wages for the same job as men."

Yeah. That would be an excellent campaign for the CofE to fight, because it wouldn't make it look absolutely ludicrous at all. It's illegal to discriminate like that for every organisation except, mostly, churches, and a woman applying for the job of bishop (a job, coincidentally, paid more than other jobs in the church) would have her application rejected out of hand, something that would again be illegal for almost every other employer. If the CofE wants to campaign against sexist job discrimination, it needs to stop discriminating. For as long as its laity vote for discrimination, that path is absolutely stopped for it. "Unequal access to education and opportunity, safe from discrimination and bullying" falls under the same problem.

The CofE needs to practice equality before it dares to preach to others. At the moment, the churches are the most discriminatory organisations in the country. They can fix that, then they can try telling other people about it. Welby will be completely, and rightly, ignored on social policies for as long as he heads a church which is still living in 1850.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 4:39pm BST

John. I didn't anywhere say that the new bishop of Chichester is a 'positively good person', or indeed the opposite. I have reported what he has done and welcomed his generosity in attending and speaking at two recent LGBT events.

This diocese for too long has had a most unfortunate reputation as 'the dead see'. It is true that +Martin recognises this and is trying to change it and for that too one should give him credit. Nevertheless, I and many others do not accept his views on the ordination of women and believe that it is unfortunate at the very least that for the third time in succession we have to endure non women ordaining bishops. With the suffragan of Lewes vacant we still have no bishop who will.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 4:17pm BST

Dear Richard,

Thanks for your response. I am with you on many levels. I am also greatly concerned to keep the 'ship' of the C of E afloat, with all its many passengers. There are deep disagreements. I truly believe that those who do not accept women priests or bishops are wrong. I also truly believe that some of them are properly principled. I also think it self-evident that WO are not the only dividing line. I have been glad to see that +Martin has behaved as he has in the LGBT context. I know - as presumably you do - many fervent supporters of WO who hold +Martin to be a most excellent person. So I continue to hope that messy, compromising 'deals' can be done.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 8:13pm BST
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