Saturday, 30 August 2014


The Rupert Shortt article reminds us of the Former ABC's acute spiritual insights - highlighting, as it does, the problem of fundamentalist, sectarian religion. The current problems of Islamic divisiveness - on grounds of religious purity - are not unknown in the Christian sphere; despite the fact of Jesus declaration: "They'll know you're my disciples by your love" - not your judgementalism.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 1:51am BST

Thank you for including the interview with Catherine Fox on your website, I must have had her book "Angels and Men" on my bookshelves unread for 20 years but I took it with me on a recent trip to Durham and thoroughly enjoyed the same. So much so that I purchased her latest book "Acts and Omissions" all about a year in the fictitious diocese of Lindchester. This is again a jolly good read, even if the language employed therein is more than a little ripe.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 12:19pm BST

Regarding Giles Fraser's comments on Richard Dawkins.
Spot on! One of the many problems with eugenics is that different people will have different opinions on what a "better human being" is.
Whether it's people of a different skin color, people of a different religion, people who don't love the way we like, people with genetic disorders, whenever a majority of people decides that a minority is no longer worthy, those people are in deep trouble. Witness ISIS/ISIL/IS or anti-gay laws in Nigeria or Uganda, or any number of past genocides the 20th Century was all too filled with.
Maybe someone thinks YOU are useless to society, Mr. Dawkins, and all your fellow believers in no belief.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 5:31pm BST

The cloud of controversy upon which Richard Dawkins periodically descends reminds me of another controversial pundit, at the other end of the spectrum of opinion,and from yesteryear. Remember Malcolm Muggeridge? In terms of the cranky media pundit universe, where Muggeridge went Dawkins will thither proceed one day i.e., into obscurity.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 9:43pm BST

Dickens was a humanist. Dawkins, not so much. His comments remind me more of Mr Scrooge, and even he repented of his words ('decrease the surplus population') when they were thrown back in his face.

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!"

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 31 August 2014 at 10:45pm BST

Peterpi and Rod Gillis - shouldn't at least some of the anger and disdain you direct at Richard Dawkins be reserved for the thousands of women who abort foetuses with Down's Syndrome each year and the doctors that perform the terminations? Or perhaps you are just using this controversy as a vehicle for ad hominem attacks on Dawkins.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 8:33am BST

don't you see a difference between a family (let's not just blame the women for these decisions) to decide to terminate a particular pregnancy, and a complete outsider to determine that for anyone giving birth to any Downs Syndrome baby would be immoral?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 10:13am BST

Tobias, have you become "pro-life"? I've heard that quote in conservative groups, churches, but not TEC.

Erika, I'm afraid I don't. Down's Syndrome support groups have been going on about the extinction/genocide of Down's babies for a couple years now and many of the arguments used for and against aborting Down's, blind, disabled babies can also be used for other abortions as well. If it's ok, or even a blessing(Rev. Ragsdale,TEC), for one woman to get rid of a Down's baby because it's too expensive, doesn't fit into her lifestyle, etc. then why not get rid of all and save society the money?

Believe me, I disagree with Dawkins completely, but I don't understand how pro-abortion groups can be so vehement about it. Dawkins opinion wasn't much different than other comments heard in pro-choice churches about abortion.

Posted by: Chris H on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 1:53pm BST

Thank you, Erika.

I do see a difference but I can't imagine anyone would take any notice of Dawkins' opinion when deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, for any reason.

My point was that were one to object to the idea of a pregnancy being terminated due to Down's Syndrome (as it appears Peterpi and Rod Gillis do) then that objection might be better directed at the people choosing to have such a termination rather than at a celebrity writer expressing an opinion about it.

I attach no 'blame' to anyone choosing a termination - it's not my business to do so. Though, unless I misunderstand you, surely you don't think that a woman should continue with a pregnancy when she wishes to terminate it, nor terminate a pregnancy when she wishes to continue with it, on the basis of someone else's wishes? Whilst the father/family members may express their opinion, I would have thought that the ultimate decision must be the woman's, without exception.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 2:51pm BST

@ Laurence Cunnington, "... shouldn't at least some of the anger and disdain you direct at Richard Dawkins ..'"

Your question presumes I care enough about Dawkins to be angry with him. I don't.

To your second accusation, "disdain", Guilty as charged! But if one has coined the phrase God "delusion" one's fans are hardly in a position to take issue with "disdain".

To my original point, the public Dawkins is something of a social media character,if not a full blown caricature. He is such just as Malcolm Muggeridge was a character of the television age, or Alice Cooper a character created by the recording industry. This is to be expected. Its what Marshal McLuhan referred to as the public "mask". If Dawkins' character evolves then I may be willing to give him a hearing. I'm interested in complex bio-ethical issues. I'm just not interested in Mr. Dawkins, other than as a very good example of the limitations of current public discourse in a social media age.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 3:38pm BST

it's very convenient to say that women make the decision. That puts all of the responsibility on them.
In a good relationship, the couple arrive at a joint decision that both can live with.
The situation is different for single women, and certainly, no man should be able to force a woman to have a termination.
But "hey, it's nothing to do with me, you decide" is not acceptable.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 4:30pm BST

Chris H. I concur with the official position of TEC on the subject of abortion, which is not as you portray it here.

TEC explicitly rejects abortion for convenience, and counsels its use only in "extreme situations," while recognizing it is legal. So TEC is "pro-life" but defends a woman and her family and community making a "choice" being informed by as much counsel as possible, with the consideration of other alternatives, such as adoption.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 7:24pm BST

Tobias Heller, "A Christmas Carol" has some fantastic humanitarian quotes, like Marley's ghost's reply to Scrooge's comment about being good at business: "Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
Amen and amen!

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 8:18pm BST

Peterpi, Christmas Carol is one of my all time favorites; I've cited it many a time in sermons and reflections. I do love that quote about "business..."

And on the subject of abortion, in 2009 TEC authorized for use under episcopal direction a suite of liturgical resources that if anything took an almost entirely penitential approach to the subject. It is in no way "pro-abortion."

One needs to separate the statements of individual opinion (including my own), and characterizations, from the official position of the church.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 10:43pm BST

The Episcopal Church in the US is down to 1.9 million and the average age is over 55 (and rising); abortion is an issue for those 15-35. A woman should be able to get an abortion if she needs one.

Posted by: George Waite on Tuesday, 2 September 2014 at 3:16pm BST

"The Episcopal Church in the US is down to 1.9 million and the average age is over 55 (and rising); abortion is an issue for those 15-35. A woman should be able to get an abortion if she needs one." - GW -

And the connection is ??

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 2:08am BST
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