Comments: Goddard2Goddard

I've read both letters, and the discussion thread. I'm glad it's happening. At the same time, I think the effect will be limited. This discussion might well benefit the Church of England. I fear it's not enough to save the Communion. "Facts on the ground" in The Episcopal Church will, I fear, move entirely too far too fast for this discussion to prevent damage. Dar es Salaam will come too soon. Announcements of invitations to Lambeth will come too soon. Decisions will be made and breaches will occur.

Now, there is something valuable if this benefits the Church of England. Even then I would have hoped to have seen this two years ago. May God bless the discussion, and may we all benefit from it.

And if this does benefit the Church of England? We have not yet really discussed the centrality of the Church of England per se in all this discussion of the state of the Communion. If the Church of England can hold together as an institution including Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics, and Progressives, it might become a tool for bridging in a generation the breaches we see now.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 8:01pm GMT

First the signs of disunity among those intending schism; now an attempt to establish discussions across different traditions. Could almost make you believe in God, couldn't it?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 8:49pm GMT

Andrew doesn't seem to understand, in his pleas for the Windsor Report and "forbearance" as mentioned in the Quadrilateral, that what Americans and others are taking to the world is a grave moral question somewhat analogous to human slavery.

The systematic oppression of a people is not an issue where compromise is appropriate or even possible. Where does one compromise or forbear or fudge on the genocide of Armenians?

It cannot be done and ought not to be done.

Consider the suicide rate of Gay American teenagers. Consider the lonely danger of Nigeria's only Gay activist. Consider the execution and beheading of dozens of Gay men in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

I have no interest whatsoever in a theological exchange of polite learned letters at a time when men and women should act.

What a pitiable church is the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Josh Thomas at Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 11:04pm GMT

Would this Andrew Goddard be related to the obnoxious priest who turned up to harry Jeffrey John when he was meeting the Reading clergy some years back?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 12:42am GMT

Thanks Josh T, for speaking up.

I have mixed feelings all around.

I welcome the notion that people should talk carefully across their differences, instead of talking church war, arming for church war, and campaigning for church war. Checking your knives and guns at the confessional/conscience diversity doors is probably almost always a peace-making idea.

I am happy that the two Goddards are able to carry through on this sort of conversation, although it must be obvious to the rest of us that we are not getting out of bed every new morning to see what they managed to find as common ground while maintaining one of the Goddard views that non-straight people are as bad as ever, but we will all promise to talk about how awful they are in as nice a way as possible.

... before we carry on with kissing our beloved, hugging the children as we send them off to school with lunch money checked, and plan for our day's contribution to whatever good our professional work teams might accomplish - for all people to whom we provide services, gay or straight or who cares?

It may still come as a problem to one of the Goddards that being queer has little or nothing to do with praying the Lord's Prayer, and giving thanks to God for the blessed helps and opportunities of the day at hand. Too many of us are just a tad too far down better roads to come all the way back to help ConsEvs with the flat tires that constantly occur in their negative and detailed thinking about just how horrible queer folks are, no matter what. Plus every time you do travel all the way back in time to maybe bring them some unbiblical lunch, they cannot resist reminding you that you are just as bad, really, as anybody ever thought you were.

I can still talk about all those things, in some detail in a pinch - but my daily life is far, far, far better than - and common-sensically rather far from - so many of the definitive negative Cons Evs worries about queer folks.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 1:47am GMT

Giles Goddard first:

The Book of Common Prayer was one of those occasions when a large number walked out - 2000 ministers and also lay people too. So whilst it wanted to find a "mean between two extremes", it did not work from the outset. It excluded because it demanded assent and consent to everything in it. It is important, perhaps, to add Baxter to Hooker.

Why do the Methodists and URC also show breadth? Partly because they are both results of mergers and have an inbuilt ecumenism that has softened traditions within. Anglicans, in contrast, have parties, and lost sections in the past. Somehow Anglicanism needs that internal ecumenism - and this dialogue might help.

Why does Giles Goddard in his history of influences ignore ideas and theological developments - those essays that have changed Anglican thought? It is odd that this is ignored from his perspective (not the only time this happens - it's like an unrecognised history).

The institutional question: well Michael Hampson has it better, that the C of E has moved from basically a triad to basically a dyad, and two is a dangerous number. In a complex world, more complexity would be more useful.

The reply makes me think about scripture as regulative, but that intepretation of it is now so wide. Its regulative function is within liturgical use, almost confined to be so. And can this hold? The "are being rejected or undermined" might be past tense in any theology department: it is all problematic.

I wonder what people are doing speaking as if hanging on to a rope when the rope is twirling and threads are coming off. Andrew Goddard writes: "unless this is set in an agreed context of limits to action" - so the outcome is decided before the debate? Hardly 'the truth wherever it may lead', is it? Why is there this lack of confidence? And are "traditional customs" not a connected but different discussion?

I rather see the point of Josh Thomas: whereas Jaw Jaw is better than War War, some are experiencing War already, or are about to in a very serious and nasty fashion. The nature of facing a predicament is always uncomfortable, yet has to be faced. A problem here is that these talkers may find themselves on the same side; neither Goddard has fired the first shot.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 3:04am GMT

The only alternative to dialogue/communication/debate is lack of dialogue/communication/debate - and it is obvious which is better, whereas it is not obvious why any honest person would decline the chance of d/c/d.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 1:06pm GMT

Christopher Shell --

I take it you are referring to the primates who refuse to meet with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcoipal Church.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 3:47pm GMT

Not to discourage conversation, discussion, or debate - I believe UK is seeing a conference soon across some of these divides, as well as USA having one announced for Colorado Springs (which in USA is a sort of ConsEvs ground zero for all the love bombing that ConsEvs in USA like to conduct against any and all non-straight folk: Have you tried to change your sexual orientation from straight to gay for God today?)

-just to point out that in many places the lived facts on the ground are not all that related to the high topics and themes which are so far anticipated by these well-read discussants.

In some planetary places, daily life on the ground is already far, far, far better for some queer folks and their friends/family than the ConsEvs side of the dialogue allows or presumes - is that part of the data to which we could turn our attention? While in other planetary places things are far, far, far worse - also clamoring for some good attention?

I don't mind them talking, well anybody talking really; but I guess it would like it even better if the two Goddards also announced they were joining together across their differences to inveigh against the pending draconian Nigerian prison/death laws, plus finding some practical lobbying with Canterbury or other forms of assistance that works for Nigerian believers like Rev. Jide and Mac-Iyalla (and all the nameless people still hiding there.)

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 4:02pm GMT

Hi Prior Aelred-
I am referring not just to them but to all who rely on preconceived positions and not ongoing debate.
But (not knowing the ins and outs):
-it is also the case that some organisations are liable to die the death of thousand qualifications;
-others can get fed up of obhgoing dialogues where the issues have already been aired and there is nothing new being said;
-others can point out that there are always going to be matters that need no dialogue - we will just disagree about what those matters are.

If, for example, the Bishops consider that TEC are using the ideology of diversity as a smokescreen or Trojan Horse for importing their preferred ideas (and this is always perfectly possible); and if simultaneously they see in them no reverence for or deference to the specific God/god they are putatively following...(all these are 'if's, but they may apply - I don't know.)....

drdanfee-
That is obviously a both/and, not an either/or.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 6:14pm GMT

The problem is, I think, what you do at the end of all the debate, dialogue, conversation, if neither has changed their view

I think the reality of conversation is that each side hopes to convince the other.

If there is no meeting of minds, then whilst the conversation may have helped us understand where the other comes from and why - it doesn't help us reach a conclusion

I feel I understand the opposing point of view well, but I just don't agree with it.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 22 January 2007 at 8:22pm GMT

If you're not sure of the value of this initative it's worth having a look at the discussion in the Fulcrum forum .... appears to be serious engagement going on there.

Comments noted.

Andrew's and my next letters coming soon.

Posted by Giles Goddard at Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 10:33am GMT

In my experience, debate, dialogue and conversation always change something. The change tends to be more creative when people are sitting in the room together. Then it is difficult to ignore the emotional effect one person has on another.

I have sat in the same room with both Goddards on many occasions, though only recently with both at the same time. I and they have been changed by our conversations.

This dialogue can only be a good thing. I hope both end up at a different place from where they started. The dialogue will be helped if there are also more face to face meetings.

Discussions about the Communion in the media and on blogs miss the personal and emotional content that can only happen when people meet face to face. There are many small scale meetings happening between people of like minds and people meeting across difference and they hold hope for the future of the Communion

Posted by Colin Coward at Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 10:41am GMT

Hi Mike-
Supposing that you understand the opposing point-of-view well (and I have no doubt that you may understand *one* of the opposing points-of-view), I would beg you not to speak as though there is only *one* opposing point-of-view. The views based on the bible and on statistics are quite distinct from each other, however much they may lead to similar conclusions.

It all reminds me of the 'Jerry Springer' fiasco. The BBC decided to ignore all complaints because they assumed they were all saying the same thing, to which thing they had an answer.

It beats me how one can *assume* that 50000 people are all making the same point. The more the people, the more points will be made, all things being equal.

But this is just a symptom of the underlying fallacy: conclusions-orientation. I have always held that the real battle is between those who focus on conclusions only and those who focus on arguments and evidence, which may in theory lead to any conclusion (since the conclusion itself is not the point). This is essentially the difference between a journalist and an educated person. By focussing on conclusions only one is committing three errors at least:
(1) A logical error: A conclusion is by definition only the end-result of argument anyway: consequently, argument is where it's at;
(2) People who are determined to be even-handed and weigh evidence are lumped together with bigots, just because they reach the same conclusion by different means;
(3) It is forgotten that, however similar conclusions are, the prior arguments are extremely various.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 12:30pm GMT

Matt wrote: "And if this does benefit the Church of England? We have not yet really discussed the centrality of the Church of England per se in all this discussion of the state of the Communion. If the Church of England can hold together as an institution including Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics, and Progressives, it might become a tool for bridging in a generation the breaches we see now."

Indeed. This is the main reason to continue to support Establishment in my view. With Canterbury's dual role within the C of E and as an instrument of unity, the Establishment keeps the key to the communion from falling off the deep end in any direction by anyone's lights. For example, no one will get far trying to take property from the C of E (despite what a few extremists think). You're in with all the imperfections or you're out.

Posted by Robert L at Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 2:27pm GMT

My personal view is that this dialogue is a truly wonderful thing and could result in someting very vreative.

Yes, it's too small, too late and so on. But creative things have to start out from somewhere. It would have been good if the entire Anglican Communion exemplified this approach, but alas it doesn't - well not yet.

And there are other people doing (maybe on a smaller scale) similar things - whether the Evangelical Alliance or Faithworks.

So it's a really good thing and of course you can only have a dialogue if you agree on some basic things and I think the point of departure has to be the statement of the Archbishop of Canterbury about deploring discrimination and persecution on the ground of sexual orientation (can't remember the exact phrasing of that).

So let's see where it leads and hopefully lots of other similar dialogues will happen as a result.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 8:57pm GMT

I too believe in sharing and discussion --but forgive me if I'm a little jaundiced (or is it jaded ?), as I have been trying to engage the C of E in discussion since my teens -- and that's over 40 years ,still counting !

Goddard and Goddard -fine, as far as it goes......

But this 'discussion' needs and needed to be happening among bishops and other policy makes.
So it's all a bit too little too late for many of us.

In the context of Josh's posting here, Josh's witness is incontrovertible. (see below) :

'Andrew doesn't seem to understand, in his pleas for the Windsor Report and "forbearance" as mentioned in the Quadrilateral, that what Americans and others are taking to the world is a grave moral question somewhat analogous to human slavery.

The systematic oppression of a people is not an issue where compromise is appropriate or even possible. Where does one compromise or forbear or fudge on the genocide of Armenians?

It cannot be done and ought not to be done.

Consider the suicide rate of Gay American teenagers. Consider the lonely danger of Nigeria's only Gay activist. Consider the execution and beheading of dozens of Gay men in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

I have no interest whatsoever in a theological exchange of polite learned letters at a time when men and women should act.

What a pitiable church is the Anglican Communion.'
(Josh Thomas).

By the way, I love (don't really, manner of speech) the way this contrubution of his and similar ones that point to the terrible human tragedy worldwide for my / our lgbt community, are ignored or played down.

Anyone for sherry ?

Posted by laurence at Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 9:26pm GMT

>deploring discrimination and persecution on the ground of sexual orientation (can't remember the exact phrasing of that<

Except when it comes to finding children parents, apparently.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:30am GMT

FWIW, I heartily concur with laurence on the significance of Josh Thomas's post (of course the Bench of Bishops in the Lords unanimously voted against Wilberforce's bill to abolish the slave trade, so there is precedent).

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:03pm GMT

So now the issue is comparable to the Turkish Armenian massacres, is it? just a tad of overstatement there, perhaps, in terms of a debate within the CofE? Or even on a wider scale - however horrendous behaviour towards gay people is in some parts of the world/Anglican communion, I have yet to hear of situations that can be equated to genocide.
Of course, if you approach the matter with that (or similar - as per Josh's posting stating it's an equivalence to slavery) mindset, then you will have little or no time for mere dialogue. And, of course, if you are right then your unwillingness to dialogue is understandable. But then, knowing you're on the side of right is always a more attractive thing when talking to people who already agree with you - and usually less helpful when it comes to dialogue anyway.
Is it just possible to consider (not concede!) that there are other ways of approaching the matter? No? well - why bother posting here at all, then. Go out and vilify a ConsEv for Jesus...

Posted by pete hobson at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 7:44pm GMT

"however horrendous behaviour towards gay people is in some parts of the world/Anglican communion, I have yet to hear of situations that can be equated to genocide."

Though not for want of wanting, but there is no visible genos to cide...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 8:45pm GMT

I understand both points of view, Christopher, including both the ability to realise when unrelated statistics are being misused, and the different theological perspectives surrounding the issue.

Those who promote the former have no understanding of how to interpret and apply research, and the linmitations of quantitative research with an unknown population. The latter, I have considered the different perspectives and come to a conclusion.

There is nothing the conservatives could say which would convince me that there opinion is anything other than anti-gay.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 8:56am GMT

Mike-
Your position rem,aions a non-position. Like atheism and post-evangelicalism, it is defined by what it is not.

What's the point of saying that the stats are all wrong?
(1) Do you know better than the researchers who spent years on their research?
(2) Why is there a suspicious correlkation between those you say are wrong and those you would wish to be wrong?
-what is the point, unless you tell us what the correct stats should be?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 2:02pm GMT

"I have yet to hear of situations that can be equated to genocide"

No, indeed. But we have a situation in Nigeria where even those who are supportive of gay people may face 5 years imprisonment. This surely reveals a deep seated fear and hatred. Combine that with the fact that in some Muslim countries, gay people are hanged, stoned to death, and, in one horrendous incident in Afghanistan, a boy, on suspicion of being gay, was taken from his classroom, beheaded, and his fellow students forced to play soccer with his head. Extreme and far away? Maybe, but closer to home, there is Matthew Sheppard, frequent gay bashing, and all of us have faced anti-gay violence at one time or another. That this violence has repeatedly been shown to increase when some Fundie preacher goes on an anti-gay rampage makes us suspicious. Perhaps you are not aware, but we grow up knowing our lives are worth less than yours, that you can kill us and get away with it by claiming we committed the unpardonable sin of coming on to a straight man, that we deserve death for being so sick and perverse. This is the reality in which we live, so perhaps we can be forgiven for being a bit twitchy, for being able to see the potential for violence against us in what you see as "mere dialogue".

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 2:12pm GMT

"researchers who spent years on their research"
And who would these be, Christopher?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 6:09pm GMT

You're right, of course, Ford. Not only are the situations you describe truly awful, but even the less murderous violent language you allude to closer to home is indefensible. And I can understand why it all makes you "twitchy". But I'm not defending it, am I? Nor is it helpful to lump, for example, me with such actions or attitudes, in suggesting that "you" can kill "us" and get away with it.
Is it come to this that the world is reduced to "us" and "them"? That feels a long way from the sort of dialogue that the two Goddards are looking to model. If this board isn't dialogue but merely assertion, then perhaps we'd better all go and do something more useful...

Posted by pete hobson at Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 10:55pm GMT

So "dialogue" is denial and de-valuing now, is it?

I say it is entirely your own decision what and whom you defend. No one can "lump" you but yourself.

This sort of thing is what gives fiascos a bad name.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 26 January 2007 at 6:48am GMT

"Prior Aelred" asserts that the Bench of Bishops in the House of Lords voted unanimously against Wilberforce's bill abolishing the Slave Trade. He is clearly unaware that Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London (1787-1809) and a leading figure in the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel (SPG) was campaigning against slavery for nearly thirty years from the 1780s until his death two years after the passage of Wilberforce's Bill. Why slander the dead ?

Posted by O.P. Nicholson at Monday, 12 February 2007 at 4:57am GMT

The picture was the same over here, 40 years later. The Clergy was against, the 3 other Estates for Abolishment.

In the end a sum (insufficient) was set aside to buy the slaves from their "masters". The price was set by the Slave Auctionist of Gustavia at Saint Barthélemy himself.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 2 March 2007 at 10:11am GMT
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