Comments: from this weekend's papers

Kathy Galloway: Credo - Can't be said better, can it? Gay fols and justice towards them is completely normal for ordinary younger folks and the Church is potentially turning these people away by its ongoing sectarian silliness.

Into Great Silence - gosh, almost attractive.

Son of a Presbyterian manse and into politics is surely statistically insignificant. Does the manse produce public speaks: would we not see more? Given the Presbyterian Church's middle class assitances to the poorer areas, it is suprising that there are so few.

Lord Carey’s remarks, highlighted by Giles Fraser, get ever more pathetic.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 12:36am BST

Nonsense, unjust, corrupt, trivial, immoral, criminal.

The Church's policy on gays according to twenty-somethings. The 'Welcome but not Affirm' approach is untenable.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 9:07am BST

Loved Kathy Galloway's testimony of what is possible in a truly loving church.

I recently saw an article where religious leaders (I think from Wales and Scotland) were recommending that any being created with human DNA be considered human. That was one of the recommendations I made to Australia's Flockhart Review so that some idiot didn't go off an make a sentient life form that had no legal rights. http://www.wombatwonderings.org/files/cloning_and_flockhart_review_input.pdf

My next contemplation is that there are some religious people who hate the idea that humans evolved from animals (listening to an anti-evolutionary song at church tonight saddened me). When we have animal DNA mixed in with human DNA, we will no longer be able to deny our animal origins.

If we are going to have souls who have non-human transplants (e.g. pig hearts), or their DNA mutated to "heal" diseases or make a new kind of human, then we are going to have to make these strangers welcome in our midst. It makes our concerns about accepting women or GLBTs seem paltry in comparison.

Yet the bible has always called on us to care for animals as well as humans.

My other contemplation is that should God have listened to the angels who said that humans should not have been allowed to be formed, let alone evolve? Was God wrong to annoint Abraham and Sarah? Was the Shekinah wrong to shelter Moses and his followers as God brought not just a family, but a nation to a higher level of consciousness? Was she wrong to go into exile to be the guardian of ALL humanity and this planet, whilst the other angels chose to swan off to somewhere "more deserving" of their divine attributes?

Was she wrong agree with God and annoint Jesus to act as a healer and saviour for all the peoples of all the nations?

Jesus and Paul called on us to take on the character of God. God created and defended humanity despite and against angelic hosts' opinions. A few stood by God whilst most ignored or rebelled. Would you be with those who would destroy the "beasts" or with those who trust in God to be able to create the holy in the most unlikely of specimens?

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 11:53am BST

I found Galloway's piece to be so unconvincing as to be bizarre. Am I supposed to overturn thousands of years of tradition and theology because of her children? Am I supposed to ignore the Word of God in preference for pop-culture? Forget Paul's Letter to the Romans: I'm going to get my theology from Queer Eye.

Apply her logic to another scriptural premise, and we'll see how false it is. Let's forget about not covetting: our culture tells us to want as much as we can. Forget about honoring the Sabbath: our culture says that the more we work, the better.

That premise aside, of course the church should be inclusive. We need to love all, cherish all, support and uphold all. That does not mean that I need to say that everything that everyone does is blessed by God. But it means that I am right there in a house full of sinners, praising a God who saves us from our sin and brings us to fellowship with himself. Alleluia.

Posted by Selah at Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 2:21pm BST

No, Selah, you are to overturn thousands of years of tradition because we now know better. Its why we don't send kids up chimneys, have public dogfights, and practice slavery any more. Tradition in itself, and longevity in itself, are both utterly irrelevant.

If you can't recognise that in some areas Christian tradition and even the Bible itself is wanting, you sum up very well why Christianity is on its way to dying out in the west, and thriving in premodern environments- because it fits that sort of worldview.

I'm not terribly interested in the so-called 'inclusion' of conservative traditionalism, nor its selective premodern god.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 5:39pm BST

"My next contemplation is that there are some religious people who hate the idea that humans evolved from animals (listening to an anti-evolutionary song at church tonight saddened me)."

An anti-evolutionary song at church? You're kidding, right? Do I want to know the lyrics? Are there also pro-flat earth songs?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 7:04pm BST

"An anti-evolutionary song at church?"

All Things Bright and Beautiful?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 11:39pm BST

Cynthia

I wish I was. It was a background song. There were also some prosperity lines too - about actualising yourself.

It's a new church that I am still checking out. My daughter likes the youth group.

Mind you, I am in Sydney, which explains a lot. I console myself sometimes with Psalm 110:2 "The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies." If it were not for the internet, I would have given up on humanity.

I read postings such as Merseymike's here and send them up to God as evidence that humanity has a hope of outgrowing tyrannical paradigms and thus fulfilling God's promise of a gentle everlasting covenant to the Daughter of Zion that ends tyranny and oppression.

I quite like the imagery in Zephaniah 3:11-20, which includes "...you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride... I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy... “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp... your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” “The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I WILL RESCUE THE LAME AND GATHER THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SCATTERED. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD."

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 12:38am BST

MM wrote, "I'm not terribly interested in the so-called 'inclusion' of conservative traditionalism, nor its selective premodern god." So inclusion of everyone based upon God's grace does not interest you? Or is it the problem that Christians have to define themselves as sinners?

MM writes, "Tradition in itself, and longevity in itself, are both utterly irrelevant." True, which is why Anglicanism expressly teaches that truth is understood where scripture, tradition, and reason meet. Some reappraisers, however, want to throw out all of these.

MM writes, "Christianity is on its way to dying out in the west, and thriving in premodern environments- because it fits that sort of worldview." That's one hypothesis, although Christianity is not dying out in orthodox Western churches (Roman Catholicism, for example). Another hypothesis is that Westerners do not really know their need for God because they think they have everything under control. People who live in impoverished areas know full well that they need God, and in those situations, God has a habit of providing for His people.

A God who provides for His people (which includes all people who turn to Him) and brings them into fellowship with Himself through the abundance of His grace: this is the God of Christianity. This is the God worthy of our praise and gratitude. This is the God revealed to us through Jesus Christ.


Posted by Selah at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 12:44am BST

Pluralist - about 500 people between 20 and 30 at my church in London last night.....you say we put young British people off / are not in tune with them so I guess you must have many more at yours?

Posted by NP at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 7:27am BST

And whats the proportion of young people who attend church as opposed to those who don't.Moreover, which group have the most open and liberal view of gay and lesbian issues - see Kathy Galloway's article.

I mean, if you want to turn the church into a marginalised bolthole for the bigoted and fanatical, to be rightly ignored by the rest of us, then feel free.

People in impoverished areas rely on their construct of God because it is something to cling on to and because it reflects cultural preference and has not been challenged by enlightenment thinking. Thankfully, we have grown out of such approaches - you are welcome to them and the sort of image of 'God' they promote.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 10:57am BST

"thriving in premodern environments- because it fits that sort of worldview"

The C of E has "premodern" tendencies too. Bishops now blame gays and our moral decadence for the recent floods. It beggars belief how Acts of God are attributed to God's wrath in 21st century.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/01/nflood201.xml&CMP=ILC-mostviewedbox

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 12:36pm BST

Thanks for the link Hugh. I found it staggering, but the poor old bish finally said something true about 2/3 of the way down:

"The West is also being punished for the way that it has exploited poorer nations in its pursuit of economic gain. "It has set up dominant economic structures that are built on greed and that keep other nations in a situation of dependence. The principle of God's judgment on nations that have exploited other nations is all there in the Bible,"

Dear God, why couldn't he have said THAT first...

Posted by kieran crichton at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 8:41pm BST

Oh, dear, NP's on his bums on pews (raw score) tack again.

Please note that there is quite a lot of evidence amassing (from properly controlled surveys, not from tick-box questionnaires in 'Straight Christian Magazine') which supports Pluralist's observation about attitudes to homosexuality in the UK population. 500 20-30's, congratulations. Out of a total population of??? And from a catchment area of??? And similar unpleasantly statistical questions.

We had about 70 folk in for full choral evensong at the end of Barton Arts Week at St. Mary's. For those folk who believe God dwells enthroned in Keyboardspeak, probably sounds like no big deal. For us who don't work with people full of Christian certainties, who couldn't sing 'Jesus is my boyfriend' without knowing themselves to be untruthful, that derisorily small number (for you megachurch types) represents a significant piece of work.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 10:49pm BST

Keiran

Thanks for emphasising that paragraph, I have said that earlier - that's why some souls hate me so much.

Another contemplation has been we are fighting terrorism by trying to fight the theological sophistry that justifies using violence and intimidation.

One piece of humour is that if you have a vested interest and desire for keeping a war machine going and expanding (that consumes nearly half one on nation's annual budget and contributes about half the world's expenditure of military related activities), then you don't want your nations' church leaders turning into "doves" that might deprive you of your funding and fun. So, if your local leaders aren't going to sponsor you anymore, then you need to discredit them and bring in some other religious leaders who still crave power and victory at any cost.

A conspiracy theorist or two might have fun following some funding trails.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 2 July 2007 at 10:59pm BST

That, I fear, may also be a fallacy, Kieran. Poorer nations with low carbon emissions are suffering more than we are from climate change.

El Nino is reckoned to be a major factor in the string of depressions we are currently experiencing in the UK - nothing to do with anthropogenic climate change - but with seasonal tidal currents in the Southern Pacific.

Quite what this has got to do with Civil Partnerships any more than the price of cheese is beyond me.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 12:28am BST

Hugh

What both civil partnerships and the price of cheese have in common is that they have to do with the realities of this world.

There is someething in common between the oil age, birth control, providing sufficient food or medicine to the African continent (and others), the price of cheese, or dignity to those whose sexuality does not fit narrow paradigms. Namely, be part of the in-crowd or be condemned to the judgement that they "deserve".

There are those who have refused to do anything to help with this current reality e.g. slow oil consumption, manage birth control, worry about wealth disparities, the viability of superannuation and the stockmarket, and the walls of New Orleans. Namely, it's okay if the system collapses as long as it is not on their guard.

As long as it is something that another generation, another democratic government, another nation suffers, that's cool: just don't impose it on us.

God knows who has obstructed and hindered humanity having sufficient resources and similarly its evolution. They might be able to hide and distract in lower realms, but God looks down beyond that level.

God knows who is a slayer and who is a saviour, and which camp which individual priest chose to be in. The priests are meant to recognise the small quiet voice that follows the fire, storm and miraculous. It doesn't take rocket science to work out which have exacerbated problems and who have worked to heal ALL of God's creation.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 12:48pm BST

Selah,
In general, I agree with you that what we ought not allow the World to dictate our values, but we have been doing exactly that for 1700 years, give or take, so I don't see why it's such an issue now.
"Let's forget about not covetting: our culture tells us to want as much as we can. Forget about honoring the Sabbath: our culture says that the more we work, the better."

This is true, but the "reasserter" camp does little that opposes these things. I would suggest covetting is a fairly prevalent sin among the comfortable middle classes who fill the Evo churches. Also, +Akinola's covetting of power is evident to all who would see. Ignoring some sins while condemning others is hypocrisy, and denying obvious guilt is just childish. Consevo claims to Gospel faithfulness are belied by their actions. The world sees this in us very clearly. Have you forgotten the army recruitment drives some churches held after 9/11? It wasn't "reassessor" parishes doing that.

"scripture, tradition, and reason meet. Some reappraisers, however, want to throw out all of these."

No, indeed! It is the "reasserters" who want to throw out reason, and, in the case of Evos, Tradition as well. It's all down to "submitting to Scripture", and if the Spirit shouild try to make us see a better way, the She is to be ignored since She disagrees with the real God: the Bible.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 1:46pm BST

Hello Hugh and Cheryl,
Not being a climatologist, I wouldn't hazard a guess about the rain patterns of the UK - although I've experienced quite a lot of it over the last three weeks! I'm almost looking forward to returning to drought-ridden Australia in a couple of weeks...
One of the things about El Nino in the Pacific that is becoming apparent is the likely inundation of some of the smaller island groups in the South Pacific through the projected rise in ocean levels. This isn't simply the loss of a few palm trees: in many cases this is the prospective loss of the entire landmass of existing nations. I read in todays Guardian that ocean levels might rise somewhat faster than was previously thought. Were this to be the case, the there is a particular set of problems posed to Australia under the current regime. Given the tendency of the Howard Government towards locking asylum seekers up on isolated Pacific islands (many of who resent the implication of being client states), how would we cope with having climate-based applications for asylum from entire nations? Under the current (effectively *White Australia, Mk II*) policy, these people would be condemned for having failed to raise the landmass of their islands above the inundation point, and castigated for bothering their mighty and patient neighbour. They would be expected to be grateful for being locked away on some hell-hole island in the middle of nowhere with no idea of when they might be allowed to get on with the rest of their lives. If you think I'm joking, have a look through the archives of .
God may well have good reason to send environmental retribution on Australia, or any other nation of choice, but I suspect that God may always have worked in more subtle ways. I pity the poor bishop of Carlisle, as it sounds perilously like he lacks a sense of moral proportion in the order of things he was saying. He came across sounding eccentric, and a bit loony; I'm sure he is neither, and no doubt there is a bit of media filtering going on. However, if only he'd commented on the way some nations are exploited by others and got a lot less steamed up about adult relationships, perhaps people might start listening to what all bishops in the Church of England have to say.

Posted by kieran crichton at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 3:01pm BST

The bishops' peculiar outbursts may be a response to their loss of moral authority in society. We look to scientists to tell us whether we are responsible for any of this climate chaos and what, if anything, we can do about it; not to clerics.

The remarks linking floods to permissiveness and lack of care for the planet coincided with terrorists' failed attempts to invoke God's wrath on night clubs and air-travel.

Most unfortunate.


Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 12:15am BST

Five of us had a fantastic quality of discussion on Monday night. That'll do me. I don't give a toss about numbers and never did.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 2:45am BST

Pluralist says "Five of us had a fantastic quality of discussion on Monday night. That'll do me. I don't give a toss about numbers and never did."

Course you don't - your numbers do not support your case that you have something relevant and powerful to say in modern England.........

Posted by NP at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 12:05pm BST

Likewise, the numbers suggested that +Athanasius had "nothing relevant and powerful to say".

Nor did +Cramner, +Latimer, +Ridley.

I guess it's back to Rome then. Eh, NP?

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 5:30pm BST

NP,
"Course you don't - your numbers do not support your case that you have something relevant and powerful to say in modern England........."

Do you not think you went a bit far this time?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 8:58pm BST

The other funny thing about your number game is that Jesus started out as 1 with a total of 12 disciples.
If you had lived then, would you have listened to him in your temple, NP? Or would you have said that he hadn't had anything relevant and powerful to say to modern Israel?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 9:49pm BST

'When two or three are gathered together in my name... I don't think it's worth turning out to be there among them' as the Lord said.

Now to be fair, NP may have a point: discussion groups of any sort can easily become omphalosceptic (lovely word), and alternative to 'doing the Gospel'. But that isn't a size/numbers issue, which is where his fundamental mistake is made.

If his tradition embraces spiritual direction/ companionship, he will know that the small group is one of the most powerful ways in which God works in the world and in the human heart - 'across the river' one prominent ConsEv church insists on membership of a small group if one is to participate in the life of the Church there.

So the small group can be an agent of transformation: having read Steven Bates' piece in today's Guardian about the latest US megachurch, I rather hope the small group IS the agent of transformation.

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 1:12pm BST

Mynster,
I rather suspect it's an outgrowth if the extreme Calvinist: "I am of the elect. This is shown by God's blessing to me. If you were of the elect, God would bless you just as abundantly. You are not so blessed. Thus you are not of the elect. Thus (though I doubt even Calvin would go this far) it is perfectly acceptable for me to scorn and disrespect you." More succunctly, "I'm rich because god loves me. If God loved you, you'd be rich too." It's not all that far removed from Prosperity Gospel, just that one is about money, the other is about church attendance.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 6:41pm BST
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