Comments: apology for Aitken error

Wow, Aitken sometimes LECTURES at Wycliffe Hall?

So the place can't be quite all that it's cracked up to be.

Looks like he's stabbed himself in the foot again with that 'sword of truth'.

Posted by matthewhunt at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 8:45am BST

good old Grauniad

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 8:51am BST

NP

It was the Guardian that apologised.

But the words that gave offence had been written by Jonathan Aitken himself, who has not apologised.

This is not a case of a newspaper misreporting somebody, this is a case of a guest columnist making a false statement.

I wonder if you think Aitken should apologise.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 9:01am BST

Simon - I certainly think he should and thought his intervention in the issue was unnecessary in the first place.....I also think The Guardian has a responsibility to make sure even guest columnists have their facts straight, do you not?

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 9:29am BST

Here's the original TA Aitken article thread with comments http://thinkinganglicans.org.uk/mt/comments?entry_id=2490

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 9:59am BST

You mean Jonathan Aitken lied? "I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you!"

Next you'll be rubbishing poor Lords Black & Archer.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 11:42am BST

What took them 20 good days?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 11:48am BST

This falsehood didn't start with Aitken. As I asked on July 5th, "whose talking points might Aitken be fronting here?"

NP, using this as an occasion to knock on the Guardian is just a little obtuse - talk about "shoot the messenger".

Göran, good to hear from you again and excellent point.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 12:26pm BST

"I also think The Guardian has a responsibility to make sure even guest columnists have their facts straight, do you not?"

To some extent, yes. But they'd have to employ large teams of researchers and lawyers to make sure of that, and newspapers run on tight deadlines.

In fact newspapers frequently don't get their facts straight. I used to love to play "spot the groaner" with a particular columnist who wrote for a Toronto paper. He'd make two or three of them a week. My personal favourite was when he described E.M. Forster's novel Maurice, as not being about homosexuality at all, but about a decaying old house.

One might cynically observe that withdrawing the story has become in itself a story. I'm breathlessly waiting for the next instalment.

Posted by Brian MacIntyre at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 12:48pm BST

It would be impossible for the Guardian to check all facts in all columns given their deadlines. Indeed this is one of the shallownesses of journalism, and what distinguishes it from research: that deadlines demand that pieces are dashedd off without proper checking.

Isn't it obvious that the Guardian in this instance is just falling into the 'tell the punters what they want to hear' category? If this site is to report on any serious news media, it should report on those who rise above that 'tell them what they want to hear' mentality. Trouble is, there are almost none who do so, so you have my sympathy.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 1:11pm BST

You'd have thought that by now the Guardian would have had some insight into Aiken's veracity.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 2:00pm BST

How many people will have seen the apology compared to the number of people who read the article? And WHY was such a comment attributed to Elaine storkey? WHO is really behind this - sounds like Aitken has just been taken in. Will there also be apologies for all the errors in the rest of the article? And will this hit the same headlines as before?
Nice to see the apology, but surely more needs to be said? Maybe even a proper investigation as to why someone wanted to blacken Storkey's name?

Posted by philbody at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 3:34pm BST

I laughed years ago at seeing statements such as "Train crashes into car". Other than getting the facts wrong, I did'nt realize that cars acted upon their own suicidal tendancies and drove out in front of oncoming locomotives.

We learned years ago here in the U.S. that it is not news, it's entertainment.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 6:44pm BST

Access to even the cached copy has now been blocked, both on Google and on the Guardian. One wonders, of course, what it was that got said that could then be so misreported.

Posted by Keith at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 6:55pm BST

So it has Keith, but Anglican Mainstream has a copy, which I have now linked above. (And I have saved a copy too.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 7:04pm BST

I've just read the article, and it sounds all very dodgy. If everything is so rosy at Wycliffe Hall, why have more than half the staff resigned? And if Aitken wasn't at those meetings, why did he think these things were said? He could only have got the information from somebody who fed him a line. It does seem obvious who!
Is there going to be another libel/perjury case?

Posted by bertie.g at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 8:52pm BST

Come one bertie.g, please make some effort to get your facts right - nobody with any inside knowledge has claimed that everything is so rosy at Wycliffe Hall although the reality is not quite as bad as some claim. Yet not even the newspapers are claiming over half the staff have resigned! Hyperbole is one way to make your point but it is not always helpful.

Posted by Paul Frost at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 10:11pm BST

"If this site is to report on any serious news media, it should report on those who rise above that 'tell them what they want to hear' mentality."

I would love to paraphrase that.

"If this site is to share any serious theology, it should share about those who rise above that 'tell them what they want to hear' mentality."

e.g. God is both masculine and feminine; God loved humanity before Jesus' incarnation and will love humanity even after Gaia and her inhabitants have been absorbed back into the sun; God cares about justice in this world; tyranny is not gentle and there are covenants promising an end to tyranny; this world is not saved through corrupt or cruel priests but despite them.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 11:01pm BST

Philbody wrote: “WHY was such a comment attributed to Elaine Storkey? WHO is really behind this – “

One might continue: WHY is this sort of thing allowed to go on and on without anybody at Wycliffe Hall speaking up? There must have been OTHERS in that room?

Is it true that half of the staff resigned? In what FORM and WAY?

WHAT did the good lady say? WHY was it misrepresented?

and ON and ON…

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 9:06am BST

Agreed almost entirely, Cheryl - except that God is neither masculine nor feminine.

Posted by Robert Leduc at Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 2:04pm BST

About 6 staff have left or are leaving:

David Wenham resigned as Vice principal because he could not work with Turnbull and was then offered a job in Bristol so is leaving completely;

Adrian Chatfield is moving to Ridley after about a year on the staff at WH;

the Director of pastoral Studies is leaving;

the evangelism lecturer is leaving.

Turnbull has appointed:
Simon Vibert to be Vice principal;
Liz Hoare to reach Spirituality;
Will Donaldson to be pastoral Studies director;
A N Other to teach NT

Posted by Frozenchristian at Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 2:22pm BST

This is very shocking. If you can't trust a perjurer and influence peddler, then who can you trust? What is the world coming to?

Posted by JPM at Friday, 27 July 2007 at 12:10am BST

Robert Leduc - I trust your father was a man.....and we have been taught to pray "Our Father"....but maybe you know better than the one who taught us that prayer.

I look forward to "liberals" coming up with "our Parent" or "our Significant Elder of no Gender" prayers as the revision continues!

Posted by NP at Friday, 27 July 2007 at 2:31pm BST

"we have been taught to pray "Our Father""

Are you actually saying that God is male? Have you been led that far astray?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 27 July 2007 at 4:01pm BST

Here's one:

O Birth giver! Father-Mother of the Cosmos

Direct the light to us

And clear the space inside for the Holy Name to live -

So that it may reign and do its work.

We desire the heavenly light and love as our earthly reality

Grant our life and soul and our bodily food for fulfilment.

Restore the unburdened state by removing all binds and debts:

As we do.

Free us from delusions and inappropriate actions that hold us back

There is, we know, the fertile abundance, the ability and the energy from time to time of Holy earthly renewal.

May these words truly be the basis of actions:

This is our oath.

(My version derived from Klotz, N. D. (1990), Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco, 10-14.

http://www.enk.freeuk.com/religion/prlordsp.html

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 27 July 2007 at 4:33pm BST

"I look forward to "liberals" coming up with "our Parent""

Oh, please, NP! That childish Daily Mail 'political correctness gone mad' nonsense went out in the 80's.

Yes, there will be some Christians who are uncomfortable with the male gender stereotypes to the point of overthrowing trad. language and imagery (remember the Christa statue?), but there are plenty of COnsEvs who seem to believe that God is genetically male, which is just as unacceptable! Most of us remember that imagery is just that....

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 27 July 2007 at 4:55pm BST

"That childish Daily Mail 'political correctness gone mad' nonsense went out in the 80's."

Not entirely. In this country, there are those who use Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer instead of the traditional Trinitarian formula. I have also heard "Our Father/Mother". My issues with this, BTW, have nothing to do with gender.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 27 July 2007 at 6:40pm BST

Thanks Pluralist. Its very good. Scans and flows well. Lovely images. With incitement to doing the truth !

I have that book, it is very stimulating. Important to try to contact the Aramaic world of Jesus' living and thought.

Posted by L Roberts at Saturday, 28 July 2007 at 8:08pm BST

Ford,
what are your issues with "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer"? Or with "Our Mother", in the right context?

When NP says that "I trust your father was a man... and we have been taught to pray "Our Father", it strikes me that any attempt at making God appear less paternalistic and HUMAN is only to be welcomed.

Allowing God to be God, unfathomable, not pin-downable, definitely outside our scope of understanding, is the one strength Orthodoxy has in my understanding. The evangelical trying to define God, to make him explicable and human like the strict father you and I know who is likely to say "this will hurt you more than me", is the one weakness this terminology tries to challenge.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 28 July 2007 at 9:49pm BST

Erika - John 1:12 - the whole point of the incarnation is that He is not unknowable!

Posted by NP at Monday, 30 July 2007 at 8:33am BST

Erika,
The Trinity is defined in terms of the Trinity: Father is Father to the Son, Son is Son of the Father, Spirit procedes from the Father. 'CRS' language defines the Trinity in terms of us. It is an incredibly self referential(for us), and I would argue arrogant albeit unconsciously so, way of defining the Almighty, as if He has no meaning outside of what He has done for us. It also does to God what the world does to humans, it defines Him, not in terms of what He is, but of what He does, as though God's, and by extension our, value is based on actions. We humans have value in God's eyes, surely the only source of true value, because of what we ARE, not because of what we DO. God likewise. God is God because he is God, not because He creates, redeems, or sustains anything. It also strikes me as modalist, though I admit my understanding of that is limited.

It's not so much to do with gender. I am far less troubled by Parent, Child, and Spirit, actually. God is beyond gender, yet we cannot deny that He has revealed Himself in largely masculine imagery. This does not deny the feminine imagery, though we have done so for a long time. I think, rather than see this masculine imagery as some sort of oppressive thing foisted upon us by patriarchal power, we should explore the implications of the male imagery, without, of course, losing the female as well.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 30 July 2007 at 2:35pm BST

"the whole point of the incarnation is that He is not unknowable!"

We've been here! The whole point of apophatic theology, not exactly a small fringe approach(!), is precisely that God is unknowable in His essence! It goes all the way back to the Fathers, NP, who I hope you would agree knew a little more about theology than you or me! The wonderful paradox, and the faith is all about paradoxes, is that He IS knowable in Jesus. Sorry, your gleeful jumping on this one is off base. Erika is not stating some funky New Age thingy. This is standard, and ancient stuff. Your claim to be 'orthodox' is made doubtful by your lack of knowledge of this, not to mention a whole bunch of other things.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 30 July 2007 at 2:48pm BST

Ford,

Great points on anthropomorphism. Everyone falls into this error at times.

Also agree we can not fully know God as He is beyond our capacity to understand. He has revealed parts of Himself to us and I believe we can have confidence in these things.

Posted by Chris at Monday, 30 July 2007 at 10:33pm BST

Chris,
When I talk about mysticism and the supernatural in the Church, this is what I am talking about. Western Christianity has sought for hundreds of years to define things. Eastern Christianity has always been more comfortable standing in the presence of God saying "Wow." That's how I feel. God is not us. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. There comes a point where all God talk just has to stop so we can go "Wow!" Think Cloud of Unknowing.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 30 July 2007 at 11:46pm BST

I prefer the view that biblical writings and indeed doctrinal writings are constructions, and as constructions they may point to the divine (in part) or exist as some signals of transcendence among others. Imagery of male and female may make sense in some cultural settings, but lose sense in others - and cultures change through space and time. I do not think we need to be slaves to any of these words, and social, political and even institutionl harmony requires that most of the time we are not.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 12:27am BST

Ford - "unknowable" is not the same as "cannot be fully known"

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 10:33am BST

You're right, NP, I should have said "cannot be fully known"

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 1:40pm BST

Ford, I'm still trying to get to grips with your comments on the Trinity. I think I know what you're trying to say, but I'm not quite sure.

The terms "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" are also terms used by human beings to express a relationship humans understand.
I can see that Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer are a little more self-referential and put the Trinity in the context of human lives, and focus on action rather than on being. But as the Trinity itself is relational, I'm not sure why that should be so wrong. It is in the context of our human lives that we experience God.

I'm not saying we should use Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer as alternatives to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but I don't see the harm in the right context.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 1:47pm BST

A century ago, Immanence and Trancendence meant the opposite to today (I wonder on who's "authority" this was changed), namely; Immanence was the relation within the Trinity (always as THREE ), and trancendence the relation of the Trinity, as a whole, outwards (always as ONE).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 3:43pm BST

"The terms "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" are also terms used by human beings to express a relationship humans understand."

Which is exactly why we use them. All human language, a product of our finite minds, is inaccurate when describing the Infinite.

"the Trinity itself is relational"

Exactly. The relationship is between the hypostases, not between them and some outside thing. One way to look at this is that we live in a society that tells us it's all about us. We have all internalized that, and can't even recognize it most of the time. Well, it isn't all about us. We have been given largely masculine images of God. We can chose to explore this, but instead we choose to feel hurt over it as though God Himself doesn't somehow treat us properly! It isn't about us, God is not defined in terms of us, yet CRS language unconsciously says that God is God in relation to us. It's not enough that He redeems us, we seek so much validation that we even have to define God in terms of ourselves and we are so used to this idea we can't even see it. Sorry to get all huffy here, but I truly believe we are called to better than this. I believe in the trite "Jesus, Others, Yourself", in that order, definition of joy. As I said, it's not about gender. I might find Parent, Child, Spirit to fall a little odd on my ear, but I have far less difficulty with it since it preserves the internal self definition of the Trinity.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 5:03pm BST

Ford,
Yes and Amen to all you say.
And then a long silence....

.... and only then the question...having truly accepted all you say...
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are already human concepts, because we cannot conceive of "God" outside our own experience.

So why would it be wrong, in the right context, to find words that explain what those human words "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" mean in relation to us?
After all - if it wasn't for the importance God has for us, we wouldn't be concerned with this "Trinity" at all.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 1 August 2007 at 9:34pm BST

I need to think about that Erika. I'm not arguing so much as clarifying what I think. I'll start from the point that stating that we experience God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer (though I would prefer Sanctifier, since I think it is more accurate) is not wrong in and of itself. It becomes a problem when it implies that it defines something essential to the Godhood of God. Father, Son, and Spirit can exist without any creation at all, as They did before creation. Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer implies that in order for God to exist at all, there must be something to create, redeem, and sustain. It seems to miss the point that God is eternal and not reliant on the existence of anything else. So as an "official" formula I think it is deficient and, as I said, more than somewhat self referential of us. But wrong? No, not as an aid to understanding. BTW, I also have huge issues with the filioque. I tend to think like the Orthodox on that one. We ought not to have stuck it in, and, in so far as I understand the argument, which isn't far, it upsets the "balance" of the Godhead.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 1 August 2007 at 11:04pm BST
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