Comments: Midsummer opinions

"The Anglican church no longer shows so clearly the same combination of rootedness in the early Christian tradition and unfussy, prayerful pragmatism..."

Interesting thought from the Archbishop of Canterbury - again a "church" and what it now lacks.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 21 June 2008 at 1:31pm BST

Is that mid-summer or midsommer ? .......

Posted by L Roberts at Saturday, 21 June 2008 at 4:25pm BST

The difference between the EU and the Anglican "Church" is that the former has the principles of human rights, democracy and freedom enshrined in its constitution.

The proposed Covenant not only removes the close involvement of the laity in the national issues of importance, it also guarantees that topics such as civil partnership ceremonies and the removal of exemptions from gay equality legislation are kept firmly off the agenda at General Synod, for fear of invoking cumbersome "procedures for the resolution of Covenant disagreements" if GAFCON objects. This is the last thing the C of E needs right now.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Saturday, 21 June 2008 at 6:47pm BST

The pope of hope article is hopeful and inspiring. Real gospel work that.

Posted by Treebeard at Saturday, 21 June 2008 at 7:29pm BST

Giles Fraser's article left me reeling. I had no idea things were that bad. It is ridiculous that God cannot be spoken of in civil weddings. God can and should be spoken of any and everywhere, after all, God is any and everywhere.

In a previous church I heard a few sermons where the preacher espoused that God could only be found in church and that if we didn't top ourselves up every week, we would become sinful heathens unprotected as we would be outside of grace.

I knew these preachers and knew they were a bit off the planet, and eventually moved on when it became clear their diocese's leadership had the same marketing spin.

God and Holy Spirit move as and where they want to. Many souls testify that they are closest to God and Spirit in the darkest and lonliest of times.

The priests who have allowed this misjustice of civil services are the ones who are the sinners. They forget that there are souls who are close to God and divinely inspired, but shun churches and their priests due to previous abuse and harm done to them by either priests or their "accepted" parishioners. Those souls are not removed from God, they are closer to God because God has to directly affirm and nurture them because the human priests have failed to do their jobs properly.

This farce of a law simply shows how low some priests have sunk in their attempts to remain "holy". They are of the ilk of Sodom and Gomorrah, who deprive justice and mercy simply to feather their own nests.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Saturday, 21 June 2008 at 9:46pm BST

Cheryl writes: "The priests who have allowed this misjustice of civil services are the ones who are the sinners."

Sorry, but I just don't understand this. What element of a civil wedding ceremony is a "misjustice" (not a word I've previously encountered)? How could "priests" either "allow" or not allow any element of an entirely secular ceremony conducted under laws enacted by Parliament?

Turning to the sad story of the SPCK bookshops, I wish Mr Howse had dug deeper into this disaster. Under the previous regime, the Birmingham bookshop did pretty well, with a wide range of books, maybe with a slight bias towards the then manager's Anglo-Catholic churchmanship. It's now clearly failing, with a "To Let" sign in the window. What sort of cretinism has done this to one of the main religious bookshops in Britain's second largest city, in the heart of its commercial centre and seventy yards from the main railway station?

Posted by Alan Harrison at Sunday, 22 June 2008 at 7:49pm BST

Cheryl writes: "The priests who have allowed this misjustice of civil services are the ones who are the sinners."

Sorry, but I just don't understand this. What element of a civil wedding ceremony is a "misjustice" (not a word I've previously encountered)? How could "priests" either "allow" or not allow any element of an entirely secular ceremony conducted under laws enacted by Parliament?

READ THE ARTICLE and see how the fort was betrayed by those who should have known better


Posted by Michael Thompson at Monday, 23 June 2008 at 9:36am BST

It's a misjustice to deny a marrying couple acknowledgement of God and their faith in God.

Sorry, I'm a Protestant.

That means that no soul or priest can or should stand between me and God.

I don't have a problem with any church or a particular minister of a particular parish refusing to acknowledge me or my partner or our relationship with God. But I do have a problem with a priesthood engineering society such that no one else is allowed to acknowledge souls or their relationship with God.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Monday, 23 June 2008 at 12:26pm BST

Riazat's interview with Bartholomew I is indeed hopeful and inspiring. I know he is much respected around here.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 23 June 2008 at 5:37pm BST

Michael Thompson wrote "READ THE ARTICLE and see how the fort was betrayed by those who should have known better" I'd read it in the Guardian and just re-read it. OK, some representations were made by faith leaders, who perhaps not unreasonably believed that a civil ceremony should be clearly distinct from a religious one, but decisions about the content of civil weddings are a matter for Parliament.

Cheryl writes: "It's a misjustice to deny a marrying couple acknowledgement of God and their faith in God." Nobody's doing that. Anglicans wishing for acknowledgment of their faith can get married in church, with no further ceremony necessary, since Anglican priests and deacons are automatically acknowledged as registrars. Most protestant ministers and RC priests are now also similarly acknowledged as registrars. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus normally have a civil ceremony in addition to a ceremony in accordance with the precepts of their religion. Just over the ditch, in France, everyone wishing to marry must have a civil wedding which they may follow, if they wish, with a religious ceremony.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Monday, 23 June 2008 at 7:42pm BST

Alan

I think my concern is with "religious" = "church". Civil = "non-religious".

There are some souls who want a civil ceremony with no hint of religious overtones.

There are some souls who want a religious ceremony with all the religious trappings, rituals and blessings that entails.

There are some souls who want a divine content to their ceremony but do not necessarily want the formal churched versions with all the obligations that go with that.

In some dioceses "divine" blessings from priests are with-held from some parishioners until they "pass" the bar. For example my then-husband and I went through a whole training program but the minister concerned would still not baptise our children because we were "not ready". It was only when my then-husband explained to the senior minister that I was hurt when I saw other families children being baptised and not my own that he said "of course they can be baptised".

That service (of my then 8- and 2-year-old children) led to other families baptising their older children (they hadn't got around to doing it when they were babes either). All liked that the children were able to understand what was being done, and felt that made it even more special.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Tuesday, 24 June 2008 at 9:12am BST

"There are some souls who want a divine content to their ceremony but do not necessarily want the formal churched versions with all the obligations that go with that."

And then there are those who would love God to be a full part of their relationship but whom the church has declared unclean sinners and therefore not allowed even to speak his name when they make their promises to each other. In the AC that applies largely to lgbt couples, in the RC it also applies to the divorced. In many churches it applies to interfaith couples.

So, yes, there are many instances where a marrying couple is denied an acknowledgement of God and their faith in God.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 24 June 2008 at 12:59pm BST

Erika, I think the conservative response to this would be that LGBT people want God to be a part of their relationships only if He conforms to their will. If God says that He doesn't believe our relationships are good for us, and I'm not claiming that's what He is saying, then we don't want Him in our lives. The response that we experience our relationships as good is not an argument, since who are we to tell God what's best for us? Rightly or wrongly, they perceive this as unbelievable arrogance: we actually, they think, presume to tell God, at best, what parts of His will we will do,and we will call that the Gospel. This is why they accuse us of "picking and choosing" despite the fact that the same is clear in their behaviour, and why they accuse us of selling out to the world, though they have done the same, and on and on. For me, it's that this is how we DISCERN the Gospel, believing ourselves led by the Spirit, something that frightens them to the core.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 24 June 2008 at 3:50pm BST

Cheryl, I can't speak to the problems that you encountered over the baptism of your children, since I can't envisage exactly the same situation arising in the C of E, where parishioners, irrespective of their own religion, have the _right_ to have their chilkdren baptised.

I think I take your point about some people wanting a servce with some religious element but without full-on commitment. Where I have some difficulty is fitting this with the situation described in Giles Fraser's article. Dr Fraser is a robust and articulate advocate of liberal theology. I am sure that he could have come up with a form of religious ceremony acceptable to his friends, and that he would not be inhibited by, say, the existence of a living divorced spouse. (Even many priests who will not marry divorced people in church agree to carry out blessings after acivil ceremony. No, I don't see any rationality in that practice!)

The point I'm trying to make, perhaps inadequately, is that across the denominations in England, people have so many options for a religious ceremony that I can't quite understand why Dr Fraser's friends wanted the option he described.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Tuesday, 24 June 2008 at 6:02pm BST

Ford
But this goes beyond conservatives. This is an arrogance that affects all organised Christianity. If Giles Fraser is right, the impetus for banning all religion from civil ceremonies came from the Catholic church.

Interestingly, I discussed this with a priest over dinner the other day and she was sure that the root of the problem was money - once you allow anyone to express religion, fewer and fewer will opt for an organised religious service.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 24 June 2008 at 7:27pm BST

Erika (and Alan),

It is interesting though, that the front-lines seem to be constantly on the move...

60 years ago, the Pope tried to stop King Michael of Rumania (who was Orthodox) from marrying his fiancée Princess Ann of Parma (who was Roman). Their mothers went to the Vatican to plead their children’s cause. To no avail.

But what the Pope tried to hinder is OK nowadays...

And a couple of days ago, the pair celebrated their 60 years as married.

A couple of days ago, the pair celebrated their 60 years as a married couple.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 25 June 2008 at 7:08am BST
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