Comments: women bishops: further comment

Hooray, hooray, hooray. Alleluia!!!

Posted by Sara MacVane at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 12:40pm BST

1970 - 1 in 30 of the country were in the Church of England on a Sunday
1986 - 1 in 40
2006 - 1 in 60
2031 - 1 in 120 (if current trends don't sharply accelerate)

The CoE is in crisis, so let us drive away one of the bulwarks of the church, the Anglo-Catholics. And the Evangelicals will be next. And the liberals can really draw them in, singing those gender neutral hymns:

"O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and Queen-King,
The triumphs of His-Her grace!"

That's going to fill the cathedrals. Another point scored for political agendas, another nail in the coffin.

Posted by robroy at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 2:00pm BST

robroy: so you (in America) blame the decline in churchgoing in England, about which you appear to know very little, on women bishops (which we still don't have yet) or gay people (which we still don't accept equally)?

Or, more plausibly, could the complete inability of church leaders to connect at all with the ethical concerns of the wider society (e.g. on issues of equality) have something to do with it?

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 6:47pm BST

Tell you what, Robroy. You come down to *my part of the world and join me in a visit to the state secondary school, where I participate frequently as an invited guest in RE lessons, and let's have a debate. Let's see if you can explain to them why women shouldn't be bishops, and why women not being bishops is going to persuade them of the truth of the gospel, and why they should be a part of a church that doesn't believe women should be bishops. You justify it to these down-to-earth, real-world teenagers, instead of mouthing off on the internet. They'll eat you alive.

Posted by JBE at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 6:56pm BST

JBE's comment is revealing. If theological matters cannot be understood by a bunch of semi-literate teenagers then they have no place in the C of E.
Indeed.

Posted by Paul Rowlandson at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 8:26pm BST

Of course, JBE, teenagers know so much better than theologians the arguments against women's ordination.

I think you are confusing Christianity with humanism.

Posted by Flossie at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 9:55pm BST

Ah well, please note that a fear or alarm is being raised to a loudish din, somewhat between the lines, that if women can be recognized as priests, then some sort of gender-bending (or even genderless?) chaos is loosed upon us poor unsuspecting believers, especially those whom we in USA might call the good old boys.

But, the facts of society and church real life now, in places where women are ordained are hardly the bleak, tawdry, circus of anything goes - that we seem to read and hear so often being connoted or even outright spelled out - in so much of the conservative commentaries.

The unanswered question still is: If sexed-genedered embodiment is not ontological - i.e., a mark of being such that even in heavenly realms we will still be gendered/embodied in crucial and unmistakeable continuity with the conservative idea of it stated and understood now - then how can we make sex/gender embodiment a key sign that either hinders or not our recognition that God can call you to any of the three orders of ordained sacramental ministry?

A close second: If after the resurrection humans are neither married nor given in marriage - surely implying that post-resurrection sex/gender/embodiment is not in sex/gender continuity? - then sex/gender may hardly have the final ontological status which most conservatives pushing alarm about womens ordination seem to preach.

A close third: If, as much critical scholarship and empirical data shows, there exist key cultural and socialization components of how sex/gender embodiment is constructed in every culture of which we have useful knowledge - how can we square that sheer variability with pledging undying allegiance to an ontological presupposition?

A close fourth: If, as data and experience do show, women are unhindered in almost any domain of significant modern expertise by sheer dint of being women, then how do we square that obvious evidence with the ontological preachments whose beliefs and definitions still would hinder them?

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 10:35pm BST

I certainly did not blame the past decline of the CoE on women bishops. As Mark points out that would be silly. However, making the "big tent" smaller by telling Anglo-catholics to shove off will accelerate future declines. (What a sham the "big tent" is.) The issue is not women bishops, but rather making no provisions for Anglo-catholics other than "lump it or leave it." A really, really stupid move.

Posted by robroy at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 10:35pm BST

JBE - they would probably eat you alive as well if you tried to justify the Cross of Christ mate!
What sort of gospel will you offer to really convert people rather than just add a veneer - a gloss to lives they already intend to lead?

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 10:53pm BST

Everybody knew the triumph of a majority voting for women bishops was coming (whether it is right or wrong). What surprised decent people was the venom and intolerance and lack of inclusivity shown by so-called liberals who reneged on guarantees and promises and assurances already given. Much to the embarrassment of the two Archbishops. ADD TO THIS NOW the gloating, the triumphalism and sheer lack of respect shown to opponents (which was not shown by them towards women I might add) we see an evident ugliness which might invite a robust response. Shame on the new mullahs of the Inquisition - Giles Fraser engaging in exactly that sort of triumphalism he deplores in Roman Catholics.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 11:14pm BST

There are other conservative churches available for people to join. What people like robroy don;t get is that England isn't America - its far more secular, and religious conservatism is not popular.

The role of the CofE as an established national church is not that of a small, holy huddle of the 'saved', and I don't think he gets that either.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 11:19pm BST

"What sort of gospel will you offer to really convert people rather than just add a veneer - a gloss to lives they already intend to lead?"

I know I wasn't asked, but I'm generous with my tuppence. I'd preach to them a Gospel of a God whose love for His creation was so vast that, even though the highest part of that Creation rebelled against Him and brought it all crashing down, He became not just a part of it, but one of the most helpless and downtrodden of that Creation to rescue it from the trap into which it had fallen. I'd tell them He loves them, no matter what, because they are His precious Creation, and He don't make no junk. I'd tell them He expects them to show the same self sacrificing love for His Creation as He does. I'd tell them of the wonderful transformative power that enables us to take part in that, you know, baptismal regeneration. I'd tell them of the radical transformation of Creation that makes matter a source of grace, and makes a piece of bread become God every Sunday, showing us that His birth 2000 yuears ago wasn't just something that happened then, nor was it about Himbecoming a person, it was about Him transforminfg the very matter of which we are all made, so that His Incarnation happens every Sunday on altars around the world. I'd tell them that people who lived hundreds of years ago are united with us in Him, so they have some really cool people like Mother Julian of Norwich and St. Chad to go to for help and assistance and example

What I wouldn't do is preach them a Gospel of a condemnatory God who is vindictive and cruel. Even though He suffered untold agony and self debasement to suffer an unjust death just so He could let them, who are natural born criminals and unworthy of life, get away with their crimes, He is willing to put all that away and torture them eternally if they do not obey a law He told them they are no longer under. I certainly wouldn't feed them the near blasphemy of PSA. And I certainly wouldn't tell them that they have to obey the social and sexual mores of 50 years ago. In other words, I'd preach the real Gospel to them, not the modern manifestation of Ancient Imperial Crowd Control that allows a certain group of smug Middle Class people to feel morally superior. The knowledge that the Church is full of such people is what put them off God in the first place. Besides, that'd just be putting a veneer-a gloss, on the lives their parents already lead.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 11:26pm BST

"Of course, JBE, teenagers know so much better than theologians the arguments against women's ordination.

I think you are confusing Christianity with humanism."

But if you cannot explain your reasons for denying women the priesthood or episcopate to a group of young people--reasons that will counter everything they know about the women and girls around them and their innate capabilities for leadership and pastoral care--then how do you expect to bring them to the church?

Further, if you cannot do so, what does it say about the power of the Spirit to back up what you say?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 11:27pm BST

"The issue is not women bishops, but rather making no provisions for Anglo-catholics other than "lump it or leave it." "

And what have the traditionalists been saying to those who believe in the power and ability of women to minister in Christ's name for the past two millennia, robroy, if not "lump it or leave it"?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 11:30pm BST

"Conservatives" keep pointing to demographics - viz, the decline in church attendance - to "prove" that the crisis is caused by all these nasty progressives.

They should learn a certain fundamental truth of statistical analysis - correlation is not causality.

If the demographics showed that churches which did not ordain women were growing by leaps and bounds while those which did were declining, there would be, not proof, but certainly a primae facie justification for preliminary conclusions and further investigation.

But the facts (oh how those tricky facts get in the way) show us that the only growing religion is "no religion."

The decline began, after all, when there were no serious discussions about ordaining women anywhere in the Communion, when the only woman ever to have been ordained had relinquished the exercise of her ministry, and when she was largely silenced by the Communist authorities in China.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:00am BST

'the gloating, the triumphalism and sheer lack of respect ... an evident ugliness ... Shame on the new mullahs of the Inquisition - Giles Fraser engaging in exactly that sort of triumphalism he deplores in Roman Catholics.'

This liberal agrees entirely with your comment. Giles Fraser's piece was most inappropriate. As far as I am concerned the result was the right result and the right way forward, and 'structural changes' would have been a disaster for the Church. But this is not about kicking anyone out, nor about yahoo-ism.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:04am BST

Simon K - thank you for your comment. Though I am unhappy about the result I hope I woke up and smelled the coffee some 16 years ago on this issue. However, I have close friends on both sides, especially trads, and I really don't know what to think about the Lucy's and the 'liberals' who are talking like this to people I thought were their friends as well.
I hope I made clear I am not impressed either by triumphalism from the RCs and Russian Orthodox who smell an own-goal disaster in this General Synod vote.

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:20am BST

This piece

"Giles Fraser in the New Statesman Ending women free zones"

is "gloating, the triumphalism and sheer lack of respect ... an evident ugliness ... Shame on the new mullahs of the Inquisition" or "yahoo-ism"??? :-0

Maybe I'm just "spoiled" by the language of the U.S. Christian Right. After the 2004 election, I'll never forget what one said of liberals: "now that we've cut off their balls, they'll be far more docile". Now THAT is gloating! :-X

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:37am BST

Mark 12:24-25;
Matt 19:10-12; Matt 22:29-30;

Also Luke 20:33-40.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 7:06am BST

"The issue is not women bishops, but rather making no provisions for Anglo-catholics other than "lump it or leave it." A really, really stupid move."

I take it then that you think it is an equally stupid move to make no provisions for Anglo-catholics and others who support gay inclusion other than to tell them "lump it or leave it"?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:58pm BST

"I take it then that you think it is an equally stupid move to make no provisions for Anglo-catholics and others who support gay inclusion other than to tell them "lump it or leave it"?"

Of course not, Ford.

On that issue, Robroy figures his side will win, so there is no need for concessions to dissenters.

Robroy only believes in magnanimity FOR his side, not FROM his side.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 10:12pm BST

Hello,

For those Anglo-Catholics, who've been let down and betrayed, simply cannot envisage a future in the C of E or but do not feel drawn into swimming the Tiber, there is a Third Way.

I am one of thousands of ex-Anglicans who has made a very happy new home in the Orthodox Church. I am able to maintain my Christian Faith in a truly supportive, deeply spiritual environment, unhindered by the distractions of secularism.

It was initially hard to leave the church of my birth, but it is unequestionably the right decision for me and my family. The best thing we've ever done. I am in Love with Christ all over again!

The Antiochian Deanery is very welcoming, has a strong sense of Mission, its services are in English, and it has a truly international, multi-ethnic congregation - something we all could benefit from. My former C of E parish consisted mostly of white-Anglo-saxon ladies in their sixties, here my fellow worshippers are from the West Indies, Greece, Belarus, France, Syria, Rusia, the Ukraine, Rumania, Serbia, Armenia, the UK and elsewhere...and of all ages from babies upwards.

I apologise if this sounds like a recruitment drive, it's not meant too (honest!). I just know how much some of you are hurting at the moment and I sincerely wish to let you know of a way out into a whole new world, a way back to the One True Faith.

If you want more info, check out:

www.antiochian-orthodox.co.uk/

Or look up many of the conversion stories online.

Thanks for your time.

Yrs in XP,

Paul

Posted by Paul Hodges at Friday, 11 July 2008 at 6:01pm BST

Paul, is there any talk in the Antiochian Deanery of evangelizing Newfoundland? If there had been an Orthodox Church here in the 80s, I'd be where you are right now! I'm envious, frankly, but somewhat less likely to swim the Bosporus having returned to Anglicanism. Someone once described the Orthodox as having too much God and not enough Carpenter. I often feel the Anglican Church, and Western Christianity in general, has too much Carpenter and not enough God.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 11 July 2008 at 8:16pm BST

To someone with an Orthodox consciousness the Protestant idea of a female priesthood is amusing rather than shocking. In the Orthodox Church where priests are married, women are deeply involved in church life and have an honoured position - lacking in other Christian traditions.
In the Greek Orthodox Church the words for the priest's wife and the deacon's wife recall and underline this: they are 'presbytera' and 'diaconissa', respectively.
For this reason, there is no movement inside the Orthodox Church for a female priesthood or diaconate and never will be - it already exists.

STS

Posted by Sofia Thornborough-Smith at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 2:33pm BST
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