Comments: opinions at Trinity

I've not read "The Country Parson" for at least 30 years, and only read it then because my graduate seminar professonr required it. How many people on this list have ever read it? How could a largely unread book be so pernicious?

I've continued to read Herbert's very challenging poetry for at least that long. It continues to nourish me to be an adult Christian.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 2:09am BST

"The image of the vicar as a kindly, smiling presence, ministering to all the various needs of an ideal community, is one we must ditch"
- Justin Lewis Anthony, The Observer -

The extant image of George Herbert as the ideal *Country Parson* is a product of the age in which he lived, and as such, is held in reverence by many an Englishman - at Home and abroad. To say that we must 'kill him off' is stretching things a bit too far - as far as I am concerned. His poetry alone ('Love bade me welcome', for instance) is one good reason to continue to keep him alive.

For Mr Lewis-Anthony to suggest otherwise is to say that past images of the priesthood are no longer valid and must be got rid of - in order to clear the way for a more frenetic image of what psrish ministry is really all about. Can we not preserve a bit of cultural imagery from the past history of the Church, when all today seems to be hustle, bustle and downright schismatic activity on the part of would-be puritan revisionists?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 10:48am BST

"The threat of social fragmentation is easily worsened if interest groups, secular or religious, lash out against others when justifying themselves. A rhetoric of dismissal and ridicule plays well to a populist gallery"
- Alister McGrath, Times Article -

Alister McGrath touches a sore nerve in the present culture of oppositional theology in the Anglican Communion. What was once our catch-cry of a Faith based upon Scripture, Tradition and Reason, seems to have been side-lined by a puritanical insistence on either Scripture or Tradition being more important than Reason in the contemporary Church.

Where the Church has usually had to adapt to the reasonable demands of social and cultural realism, it now seems, in some areas, unable to accommodate to the more recent acceptance by society of the equality of men and women and the LGBT community.

Certain isolated readings of Scripture - which might seem to give contrary pointers to the treatment of women and gays - have remained a stumbling block for certain sectors of the Church community that seeks to maintain the cultural absolutism of an out-dated milieu, and have become a rallying point for advocates, which is one of the reasons for the present stand-off.

Reason, it would seem, is being rejected in favour of an antiquated culture of patriarchalism which has long since been rejected by the modern world, as insensitive to the social and spiritual needs of those in the world and within the Church who are either female of gay.

There have of course been similar spats before in the Church, where the status quo has been lauded as the safest way of dealing with newly emerging scientific and cultural questions. However, if the Church is to survive, it must always adapt to meet the real needs of the people to whom it is being sent to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the enlightenment that he said would follow with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit - 'On all humankind' - not just the pure and sinless.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 12:34pm BST

I think that much of Herbert's actual practice would be described as 'mission' today, and suddenly become acceptable if seen in that light.

Posted by RosemaryHannah at Monday, 8 June 2009 at 10:41pm BST

Sorry, Giles, but...there's a difference between understanding the role of instinct ('gut feelings' may be linked to vestigial nerve complexes in the intestines that are actually 'thinking') and fostering merely cognitive worlds that spread inhuman bunkum. The search for meaning does not indicate giving licence to nonsense, although that quest can lead you there too, in due course; and just because we can all be prone to nonsense does not mean this activity should be elevated to the position of a higher common human thread. We all need to eat, too - are we going to start therefore worshipping potatoes?

Please, please, please, please - renounce this cosy niche known as the traditional, the irrational and the superstitious, it's loaded territory, and plays *exactly* into the hands of those who would happily denigrate the good, and the humane, and the noble as collateral damage in attacking what we do as 'religion'.

Posted by MikeM at Tuesday, 9 June 2009 at 10:43am BST

Why is British discussion of religion, at least in newspapers, so drab and dispiriting? Surely interreligious dialogue [and even religious-atheist dialogue one might add] is a wonderfully enriching sharing of classics and lifestyles, as John Paul II exclaimed during his Israel trip (in Jordan I think).

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Monday, 15 June 2009 at 6:28pm BST

Perhaps the "irrational" does result from poor or defective reason, but the "non-rational" (or "transrational," maybe) need not be irrational.
(Aren't there clear analogs to this in mathematics, and even physics?)

Our recent thought culture has not (yet) much developed the transrational side of things -- but there are certainly indications that it might. I have a friend who argues that Christianity pushed out its mystics over two centuries ago as a culture of reason gained the ascendancy. If a theophanous science develops in the future, perhaps a broader culture will also develop that will support a Meister Eckhart or Dogen of the 22nd or 23rd century.

Posted by Peter of Westminster at Tuesday, 16 June 2009 at 12:17pm BST
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