Comments: General Synod - Tuesday roundup

So the Church of England will be extinct in 20 years time as we will all be dead? In the meantime the Bishop of Southwell wories about the teaching of maths.

Fiddling while Rome burns, come to mind.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 13 July 2011 at 9:34am BST

First Estates Church Commissioner Andreas Whittam Smith on News Corp:

"I feel that a premature sale of News Corp and BSkyB might just be simply very bad timing.
I don't argue with anything that anybody is saying about them but I think it must be possible that News Corp will get rid of its entire British holdings, of newspapers that is, and that if it is to do so, first of all the problem would have vanished if you like from the point of view of the parent company and for us as investors, and the shares will certainly bounce up again, and so it is a ticklish area."

The bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Paul Butler on capitalism and education:

"The way maths is taught is by and large assuming a capitalist economics which we may have questions of. We need to explore different models from a Christian perspective of how we approach all the curriculum, not just RE."

Dear bishop,

How are you going to do this without putting your own house in order first?

Yours sincerely,

A J Barford

Posted by A J Barford at Wednesday, 13 July 2011 at 10:39am BST

I think it is fairly obvious that ALL branches of organized religion or the Institutional Church have lost members due to the hypocrisy of the various leaders. All congregations have their large and small numbers at various times as their histories change. It is no longer acceptable for the hierarchy or leadership people in the various religions to put other human beings down, for whatever their bigoted reasons. I am not worried about numbers. I worry about those human beings who are hungry and disenfranchised.

Posted by Chris Smith at Wednesday, 13 July 2011 at 4:44pm BST

In western Europe all the traditional churches whether conservative or liberal are losing members at a dramatic rate. The catholic church is near collapse in many western European countries. An interesting survey revealed that people abandon the chuch not because they are too conservative or too liberal but for intellectual reasons and because they feel let down by God. In other words because they can find no rational or experiential reason to believe in God. If the church wishes to grow it must therefore address this above all.

Posted by sjh at Wednesday, 13 July 2011 at 7:22pm BST

Frankly, and as much as I'll be blasted out the door for it, the churches talk *way* too much about God and *way* too little about Humanity.

You can join a lot more dramatic and entertaining faiths that offer up sacrifices and worship abjectly at the foot of an idol, but ours is the only one in which God lives among and through us and requires our cooperation and "assistance," so to speak, in manifesting directly in human existence.

We've heard the story, and, in liturgical churches, hear it regularly. Time to stop counting angels on the heads of pins, in sermons and media, and "pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

If I were raised in a completely secular household, what I would see from our churches, liberal, conservative and all along the spectrum, is that God doesn't care - He made us as playthings and we are, therefore, unimportant.

If you want to get beaten down, humiliated and degraded, the world offers plenty of that without having to sacrifice a weekend morning to rather dull preachers chasing generalities on a Being they have no more comprehension of than the congregation!

Is that harsh? Good. Because we are failing *everybody*.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 14 July 2011 at 5:38am BST

There have been a lot of silly 'below-the-line' remarks about Paul Butler's comments on Maths teaching, even by the lavishly silly standards of the Telegraph. Some people choose to see this as emblematic of why the Church is allegedly in decline. On the contrary, I see it as a fine suggestion of the way the Church faces challenges from a godless, violent, and graspingly materialistic culture in every area of our social life. Making concessions to that culture is a large part of the problem facing the Church of England (it might be argued that being an established church does us no favours). We need to start proclaiming the Kingdom everywhere - even in Maths classes.

Posted by rjb at Thursday, 14 July 2011 at 7:10am BST

Maths is capitalist?

With recent experience of teaching the subject, can I make it clear that financial maths forms a small proportion of one of the five strands of the subject in the National Curriculum. I used to teach this topic with four aims in view: (1) helping my students to understand on a basic level issues like tax and interest, which they are likely to have to face in our society whether Bishop Butler likes it or not (2) approaching the latter topic of interest particularly in terms of credit cards, mortgages, debt, leading to a critical discussion of these topics and essential awareness to see behind the blandishments of finance companies (3) to set up complex problems requiring planning in the calculation and (4) to establish, not overtly, pure mathematical principles of modelling growth and change.

I can't believe I'm the only maths teacher who holds these things to be important and sees our subject as empowering.

This is a pretty blatant example of ill-informed religious agendas dominating our schools by grandstanders who aren't necessarily expert across the curriculum.

Meanwhile Bishop Butler was also troubled by the morally dubious material being taught in his daughter's drama class? I wonder what it was? Hamlet? Macbeth? The Merchant of Venice...? Isn't drama supremely the art form of moral dubiety, even when it has a moral purpose?

Yet more pontificating from a Bishop on subjects of which he displays little knowledge. Again, little willingness to listen to the expertise and experiences of others before opening his mouth. Sounds familiar?

Posted by Ex Revd at Thursday, 14 July 2011 at 10:25am BST

Yes Ex Revd, you've got to worry about the lack of mathematical understanding amongst the ranks of the bishops when we have the Bishop of Norwich get into an awful muddle on BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day recently:

"I imagine Archimedes got into a bath with too much water – very dangerous. If some of it hadn’t slopped over the side, he wouldn’t have worked out that the 'WEIGHT' of a body immersed in fluid is equal to the 'WEIGHT' of what it displaces. Eureka moments happen when risks are taken."

So a pebble weighs the same as a similary sized rubber duck then, Right Rev?

The transcript was corrected to replace 'weight' with 'volume' I hasten to add.

With intellectual heavyweights like these...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00j15dj

Posted by A J Barford at Thursday, 14 July 2011 at 12:02pm BST

Does anyone else find it a bit disturbing that these bishops feel that their (seriously questionably, in my opinion) moral authority somehow makes them, magically, an authority on all subjects and qualified to speak out?

Is it really hubris, or have they simply succumbed to the siren-song of media fame, unable to keep their mouths closed when a microphone is shoved under them?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 15 July 2011 at 5:02am BST
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