Comments: opinion

Whilst reading below-the-line is always a trial in the Guardian, the comments below Bottley's article make interesting (and damning) reading. What do we have to respond with to such disregard and contempt?

Posted by Tristan at Saturday, 29 November 2014 at 11:29am GMT

Clergy are accustomed to being stereo-typed. It took the writers and producers of the TV series M*A*S*H almost their entire run to nuance the character of Padre Mulcahy. So, perhaps I should be thankful that an atheist is thankful for clergy. James Croft's rather patronizing article is based on his discovery that stereo-types are just that. I can't decide what I found more off putting, his attempt at moral ascendancy or the humblebrag. Amusing that with titles like "Ethical Culture Leader" one learns that atheist humanists, as distinct from Christian humanists, have their own pious lingo. Coincidentally, just prior to reading Croft's article I read the local morning obituaries where I discovered that a PhD. physicist was also a Jesuit priest. So much for atheists, and their stereo-types.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 29 November 2014 at 7:26pm GMT

On Black Friday and Christmas (for our parish magazine)

I am told it is Black Friday today – by the unsolicited emails which keep arriving, by the newspapers and the TV and the radio, by the police – who call retailers irresponsible and are trying to control behaviour bordering on chaos. Black Friday, apparently, and it isn’t even Advent, yet alone Christmas. It will have gone by the time you read this.
And alongside the Government has just published guidance on “British Values” and what we should teach our children in school. Things like tolerance and respect and democracy – perhaps queuing might be there. The thing about values is that they are worth nothing written down or shouted out, what matters is how we live by them, and whether they survive under pressure. Schools and churches and saviours can try to teach what they like, but if we collapse into Black Friday the words will sound hollow and ineffective.
Jesus, of course, throughout his ministry, challenged behaviour – desperately wanting us to understand that we can’t get it right all the time without help. Alongside the good teaching we have undoubtedly received, we’ve learned too much of the bad things we’ve seen people getting away with, we are none of us perfect. And it goes too deep for an easy solution. And Jesus, at Christmas, as always, gets to the heart of the matter.
For Bethlehem had its own equivalent of Black Friday – busy, and bustling and full. The census bringing people and trade, and the kicking off of the weariness of some long journeys. Overflowing, indeed. No room. People too close together. People not liking the Romans. Crowded and tense.
And God did not denounce it, or curse it, or destroy it with fire, or send a prophet to put people straight. Instead, there was God, almost completely unnoticed, pretty much ignored, right in the middle of it. A sign that every one of those people was loved by God, made in God’s image, had the amazing possibility, as John tells us in his Gospel, to be a child of God. And so that first Christmas was rather like our Christmas where we may feel that our witness should be more noticed than it is.
And as we look at the crowds, or we see the children in our schools can we see that potential there, as St John did – and as Jesus brought alive?
And perhaps more to the point, can we see in ourselves – the amazing potential God has put there in us – not the fruit of our fantasy, but of God’s grace and God’s love – when I say “we are God’s children” do I remember to include myself in?

Posted by Mark Bennet at Saturday, 29 November 2014 at 10:19pm GMT

Rod, there is no need to take a swing at the Ethical Culture movement. It is a distinct group within the history of religion in America, going back to the founding of an Ethical Culture society in NYC by a man named Felix Adler in the 1870s. He was a German American who studied to become a rabbi before leaving the synagogue of his father to start what he hoped would be a religion without sectarian creed that could unite good people around ethical action. He famously taught "deed, not creed" but it was not anti-religious thought that motivated him. He wanted a religion where every creed could work together for a better world. It was a very late-19th century utopian hope that people of every sect and belief could put aside the fighting and find some common ground. A big part of the attraction in the late 19th century was that EC societies were often a place where Christians and Jews could be in a congregation together, an oddity in the 19th century.

People can and do join Ethical Culture societies from every belief background: from materialist atheist to Buddhist to Christian. The attraction is often the extensive children's education program offered at EC congregations. ECs are often compared to the Unitarian Universalists, and there was talk of a union a few decades ago, though that didn't work out. I have heard of a UUA congregation bringing in an Ethical Culture leader to pastor the congregation because of the similarities.

There are Ethical Culture groups scattered in large cities in the US, most famously in the NYC area, but in some surprising places, too. Though small, they have had an outsized contribution to the Civil Rights era, starting with the anti-lynching movement in the 1910s and 20s, up to and including lending use of their facilities and training to organizers in the 50s and 60s. (Decades earlier, they had been one of the few American denominations to actively respond to the Armenian Genocide.) The two Ethical Culture leaders that I have known have both been inquisitive, kind, receptive to every religion, and a model for clergy of every stripe. Before you take a swipe at a group you may not know much about, please do some research. Google is a good place to start, and there are books and other sources out there for exploration.

Posted by Dennis at Saturday, 29 November 2014 at 11:24pm GMT

"Whilst reading below-the-line is always a trial in the Guardian"

Homophobic, sexist bigots are a minority of Christians.

They are, however, rather less of a minority of vocal Christians.

For the typical Guardian reader (white, educated) Christianity is reduced to the worst excesses of the culture wars: their last contact with organised religion was the wilder, more evangelical shores of the campus Christian organisations. Aged 40, their perception of Christianity is the excesses that 18 year olds were doing twenty years ago.

It's hardly surprising that people dismiss Christianity as the preserve of ignorant bigots when it's only the ignorant bigots that get airtime. The antics of the Christian Institute represent essentially no-one: funded by Americans keen to export their culture wars because they are losing at home, their legal actions enjoy no support whatsoever amongst the parishioners of your local church. But they get into the media, so they have become the voice of Christianity now, as Stephen Green's ludicrous "Christian Voice" or the preposterously named "Anglican Mainstream" have also managed at various times.

Meanwhile, in parish churches, ordinary decent Christians are doing through their Christianity the sort of loving, inclusive things that the Guardianati love: charitable outreach, aid to the weak. But that is drowned out by noisy, homophobic bigots. They are the people who have to be pulled away from.

Posted by Interested Observer at Saturday, 29 November 2014 at 11:24pm GMT

What exactly does Kelvin Holdsworth means when he writes that women are allowed to be "(second class) bishops"?

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 12:11pm GMT

@ Dennis, not a swing nor a swipe at Ethical Culture, but to continue with your boxing metaphor, a well placed right hook in response to James Crofts' rather pretentious jab at clergy. My rejoinder is a concise response based a bit of rhetorical criticism of his article, nothing more. Perhaps you should have given my post the same careful reading.

As for your presumptuous suggestion that I do some research, I actually read over some of Crofts's other articles before commenting. I read his posts over at Patheos, "The Temple Of The Future".

I take him at his word when he writes, "In a free society ideas must be open to stringent, hostile, mocking critique by those who disagree." I'm happy to oblige.

The quote can be found in his piece on "The False Narrative of Christian Persecution".

Here is the link,

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/templeofthefuture/2012/10/the-false-narrative-of-christian-persecution/

Oh, and keep your left up. ( :

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 1:40pm GMT

Rod Gillis,

In my eyes a careful reading of James Croft's article will discover that he is not jabbing at clergy at all.

He writes that it is "the word" clergy, and "the idea" of a class or people called clergymen that makes him uncomfortable. But in reality, in the flesh, the actual clergy he meets constantly set him a wonderful example of brave pastoral work. There is a dissonance between "the idea" and reality.

If he is attacking anything, it is his own outdated personal stereotypical assumptions about the status of clergy.

I don't see anything in Croft's article that could be "a rather pretentious jab" at clergy. Rather it is an honest self-appraisal of how his own incorrect stereotypical views about the clergy have needed to be updated, triggered by meeting real clergy, and by an awareness that he is about to achieve a similar status himself.

Simon

Posted by Simon Dawson at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 6:28pm GMT

Kelvin Holdsworth means that he has read the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and knows what it means.

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/006792.html

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 8:33pm GMT

I don't know anything about Mr. Croft or his other articles. I was merely responding to your comment that, "Amusing that with titles like "Ethical Culture Leader" one learns that atheist humanists, as distinct from Christian humanists, have their own pious lingo." I suppose that it is pious lingo. I'm not a member of Ethical Culture or any of their societies (being just a standard pew warming American Episcopalian) but I thought it worthwhile to point out that Ethical Culture is a tradition that includes not only only atheists but people of a wide range of beliefs united by an idea of "deed not creed." Mr. Croft's comments on the clergy, coming from someone training to join the Ethical Culture version of clergy, puts him in league with the generations of seminarians who have objected to and attempted to differentiate themselves from their future profession. Change a few words in that piece and I could easily imagine an Episcopal seminarian writing the same thing.

Posted by Dennis at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 8:37pm GMT

@Simon Dawson, I think you have put too fine a point on things. The James Croft article struck me as set bouquet and brick kind of piece. He eventually gets to the point of lauding the clergy for their role in the Ferguson community.There's the bouquet.

As an aside, the role of churches and clergy in civil rights activism ought not to be surprise to anyone. There is a long history of that in The States.

Croft writes. "Clerical privilege frequently hands the worst ideas the biggest megaphone, putting the values and beliefs of a far-gone age on a pedestal, while shielding those who abuse their position from the consequences of their actions. The fact that when I’m fully-trained as an Ethical Culture Leader I will formally be a clergy person myself is the source of some discomfort... The work of an Ethical Culture Leader I love and want to continue – the position as clergy makes me nervous." There's one of the bricks, and the humblebrag.

The complete read left me with the sense that clergy are doing well because they can be validated by particular humanist standards. I suspect many of the clergy he is referencing would understand their activism and their beliefs, described as belonging to a by-gone age, as an integrated whole.

Humanism, of which there is a Christian variety, is very appelaing. As noted, I've read some of Crofts other articles for context. As another aside, I actually agree
more than I disagree with the argument he makes in the article I linked, "The False Narrative of Christian Persecution." But in this case, I find he undermines what could have been said differently, without an agenda, without the rhetoric in the first part of his article. Want to say an authentic thank you? Then just say it, and then be on your way.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 10:13pm GMT

@ Dennis, " I thought it worthwhile to point out that Ethical Culture is a tradition that includes not only only atheists but people of a wide range of beliefs united by an idea of 'deed not creed.' "

And I'm grateful that you did point that out. As I pointed out in a subsequent post, I don't think there is any need for Christians to be inimical to humanism. I just found the presentation in Croft's article really fried my fanny. The involvement of churches and pastors in civil rights, including the witness a half century ago of Episcopalians like Jonathan Daniels and Malcolm Boyd do not require external validation. If folks were to dig out a copy of Fr. Boyd's, Dialogue Prayer For Two Seminarians( Human Like Me Jesus, I seem to recollect?), I think the reader would find still that the divine oriented and the human oriented can be kindred spirits.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 11:23pm GMT

"Homophobic, sexist bigots are a minority of Christians."

World-wide, IO? I wish I had your faith!

[I agree that VOCAL "homophobic, sexist bigots are a minority of Christians". However---as Dennis mentioned the role of Ethical Culture in early 20th c (U.S.) anti-lynching campaigns---there were a lot of "quiet Christians" passively involved in lynch-mobs, then and now (regardless of what group is being lynched).]

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 30 November 2014 at 11:23pm GMT

Greetings to Kelvin Holdsworth on this transferred St. Andrew's Day. What would Kelvin prefer - the arrangements outlined in the Declaration or that Traditionalists, like the Wee Frees North of the Border, go off and found their own Church? Surely it's "Better Together".

Posted by Father David at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 10:11am GMT

I would prefer the Church of England to be fully in communion with itself and not introduce absurd novelties into the Episcopate (particularly those which denigrate women) without consulting the rest of the Communion.

Whatever one might think of the Wee Frees, there was a certain amount of integrity in the manner in which those who left the Church of Scotland at the Disruption which I've always admired. No doubt there was also a great deal of rejoicing in later years when so many rejoined that church having got over their difficulties.

There are other models of how Anglicans can cope with differences over the consecrations of bishops who happen to be women that are far preferable to those chosen by the Church of England.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 1:53pm GMT

Surely, Kelvin the "novelties" introduced into the episcopate are the soon to be consecrated women bishops, something that the Church has not had for 2000 years - how novel is that?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 4:45pm GMT

Thank you, +Kelvin.

As I've said, CoE is asking female clergy and girls who notice the inequality, to carry the burden of injustice on behalf of those whose insist on keeping institutionalized misogyny. Some people will be lucky and avoid all that, and others will be unlucky. And that's CoE's idea of justice and "mutual flourishing." If CoE is lucky, outsiders won't perceive the hypocrisy...

We almost had to move to England. As much as I truly love your country and many of your church members, I'm glad that I don't have to live with this aspect just yet.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 5:57pm GMT

Father David--

While perhaps a novelty in the Church of England, not so in "the Church"--almost 26 years now in two provinces of the Communion.

Posted by Paul Theerman at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 9:57pm GMT

I think I'm fairly clear that I think that a church that has bishops who are not fully in communion with one another is a far greater novelty than ordaining bishops who happen to be women.

We all have judgements to make about this, but that's mine. I can understand that there are people who take the opposite view but I don't agree with them at all.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 10:19pm GMT

Does Cynthia know something that the rest of us aren't privy to by adding a + sign in front of Kelvin's name? I think if the Provost of Glasgow opens the history books he will discover many occasions in the past when bishops were not fully in communion one with another! There's nothing novel in that. Also as far as Church history is concerned 26 years is virtually nothing. Perhaps the most significant fact concerning that time as far as ecclesiastical historians are concerned would be the rapid decline in church attendance. We need urgently to address the causes of that drastic decline or, as the Diocesan Bishops of Blackburn and Truro are currently warning, there won't be anything much left of a Church of England presence in Lancashire and Cornwall in 26 years from now. Great hopes are being pinned on the shoulders of the next Bishop of Burnley to help to reverse the decline in the N.W of England.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 11:28pm GMT

Bravo, Fr. Kelvin and Cynthia - for proclaiming the truth of the position of women Bishops in the Church of England.

Wonderful as it is to have women become Bishops in that Church, they will be - despite their place in the House of Bishops - unacceptable as bearers of episcope to those in the Church who choose to ignore their status as Bishops.

Effectively, this does allow, uniquely in the Church of England, a class of bishops that, for some of its adherents, are NOT Bishops - in regard to their presumed authority to exercise episcopacy over those who will not accept them. This is - however the Church may try to hide the fact - a matter of some concern to the rest of us who are presently in communion with the Church of England.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 1 December 2014 at 11:33pm GMT

"Whilst reading below-the-line is always a trial in the Guardian, the comments below Bottley's article make interesting (and damning) reading. What do we have to respond with to such disregard and contempt?"

That's easy, Tristan. Luke Chapter 4

He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Alas, it is difficult for CoE to proclaim the Good News when it carries the baggage of misogyny and homophobia.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 5:14am GMT

Cynthia, Rev'd Ron Smith,Kelvin Holdsworth. Im interested in what solution you would have liked to see. One cannot force people who cannot agree (not always a choice I feel) into communion with one another. Sacramental assurance is not a second order issue and many people (on both sides) have been hurting over this issue for so long now)

Either they have to leave (which some have) or they have be enabled to stay (some have stayed because they are able).

Another option (which I would favour) would be for traditional catholics to seek communion with the Holy Father- where they can be catholic christians in communion with their bishops. This makes the most theological sense.

Posted by Mark Wharton at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 9:55am GMT

I'm interested in the claim that there are many occasions when bishops were not in communion with one another.

When exactly was there a situation where a church formally recognised this as part of its polity?

When has there been a time when some bishops in a church that claimed the apostolic succession were encouraged by that church in their view that other bishops were not (or maybe not) actually bishops at all?

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 11:42am GMT

I'm sure that the Provost of Glasgow has heard of the Western Schism (1378-1417) when there were rival claimants to the papacy. More recently Archbishop Lefebvre has been severely at odds with the Bishop of Rome. Was there much of a sense of communion between the various participants at the Synod of Whitby in 664, I wonder? Going even further back I very much doubt if the Bishop of Myra was in communion with Arius when they gathered at Nicea in 325. Right at the very beginning James and John had an unhealthy rivalry as to which one would be able to sit nearest to The Lord in the Kingdom - which must surely be considered the ultimate act of being in communion. Kelvin himself in a totally brilliant article on his blog asks "What if Jesus chose the wrong brother" (also suggesting a Miliband sub plot) when he questions Our Lord's judgement in choosing the rock-like Peter the gatekeeper rather than Andrew the one with an instinct for hospitality and introductions. Had Andrew not Peter been the Lord's chosen one then the Provost suggests that we would have a very different Church to the one which has come deepen to us through the ages. But Kelvin is surely correct in pointing out the ridiculous situation the General Synod has landed the Church of England in with its recent novel innovation resulting in a House of Bishops that will no longer be in Communion with itself once the first woman is consecrated to the episcopacy.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 1:44pm GMT

Kelvin, I'm pretty sure I remember Archbishop Donald Robinson formally declaring the Anglican church Sydney out of communion with the C of E on the basis of apostolic tradition at a Synod in the early 90s. He did so with tears and dignity.

Posted by Jenny Petersen at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 1:56pm GMT

Here's a somewhat filleted account of the Archbishop Robinson's announcement and other related stuff about the Australian church being in and out of communion http://trushare.com/75AUG01/AU01OZ.htm

Posted by Jenny Petersen at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 2:21pm GMT

My question is not whether there have ever been bishops out of communion with one another - of course there have. The question is whether any Church of the Anglican Communion (or indeed anything looking remotely like a church of the Western Rite with claims to possess the apostolic succession) has ever been in a situation whereby it has encouraged people to believe you can have bishops of that church who don't believe that other people consecrated to the episcopate in that church are actually real bishops.

It is absurd.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 2:56pm GMT

Am I correct in thinking that the Patriarch of Moscow once virtually excommunicated the Ecumenical a Patriarch simply by excluding Bartholomew's name from the list of Patriarchs prayed for by name during the Divine Liturgy?

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 3:23pm GMT

Unfortunately, the Provost of Glasgow offers no solution as how the Church of Englad can extricate itself from the self created absurdity.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 5:14pm GMT

I've made a longer response to these questions on my blog.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 6:01pm GMT

"Cynthia, ... Im interested in what solution you would have liked to see. One cannot force people who cannot agree (not always a choice I feel) into communion with one another. Sacramental assurance is not a second order issue"

I am with you in that the Sacraments are primary in the church.

One solution is to offer male ministry to those parishes where a strong majority wants men. Period. Fine.

The problem is insisting upon "non ordaining" male bishops. Problem A: that is institutional misogyny that is unjust to female clergy who have to serve under him, and it is wretched for girls to experience that attack on their very being.

Problem B: "Sacramental assurance" only requires that a male do the particular Sacrament. The heresy of taint seems to be driving the idea that not only do parishes need MEN, they NEED non ordaining men. No they don't. It's heresy. And political maneuvering.

In the midst of the sexual child abuse crisis in the RC church, the RC's used an ancient doctrine to assure their members that all of the Sacraments performed by these criminal priests were valid. The ***the validity of the sacrament does not depend on the character of the priest.*** God does not withhold Grace because the priest or bishop is a criminal, or a jerk, or has ordained women!

The pastoral needs of "traditionalists" are covered by male priests and bishops. They do not have to be covered by misogynist male priests and bishops.

Jesus did not withhold his healing, teaching, or presence from the women around him, and to me, that "tradition" is primary.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 6:14pm GMT

"Does Cynthia know something that the rest of us aren't privy to by adding a + sign in front of Kelvin's name?"

For some reason, I thought Kelvin was a bishop. However, my typos have occasionally come true....

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 6:16pm GMT

Father David,
is there are particular reason that you don't address Kelvin directly but refer to him in the third person throughout?
It's something that seems to have increased on TA recently and it's a very strange way of putting distance between ourselves and those we talk with.
But I think it's a dangerous practice because so many of our difficulties are down to not talking effectively *with* each other but *about* each other.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 7:03pm GMT

Fr David, as to this quote of yours:

Surely, Kelvin the "novelties" introduced into the episcopate are the soon to be consecrated women bishops, something that the Church has not had for 2000 years - how novel is that?

I'm willing to bet on the impossibility of documenting your "something the church has not had for 2000 years."

And I'm willing to hazard a year's pay that any church historian in an accredited academic institution would stand my bet. Sounds like you're trying to squeeze popular fictions about early church history into a framework that suits your tastes. Anyone who has had even elementary scripture courses can tell you that you just can't do it.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 8:10pm GMT

Father David,

Remember 'mutual flourishing'? Don't polarise. There are people, including Martin Warner, including Jonathan Baker, incluing your good self (mostly), including Erika Baker, including me (and many liberals I know), who are prepared to 'live' this 'inconsistency'. Ignore the polarisations of Kelvin and Cynthia. Easy for them. Irresponsible of them. Totally unrealistic of them. But you, too, have to shoulder the burden, accept the challenge, walk the walk. As Warner does. And avoid terms like 'absurdity'. As for the 'solution' it is stated above: live it, accept it, make the best of it. Don't yap, don't whine (the terms apply equally to both sides).

Posted by John at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 8:17pm GMT

In another Anglican Province (TEC) where Episcopalians have refused to be in Communion with their Church polity - on the matter of ordination of LGBT clergy/bishops - they have formed their own quasi-Anglican Church. In that way, TEC has avoided confusion about episcopal jurisdiction.

However; that was not at the initiation of TEC, but rather by an intentional act of Schism. Seemingly, this was the only way for both sides of arguments to maintain their own integrity.

What is the situation in the Church of England now, is the amazing prospect of '2 Integrities'. How that fits with Catholic Order is anyone's guess - especially as it denies the collegiality of ALL Bishops.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 8:41pm GMT

Father David,

"Kelvin himself in a totally brilliant article on his blog asks "What if Jesus chose the wrong brother" (also suggesting a Miliband sub plot) when he questions Our Lord's judgement in choosing the rock-like Peter the gatekeeper rather than Andrew the one with an instinct for hospitality and introductions."

If only you had posted this last week, I would have had a much better theme for my sermon last Sunday.

Simon

Posted by Simon Dawson at Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 9:50pm GMT

I'm shaking my head about the amount of attention that gets paid to bishops in articles like these, and in the comments afterwards.

The vast majority of Christians are not clergy. And the vast majority of clergy are not bishops. And the vast majority of quiet, unspectacular Christian witness and service gets done by the vast majority who are not bishops.

And although I'm entirely happy to work in an episcopal church, and I have appreciated the ministries of many faithful bishops over the years, I'm inclined to feel that in Anglicanism we give way too much attention to 'who's at the top' (and say what you like about servant leadership, in practice it often is all about being at the top).

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 1:17am GMT

As for referring to Kelvin Holdsworth in the third person, I do so respectfully, considering his position as Dean of a Scottish cathedral and never actually having had the honour of meeting nor being introduced to him. Although as Simon Dawson's quotation above shews I also more familiarly refer to him by his Christian name. I greatly admire Provost Holdsworth's very creative, fertile and highly imaginative mind, as indeed do I similarly admire the Dean of St, Albans skills as a teacher and evangelist. Both decanal gentlemen are richly blessed with gifts and talents that are to be much admired. I thank God that they use their skills in the service of the Church and for the extension of Christ's Kingdom.
As for my use of the word "absurdity" - this arose from Kelvin himself describing the new episcopal situation we are all soon to be faced with within the Church of England thus - "It is absurd". Having said that I'm all in favour of mutual flourishing but realities have to be faced up to rather than swept under the carpet.
I totally agree with Simon Dawson with regard to the quality of homily that could have been delivered on the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle had Kelvin's brilliant piece about the apostolic brothers twain been known and spread abroad before November 30th. However, it has given me much food for thought with regard to ideas for a sermon on June 29th, for which I heartily thank the Provost of St. Mary's cathedral, Glasgow.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 5:16am GMT

I asked Kelvin what solution he would offer in order for the C of E to extricate itself from its " self created absurdity". He has very graciously and very fully responded to this question on his own blog "What's in Kelvin's head" where he writes the following:-
"I can see no way of resolving the ecclesiastical nonsense of continuing to consecrate men who don't accept female episcopal ministry now. I wouldn't turf anyone out but I certainly wouldn't make the situation worse in this way."
Kelvin, how on earth would this solution assist or promote mutual flourishing? To starve Traditionalists of Traditionalist bishops and episcopal leadership would surely lead to extinction rather than mutual flourishing. Thank God that a better solution and a better way forward will soon be found within the diocese of Blackburn.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 5:51am GMT

At what point was "mutual flourishing" added to the creed?

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 8:32am GMT

Erica raises an interesting question of style.
The third person is a device aimed (at least by me) at achieving several goals.
1. It is intended to include everyone in the exchange. This is not my blog.
2. It reminds me to frame my commnents in a way that explains and gives context and content to the post.
3. It reminds me that this not a place for bickering or personal attacks, and it helps me stay respectful.
4. It stops me asking questions of others, rather I must listen to what they say and be satisfied.
5. There are some who comment here I have known for 40 years and longer, it helps me to keep these exchanges separate from intimate relationships.

So, I figure its a more inclusive way of talking, and as I recall, has always been a characteristic of this blog. There are some blogs where commentators are subject to a steady stream of abuse and threats from (I have one in mind) queen bees who use the comment section to bully anyone who disagrees with them.

The third person helps me, is less intimidating, encourages contributions from the more timid and I would be happy to see more of it.
I fond anonymous contributions rather more difficult! Believing there are only a very few reasons where that is helpful or needed.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 9:01am GMT

Tim I agree with you. How much it is also a male preoccupation is soon to be revealed.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 11:21am GMT

Mr Provost Kelvin, I'll go further: When was bishop, priest, deacon or apostolic succession added to the creed?

I think it reasonable to speculate that the rigidity with which we tend to regard these offices and ministries was unknown in the cnurch until the Byzantine emperor demanded that we get house in order to prevent the dissolution of his empire.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 1:23pm GMT

David - trust me, I'm from an Anglican province where we've had both male and female bishops for over twenty years. It's not an exclusively male preoccupation.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 5:18pm GMT

"Ignore the polarisations of Kelvin and Cynthia. Easy for them. Irresponsible of them. Totally unrealistic of them."

Unrealistic and irresponsible only if you ignore the provinces that have WB and are doing just fine... There was a bit of schism in TEC over women, but not much. The big deal came with LGBT, and plenty of those folks are coming back.

John, please explain why it is polarizing to hold the position that parishes that want men should get men? And why is it polarizing to challenge the heresy of taint?

Can you explain how it is that Sacraments are valid when performed by child molesters, murderers, thieves, apostates, whatever, but not by men who ordain women?

Have your men. You are welcome to them. But "non ordaining?" Please!

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 3 December 2014 at 9:12pm GMT

Cynthia,
unrealistic, because the CoE did not have the option of "these terms or others", it only had the choice of "women bishops under those terms or no women bishops".
That may be regrettable, but it was a fact.

It is possible to argue that the church should not have had women bishops in that case. But that's not the question you're asking.

We now have this arrangement in place, the only question is how it will play out in practice.

And yes, there will be debates about whether the agreement means that there have to be conservative Diocesans and how many non-ordaining area bishops there should be.
But THAT there should be some has been decided, and it is unrealistic to roll-out this whole conversation again. The vote has happened, we are where we are.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 11:46am GMT

To be absolutely fair and just; it would seem that the Church of England ought now to appoint a Woman Bishop who can exercise episcopal ministry in those situations where the local Ordinary is a male, and where a parish requests a female bishop to perform episcopal duties in the parish. Will this happen?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 8:28pm GMT

Father Ron as ever gets to the heart of the problem and clearly shews what an absolute tangle of a mess the Church of England has created by ignoring clear Biblical teaching and the Apostolic Traditions of 2000 years standing. We only have ourselves to blame and Fr. Ron's voice from Down Under and Provost Holdsworth's voice from North of the Border, like Prophets of old, point to the words of a song which state "There may be trouble ahead!" So, "Let's face the music and dance!"

Posted by Father David at Friday, 5 December 2014 at 8:52am GMT

"But THAT there should be some has been decided, and it is unrealistic to roll-out this whole conversation again. The vote has happened, we are where we are."

I had never gotten a grip on what the "provision" was going to be. I was traveling a lot when the synod met.

Ministering is one thing. But reserving a spot for a "male headship" bishop (to represent that view, not for sacramental reasons) and insisting on "non ordaining" bishops are simply institutionalizing heresy. Meanwhile, there are no reserved spots for LGBT bishops and/or supporting bishops or women, etc.

This is a mess and while it limits the injustice, there's still a substantial amount of injustice. It limits CoE's credibility on the major issues of our times, like injustice, inequality, etc.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 5 December 2014 at 5:59pm GMT
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