Comments: Opinion - 25 February 2017

Theo Hobson feels the way towards 'Unity in Diversity'.

Truly, what other way can the square be circled, or the Church move on?

What better actual plan does the Church have than to challenge all members to a 'Unity in Diversity' where conscience of all parties gets protected and respected.

Theo touches on a key issue: there simply is NO uniform position or view on these sexuality issues.

So in practice, the Church simply cannot agree, but perhaps it could agree to allow one another to live by their consciences.

A kind of institutional agnosticism, if you like, since in the reality the Church really doesn't know its own mind.

This would, in effect and outcome, be a victory for all the moderates who just want to get on with all the compassionate parish mission the Church can do. The vociferous extremes could accept or (sadly) depart. The Church belongs to the nation, not just the idealogues, and the nation knows by a clear majority what it believes on these issues.

The way of love, the way of grace, involves loving one another whatever our differences, and letting love dominate in our service of others, instead of trying to dominate one another.

Where is the love?

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 12:06pm GMT

Re Scott Gunn's pieces this week and last, I would urge PCC members to read them.

I am a peripatetic worshipper, and I cover quite a lot of ground. The internet is a crucial resource for enabling me to work out when and where worship is taking place.

What I often do is list all of the parishes in a particular county/diocese and detail the service times. I have done this for more than 30 counties in England and Wales. So I get to see a lot of parish/benefice websites.

As Mr Gunn writes, the most important information is when services are scheduled to take place. What I have noted is:

(i) About 30% of websites are very good. However, you sometimes have to dig through them in order to get to service times.

(ii) 30% of websites are merely adequate, but that is fine provided they give up to date service times. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes you will have to suss out what the pattern of worship will be from information provided for previous weeks/months.

(iii) The other 40% either don't have any websites or the information provided (which may be smothered in other local news) is so inadequate that it is anyone's guess about what is/isn't happening. I will often do a physical reccie for these churches. As Mr Gunn notes this tends to suggest that a church is a private club, and it is extremely irritating to travel a long distance only to find that an advertised service has been cancelled.

(iv) There are always about 5-10% of churches in any diocese that neither have websites, nor have any information in local journals, nor have any information on notice-boards. Some of these churches are doomed to closure, but some are either being Luddite or are merely lazy. Occasionally I will call churchwardens or incumbents, but that can be very awkward (assuming that the 'contacts' can even be contacted). Some of these churches will not even have contact numbers.

About 17 years ago the Commissioners made a considerable investment with achurchnearyou. What is difficult to comprehend is why, after such a long time, so many churches which don't even have their own websites, feel incapable of using it or perhaps aren't even aware of its existence.

Sometimes the collapse in church attendance is not so hard to understand...

Posted by Froghole at Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 12:43pm GMT

I see that the so-called liberal Theo Hobson's yet to lose his less-than-winning attitude to gay people. From his previous column*:-

"Am I having a go at gay clergy? Partly: there is an air of 
self-righteousness in this subculture, which overlaps with gay-rights
 culture in general."

If shabby compromises like the church declaring itself agnostic on whether gay relationships are sinful were ever viable (and I don't believe they were), they certainly aren't now. Having seen what's possible in England, LGBT Anglicans aren't gonna wait around and allow the likes of Hobson to set the timetable and terms for their freedom.

* http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/02/camp-vicars-smug-gossips-really-church-englands-best-look/

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 1:56pm GMT

Andrew Lightbown: "The bishops can, I think, only exercise mature episcopal leadership if they are transparent in their own diversity and recognise diversity within their own dioceses. Diversity, just like inclusivity, must be called out, named, acknowledged and, given its voice."

Sadly it was not given its voice in the recent Bishops' Report. But there is indeed diversity of opinion among the bishops.

Great to see the Bishop of Bradwell speaking out in support of gay and lesbian marriage, in a very moving letter where he also shares about his cancer reaching the palliative stage.

http://www.chelmsford.anglican.org/uploads/ad%20clerum%20final%20version%20%2BJB%2021_2_17(1).pdf

God bless Bishop John.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 11:07pm GMT

Susannah: Very many thanks for linking that piece by Bishop Wraw. I agree - it is very moving, but also an excellent tonic to some of the sturm und drang that has arisen within the Church over the last couple of weeks.

It is especially to his credit (and a tribute to his bravery) that he is determined to remain in harness at Horndon on the Hill, at least for the time being.

Posted by Froghole at Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 11:30pm GMT

As Lorraine Cavanagh points out, the powerful are as needy as the powerless but in a different way. Power can lead people towards arrogance, it corrupts and it narrows the areas of peoples' concern. But a mistake is made by someone in power and goodness prevails.

Posted by Pam at Sunday, 26 February 2017 at 7:44am GMT

Appreciated the article by Andy Bryant which does a great job reminding us of how we shape our reality by the stories we tell ourselves, how the stories we tell ourselves develop new strata as our existentialist reality changes and evolves.

"Genesis has God saying it is not good for man to be alone." Picking up on Bryant's phrase, there was of course no Adam, no Eve, no garden of innocence. As Paul Ricoeur noted, every woman and every man is Adam, every man and every woman is Eve. Setting aside these ancient stories as etiological explanation, or god forbid as a mapping out of social destiny, we may mine them for a richer and more socially constructive meaning.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 28 February 2017 at 2:35pm GMT
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