Comments: Opinion - 12 May 2018

Thank you Andrew Lightbown. Something about the "thy kingdom come" initiative has sat uneasily with me and I've struggled to work out what it is. Two discernments have been: a) the language - why not "your kingdom come" - which is how the Lord's Prayer is spoken in my church - so what is the audience for "thy"? and far more importantly b) the worry about being Pharisees who publicly draw attention to their prayer and piety instead of getting on with the kingdom actions prayer demands of us. So yes, I still think we should be humble about our commitments to pray, but your words cut through for me on the real intention and need here - thank you.

Posted by Peter S at Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 11:25am BST

Peter Hitchens can certainly write well. Whew.

Posted by crs at Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 12:18pm BST

I appreciated Meg Warner's article. It reminded me of various occasions - of local rather than national significance - when colleagues and I have had a role in helping a community or a group within it to deal with tragedy.

Several of these occurred when I was a university chaplain. When a student was murdered I helped the students organise e amen trial service - her funeral of course was in her hometown - and later supported her family and friends through the 3-week murder trial. No member of the unive3rsity staff was able to give up 3 weeks to something like this, and they appreciated my being there. I kept in touch with the family for a year or so afterwards. My 3 weeks at a crown court led me to realise what opportunities courthouse chaplaincies present. Everyone there, in whatever role, is in some way concerned with issues of guilt, punishment, forgiveness, pain, grief, life and death - and since there is a lot of waiting around, there are plenty of opportunities to talk. It was not only Rachel's family and friends, but also police, court officials, and people involved in other cases (both perpetrators and victims) who took the opportunity to speak to me. I tried to interest several bishops in setting up court chaplaincies but I don't think anything came of it.

With the recent publicity about student suicides, especially but not only at Bristol, a lot has been said about student support services, but I have seen no mention of chaplaincies. At Salford we were treated as part of student support and opportunities to be active in parts of the uni structures, despite its avowedly secular foundation (a Christian Registrar was a big help here, but other officials also valued chaplaincy. Our expertise in organising memorial services for students and staff was often called on, and we were sometimes asked to take part. We were always present and visible. We also attended any funerals within reach, being visible representatives of the university community. Once I was asked to conduct a ritual at a site where a suicide had taken place, and did so with a short Bible reading, candles and holy water.

The more rooted and visible in all sorts of communities we are, the better we serve the gospel and the Kingdom in our society.

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 12:44pm BST

Hitchens' article was quite interesting. His diatribe in the last few paragraphs, especially about the non-use of the BCP and the King James Bible, among other things was unfortunate. However, the rest of the article was a helpful corrective to much of the misinformation that passes as fact. He is entitled to his opinion, but the facts he presents should stand alone, rather than being used to reinforce his point of view.

Posted by Richard Grand at Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 2:29pm BST

THere's a valuable piece by Meg Warner on the aftermath of coping with tragedy: https://tragedyandcongregations.org.uk/2017/11/29/tragedy-and-clergy-self-care-the-heroic-phase/

Spurgeon identified these sorts of times as 'the minister's fainting fits'. It's the valley after the mountaintop that Elijah experienced after his victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Horeb.

Warner gives some useful tips for dealing with it.

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 4:29pm BST

Already read Hitchens' piece via his blog, but glad to see it pop up here, very thorough, & deserves all the clicks it can get.

Whether you agree with his Burkean conservative POV or not, there's undoubtedly been a seismic move away from a collective Protestant heritage, not just in England, but across the Anglosphere. Many, more oppressively Puritan, aspects needed to be left behind, but others, such self-sacrifice, commitment to duty, and restraint, had much to recommend them, and shouldn't have been discarded so casually.

Regardless, good to see the contemporary political background of the martyrs highlighted. It wasn't nearly as one-sided as later hagiography would prefer.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 10:40pm BST

It is important to realise that the Hitchins piece appears in First Things, a Catholic oriented conservative publication likely to accept the views on catholic/Anglican atrocity equivalency he is going after. The editor, a good friend, Rusty Reno, is a former Episcopalian having converted to the RCC more than a decade ago. He was once a delegate to the GC before he left.

Posted by crs at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 8:39am BST

Thanks for the Malcolm Brown piece. Archbishop Temple ought to always be in season--and no more so than now.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 9:55pm BST

I have only just printed Peter Hitchens' article and look forward to reading and pondering it. Thank you as always for bringing so much to our attention. But I would note in passing that in the short reign of Edward VI, Cranmer and his colleagues in court sentenced to death by burning simple Bible Christians.

Posted by John Bunyan at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 12:21am BST
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