Thinking Anglicans

Saturday: some items for thought

Stuart Kenworthy an American priest serving as a military chaplain in Iraq has written about this experience: Dispatches from the Iraqi desert.

Pete Tobias who is a Liberal Jewish rabbi, has written in Face to Faith in the Guardian that “We must acknowledge that ‘scripture’ was written by fallible humans if we are to solve the Middle East’s troubles.”

Louise Mitchell writes in The Times about interfaith work: ‘Do unto others’ is only the first step on a long and gruelling journey.

Alan Webster writes in The Times about ecumenism in France: French priests put the cordiale into the entente.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about an RH Benson novel in The palm trees of Armageddon.

Last week’s Church Times had this article by Marilyn McCord Adams: Waiting on others can stifle prophetic action.


  • I thought Marilyn McCord Adams comments on systemic evil were particularly pertinent to these times. People in groups can develop “group think” and be blind to their own blind spots – read Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline or Charles Handy and even Tony Buzan. Individuals can be blind too, but when you are dealing with assumptions that have historical precedent, whole societies can be blind to their own paradigms.

    Thus there is a common thread that links back into Pete Tobias article which is often overlooked. Namely that while the holy texts might be divinely inspired they are humanly nurtured and interpreted. The model of Jesus as King was interpreted in the middle ages as a ruling punitive overlord (as were the Kings of those times), and the idea of servant king has only taken off as an idea in more recent times. (Although there are some priests who still see themselves as the divine overlords of their flocks).

    And Louise Mitchell’s article is one person’s practical account of attempting real dialogue, versus pretty posing for the publicity team that does nothing towards building real bridges. These issues about genuine dialogue versus smarmy back slapping can be learnt from authors such as Senge, people outside of insular theological circles have been trying to do this for some time. Genuine dialogue helps to expose assumptions and limitations in our own thinking, as well as to appreciate the other person for who they really are rather than a superficial cartoon image.

  • mynsterpreost says:

    “The model of Jesus as King was interpreted in the middle ages as a ruling punitive overlord (as were the Kings of those times)”

    Indeed – the fascinating thing about atonement theories is precisely the way in which they are couched in terms comprehensible to a particular culture which soon become largely incomprehensible – the germanic hero model of the Dream of the Rood probably doesn’t go down a bundle on Iona these days; Abelard was clearly influenced by the Courtly Love tradition, not to mention his bandages.

    What is peculiar is the way in which some sections of the Church have absolutised one particular cultural metaphor (the penal substitutionary model) and accorded it de fide status. There must be a reason for this, but I’m @#$*%? if I know what it is.

  • mynsterpreost says:

    ” So the golden rule fails in a relationship in which the dominant side dictates what humanity is, and, in so doing, ignores the central beliefs of minorities”

    everyone currently engaged in the brouhaha over “the gay issue” should be forced to write that out one hundred times before tea, don’t you think?

  • drdanfee says:

    What a nice and varied collection of voices upon whose messages one gets to reflect. I may agree or disagree, but I take traditional Anglican/Episcopalian delight in getting the opportunity to listen to all.

    I read McCord Adams piece as an invitation to TEC to consider that it can walk graciously apart – provided that really needs to happen, without repeated bouts of having to look back and turn into a liberal pillar of hangdog progressive salt. One of the tests will be Lambeth 2008 invitations, and Canterbury will either be brave in firmly maintaining a broad church approach in honored memory of Elizabeth I, or yield to pressures that surely exist to start the narrowing in favor of cementing the realigned conservative Anglican Status Quo in honored memory of Akinola, Ahmanson, and Scaife, among others who are pushing the realignment.

    MMA’s piece actually helped me see the pink elephant of narrowing conservative realignment that is, indeed, standing in so many of the rooms where we used to converse and pray together, even though we knew we didn’t agree in just that special conformed, new conservative way.

    We are not talking about armchair liberalisms here, but about painstakingly, gingerly finding ways forward under complicated, difficult, polarized circumstances. One of the good graces that LGBTQ believers model for all of us is that toolbox of fallible but handy ways, based just on how Coming Out works. There are other parallel juxtapositions of large change moments in LGBTQ living which seem to model amazingly similar legacy moments of western prophecy, prayer, pilgrimage, and the sometimes unwelcome daring of fallible human reason.

  • y gath clytwaith says:

    I find Louise Mitchell’s piece here, challenging and thought-provoking for me to hear, and try to take on board.
    I imagine many of us would find it useful.

  • Clive Sweeting says:

    Presumably the Anglican clergy invited to take such a prominent role in public worship in France in the 1970s according to Very Revd A. Webster were French citizens. In my département the acquisition of a residence by the Centrafrican ruler Bokassa was taken as a useful occasion by the Préfecture to relay reminders about the ‘devoir de réserve’ incumbent upon foreign citizens. This was interpreted by the local ‘chantre’ as meaning no participation in reading or choir activities. This was not a question of religious affiliation.

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