Thinking Anglicans

weekend opinions

Bishop Basil of Sergievo writes in The Times that Christians should not be trying to escape from the material world.

Undaunted, Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about Suicide club to tropical island.

In the Guardian’s Face to Faith column, Julian Baggini writes that

Part of the problem with assessing how religious we are is that it is not clear what “being religious” means.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Dealing with people who stop mission.

Robert Mickens in the Tablet reports on what Cardinal Martini has been saying in Clarion call on condoms.


A Church Asunder redux

The press column in the Church Times last week discussed the New Yorker article. The best reason though for linking to what Andrew Brown said about it is because that way I can show you the cartoon that illustrated the original article.


Funding the Anglican Right

Updated August 2012

The links below are broken. The PDF file is now available here.

Washington Window, the monthly newspaper of the Diocese of Washington [D.C.] has a major feature in the May issue, in two parts, entitled Following the Money: Donors and Activists on the Anglican Right.
You can read it online here: Part 1, and also Part 2. Or the whole thing is available as a single PDF file here. (375 K)

Jim Naughton is the author of this work.

The full press release is here.

The first part of the series, “Investing in Upheaval,” draws on Internal Revenue Service Forms 990 to give a partial account of how contributions from Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., the savings and loan heir, and five secular foundations have energized resistance to the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop and to permit the blessing of gay and lesbian relationships.

The article sets contributions to organizations such as the American Anglican Council (AAC) and the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) in the context of the donors’ other philanthropic activities which include support for conservative political candidates, think tanks and causes such as the intelligent design movement.

The second article, “A Global Strategy,” uses internal emails and memos from leaders of the AAC and IRD to examine efforts to have the Episcopal Church removed from the worldwide Anglican Communion and replaced with a more conservative entity. The documents surfaced during a Pennsylvania court case. The article also explores the financial relationship between conservative organizations in the United States and their allies in other parts of the world.

And that’s not all. Two other items just published touch on the same area:
If anyone still had illusions about the political slant of the IRD… from politicalspaghetti
This Schism Is Brought to You by the IRD by Daniel Webster in the Witness.

For the part of the Washington Window article that refers to UK recipients of funds, see below.

Update Friday 5 May This is reported in the Church Times Family trusts ‘fund ECUSA’s Right’



Church Commissioners annual report online

Available to download are full and summary versions of the Church Commissioners’ report and accounts for 2005.

Both are in the format of a PDF file.
Full version 3.2 M.
Summary version 720K.
More information here


a way ahead for the CofE?

ABCD: a way ahead for the C of E was the title of an article written by David Edwards and printed in last week’s Church Times.

David L. Edwards sets out his vision for the future of the Church: ‘If the Anglican experiment is to be a failure, the tragedy should not be underestimated’.

The letters stand for Activities, Blessing, Conferences, and Discretion.


the Carey letter

Updated Wednesday evening and Thursday evening
There was an interview this morning with Lord Carey on the BBC radio programme Sunday . You can hear the 8.5 minute segment (Real Audio required) some 35 minutes into the programme at this link. (Better link now available from the BBC.)

The interview was concerned with the letter originally published last Sunday in the Sunday Times newspaper along with this report. The Sunday Times report did not claim any bishops had already signed the letter. It did not reveal its Australian origins either.

Letter original with signature list.

Lord Carey issued a statement. I found it at this location.

The story behind this was explained in Friday’s Church Times in Carey rebuts open letter as ‘mischievous and damaging’ by Pat Ashworth and Muriel Porter.

Sadly for Mr Ince and his colleagues Roger Bolton’s radio interview omitted any reference to LEAC.

Update Monday
The Guardian this morning says Lord Carey hits back at critics’ open letter. (Link to original commendation.)

Update Wednesday
The Australian press has caught up with this matter:
Sydney Morning Herald Anglican liberals pen rebuke to former head and Rent asunder as brawls replace talk
Melbourne Age Anglicans furious at former archbishop
ABC Radio The Archbishop of Canterbury and George Carey

Update Thursday
Ekklesia Anglicans need more jaw and less war by David Wood originator of the letter and
Lord Carey says ordaining a gay bishop verges on heresy


opinions on the Saturday after Easter

The Times today carries an article by Andrew Linzey entitled ‘The logic of all purity movements is to exclude’. The strapline reads Our correspondent suggests that Anglicans listen to the Holy Spirit, and not to the schismatic fundamentalists. No doubt TA readers will have something to say about this…

The Credo column is by Rod Strange, The doubt of Thomas was not a lack of faith but a deeper love.

In the Guardian the Face to Faith column is also critical of dogmatism. David Haslam writes that The risks of rigid methods of parenting have echoes in the dangers of the more dogmatic forms of religion.

Madeleine Bunting had a really interesting article on Friday about the Anglican church angles on The constitutional crisis we face when the Queen is gone.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Yorkshire’s own chosen Emperor. The exhibition to which he refers Constantine the Great has its own website here.


Bishop Griswold gives an interview

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church USA, Frank Griswold gave the Guardian an interview in London: US church leader edges away from gay bishops confrontation. The interview was with Stephen Bates. Lead para:

The leader of the US Episcopal church, which is in danger of being expelled from the worldwide Anglican communion for its election of an openly homosexual bishop, has warned parishioners of the diocese of California that they would widen the confrontation it they chose another gay bishop.


Abp Akinola gives an interview

Christianity Today carries this interview: Nigerian Archbishop Demands Justice. The interview was with associate editor Collin Hansen. The strapline says:

Peter Akinola affirms warning to government and Muslims, fires back on the Western press.


Octavia Hill Estates: sell-off mulled

There are reports on Ekklesia and BBC London tonight about this.

Ekklesia Church of England faces embarrassment over homes sale:

The Church of England is facing embarrassment today after it was reported that a company to which it sold social housing just a month ago – with public reassurances about its long-term future – may sell almost half the properties…

BBC New estates owner mulls sell-off:

Hundreds of low-income homes at south London’s Octavia Hill estates may be sold after a consortium bought them off the Church of England.

Just a month after the properties were bought by Grainger Gen Invest, it has told tenants it may have to sell 400 of them to cover the cost of the purchase…

Here is the transcript of the recent General Synod Questions and Answers on this topic. (original in RTF format here.)

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track bishops in the House of Lords

I deliberately didn’t mention this before because it wasn’t working initially, but now I can report that this site also provides a separate RSS feed for each bishop’s Recent Appearances. This makes it even easier for you to track your favourite (or non-favourite) bishop’s remarks.
I have gathered these feeds together into a blogroll which is currently viewable here. Open the list by clicking on the + sign at the left labelled Bishops in the Lords.

The excellent website has extended its services to the House of Lords. Now anyone can track the activities of a Church of England bishop by signing up for an email notification of their remarks.

See for example:
The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Bishop of London
The Bishop of Chelmsford
The Bishop of Chester
Lord Carey of Clifton

Yesterday, as an example, the Bishop of Coventry spoke about Nigeria. Here is what he said. As you can see he didn’t mention many of the things reported here.


Nigeria: latest developments

The previous TA entry on this, originally posted on 9 April but updated on 13 April.

Since then there has been a further significant press release on 17 April from Changing Attitude titled Nigerian Anglican hostility to gays and threat to Davis MacIyalla revealed. There is also some background on African and Anglican involvement in the recent ILGA Geneva conference.

Today, politicalspaghetti published a very detailed review of recent Nigerian events under the title Things fall apart. (This entry also deals with the New Yorker article, see immediately previous post here.)


A Church Asunder online

The article by Peter J Boyer with this title in The New Yorker magazine, which was mentioned previously is now online at the magazine’s website.
You can read the full text of it here. Only the cartoon is missing.

Hat tip to Jim Naughton for this. His earlier comments are here and here.

A negative view of this article can be found at the blog of John Zahl.

A rather different take on the article is on Political Spaghetti.

titusonenine comments are here.


response from AAC to Special Commission report

Updated Wednesday
The American Anglican Council has issued a press release, which contains a fairly detailed commentary on One Baptism, One Hope in God’s Call.

Earlier responses to this document were linked here. Note in particular the analysis of Ephraim Radner which is rather more constructive in its approach.

Archbishop Drexel Gomez has expressed some views too, as reported by the Bahama Journal in Fears Of Anglican Split Persist.


Transcripts of proceedings – February 2006

Full transcripts of the proceedings at February’s meeting of General Synod are now online. There are separate files for each half day and there are links to them here on the Church of England’s website, and here on mine.


Holy Week and Easter sermons

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Sermon for Easter Day is published in full here.

The Bishop of Oxford preached this sermon on Tuesday in Holy Week, and also has an article in the Observer Science does not challenge my faith – it strengthens it.

The Bishop of Durham preached this sermon on Maundy Thursday.

The Archbishop of York preached this sermon on Maundy Thursday, this one on Good Friday and this sermon on Easter Day. And you can also read Archbishop Sentamu’s Good Friday article for the Yorkshire Post.


Alleluias from a Good Friday people

On Friday the local ecumenical act of witness, packed in between Sainsbury’s and the gates of the market, featured a gospel group, the accents of the old East End, prayers led by a Nigerian nun, songs in Urdu, and a Portuguese version of ‘Jesus, name above all names’. It was very wet, and mildly chaotic.

Nothing wrong with any of that: indeed, there was much to welcome in a gathering of such diversity bearing witness together, and it certainly illustrated the variety of Christian communities in this part of east London. But I came away to prepare for Stations of the Cross in our own church and on the way I was talking to a friend. The two of us found ourselves struggling with the inability of some of our brothers and sisters to stay with Good Friday; they had raced ahead to Easter, to the triumph and the alleluias, while we were still focussed on crucifixion, on suffering and on death.

Different traditions work in different ways. But I think there was something deeper and more subtle at work as well.

Every couple of months, in our Sunday eucharist, we change the way in which intercessions are offered. Instead of one person coming forward to speak on behalf of the rest, we invite anyone from the congregation to offer prayer for a person or place or situation who or which is a cause for concern or gratitude. What we hear is a very powerful statement of the pains and needs of the people present, their families, the situations they have left behind. What we very rarely hear, although they are always invited, are words of thanksgiving.

Perhaps we are a people who understand Good Friday much better than we do Easter. Suffering, grief, loss, these are familiar states. Any priest or pastor, looking round her or his congregation, will know a fair number of those who are struggling – and know that there are more whose struggle is hidden. Here, amongst the 60 or so who will gather on a Sunday, I can recognise those whose lives are shadowed by untimely death, sometimes violent, by poverty, by worries over residence qualifications, by domestic violence, by imminent or recent bereavement, by poor health, mental or physical.

So, when we say or sing or even shout our ‘alleluias’ today, what are we saluting? And what relationship do those ‘alleluias’ have to our intercessions? We are not, of course, acknowledging the disappearance of suffering in each of these lives, and in the world to which this congregation is so well connected. Nor are we rejoicing in a facile conviction that our own contributions to injustice and pain have suddenly disappeared. But those prayers of intercession come from a heartfelt need of God’s love and support – and a deep, absolute, trust that it will be found. And I think it is that trust which we will celebrate. It is a trust, articulated or not, in the eschatological promise, in what J D Crossan describes as ‘the Great, Divine, Clean-Up of the world’.  The promise of another way, which is not just for the hereafter but which is already being followed. The way of violence, of damage, of exclusion has been challenged – and the heart of our resurrection belief is that the challenge has been triumphantly, mysteriously successful.


columns for Easter Eve – part two

Jane Williams has the Face to Faith column in Saturday’s Guardian.

And here is her husband’s Easter Message to his Diocese.

Andrew White writes the Credo column in The Times today: Faith makes for safety in Baghdad, the most dangerous parish in the world.

Christopher Howse writes on The tragic-comedy of Richard Sibthorp.

Charles Curran writes in the Tablet about Benedict XVI’s first year: From division to unity.

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Our inheritance

There is a stillness to Holy Saturday which is quite unlike any other time of the year.

The quiet between Christmas Day and new year’s is an exhaustion, not least from trying to keep events focussed on God’s place in the stories, amidst the corrosive demands both of an hysterical marketplace and childish sentimentality. This season of the year has a different quality of quietness, though it also has its subversions, more subtle and more insidious than Christmas. Two years ago, one made its way to the movies

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, was a depiction of the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life. The script was based on an 18th century work, a transcription of the meditations on the passion by an Augustinian nun, Sister Anne Emmerich. It was a brutal, savage depiction of an idea that Jesus suffered because God demanded his life in compensation for the affront of human sin.

It was the latest and very gruesome incarnation of an old thread running through Christian theology, from Ambrose to Anselm and beyond, that only the violent sacrifice of a perfect and sinless Jesus could appease a God whose honour had been offended, and whose anger had been aroused by sinful human beings.

On both sides of the Atlantic, churches block-booked entire cinemas. The faithful were told that this movie showed how it really was, this is what people on the edge of Christian faith need to see, in order to turn to Jesus. The problem was that, for many, it backfired. Whatever the film evoked in our feelings for Jesus, it did not instill any sense of gratitude to God. While one could believe in a divine father who might demand such things of his son, one could not love such a God, who emerges as brutal, affronted and barbaric.

Once you begin to believe in a God who demands compensation, you inherit a spirituality which is always demanding that we give more to assuage our sense of imperfection and failure to live as we feel we are required. This may be why churches which espouse such an understanding of God and sacrifice, also have large incomes.

There is another view of what Jesus accomplished, but it is not so straightforward, does not slot neatly into a Christian basics class. In the sermon we call the Letter to the Hebrews in the Christian Canon, the writer is addressing a congregation creaking under the demands of a compensation demanding deity. The writer describes Jesus as a great High Priest, one who walked as we do, experienced life as we do, endured the same trials as we do but, in all he did, he stayed on track. He did not allow the dark powers to set the terms of engagement. Unlike the War on Terror, in which we have mimicked and multiplied the violence of those who provoked it, Jesus did not return evil for evil, he never compromised his humanity.

The writer to the Hebrews describes Jesus’ last days in terms of offering himself as a sacrifice in the temple of God, not as one taking the punishment necessary to appease an angry God, but as a whole human life fully lived and uncompromised, life as it was created to be.

It matters what we think Jesus accomplished on Good Friday, because from it we decide what God demands us to be and do. Mel Gibson and those who think like him can only deliver us into the hands of a vengeful God, whose demands lead to a relationship between father and son which scarcely bears contemplation. The writer to the Hebrews presents us with a Jesus who is able to let evil pass through him, and not knock him off his course; a Jesus who, in the midst of suffering, cries out, “with prayers and supplications … to the one who was able to save.”

There is a stillness to Holy Saturday which is quite unlike any other time of the year, it is a lull before the end of the story, Jesus’ story and our story. For Jesus it will be the empty tomb, but the writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters so, in the stillness, we contemplate what is possible for us to follow his way to become fully human.


columns for Easter Eve – part one

commentisfree is the Guardian’s new collective group blog. Madeleine Bunting and Andrew Brown have just had an exchange of views there:

In Sugar or saccharine? Madeleine asks:

What role does religion play for societies and individuals? And is it a good thing?

In Stronger stuff Andrew replies that

Madeleine Bunting is mistaken. Religious is neither sugar nor saccharine, but good old nineteenth century opium.

Giles Fraser wrote a column on Thursday Resurgent religion has done away with the country vicar. This has provoked many website comments and some letters in the paper (scroll down) on Friday. The Guardian carried a Good Friday editorial Fight the good fight. which refers to the above article, and concludes thus:

…Religious liberals support the values of the modern secular state. They oppose racism and homophobia, they advocate the separation of church and state, they promote tolerance. This is why the current tension in the Anglican church should matter to everyone. If Rowan Williams were to decide that the Anglican Communion could only be saved by a lurch to conservatism, liberal secularism would be one of the losers. It may be that only 2 million regularly go to church, but three-quarters of Britons still regard themselves as Christian. The fight for women bishops and gay clergy is part of the wider fight for equality and tolerance throughout society. Religious liberals and defenders of the secular are fighting on the same side. In these pages yesterday, the vicar of Putney, Giles Fraser, called for liberals to rediscover their fight. So too must the defenders of secularism.

Rowan Williams broadcast this Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 on Good Friday.

Mark Sisk Bishop of New York preached this sermon earlier in the week at the diocesan Chrism Mass: What then is the spirit of our age?

The Times also had a leader on Good Friday. So did the Telegraph : Truth brings all honest people into an alliance.

On Ekklesia Simon Barrow has How Easter brings regime change.

This week in the Church Times Giles Fraser has The limits of silence at the cross.

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