Thinking Anglicans

reactions to Rowan on Thursday

Stephen Bates at Cif belief Anglicanism’s one-track mind

The Anglican church is once again mired in a debate about sexuality. Why does it remain such an obsession?

Bishop Tom Wright at Anglican Communion Institute (in partnership with Fulcrum and now also available there) Rowan’s Reflections: Unpacking the Archbishop’s Statement

In the two days since the Archbishop released his ‘Reflections’ on TEC’s General Convention, they have already generated widely differing responses. We always knew, say some conservatives, that the ABC was a hopeless liberal, and this has confirmed it. Not so, declare many horrified radicals: he has obviously sold out to the conservatives. Some have warmly welcomed the statement and hailed it as paving the way forward. Cautious voices in between are trying to discern strengths and weaknesses. In my view, there is much to welcome, and much whose implications need further unpacking. The two main sections of this paper deal with these two aspects…

Changing Attitude Changing Attitude response to Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future

The Church of England is already a church which incorporates the ministry of partnered lesbian and gay lay people, priests and bishops. Hundreds of LGBT people in the ordained ministry, including the episcopate, act in a representative role in apparent contravention of the Church’s teaching…

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Charlotte
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Charlotte

Tom Wright is unwilling to wait for the Covenant process. He (acting under the powers granted him by his appointment as super-apostle, I assume) has already declared the Episcopal Church out of the Anglican Communion, though he is willing to admit a few of our dioceses into the Communion if they adhere to the position he himself accepts. This would split apart both of the North American Churches. Astoundingly, this appears to be no concern of his. He appears to think he has the right to force a split in two churches for which he has no jurisdictional power whatever.… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Rather refreshing, Wright comes right out of his closet, swinging. Is this the going Anglican center? No Queer Folks in the communion, period. First track believers to the No Gays Line, please. Next to Rome, next to Orthodoxy, our brother exemplars? Muslim exemplars? Second trackers, … ah, whatever. Rowan says, so, now Wright agrees. A whole lot of people, agree. Wright takes little time and trouble to solidly dismiss queer folks as nothing but a negative cartoon, period. How quaint and silly that any person would or could have the entirely self-indulgent gall to value his or her queer feelings?… Read more »

john
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john

I always find it hard to believe it when it is stated that Williams and Wright are ‘friends’. The two are so different. Wright seems to be entirely without compassion and – as is repeated ‘ad nauseam’ in all possible contexts by all possible churchmanships – he’s a rotten bishop with no sense whatsoever of his pastoral responsibilities. (I live in his diocese.) And would Williams want a friend like this? Wright’s exegesis is characteristically patronising and bullying. Fortunately, he seems to have overreached himslef: it surely cannot do him any good to associate himself so publicly with this lot.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Oh gosh, I’m upset at Wright, for real. In one mighty presupposing swoop, he dismisses. All gone? Conscience (queer folks, allies). Self-knowledge (ditto). Empirical hypothesis testing which even tangentially supports viewing all that conscience and self-knowledge as competent or valid or positive. Not testing reality, mind you. All – Just presupposed away – doesn’t exist. Really Wright you are going way too far. I won’t bar you from worshipping or whatever on the second track of Anglicanism; but you are mean and foolish to dismiss by presupposing away – so many good people and so much that is really real… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

+Tom Wright significantly uses the word conversation early in his piece. Conversations with various colleagues, and my own deeper reflection on aspects of this subject matter, suggest to me that ++Rowan is taking conversation as a key idea, as a prototypical way of doing theology: too slow for many – but to my mind a key to understanding what the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to do – and this seems to me to be what the covenant is about – safeguarding space for conversation. The problem is that the Christian Church has often done its theology through conflict rather… Read more »

Grandmère Mimi
Guest

Mr Tom says Not a word about border crossings by bishops in the US and Canada. Not a word about pastoral care for dioceses and parishes in the Church of England that may want to opt out of signing the Covenant. None of this “What’s sauce for the goose….” foolishness. He acknowledges that there may be partnered gay bishops and priests in the CofE, but stricter discipline is the answer. I wonder…does he exercise strict discipline in his own diocese? I’ve heard – Horrors! – that there may possibly be partnered gay priests in his very own Diocese of Durham.… Read more »

Murdoch
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Murdoch

I noted on another TA discussion how the right-wing pretends that “gay” is entirely about sex; they don’t want mention of gay to bring to mind relationships, love, community — they want the term to flood the mind with dirty pictures (one particular dirty picture). Very useful for them. Stephen Bates puts it more elegantly in the Guardian column cited above: ‘Churchmen may resent being assumed to be prurient but that, of course, is exactly what they are. Behind every civil partnership, in their mind’s eye they picture what the couple get up to in bed together and seemingly nothing… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
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Gerry Lynch

Tom Wright thinks there is little chance of ECUSA embracing “the theology which underlies the Communion’s constant and often-repeated stance on sexual behaviour”. There is equally little chance of a majority of the Church of England embracing it – bullied by ecclesiological blackmail into accepting the covenant, perhaps, but into accepting a conservative position on gay relationships? And still more, accepting the scriptural literalist theology that underpins it and the sawing away of human reason from the three-legged Anglican stool? No chance. And the same goes for all or significant parts of the churches in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Mexico,… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Blessed Tom was Rowan’s first appointment to the bench – in those somewhat less fraught days I challenged him at dinner over this extraordinary appointment. I said that it was highly significant Carey had NOT given Wright a big hat and that Wright was a big mouth and something of a bully – Rowan prickled, and after pointing out he had not taken an oath of canonical obedience to me, opined that Wright was “someone I can work with”. This recent publicly posted attack from the Collective challenging just about everything and sticking the boot in for good measure –… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Grandmere (sans accent alas for my word processor) the rest of the bishops of the Church of England might do so if they chose, by publicly dissociating themselves from his fulminations. Alternatively (and much more typical of Establishment methods) they might pull him aside quietly and let him know how much his conduct offends… or simply cold-shoulder him from now on.

The Bishop of Durham continually does what the British call “attention-seeking,” a behavior pattern very much disfavored there. He’s the Princess Di of the shovel-hats. She didn’t make many friends in Establishment either.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Oh goodness sake, I only wish RW were standing firmly and vigorously for big tent Anglican conversation. He’s not, though I suppose he may leave some of his remarks open to a faked impression that he is, asking for conversations. One fly in that interpretation ointment? Surely a precursor to any viable, productive conversation must simply be that all parties involved are ready to tell the truth, about everything that will be discussed. Themselves included. Our case is clearly that we still prefer to dissemble and lie, about who the competent, gifted queer folks in Anglican church life are, and… Read more »

EmilyH
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EmilyH

This is Wright’s comment that really struck me: “New Cross-Track ‘instruments’? In paragraph 24 he speaks of hoping and working for ‘the best kinds of shared networks and institutions of common interest that could be maintained as between different visions of the Anglican heritage’. What might these be? Clearly not the Lambeth Conference, the ACC and the Primates. They, we must assume, will be Track One institutions;” My question is why should we assume they will they be “Track 1” institutions? And would +Canterbury now be seen as a Track 1 institution, and if not, why not?

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

1} There has been a lot of concern about how conservative dioceses or parishes in a second-tier province can opt for the covenant. But it will also be necessary for dioceses and parishes in a standard province to opt for the gays allowed denomination. 2) It is not beyond imagining that the Episcopal Church might sign the covenant. Would they then automatically become first tier? It is also not beyond imagining that the Churches of England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Australia might not sign the covenant. Then what? 3) On the other hand, if membership in the top tier is… Read more »

badman
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badman

If a bishop has to be a focus of unity, the Bishop of Durham isn’t really up to the job, is he? There have been reports for some time that he is an intemperate man in private conversation about the Great Presenting Issue, but surely a bishop with such a very strict sense of biblical compliance would, at least after mature reflection, and in print, manage a little more of the Galatians 5:22-23 fruits of the spirit than we can pick out here. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance – what shall we give him out of… Read more »

counterlight
Guest

I wonder if there will ever be stricter discipline for right wing bishops with serial divorces?

Pluralist
Guest

I think what the Wright and Williams pieces show is that the GAFCON/ FCA agenda is working. Fulcrum lost anywhere to go as a result of recent events, and now Wright has made his warmest remarks to the breakaway Anglican Church of North America, with the only condition that they accept picking off pro-Covenant dioceses and parishes inside The Episcopal Church. Well, of course ACNA will, as it intends to weaken TEC. Meanwhile Williams made his most anti-gay statement so far, thus also qualifying him for the GAFCON agenda (at least in terms of religious orthodoxy in their terms). Indeed,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“First, the church cannot sanction or bless same-sex unions. Second, since the ordained ministry carries a necessarily representative function for the life of the church, those who order their lives this way cannot fulfil this representative role – cannot, in other words, be ordained.” – Bishop Tom Wright – in reiterating the ABC’s statement about same-sex unions and the ordination of anyone in a same-sex partnership, Bishop Wright here continues the hypocritical stance some of the hierarchy of the Anglican Church on this issue. The fact that there are already gay clergy and bishops in the Church of England (as… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Tom Wright: “6. An aside at this point: some in TEC insist that their theological position has in fact been argued, and that the rest of the Communion is ignoring these arguments. As far as I can discern, there are two main arguments routinely used.”

He then lists two arguments that while reasonable, do not outline the theology. Either he has not done his reading, or he chooses to avoid a direct response.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Stephen Bates is demonstrably wrong when he speaks of obsession, though he is repeating oft-recycled thoughts. How to prove that his perspective is wrong?- Person A says ‘The Church is obsessed with sexual issues, especially homosexuality.’. Person B says ‘The Church is always obsessed with whatever the controversial issues of the day are, ie those where opinion is sharply divided and where much discussion is therefore necessary. There are some more important issues – but often they are less controversial, and therefore less in need of discussion. How to show which person is right? Simply check and see if the… Read more »

MikeM
Guest
MikeM

And in other news, The Quakers get a straightforward slot on the Today programme, where they respond gently to the question: “do you think the Yearly Meeting will bless gay marriage?” with a “Yes”, with embellishing comments such as “seeking unity”, the debate being “held in the light”, and “embracing”. CofE, watch your back – the media may just have found a more enlightened road to understanding and mirroring Christian life. I sure hope that at some point, there is a media moratorium on reporting on the CofE, then perhaps some of its more inflated prelates might have the wind… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Colin Coward speaks of LGBT people already being in ministry. Why does he change the subject from ‘Is it good’ to ‘is it happening?’. Not only (a) is it dishonest to change the subject without addressing the initial point, but also (b) no-one ever denied it was happening, otherwise why do we have these conversations at all? He knows very well that this is something that no-one needs to be informed about, and is therefore not relevant. If things are to be justified on the basis that they happen, then burglaries, muggings, terrorist attacks and worse are also justified –… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Martin Reynolds — TY very much — very fine indeed — wasn’t it someone here who suggested that he was going to move to Durham so he would never have to listen to NT Wright again?

Pluralist — CAN the C of E sign a Covenant at all? I really don’t see Commons going for it (IMHO).

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher S: I think the divine right of kings belongs exactly to the old immutable Christian culture standing against modern whims… at least that is how Louis XVIII & Charles X of France; Nicholas II of Russia and Wilhelm II of Germany saw it. And look what happened to them. The same fate, of being dethroned and cast aside, awaits the Church of England if its leaders don’t rapidly wisen up and connect better with what’s happening around them, I fear.

Gerry Lynch
Guest
Gerry Lynch

Establishment makes me queasy. That notwithstanding, here’s my thoughts on defeating this in the Commons… A debate in the Commons against ratification of the Covenant if already passed by General Synod will not be won easily. Remember a significant number of MPs – disproportionately those with the most liberal views on homosexuality – simply do not vote on C of E issues because of some permutation of: they are atheists/Catholics/Muslims and don’t think it’s any of their business; they are opposed to establishment and don’t think it’s any of their business; they are Scottish/Welsh/N Irish and don’t think it’s any… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“what we want and what is good for us;”

Christopher, why don’t you be more specific? What dire evil do you fear befalling the world if we ask God’s blessing on life long monogamous gay relationships? In what ways do you fear that the blessing of faithful lifelong relationships will not be “good”?

Columba Gilliss
Guest
Columba Gilliss

Give thanks that the See of Durham no longer maintains a standing army!
Columba Gilliss

alaninlondon
Guest
alaninlondon

What hit me right between the eyes was Tom Wright’s assertion that “…the Christian notion of personal identity has NEVER before been supposed to be rooted in desires of whatever sort.” According to much of medieval theology the root base of our identity as human is that we are created to DESIRE – that our true end and our beginning as human is our desire for God. That desire is part of our createdness is central to e.g. the thought of St Augustine, in which desire is God’s call to us to be in union with him. That we desire… Read more »

Grandmère Mimi
Guest

Charlotte, the CoE bishops can shun their prima donna Bishop Wright, but will they?

And, as Prior Aelred reminds us, what about Parliament having to weigh in?

Martin Reynolds: “As one of his own priests said to me today, ‘Tom might be just a tad worried if he asked his own diocese about gay priests and bishops, but of course that’s one thing you can be SURE Tom won’t do!'”

I shake my head. It’s the hypocrisy that is mind-boggling to me.

June Butler

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

“But will they?” I hear you, Grandmere sans accent. Yet perhaps the bishops and clergy of the Church of England, who allow +Wright and +Nazir-Ali to speak for and be the public face of the Church of England, should count the costs of keeping quiet. In his latest missive, +Wright claims to speak for ++Rowan. Is that all right with the rest of the bishops in the Church of England? Do they all agree with what +Wright says? Silence gives consent. Or are they too frightened by the nastier, bullying sort of evangelicals to speak up for themselves? (“Anything for… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

I should mention (by the way) that +Wright’s piece had to be rewritten for him by the Anglican Communion Institute, after its initial publication. They have published their “corrected” (and now, I assume, fully party-line) version on their website.

JPM
Guest
JPM

Does Wright ever get tired of pontificating?

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

From Tom Wright’s statement: “First, the supposed modern and scientific discovery of a personal ‘identity’ characterised by sexual preference, which then generates a set of ‘rights’.” Bishop Wright demonstrates for us what it is like to assume that a reputation for biblical scholarship and the office of bishop endows one with the “right” to offer commentary on the subject of homosexuality, same sex attraction, and same sex love, about which the bishop seems to know almost nothing. It should be unnecessary, in the twenty-first century, for the scientific community to remind Christian bishops, or other religious functionaries, of the need… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

“(i) First, the supposed modern and scientific discovery of a personal ‘identity’ characterised by sexual preference, which then generates a set of ‘rights’.” “Without entering into discussion of the scientific evidence, it must be said that the Christian notion of personal identity has never before been supposed to be rooted in desires of whatever sort. Indeed, desires are routinely brought under the constraints of ‘being in Christ’. This quite new notion of an ‘identity’ found not only within oneself but within one’s emotional and physical desires needs to be articulated on the basis of scripture and tradition, and this to… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Well-said, alaninlondon.

Either we’re ALL Creatures-of-Desire (and homo-/hetero-desires have to be evaluated on the same basis, for ill OR Good!), or NONE of us are.

***

Tom seemingly wants to go to Abuja, Rowan to Rome. Vaya con Dios, to both of them!

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

We have this kid in the choir. His name is Rory, perhaps it’s spelled Rowry. Anyhow, being the red-headed younger sibling of another chorister, he’s prone to being a little too sensitive, moody and feisty. He’s not too big, which makes the fight in him worse. But he’s much more peaceful now. He’s learned a trick, if you hang around the bullies in the choir, nobody will mess with you.

True story.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

I understand that the Bishopric of Durham carries rank and precedence among Bishops, after Canterbury and York. Is this anything more than historical tradition? Does it give the incumbent any exceptional power or control?

His comments appear to claim an authority which one would not expect from just any bishop in a church full of bishops.

If this is an ignorant question, please forgive an American living on the left coast!

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Wow Mr Shell, reading your post this time was like strapping into one of the really high-low, really fast, twisty roller coaster rides down at the amusement park. I’m at an age when I sidestep riding along with the rest of the family; unless I’m sure my health insurance is all paid up and coverage is applicable. Then sometimes I risk it. So, let’s do the leaps and turns in slow-mo? Strap in, step one. What we are strapped into? Well, some going presupposition that a conservative questioner’s frame/context always categorically trumps all. Hmmm, okay, maybe. But why doesn’t some… Read more »

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Launching the Cleansing of Ordained Ministry in the CofE . From Tom Wright’s statement: “Second, since the ordained ministry carries a necessarily representative function for the life of the church, those who order their lives this way cannot fulfil this representative role – cannot, in other words, be ordained. This is perhaps the strongest statement that the ABC has yet made of the Church’s position, and it should be noted carefully that he refers to the whole ordained ministry, i.e. deacons and priests and not just bishops.” If Tom Wright and the ABC are at all honest or serious about… Read more »

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Recommendations for the Cleansing of the CofE from Disordered Desires and Homosexual Behaviour Among the Clergy. Without further ado, here they are: 1. Bishop Wright will empanel a group of trusted heterosexual priests in the Diocese of Durham whose task it will be to identify homosexuals and lesbians in the ordained ministry in his diocese who are in same sex loving relationships. 2. Once identified, the bishop will decide whether to offer to these clergy , on a case by case basis, the option of repudiating their sinful relationships and so called “spouses” so that they may remain in good… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Note to Andrew:
Durham is second most senior bishop in the northern province -i.e. York.
The second most senior bishop in the southern province – i.e. Canterbury – is London and the third is Winchester.
these five make up the five most senior dioceses in the two provinces that make up the C of E.
I think (correct me if I am wrong) that they get more money for being old and senior – but not much, the differentials are not great.

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Bishop Wright’s Strategy for Schism: “Those within TEC who sign it” (the Covenant) “need appropriate Communion recognition and relatedness – if bishops, a Primatial relationship, if parishes or individuals, an episcopal relationship”. 1. According to Wright if any TEC bishops sign the Covenant before the General Convention of TEC gets to act on it, those bishops must be provided a primate with authority over them. Who does this? The ABC? The Primates Council? In any event, such TEC bishops would be liable for deposition for abandoning the communion of The Episcopal Church, just as were Bishops Schofield, Duncan, Iker, etc.… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“…of dissolving the Anglican Communion and reinventing it into an explicitly homophobic Church (one wonders why they bother since the Roman Catholic Church already exists)…”

Well, it *would* improve ecumenical relations with the RCC (among other groups) if all of us icky gay people disappeared.

toby forward
Guest

Andrew, traditionally, Durham was a politically powerful Bishopric, but that changed with other changes in the (unwritten) constitution. In the 20th century, it became the custom, with a few exceptions, like John Habgood, for the Bishop to be a theologian, with holders such as Lightfoot, Westcott, Michael Ramsey, David Jenkins. The tradition of having a theologian as the Bishop was broken in 1994 with the appointment of Michael Turnbull, and has not yet been revived. It is an interesting, if sad, footnote in history, in the light of current controversies, that Tom Wright’s predecessor, Michael Turnbull, became bishop, despite being… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Dr Dan Fee I think the framework of your comment encapsulates the situation as I see it. Namely, you join those who see the two main options as ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’. There are any number of errors in that perspective: (1) In debate, the key disjunction is, by definition, the one between accurate and inaccurate. (2) If you think the two main options are thinking everything old is good and everything new is good, I am amazed. It is perfectly obvious that, of the things that are good, some will be old, some new, and some in between. Anyone… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

The anti-academic bias of modern life has got to the extent that parliamentarians can think they have the right to vote for things like the killing of unborn babies without a shred of specialist knowledge, and without answering even one of the hundreds of counter-arguments that exist. People are promoted not according to their knowledge (which is a characteristic that will bring scepticism about company ethos, sharp business practice etc.) but according to their ambition, ability to play the game, money-making potential, charm, often even manipulative ability. Why do I make this point? Because at least the church should stand… Read more »

Commentator
Guest
Commentator

The employment implications of Dr. Williams ‘reflections’ are not a laughing matter for the Clergy of the Church of England, especially those who have, in good faith and with the assurances offered by the House of Bishops, exercised their legal right to enter into Civil Partnerships. Those many men and women must, even as I write, be considering where they stand and how their Diocesan Bishops will respond. And even if their Diocesan Bishop is not exercised by Dr Williams’ ‘reflections’, surely what he has published could be employed by any member of the Church of England to act against… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Dear Karen- The critical point is your writing of a physiological basis for homosexual feelings and/or activity. I must press you on this, because you write not only from the persepctive that such a basis is evidenced (which may be true to a limited extent) but also that it is so secure a scientific finding that the rest is silence and debate is not needed. And yet you give no chapter and verse. Bald assertion plus lack of documentation equals what? Clearly any responsible approach to this question tries to get the gist of the common findings of all or… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

C Shell (1) Ah Mr Shell, you surely are among the spin doctor talents of our conservative Anglican school, so far as your posts here read. Surprise. I agree with your idea that the deeply useful distinction is between accurate and inaccurate – or vividly, what I would like to call, Tested True, and Flat Earth. I like those terms for two reasons. One, the images are more vivid which often helps me think – in cognitive style (see research) I am a sharpener not a leveller. Thus I often heighten contrasts or data a bit to see them more… Read more »

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Dear Christopher, Let’s begin with my vantage point. I am a priest in TEC. I am persuaded by my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus that incorporation of the marginalized (and specifically LBGTI persons) into the Body of Christ, and advocacy for justice for them are mandates of Jesus’ practice and teaching. I read the Gospels from the perspective of the marginalized. I am further called by my Baptismal Vows and the Baptismal Covenant of TEC to the same position. I hold a master’s degree in psychiatric and mental health nursing. I provide counseling for LGBTI persons, and especially for… Read more »

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Dear Christopher and friends, Another thought belatedly occured to me. It is still morning here in L.A., and I am not a morning person. You ought to see me at nine o’clock Mass. My thought is this: do I need to know the physiological versus environmental differences between the races before I decide that racial discrimination is wrong? I think that in the “developed” countries of the western world, we are approaching such a consensus on the subject of equality and inclusion for LGBTI persons. The fact that this is further advanced in the general society than it is in… Read more »