Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 6 December 2017

Linda Woodhead Patheos Divination – A Most Neglected Most Important Element of Religion

Hayley Matthews ViaMedia.News Does “Othering” Exist in Our Church, and Does this Lead to Exclusion?

Mark Oakley gave the 5th Donald Barnes Memorial Lecture recently: The Devil is in the Drivel! Reclaiming the mystery of faith
[Scroll to the bottom for a link to the full text of the lecture]

Richard Peers Psephizo Can Anglo-Catholic churches grow?

Liam Beadle The Guardian Not even vicars have the patience of saints
“A member of the clergy is in trouble for venting on his congregation. There, but for the grace of God, go many of us”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Authority and loss

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Susannah Clark
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I don’t feel clear what the point of Linda’s article is, except to assert the ubiquity of divination in human societies. To be honest, I’m not comfortable with casual reference to visiting a medium. Nor do I equate glossolalia with ‘possession’. My personal view is that when it comes to God’s supernatural interventions, or disclosure of wisdom and understanding, we can learn to be receptive, but in my own little experiences it is God who initiates – and I sense dangers in ‘going looking’ for signs, wonders, visions etc. What we should surely be seeking is: God. And opening to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I definitely appreciated Mark Oakley’s lecture. There were a lot of nuggets that seemed to glisten with truth. Among them: “We fear God not because God is fierce and out to get us but because God is real and we aren’t always.” That is oh so true. And this is a gem: “God’s gift to us is being, but our gift to God is becoming.” I will harbour that thought long in my heart. May we each continue to open up, continue to grow, in the love and the grace and the wonder of God. As for the parameters of… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The article by Liam Beadle appears inspired in part by the letter written by the priest in Wiltshire, reported elsewhere in the news. It is interesting that the Bishop of Salisbury is reported as offering a particular kind of pastoral support to the priest. Not reported is what, if any, pastoral consequences may be in order for the congregation the priest was serving. That is my one specific question from afar. With regard to the generalities the Beadle piece addresses, conflict is a possibility in many walks of life. As parish priest I have had occasion to engage in confrontation… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

All Saints Burbage sounds a snake pit of a parish. I have every sympathy for the Revd Andy Thewlis. No half decent candidate to succeed him will give it a glance, at least not without new churchwardens and PCC members whose key role should be to support their incumbent, not undermine him or her. This is all too common in parishes sadly and I hope the bishop was even handed in his response and involvement.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The fuzzy boundary between divination and magic is another topic worthy of a treatise in its own right. Early Christian writers often bracketed the two together, condemning them in the same breath as practices which encouraged the demonic deceptions. ‘Sorcery’ comes from sors, the Latin word for a divinatory lot.” – Linda Woodhead – I must confess to my distinct aversion to anything smacking of sorcery or witchcraft. Solomon’s epic downfall was attributed to such endeavours. There is, in my opinion, a distinct difference between the charism of ‘discernment’ – a biblical principle – and cultic divination that is connected… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Ian Paul, who is not normally a fan of anything that promotes the Catholic understanding of how best to encourage faith through sacramentalism, rather than sola scriptura preaching, maybe can see the weaknesses present in Richard Peers’ presentation of a credibility gap that seems to have appeared in the A/C community in the Church of England. Might I suggest that this could be directly attributable to its divide on women’s ministry? Anglo Catholic churches in other countries – such as New Zealand – have adapted to the modern understanding of women as being equal to men in their capacity to… Read more »

David Richards
Guest
David Richards

Liam Beadle’s piece tells a truthful story. I have spoken to four clergy in the past six weeks who have left (or are just about to leave) parishes without another job to go to, simply because they are physically and mentally exhausted. They cannot face any more of the destructive behaviour of people who are either bullying or slandering others and/or the vicar; or who are determined to remain unchallenged in their belief that the church is their personal play park, and refuse to see the church as being of service to the wider community. In two of these instances,… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Linda Woodhead has discovered the forgotten gift of divination. Well I thought, this could save an awful lot of time in my discernment work as a DDO. What to use? Dice? Tarot cards? Tea leaves? Or just book all my candidates in for a reading at the witchcraft shop on the corner of the Cathedral Close here. Well partly for budget reasons and partly because it was to hand I caught and strangled the pigeon on my office windowsill and poked around its entrails with my predecessor’s letter opener. As my theological training was hopelessly inadequate on occult arts (evangelicals!… Read more »

Fr John E Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E Harris-White

Fr Ron, I have always read with interest your comments, and coming from New Zealand which I have toured and loved, you bring added interest. Your final words in your comment are a Blessing to us all, so powerful, and true. I share your understanding, as each day we pray the Angelus. AS a priest associate of Walsingham, I pray that the powers that be will be brought to a deeper understanding of Priesthood, and be agents to bringing the two wings of our catholic church in England together. For myself I honour and am grateful for those women priests… Read more »

Anne Lee
Guest
Anne Lee

Thank you Anthony Archer and David Richards. As an academic social psychologist my research area is workplace bullying in churches and other religious groups. It is, sadly, widespread in the Church of England and goes largely unchallenged and the targets go unsupported and the perpetrators unchallenged and undisciplined. The 2008 Dignity at Work paper is currently being revised by the Clergy HR team at Church House Westminster and is being brought up to date with amongst other things, the legislation of the 2010 Equality Act. Until the senior staff in all dioceses take these issues seriously there is little hope… Read more »

RevPeterM
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RevPeterM

Following David Richards comments on Liam Beadle’s piece, I’d like to enter a plea for incumbents to consider the value of local knowledge (every parish is different) and the worth of assistant clergy (whether OLM or NSM) who can provide such knowledge. Unless the Vicar is prepared themselves to change some, if not all, of the people will recognise the hypocrisy and resist. Simply trying to make this parish the same as your last one will not do.
And finally the scattergun approach is always wrong. If you can’t think of anything else, do nothing!

Robert Ellis
Guest
Robert Ellis

Reading the piece by Colin Coward is very interesting…in many ways it mirrors my own position and experience….but it does leave us out on a limb. I have never “loved” the Church of England as many people do, even though I spent 22 years of my professional life trying to protect it in the media and beyond. Personally I have always felt most comfortable on the fringe between the Church and the world…which is quite an uncomfortable place to be….because neither side fully embraces you…and then when the old, familiar, unexamined certainties start falling away you’re in trouble! It is… Read more »

not flourishing high church woman
Guest
not flourishing high church woman

Father Ron Smith,
‘if the task of a priest is, primarily, to facilitate the Presence of Christ on the altar; then Mary actually brought forth the Presence of Jesus in her womb – a very priestly act.’
Wonderful words and how I wish your views were shared throughout the Anglo-Catholic wing of the church. The discrimination against priests who happen to be women or are men who are affirming of women is causing a great deal of pain and suffering. So much so that some of us (not necessarily ordained ourselves) are considering leaving the Church of England.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: comments by David Richards and Rev.PeterM, interesting discussion. With regard to OLM, our diocese has been invested in those kinds of auxiliary priestly ministries, initially termed non-stipendiary priests or more recently associate priests. They can be sources of inter-personal conflict between the two types of clergy with enmeshment of the wider parish following upon quickly and extensively. The flash point may come with the departure of the rector incumbent during the time the non-stipe has been ‘raised up’ by the parish and the subsequent arrival of a new rector who “knew not Joseph” kind of thing. The other issue… Read more »

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

The link to the Mark Oakley piece doesn’t appear to work.

Peter Owen
Guest

I forgot that Modern Church does not allow other sites to link directly to their downloads; you have to go via their news pages. I have now put in a working link.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

“Sometimes candidates for ordination seriously underestimate the polarities of parochial life. They are psychologically or constitutionally unprepared for both the repetitive common round “ground hog day” nature of parochial ministry and the amount of episodic emotional trauma in the lives of their parishioners that punctuates parochial ministry.” Rod – I agree. Most ordinands I have taught over the last 20 years are great people but a few have unrealistic expectations of what lies ahead. Some BAP advisers pick up on this and some do not. It is an especial issue with regard to those heading towards being incumbents and sometimes… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

What time is it Eccles?
Excellent lecture by Canon Mark Oakley but I fear a typo has crept into the script on page three – for Good read Goon.

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

Rev Peter M is right to point to the value of ‘local knowledge.’ There are rather too many lazy clergy around who think they can move to a new parish and use the same formula as last time. But how often is ‘local knowledge’ used as a pretext for obduracy and stagnation: ‘we know what we like, and we don’t want to be any different’? For that reason, I am grateful to have read Peter’s comments alongside Anne Lee’s. It’s all very well imposing top-down brilliant ideas on to parishes, but who is paying the price of attempting to implement… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Charles Read, thanks for the informative comment. The integration of various streams of training/ formation as you describe it from your context there seems constructive and problem solving oriented. The context for my comments was very different. Two solitudes, as it was anyway, best described our local situation with regard to clergy trained in a residential theological college/divinity school and the non-stipes trained in non-residential programs. We have now considerable history of non-stipe clergy deployed in many of our parishes. I suspect many of the growing pains have eased. I have been retired for over five years. I’m not… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

Charles Read: “However, I sometimes meet college trained clergy who seem to regard non-stipendiaries and Readers as inherently inferior.” I could not have put that better myself! As the spouse of an MSE (Minister in Secular Employment) this is our common experience. I could go on about the sacrifice we are making: full time employment AND ministry, but I won’t. In my experience the stipendiary clergy who behave in this way are motivated by one of two things, envy or fear. Envy: they are envious of our perceived lifestyle with salaries which exceed a stipend. Fear: we appear ‘successful’ in… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Anne, if your post with its attempt to assign motivation and blame in others (“In my experience the stipendiary clergy who behave in this way are motivated by one of two things, envy or fear.”) is typical, then little wonder there is conflict in the church. “Trying to demonstrate the love of Christ in our work, in our working practices, in the ways in which we respond to and react with the people and the situations, with which we are in daily contact.” That is a very altruistic goal. Do you find you are able to apply it in… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

Dear Rod Gillis, thank you for your response. I am sorry you think that demonstrating the love of Christ in our work and working practices is an altruistic goal. Surely it is the goal of all of us who are followers of Jesus? Yes of course we are flawed human beings who make mistakes but trying to demonstrate the love of Christ I would have thought was the fundamental goal of a Christian. And yes of course I include the parish and stipendiary clergy. In the post I was only talking about our secular context. I am sorry if you… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

Rod Gillis, I forgot to say that there was no attempt on my part to assign blame, I was just trying to explain possible motivation. Happy Advent!

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Anne, Altruism in the sense of subordinating self regard to a regard for others seems not a bad way to describe discipleship; but my comment was intended to spark a reflection on the congruence between your stated goal in the secular work place alongside what appear to be some very strong frustrations with stipendiary clergy in the ‘church place’if you will i.e a category of clergy (stipendiary) you perceive motivated by fear and envy, no? Taken as general comment I was reminded of conflict situations I encountered as an archdeacon. Such instances would have caused me concern in a… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

Rod Gillis, I am so sorry that I hit what is obviously a very sore nerve for you.

Christ came down at Christmas! Happy Advent as we await His coming.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Anne, “I am so sorry that I hit what is obviously a very sore nerve for you.” Actually, I’m thinking the thread which provoked your original comment about the fear and envy you say you find in others, has struck a nerve in you. If your comment is reflective of an actual situation, I would recommend you have someone with the appropriate pastoral skill set to talk to about how you feel about it all. I have tried to frame my remarks here so that they focused on the generalities of your comments in a way that allowed me… Read more »