Thinking Anglicans

Martyn Percy: is the Church of England Orwellian?

Martyn Percy has written three articles which Modern Church has published.

“In three short articles, Martyn Percy looks at three words currently being given the full 1984 treatment: independent, ethical and trustworthy.  Is the Church of England using these words as defined by most dictionaries in 2022? Or, are we now enmeshed in an Orwellian church in which little that is said corresponds to our normal frames of reference?”

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Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

Dr Percy mentions the flood (or ‘flood’) at Bishopthorpe, and the fire at Chichester. This reminds me that the British state, like the Church of England has ‘form’ in misappropriating documents, as at Hanslope Park, Bucks (the FCDO migrated archives): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/625667/cary-report-release-colonial-administration-files.pdf. The Harvard historian Caroline Elkins was able to make much hay from this with respect to her campaigns for justice in Kenya; see here for a recent discussion: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/108/1084814/legacy-of-violence/9781847921062.html, at 408, 649-55 and 675; note that one of the villains of her story, Evelyn Baring, chaired the committee which produced the Howick report on crown appointments in the Church… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

More on “the fire at Chichester” involving the Dean at the time.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

In his essay “Politics and the English Language” (1946) George Orwell wrote: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”. We have been witness to the ‘murder’ and character assassination of not only Martyn Percy but also Bishop Bell – and others. In 1935, poet TS Eliot wrote ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ – a play commissioned by the Bishop of Chichester George Bell on the martyrdom of the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket. The play can be seen as a prophetic warning to the Church of… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard W. Symonds
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

The inflection point for me was the decision of the Oxford Diocese to put out a statement calling on people to read the Daily Telegraph newspaper article after Percy had left his post. His departure was the moment for the Diocese to draw a veil over the situation. Percy was still clearly the victim of a huge injustice, but at least if the Diocese had stopped impugning him once he was gone it would be evident the people running the Diocese were thinking straight. Instead they want us to turn to journalists to discover “the truth”, whilst they pursue Percy… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
1 month ago

It’s most interesting – and depressing – to identify what’s adrift as part of a deeper societal malaise; things like subsidiarity, but only in respect of blame and responsibility being delegated to the lowest tier available. (reference the juniors in No 10 carrying the can). Is this a pan-western phenomenon, do we think, in which case we really are stuffed – although I call to mind Ghandi’s response to being asked what he thought of Western Civilisation: ‘I think it would be a good idea.’ Contenting and consoling himself to go out and do some proper work – Mass for… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
1 month ago

It is likely that this business will take years off Martyn’s expected lifespan. His tenacity and resilience is awe inspiring. Most of the others in similar circumstances to his will just have walked away. I could name far too many of them. As Martyn argues the CofE sees these poor souls as collateral damage in their campaign of self preservation. They forget that people who walk away are engaged in conversation by those who are walking towards or who might potentially walk towards the CofE. By their fruits ye shall know them. Have the archbishops noticed that the vine is… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

“His tenacity and resilience is awe inspiring. Most of the others in similar circumstances to his will just have walked away” – Fr Dean

And many – unnumbered, unknown and forgotten – have committed suicide.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

This is an excellent post, Fr Dean

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate
Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

I dont disagree with your assessment here, but what’s the solution? Surely now we need to start a thinking conversation about how Anglicanism might flourish. “Save the Parish” is reactionary, but there is truth in what they are saying. “New Religious communities/fresh expressions” will have a significant place, but we are suspicious of them. I wonder if we need a thread here which genuinely looks at the changing culture and context we find ourselves in and works out both an effective apologetic and a credible ecclesiology.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

Count me in please. There are a thousand answers to how the Church of England might flourish, but it would be interesting to see where consensus emerges. I think it needs more than a thread, more like a dedicated blog/website.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

My thoughts are around John 12.24. it is necessary for a thing to die before it can come to new life.

Lorraine Cavanagh
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

My reply to the above and as posted on the Modern Church blog: Martyn’s blog makes painful reading, not only because many of us know him as a friend and feel outraged at what he has had to endure at the hands of the Church and of the powerful, but because some of us, perhaps many, have experienced something along the lines of what he is describing. What he has written about, obliges us all, therefore, to remember aright. As with all experiences of abuse, the challenge lies not in ‘moving on’ or ‘getting over it’ but in remembering truthfully,… Read more »

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

These three articles make disturbing and upsetting reading, and while some may say there are some shortcomings / mistakes in them I suspect a great number, myself included, recognise the Church of England management system which Martyn Percy so trenchantly criticises. I am grateful to him for these writings, written at what must be such a difficult time for him. My fear is that Martyn Percy will be isolated and demonised by the system and ignored and patronised. A movement of support is needed. Sadly, clergy will be afraid to stand up and speak to the truth in this despotic… Read more »

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