on Wednesday, 1 June 2022 at 12.39 pm by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Judith Maltby ViaMedia.News Hanging in Love and Faith
Anonymous Save The Parish A Forced Change to HTB
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Unknowing God
Ian Paul Psephizo The Church of England, money, people, and mission
At least the new Rector of the Forced Change to HTB parish is being honest in immediately axing the Anglo-Catholic service. What usually happens in these take overs is that the Traditionalists are shunted off to an early hole in the corner slot and promised that they will be safe and sound there with their beloved Traditional Liturgy and proper hymns. However, before many months have passed all the promises and assurances are forgotten about and the old liturgical worship simply disappears with the morning mist.
If the HTB and Alpha brands are as successful as they claim to be, why is that not reflected in the Statistics for Mission? I find happy clappy worship makes my toe curl and if the CofE drops anything other than that, then I’d stop attending public worship.
If the “Leading your church into growth” courses had been as effective as they were badged to be, we would be seeing a different reality. But such initiatives are measured too often by volume of delivery rather than by actual effectiveness (the same is true of safeguarding training btw). The problem is that too much church research identifies correlation rather than causation, and not enough attention is given to local and contextual factors. There are some valid observations – intentionality is important. But I note that my most recent new colleagues in their intentionality have put our church in contact… Read more »
I’d be interested to know what your new/old initiatives are, which have proved so effective?
Hi Janet – a brilliant colleague, who did so much to reach out into our community was always looking for community spaces in which to meet – she transformed our mission and connected in ways we have never really connected before. When she left, a new colleague came, seeing things a bit differently, and “muddy church” now occupies the space that my former colleague was stretching for. Not a building, but outside. And COVID has taught us to notice outside as Jesus and John Wesley and others have done before. And “Baby Cafe” in a non-church venue has also made… Read more »
The link to ‘A Forced Change’ seems to have disappeared.
It’s been taken down – there was a lot of comment on Twitter about how the writer had (almost in passing) made Hinduism and Islam equivalent with Christianity: people were commented that if that’s a reflection of the previous Rector’s theology then church plant was probably a good thing, painful though it was for some. Certainly the article did nothing to gain sympathy among people of mainline belief, or those who believe church planting is in some circumstances a reasonable way to….well…save the parish. To me it reflects Save the Parish’s Achilles heel – STP supporters may share a sense… Read more »
It is still (as of 9.15am 6/6/22) hosted at https://anglican.ink/2022/06/01/a-forced-change-to-htb/
The Internet Archive preserves the article at https://web.archive.org/web/20220531070017/https://savetheparish.com/2022/05/29/a-forced-change-to-htb-anonymous/
Thank you – an excellent observation. I am a big fan of LYCIG and one of its fruits here (2nd smallest and 7th smallest cathedral) dates back to my time as a vicar in Harrogate: simply get the welcome right. OK what happens afterwards needs to match the welcome and that’s a whole congregation issue. But in Harrogate – in a really mainstream C of E parish – the welcome was fundamental to us growing by 60 adults a year. Here in Chelmsford it is much harder territory but a significant shift in our approach to welcome (which involved a… Read more »
It would be helpful to know what your new approach to welcome actually is.
They are included, but the growth in (some of) the HTB/Alpha linked churches does not offset the decline elsewhere. It would be interesting to see a detailed breakdown of the attendance statistics and trends by churchmanship, but I suspect most Thinking Anglicans readers would not be very keen on that.
Assuming that the extent of my attendance at services across the country might now be on the scale of ‘evidence’ as opposed to ‘anecdote’, I would suggest that any increase in attendance at HTB/Bishopsgate plants, or other well-resourced churches, does not even begin to approach the present rate of demographic ‘attrition’. Moreover, the improved attendance at most plants is on such a tiny scale relative to the rest of the Church (I am talking about the low hundreds of churches) that its impact is, at best, extremely marginal. I would hazard a guess that for every person who starts to… Read more »
Froghole you eloquently express what is my own gut feeling – it’s all over bar the shouting. I found that I could bring younger people into the worshipping community but it took time and energy to build those relationships. As clergy are increasingly expected to work across the deanery rather than from a particular parish base, it becomes more difficult to build those connections with individuals.
“Assuming that the extent of my attendance at services across the country might now be on the scale of ‘evidence’ as opposed to ‘anecdote’ “ While I would hate to put the task on anyone, I do think the extent of your visits and your insights are potentially most valuable evidence, Froghole, and there would be great benefit for the Church today, as well as from a future historical point of view, if some kind of document or book could be written, with anecdotes, memories, humour, human encounters and emotions, and in addition… reflections, and your very sharp powers of… Read more »
Many thanks, Susannah! That is most kind, and characteristically kind, of you. I have just inflicted a long essay on one hapless bishop based on my experiences of one particular area under his jurisdiction. However, I fear I would not have the gifts or energy to write a book, given my work and domestic commitments. I think that the problem with my tour/pilgrimage is that the information I have accrued dates very quickly, and is also very superficial. Another problem is that I am generally only going to a particular place once for worship (although in some cases I have… Read more »
I enter this arena with care dominated as it is by m’Learned Friends messrs Froghole, Wateridge, Clarke, Fife et many al, but I’m spurred on by Mr Froghole’s point “Looking through registers can help (they are perhaps an untapped source for research)”. For some years I’ve done precisely that here at Hurstbourne Tarrant (HbT) to find the shape and pattern of our local worship which has become more urgent we’re being being forced into a top-down “Benefice of the Future” (a legacy of Tim Dakin) where we’re now part of the Pastrow Benefice covering 11 churches and shortly this summer to… Read more »
Many thanks indeed, Mr Nash. Inevitably most of the services I attend are Sunday morning services, but I try to get to what I can when I can: on Sundays I usually leave home (St Margaret’s Bay, Kent) before 5 AM and return home after midnight, having also attended afternoon/evening services. That will include a number of ‘festival’ services, the ‘success’ of which often strikes me as variable. If I were to rely on anecdote, having spoken to people in various places, it is that there has been a severe tailing off in attendance in most places, even if attendance… Read more »
I’m sure I haven’t contributed anything which could be termed ‘learned’ on this thread. However, I strongly sympathise with the prospect you face of a combined benefice of eleven churches. The most I have experienced was four, further south in the Winchester Diocese, and long pre-dating Bishop Dakin’s ‘reforms’.
Your visits are indeed valuable evidence and your analysis provokes thought. Our local HTB church plant grew initially by gaining people from other churches – the local con evo place lost a third of its congregation I am told by their PCC. This is not a healthy growth pattern! Phillip Tovey in Oxford diocese investigated the numbers of baptisms and confirmations in his diocese and found that the plants were hardly baptising or confirming anyone. Unless all their new converts are re-conversions of the lapsed (there will be some) then they are not actually seeing people come to faith anew… Read more »
Many thanks for that. What you write elides with some of my experiences, although on the whole I think planting can be a Good Thing. For example, I recall going to a service at Mulbarton, near Norwich, a few years ago. That was a parish which had invested heavily in youth work (an unusual thing in itself), and had an excellent band. Then the new plant at St Thomas Norwich got going, and many of the people who had been attracted to Mulbarton (including a number of the musicians) went off to St Thomas. Precious capital had gone down the… Read more »
So unattractive to see churchgoers behaving like comparison shoppers; but you’ve said what is so rarely acknowledged, evangelicals can be fickle and switch allegiance very quickly.
Actually, my experience in 22 years of rural and 22 years of urban ministry in Canada is that you could replace ‘evangelicals’ with ‘city dwellers’ in your post. Most rural Anglicans in my part of the world stick with their church (they would have to drive thirty miles or more to reach the next one). But in the cities, Anglicans of all theological stripes have a much more consumer attitude. There’s plenty of choice, and if the local branch plant isn’t offering what they want, they’ll switch to another fairly easily.
Time was when most evangelicals I knew had a copy of The Good Church Guide on their shelves.
I have never heard of it.
Sorry for an Amazon link but it really was a thing
It modelled itself on the Good Pub Guide. In the days before the Internet and churches having websites which could be searched, it was useful.
Really important piece by Judith Maltby. (Love the title.) She shows how the church has dealt with some of the big moral questions of the past and gives the lie to ideas that Christian ethical positions are unchanged until modern times. I found her explanation that after the Reformation clerical celibacy was regarded as the ideal and clerical marriage was a pragmatic accommodation to be interesting in light of current disputes. The big question is about the death penalty, which is really the traditional position and how it relates to our understanding of Christ’s death on the cross and the… Read more »
I found some of the comments on the original article from Save the Parish to be reprehensible. The disparagement of our Islamic and Hindu brothers and sisters and their beliefs is simply abhorrent.
Three decades ago, a profoundly Christian rector of the parish I attended in the New York diocese told me, “I can see God’s love in the Buddha’s smile as easily as I see it in the face of Jesus Christ.” I have carried that thought with me ever since in this increasingly diverse society.
48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” The words of Christ in Matthew. Jesus did not include followers of other religions who deny His divinity, His place at the Father’s right hand in glory. Are those Christians being martyred for their faith in Christ by Moslems to view their persecutors as “brothers… Read more »
Equally, Muslims were martyred by Christians in the Middle East during the Crusades, not to mention the killing of Muslims in much more recent war. As for killing Christians for their faith – it is a terrible thing, a truly terrible thing, but that is fundamentalists with very extreme views doing that. If you take Muslims in the UK, and I know a bit about them having worshipped in their mosques, studied with them, and seen their focus on love, and on family, and on the elderly, and on community… the huge majority of them would be equally appalled by… Read more »
Did Jesus actually utter those words? Do you believe them to be true? Do those who follow other religions/faith traditions need to turn to Christ to be saved? Or do all religions/faith traditions lead to heaven?
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Personally I don’t want to be judged according to my precise faith so I don’t judge others for theirs. If they think the path to God is through Islam or Hinduism, that’s between them and God. I am not saying that Islam or Hinduism is right, just that it isn’t my place to judge those who choose those paths. On the other hand, if someone kills people for their… Read more »
Did Jesus actually utter those words? Do you believe them to be true? Do those who follow other religions/faith traditions need to turn to Christ to be saved? Or do all religions/faith traditions lead to heaven?
“Do those who follow other religions/faith traditions need to turn to Christ to be saved? Or do all religions/faith traditions lead to heaven?” That’s up to God, not me. Certainly there are many Hindus and Muslims I would rather share heaven with than some Christians. I like to think God has a similar viewpoint but, it is His kingdom and His decision, not mine. If I am allowed in, then I will no doubt find out then. Until then I can tell people that the Bible is one route to heaven but I can’t tell them it is the… Read more »
Nobody is or will be judged according to their precise faith.
However, the New Testament could not be clearer that we will be saved from judgement by faith in the death of Jesus in our place.
If you have not placed your face in the death of Jesus Christ you have no salvation. If somebody believes they can find salvation by other means they are wrong.
So, by your tenets, some 5 billion people on Earth are damned? (And that’s presuming that all of the about 2 billion professed Christians actually have “placed their faith in the death of Jesus”.)
Current population of the world: 7 billion (give or take)
Current population of professed Christians worldwide: 2 billion (give or take)
Would a truly merciful God condemn two thirds of humanity (no matter what kind of life they may have lived)? Not any God I choose to believe in, thank you.
If you believe that the life people live is the basis on which they should be judged then you are not talking about Christianity.
The Gospel is salvation by grace not works
The Gospel is more complicated than that. Works can be evidence of grace at work (so to speak). Are we to say that a Muslim who is generous and loving out of devotion to God cannot be a recipient of grace? “For all who love are born of God and know God”. When Jesus talks about the judgement at his return (Matthew 25:31-40), he doesn’t talk about the sheep being “those who have a personal relationship with me”, but those who gave food to the hungry, who welcomed the stranger, who visited the prisoners. No mention of believing or saying… Read more »
It is an eccentric reading of the New Testament that fails to see the need for faith in Christ as the basis of eternal life.
Grace without works is an empty vessel.
Nonetheless, it is necessary to come to some sort of position about John 14:6:
A germaine comment with a poignant opening question highlighting the ultimately inadequate if not ridiculous nature of literal/dogmatic understandings of the conventional Christian concept of salvation. The doctrine of salvation is not so much a question as it is an answer to a set of questions about the nature of Christology and soteriology i.e. who is Christ and what did Christ accomplish? However there are now prior questions to be asked in the contemporary world, a multi-cultural world heavily polarized, informed by science, one threatened by the application of science and technology. What can we say about the future of… Read more »
I’m puzzled by the emphasis in your answer on this world. Why would Christian soteriology depend about any views, modern or ancient, about this world, when it is entirely about the relationship between each individual person and God? What we do in this world expresses and affects that relationship, but we know that heaven and earth will pass away — and in two senses. Firstly, for each of us, our physical connection with the world will be broken at our death; secondly, the universe as a totality will have an end. There is, in that sense, no such thing as… Read more »
“…it is entirely about the relationship between each individual person and God?”. Neither John the Baptist nor the historical Jesus would have understood salvation in those terms. “…but we know that heaven and earth will pass away…” joined to “the universe as a totality will have an end”. You seem to holding at once for both a biblical cosmology/eschatology and a modern science based cosmology.
I also was puzzled by UN’s reference to the end of the universe, perhaps one or other of you could explain what modern science tell us about this?
There is no “official” scientific prediction of the ultimate fate of the physical universe, I believe. But most views are that it will have an end of some form or another. One possibility, widely held for the last century or so, is the Heat Death: that is, entropy increases without limit, in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the universe cools down until no further physical processes can take place. Another common prediction is the reversal of the current expansion of the universe, under gravitational attraction, into a “Big Crunch”. Other more sophisticated notions involve the decay of… Read more »
That is a difficult ask from my point of view. I’m not a scientist; but in an inter-disciplinary spirit I want to take science seriously. Let me start with a citation from the late William Stoeger SJ, an astrophysicist: “Though the earth and the sun are destined for eventual destruction by the very forces that gave them existence, we might be inclined to suppose–or at least hope–that the universe as a life generating ensemble is eternal. However, from all that we know about the laws of nature that govern it, this is not true. The universe itself will eventually evanesce… Read more »
Simon, this could open a considerable can of worms! There are a variety of different ways that the universe could end to choose from: the heat death, the big crunch, the big bounce, the big rip and, if the universe is teetering on the end of stability, then a tip over into a vacuum metastability event which leads to the end of everything! Then you have to factor in all the different multiverse models. There are distinguished theologians who have discussed this: Alister McGrath springs to mind. “(T)he universe as a totality will have an end” requires a great deal… Read more »
There is undoubtedly much that science can tell us about religion, and much that religion can tell us about science. But it is important to bear in mind that, roughly speaking, science tends to answer questions about how the world works, and religion tends to answer questions about why things are the way they are, and what we should do about it. What is baffling to me is the way that “science” is used (often by people who are not scientists) as some sort of talisman. For example, there is a tendency to discount the historical evidence of the Gospels,… Read more »
If the predictions of a traditional and a more modern cosmology are consistent, is that problematic?
See my reply to Simon Sarmiento’s question regarding distinctions. To draw this out, there is the distinction between random chance and Divine agency. There is also Lonergan’s distinction between mythology which relates things to us, and theory which relates things to one another. However, it is not a complete bifurcation. The existential crisis narrated in apocalyptic/eschatology and the existential crisis of a catastrophic random end to the universe (not to mention other possible life ending catastrophes) raise similar questions of meaning. I certainly agree that the science based theories about the fate of the universe, as with theories about its… Read more »
I think this discussion, fascinating as it undoubtedly is, rather misses the first point I made in terms of salvation. The world is not our home. For each of us, what we are pleased to think of as “our” world, will come to an end with our death. The only question of importance is, what will happen then? Will we be able to meet our Maker and say to Him “Thy will be done” or will He turn to us and say “Have it your way”? Will He say “Well done thou good and faithful servant” or will He say… Read more »
“The world is not our home.” I could not disagree more.
Then we are radically at variance, and I doubt that it would be useful to debate the point. I would be interested to know whether you, and indeed others commenting here, regard it as a mainstream Christian position.
Substitutionary atonement is a disgusting theology and should be abhorrent to all decent thinking people. ‘Cosmic child abuse) said Steve Chalke. I reject it all and forms of a Christianity which include it.
If you do not accept that Christ died in your place you will not have anything which resembles a New Testament doctrine of Judgement.
Steve Chalke no longer believes in Hell which is the inevitable implication of his ugly defamation which you repeat
I don’t believe in ‘hell’ either. And should there be anything like your ‘judgement’ I’m quite happy to account for myself before your avenging ‘god’.
And do you believe it is impossible that a Moslem, a Hindu, a Buddhist or even an atheist might be doing “the will of my Father in heaven”? Are only Christians given to doing good works–God’s work?
The will of God the Father is whatever He has decreed in His wisdom, knowledge, holiness, and grace. His decrees include the decision to create the universe, including humans. His decrees include the plan for salvation, the future roadmap for the creation, and the righteous standard that we to conform to. The will of God the Father is found in all sixty-six books of the Bible. His will is revealed in the Ten Commandments and in every command found in any Scripture. And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love… Read more »
“The will of God the Father is found in all sixty-six books of the Bible.”
But surely not his entire will. Can that be expressed and contained in a few thousand words of human language? Is it not possible, in your view, that God’s will includes a place in heaven for all peoples of good will?
This is what Acts 4:12 says
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
The question is are we saved because we believe, as you claim, or is it the case (my view) that we should believe because we are saved?
Probably the most interesting post of your various interesting posts I have ever read, Kate. Thank you. I’m going to need to reflect on that. There’s a lot wrapped up in it. One other thought I would proffer, though I’m not saying I find the specifics in scripture: It seems plain in Christian faith that God came down to Earth in Jesus, to live alongside us, to live in solidarity (if you like) with our suffering, and to share that suffering in the root sense of compassion. After all, Emmanuel means ‘God with us’. What if one aspect of that… Read more »
Further to my first reply to Kate, I just wanted to say, there are probably people in your life Kate, and I know there are people in mine, who do not seem to have a Christian faith, but who I feel sure are precious in God’s sight… I believe God sees right through to the heart of them. If you or I recognise their value and precious character, how much more must God see that? Personally I think God is kinder than me, and that does make me confident that God also sees everything they have the potential to become… Read more »
And hopefully my final response to your post, which triggered a succession of thoughts and reflections. And by the way, my words in these three posts are just that – reflections, wonderings. I don’t have the temerity to repudiate the stark words of Jesus on Hell, though I question whether the disciples could fully understand what He was telling them. However, I do have the temerity to at least respond in wondering to what I see as paradox. The paradox for me is that the same God who allegedly says that (implicitly) billions will go to Hell for eternity… is… Read more »
Are you saying you believe everybody is saved ? That is clearly not the Christian belief.
Universal reconciliation has been a minority view among Christians but it is certainly a Christian (there is no “the” when it comes to Christian views of the eternal state). I hope that all will be saved, though I cannot totally discount the possibility of Lewis’s dwarfs who refuse Aslan’s country for fear of being “taken in”. The possibility that hell is empty is thoroughly mainstream in Christian thought.
Indeed, not everyone will be saved. Luke 13 is very clear on that.
Salvation is a gift, not a right. If we say Christians are in, everyone else is out, then we are saying that salvation is a right, not a gift we don’t deserve. The Parable of the Prodigal Son shows that the Lord may welcome in whom He chooses. If He chooses to welcome Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs, that is His choice.
Those words recorded in the gospel according to Matthew are that “whoever does the will of my Father”. It does not say “those who say” or even “those who believe”. Nothing in that passage says that people even have to know they are doing the will of God, only that they do it. I would think that can easily be read as including all people of goodwill — all those who do God’s will. These people, Jesus declares, are his family.
Does not the cure of a CofE priest include all souls in his parish… not only those baptised and confirmed in the CofE?
Yes it does. I was criticised for spending time with the unchurched and dechurched rather than partaking of tea and hobnobs with those already in the club. I always think it should be hobknob, but maybe that’s a result of my anatomical training.
Your comment takes the biscuit! I am reminded of the words of the renowned theologian Father Duddleswell in the seminal work Bless me Father. He declared he believed absolutely in the existence of hell but was not daft inough to think there was anyone in there .
I very much agree. I think this speaks volumes about where certain sections of our communion see other faiths in terms of lost souls to be converted – a very colonial and backward idea. The whole piece is just deeply sad. Church planting should not be about aggressive takeovers of existing Anglican communities when we have so many areas that are not served at all these days. Destroying traditional Anglican worship is nothing short of vandalism and it smacks of a lack of skill and competence that our church leadership can’t see their way to support the full diaspora of… Read more »
Wishing all to come to a saving faith in the Risen Christ is neither backward nor colonial. It is in fact the mission of the church: Jesus: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ‘
We have the term “shotgun wedding”: if you don’t marry my daughter I will shoot you. I think most of us see it as a pretty hideous approach.
Yet, “If you don’t convert to Christianity you will be eternally damned” is the theological equivalent of a shotgun wedding. Do you honestly believe that’s how a just God would behave?
Faith, like marriage, should be about attraction and love and trust… not threats. I certainly believe it’s right to warn people if they are about to hurt themselves, and a crucial issue is that Jesus warns about Hell. Whether the disciples fully understood what was being said to them, they are clearly reporting a warning. I take away, at least, the profound warning that selfishness and sin destroys lives. We all probably know in our own lives how others may be diminished because of our selfishness. The Christian life is not easy street, and it’s huge on facing responsibility for… Read more »
These days I understand Heaven and Hell primarily in terms of how near or far one is to/from the Presence of the Lord.
All the threats are meaningless if you don’t believe in the possibility of a hellish afterlife. And some do not. IIRC Jesus said very little about the afterlife, but quite a bit about how to bring life abundant here on earth. Punitive theology was invented IMO so that the lamentable marriage of church and state could control hoi polloi, doling out nectar points, as it were, for the promise of a club class after life. That notion persists. There is merit in it – just think how our financial problems would melt away by the sale of indulgences.
Your use of exaggerated language (shotgun wedding) is unhelpful. The bible is clear on the matter of salvation, as Acts 4.12 makes clear.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
The free gift of salvation is freely offered to all.
I didn’t take “our wonderful and vibrant Hindu and Muslim communities” to be in any way derogatory or sarcastic. Aren’t they to be read at face value? Is it possible you have drawn wrong inferences?
I was referring not to the mentions in the article itself, but in the comments attached to it, many of which seemed to treat those who follow non-Western religions as being not worthy of consideration.
So I assume that the Save The Parish post has been withdrawn??
I wonder why. Oddly it is the most discussed post here, all the same.
Yes – it’s not on their website. It got a lot of criticism from people of mainstream faith – not particularly evangelicals, just mainstream believers – about the underpinning theology. Some TA commenters may be comfortable with Allah or Vishnu being other expressions of the Christian God, but many Christians are not… and may be a reason why the congregation in question had low numbers and not sustainable. Not STP’s finest hour.
Concerning comments on this thread – indeed all threads – that whatever is written is liable to be misinterpreted or subjected to meanings that go way beyond the words that are printed. Such comments say a great deal about the commenter but nothing of value about the substantive issue. For some reason I am put in mind of Dr Grantly’s wise words in discouraging his father the bishop from writing to the press (The Jupiter): “[you will] be smothered with ridicule; tossed over and over again with scorn; shaken this way and that, as a rat in the mouth of… Read more »
Excellent, but you’ve left out what is perhaps the best line of that passage! The Archdeacon goes onto remark, famously, but bitterly: “What the Czar is in Russia, or the mob in America, that The Jupiter is in England.”
It might have been said that twelve or thirteen administrations were made or unmade by J. T. Delane’s ‘Times’ (from Melbourne II to Disraeli II, 1841-78), to a greater or lesser extent.
Mr Froghole, I accept your gentle reprimand and assure you that lessons have been learnt.
I watched a video of the dedication of a college chapel in the US in which Justin Welby was the preacher. Early in his sermon he wryly commented that according to the British press he had been guilty of breaking all of the Ten Commandments!
Good heavens, Rowland. I am deeply concerned to read of your viewing habits. Please seek medical assistance without delay. I recommend binge watching Benidorm as therapy and to cleanse the palate.
It can be accessed in the cached version (available from Google)
The ‘offending’ comments have been excised.
Dr Maltby writes in her very illuminating essay that “It was a momentous moral achievement in which the leaders of the Church of England, by and large, followed from behind rather than led from the front.” Therefore, it might be supposed that the Church’s attitude towards the death penalty was perhaps not unlike that of G&S’s ‘Gondoliers’: “In enterprise of martial kind, When there was any fighting, He led his regiment from behind, He found it less exciting. But when away his regiment ran, His place was at the fore, O— That celebrated, Cultivated, Underrated Nobleman, The Duke of Plaza-Toro!”… Read more »
In the Times’ pre-Murdoch days the most persuasively eloquent voice for abolition was that of the late Bernard Levin, who believed that a judicial hanging diminished everyone in the society that ordered it. “Nor is it the horrible barbarity of execution that is the worst thing about it; it is the calm, ordered, impersonal taking of a life, for the astoundingly irrelevant reason that the life in question has taken another.” Where Levin may have got it wrong was in his Whiggish outlook on human progress, which led him to believe that capital punishment was now off the statute book… Read more »
Many thanks! Your comment has had me beetling back to Levin’s famous article on Goddard on 1 June 1971, which I first read many years ago with a mixture of shock and delight (the paper had printed Goddard’s obit only on 31 May): “I might as well say plainly that de mortuis nil nisi bunkum is not a principle tat has ever appealed to me; Goddard, as Lord Chief Justice, was a calamity… Goddard’s influence on the cause of penal reform was almost unrelievedly malign; with a coarse callousness (his fondness for dirty jokes can hardly have been entirely coincidental)… Read more »
You may well be right about the reasons for choosing Goddard, but I’d always understood that the most important thing about this appointment was that it broke the tradition by which the office of LCJ was regarded as a political reward, usually to former Attorney Generals, and so made future appointments on merit alone possible. Incidentally, Fenton Bresler’s biography gives, as one would expect, a more favourable picture of Lord G, and he takes Levin to task for some of his remarks.
There was undoubtedly a degree of hyperbole in Levin’s remarks, and although in 1998 Tom Bingham remarked that his conduct in the Bentley trial had been frankly unjudicial (Goddard was characterised as having acted as an advocate), and he told Maxwell Fyfe that there were no mitigating circumstances (‘There is no nearer thing/ To death in life/ Than Sir David Patrick Maxwell Fyfe’, viz. Denis Healey). However, he also pressed for the right to re-try convicted appellants, which became the Criminal Appeal Act 1964. Levin also noted that he had himself been the subject of a probe by a judicial… Read more »
Thanks for this. Re Shawcross: in fact he was offered the the post of LCJ by Attlee and Jowett, but turned it down, for two reasons – firstly, because he ‘had often said that the whole idea of the Attorney having the “right” of succession to the Lord Chief Justiceship was wrong’, and so would have been accused of hypocrisy; and, secondly, because he still had political ambitions. He told Attlee that he thought ‘Goddard was the man’. ‘I felt the judges wanted the leadership of a strong personality and he would give it to them. I did not regard… Read more »
Many thanks indeed. There was a feeling that the KBD had lost its way under Caldecote (Inskip), and that there were too many judges who were past their best (Travers Humphreys at the head of them perhaps). Therefore, Goddard, who was popular and vigorous would have been thought the best candidate for the purpose of effecting a shake-up. As to Shawcross, if he had taken the chief justiceship, it would have meant that the AG would either have to be Lynn Ungoed-Thomas, Frank Soskice or Reginald Paget. Ungoed-Thomas (who was destined for the bench) was perhaps not a born leader… Read more »
Thank you as always for fresh light and information. You know far more than I about the history of these Church bodies. I mentioned Dunstan largely because Fisher’s biographer (Carpenter), discussing this topic, refers to GRD as a trusted advisor to the Archbishop on ethical questions – including, he implies, this one. However I must say that Carpenter’s treatment of this is rather skimpy – considering the size of the volume he eventually produced!
Not necessarily, Mr Scrivener! There may be others who post regularly here who might be much better informed. Dunstan was presumably noted at Ripon Hall, which got him into minor canonries at Windsor, then Westminster (from 1959), which presumably gave him the time to be secretary for the Church’s council for social work (1955-59). I suspect that he was at or near the zenith of his influence with Fisher in the period 1959-61, and this influence arguably increased with the advent of Ramsey: Dunstan’s ‘The Family is Nor Broken’ (1962) led almost directly to ‘Putting Asunder’ (1966). Fun fact: Dunstan… Read more »
Thank you again. You’ll know of course the story about Dunstan seeking the agreement of his churchwardens to Orwell’s somewhat irregular burial – one of the wardens, a farmer, is said to have held out until told that the deceased had published a book called Animal Farm, which reassured him.
This may well be apocryphal!
“Populism” being defined here, I suppose, as “democratic decisions I don’t like”?
Your supposition is as unfounded as mine would be if I were to infer from your post that you are a supporter of capital punishment.
Populists typically offer easy ‘bread and circuses’ solutions to complex problems in order to satisfy our most pressing or base desires. The weakness of populism is that the populist doesn’t lead; he or she follows; holding up a mirror to our emotions, including the less noble ones.
I’m still not seeing how you distinguish populism from democracy, or “noble” emotions from “those I share”. Do you not think that in a democracy, politicians should follow the will of the people?
Such as the will of the Scottish people to hold another independence referendum?
That would be to confuse representative democracy with direct democracy. The UK is the former, and even when a referendum is held, the will of Parliament obtains. The great Whig statesman, Edmund Burke, in a famous speech to the Bristol electorate in 1774, defined representative democracy thus: “Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice… Read more »
So “populism” is another name for “direct democracy”, then?
Direct democracy need not lead to populism (see how the Irish Government handled the divisive issue of abortion), but it can create the conditions in which populism flourishes.
So what, in your view, is populism, and how can it be distinguished from democracy?
I thought I’d answered that, but on the principle of ‘by their fruits ye shall know them’, try Googling the record of those current elected leaders widely considered to be populists.
And, of course, the CofE along with the Quakers led the field in contributing to and supporting the outcome of the Wolfenden report into homosexuality. Would that it had kept up with the Quakers in their inclusion and celebration of equal marriage.