Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 10 February 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The necessity for radical LGBTIQ+ activism in the Church of England

Jarel Robinson-Brown Church Times Can rage be holy?
“From Old Testament prophets to the present day, it can be”

Dexter Bracey All Things Lawful And Honest Change and Clerical Decay
“Dexter Bracey asks if the current agenda for change in the Church of England might not be at odds with the spirit of the newly published Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. Could it be that the trend for reinvention is driving clergy to burn out?”

John Bauerschmidt The Living Church A Scriptural Liturgy

Ian Paul Psephizo Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

Diocese of Oxford New Digital Congregations
“Growing New Congregations – Online”

Nicholas Adams Ekklesia Ecclesial white supremacism

Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News A Rock Climbers Guide to Church, History and the Future

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Susannah Clark
7 months ago

Jarel’s post is thought-provoking on the subject of rage and its associations with prophecy. I think the most dynamic example of rage I have seen recently was when Greta Thunberg gave an eviscerating speech at the United Nations: the ‘how dare you’ speech. In my opinion, that was a prophetic moment. Prophecy does not always involve rage. For example, at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, Michael Curry’s sermon resonated with badly needed words for all people: ‘the power of love’ speech. That was a deep prophetic moment I think. Jarel’s very thoughtful article/podcast explores much more. It is well worth reading… Read more »

Kate
Kate
7 months ago

Ian Paul clearly prefers “planned giving to plate giving” because it gives greater financial security. The expectation of planned giving, however, robs the poor of the ability to give what they can, when they can. It is a manifestation of a middle class church more concerned about its own finances than those of its flock, more concerned about the shepherds than the sheep. Is it any wonder that the church is withdrawing from poor parishes? It doesn’t care about parishes which cannot keep the institution in the comfort to which it has become accustomed.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

I utterly fail to understand this logic. Surely those on low incomes are called to work out some approach to a percentage-based approach to stewardship as much as those on high incomes. X% of a very small sum is an even smaller, but the widow’s mite is just as important to God as the riches of the wealthy. And, of course, someone who has no income should not worry about failing to give to a church. But commitment to active membership of / participation in the life of the church is just that – commitment. And what rather annoys me… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
7 months ago

Dominic, I entirely agree. I suspect that some of the poorer folks are giving proportionally at a higher level than the rich.

Oh, and because of the pre-authorized giving of members of our parish, our income continued stable for most of last year, and we were able to return our portion of the government wage subsidy to the Diocese, so it could be used to help parishes that were less well off.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Yes, your income remained stable while the income of many of those giving fell through the floor. It’s shocking you see the stability of your income as a positive.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Not at all – we saw it as an opportunity to help others.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Yes, I am the rector of a church in one of the wealthier areas of the city of Edmonton. There’s nothing evil about that, especially given the generosity of some of our members. During the time of Covid our open offerings and rental income have disappeared, but our offerings from identifiable givers have increased slightly, and 75% of that came through preauthorized giving (PAG). I realize that not everyone is in a position to use PAG, but it’s a logical fallacy to suggest that just because some can’t do it, no one should do it. For us, it’s been very… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Tim Chesterton
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Kate, I’ve just realized that when you read my statement ‘Our income remained stable’, you thought I was talking about my personal income as the rector. I was not. I was talking about our income as a parish, through the giving of our members. It was this that remained stable, so that our parish was able to return the CERB benefit to the diocese to assist other parishes.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

No, I understood you meant the parish.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Then I’m at a loss to know why you think it would be better for us to have to lay off staff, rather than being in a position to support churches that are having a harder time than us.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
7 months ago

The middle class can afford to commit to giving: the poor can’t and want a) the flexibility of being able to give some weeks but not others and b) the absolute anonymity of the plate. I am really against planned giving – I think it is theologically very unsound.

David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

1 Corinthians 16 talks about setting aside a sum every week, in proportion to your income. So I can’t see how planned giving can be theologically unsound. And cash collections during covid have posed a health risk, when they’ve been possible at all. At least half of our church are retired and on a fixed income, which hasn’t changed at all over the last year, and for many of them to be able to continue to support the church whilst giving through the bank, rather than be denied the opportunity to support it because there are no public services, is… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  David Keen
7 months ago

Your members on fixed incomes are lucky.The problem is that many of the poor are not on fixed incomes. Their income fluctuates from week to week depending on what casual work they can get. Even if they do commit a certain percentage of their income, that does not equate top a fixed weekly amount. One of the Legal Advisory Commission’s arguments that individual cups at Communion are illegal is the requirement for every church to have “a” chalice (singular). But every church is also required to have “a” collection bowl (singular). The same clergy who refuse to administer Communion because… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
7 months ago

Giving can mean more than a financial contribution. When my wife and I were considerably less well off and unable to give more than a few dollars every week, our “giving” included acting as readers and acolytes, helping at fundraisers, etc.

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

I serve a parish that is very economically diverse. Our top giver gives $1,000 per month; we have a dozen or more members who give $5 per week. Those $5/week donors, retired maids and janitors, hospital orderlies, or other minimum wage workers, are faithful in their giving. About every month through the pandemic, on or more will drop off through our mailslot anywhere from 10 to 30 envelopes, each one containing a $5 bill or coins. In my experience, the middle-class members of the parish are on whole much more erratic and irregular with their giving.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Jim Pratt
7 months ago

Jim, that’s one of the methods we have, too. As well as (1) Pre-Authorized Giving (bank to bank), we have (2) a ‘Canada Helps’ website for credit card giving, (3) a mechanism set up for e-transfers, (4) people mailing in cheques, and (5) people dropping off cheques/envelopes once a week at the church, while my admin assistant is safely inside to receive them.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

“The expectation of planned giving, however, robs the poor of the ability to give what they can, when they can.” I don’t think the “expectation” robs the poor of anything. A “requirement” would do that, but surely you don’t feel required to make promises you worry about keeping, do you? Would you argue that a middle-class church does not have expenses to meet?

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Richard
7 months ago

Exactly. In my parish, while we have a “pledge drive” every year and most of those who pledge fulfill it, it’s not something we expect people to meet if their circumstances change. The person who promises $100 a month and then loses his/her job, or who faces a sudden medical emergency, cannot and is not expected to make those payments in the face of more pressing needs.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Pat ONeill
7 months ago

But you know that they will try even when it is a struggle because you have placed them under an expectation.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Richard
7 months ago

We have all listed to a minister say how much better planned giving is so that those putting into the plate are made to feel inadequate, less.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Dear Kate, I’m not sure what generation you belong to, but all the people of the generation of my youngest son (now 32) and under have been astonished for a long time that we still use a collection plate. They don’t carry cash, and they do everything online or by debit or credit card. These are the people who have been asking us for years to put a credit card option on our website and to enable e-transfers and pre-authorized giving, so that they can do what they do everywhere else with their finances—swipe and forget about it. Likewise, several… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

I thought that Nicholas Adams essay in Ekklesia was excellent and worth some reflection, especially after reading Jarel Robinson-Brown’s piece. The Diocese of London has allowed itself to join in our culture wars.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

… and I found it offensively prejudiced. I mean that in its literal sense: Adams comes to the discussion having decided a priori that those who applaud Captain Tom are completely guilty (as indeed are the Bishop of London, the rest of the Church and the secular hierarchy, and indeed the majority of the population) and that Robinson-Brown is completely innocent. He apparently feels free to proceed by assertion, imputation of motives and reductionism, presumably because he knows ahead of time what conclusion he wants to come to. Although not a law student myself, I knew some of those in… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

I agree entirely Richard, you have to understand your opponents point of view, or at least what they are trying to argue in order to engage with them with any kind of civility. There was some interesting research that I read that suggested that those on the liberal/left of the spectrum tend to demonise their opponents more than those that would identify as ‘conservative’ in their views. I don’t know if this is true, but it does fit in with my experience of more traditional minded people being afraid to voice their true opinions for fear of being vilified.

Mark B
Mark B
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

Adams seems to come to the discussion with premise or prejudice that the Prime Minister is irredeemably guilty and therefore all his works are likewise immoral, or if by chance his has done an apparently neutral or good thing, it must be carried out for some evil purpose. All Adams contributes is polarising the debate far beyond the original points that Mr Robinson-Brown made. You could summarise his whole piece as ” four legs good, two legs bad”. Doesn’t seem a christian attitude, never mind a thoughtful one. I’m not keen on the “clapping for …” fashion. But I can’t… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

I reject the notion that honest rational debate, grounded in evidence, carried out in a sprit of honesty and open-mindedness, and with a common commitment to the purpose of resolving issues of concern is necessarily a sign or symptom of racism, systemic or otherwise.

I would normally expect to explain my position, in a genteel way, but Rod Gillis has explained that he in turn rejects that form of debate. So I’ll simply say that the position he enunciates is wrong.

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard Pinch
Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

I was reassured, Rod Gillis, to read your post. If I am an outlier, at least I have company. I have re-read Nicholas Adams’ essay twice in the light of the posts above – and I am not a naive reader. I have also read it in the light of Jarel Robinson-Brown’s own piece to which we have been linked. I remain of the view that it is a good essay and worthy of reflecting on. That doesn’t mean that I agreed with everything in it. It is not, of course, a balanced piece of writing: it is a polemic… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

Ah, one of those irregular verbs. I am making a splendid polemic; you are making assertions without argument or evidence; they are making a simplistic dismissal.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

A “like” button would be good. I like. It reminds me of an irregular verb that came to me in a meeting in the 1980s of the Medical Faculty Board at Nottingham: I have principles, you are awkward, he/she/it is an intransigent basxxrd. I was, I’m thrilled to report, the last of the three.

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

I wrote my comment, Richard Pinch, in the context of your earlier post when you spoke of ‘a common commitment to the purpose of resolving issues of concern’. I am disappointed that your riposte doesn’t engage with what I said but simply offers a glib ‘put-down’.
I used the word ‘simple’, not ‘simplistic’ – the two words do not mean the same thing.

Last edited 7 months ago by Daniel Lamont
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

You described the essay of Adams as a “polemic” which I understand to imply an assertion of a position unencumbered by evidence or reasoning. You described it as “excellent”. It seems odd, then, to be “disappointed” in a polemical comment: presumably because it happens not to agree with your own position. However, it is reassuring to find that we are in agreement that a lack of awareness of or engagement with the ideas of others opposed to our own views is negative. That is precisely one of the reasons that I criticised the essay by Adams, which other have found… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard Pinch
Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

Let me try to clarify. I had noticed that Adams’ article had not attracted any comments and I made a very short initial comment myself in which I said that I thought it excellent and worthy of reflecting on. With hindsight, I might have been better to have written a longer comment. That comment led to various comments strongly taking issue with Adams and this is helpful and appropriate. In a subsequent comment I stated that I didn’t agree with everything in it and that it was not a balanced piece of writing. My definition of polemic is along the… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

I see that I omitted a phrase. This sentence should read ‘You have no justification for assuming ‘rational debate was in itself considered obnoxious by supporters of the position put forth polemically by Adams’ is what I think’

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

You have no justification for assuming ‘rational debate was in itself considered obnoxious by supporters of the position put forth polemically by Adams’ is what I think’ I understand that to be the position enunciated by Gillis, for example in his words “This notion that the issues can be resolved by genteel class driven debate, […] is itself a sign and symptom of systemic racism.” “The lived and documented existential experience of marginalized and/or oppressed groups trumps the self interested rationalism of institutional life every single time” “I’m critiquing the notion of ‘rational debate’ used as a way of controlling… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

I do very often agree with Rod Gillis when he posts, but in this case I chose my words very carefully and nowhere did I use the word ‘agree’ when referring to Rod Gillis’ post in this instance. Thank you for the apology.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

Thanks for the clarification.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

“The notion of ‘rational argument’ is a fig leaf.” I regard that as pernicious nonsense. It is merely a rhetorical device by which people who are promoting nonsense or falsity avoid having the true nature of their utterances exposed. It is an explicit attempt to control the narrative, and to control it in the favour of the people using it. In short it is an attempt to control what people are allowed to say. I have commented at length on this elsewhere, under the name “Gilmartinism”. You align with those who reject the whole notion of rational argument, and choose… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard Pinch
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
7 months ago

“The experience of privileged clases is taken as normative”. I lead a privileged life. I can’t help that, neither am I going to apologise for it. But it does make it hard for me to know what it is to be without agency. Much easier to parrot the trite “all lives matter.” I admit to being conflicted by Jarel Robinson-Brown, but not by Michael Holding’s heartfelt and prophetic piece last summer:

https://news.sky.com/video/history-is-written-by-the-people-who-do-the-harm-cricket-commentators-view-of-white-privilege-12024274

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Allan Sheath
7 months ago

Thank you, Rod, for your thoughtful response. I am less conflicted by Jarel Robinson-Brown’s tweet than I was, and it’s good to know that Michael Holding’s prophetic piece resonates across the pond! Christians who have never experienced impotence can too easily fall into lazy sentimentality: emphasising love, forgiveness and mercy while failing to consider the moral force of rage and the desire for justice, particularly when emanating from individuals or groups with little agency.  As I expect you have guessed, my reason for not apologising for my privilege is that such an apology would not only be as undemanding as it… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Allan Sheath
7 months ago

Well, I’ve commented elsewhere on Jarel Robinson-Brown’s tweet, so I’ll confine myself to saying that I cannot see it as a “legitimate concise sharp prophetic mashal”. It surely is not a mashal — an allegory or parable intended to exemplify a point or explain a complex teaching. It’s a plain positive statement of the writer’s opinion about things in the world about us (and, as I have said, I believe it to be incorrect). Is it prophetic? I wouldn’t presume to declare, either way, although of course I have my opinion (which is “no”). I wonder how those who are… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

Executive summary: you decline to engage in rational debate with me on this topic. Thank you for making that clear. I have my own ideas, based on my own existential experience, why someone defending a controversial position might choose to avoid rational debate but I won’t elaborate them here. Your position is that you are entitled to enunciate propositions without debate. My position is that you are entitled to refute me, if you can, by reasoned discussion and evidence. Equally, we see a defence of the misuse of a technical term by telling us that it is “spot on”. I… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

The assertion in a single complete sentence “The notion of ‘rational argument’ is a fig leaf.” represents a complete thought and therefore applies to the speaker’s utterances as much as it does to others with whom they disagree. It’s not a critique, it’s a clear positive statement. So, what is the purpose of a discourse which in part uses the language of rational argument, but begins with and from the proposition that rational argument is a cover for something else? It means that such a dialogue is about something different from persuading others of the correctness of a point of… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

Is the lived experience of other something you want to exempt form reasonable but difficult conversation? Of course not. But that does not meaning exempting difficult conversation about the lived experience of others from being reasonable — not is the lived experience of individuals (be they kings, kaisers, corporals or curates) the only component of a reasoned discussion or assay. As for discerning the prophetic nature of statements, I’ve addressed that for you. It goes to the documented lived experience of marginalized groups leveraged against the word games deployed by defenders of the status quo. It may have been addressed, but… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

That is indeed a valid critique, and I hope that no-one who celebrates the gift of reason would be blind to those limitations. However, it does not seem to me that we should therefore fall into the opposite error of discounting it completely.

Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Excellent and inspiring piece from the Diocese of Oxford. Over half the regular attenders at our St. Margaret’s Edmonton online daily office are not from our parish. And we recently had two people add their names to our parish list, both of whom have started attending St. Margaret’s virtually. One lives close to the church, the other lives hundreds of miles away in Saskatchewan; she has had a tough time with churches in the past, and we are part of her ‘recovery’. I really believe that the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing today. It will not look like… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Tim Chesterton
Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Our online Sunday service is now averaging 69 attendees; we were averaging about 60 combined at our 2 services pre-pandemic. Among our new “regulars” — a family, 2d generation in the parish, who had not attended regularly because the wife is immuno-compromised; 2 adult children of parishioners now living in different parts of the country; several siblings of parishioners living elsewhere in the country; a local friend of a member who used to attend special occasions, like Lessons & Carols, and now attends almost every week; a recent immigrant looking for a local church; a person from the Bahamas who… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Jim Pratt
7 months ago

That’s fantastic, Jim! Thanks for sharing.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

One of the challenges of a shift to things online is that there is an awful lot of rubbish around the internet, put together by people with a keyboard and too much time on their hands. Reading that kind of stuff is no substitute for being part of a living, praying, worshipping community.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
7 months ago

And a living, praying, worshipping community is exactly what people are joining when they worship online with us. That’s what they tell us, anyway.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
7 months ago

I enjoyed Nicholas Henshall’s piece. I thought of Simone Weil’s essay on the need for roots. As an historian ( to PhD level) I was often struck as a DDO and POT tutor how little of the history of the Church of England ordinands and young clergy seemed to know. There is a growing gap in society I think between those who might have some sympathy for Goethe’s remark and those who skate through life with little historical routage. Curious also, though, is the self-conscious “nostalgia” he points to for earlier forms of Christian expression (younger RC priests embracing pre-Vatican… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
7 months ago

In the current debate about the financial viability of the Church, there is a tendency to disparage our historic parish churches, with their solid foundations and centuries of tradition, by referring to them simply as ‘buildings’. It is as though these iconic landmarks in every community were merely a collection of stones to be regarded as an encumbrance, a liability. But the body of Christ has gathered continuously over the last millennium in church, chapel or cathedral, with recognisably Christian symbols and identifiably Anglican practices. The jury may still be out on the long-term return on investment of strategic development… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
7 months ago

Ian Paul’s excellent article can be summarised as “managed decline”. At least he and the people he quotes approvingly are honest about it.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
7 months ago

I thought this might be a good place to comment on something which I have come to observe in debate around certain rather controversial topics, and which it seems to me is spreading within public discourse. I call it Gilmartinism. By way of introduction, let’s recall C.S. Lewis’s analysis of “Bulverism”. “At that moment”, E. Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard Pinch
Bob Edmonds
Bob Edmonds
Reply to  Richard Pinch
7 months ago

A very thoughtful observation, and sadly all too true,

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