Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 13 November 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Church as a Refuge. Reflections on a proposed Conference

Savi Hensman Equal Relationships, 40 years on

Ian Blair ViaMedia.News Remembrance, Inclusion & Identity

Laudable Practice Praying for the parish is more important that praying for the diocese

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Fr John Harris-White
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Fr John Harris-White

It is good to see that the prayers of the church are being used in the great prayer for the church. I agree the words resonate as we pray for this congregation here present, and have done down the years. I feel we should also pray for our Bishop, whose cure the priest shares. My one great moan and pain is those churches and even cathedrals who fail to use the intercessions prescribed, and you are left to a person leading the prayers from the Sunday paper, or often a reflection from the sermon. We suffer thus at St Mary’s… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I have always been amused by the BCP prayer, ‘Almighty and everlasting God, who alone workest great marvels; send down upon our bishops…the healthful Spirit of thy grace.’

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Except that the intercessions are not prescribed in Common Worship- what is provided is but an example of what might be done / prayed. I am more concerned about Churches where the service includes no intercessions at all – very common in certain sorts of church I observe….

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Savi’s article mentions the following publication called: “The Church and the Homosexual” by John J McNeill, a Jesuit. I do remember reading this book around the time it was published (1997?) and being struck by its absolute reasonableness, at a time when the Church was struggling with the whole subject of the Church and homosexuality. I’m not sure whether this book is still available, but it would be well worth the effort to find and read it.

Leslie Buck
Guest
Leslie Buck

I thank Ian Blair for extending the scope of our remembrance. Britain did not stand alone. While every death represented a tragic event for her or his relatives and friends, in proportional terms Britain lost relatively few of its people. I lived through the London blitz of the Second World War, the buzz bombs and the rockets, but I did not know any one British person who died as a direct consequence of the war. I feel distressed on every Remembrance Day by the unauthentic sentimentality that surfaces. My father was conscripted during the war, as were several of my… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I think it’s a difficult thing. In some ways I think, yes, remembrance celebrations have been fetishized. But that said, loss in combat can have a profoundly shocking effect on families that resonates down through the years. I never met my uncle because at the age of 22 he was killed in Burma. But I know very well that in some ways my mother and family never got over that. He was the eldest son, with everything to live for, and it tore much of the joy out of that family. Even now, over 75 years later, I still come… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

At least in your country, Remembrance Day is still about honoring and remembering those who died in war. In the US, what used to be called Armistice Day in a nod to peace has been renamed Veterans Day, and is now a very militaristic display of devotion to the armed forces.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think England is heading that way too. In Scotland it all feels much more low key

Tim Chesterton
Guest

In Canada we still call it Remembrance Day but the focus is almost entirely on military personnel. I think we Christians need to protest against this vociferously. Far more civilians have been killed in war than military personnel.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I certainly agree that the Church of England should be very vocal on that point, Tim, but fear this is an area where establishment compromises the pursuit of Christian principles.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Senior clergy have largely failed to correct the mistaken belief among much of the public that this is how Christians generally think.” But it is the way English Christians generally think. Same-sex marriage is not recognised by any of the major denominations, and the churches in which it is possible for a same-sex couple to marry are small. Indeed, the only denomination of any size which performs same-sex marriage and is unequivocally Christian (in the Trinitarian, Nicene Creed sense) is the URC; the other two significant groupings are the Society of Friends and some Unitarians. It is not unreasonable for… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Linda’s figures suggest at least half of Church of England members are in favour of gay and lesbian marriage. Indeed the gap in favour is likely to have widened in the 5 years since then, based on the more conservative views of the elderly who pass on, and the more progressive views of younger people coming to adulthood. With regard to the issue of gay sexuality (removing the arguably more contentious issue of marriage), there must be a considerably larger majority in the Church of England who accept and affirm gay and lesbian relationships. With this in mind, when a… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

“the more conservative views of the elderly”. This is not, on the whole, my pastoral experience. The elderly have seen a fair bit of real life and tend not rush to judgment, especially if they’re farmers and observe animal behaviour. It’s the zealous youth that go for intransigence – those who miss out on real life by being involved in churchy stuff most of the time. They need to cast out into the deep. Church is for old people. I’ll get my coat.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Actually that is a really good counter-argument. I have certainly known that mindset in some older people I’ve met. It was my mother’s attitude in old age, when one of my brother’s came out as gay to her. ‘Live and let live. You’re still you. As long as you’re happy, that’s all I care.’ Thank you for raising that Stanley. I think it can go either way. I’m not sure what the stats are. I may have rushed to judgment myself. My experience of working with thousands of teenagers in schools – both as teacher and more recently as school… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

Stanley, as a 77 year old, I entirely agree with you. My lifetime experience of teaching undergraduate students confirmed that many were intransigent and judgemental BUT a book or a new argument sympathetically put could change all that. In my final year of teaching, I was talking about Monica Ali’s ‘Brick Lane’ to a first year group which had just that effect. I would demur with your view that Church is for old people. It need not be but the point that IO makes abouit his children’s generation has to be faced up to. I’ll join you outside.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

“Church is for old people”. The twinkle in my eye doesn’t easily transfer into print. I too taught students – anatomy/embryology to medical students in my case. It’s instructive to see how male and female have bits of each other’s primordial genitalia inside, how a gonad can develop into testis or ovary or (very rarely) a bit of both, how the scrotum is in effect labia majora sewn together, how the female is the default position, and so on, and remain narrow minded. It was an eye opener to me to encounter a conservative “Christian” student who was shocked to… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Stanley, as a mere 90 year-old, I find your biological wisdom here so refreshing! Keep it up!

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Ron, it’s worth remembering that we are primates, apes, mammals, vertebrates, chordates. It could be said that we are basically reptiles (some people seem stuck at that stage) whose shell-laying organ in females has been modified to afford embryonic protection inside the maternal body. The 1662 marriage service has it right in using the term “brute beasts” (I wish someone had asked me to use that service) except that other animals often behave better than we humans. At our peril do we forget that we are “creatures of this earth” in the words of a collect that I always used… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I concur with Stanley. Often students, especially Christian Unions, are particularly dogmatic against same sex marriage.

I think Susannah is also wrong when she says that same sex marriage is more contentious than gay and lesbian sex. I think among evangelical Christians it is the other way around. Relationships, especially marriage, are accepted so long as they are celibate.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Christian Unions dogmatic? No, I never heard of such a thing 🙂

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

My experience of CUs was a college branch of CICCU 1969-72. I went occasionally for free lunch. I felt as if they wanted to reprogram my brain in accordance with the la-la-land that they inhabited, a bit like, I imagine, what went on in the Hitler Youth. It was the nearest thing to spawn of Satan that I’ve encountered. For the record, I think people should play with their own and each other’s genitals as they wish in the pursuit of delight, so long as nobody is exploited. I’ve said so from the pulpit. Nobody batted an eyelid. If I… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I think that it’s obvious that Christian Unions at university are overseen by a national organisation that is on the dogmatic wing of evangelicalism. In addition, yes, we all know that some young people at some evangelical churches disapprove of gay sexuality. But these young people are a clear minority of young people generally, and even of young people across the wide range of churches that constitute the Church of England. Across the wider Church of England at large, attitudes reflect the change that has taken place in society: more and more, people have come to accept gay sexuality in… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

I have found that the older members of my own family had prejudices of many sorts because that is what they grew up with. But once they met someone they had thought of as different, their opinion changed because the “other” was no longer an idea, but now a person.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

IO “But it is the way English Christians generally think.” I wonder how you know this? I am continually coming across Christians have moved in their own thinking and theology, or are wanting too – but are struggling to find trusting and open places where discussion can happen or who belong in church communities (of all traditions) where debate is simply not facilitated or felt too risky and divisive to allow. This leads me to believe that there is a large ‘middle ground’ of people in the church, including evangelicals, who are open and affirming but lacking a voice in… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

IO “But it is the way English Christians generally think.” I wonder how you know this? By their continued acquiescent membership of churches which reject same-sex relationships. In other news, it’s reasonable to assume that members of the Brexit Party are not quiet remainers. If English Christians disagreed with the CofE on something as central to its recent narrative as same-sex marriage they would either leave or campaign for change. Martin Luther King is, again, apposite. If ever an organisation was devoted more to order than to justice, preferring a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I would hesitate to draw the conclusion that people who continue to be part of the C of E all agree with its current position on same-sex marriage. I’m a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada and I certainly don’t agree with every policy of our national church. But I see every Christian denomination as a rusty bucket, and there’s no such thing as a perfect community. I’m still an Anglican because it’s been my spiritual home for 61 years and on the whole it’s still a blessing to me. And where I disagree with it, I’ll either say… Read more »

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

Members of the Brexit Party must have joined recently and for no other reason than to support Brexit. Long standing members of Conservative or Labour Social Clubs, on the other hand, may choose to remain members for the social aspects regardless of their current political views. People join and remain in Churches without any endorsement of the views of its leaders. Many disagree with the CofE on pretty much everything central, or even peripheral, to its “recent narrative”. They do not leave because, to them, the recent narrative is unimportant, in comparison to a longer view. They do not campaign… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

By the time of the 2016 British Social Attitudes Survey, only 16% of British Anglicans were in sync with the Church of England’s official position – that same-sex sexual relationships are always wrong (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/24117). I do not think most of those in Britain who identify as Anglicans see the official line on sexuality as central to church membership, especially since many parish churches and chaplaincies are inclusive in practice. However I was mainly flagging up the widespread notion that churches believe that biblical passages, on their own, generally offer clear guidance on knotty questions.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

They do campaign for change, Interested Observer, as you’ll have surely noted if only from commenting on a site hosting much thought from a liberal Angelican perspective. I’ll never criticize those who leave, but neither will I knock those who prefer to stay and attempt internal reform: if they’d left over, say, equal ordination, then England would still have an all-male priesthood. As others have said, the Brexit Party exists to effect E.U. secession. That’s its Alpha and Omega. The CofE’s better compared to the Labour Party or the Democrats, a broad church with some policies that members furiously disagree… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

IO Once again I think you are understating just how much is already going on. I know of a number of Christians who have left their churches or are trying to open the debates there, at some personal cost. I really admire those who do. But I think you also underestimate what leaving a church asks of people. Not all are natural leaders or campaigners. Alternative spiritual homes are hardly two a penny in this country. It is a very public thing to do, leaving a local community in which you and your family may have been very involved for… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“But I think you also underestimate what leaving a church asks of people”

Many early Christians were martyred. To suggest that leaving a church to support Christian values is a big ask shows how far we have fallen.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

St. Paul talks about the pain of being deserted by comrades. He also lists travelling, being beaten, imprisonment, going hungry, and exposure among the things he has suffered for Christ. It’s not as if being slaughtered is the only thing that counts in our efforts to follow Jesus. I have left a church which was getting into shepherding (in the late 70s) and it was a costly thing to do. In the 70s I was ostracised by all my teenage friends for reporting the youth leader’s misbehaviour. It was an intensely painful experience. So I agree with David that we… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Yes I agree Janet. Thank you for the stands you took at real cost. Of course in times when discipleship was dangerous and costly in the early churches there were the courageous martyrs but others lapsed from faith or compromised to different degrees and the churches agonised over whether such folk could be re-baptised. There has never been a perfect age of committed faith in the church. It doesn’t help to speak as if there was.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I remember when living in the UK as long ago as 1970 when, at the Institute of Christian Studies at All Saints, Margaret St., in our Chritian Ethics seminar, being party to an open discussion of homosexuality by people of all ages. As I still remember, this did not frighten the horses! We were quite grown up about it all – even then.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I think, in many areas of the Church of England’s life, an attempt is made to sweep the controversial disagreements about human sexuality under the carpet and – where possible – to avoid mentioning gay and lesbian couples. Look at many diocesan websites and you will be hard-pressed to find links and articles, leading young people to LGBT support in the Church, or celebrating/mentioning gay partners in the way mention may be made of other husbands or wives. I suspect this is done with the believed ‘good intention’ of avoiding further divide or exacerbating church relations. What we often have… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

I wonder if prayers for the diocese and wider church are less important now because so many parishes simply do not agree with the diocesan bishop. We hear of parishes that are associating with like-minded parishes in other dioceses or are shutting themselves off from affiliation with everyone else. Parishes are refusing to keep current with their diocesan assessment and instead funnel money to a group which shares their own views.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

You are right, Richard, that some parishes are cutting themselves off from their dioceses and associating with like minded parishes in their own and other dioceses. This has been prevalent since 1992, when the ordination of women priests was voted through, and provision was made in the subsequent Act of Synod for Provincial Episcopal Visitors to serve such parishes. But the PEVs only function in any diocese by the gracious permission of the diocesan bishop, and there is no excuse for such parishes failing to pray for the diocese or for their Ordinary, the diocesan bishop. The system has been… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Michael Hampson’s “Last Rites” prophesied such a scenario. And more.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Yes Malcolm…extended episcopal care shifted to alrernative episcopal oversight to the See of X. With male priests ordained by female bishops the separateness will undoubtedly harden.