Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 14 December 2019

Caroline Starkey & Grace Davie LSE Religion and Global Society Silence and Words: Unexpected Responses to a Gay Bishop

The Fence Diary of an Urban Parson
“True and affecting vignettes from the life and times of the Reverend J J Cowan, from which the reader may discern much of the happy state of the Church of England in our nation’s fair capital”
[first of a series]

Lucy Winkett New Statesman It’s always a risk walking around this time of year with a dog collar on. People might ask you things

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Wellbeing, Leadership and ‘The Other’

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Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
11 months ago

Simon’s piece is all rather motherhood and apple pie. What is the use of a study that only focusses on younger clergy and the recently ordained? He alludes to a less ‘rosy’ picture for those of us in our early 50’s but that’s as far as it goes. In purely numerical terms aren’t we the largest cohort?

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
11 months ago

The study has been commissioned by MinDiv as a longitudinal study of a cohort of people from ordination. These folk are now I think 9 years into ministry.
The Covenant group which is a separate piece of work, and which I chaired, is a form of benchmarking. As such, it may be motherhood and apple pie, but we are keen to see everyone – clergy, congregations and those in oversight roles – embrace motherhood and eat the apple pie.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
11 months ago

The Starkey/Davie paper is mirrored by my own experience of living openly as a partnered gay man within the church for the past 20 years, the last three as an openly married Lay Minister. The vast majority of people I meet inside and outside the church are totally supportive of our relationship, and relaxed about the issue of sexuality.

Unfortunately because free and open debate about homosexuality is rare within the church, my perception is that many church leaders are unaware of this, and are often surprised when documents such as these Grantham letters illustrate this so clearly.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

Bishop Nicholas is not the only gay or lesbian bishop in the CofE in a relationship with a same sex partner. The newspaper ought not to have threatened to ‘out’ Bishop Nicholas but having outed himself it seems it has been a positive experience for him and his life partner. I think the great British public assume that a significant proportion of bishops and clergy are gay, lesbian or bisexual and seem altogether indifferent to the matter. In the 21st century being closeted seems an odd position to be in, and I wish Bishop Nicholas’ LGB colleagues would also be… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago

When i was ADDO I asked the poor dears if they’d read Issues in Human Sexuality. They said they had. I couldn’t comment on any swearing but I suspect a fair bit went on.

John Wallace
John Wallace
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

Most of us, whatever our sexuality, ordained or lay, high church or evangelical or in between or unlabelled, want to get on with the work of witnessing to the love of God in Christ to a needy world. These endless debates just detract from our primary task. The more we navel (genital?) gaze, the less effective is our witness to those without who, as Starkey/Davie evidence, are not at all concerned about the issue. The sad (for me) election result has shown what happens to those who seek doctrinal purity above all else. They fail in their primary task –… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
11 months ago

I just need to agree with Urban Parson’s observation when he just prayed for urban bees. We just need to tell our evangelical brethren just to cut down the length of their prayers when they just need to start every petition with “just”. This just drives me mad and just puts me off prayer entirely. If only other brethren would just tell them to just shut up.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavidH

FrDavid, what a good thing that you’re so entirely free of foibles and eccentricities. As am I, of course. Not like those evangelicals over there.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
11 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

I just don’t understand why all evangelicals share this strange foible. Just saying.

Tim Chesterton
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

I would like to respectfully suggest that the over-use of the word ‘just’ in prayer (which is not, by the way, a foible that ‘all’ evangelicals share) may offend against good taste and decorum, but there’s no evidence it causes real harm to a person’s Christian discipleship. The continual habit of ridiculing people of another spiritual tradition, on the other hand, is cause for a lot more concern.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

‘All’ evangelicals don’t share this foible. I can’t see it’s any worse than the ‘in God through Christ’ that many bishops keep tossing into their statements.

As for the ‘just’ and ‘would’, I think in extempore prayer they serve the purpose of affording the person praying a second or two to form the next phrase of their prayer. So maybe it enables people who would otherwise not be confident or articulate, to express themselves to God.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavidH

Fr David, I find the inappropriate use of the word ‘would’ in almost every petition equally irksome: we would just ask you Lord … All delivered in a breathy Jesus is my best boyfriend ever voice.

Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago

A wise Cistercian of Roscrea (Mount St Joseph’s) told me of his brother, also an Irish priest, ending the intercessions at mass with “and I suppose we’d better pray for the fecker [an Irish term, almost of endearment] that pinched my bike last week”. That’s my sort of prayer.

Tim Chesterton
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavidH

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!”

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
11 months ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

I take it you object to Urban Parson’s very humorous article.

Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

I’m not a laugh-out-loud sort of guy, but that made me – twice: the episode at mass (which is quite authentic in my case but without the f word which was implicit rather than explicit – just as well given that the mike was on), and the twitter label. It never takes me long to ascend to the scatological: it’s truly incarnational.

Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

I forgot to add that the account of the prayer meeting was spot on for Burton on Trent. Apart from me (I suppose PrayerBookCommonWorship catholic would do as a label) all the rest, including the other CoEs, were like “Matt”. I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons (please absolve me for my sins), except for the objectionable “mine’s bigger than your’s” competitiveness with regard to numbers, events, and length of prayers. My contributions were very brief, and often PB collects from memory.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

If you mean me, I found the Urban Parson article funny. He or she gently satirises both evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, and without malice. What I don’t like is people from one tradition saying people of a different tradition should ‘just shut up’, and the assumption that all people from any given wing of the Church share the same irritating habits. Some do, some don’t. I might roll my eyes a bit at the repeated ‘justs’ and ‘reallys’, but these people are doing their best to pray. Just as Stanley is when he recites a BCP collect while other people are… Read more »

Tim Cnesterton
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Actually I rather enjoyed it.

RPNewark
RPNewark
11 months ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

Amen!

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
11 months ago
Reply to  RPNewark

I notice Urban Parson’s colleague Fr Julian charitably allows his server Fernando to “lodge” with him. We all know what that means! For years, Anglo-Catholics have found much amusement in poking fun at their own tradition. It’s in this same vein I’d claim it’s not disrespectful to say I find evangelicals incredibly funny.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavidH

“Just” functions in part as punctuation. It is not so irritating in this role as “Lord” and “Father” (in some idioms strictly alternated) or of “Jesus”. In settings where extempore prayer is used (and some traditions use this less in public and in groups than others) punctuation is necessary – where words which should carry weight are used as punctuation (in any tradition) their force is diluted when they are used with purpose. I would advise using other means of punctuation. Silence, for example. “Just” also sounds as though it expresses uncertainty or doubt in relation to the scope of… Read more »

Kate
Kate
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark Bennet

The biggest problem with most intercessions is that there is no follow up to share with the fellowship which prayers were answered. Without that discipline it encourages the view that prayers aren’t,in fact, answered.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
11 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I prayed “Hail Mary full of grace, please find me a parking space” on a recent visit to ASDA. It worked.

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
11 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, one thing we try to do in my parish is, when someone comes off the prayer list (without moving to the prayers for the departed), we include them one last time “we give thanks for healing for X” or something similar.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Pratt

Presumably when they are moved to ‘the departed’ the prayers had failed.

Simon Kershaw
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

That depends what was prayed for, doesn’t it?

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
11 months ago

The Starkey/Davies LSE paper is significant in that, I suspect, Bishop Chamberlain will be the last person in his personal circumstances to be appointed to a bishopric for the foreseeable future, despite the considerable skills and humanity he brings to the role. Pyong Yang won’t make that ‘mistake’ twice in a row. The Wash House will already have seconded someone from MI6 to mount 24/7 surveillance on those lucky enough to have made it on to the list who do not possess a wedding ring. In my experience, it’s the people with wedding rings that need watching the most! Talking… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
11 months ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

MI6? I believe it’s now SIS – Sanctuary Intelligence Services. As opposed to MI5, more correctly BSS – Bedroom Surveillance Services. GCHQ – open to offers for the most fitting decryption….

Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

BB, quite delicious. How much longer for Mrs Redfern at what was the Wash House?

Gilo
Gilo
11 months ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

Good to hear that safeguarding was a crucial part of interview process. Hope this also encompassed sorting out and redeeming the response to survivors (let the reader understand….) Let’s hope the next Ab York brings change of culture across the senior layer of the CofE. And an end to the strategic #RunForTheHills by bishops and archbishops from abuse survivors. The line above formed my tweet to the Ab Canterbury and the next Ab York this morning. Was encouraged to see the first like the tweet received was…. Rochester Diocese! There’s hope if a diocesan twitter account can allign itself with… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
11 months ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

“on those lucky enough to have made it on to the list who do not possess a wedding ring”

I think one of the most toxic things about the sexuality debates in the Church is the manner in which the mundane sexual sins of the married heterosexual become pretty much completely invisible.

Fr John Harris-White
Fr John Harris-White
11 months ago

Parliament is seeing the back end of Jeremy Corbyn. From the good hearing of Bill over his pint it seems that it would be a good day when we see the back end of Justin Welby

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
11 months ago

‘We just need to tell our evangelical brethren just to cut down the length of their prayers when they just need to start every petition with “just”.’

This is a trans-Atlantic phenomenon since this usage is very common in the United States in non-liturgical churches. I’d be curious to know where this usage first started and when it migrated over the Atlantic.

It is commonly referred to in the U.S. by those that don’t like this usage as “Jesus Wejus” prayers.

John N Wall
John N Wall
11 months ago

You folks have gotten tied up in language and church politics and completely avoided Lucy Winkett’s fine piece about Christmas.

I think it is brilliant in both the English and the American senses of the word, really on target about the Christmas stories and their power to communicate truths about being human that we often desperately seek to avoid.

I’m not preaching at Christmas but if I were, I would tell Lucy’s story of the nativity set.

John Wall
John Wall
11 months ago
Reply to  John N Wall

Giving Lucy full credit for the story, of course!

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