Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 15 January 2020

The Fence Diary of an Urban Parson
The Reverend J J Cowan goes on a ‘modulated exploratory learning course’.

Mtr Kate St Chrysostom’s Church News and Views Compassion easier than Justice …

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – The Importance of Speaking the Truth

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Church’s Dark Secret – Reflections

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Janet FifeCynthia KatsarelisRod GillisFrDavid HStanley Monkhouse Recent comment authors
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Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Mtr Kate’s piece: “there will never be peace until there is justice” is a message I pick up from a truly great encyclical, oft forgot, Pacem in Terris, John XXIII, http://www.vatican.va/content/john-xxiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem.html

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Indeed a great encyclical. However, Catholic social teaching derived from Papal Encyclicals is often under appreciated within Catholicism. Consider the controversy surrounding the Medellin Conference of 1968 and its theological legacy. Happily, the encyclicals and the principles that go with them are often appreciated not just by Christians but by people of other faiths too. (see link).
https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/jewish-economist-says-catholic-social-teaching-his-moral-compass

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Medellin and Puebla were hugely significant events, and you see the efforts of central power to control and try to keep hold of the agenda, because a truly radical gospel for the poor is deeply threatening. The idea of a preferential option for the poor is even more relevant today than it was back then. To be honest, in a venn diagram, there must be big overlaps between Christianity and Marxism. Theare are also lessons to be learnt, I think, around Church organisation and networks of Christian base communities who become bridgeheads for social change in the Church from the… Read more »

Jayne Ozanne
Guest
Jayne Ozanne

The question I have put to Simon Butler about his piece is ‘what is the gold’ in a theology that has caused so many of us such harm? Indeed, having ‘come from that stable’ and suffered under its teaching I and others know only too well that there is no gold, but certainly a lot of fear and in my opinion spiritual abuse. For me, the trouble with LLF is that for many of those involved with it, including those leading it, this is all ‘new’ while for those of us who have lived it it is all very very… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

And this was my response: Asking “what is the gold?” is the right question to ask and the answer is, “I don’t know.” In the first instance, we must wait for LLF to be published to see what insights it offers from a conservative perspective (recognising that there are multiple voices in that one descriptor). The key point I am making – I think! – is that if I approach LLF in an open-hearted way, as I think I must because of the generosity of the offering of those who have prepared it – then I should be open to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Isn’t the key test: grace? People will still have diverse views, but the key question is: can we love each other? The exit from this whole face off is to agree that people have different conscientious views, but are still one in Christ. If we can’t do that then I think we all know where the door is. I’m just not convinced that ‘being right’ is the final test in all this. I think the final test is finding grace to find unity in all our diversity. By unity in diversity, I mean believing the very best of people with… Read more »

Jayne Ozanne
Guest
Jayne Ozanne

I would suggest our primary focus should actually be on “being safe”, especially when we know certain teachings cause great harm to the vulnerable LGBTI+ youth in our midst.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Jayne, I believe that construction of safer church culture can begin in ‘base churches’ within the institution that insist on being radically inclusive, and put that into practice ‘bottom up’. The problem with insisting on ‘one way’ for all churches, with no compromise to take account of different views of conscience over human sexuality, is that we don’t move on. Either the status quo continues for another 50 years, to appease conservative social/theological views… Or the Church ends in schism. Most people do not want that. So my view is that extreme positions at either end of the sexuality debate… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

”Jayne, I believe that construction of safer church culture can begin in ‘base churches’ within the institution that insist on being radically inclusive, and put that into practice ‘bottom up’.”

No, no and thrice no. It is – or at least can be – a form of spiritual abuse. To suggest that people should only be safe in some churches is a truly awful suggestion.

If a vulnerable teen wanders into their local church – quite possibly the only one they can get to – they [strong]must[/strong] be safe.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Susannah. I am with Jayne on this. The priority must be safety and safeguarding the vulnerable. It is all very well arguing that, following unity in diversity, we should consent to the continuing existence of churches which preach and teach a conservative line that same sex activity is sinful. If we could do that whilst keeping everybody safe I would be happy to consent to their activities, but I don’t think we can keep people safe. I think Jayne’s argument, from her personal experience and extensive research, is along the same lines. Such conservative churches will often have within their… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Simon, I truly agree with your concerns, and Kate’s and Jayne’s. How could I not? But I am proposing a way forward, that the Church as a whole might get behind. What do any of you propose, to achieve this wonderful, almost magical outcome? Because otherwise, I just think it’s talk and ideals without any actual outcome. Please, someone, tell me the course of action you propose to make this happen. I’ve proposed one course of action. Someone set out a better one, with actual outcomes you require (that is, all the churches in the Church of England where gay… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Susannah. I have faith that change is possible, and on it’s way, even in Evangelical/Conservative churches. We forget that Centuries ago the church was in favour of slavery, and argued from scripture to oppose abolition, but look at it now. Should those arguing for abolition have agreed to “unity in diversity” and consented to those in favour of slavery being allowed to keep their slaves? I remember in my own lifetime when an Asian family moved into my street in Oxford, it was the local Anglican priests who objected, and wanted to “Keep Wytham Street White”. That is unthinkable now.… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Susannah, suppose that the Church is a ship. What you are proposing is that some lifeboats will be modern and safe but others, because some people prefer a traditional design, will be known to compromise the safety of those innocents unlucky enough to be by them. It is obviously wrong, obviously immoral, obviously not Christian to allow such a situation.

If there are people in the Church who aren’t willing to put the safety and integrity of LGBT people ahead of their own dogma, then a schism in which they leave is the least bad outcome.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Jayne, you rightly use the term “abuse” and once again the Church has a) failed to recognise that it is abuse b) has no effective plan to stop it and believes talking is a valid way forward and c) has no plans to help those who have been victims of the abuse. Telling people it is sinful to be gay or sinful to need to align sexual physiology with one’s gender leaves deep scars as many of us know. I think Simon is wrong. I don’t see Living in Love and Faith as anything other than an avoidance tactic to… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

I can see that as a member of the Archbishops’ Council Simon has a good deal invested in LLF and in it being perceived as groundbreaking. I think Jayne is right; as LGBTQ people we have been let down so many times by the bishops and Synod that we should reserve our judgement. Furthermore it is one thing to find gold in the report; quite another for the bishops and General Synod to enact real change. A little bird told me that the Archbishops’ Council had commissioned an expensive piece of research to find out whether the Church’s teaching on… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Young people find the Church’s teaching on sexuality (that gay sex is banned) disgusting. As someone who’s been working with 1200 teenagers in a large secondary school – as a transgender nurse – I can assure you that the vast majority of young people are strongly supportive of their gay and lesbian friends, and are outraged if anyone acts homophobic towards their friends. Condemning gay sexuality is contrary to their values and seen as an affront. The Church’s position (gay people should not have sex) is seen as just weird and freaky, and the really sad thing is it then… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

Thanks Fr Dean. We did commission some independent research on attitudes to the church and Christianity in general, not specifically on sexuality. The research was not aimed at attitudes of young people but the whole population. What was informative was that neither safeguarding nor sexuality – the main concerns of churchgoers – were particularly significant. The key issue was total irrelevance. I can fully understand the desire to reserve judgement by some, but I would caution about claiming that this is the view of us all in the LGBT+ community. We are a diverse bunch and I find that, even… Read more »

Jayne Ozanne
Guest
Jayne Ozanne

How interesting that the Church has conducted this research.

I ran the Listening Programme when I came onto Archbishops’ Council in 1999. It came up with exactly the same findings – the report summary concluded virtually exactly the same find that Simon stated above.

I was told ‘I had listened to the wrong people’ and the research was dismissed.

That was 20 years ago

Nothing has changed save young people’s attitudes to the Church have hardened….

Gerry Reilly
Guest
Gerry Reilly

“Compassion is easier than justice”. Amen! Amen! Amen! When will the Church really stand up for the rejects of our society, the ones we prefer not to talk about? Are food banks, long waiting lists for mental health treatment, and immigration laws that favour the wealthy, signs of a Christian society? What are the Church’s priorities? We need more irritants like Ken Leech, and Trevor Huddleston, and Desmond Tutu, and Dorothy Day, to proclaim the redeeming of creation from the dominations and powers that are not of God.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘When I give bread to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no bread they call me a communist.’ Dom Helder Camara

Kate
Guest
Kate

Hear, hear Gerry

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

At the end of The Church’s Dark Secret part 2 there were some reflections on where the church had got to with safeguarding – and it sounds as though lots of progress has been made, with more necessary. But safeguarding is only part of the story: it would be a great deal better to reflect on safeguarding together with the treatment of victims and survivors. There are two main reasons for this – first that there are a number of victims and survivors who have been badly treated, and we need to remember that every human being is equally loved… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I’m loving the ‘Diary of an Urban Parson!’ Strangely reminiscent, stylistically, of the ‘Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass’, although of course very different in content.

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

It reminded me very firmly of the Rev Adam Smallbone.

The Fence Magazine
Guest
The Fence Magazine

We’re delighted that the adventures of the Rev JJ are proving to be such a hit.

In his next outing, he make an ill-advised appearance in the local newspaper and gets into yet another spat with Matt from God³… If you want more JJ, and more trivial treats beside, please do subscribe to the magazine. We have embarked upon the foolhardy endeavour of being a ‘print-first’ publication in this digital age!

TF

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Sadly, I’m in Canada, and mailing costs for print media from the UK are always prohibitive for me.

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

Stephen Parsons has a different recollection of the cowboy films of his childhood to that of mine. He remembers good cowboys rooting out and often killing the bad cowboys. I remember cowboys portrayed as being good, killing the indigenous people the Indians who were almost always portrayed as being bad. Occasionally a silly squaw would fall for the charms of the ‘good’ cowboy, but it never ended well for her. Life imitating art?

Kate
Guest
Kate

I also question whether settling disputes with guns is a good moral model for children.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

I suspect many clergy would regard such a model for the settling of disputes (flower rota, hymn choices, and such and such) with wild enthusiasm.

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

Stan, the thought of you riding up to the vestry door tying your horse up to the drainpipe and then swaggering into church with your Stetson on and spurs spinning will make me smile all morning.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

A pleasant daydream on True Grit 1969:
Bishop: [cross-examining me] How many men have you shot since you became a vicar, Mr Monkhouse?
Me: I never shot nobody I didn’t have to.
Bishop: That was not the question. How many?
Me: Uh … shot or killed?
Bishop: Oh, let’s restrict it to “killed” so we may have a manageable figure.
Wakes up. Sighs. Where there’s death, there’s hope.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

hahha You kill me Stanley…..pun intended.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those I had to kill because they pissed me off.’

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

My sister has just retired from a career as an archaeologist in New Mexico. Western films (and TV) present a mythological view of the Old West which is almost entirely wrong. In her area of the Southwest at least, there was seldom a clear dichotomy between cowboys and Indians – many of the cowboys were Native Americans. Agnes Morley Cleaveland’s fascinating memoir No Life For a Lady describes what it was like growing up in the Wild West. Her brother, one of the last great cattle ranchers, ran a ranch on which almost all his employees were Navajos.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

From what I’ve read black men were up to 25% of all the cowboys in the American West. That was never part of Westerns on TV or movies.

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

The TV show Timeless did a nice episode on this, featuring the (black) likely inspiration for the Lone Ranger, Bass Reeves.

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

Richard Holloway has often compared the life of Jesus to the enigmatic figure who rides into a Western town and sorts out the bad men after he’s been appointed temporary Sheriff. He’s seen at the end riding off into the sunset with people wondering who he was.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

In other words, a riff on High Plains Drifter with Clint Eastwood. ” we love you preacher….” etc.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I realized after I posted this that the Eastwood Movie I was thinking about was not High Plains Drifter but rather Pale Rider. ( closing lines by actor Sydney Margaret Penny’s character Megan Wheeler, ” Preacher? Preacher? we love you preacher… I love love you…Good bye”) Oh well, Eastwood’s movies are somewhat like what Neil Young says about his songs, ” They are all the same song…” lol.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

Wow! Such an interest in Westerns! My personal favorite is Blazing Saddles. Here in Denver, we are in the middle of our yearly “Western Stock Show.” If you ever want to see the real deal, that’s the time to come. We have a guest room.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Right on Fr. Henley. Classic Hollywood westerns are stereotypical colonial racism. There is a very good documentary made by Cree producer Neil Diamond titled, Reel Injun, which documents the same. I’ve seen it. Very poignant. See link.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reel_Injun