Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 2 March 2019

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News The Lambeth Conference & Those 6 Evils…

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The DARVO phenomenon. How abusers blame and silence the abused

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Archbishop Justin invites all gay bishops to Lambeth 2020 – but refuses to invite their spouses

Ed Thornton Church Times What causes people to lose their faith?
“A combination of ingredients, preparation, and environment can lead to a crisis of faith”

Lynne Cullens Church Times A middle-class culture dominates the Church
“Barriers that hinder working-class people from responding to their call should be removed”

Opinion articles relating specifically to last week’s meeting of General Synod are in my article below.

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Revd Dean Henley
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Revd Dean Henley

Lynne Cullen’s article strikes a chord for me. My elderly parents stopped going to church several years ago after they’d attended their parish’s weekly cafe to attract those attending the market opposite the church. They sat down at a table where the only other diner was a young ordinand on placement, when my Dad greeted the young man, he looked up from his smart phone and then moved to another vacant table without a word to my parents. My Dad said “posh lad looked at us like we were poop on his shoe” (not his exact words). When I asked… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

What’s so revolutionary about Gay bishops being invited to Lambeth 2020? I am pretty certain that Gay cardinals will be invited to the next Conclave to elect Pope Francis’ successor!

Dean Henley
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Dean Henley

Wasn’t Cardinal Newman buried with his close (male) friend?

Similarly there will have been gay bishops at the Lambeth Conference since it first began. Some of them were probably huffing and puffing about the evils of contraception and the remarriage of divorcees too. All is vanity and a chasing after wind.

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

They were both priests of the Birmingham Oratory. The possibility of a homosexual relationship has been the subject of unnecessary conjecture, but no evidence of this has been found.

When an attempt was made at exhumation of Cardinal Newman’s remains for transfer into the Oratory Church, it was found that nothing was left of them.

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

“ The possibility of a homosexual relationship has been the subject of unnecessary conjecture, but no evidence of this has been found.“

What evidence would you want? Unwashed bedsheets? That the two loved each other so much they were buried together is pretty good evidence. After all-and this may surprise you- ‘homosexual relationships’ are first and foremost about love. Bit like heterosexual ones, but with less patriarchal baggage.

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

Father Andrew: How could you possibly post this reply to mine? Did you not note the words “unnecessary” conjecture (I don’t have a facility on TA to use italics or underlining to stress the word “unnecessary’ which I wish to emphasise). I was merely making the point that speculative accusations that Newman must have broken his vow of celibacy have not been substantiated and, as in the case of Bishop Bell, there is injustice in drawing inferences about a long-deceased person, in both of these cases, a priest. And, sorry to say, your use of the words “and this may… Read more »

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

Rowland, no personal offence is / was intended. Sadly your original post did not state that the scandal was that the accusation was that Newman had broken his oath of celibacy. It did’t mention vows. You might have said ‘the possibility of a sexual relationship’ which would have been a bit clearer (if he’d been accused of sleeping with a female housekeeper you’d be unlikely to have said ‘possibility of a heterosexual relationship’) It really does read as if it was a scandal to suggest Newman was gay (a 20th century word I know but a decent approximation for a… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

Rowland, I have never said that Newman “must have broken his vows of celibacy”. He may have done, or he may have been celibate. We must keep an open mind. But as to the necessity of discussing this. If Newman was in a long term same-sex loving but celibate relationship with St John, then he would be in the same category as Jeffrey John, and to compare and contrast the treatment of those two people might be interesting and useful in contemporary discussion. Similarly the fact that Newman spoke about his own relationship with St John as similar to a… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

Rowland Wateridge writes about Newman “They were both priests of the Birmingham Oratory. The possibility of a homosexual relationship has been the subject of unnecessary conjecture, but no evidence of this has been found.” Why is the conjecture “unnecessary”? Quotes by Cardinal Newman about his companion Father Ambrose St John, from letters and diaries. They lived together for 30 years. “From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.” He later added: “As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last…he was my earthly light.” He was “fair and Saxon-looking, my… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

Unfortunately there has been a technical problem at my end, and I re-wrote a reply to Father Andrew in the belief that my first reply was irrevocably lost. I don’t know which, if either, will appear here, but I don’t propose to engage any further in this discussion.

Revd Dean Henley
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Revd Dean Henley

I don’t know where to start. Isn’t it a little naive to think that religious people might not struggle and sometimes fail to keep their vows. The intensity of the Cardinal’s correspondence reported by Simon would seem to indicate that he and Ambrose were in love. As Fr. Andrew has pointed out without the bedsheets we’ll never know for sure if there was sexual intimacy in their relationship, but do we need to know, because does it matter if they were lovers? I’d be delighted to think the two old men slept together every night for all those years, and… Read more »

JayKay8
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JayKay8

I found Colin Coward’s subsequent piece about Honesty and Truthfulness in the Church very helpful in understanding the corporate dishonesty of the C of E bishops – I’ve seen from my own situation as a survivor of church abuse how dishonesty and cover-up seem normal to them – and how it distorts every aspect of Church life. More public conversation about this is definitely needed.

Cantab
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Cantab

Lynne Cullens’s article includes this “The people seen by the working class as role-models, to whom people in those communities can best respond, and who can understand, challenge, and connect with them, will come from a similar background and have similar life experience.” Is the same true for middle class communities? If so, does that mean that only working class priests should ever serve working class communities, and only middle class priests should ever serve middle class communities? I cannot believe that is what is being suggested, nor that this can be healthy for the church. This is not to… Read more »

David Rowett
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David Rowett

I am uneasy about the implied ‘class’ correspondence between minister and congregation (it’s a long time since I read Mission Shaped Church, but I was always uneasy about social/cultural homogeneity being lauded). I also wonder whether that’s a bigger issue in those places where there is clearer identification of class-skewed areas, be they in Godalming or Grimsby (I have no acquaintance with Godalming, but did work in Grimsby for a while). Paul’s mantra of ‘neither slave nor free’ and so on doesn’t sit too comfortably with a model of uniformity of social class, even if it is the reality in… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

The Methodist Church got this right once upon a time. The Church of England seems to me to be “institutionally middle class” – not that all the individuals are “classist” but that the assumptions on which the structures are based favour the people who can navigate them. The language of authorised liturgy also sets a tone. The Gospel has a different basis and the Gospels tell a different story, and if we want to be faithful, there is work to be done. The recent success of cathedrals is great, but for me it points to a cultural reference point, and… Read more »

John Swanson
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John Swanson

The Church Times article on people losing their faith seemed to deal with the whole subject purely in sociological/psychological terms. Isn’t that a bit worrying, because, if losing faith can be accounted for solely in human terms, doesn’t that suggest that finding faith can equally be solely accounted for in human terms?

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The article has a strong streak of Christian conceit. For some people, ‘losing their faith’ may actually be a positive intellectual even moral conversion. It may also be, in some circumstances, a stepping stone to, eventually, a more thoughtful, reasonable, and less doctrinaire faith stance. Besides, agnosticism and mysticism are close relatives.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

It’s an almost entirely USian, indeed a particular subset of USian, article. In 2011 the Barna Group published a report [1] on why young people were leaving “the church” (by which they pretty exclusively meant fundamentalist, conservative protestant churches). Although they claimed universality, they were mostly looking at monocultural small towns in the mid-West, parents who didn’t have much post-18 education and had not travelled widely, if at all, and youth who were the first generation to have had access to the Internet (as a proxy for libraries and outside ideas) and to higher education. Most subsequent talk of the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Insightful regarding US v.UK contexts, it is important not to underestimate how the notion of ‘biblical’ plays into the adequacy or not of a Christian heuristic framework. Many TA commentators (and not just the few conservatives) seem reluctant to move outside the ‘biblical’ frame of reference. I just looked over the book, Belief: (What it means to believe and why our convictions are so compelling), by James E. Alcock (York University, T.O.). Alcock’s point of view is answerable; but it will take much more than biblicism, liberal or conservative, to do so effectively–and to do so for people laying the… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

” In that sense, the issues raised in the article point beyond ‘Jesus land’ U.S.A.”

On reflection, I agree. And there is a tendency in beleaguered organisations to look to the faithful before you look to why people are rejecting your offer. That applies to Christianity but also applies to the Labour Party (all that internal fervour, all that electoral indifference) and to your local symphony orchestra (don’t upset the elderly audience, even if it means alienating everyone under sixty) and the end result is the same: avoiding dispute now while implicitly signing your own long-term death warrant.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“IT MATTERS whom we place as leaders in working-class communities.” There a very interesting piece of nuance there, which speaks volumes of how the author has been assimilated into the middle classes. The author talks, at some length, about “leaders” in working class communities. A very common trope in discussions of racial and ethnic tensions is communication with “community leaders”. But these are both about othering, and in other settings it would be colonial administrators talking to self-appointed “tribal leaders”. No-one laments the lack of “community leaders” who communicate on behalf of the middle-class residents of Hampstead: they are presumed… Read more »