Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 27 November 2019

Charles Foster Surviving Church Smyth, Fletcher, Iwerne, and the theology of the divided self

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News A Call to “Take Sides”!

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David LammingJanet FifeDavid RuncornAnneStanley Monkhouse Recent comment authors
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Kate
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Kate

I usually enjoy Paul Bayes’ writing but I feel this lacks substance. Maybe it is how I am reading it.

John Swanson
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John Swanson

I felt that, if one reads things for the overall impression rather than the detailed textual analysis, Bayes is conveying the message “you should at least think about voting Labour”, whereas, by the same token, Welby’s contribution to the antisemitism furore earlier this week was conveying the message “you shouldn’t vote Labour”.

Kate
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Kate

I think you are right about their respective likely voting intentions

Father Ron Smith
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Charles Foster’s revelations on his Iwerne experience are horrifying. And to think that the victims were the ‘cream’ of England’s public schools says a lot about the Evangelical Public School environment. Macho seems to co-exist with masochism in that environment.

Kate
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Kate

Odd, the comment count for this says 4 comments but only 2 show

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Charles Foster’s very perceptive and honest reflections underline for me, once again, how often the root of the problems we are struggling are specifically male ones – unhealed, unfaced issues of masculine role, identity, relationships and sexuality. Foster is right to traces its toxicity within the conservative evangelical tradition. But it is present in all wings of the church. I recall the late Kenneth Leech regularly challenging his own A-C tradition’s inability to face its ambivalence about sexuality and to come to terms with its ‘dread of women’. I am not sure if the LLF report will address that directly?… Read more »

peter kettle
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peter kettle

David: any thoughts, then, about the increasing numbers of women as members of the hierarchy?

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The recent record on appointing women to leadership positions in the CofE is good. There are currently 24 women bishops, five diocesans and 19 suffragans. The total membership of the College of Bishops (assuming no vacancies) is some 109 (excluding PEVs, Beverley, Fulham, Maidstone and Islington). So over 20% are women, achieved in less than five years. I don’t have the exact figures to hand, but roughly 50% of episcopal appointments made since the Measure came into force have been of women. It might be expected that that proportion will continue, so that getting to 50/50 will take longer. However,… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

The question though is whether a woman can become Archbishop of Canterbury. I suspect there is still a glass ceiling

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

I think that boat has sailed. It is only a matter of time. The equal validity of male and female priests and bishops is now the Church of England’s default position. Yes, the Church accommodates diverse conscientious views on that matter, to the extent that dissenting voices are willing to be accommodated, and within the limits of what is practically possible to accommodate. But the appointment of a woman as ABC will not be stopped by the minority view that ‘women cannot be priests’.

peter kettle
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peter kettle

I wasn’t really thinking about numbers or the highest position(s). I was really wondering whether women might be pushing aside the male / masonic clubbiness which is so debilitating; and whether there is anything distinctively gender-related about their approach which makes for a fairer, kinder approach?

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Although it’s a generalisation, I think women tend to be more expressive of feeling, which is not to say that men don’t have feelings too. My experience of men is that sometimes, perhaps culturally, but also psychologically, the expression of feelings can (sometimes) be constrained by fears of showing weakness or unmanliness, particularly in interaction with other men. In my opinion, the ordination of women has introduced scope for a bit more openness to expressing feelings, in everyday parish life and the priesthood, not to mention the natural benefit of bringing the voices and lived experience of half the population… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

What has not been mentioned so far in this thread is a factor which I think is key to understanding it – that so many of these damaged men were damaged by their experience of the British Public School system.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/08/boarding-school-syndrome-joy-schaverien-review

This is just one article about the issue – defined by many psychotherapists as “Boarding School Syndrome”. The divided self is not just an issue in the Church, but provides context for what is going on in UK politics at present.

Stanley Monkhouse
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It’s been mentioned on TA before, but it’s worth doing so again: Mark Stibbe “Home at last” https://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Last-Freedom-Boarding-School/dp/1910786411

peter kettle
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peter kettle

Susannah, thank for those thoughts; I particularly warmed to : ‘Women, by virtue of their biology, are often a bit more in touch with their bodies and physicality, and I think that contributes to some matter-of-factness and common-sense, where some groups of men keep such things at a distance, or worse still, objectify or fetishise.’

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Thanks for thoughtful responses. Special yes to Simon and Susannah thoughts. The saying goes that ‘the last thing we realise about ourselves is our effect’. We are discussing this very soon after an article was carried on TA recording the actual experience of women working in this church (which I recognised from personal experience working with ordained women colleagues over many years). Plainly the idea of ‘mutual flourishing’ is experienced as anything but – and hardly surprising when one side does not actually believe the other side should exist and is allowed, legally, to discriminate in employment practice solely on… Read more »

FrDavid H
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FrDavid H

The Church is allowed to discriminate against gay men in employment practice if they marry their partners. They are soon shown the door

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Good point FrDavid. And I don’t agree with it either. But that is an ongoing issue of unresolved doctrinal difference on marriage. My point is the actual, deliberate provision for continued discrimination against a group of people in ministry the CofE claims to fully accept and welcome and expects to flourish – including the Act of Synod, Five Guiding Principles and separate structures including special bishops etc for those who cannot accept what the church has at last decided.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

I agree. Working in the Church of England for nearly 30 years was too often a very painful experience and I found it damaging. The Church cannot be healthy while it still institutionalises such discrimination. Like its attitude to abuse victims, it’s a symptom of wrong attitudes to power.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

My fiver is on York.

Anne
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Anne

Agreed, David. It will be Bp Sarah currently Bp London. I can only surmise that the clergy in London Diocese agreed to her appointment on the grounds that she would have a short tenure, given that so many male priests there are not exactly welcoming to the ordination of women. That is where my fiver goes. Bp Sarah for York!

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Anne. My fiver is elsewhere. Who knows? But appointments in CofE are not done as bargain deals like that.

David Lamming
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David Lamming

Agreed about the process, David. Even if the diocesan clergy members of the London CNC expressed such a condition, that would not be binding. (If I had put a fiver on York, which I haven’t, it would be for +Chelmsford, not +London or +Gloucester, but we shouldn’t have too long to wait for the announcement.)

Fr John Harris-White
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Fr John Harris-White

Reading Charles Foster was both revealing and honest. For which I thank him.
What left me with a great deal of worry was the present state of the mind of the present Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who was heavily involved with this group as a leader.