Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 27 November 2021

Freddie Hayward New Statesman “The parish system is a kind of spiritual NHS”: Anglican priest Alison Milbank on saving our churches
“The co-founder of Save The Parish discusses her campaign and why she’ll never be a bishop.”

Rogers Govender ViaMedia.News Spiritual Guides – The Key to Transformation?

The Guardian view on clergy on TV: not just ‘rogues or idiots’
“Anglican vicars may often be portrayed as bland, benign and bumbling, but the Archbishop of Canterbury is missing something”

Clare Amos Exploring faith in Europe Kingship… not from this world

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Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
7 months ago

The Clare Amos article is first rate. Thanks so much. May I add that reading the Gospel of John, or any of the other three gospels, can be much like reading poetry. The gospels are about the historical Jesus of Nazareth in the same sense that, for example, John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields is about fields or poppies or the dead.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Rod Gillis
7 months ago

Amen and thank you! The Gospels are meant to be evangelizing tools. They are propaganda, in the original sense of the word: They are meant to spread the narrative. the “good news”, that Jesus of Nazareth was (and is?) special, different, a savior. While the three Synoptic Gospels more or less tell Jesus’ story in a straightforward fashion, they should never be mistaken for the BBC News or the Times. The author of the Gospel of St. John recognizes this inherently. The author starts off with a bang, deliberately imitating or referencing the opening of the Book of Genesis and… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
7 months ago

This kind of approach to biblical literature is a passion of mine. Having read any number of fine biblical critics over time, it was not until I read ‘outside’ and read the early work of literary critic Northrop Frye that the scales fell from my eyes (see below). Re: your comment on the synoptics, you might enjoy Don Juel’s book on Mark (below). Re: Juel you might put Frank Kermode in your search engine. Sir Frank had a discerning eye regarding various models of biblical interpretation. All of this, by the way, points out how problematic it is when biblical… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
6 months ago

I just wish the author would get on with it.”. Absolutely. The high priestly prayer is a case in point: prolix and self-indulgent. I’ll get my coat.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
6 months ago

I agree. I’ve never understood why so many evangelicals give enquirers the gospel of John to read. I find it often irritating, repetitive, and vague.

As for the synoptics, a police expert interviewer told me he finds them convincing as witness accounts. He said they bear the marks of witness accounts he’s handled; passion, a considerable amount of agreement, but some disagreement, especially on details.

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Janet Fife
6 months ago

Really? As an evangelical I’ve never given John’s Gospel to enquirers…. In my experience and default it’s been St Mark. That’s also the case with the some enquirer courses.

But a bigger really… St John”irritating… repetitive… vague”… I’m tempted to say that’s your problem not the Gospel’s… Are you sure you’ve read the right book?

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
6 months ago

Conversations over why one likes or dislikes Shakespeare or Camus or Ringuet or Kafka usually require way more than one drink of whisky. John can make one impatient, sure. So may reading The Odyssey in any language. John 17 (Priestly Prayer) has been one of my favorite scripture narratives since college days. Terrific bridge to the passion narrative. There are so many gems in John. Christmas without The Prologue would be like Christmas without baby Jesus. I notice that all four suggested readings in the service for Communion Under Special Circumstances (Canada) are from John. The last of the four,… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
6 months ago

Agreed that it’s a mistake to confuse the Gospels with the BBC News – even the synoptics are intensely theological. But in St John’s defence what can match the high drama of, “And it was night” or “What is truth?”

Last edited 6 months ago by Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Allan Sheath
6 months ago

I should add that the Gospels really come to life when used in their original context. That is, read out and heard in public. Even more so with John: the prologue at Christmas, the Passion at the liturgy of Good Friday.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
7 months ago

As someone who is bland, benign and bumbling, I fully endorse the Guardian’s description of Anglican clerics, even if it annoys Mr Welby. Since the time of the Rev Mervyn Noote, the media has upheld the ineffectual parson as a nice English representative of an inoffensive religion that no one need observe. Since those days, to our number has been added the ladies who can now be safely lampooned. It is ironic that today’s most visible clerical spokesperson in the media found her role having been discovered watching telly on Gogglebox.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  FrDavidH
6 months ago

Actually Kate Bottley was first ‘discovered’ when a wedding couple released a video in which she and the couple danced in the middle of the service.

Richard Coles is also a very visible media vicar.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Janet Fife
6 months ago

Richard Coles was, of course, a contestant on Strictly. Perhaps an ability to dance is a main requisite for clerics to relate to the unchurched masses.

Froghole
Froghole
7 months ago

With respect to the NS piece, I grant that the comparison between the NHS and the Church may have something in it, because of: (i) the ‘comprehensiveness’ of provision (extra parochial areas having now largely disappeared); and (ii) the manner in which the Tudors made the parish the main organ of local government after 1535-36 (displacing the manor and its court baron or court leet), and for the provision of welfare: specifically, by obliging parish ratepayers to fund poor relief in 1563, and the first and second poor laws of 1597 and 1601. Thus, the parish, even after the creation… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Froghole
Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
7 months ago

Re: playing clergy on TV, you got to have a sense of humour. I’ve attached a clip from the Canadian TV series, Little Mosque on the Prairie. This episode has both a priest and an archdeacon. As a retired archdeacon, I love it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq5CrQAXqwM Episode Summary “When the Archdeacon announces he’s coming to Mercy Anglican, Reverend Magee fears for the worst. Church attendance is way down, and the place just might get shut down. Of course, the Muslims pose as Christians to help fill the seats. The archdeacon arrives early and quickly figures out the entire scheme. But he’s delighted… Read more »

Bishop Michael Doe
Bishop Michael Doe
7 months ago

I declare an interest, as Clare’s former line manager at USPG, but once again she is spot-on. Having sanitised Advent from its four marks of The End, and turned it into a pre-emptive Christmas celebration, the season from All Saints Day with its central theme of Remembering should culminate in something deeper than the imposition of Power. It should rather point to how Truth cannot be compromised and how Power is best shown in service. Boris Johnson, are you listening?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
7 months ago

I wonder what was stirred up in the Archbishop that he made this outburst about how he thinks the clergy are represented in the media. There’s an element of ‘methinks he doth protest too much’ in his reaction. I fear that self awareness is not his strongest suit but perhaps he sees something of himself in the caricature he criticises, if only at an unconscious level. The CofE has lurched from one blunder to the next whilst he’s been in office; even when it seems as though he’s judged something right he then often messes it up, the most recent… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Fr Dean
6 months ago

The endless stream of appointments to positions in Lambeth Palace, including the Bishop to the Archbishops, do not seem to be yielding good results. The ABC’s abilities seem at an all time low, and it’s bringing morale down. I can understand if he stays in until the Lambeth Conference is in the photo album. But anything after that is an indulgence we cannot afford.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
6 months ago

I am getting tired of the narrative being pedalled by “Save the Parish”. If they put more energy into revitalising the parish church rather than setting up groups like this then we would be in a better position. “Save the Parish” completely misses the point that the parish has never been anything other than central to any strategy. The parish needs revitalising, not saving.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
6 months ago

When the Church Commissioners release money to sustain and increase clergy led parish ministry then we can say parish ministry is part of the strategy. If its not in the budget or in the diary it’s not in the strategy. It’s not the only type of ministry that’s needed. But it’s a major part of what the Church of England is.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
6 months ago

Meanwhile, in the rest of the Anglican Communion, most parishes and dioceses have to pay their own clergy with no help from a central investment fund.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

There is only a “central investment fund” because the original endowments of bishops and cathedrals were removed from them to create the funds of the Ecclesiastical Commission. And these were merged with the assets of Queen Anne’s Bounty after WW2 to create the Church Commissioners. QAB had its origins in the “first fruits and tithes” originally payable to the pope, and after the Reformation to the Crown. These were the income due to each incumbent in their first year in post, plus a tenth of the income in subsequent years. They were given back to the Church by Queen Anne.… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
6 months ago

I know of parishes in TEC that have endowments. I’ve never been anywhere near a parish like that in Canada.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
6 months ago

Also the CC was liable for about half the stipends bill and, prior to 1 January 1998, all pension accruals. These was their chief overheads. The liability for prospective accruals was effectively transferred to the parishes via the parish share system via the Pensions Measure 1998. The CC’s assets were about £2.6bn in 1998. They are now in excess of £9.3bn. Whilst much of that capital growth is no doubt due to the CC’s genius as investors, how could the growth fail to be so great with the elimination of the CC’s chief overhead? This, then, amounts to a regressive… Read more »

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