Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 29 December 2018

Tim Wyatt Church Times Key reports in 2018: everything you need to know
“Too many long documents to read in 2018? Tim Wyatt provides a digest”

Richard Mammana Mockingbird Popsicles and Prayer Books

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Unconditional Love – a New Year Resolution for 2019

Kelvin Holdsworth What’s in Kelvin’s Head 10 Correct Opinions About Christmas Carols

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News When “the Goodies” become “the Baddies”…

Jonathan Cooper Independent Our Anglican Christmas has been tarnished by the church’s role as an enabler of LGBT hate

45
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
13 Comment threads
32 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
RichardcrsRod GillisMark BrunsonJo B Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Of the making of Church of England reports there is no end. (Apologies to Ecclesiastes 12.12).

Kate
Guest
Kate

I wonder whether the Independent changed the title of Cooper’s article after he submitted it, because the article and title don’t really seem to belong together.

crs
Guest
crs

Jonathan Cooper says everything one needs to know about the CofE. For him, it is an English gathering. It must be able to have nothing to do with Christianity, and indeed know that that is so. The Church of England is English people going to a Christmas service to sing hymns about something they do not believe, but it is fun to sing. The Vicar is to be scolded for not getting that. So now it is, wait for it, Our. Last. Christmas. Whew.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“to sing hymns about something they do not believe”

Is it really that simple? A lot of people who say they don’t believe don’t want to have to explain what they believe because they are still working through it, which isn’t the same as disbelief. The traditional church gave people the space to work through things in their own time and many eventually found God, particularly in later life. The problem with modern evangelism is that people are pressed into make early declarations one way or the other rather than being given years or decades to slowly develop a deep faith.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I strongly agree with Kate. God works far more mysteriously than we can ever know. God is more numinous, less intelligible, but always with us even when we are on a long and lifetime journey. That operates at the level of whole nations. It is fantastic that we have a ‘national’ church which signals God’s presence in community after community, up and down the land (often accompanied by unseen loving service to those communities, the old, the sick, the lonely). And the people of England, conscious faith or no faith, have historically seen the Church of England as ‘their’ church,… Read more »

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

Thanks, Susannah. What a sensible statement – encouraging to this ancient, agnostic, culturally conservative Sydney parson. Happy New Year to all Thinking Anglicans.

CRS
Guest
CRS

This is a man who is proud nay boastful of rejecting Christian faith who in that spirit demands the national religious gathering correctly tailor itself to him, as part of its national duty. At some point this ceases to be church and becomes a national institution qua institution. What is stunning is his expectation that this be so and his umbrage at discovering, maybe even exceptionally, it isn’t.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I find the Jonathan Cooper article insightful. His criticism of the legacy of imperial Anglicanism is particularly so. I hope others will read it. Otherwise, they may mistakenly think that your characterization of both the author and his article is correct.

crs
Guest
crs

Here is the odd moment where we agree…imperial anglicanism and church of england nationalism are deeply problematic. Sadly, he cannot see that the one feeds the other and that he wants the second anyway.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

And he has no intention of trying another church, or even making his views known to the vicar and giving this church another go.

crs
Guest
crs

Insightful. I agree.

He holds the conviction that the CofE MUST be an institution that is not fulfilling its remit unless, at Christmas, it avoids being itself so as to attend to subjects of English national life.

Then he publishes an essay in the Independent in which he declares the national religious institution has offended him and he is not going back now.

He puts it down to imperialism when his ink is still wet, but of course that empire idea was seamlessly at one with the Church of England national Christians idea.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Don’t cry, Chris. Your world may have come to an end but ours continues – in worship of the God and Father of OLJC.

CRS
Guest
CRS

No crying here I can assure you Ron.

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

“Bah, humbug!” to Kevin Holdsworth’s nixing of Winchester Old as a tune for “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night”. I think it’s a great tune, but just as Great Britain and the USA are two countries separated by a common language (credit: George Bernard Shaw), so too, TEC and the CofE are two churches separated by different hymn tunes for the same hymn. Not to mention, my wife told me about shepherds washing their socks by night, so that may make me unfit to judge hymn tunes.

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

FWIW Fr Kelvin is neither of the CofE nor TEC, being as he is a Scottish Episcopalian.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

From the Jonathan Cooper article: “They have no meaningful strategy for attempting to end this global shame where criminalisation endures in almost half of all countries, the bulk of which had those laws bequeathed to them by the British.” Cooper mentions Maurice Tomlinson. In that regard, readers may be interested in a quick review of the November 12th, 2018 post here by TA (see archives) re:Intimate Conviction. Otherwise I think Cooper’s making the connection between his experience of the established Church at home and legally enshrined homophobia in the wider Anglican Communion is of interest from a social criticism perspective.

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

It’s a pity that Jonathan Cooper’s good argument about the Anglican communion and homosexuality has got mixed up with his dislike of new music at his local church. He makes valid points about this very damaging legacy of imperialism. However there’s an element of oversimplification in the assertion that criminalisation of homosexuality and global Anglicanism go hand in hand. Recently a friend teaching literature in Russia was told, very firmly, that homosexuality does not exist in Russia. We are not responsible for that attitude.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Isn’t this a bit of a fallacy of composition or perhaps argumentum ad absurdum? I don’t think anyone has claimed that global Anglicanism is everywhere the cause of the criminalisation of homosexuality, but it has been in many of the places where it has occurred.

Fr Keith
Guest
Fr Keith

I found Jonathan Cooper’s letter (that’s what it was) odd when I first read it in the Independent. I still find it odd when I reread it here. Yes, his comments on the Church of England, and in particular on its LGBT attitude, have justification. But just why a self-confessed non-believer being miffed by some carols with a modern twist led to the outburst bemuses me. He gives no evidence about the vicar’s attitude to LGBT matters. I’m left wondering whether Jonathan went determined to be upset and just looking for an excuse, however weak, to write an anti-church diatribe.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Again, I think it is more than that. All too often carols / hymns / songs are arranged for the benefit and interest of the every dwindling congregation and the choir. Coping with them – nobody ever offers a vocal score for newcomers – reinforces the clique and keeps newcomers at arms length. If we want congregations to grow, then people like Cooper and his family are exactly the sort of people we need to feel comfortable dropping in occasionally. Occasionally can grow to semi-regularly and then weekly. But if churches aren’t welcoming to drop-ins because they choose music those… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I agree…at my own TEC church this Christmas eve, the regular service was preceded by our usual carol service. The choir as usual was wonderful, but when it came to the choices for the congregation to join in on, they were all relatively obscure pieces that most (including me–and I have a background in choral performance) had never heard before and certainly didn’t know well enough to sing.

David Rowett
Guest
David Rowett

I’m no musician, but we may be confusing wilful eclecticism and cultural fragmentation. As culture tends to become more and more ‘niche’ I wonder whether any unrehearsed ‘communal singing’ experience (beyond ‘Jerusalem’ at a rugby match) is feasible in any context. Is there a commonality of musical genre anywhere any longer (by which I mean that if we were to draw a Venn diagram of it all is there anything at all in A ∩ B ∩ C…)? I realise Hymns A&M (and Stanbrook Abbey, Wild Goose , The Source) are all pretty niche in themselves, but is there anything… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

At the least, the many Church of England primary schools should have instilled a basic repertoire in many children which could / should form the basis of hymns sung in churches.

Nor would it beyond the wit of the national church to come up with say 30 hymns / songs (with the tune specified) plus say 10 carols and indicate that all main communion services should draw a majority of music from that list. It would be unpopular with some but if our priority is making services accessible it is the sort of initiative we need.

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

Unpopular with some?! How about with everyone who regularly attends church? The same hymns every 6 weeks in endless round; the only seasonal variation that allowed by the “generous” provision of 10 carols. No. Try buying melody copies of hymn books; allow folk to sign them out to take home and publish the hymns and carols online in advance of the service; use the same mass setting throughout the year so that folk who are unchurched can quickly latch on to some part of the singing, even better if you provide the music for the mass setting. There are ways… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

I was once organist at a church where the rector chose a “hymn of the month”. It was the offertory hymn, and chosen because it was unfamiliar. On the Sunday when it first appeared the rector led it, and repeated the melody if he felt that was necessary. By week 3, the new melody had become familiar, and on week 4 it was solidly in the repertoire. Of course, that was at a time when most families were in church on most Sundays.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

In the UK, a person’s desire for BREXIT is often not driven by logical thought but by deep emotional resonances. And if we want to counter those BREXIT forces we need to find arguments that work at the emotional, not logical, level. Similarly for Jonathan Cooper. We can find all sorts of arguments to pursuade ourselves he is misguided or making wrong judgements. But huge numbers of young people feel as he does (feel, not think) and unless we can find ways to deal with those feelings then the churches will remain empty.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

I think the crux of Jonathan Cooper’s article is the line ‘At the church it became clear that it was theirs and not ours.’ Surely it is terribly wrong that someone should feel this when they visit a Church of England church? This is a searing indictment of a church that is supposed to be there for all the people and further evidence of the ‘gathered church’ evangelicalisation of the Church of England. Pure puritan nonsense and it’s what we’re now expected to push. ‘It was their church not ours’ also surely informs the pain felt because of Anglicanism’s appalling… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

PS–He hates empire and at the same time wants an “LSE recommended commission” to tell provinces of the anglican communion what to do.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: this morning’s comments, Jonathan Cooper’s critique of the established church, a church he has identified with as a cultural Anglican non-believer, functions at both the micro and macro levels. Cooper praises, even as a non-believer, ABC Michael Ramsey’s work on the decriminalization file. (He also mentions Archbishop John Holder, see link). He connects astutely the lethargy of the C of E in cleaning up its own colonial mess with its shrouding at home of cultural Anglicans by club like congregations. It’s easy enough to dismiss defensively his articulation of his experience. Being dismissive of the experience of others is… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

The problem is that very few conservative Christians base their objections to same-sex marriage as a Christian rite on Commonwealth sodomy laws. Is AB Holder in favour of same-sex marriage? Let’s not throw everything into one big pot so as to bemoan the conservative position on marriage. AB Drexel Gomez did not hold the catholic position he did based upon English sodomy laws. For him scripture and catholic tradition were the controlling factors, whether you agree with him or not. Happy New Year.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“The problem is that very few conservative Christians base their objections to same-sex marriage as a Christian rite on Commonwealth sodomy laws.” No it is not the problem. The failure to understand sexuality properly and from a modern perspective undergirds all forms of discrimination against sexual minorities. The attempt you are making here at bifurcation simply adds to the problem. You don’t think criminalisation and the biblicism that defends excluding sexual minorities from the church’s rites and ceremonies are linked? Think again.

crs
Guest
crs

Ron, pounding the pulpit does not enhance faulty logic. You can assert whatever you like, but that is what it is. An opinion you hold dear. What you declare ‘bifurcation’ is a distinction having to do with Christian views on marriage, as against criminalising a conduct one used to call sodomy. Do enjoy your New Year’s Day.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

No, I’m pretty sure that the attempt at bifurcation is an effort to break two manifestations off from a common ground which in turn leads to a begging of the question in your argument. And, the term ‘sodomy laws’ doesn’t help your argument. As for your metaphor, in the interests of good communication I never use a pulpit. I had a delightful New Years’s eve thank you; but the snow squall today created a quiet New Year’s day with a few minutes for online ‘Kumite’ here at TA ( :

crs
Guest
crs

“Pretty sure” is at least an improvement, indicating it is a strongly held opinion. You tend to speak as though, holding a tattered copy of BL, there is a neutral-truth higher vantage point. No.

“Sodomy laws” — read your own link, Rod, and the original terms of the discussion.

“Weak point, pound pulpit” is a common expression that has nothing to do with a literal pulpit. Metaphors are like this.

Bon année

Kate
Guest
Kate

I am not a fan of the Jonathan Cooper article on several grounds but I think a key point is being overlooked. The Church of England is constantly bemoaning falling congregation numbers. The Cooper family is now included in those depressing statistics but needn’t have been. Several commentators don’t seem particularly upset by that. I am left thinking that the Church – or at least significant parts of it – does not want more backsides on pews, but wants “more people like us” on pews. I suspect that the cohorts we have lost are those who used to go to… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

My comment had to do with the difficulty of a national church polity, which creates a burdensome welcoming conundrum. So you get an English subject who believes the church belongs to him and his way of thinking needs to be attended to on that ground. For me this confuses the welcoming embrace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with national entitlement. Happy New Year.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Cooper writes: “…we felt we did not belong has a much wider significance than if we had attended a local faith group meeting.” I think it less a case that he “believes the church belongs to him”, as you say, and more the case that as a unbelieving cultural Anglican he may belong to it. Cooper’s comment here suggests that from the perspective of a church by law established the come to Jesus moments you prefer and the ‘national entitlement’ you decry are symbiotic. Maybe if the C of E were more like the late Michael Ramsey guys like Cooper… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

So much parsing and arguing over nonsense. It’s a pity we don’t have some *feeling* Anglicans, instead.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Oh I don’t know Mark, I think we have all sorts and conditions of Anglicans on deck here, thinking, feeling, fideistic, metaphysically minded and so forth. Bernard Lonergan has some interesting analysis on the role played by feelings in conjunction with the unrestricted desire to know. One strives for integration of thinking and feeling; but it is a life long task I reckon. The long history of the church’s complicity in oppression engenders strong feelings. However, reform requires making sustainable arguments. Divine revelation pertains to mystery otherwise unknowable; but revelation never contradicts what is actually so. The notion that binary… Read more »

Mark Brunson
Guest
Mark Brunson

I am not certain, historically, that reformation has come through sustainable argument. At its best, it has been through the change of perceptions by direct experience and speaking to emotions already in place . . . at its worst, through force.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I’m on board with the need to change perceptions: it requires the herculean task of changing both hearts and minds. The use of biblical texts (e.g.Roman 1:26-27) as a platform for theological reflection on same sex relationships, including pastoral or ethical or legal jugements about the same, is a serious and harmful methodological error on the church’s part. I would choose the integrity of same sex couples, and their ability to articulate their own experience, over ancient texts any time. If that offends some orthodoxy, so be it. As Lonergan points out (paraphrasing) the achievement of self-transcendence and a happy… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Jonathan Cooper’s letter is an extreme ( and rather odd) example of a person for whom the Church of England should be more England than Church. But the C of E can’t easily cast off its history. I would hope our Church remains one with blurred edges which has room for the hesitant, the doubting and the curious. And part of its ministry is surely to fan the embers of what is left of english folk religion.

crs
Guest
crs

“Jonathan Cooper’s letter is an extreme ( and rather odd) example of a person for whom the Church of England should be more England than Church.” I agree and this is my point. Blurry edges are important if this is your base line. I get that. But I also hope that a Church with this difficult/dated remit understands how burdensome this polity is for a Communion that has moved on.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Cooper’s article has a kind of ‘urbi et orbi’ motif i.e., here is a person of good will with a cultural connection to Anglicanism issuing a critical challenge. We have people like him here as well, although the dynamics of an established church give him surer footing there I suspect. Blurred edges are preferable to an entrenched frontier. Certainly the re-alignment movement which seeks to marginalize Provinces in western democracies would prefer the latter. Their success that would make the post colonial decriminalization project Cooper argues for much more difficult to achieve.

crs
Guest
crs

Thank goodness a great deal of the present Anglican Communion is not a post-colonial anything!