Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 3 January 2024

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Changing attitudes towards life in all its fullness

Andrew Graystone ViaMedia.News When Good Reviews Go Bad

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Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
1 month ago

Once again, Colin Coward presents the current conflicts in Christianity in a coherent essay based in the central scientific truth of life: evolution. In what might seem like an oxymoron, “change is constant”. The universe has been changing from its very moment of beginning (even Genesis demonstrates that); why should Christian belief be any different?

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

I hate to be that person, but as a scientist as well as a Christian I do feel the need to point out that the theory of evolution is a biological theory that is used to explain the development of diversity and specialisation amongst species. It does not have anything to do with the formation and development of the universe from the big bang onwards – that is part of the entirely different field of early cosmology. As such there is no overarching theory of constant change that lays over all science and all time from which we as Christians… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

It is the ever-occurring changes in the universe that drives biological evolution. Changes in climate, geology, geography act on the biological entity and force natural selection. Some of those changes result from changes on a cosmological scale (increases in radiation, for instance).

“Evolution” as a word does not simply refer to the biological theory. It means “change”…and all things change.

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

I understood that the Makin review was supposed to be in its ‘last stages’ in late 2022 (according to Mr Makin himself), having been running already for over 3 years. Come August it will have been running for 5 years. The UK has fought major existential wars of shorter duration. Many royal commissions on matters of vital national interest, taking evidence from hundreds of witnesses, have been completed in vastly shorter timescales. Four governments have since come and gone. The Chilcot inquiry into the conduct of the British state in relation to the Iraq war lasted from 2009 until 2016,… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

We do know that at an early stage Mr Makin found that he needed assistance, and it was provided. I can’t quote chapter and verse so long afterwards, but my recollection is that both Mr Makin and the assistant were known to have been engaged working on a part-time basis.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Many thanks. I am sorry to have expressed myself as I did, but ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. Indeed, I am reminded of the remarks which Peter Gibson LJ made in the Court of Appeal in 1998: “Conduct like this weakens public confidence in the whole judicial process. Left unchecked it would be ultimately subversive of the rule of law. Delays on this scale cannot and will not be tolerated”. You might recall that the late Sir Jeremiah Harman (who had been a puisne justice in the Chancery Division since 1982) had delayed the production of his judgment in the… Read more »

David G
David G
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

As Andrew Graystone perceptively notes, the CofE does not know the difference between a review, inquiry or investigation. Mr Makin probably doesn’t know the difference either. The whole process is a dreadful mess, and as Froghole notes, the delays are an unconscionable form of abuse in their own right. Mr Makin needs to own this, and as a matter of integrity decline any future invitation for any further work of this kind. He’s not up to the job. As to why Makin was selected in the first place, well, the Secretariat of the Archbishops’ Council has form in picking substandard… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  David G
1 month ago

Something is rotten in the state. Chilcot, Grenfell, Makin, Covid-19, Hillsborough, the Post Office. Inquiry after Commission after Review after Investigation. It’s all about delay, obfuscation, reputation management, burying bad news, whole infrastructures, structures, systems, edifices supported while foundations of truth, love, justice and compassion are ignored or worse. Without the God of hope one could despair. How long? Justice delayed is justice denied. Generosity is required. Pay up, pay up and play the game; not game the system. It’s not as if any bishop or Archbishop or Archbishops’ Council or House or College of Bishops or General Synod member… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 month ago

If the bishops and synod members are not to pay personally than a) who should pay and b) why should the bishops and synod members behave better in future.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

John Smyth, QC: The following is not intended to be negative, but there is, possibly, a further perspective to this saga.  In addition to the five reviews listed by Andrew Graystone, there is the Coltart Report – which possibly does not qualify as ‘public’ (although it is readily accessible online via Google) dating from 1993: https://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/970485/27843432/1519927496303/The+Coltart+Report+on+John+Smyth+1982.pdf?token=dyRWvI1mKQQvB88TjKFZ7wfhQDs= Mr Coltart is an experienced human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe – in fact, unless I am mistaken, the only lawyer author in this series of reports. His report is surprisingly informative; in fact there is considerable detail about Smyth’s previous activities in England and… Read more »

rural liberal
rural liberal
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

I acknowledge that this is irrelevant, but always good to be reminded of David Coltart, a deeply principled man and Zimbabwe opposition senator (and author of a tour de force on Zimbabwe political chicanery from 1965 UDI to now). His son Doug has followed him into the same line of work in Zimbabwe.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  rural liberal
1 month ago

Not irrelevant at all. Mr Coltart’s reputation as a human rights lawyer is considerable. I believe his report fills an important gap in this complex history.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
1 month ago

The UK has just seen a telling of the “Post Office” scandal, where the Post Office implemented a flawed computer system and blamed postmasters for the errors to the extent that many received criminal convictions. The Post Office apparently “sincerely apologises” – it doesn’t get anywhere close, actually, until hard cash gets somewhere near the sums necessary to acknowledge the malevolent damage done to innocent people and their families. Cash is only a proxy for care, of course – transactional cash, however generous, will not meet the case. The Church of England – with its pastoral ambitions – is still… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Mark Bennet
1 month ago

As far as the Post Office scandal goes, it goes a bit beyond simply blaming the postmasters. As a hangover from when it was a government agency, my understanding is that the Post Office had the authority to mount its own prosecutions, rather than refer any suspicions of fraud to the police. There is common ground here in too many recent UK scandals. Not just the Post Office, but also the sexual abuse cases in the Armed Forces and the allegations of war crimes committed by special forces in Afghanistan. And then there is the abuse scandal in the Church… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Simon Dawson
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

There was also the issue of the PO being excessively dependent on a powerful contractor, Fujitsu, who knew that Horizon was riddled with material flaws (but who no doubt had a clause in their contract that their deliverables could not be fault-free, as is standard with many large IT contracts).

So, if seeking redress from the likes of Fujitsu was too hard, it would be much easier for the PO to go and beat up and terrorise the ‘little’ people in the sub-post offices. Loathsome.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I linked the Coltart report primarily for the wealth of detail it contains about events in England before Smyth moved to Africa. The point you emphasise was made by an individual who at 54 (i) did not consider Smyth’s actions to be criminal. Contrast the subsequent meeting of clergy at paragraph 55. There was, of course, a reference to the police in connection with the death of a boy, and Smyth was charged with homicide, but that trial ‘collapsed’ without a verdict. To be clear, Smyth and the facts were known to government ministers in Zimbabwe. It’s a complex subject.… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Rowland, I acknowledge your correction, and your impressive, lawyerly forensic attention to detail. It was an earlier set of conversations that mentioned suspicions that a criminal threshold has been passed.

Nevertheless, I still think that the reference to Matthew is relevant, using scripture to avoid justice and accountability.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I’m not making any judgements about Smyth. It’s a far more complex subject than even the mountain of information so far available can fully address, hence my (qualified) sympathy for Mr Makin’s task. I suspect that I am one of the very few people here (apart from his victims) who has actually met Smyth and saw him in action in court. The Coltart report is significant in the references to his medical and mental conditions. I haven’t seen that level of detail elsewhere. Something which does concern me greatly, and seldom seems to get mentioned, is the fact that Smyth… Read more »

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

There was a grim joke circulating in legal circles prior to the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offences act about why couldn’t you get a jury to convict in a buggery case- because either they didn’t know what it was, or were doing it themselves…. In the main most of the judiciary have not become embroiled in similar scandals to those currently besetting the C of E to its shame, but they too are human so Smyth’s case as Recorder can’t be the only one. And one very simple – or simplistic- possibility about the delay to the Makin report… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Sympathy and empathy are necessary but difficult concepts. As a lawyer you have understandable sympathy for Mr Makin. In a way I have sympathy for John Smyth, knowing as I do what it is to live a large part of one’s early adult life in enforced celibacy. The RC abuse scandal was made immeasurably worse by bishops sympathetically protecting their priests, no doubt thinking there but for the grace of God go I.

That’s why we need external governance structures, to keep manifestations of sympathy within appropriate boundaries.

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