Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 30 June 2021

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Church Leader – Are You Helping or Harming?

Philip North Church Times The General Synod’s Business Committee has its priorities wrong
“It should be debating how richer dioceses can help poorer ones, not reopening old wounds over the Sheffield débâcle”

Leander Harding The Living Church “Always Dress Like a Priest”

Jonathon Van Maren Mercatornet The turning tide of intellectual atheism
“A growing number of leading serious intellectuals are recognising the need for Christianity’s resurrection but can’t quite bring the faith to life in themselves.”

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Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

Re Philip North, what ‘rich dioceses’? I mean there is London, maybe Guildford. That’s about it. Their attendance numbers are cratering too. The Commissioners provided subventions during the pandemic, but only in the form of loans at 2% interest (when the base rate has been 0.1%) – not in the form of grants. Apparently, they can only lend the dioceses money at this interest rate. On this basis the Commissioners have provided the greater part of the Church with terms significantly worse than those of the government’s furlough scheme. Naturally, no aid of any substantive kind was directed to the… Read more »

Gordon
Gordon
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Sharing between dioceses is important, but even more so sharing between parishes. Certain evangelical parishes are hoarding riches rather than sharing them through church structures, and that’s not consistent with an episcopal model of church.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Gordon
3 months ago

A fair comment and many thanks. What I keep hearing from ‘successful’ churches is that the parish share (which is intended in part to spread resources equitably, as dioceses see it) is a tax on their success, and is therefore inequitable. Presumably they have Matthew 25:29 in mind! It is also a primary driver in their asserting that there is a ‘long tail’ in the church, of weak, failing churches, which drag them down, thanks to the parish share; as such, they believe, weak parishes should either be left to go to the wall, or should be taken over by… Read more »

Gordon
Gordon
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

For me, the point here is that the CofE is not supposed to be a congregational church where individual parishes (or extra-parochial churches) have ultimate authority, but rather an organisation governed through bishops, synods etc. There are forums for deciding how much resources should be shared, how much should be directed at which potential causes etc and it’s inappropriate for parishes to declare UDI from those arrangements.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
3 months ago

Jayne Ozanne talks about how evangelicals have “some form” in the area of harm being done to people by their “God-given right to uphold scripture (which) over-ruled any evidence of the pain and trauma they were causing”. It’s strange, then, that Jonathon Van Maren argues, in his article, that Christianity is the only basis for human survival of the West. In various surveys, it is the secular democracies like Scandinavia which have shown to produce the greatest degree of human happiness and fulfilment, where religious observance is very scant. Van Maren cites agnostic Charles Murray’s assertion that the American Republic… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

One of the clergy in my deanery is a woman in her early forties, only a few years ordained. A few months ago she was walking from church to a coffee shop, dressed in her clerical shirt and collar. A man came up to her (a stranger to her), spat in her face, and started yelling at her about how evil she was and how she should burn in hell. She was severely traumatised by this incident. I’m not comfortable with the absolutism of phrases like ‘always dress like a priest’ (quite apart from the fact that ‘how a priest… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Tim Chesterton
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

There is no indication that the Disciples dressed in any particular way either before or after Jesus’s execution, so I find any absolutist call to wear clerical clothing as un-Scriptural. The priority is to make oneself part of the people, not set oneself apart. So I agree.   I remember my final Cambridge interview. The ones at Christ’s and Queens’ had been rough. With limited confidence left I went along to Peterhouse, a college about which I knew very little. I was a few minutes early and sat myself down to wait. A young chap came in. I assumed he… Read more »

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Kate human beings have always enjoyed dressing up: from the child’s dressing up box; wearing replica kit of their favourite football team; for attracting sexual partners; for job interviews; for important life events. Why on earth should the clergy be any different? A friend of mine is a very gifted and wise priest and on a Sunday he rolls out of the vestry decked out like a Christmas tree. He’s a Canon and wears a biretta with a red pom pom the size of a child’s football on top of it. Why does any of this matter? He’s enjoying himself… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

“…if you don’t look as though you’re serious about what you’re doing how can you expect people to take you seriously.”

The red pom pom really helps with that..

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

‘if you don’t look as though you’re serious about what you’re doing how can you expect people to take you seriously.’

I’m very serious about my calling to make and nurture Christian disciples. And there’s some justification in the Bible for the idea that disciples shouldn’t be judging people by their outward appearance.

Tony Bellows
Tony Bellows
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

The clerical collar only goes back to Victorian times, which is why portraits of John Wesley, Archbishop Laud, and Archbishop Thomas Cramner don’t wear them. I always find it amazing the way fairly modern practices are given a spurious air of antiquity. The kilt, the clan tartan are similar Scottish invented traditions.Even the Bar Mitzvar doesn’t go back (as a mere declaration that a boy was a man and could make legal oaths) further than the 16th century. The later accretions (and ritual element) mainly came in Victorian times, which explains of course why we don’t find the ceremony in… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Tony Bellows
3 months ago

While the clan tartans are a recent invention, the modern kilt is a clear evolution of the belted plaid. Similarly the modern clerical collar is an evolution of the appearance of the shirt collar at the top of the opening in a cassock. Now we could argue for the re-adoption of the cassock as street-wear by clergy.

peter
peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Lots of people with a public role get abused at work – doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers. It isn’t acceptable, but anonymity isn’t the answer.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  peter
3 months ago

Anonymity wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I’ve become very aware that for some people, the clerical collar is a trigger, in a bad way.

peter
peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

The clerical collar might be a trigger for some, but for most people it is a very clear way know that someone is a member of the clergy. That’s often quite hard work for the clegy concerned. It’s easy to imagine that sometimes some clergy take off their collar because they just fancy a rest.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  peter
3 months ago

Peter, where I live, the clerical collar is a sign that you’re a priest in one of those churches that stole indigenous children from their parents, took them away to residential schools, forced them to give up their language and culture, and then buried them in unmarked graves when they died far from home and family.

That’s a pretty big trigger, and if you follow Canadian social media, you’ll know that it’s not just ‘for some’.

Paul
Paul
3 months ago

We seem to forget whenever we talk of finances that there are multiple models of financing churches already at work in this country. It also speaks volumes of the church’s (and often this website’s) obsession with female ordination and sexuality that serious structural issues of financial justice receive little support at Synod.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
3 months ago

The bishops like to run with the hare and the hounds on diocesan autonomy and to some extent parish legal autonomy. Sometimes when they’re asked to take a national line e.g. on a HR matter they point out that the church is not one organisation and it’s all very difficult etc. When some of them reach their overdraft limit they want to be all in this together. When the Lib Dems took Chesham and Amersham in the recent by-election a lady voter was interviewed by a reporter she said that the Government shouldn’t be sending their money to the “Northern… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

Fr. Dean – I reckon that if any of us were to tell DBFs that they should be abolished and their assets should be transferred to the Commissioners (to generate economies of scale), they would get all huffy about the need for local autonomy and about property rights. However, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. DBFs have spent decades riding roughshod over local parochial rights and autonomy in the name of real or imagined diocesan needs, and as to their property rights, well, the DBFs would be a relative nullity were it not for their ability… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Subsidiarity is a good principle. Decisions should be made at a level as local as possible. And the same goes for finances: money should be collected and spent at as local a level as possible. Local government in England has been largely ruined, in part because control of taxation and expenditure has been appropriated by Whitehall, so that local authorities cannot raise taxes and cannot decide how to spend much of their money. Centralizing diocesan funds at Church House would likely have a similar effect on local churches, taking away from them even more responsibility and making them bid for… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

Many thanks. I agree wholeheartedly about the ruination of local government, which has been in progress since the late nineteenth century. This was a function of: (i) the Treasury wanting to prevent the aggregate burden of public liabilities weighing on the exchange rate, especially when it was tied to gold or to a gold exchange standard under Bretton Woods (and with the Treasury and Debt Office having to manage colossal post-war liabilities whilst running an empire and developing a welfare state); (ii) Whitehall wanting to improve economies of scale; and (iii) Westminster politicians wishing to offset the loss of influence… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
3 months ago

Decades ago I was told the story, which may or may not be true, of a lady who wrote to the Bishop of London to complain that the Tractarian clergyman in her parish was, ‘practising celibacy in the street’. He was, of course, walking about in a cassock.

Father David
Father David
3 months ago

Synod should be debating “how richer dioceses can help poorer ones”. When the late Alec Graham was Bishop of Newcastle he established a twinning link with the more affluent diocese of Winchester which supplied funds for several parish development projects in the North East. The way things are going the scheme could well be reversed and Newcastle may be called upon to provide funds for cash strapped Winchester.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Thanks for posting Van Maren. We get such a steady diet of the dominant TA themes, it is refreshing to have an angle of vision from a different compass point.

Just sayin'
Just sayin'
3 months ago

Whatever the rights and wrongs of clerical attire now that with 19 Sundays left until I finish on ‘Stir up Sunday’ this year I realise how much I shall miss my cassock. We have been constant companions for 40 years since I bought it in my final year at college when the annual tat fair arrived in town. Shirts and collars may have come and gone but there’s only ever been one cassock. It has kept me warm at Morning Prayer in freezing parish churches, allowed me to wear shorts in summer with no one any the wiser, stopped the… Read more »

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Just sayin'
3 months ago

Your mother was very wise. I sadly no longer have a 28 inch waist so my first cassock would be of no use to the undertakers. Then again if the clergy pension scheme goes the way of all flesh, I may die of starvation and things will come full circle.

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
3 months ago

The limitations of Van Maren’s essay are that he only includes historians and commentators on the right politically. His argument would be stronger if he had included people from a wider political spectrum.

Rod Gillis’ final paragraph sums up my own position far more succinctly than I would be likely to do. Thank you.

James Byron
James Byron
3 months ago

Great comment, Rod! And this: “Historian Tom Holland’s magnificent Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, published in 2019, makes a similar case. For years, Holland—an agnostic—wrote compelling histories of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but he observed that their societies were rife with casual, socially-accepted cruelty towards the weak, rape, and sexual abuse towards the massive slave class as an unquestioned way of life, and the mass extermination of enemies as a matter of course. These peoples and their ethics, Hollands writes, seemed utterly foreign to him.” Really? Christendom of course featured and imposed all manner of horrors,… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  James Byron
3 months ago

I am in Lyon and re-reading the stories of the martyrs of Lyon. It is almost unimaginable what the Romans could dream up in terms of torturing Christians for being weak, believers in a crucified God, etc. I will not dwell on details. In turn, what kind of devotion enabled one to accept that and to forgive.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  James Byron
3 months ago

Indeed (and very good to read a post from you again). I have long viewed Christianity as a none too happy marriage of Hebraism and Hellenism (a crude way of putting it, to be sure). However, I am not certain we should underestimate the tendency of the ancients to discount human life: slaves were property/chattels, disposable at will, and it was customary, for example, that when a city was captured in the time of Homer for the men to be slaughtered wholesale, and the women carried off into slavery. Think of Hector warning his wife that he cares not so… Read more »

John Caperon
3 months ago

I’m actually surprised by the generally dismissive tone people have adopted to the Van Maren piece. He doesn’t seem to me simply to be snatching crumbs of comfort at all. Rather, he’s pointing to what some intellectual leaders are saying – rightly, in my view – about the essential link between humane values and the Judaeo-Christian tradition. It appears to me ‘thinking Anglicans’ ought perhaps to be spending less time rehearsing the awfulnesses of our own ecclesial context (and there are many, admittedly) and rather more on exploring the long-term issue of the possibility of faith I found Van Maren’s… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  John Caperon
3 months ago

I am sorry John but I can’t agree. Like Rod Gillis I thought the article to be weak on deeper analysis, and totally reluctant to challenge or interrogate the statements made by the various “intellectuals” quoted.

Just to give one example, for Niall Ferguson, a historian, to cite Christianity as a defence against totalitarianism would seem to be a joke. Surely, being a historian, he is aware of the history of the church over the past 2000 years, and its 2000 year habit of forced ethnic and religious cleansing of any new part of the world it moves into.

Last edited 3 months ago by Simon Dawson
Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  John Caperon
3 months ago

Couldn’t agree more, Rod. Thank you. “Christianity needs to push pause on preaching the Gospel, asserting its ‘claims’ and its ‘truths’” – not only in Canada but here too. Too many words, not enough example. Show, not tell. Matthew 25:35ff. My notion of evangelism is to lay out the table and let people sit down and taste the meat. It is not to force feed them with fast food so that their livers stop working.It’s always seemed to me that evangelism by persuasion is nothing short of wanting others to think like “you” do – and that is addiction to… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  John Caperon
3 months ago

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “Christianity now is having to learn the Jewish lesson about being a minority that enriches and harmonises, modestly.” Some churches and Christians are learning it better than others.

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