Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 4 December 2021

Martyn Percy Meander The Lowly Cattle Shed

Joe Hawes ViaMedia.News Making a Stand: From Kilroy to Synod

Guli Francis-Dehqani The Church of England in Parliament Bishop of Chelmsford calls for justice for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in Lords maiden speech

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Quality Assurance

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church CEEC and its new Study Material

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A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

Martyn Percy is assuredly from upper middle class stock himself. I guess that is why he makes the increasingly common mistake of conflating being working class to being poor. He has no knowledge of what being working class was and is. The weird thing is he even acknowledges that tradespeople can earn well, but still persists in this idea that some elements of the Christmas story show that Jesus was in some way middle class in the way we understand it in the modern world. I am from working class stock, my father was a factory worker. We had a… Read more »

Tom
Tom
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

I take the Dean’s point to be that Jesus gave it all up, gave away the security and comfort, and made himself poor. Rather, he got out of the “class” business all together. Working class, middle class, upper class; it hardly matters when to follow Jesus means giving it all up to serve those in need. God is most concerned with helping the helpless. I suspect God is most likely to help us when we give up our comfort and security that we might help the helpless.

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Tom
1 month ago

Does that make the fact that the Dean conflated being working class with being poor correct then?

My problem was not with the point that the Dean was trying to make, it was that he made it poorly.

Tom
Tom
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

I read the article again. I don’t get the conflating you see. I see the shock of the wise men, expecting a king and finding a young family making do in a stable. Not the place the family would have chosen, but any port in a storm. So why the fascination with getting the “class” right anyway?

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

This seems to be part of an ongoing discussion. Ian Paul has questioned some of the traditional ways in which the Nativity has been portrayed. This includes the assertion that Mary and Joseph were poor.

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

But equally erroneously asserting that he was somehow middle class does not improve anything. Also, if the idea is that the Dean sees the claims that Jesus was working class as synonymous with being poor (“Jesus, it appears, was born poor – a working class lad from Bethlehem who made good.”) then I think he has made a mistake no less serious than claiming that Jesus’s earthly family were impoverished. He spends time then claiming that Jesus’s family had the trappings of the “middle class” because they could afford basic accommodation and held a small amount of land. The point… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

Years ago, there was a TV program that looked at Judaea at the time of Jesus of Nazareth’s birth, and the narrator made a similar commentary as Mr. Percy, that, as a carpenter, Joseph could relatively easily have travelled to Sepphoris (sp?), a thriving Roman colony not too far from Nazareth, and worked during the week making a good living practicing his trade as a carpenter. But, there is a larger point: From my POV as a non-Christian, every contemporary source about Jesus of Nazareth, whether the Gospels, or Josephus’ brief mention, or Eusebius, ultimately have an agenda. The Gospel… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

If we ‘know nothing about the historical Jesus of Nazareth’ then how can we know that he ‘constantly decried income disparity’? Or was interested in social justice?

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  David Keen
1 month ago

I’m distinguishing the historical person from the man in the Gospels. As one preacher of a sermon I heard decades ago put it, Jesus the man, not Christ the messiah. That is, the biological person who was born (according to the Gospels) to two people named Joseph and Mary, who lived for 33 years, according to church tradition (based on some historical clues in the Gospels, and the symbolism of the double 3s), and was executed by the Romans, apparently for disturbing the peace (potentially causing a riot?) and angering the Judaean religious upper class. While the Gospels downplay Pontius… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Interesting what you say about dating. For this morning’s Gospel we had Luke 3. 1-6. This lists 7 names of important people and states that John the Baptist’s ministry started in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius, which would have been 28-29 AD/ CE.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

Thank you for the feedback. I don’t know if there is a tradition about the length of time between John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth’s approaching ministry, using the words of Isaiah, and the time of Jesus’ execution. I’ve been told that there is disagreement between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John over the length of Jesus’ ministry: 1 year vs 3 years. But if we use 4 BCE/BC as the year of Jesus’ birth, the latest that Augustus as emperor and Herod, sr as king overlap (I’ve read that Quirinius didn’t become governor of Syria until… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Charles Read
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

Martyn Percy is assuredly from upper middle class stock himself.

Do you know this for sure? Part of his problems at CC is that he is not from a posh enough background!

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Most of us would consider school at Merchant Taylors’ to be at the upper end of the curve.

Charles Read
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

That’s a fair point – I’d forgotten where he went to school! But his first degree is from Bristol you know….

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Long the abode of private school alumni who didn’t get into Oxbridge.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jo B
1 month ago

Oxford and Cambridge are OK universities, but I’d just like to point out…..

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

Presumably Professor Percy’s parents decided which school he would go to. Yesterday’s Sunday Times gave us a league table of good state and independent schools any number of which were in London; I’m not clear why Mr & Mrs Percy’s decision about Martyn’s education should inhibit his commentary in any way. More generally it strikes me as incongruous that followers of Jesus and his rag tag and bobtail set of apostles set so much store on the perceived value of a fee paid education. I am not in any doubt that such prejudice exists, I was the victim of it,… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

This is one aspect of the Iwerne/Titus Trust business. An organisation that caters exclusively for public school children appeared to combine a certain sort of snobbery with a certain sort of theology

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

The snobbery is deeply embedded, I doubt that many members of the bishops’ secret dining club Nobody’s Friends were state educated. A senior member of staff at Westcott commented on my trade union work prior to ordination training and referred to me as a ‘shop steward’. I patiently tried to explain that that title was used in industrial settings and not in the banking sector, but he just kept repeating ‘shop steward’ to drown me out. When I gave up he insisted on the last words – ‘shop steward’. He was an old Etonian.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Did he recognise that trade union reps (whatever their title) often support colleagues times of crisis? That such a role requires the ability to listen carefully and empathetically while giving objective advice? Or did he regard such skills as irrelevant to ordained ministry?

My greatest regret about my working life is that I did not devote more time to trade union activity. Contrary to popular
belief most trade union activity does not consist of making unreasonable demands of management and threatening strike action. Most time is devoted to individual casework which can be distressing but highly rewarding.

Charles Read
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Well I went to a Midlands comprehensive followed by Theology degrees at Manchester. No hope for me either. Stephen Sykes once told me I was not a fit person to teach in a theological college as I had not been to Oxbridge. I was in fact better qualified in theology than him. I too was a union rep (and took my members out on strike several times) – this was in teaching and I do sometimes tell people I was a shop steward as it is all some people understand! And when I was a teacher in a theological college… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

It’s shocking that Sykes considered only an Oxbridge background suitable for a theological college lecturer. He seems to have been ignorant of the very fine theology faculties in Manchester and elsewhere.

And how are clergy to minister to people of all types, classes, backgrounds, and parts of England if their teaching is so monochrome?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Is there a name for trades union officials in sectors such as banking? My grandfather was Father of the Chapel – the wonderful title given to shop steward equivalents in the printing industry.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Nothing as evocative as Father of the Chapel Janet – a more workaday ‘Office Representative’. And yes to Simon and Charles, the role involved empathy and listening skills. I often managed to diffuse a fraught situation just by having a giggle with a colleague about some silly management decision. Managers have bad days too and often after a good nights sleep they would relent the next day and harmony would be restored. I only once had to go in all guns blazing and the result was that bank inspector was booted out of the inspection division back to a branch.… Read more »

Staples
Staples
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

I rather hope that was some time ago – I’m currently considering Westcott, and their proclaimed ethos stands quite contrary to that attitude…

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Staples
1 month ago

Given that Sykes retired in 2006 and died in 2014 I think your hope can be considered fulfilled, though I can’t comment on the current situation at Westcott.

The Revd Mark Bennet
The Revd Mark Bennet
Reply to  Staples
1 month ago

As a member of Westcott Council I would certainly hope that the ethos is lived as well as proclaimed. BF Westcott set up what was then “The Clergy Training School” because Cambridge theology graduates of his time (he was a professor in Cambridge for part of his career) were demonstrably in need of some pastoral training before being let loose on parishes … one of the relatively few academics who have had a true pastoral sense.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Staples
1 month ago

I’ve no idea about the current regime at Westcott Staples. I was happy there and it was lovely that there were more gay students than straight – the only time in my life when I was not in a sexual minority. Theological colleges are pressure cookers at the best of times and being able to walk out of the door into the centre of Cambridge was a welcome safety valve.

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

I find these personal comments about Martyn very ungracious. Martyn was adopted (and is patron of an adoption society where I was Chair of Trustees for nearl 15 years). No-one can be blamed for their schooling. I went to a minor public school on a scholarship as I got a very high mark in my 11+. We didn’t even have a bathroom at the time – just a very cold outside WC! When I eventually got into Cambridge in 1963, my father paid £35 (£623 today’s equivalent) for my Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon. If everyone judged preachers / writers… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Following Jesus by turning our backs on wealth and comfort seems like a challenging idea. Somewhat contrary to our fascination with who gets ecclesiastical promotion, in fact.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Rather like the Church of England carbon-neutral policy which seems to mostly be about others making changes (generating green energy or storing carbon) rather than substantive reductions in the energy used by the Church of England.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

I rent a house owned by the Pensions Board, and was refused permission to have solar panels installed at my own expense. They also refused to explain why they wouldn’t let me have it done.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Doesn’t surprise me. The attitude Tim described seems to be cultural across all parts of CofE. I would describe it as “I’m too comfortable to change.”

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Some of us on General Synod will be on the case. We can’t make people do things – well not everyone – but I think that it will be uncomfortable for bodies which hold back from action. Please, anyone who reads this, tell your story as Janet has done. We need to get a vision for corporate action at scale and pace (this might help in other areas of Church life too). Identifying the roadblocks is the first step in getting them removed. Institutional inertia will sap the energy of local enthusiasts – we simply can’t afford to waste passion… Read more »

Charles Read
Reply to  Mark Bennet
1 month ago

Perhaps you could stop dioceses using NDAs while you are at it – only last week a friend (not in my diocese) was told they would need to sign one to settle a case of abuse and harassment. They refused.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Does that mean their case has not been settled? And do the archbishops know of this? Justin Welby is on record as being opposed to NDAs – and while he doesn’t have authority over dioceses he does have influence.

Charles Read
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Not yet settled – don’t know much more and can’t tell – though the dangling of an NDA was I thought worth mentioning in the light of ++Justin’s comments (which I think were entirely right.)

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Thanks Charles. This really should not be still happening.

The Revd Mark Bennet
The Revd Mark Bennet
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

One bizarre thing about the recent changes to the CDM Code of Practice on confidentiality is that it effectively institutionalises non-disclosure (no “agreement” required). I don’t think people have yet realised what they are talking about. On the Sheldon Hub “review of CDM” group this is certainly on the agenda. And I am sure that questions and, if necessary PMMs, will continue to advance the cause for change – the only reason for non-disclosure would be to protect a vulnerable person, not as, at present, to protect a powerful one.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
1 month ago

https://churchinparliament.org/2021/12/02/bishop-of-chelmsford-calls-for-justice-for-nazanin-zaghari-ratcliffe-in-lords-maiden-speech/

Could someone direct me to a link where I might ‘sign up’ for a weekly ‘digest’ of the work of our right reverend Prelates in parliament, more informative than the HoB PR ‘minutes’.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  God 'elp us all
1 month ago

I don’t know of a weekly digest, but the C of E itself has this site:

http://www.churchinparliament.org/

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Thanks so much for Dean Joe Hawes’ piece. A memoir of personal experience trumps discursive writing every time. Hawes makes a potent connection with the situation in Ghana. I liked, as well, the iconoclastic take of Martyn Percy on the infancy narratives. Testing assumptions is good. Besides, the hint and clues of history that lurk around the edges of mythology are fun to riff upon. Was ancient Troy in Turkey? Does the hypothesis really add anything to The Odyssey? A neat way to read the infancy narratives is to connect them to other artistic expressions e.g. 2 Cor.8:9 or Eliot’s,… Read more »

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

An astonishingly beautiful, dignified, personal, political, theological and prophetic maiden speech by the Bishop of Chelmsford. Not consumed by bitterness, but compelled to work for justice. Praying for the release of Nazanin, and all those imprisoned wrongly.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

Couldn’t agree more. Has dramatically raised the bar for the Lords Spiritual.

Priscilla White
Priscilla White
1 month ago

Is it really possible to read a modern class system into the New Testament?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Priscilla White
1 month ago

I have stayed out of the discussion partly because I don’t think it is sensible.

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