Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 4 May 2022

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Music in Worship: Questions that need to be asked.

Amy Kenny Earth & Altar Celebrating the Wheelchair: an excerpt from My Body is not a Prayer Request

Mark Chapman ViaMedia.News It’s Not Just About the Bible

Peter Webster Webstory Michael Ramsey and the Lambeth Conference

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Susannah Clark
17 days ago

MUSIC! Really interesting and thought provoking article by Stephen. Thank you! My initial reaction is this: God is both a personal and a reclusive God. Music that helps you open to personal feelings towards God can be very tender, very encouraging, and can definitely open you to encounter. Other types of music can open you to sense of the numinous otherness of God, and fill you with sense of wonder, awe, beauty, and a tentative encounter with the vast otherness that makes up so much of who God is. I find I can never ‘take sides’. I just like too… Read more »

Kate
Kate
17 days ago

Stephen Parsons raises an important point: royalties on music. Is that really any different than the money changers whose tables Jesus overthrew?

John N Wall Jr
Reply to  Kate
17 days ago

Generically speaking, royalties mean the composers get paid for their work, and they have bills to pay, too, just like the rest of us.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Kate
17 days ago

Yes. The money-changers were making it hard for people to worship God. The outer court was full of bleating lambs and sellers hawking their wares and people exchanging Roman money. No one was focused on God. Christian musicians and song writers are helping people to focus on God, to worship Him, to praise Him.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Bob
16 days ago

I don’t see how you come to that distinction. (And I think the other comments are derivatives of yours.) The money changers were enhancing worship by ensuring that the image of a secular person didn’t appear on the coins gifted. The dove sellers were making worship easier by selling sacrifices at the temple so people didn’t have the problems of traveling with animals. All that is different is the prevailing culture. I bet that the merchants believed that they were concentrating on God.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate
16 days ago

The Temple coins were, I think, Tyrian shekels. They bore an image of the Phoenician god Baal.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Kate
16 days ago

Clearly, God demands that we worship him in sensory deprivation chambers.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
15 days ago

If you’re looking for guidance in the Bible, St. Paul argues that those who labour in the gospel have a right to be paid: ‘thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,’ and ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire.’ Since Christian music is an instrument of teaching, mission, healing, and worship, I would argue that those who compose, perform, and produce it should be included among those who minister the gospel.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
15 days ago

That’s Paul who was a mendicant in his ministry with no indication that he was paid so I think your interpretation is at odds with his conduct and almost certainly wrong.
 
But it you genuinely believe that those who labour in the gospel should be paid then the choir should be paid as professional musicians, and those who voluntarily clean churches should be paid at least minimum wage.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Kate
14 days ago

That’s really a stretch. Those who pay for their education and work as clergy with a family to support should be paid. Very few ever got rich as a vicar. Those who work “voluntarily” volunteer, meaning that they offer their service without expectation of payment. Some churches hire professional musicians, who have every right to expect to be paid. Those who volunteer to sing or play an instrument clearly forego payment willingly. Mendicants and beggars willingly give up a salary and pray that God will provide. Most of us today cannot do that, nor do we expect that of others.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Richard
13 days ago

For as long as I can remember (born 1950) I’ve witnessed the polarisation between those who are willing to pay for church music and those who think that it should grow organically from church members. The two groups shout at one another but in true C of E fashion don’t listen. One of my last churcches included a powerful warden – the son of a former incumbent of the parish – adamant that musicians should emerge from church members (just as do roofers, plumbers, carpenters, stained glass restorers, organ builders, stonemasons and architects, of course). The result was a rota… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
13 days ago

oh dear; Consequences not conquered. Silly me.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
13 days ago

When I was in my 20’s (I was born a couple years before you), I agreed to go to the Virgin Islands to work as organist and choir director — for no pay, other than a small apartment about 3 minutes from the beach. There was an aged Hammond organ, but an enthusiastic choir (also mostly aged). It was a wonderful experience. After I left, the church purchased a new organ and hired an organist who was paid a fair salary. I was happy to be the volunteer who showed the parish what proper music was like and would lend… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Richard
13 days ago

Good for you, Richard. The problem in my last church was the lack of direction since there was no musical boss and therefore no musical vision. You might think I as Vicar could have provided that, and so I could have, but I had more pressing issues, notably survival, and running the homeless shelter, and attending to my other church, the civic church, which had the sense to pay an organist (and very good he was and is). For much of my life until I was ordained I was an unpaid church organist in Nottingham, Dublin and Derby, but I… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Kate
13 days ago

I think the evidence from the Didache is that wandering ministers certainly were paid, the deal was board and lodging in return for healing and teaching, just like for Jesus in his ministry. But if a mendicant wanted to settle down in one place for a period of time then they would be expected to become self supporting and get a job.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Janet Fife
13 days ago

Should Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, housegroup leaders and people on the coffee rota be similarly paid? If so by who?

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Kate
17 days ago

You raise a fair point: Jesus wanted no commerce on the Temple grounds. But I’ve read that the Temple had its own coinage, or wouldn’t accept coinage with the Roman emperor’s profile, etc. Most Judaeans who had money didn’t walk around with Temple coinage at the ready, so what were they to do? According to my own reading, if one looks beyond the Gospels (written to evangelize and thus with a specific POV oftentimes antagonistic towards the prevailing Jewish establishment), one of the criticisms leveled against early Christianity by contemporary rabbis was that Jesus of Nazareth was too idealistic. It’s… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Richard
Richard
Reply to  Kate
17 days ago

Churches pay for bread, wine, candles, electricity, staff salaries, etc. Why should they not expect to pay for music? Royalties in this sense is not the cost of the music paid by the church, but the fee paid by the publisher to whoever wrote the music. That seems fair to me (despite the Hillsong group being pretty flush).

Father Ron Smith
17 days ago

Stephen Parsons’ great article provoked in me a sudden glow of fond remembrance of times past in the area of ‘Christian’ music. Brought up in the atmosphere of English Cathedral Music, with choirs that once featured only male singers; I still have a passion for Byrd, Bach and Anglican chant, and occasional forays into plainchant – especially from my short period as an Anglican Franciscan. However I was introduced in the early 1970s to the explosion – at Saint Paul’s Anglican Church in Auckland, New Zealand – to the emerging music of the charismatic movement which had been brought there… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
17 days ago

(continued) As a secular priest, from New Zealand, I attended an Anglican Charismatic Conference at the venue, in the University of Canterbury in the, U.K., which the very next week was to be used by Anglican Bishops from around the world for the Lambeth Conference of 1988 (?) The music for us charismatics was provided by none other that the renowned Graham Kendrick and his musicians, that managed to provide just the right sort of vehicle for spiritual reflection and renewal that many of us felt compatible with our varied theological and liturgical backgrounds. It was at this Conference that… Read more »

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
11 days ago

More than 50 years ago, I, as a SSF Novice in New York, knelt for Archbishop Ramsey’s blessing and kissed his ring. I was such an admirer of his; that blessing was a high point of my life!

Father David
Father David
16 days ago

Ah, Blessed Michael Ramsey. I wonder if a saint will ever again occupy St. Augustine’s throne? Whenever I encountered him the holiness of the man simply shone through. Regarding the innovation at the 1968 Lambeth Conference of inviting Suffragan bishops to attend, the article states that there were 48 from England alone. I’ve just counted the current list and I got to 73. An increase of 25 suffragans in the last 54 years and still we decline in the number of practising Anglicans within the C of E. I would guess that the majority in the pews today were there… Read more »

A Menage
A Menage
Reply to  Father David
16 days ago

Says it all!!

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
16 days ago

Excellent piece by Mark Chapman. And as a fellow member of the LLF History work stream, I can confirm his account.
It also reminded me that natural law arguments were largely used against the ordination of women in the past century or so until even they began to wear a bit thin. I seem to remember a letter to Church Times in the late 1980s that claimed a woman wearing vestments would be ‘cross dressing’ or something along those lines because vestments were clearly masculine dress, of course.

mark
mark
Reply to  Judith Maltby
16 days ago

Being disabled myself i read that piece with great interest. my dad is a methodist minister and got a few people saying i was disabled because of his past sins. But i am feeling a calling to ordained ministry myself but many church pulpits etc areas to preside are in accessible you would think given the average age of a church goer small adaptations would be made anyway to help people lead prayers or readings etc.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  mark
16 days ago

Indeed. Don’t get me going. I have poor hearing and very poor vision. Neither is uncommon. Yet we still have poor lighting, no large print books/leaflets, screens that are far away AND small (unlike the cows in Father Ted), jurassic PA systems that are sometimes switched on. I could go on ….

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Judith Maltby
16 days ago

Judith. I have a different experience of Mark Chapman. I went to a presentation of his to a Salisbury diocesan training day on sexuality which was part of the diocesan attempt to engage with LLF. Mark comes across as very knowledgeable, and I can understand that many people would find his discourse convincing. But I would argue that Mark is a straight man who is too prone to cite straight authors who write about homosexual issues and homosexual people. He seemed much less willing to cite and engage with works or actions actually by gay writers and campaigners. For example,… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
16 days ago

I’m very taken with your comment. Note the following from Chapman’s article: “Most historians, perhaps rather naively, still like to believe in something like objective truth.” Upon reflection, and given your perspicacious critique of his perspective, I’m wondering where he fits with regard to someone like H.G. Gadamer?

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rod Gillis
15 days ago

Rod, I can’t comment on Gadamer, sorry, but as for “objective truth”, sorry but it’s a mirage.

For my own view and personal experience on how history works, see the first few pages of this document. http://www.simondawson.com/llflong.pdf

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
15 days ago

First off, thanks for the link. I’ve only had opportunity to read the paper once. I like the citation from Barbara Brown “What if people were invited to church to come tell what they already know of God, instead of to learn what they are supposed to believe.”  Also, the notion that extremes at either end of a debate can frighten policy makers is insightful. I don’t know enough about the LLF project in the C of E to offer informed comment on specifics. However, I’ve been involved in policy development adventures here. Despite claims, and sometimes best intentions, to… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
Reply to  Simon Dawson
16 days ago

Simon, in a short piece, Mark is limited is what he can say. Also, I think he is focusing on official narratives and has helpful things to say about the way the debate is being conducted now to put it into historical perspective- that’s what historians do. To give another example, I first became involved in the ordination of women movement in the late 1970s and I don’t recall anyone ever suggesting that men shouldn’t express a view on it. In fact men endlessly express views about what women may and may not do and as a church we continue… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Judith Maltby
15 days ago

Judith, thank you for your thoughtful response. I do agree with you. Mark has useful stories to tell, but I am concerned that because of his academic status Mark’s version of the story becomes privileged. I simply wanted to add a caveat. We need to remember that his story is one version only, and that there are other, very different, stories that are not being heard, because their tellers do not find it as easy as Mark to find a platform from which to speak within the church structures, or because their stories are less acceptable than Mark’s to the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
16 days ago

The Mark Chapman article is interesting. It ends by suggesting that the controls for the criteria on sexual ethics, including ‘biblical’ criterion, will continue to be elusive. Chapman’s final paragraph references a prescient quote from Kenneth Ingram writing on love as a value in the 1940s. One wonders, how far have we really advanced since the bifurcation between traditionalists and situationalists in the previous century? As an example, one could set alongside the citation from Ingram the comments Archbishop Welby made to la Repubblica in 2021 in which he seemed to suggest that love is not enough, seeming to suggest… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  Rod Gillis
15 days ago

Thank you, Rod, for this: “ If the choices are between biblical proof texting on the one hand and a fossilized understanding of natural law on the other, the bifurcation will remain unbridgeable.” I guess truth itself does not change, but the way human beings perceive that truth has already been enunciated by the words of Jesus: “When the Holy Spirit comes S/He will lead you into all the Truth” This surely indicates a gradual procession of understanding what the TRUTH is all about. Gender and sexuality questions may once have been no better understood than, say, issues of slavery, usury,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
14 days ago

Fantastic comment, Father Ron, and thank you for a reminder of that statement: “When the Holy Spirit comes S/He will lead you into all the Truth.” We are created with God-given consciences, and each of us (including the original bible authors) have to try to understand what God is revealing to us… in our own time, in our own culture, and within the parameters of our knowledge and science. Our vocation – our ‘being called into being’ – is not a once off event framed in the rules of static text. We continue to be opened up to love. The… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
14 days ago

Yes, it’s one of the reasons I like the citation from Barbara Brown (above) in the Simon Dawson piece. Wilfred Cantwell Smith noted in The Meaning and End of Religion that there are as many types of Christian faith as there are Christians (paraphrasis). Given what we know about the nature of knowledge, given what we know about the dynamics of knowing, the notion of a faith defined as a set of ‘beliefs’ once delivered to the saints requires theological and political reappraisal. I think the evaluation of natural law in the Chapman piece is dead on. However, as Chapman… Read more »

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