Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 6 May 2020

Helen King ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back..in Our Quest for the “Perfect Service”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church How Institutions fail us. Chernobyl, Trump and the Church of England

Kelvin Holdsworth What if this is the end of the Eucharist?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Christian wisdom for the Covid-19 epidemic

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ACIRod GillisJanet FifeFather Ron SmithSusannah Clark Recent comment authors
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peterpi -- Peter Gross
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peterpi -- Peter Gross

Maybe I didn’t read enough of Mr. Holdsworth’s quoted writing at the end, but overall, I feel Mr. Holdsworth himself sounded overwrought. The various orthodox denominations within Christianity which practice some form of the Eucharist/the Mass have done so for centuries, and even millennia. They have survived natural disasters, wars, famines, catastrophic pandemics, internal strife, external suppression, etc. Long term, just as no one wants a nation’s economy frozen long-term and secular leaders are trying to figure out a way forward, I doubt no one within the various religious denominations wants their houses of worship to be empty monuments long-term.… Read more »

ACI
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ACI

I agree with you. It sounded a bit dramatic, and lacking a sense of the church’s struggles throughout the ages with things like disease, famine, infant mortality, wars, pandemics.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“….lacking a sense of the church’s struggles throughout the ages ….” Hardly. Difficult to see that as take away from a careful reading of the article i.e. the very long citation from Gregory Dix and Holdsworth’s comments immediately following. But then encouraging people in church land to get beyond the forced perspective of what has always happened before, is never easy.

ACI
Guest
ACI

You are entitled to your opinion. The essay was, as noted, “overwrought.” It is as though our present realities are definitional for the ages. Alors.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“You are entitled to your opinion.” Thank you, as are you. However, I suspect opinion ping pong between us would soon become ‘très plate’ if past comments here about our doing so are any indicator. So, I’ll resist temptation and leave it there. -Salut.

ACI
Guest
ACI

I think it is wise to let the original comment have the last word. ‘Overwrought.’ Tout a fait.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I think Kelvin Holdsworth’s interrogative approach is an antidote to the premature conclusions being offered by others i.e. welcome to the ‘new’ pandemic church naivety. Holdsworth is not alone. “Questions cascade as communities prepare for whatever world awaits us once the shutdowns are over: How will we be changed by this experience? What new life will emerge from this encounter with apocalypse? How will the life of our church be different? Will there emerge a new set of shared social values that promote the flourishing of all?” See link to Peter Elliott’s full reflection on post-apocalyptic liturgy and the artistry… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I think these words of Stephen’s are really worth developing: “The calamities and failures of safeguarding have been partly as the result of the church, at the leadership level, attempting to hide its crises in secret committees. If the transition to the future, whatever that may involve, is to be a smooth one, we need to hear far more of what goes on behind closed doors.”

If we can watch and listen to Parliament live, why shouldn’t we also be able to watch and listen to the Bishops’ meetings live too?

Jayne Ozanne
Guest
Jayne Ozanne

Now that would be a thing…I wonder what the bishops’ defense would be for why they need to be so tightly closed to the public? Perhaps it’s time for us to consider the equivalent of Select Committees to provide much needed open scrutiny….

Susannah Clark
Guest

Yes, it would be really good if there could be open and regular question and answer sessions with Select Committees able (with grace) to ‘grill’ people they call to answer questions. There is a need to counter top-down PR, attempts at damage limitation or obfuscation, and avoidance of open dialogue on issues. At the same time, if no-one is afraid of the truth, then why not livestream the discussions of the House of Bishops in the same way MPs are livestreamed when they discuss and are questioned in Parliament? If it’s good enough for Parliament, it should be good enough… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

That’s a good idea, Susannah. ‘Men were lovers of darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.’ We hope the bishops’ deeds aren’t evil, but their (and the Church’s senior civil servants’) love of secrecy suggests they have much to hide. We know enough about their failures with regard to abuse and survivors to suspect that there’s much more yet to come out. They’d do better to come clean now.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I just think there should be far more openness and transparency, Janet. Jayne’s idea (above) of Select Committees able to call, scrutinise, and question bishops could act as a counter-balance to the tendency of some people at the top of the structure to try to control the agenda, and its timing, through top-down directives, selective PR, and avoidance of difficult questions. I respect the very good work that many bishops do, and have known some truly humble and faithful individuals, who have taught me about the servant nature of leadership. Nobody says being a bishop is easy: most of us… Read more »

Alan Wilson
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Alan Wilson

A really interesting thought. If we use the language of General Synod being the Church’s Parliament, and we do, perhaps a similar standard to openness in debates from (by analogy) the Upper House would be a very good idea, as well as enabling us all better to follow S. John’s injunction to “walk in the light as he is in the light.”

Kate
Guest
Kate

Transparency offers little unless accompanied by proper mechanisms to hold those making decisions to account.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Transparency is at least a good start. It provides a powerful motive to do things honestly and fairly.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Good to see the link to Kelvin Holdsworth. I like the way he encourages the posing of further questions. It is especially thought provoking when a definitive solution in a new and dynamic situation is not immediately apparent. I appreciated his adverting to the perspective of Dom Gregory Dix.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I am normally in broad agreement with Fr. Kelvin Holdsworth’s comments However, his provocative heading:”What if this is the end of the Eucharist” would pre-suppose that we are, indeed, already in the ‘end times’ so beloved of the protestant millennialists. As others here have already remarked, the world and the Church have survived much more serious obstacles than COVID 19, and the time when ‘Sacraments shall cease’.is not ours to enunciate. SEMPER FIDELIS should be our guiding principle in all of this.

Fr John Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Harris-White

Peter refers to competent leadership. In the church of England this is certainly lacking at this time. Micro management seems the order of the day. No theology, no spiritual content appears to be in the minds of the Archbishops. No support for the nation, only silence as they slam shut the church and cathedral doors. Fortunately God cannot be locked in or out, and we pray fresh leaders will come forward in the Church of England, and replace the present dead wood.

Fr John Emlyn

Richard Grand
Guest
Richard Grand

I see lots of online worship, prayers, and comment from leaders of the Church of England. But the disgruntlement goes on in true churchy fashion. The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” comes to mind, as well as “no deed, however well-intentioned, escapes criticism.” Grumbling is endless among clergy at the best of times, but it it not helpful at a time when everyone is trying to find their feet and do what is best.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

In the midst of a wide-ranging discussion Stephen Parsons offers a perceptive, often missing, critique of the way people abdicate (willingly – rather than have taken) their will and critical faculties to ‘institutions’ and their leaders. I agree and think our current, critical preoccupations with ‘leadership’ needs to include a self-critical, self-aware discussion about ‘followership’ – those being led. And he is right to note how often there can be a widespread reluctance to take responsibility, initiative and to think for ourselves. So when Parsons then speaks of a ‘paralysis of leadership’ whose fault is this exactly? Leadership, he suggests,… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Since clergy are constrained by avowed obedience, how can they take the responsibility you expect? And lay Christians have pulled the big red lever – they have stopped attending church in droves – but leadership is carrying on unhindered. Trying to pass the buck from the bishops isn’t reasonable until a) they release clergy from their vows of obedience and b) recognise that the laity has left because society and its moral values has moved on but the church remains middle-class, male-dominated, anti-LGBT, judgemental yet unwilling to deal properly with historic abuse and survivors, and above all concerned more with… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

“there can be a widespread reluctance to take responsibility, initiative and to think for ourselves…” David, thank you for quite rightly extending challenge to everyone and not just dumping all the blame on leaders (who can never please all of the people all of the time). Do we suffer from a culture of leaving leadership to those at the top, and then blaming them? And if so, what would be your view of rectors and vicars, and their local church communities and PCCs – in the outworking of the LLF process, if it does not lead to substantive change –… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Today (May 8th) is the commemoration of Julian of Norwich.Given the saint’s connection with isolation, the role of illness in God’s showings to her, and the discussion on eucharist here, these words from Julian seem in season, “A mother feeds her child with her milk, but our beloved mother Jesus feeds us with himself. In tender courtesy he gives us the blessed sacrament, the most treasured food of life.” Blessings to all, and may all be well.