Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 9 November 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Establishment dynamics. How secrecy and defensiveness harm the Church.

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News Remembering – An Active Choice?

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News The All-Seeing Eye

Kate Wharton Single Minded The Billy Graham Rule

Philip North Church Times We don’t need to bring Jesus to urban estates
“The Church’s task is to demonstrate that he is already present, not to provide all the answers”

Sara Batts-Neale Church Times The tyranny of the perfect wedding
“Sara Batts-Neale’s ministry to her wedding couples extends to their bank balance”

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David Emmott
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David Emmott

re Stephen Parsons’s article: the Establishment is so pervasive (and persuasive) that it has conned us all into accepting its behaviour as normal. Describing elitist schools for the rich as ‘public’ schools is one such example, and I don’t think we should connive at it.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

If you haven’t seen it, watch A very British coup. Channel 4 catch up. The hidden elite who have ruled “yea, even unto the Middle Ages”

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

As I understand it, the term ‘public school’ has historical roots. The schools were ‘public’, in contrast to an education acquired by being tutored at home. It’s an anomaly now, but then we have a lot of anomalous terms and customs with historical roots.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

I know the origin of the term. But it normalises the exceptional behaviour of the rich. As if they alone were the public and the rest of us were of no account. It’s not a historical anomaly because many people (eg Rees Mogg) still think like that.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

“Public school” also contrasted historically with “private school”. A public school was endowed for public use and subject to public management or control [OED] whereas a private school is “a fee-paying school run for the personal profit of the proprietors” [OED again]. The earliest public schools were the local endowed grammar schools, but they later developed into taking boys (only boys of course) from beyond their local area. The corresponding Latin term “publica schola” is recorded in England at least as far back as 1180 (and itself goes back much further, e.g. it is used by Jerome earlier than 420).

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Philip North is as usual right. Listening is vital. My view of church, and indeed Christianity, has been turned on its head by ministry in an inner urban context. It’s no good “middle class” church people telling UPA people what they need: we must ASK them (I ’m sorry to use the “class” term, but it’s shorthand). It was no good diocesan advisers telling me what I should be doing, as if I had at my disposal an army of willing helpers and pots of money. Indeed, on one occasion I refused to listen to one such until they’d listened… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“I’ve written on TA before about the silliness of doctrines that promise jam tomorrow: salvation and eternal, abundant, life are about here and now” I take it that you think Jesus got it wrong when he preached the Sermon on the Mount then because that was all about jam tomorrow? In fact, jam tomorrow is a central theme of His ministry. Where the Church gets it wrong, and has been getting it wrong for hundreds of years, is that it fails to challenge those who have jam today. And, in world terms, very, very few in this country are anything… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“I take it that you think Jesus got it wrong when he preached the Sermon on the Mount then because that was all about jam tomorrow? In fact, jam tomorrow is a central theme of His ministry.”

But still he didn’t neglect the needs of those who require jam today. Remember the loaves and fishes. And, of course, “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”

Kate
Guest
Kate

Yes but salvation and the message are about the life eternal. In this life, following Jesus is likely to make things harder, not easier. I agree that Jesus was a good host and saw to the physical needs of those to whom he was preaching when needed. One of the ways in which the Eucharist has been debased is that the original intent was to share a meal but these days we distribute only a tiny, dry wafer and a sip of wine. Hardly good hospitality. It might suit middle class worshippers but for those in food poverty it is… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Kate writes: “salvation and the message are about the life eternal”. Whether that is or is not the case is what’s being discussed. Asserting it doesn’t make it true. What is meant by “eternal”, for example? What Greek word or words does it translate, and what range of meanings might the Greek carry? Life in the future does not necessarily or exclusively mean life after death.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Eternal: e(x)ternal, out of time, ec-stasis. A quality of life here and now. Nothing to do with future or quantity.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Thanks. I’m no bible scholar or language scholar. Isn’t there a strong argument that “eternal life” is “life in the age to come”, i.e. life in the new age that Jesus has inaugurated: life in all it fullness, life in the kingdom of God, life where God’s will is done?

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Guys, surely it’s both. The eternal, the sovereign rule of God, breaks in to the here and now, when people open their hearts to the flow of God’s love. But the eternal is also the deeper state of reality, both enacted here and now, and beyond here and now. And the promise of ‘beyond here and now’ seems to me to be presupposed and woven into the gospel of Jesus Christ. ‘Death where is your sting?’ ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ Personally, I take a more radical view of eternity than some people. I view eternity as the… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Thanks Susannah. I don’t in general have a problem with that. In practice, it seems to me that the visible outcome in this world is the same — that we are called to work for the increase of God’s rule here and now, supporting the poor and marginalized and the oppressed, and being reconciled with all. God is a incarnate God, living in the messiness of the same world as we do, and present for us in all those who need our love. Whatever happens after that is unknown and unknowable.

Kate
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Kate

«em>“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. – John 5; 28-29 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Nonetheless we should be aware of the variety of possible interpretations of this, Kate. In John 5, Jesus uses terms which are appropriate to the resurrection of the body, something we affirm in the creed, but which really doesn’t fit with the sort of interpretation that, e.g., Susannah has outlined. It seems to imply real physical resurrection in our physical bodies (wonderfully imagined by Stanley Spencer). And yet elsewhere, Jesus tells his questioners that it’s not like that at all. We might interpret these words as parable, reminding us that those who have not heard are “dead”, and those who… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Parables yes. People like Miss Havisham, or Gollum, or Mr Burns in the Simpsons (extreme examples but there are many, indeed we all have bits that cling on to the past somehow) are dead. People who relish every moment* are alive – life abundant, saved, liberated, call it what you will. Language, idioms, culture can not be imported from the Levant 2K yrs ago to here and now. Paul’s “flesh” to me is ego. Jesus arguing with himself in Gethsemane is him “killing” his ego. Self, ego, dies, selflessness ascends. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. * interestingly… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Ah. Simon, to clarify, I believe in physical resurrection but with a far deeper psychological state of being. I believe that individuality is not erased, even if God chooses to share awareness with us. I was describing one aspect of deeper reality (as far as one can even start to understand it) which is maybe experienced in contemplative state. But I don’t believe that is the only aspect of life with God. My view, based on certain experiences, is that there is a resurrection dimension to existence and our individual existence, that is deeply deeply physical. In fact, far more… Read more »

Andrew Welsby
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Andrew Welsby

Lukes account of the Beatitudes is very much about jam today!

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

… and quite marvellous in Peterson’s ” the Message”.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Thank you, Kate Wharton! This excerpt sums it up brilliantly: “A rule which casts the man in the role of weak willed robot, slave to his desires, incapable of withstanding temptation or resisting feminine wiles. A rule which casts the woman in the role of sultry temptress, who with one wink of her eye can draw the man into sin. […] Surely we can all do better?” The first I heard of the so-called “Billy Graham rule” (which I think of as the “man with no internal discipline rule”) was 10 to 20 years ago, when a nuclear missile firing… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Kate Wharton’s article is excellent. It’s a bit like when women are told to dress more modestly, because otherwise men will be overcome with desire. You can find someone sexually attractive without being overcome with desire. It’s all about self-control and your own decency. Personal responsibility and integrity. It’s a real shame if women cannot be mentored by men, or the other way round; or can’t meet up for a coffee or meal to discuss issues and get to know each other; or act as counsellors for each other. As you say, Peter, this almost objectifies women as adulteresses, and… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

I am reminded of an engraving at the recent superb Renaissance Nude exhibition at the Royal Academy.. It was an engraving by Lucas Cranach the Elder showing the penance of St John Chrystostom. The accompanying blurb told the story. “According to an apocryphal account, St John Chrystostom lived as a hermit in the desert when he encountered the daughter of an emperor. Having succumbed to desire, he was so ashamed that he threw her over a precipice.”

Mary Clara
Guest
Mary Clara

Now, that’s what I call penance! We ought to teach that exemplary tale to children in Sunday School.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

See what happens when you forget the Billy Graham rule!

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

LOL

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

It’s difficult. This story is so awful our only response is to joke about it. If we don’t laugh we will cry. But reading about St John Chrystostom it seems to me that he had a damaged and damaging attitude to women and to sexuality in general. This story may be apocryphal but it could well be be typical of the man. In his book Sexuality and History Philip Sheldrake argues that in the early Church many ascetics with little knowledge or experience of women or sexuality (and sometimes with deeply troubling views about the same) became the bishops and… Read more »

John swanson
Guest
John swanson

But why, if the thinking behind the Billy Graham Rule is so regressive and flawed, why still stick with what seems largely a watered down version of the same thing, the “no overnight stay” rule?

Kate
Guest
Kate

That, John, is the glaring inconsistency and why Kate Wharton’s piece is very unconvincing.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

What IS the “no overnight stay” rule?

From what Kate Wharton was saying, I’m thinking that normal *daytime* interactions between men and women can be natural, advantageous, and inclusive. Why shouldn’t a man mentor a woman, or a woman mentor a man. Do we always have to sexualise everything. We can have a meal, or a counselling session, or a study session, or a prayer time… as PEOPLE.

Besides, what, if like me, you are lesbian? Does that then mean I should never have these interactions with women, but only with men? Where does it all end?

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

This struck me as well Susannah – the implicit assumption that everyone is straight. According to this line of thinking it seems to be problematic to leave a senior churchman alone with a young woman, but perfectly acceptable to leave him alone with a young man?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

No. This is a caricature, a straw man version of the real line of reasoning, which surely comes from honourable intentions even if it is excessive or extreme.

Certainly the presence of a chaperone is to be preferred to a MeToo moment, no?

What happens behind closed doors between two people does always come down to one person’s word against another. And where there are power imbalances and mixed motives that really does quickly become complex

Graeme buttery
Guest
Graeme buttery

Of course bishop Philip speaks from experience in his own parish ministry, some of it in Hartlepool, where I have the honour to serve. Jesus is indeed already here (always has been), and Stanley is right about lived experience, but three things occurred to me. Firstly, my folks don’t want sympathy or even fine initiatives always organised by someone outside:what they are after is equality of opportunity. Secondly, just like everywhere else, each of these communities marches to the beat of a different drum: over views, generalised theories and telling us to adopt what St. S o and sos did,… Read more »

Bob Edmonds
Guest
Bob Edmonds

Philip North is right, what a pity he isn’t the Bishop of Sheffield. Though there are encouraging signs of church growth in areas of social deprivation such as at Holy Cross Gleadless Valley here in Sheffield there are many who have not heard and responded to the gospel of forgiveness. It’s not social action or evangelism but both. Christ, the servant King came to serve, not to be served. So the church must serve in the community, helping the weak, the poor, the marginalised. But Christ also called on the church to make disciples of all nations and to preach… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Jesus didn’t only – or even mainly – preach forgiveness. He preached freedom from the fear of death and love for God and neighbour, among other things. Social action motivated by a conviction of God’s love for everyone is great, but the whole gospel must be preached and lived. A very tall order, but Jesus promised to be with us always as we try to carry out his commands.

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

I remain relieved that Philip North isn’t Bishop of Sheffield. He may be accurate on issues of urban deprivation – but he is a misogynist, and if he had his way, people like me (who lack a Y chromosome) would not be able to respond to our calling.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Can he hold a sincere belief in conscience – that it is God’s plan for the priests to be male – without being misogynist? You could argue that many Christians think non-Christians are going to hell, and that if they had their way non-Christians would not be able to go to heaven. But would that make the Christians misanthropists? It is possible that Philip holds his views, not out of any dislike of women whatsoever, but just because in good conscience he thinks that’s the way God has ordained it. I wouldn’t agree with that view myself (about a male-only… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Thank you Susannah. You express my own position on Philip North and the Sheffield incident very clearly. I have no grounds for believing he hates women. But his very poor handling of the Sheffield appointment process showed an extremely serious lack of awareness and sensitivity in someone being appointed to a diocese and region with a proud history of championing the full inclusion and partnership of women alongside men in church and society. That unawareness extended to these involved in appointing him too of course – but I don’t assume they hate women either.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

Amen, Cathy. Evangelism and talk about the Gospel really ring hollow when the messenger is clearly excluding me, my women friends, my gay friends, but most especially women and minorities who are poor because they have fewer resources. The failure of the church to recognize all people as created in the image of God, loved by God, is part of the same stumbling block towards spreading the Good News to the poor and oppressed. The minute someone asks the question “why are they poor and oppressed” it comes back to our society (including the church) which allows exploitation and oppression… Read more »