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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

St Asaph Cathedral's turn to face the music


St Asaph Cathedral                                                                                        Source: Church in Wales

The Dean and Chapter of St Asaph Cathedral have released a statement regarding their financial position.

It says “Following a reduction in the budget, which has been under financial pressure for some time, we have had to review our financial position...We can however give our assurances that arrangements will be put in place to ensure that the Cathedral continues to provide the same high standards of music and worship for principal cathedral and diocesan services.”

According to a BBC report the job losses will affect part-time employees, including the cathedral's director of music and his assistant. It is understood the redundancies will not affect any members of the clergy.

No surprise there.

Back in June the Bishop of St Asaph announced a new line up to the diocesan leadership team:

"Announcing the new team, Bishop Gregory said: 'The retirement of two Archdeacons this year gives us the opportunity to change the role and responsibilities of Archdeacons.  Originally conceived as the bishop’s fixers, we want our archdeacons to lead the renewal of the Church, and to mentor and lead Mission Areas towards growth'."

Growth has been most evident at the top in the Church in Wales with the appointment of extra archdeacons and advisers to assist a bench of bishops busily trying to satisfy the desires of the flesh rather than the needs of the spirit.

One thing the bishops show no inclination to fix is the top-heavy structure as recommended in the Harries Review [15. Dioceses: their number and administration]. 

From an entry Welsh bishops relegate unity:
Empire building in a declining church appears to be high on the list of priorities for the bench of bishops even though the Church in Wales Review recommended a reduction in the number of dioceses and the associated administrative costs.

From Section 15 of the Review:

"...there is a widespread sense across the church that the Church in Wales is top heavy, with too many committees and too much time spent on simply keeping the institution going as it is."

No change there then.

The bishops of St Davids, St Asaph, Llandaff, Swansea and Brecon (archbishop), Bangor, and Monmouth having a laugh          Source: Premier Christian Radio

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Commendable but...


"A Poor Upbringing?"                                                    Source: Church in Wales


Eisteddfod focus on child poverty. A Provincial press release from the Church in Wales draws attention to the issue of child poverty. "Church volunteers are stepping in to provide food and support for struggling families as cuts to public spending impact on child poverty."

All very commendable. - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27.

Also, "Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2: 15-17.

The latter quote comes after "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment" in a section headed Favoritism Forbidden.

Another type of poverty has been created in Wales. Spiritual poverty. The process started by Barry and his bench sitters and carried on by Abp Morgan's successor, as they favour the ordained ministry of women and all the LGBT baggage brought with it above traditional, often cradle, Anglicans. 

No mercy has been shown to former and existing Anglicans who who have clung to the catholic faith. No tolerance and no support after the position of Provincial Assistant Bishop was buried by Abp Barry Morgan in indecent haste at the earliest opportunity without discussion. Provincial episcopal visitors as enjoyed in the Church of England are banned from providing sacramental and pastoral oversight in Wales.

Too many career minded clerics 'saw the light' after it became clear that Governing Body decisions were to carry far more weight than scripture, tradition and reason. Wittingly or unwittingly, they have aided the bench of bishops in turning the Church in Wales into a pit of misery, soon to disappear down its own orifice.

Ministry areas are struggling. Clergy are in short supply. So much so that lay people are conducting services, including Communion by Extension where "the sacrament is taken to a church from another church within the benefice, where the Holy Eucharist has previously been celebrated". A measure encouraged to keep the bishops in the style they mistakenly believe they are entitle to.

Further decline seems inevitable.

The bishop of St Davids followed by the bishop of Llandaff lost no time in advancing their secular causes while complaining that they had been discriminated against because people disagreed with them. Holding the view that the ordained ministry is not open to women is not discriminatory, it is the position of the Holy Catholic Church

Feminism and LGBT issues have become so dominant in the Church in Wales that traditional faith is seen as unacceptable, casting former loyal Anglicans into spiritual poverty.

Nobody cares, least of all the "chief pastors or shepherds" despite what is claimed:
 What distinguishes the Church from other communities, at least in its own self-understanding, is that it is a ‘spiritual’ community – a fellowship/community of the Holy Spirit. That is, it claims to participate in the Spirit of God and to be established as the community it essentially is by the Spirit of God. - The Church and its Ministry

Surrender of the C of E to the ‘zeitgeist’
Pride is one of the seven deadly sins - "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" Proverbs 16:18) yet gay pride is being celebrated by the Anglican Church. Rainbow altar frontals have become commonplace and Cathedrals bless Gay Pride proclaiming “diversity” as the new gospel

Gay Deans are in vogue. In the latest instance from the Church of England, Ely Cathedral redefines Christianity; – Anglican Unscripted and the surrender of the C of E to the ‘zeitgeist’.

In Wales it is reported that "MajorPride" has been planned to "celebrate the diversity of the community in Llantwit Major  where the church are "happy to host events"

One wonders what St. Illtud, the founder-abbot and teacher of the divinity school known as Cor Tewdws, located in Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major) would have made of that.

Already steeped in gay pride the first woman bishop in the Church in wales was shoe-horned into St Davids in a political move which caused much dissension while the second woman bishop with similar credentials continues to do her own thing

The bishop of Llandaff intends to take all her licensed clergy, Stipendiary and Non-Stipendiary, on a charter flight pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in May 2019. She must be hoping that airline pilots, air traffic controllers and baggage handlers play ball and do not strand all Llandaff diocese clergy in Spain.

Worse still, God forbid, if the plane were lost, this carefully crafted plan would leave the entire diocese without clergy but by then most services may be conducted by the laity anyway.

As the bishops go about the country's business, faithful worshippers continue to be excluded in favour of men who prefer to be thought of as women and vice versa despite their biology, women who want to marry women and men who want to marry men using parcel-post to deliver the means of creation.

What a legacy. 

Friday, 10 August 2018

A little bit more


A Crucifix, a Tory politician and unidentified people masked by veils. Source: Archbishop Cranmer


Concluding my entry, Another smokescreen, yesterday I wrote "A 'Christian MSP', Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives has suggested we should defend the right of Muslim women to wear the burka in the same way we defend the right of Christians to wear a cross. God help us!"

He has. No thanks to our bishops but to Archbishop Cranmer who blogged No, Ruth Davidson: the burqa is a world away from a crucifix. Brilliant.


Conservative Muslim Forum founder Lord Sheikh who criticised Boris Johnson for his comments about Muslim women wearing burkas has been back in the news. 

He told BBC Newsnight that he had received vile Islamophobic messages after calling for Mr Johnson to be sacked.

He said he took most exception to "vile things, horrible things, obscene things about Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him".

High profile: David Cameron and Lord Sheikh pictured at a party for the Conservative MuslimForum
                                                                                                          Source: Mail Online 28 July 2013

The Mail Online reported in 2013: "To his many supporters in the Conservative Party, Lord Sheikh, a close  adviser to David Cameron, is the epitome of respectability and  a staunch advocate of family values."

The article goes on: 

"But we can reveal the 72-year-old peer became besotted with an attractive waitress 45 years his junior and travelled to her native Uzbekistan to ask for her hand, only to dump her the day before their secret wedding – all while he was still legally married.

"When his wife of 25 years, Shaida, discovered the relationship, she burst into the crowded cafe where the 27-year-old woman works and  launched a furious tirade against her.

"Lady Sheikh is now divorcing her husband.

"As the high-profile founder and chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF), Lord Sheikh’s behaviour is likely to cause deep embarrassment for Tories as they try to forge alliances with traditional Muslim voters."

Perhaps as a good Muslim he was striving to emulate the example of the Prophet Muhammad who had many wives and "married Aisha  at the age of six or seven - but she stayed in her parents' home until the age of nine, or ten according to Ibn Hisham, when the marriage was consummated with Muhammad, then 53, in Medina" [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia].

"The peer – who has a daughter 15 years older than the waitress – acts as Mr Cameron’s ambassador to the wider Muslim world, as well as drumming up support for the Tories in Britain.

"Recently he said in an interview: ‘I joined the Conservative Party as its policies and ideologies match our own traditions and culture that are based on strong work ethics and family values’."

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Another smokescreen


The conviction of 17 men and one woman in Newcastle in August [2017] restarted the national debate on grooming ( PA )                           Source: Independent


BBC Newsnight's coverage of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnsons’s remarks about wearing the veil reported that the Chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK regarded his choice of words as "clumsy and inappropriate". While acknowledging he was against a veil ban and against men telling woman what to wear, she said, “The problem I’ve got is the language he used".

One would have thought that Johnson's gaff could have been left there but the skirmishing continues.

Further Newsnight coverage last night featured a debate between journalist Yasmin Alibi-Brown and Claire Fox, Director of the Academy of Ideas:

"Ms Alibi-Brown argued that: 'Boris was jeering here. And I do think politicians have a special responsibility, especially in these fractures times'.

Ms Fox responded: "We should also have the freedom to make judgements and criticise. I believe in religious freedom, absolutely, but only if it comes with a freedom to lampoon, to make fun of."

"She added: 'certain subjects are ring fenced and I do feel that one of the subjects which is ring fenced is an open discussion about a problem of integration'."

Alibi-Brown's interruptions appeared designed to avoid such open discussion as she tried to divert attention to antisemitism. It had a familiar ring.

The furore that has erupted over this relatively trivial story once more provides a smokescreen which obscures far more serious issues such as the longstanding problem of predominately Muslim men regarding young white children as easy meat, as former Home Secretary Jack Straw put it.

Barely reported, and certainly not attracting the moral outrage and indignation as has Boris Johnson's remarks, three men who complained that their human rights had been breached because they may be deported as a result of the decision to remove their British citizenship were told that the decision had been upheld. They had been convicted for grooming and sexually exploiting young girls:

The Independent reported, Rochdale grooming gang members could be deported after judges uphold ruling to strip them of British citizenship

"Three men were among nine men jailed in 2012 after grooming and sexually exploiting young girls. In some cases the girls, aged in their early teens, were raped and pimped out to paying customers in Rochdale and Oldham.

"Each of them challenged the decision, arguing it amounted to a breach of their human rights, but their cases were rejected by both the government’s First Tier Tribunal (FTT) and Upper Tribunal.

"Outlining their offending, Lord Justice Sales said: 'All the men treated the girls as though they were worthless and beyond all respect. They were motivated by lust and greed'.

From the Independent 8 October 2017: "Grooming gangs across the country are repeating the horrific abuse exposed in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and most recently Newcastle, victims and investigators have warned.

"There are mounting calls for nationwide action to combat sexual exploitation, with authorities accused of playing catch-up after ignoring victims 'for decades and decades'.

One victim who was abused as a teenager by the Rotherham ringleader waived her right to anonymity. She said abuse was underway “all over the country”.

“It’s an issue for every town and city, more people are being failed,” she told The Independent. “I’m hearing a lot of new complaints from survivors.

“Some are saying they have been to the police and didn’t get taken seriously, others are getting support.

“But I think the Government is still trying to play this down and make out it’s not a major issue – they are not doing enough.”

I don't hear the protesters raising their voices in defence of these vulnerable children.

The authorities have become paralyzed over the years for fear of being accused of being Islamophobic, a strategy designed to avoid any constructive criticism of a supremacist ideology.

So much so that too many politicians have joined the Islamophobia chorus with no apparent understanding of the issues involved.

A "Christian MSP", Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives has suggested we should defend the right of Muslim women to wear the burka in the same way we defend the right of Christians to wear a cross.

God help us!

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Boris Johnson's letterbox


Sources: thenewdaily.com.au and lbsg.org/archives


The furore over Boris Johnson comparing veiled women with a letterbox shows no sign of abating.

Conservative Muslim Forum founder Lord Sheikh said demands from the PM for an apology were not enough. Boris Johnson should be kicked out of the Conservative Party for his remarks about the burka. He has called for Mr Johnson to have the whip removed - meaning the MP would no longer represent the Tory party. (BBC News)



Former co-chair of the Conservative party Sayeeda Warsi continues her attack on Johnson in the Guardian (here) in which she claims "Boris Johnson’s contempt for Muslim women is part of a dangerous pattern".

Political capital abounds regardless of the facts. From the Huffington Post: "Boris Johnson Branded 'Racist' For Saying Women Who Wear Burkas 'Look Like Letter Boxes'."

Other than for women living in Iran, the veil is not a requirement of Islam, neither is Islam a race. It is a political ideology which seeks to control all aspects of life by whatever means. Consequently, every opportunity is taken to condemn as Islamophobic any offence, real or imagined.

In Iran brave women are fighting for right to ditch their hijabs: "It's not just about the hijab, it's about equality under the law - that is what the Girls of Revolution Street are fighting for." Unlike British Muslims they are living at the sharp end in an Islamic state so fully understand what it means to be oppressed.

From Business Insider UK - In 2005, Johnson wrote in the Spectator that he believed it was only "natural" for the public to be scared of Islam. "To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke," he wrote. "Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers."

To put all this into perspective, Boris Johnson made what he presumably thought was an amusing comparison as illustrated above. A political gaffe resulting in a predictable response. Making another comparison, in Islamic countries death can result merely for not being a Muslim or even the wrong sort of Muslim as numerous reports testify.

A veil is a mask behind which one hides oneself from others. It is not surprising, therefore, that many find it offensive. Boris did not and said so but he is pilloried for his choice of language.

People must be allowed to express their opinions, within the law, without fear of reprisal in what amounts to attempts at gagging for political gain by using ridiculous charges of Islamophobia.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Nonpcopinionophobia


Left: Hundreds of people protested against the veil ban on Wednesday Source: BBC/AFP  
Right: Mary McAleese at Dublin Pride with husband Martin (right), son Justin (second left) and his husband Fionan Source: BBC/PA


"Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that's still no reason to ban it." - Boris Johnson. The Telegraph (£)


Boris Johnson wrote his article in the Telegraph after the first woman was charged in Denmark for wearing niqab after the Denmark veil ban was introduced.

The law does not mention burkas and niqabs by name but says "anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine".

Nevertheless, the Guardian headlined the event: Boris Johnson's burqa remarks 'fan flames of Islamophobia', says MP.

In the article Boris Johnson is accused of “dog whistle” Islamophobia by a former Conservative chair, Lady Sayeeda Warsi, who said the lack of action by the party over Johnson’s comments showed it was “business as usual.”

Sayeeda Warsi had previously called on the Conservative party to launch a “full independent inquiry” into Islamophobia in the party and warned the Tories were "pursuing a politically damaging policy of denial about the problem in its own ranks".

Back in 2010 she spoke out about what she sees as the rise of Islamaphobia in Britain. By coincidence in 2010 Sayeeda Warsi was "named one of the world's '500 Most Influential Muslims' by Middle East think tank the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. She also topped the UK's Muslim women power list."

Also getting in on the controversy, "Labour demanded that the Conservative chair, Brandon Lewis, refer the former foreign secretary for mandatory equalities training, amid renewed calls for the party to open an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the party.

"In a letter to Lewis, the shadow equalities minister, Naz Shah, said Johnson’s comments were “ugly and naked Islamophobia” and said Lewis should abide by his word to give Tory members diversity training to combat Islamophobia."

While many people will agree that the Denmark veil ban is reasonable, Boris Johnson did not but he is accused of making Islamophopbic remarks.

Honest opinions are no longer acceptable unless they conform to the latest politically correct dictums so people at large are deterred from saying what they feel for fear of being condemned as Islamophobic regardless of the facts.

In 2011 I blogged under the heading Islamophobia:
"phobia /pho·bia/ (fo´be-ah) a persistent, irrational, intense fear of a specific object, activity, or situation (the phobic stimulus), fear that is recognized as being excessive or unreasonable by the individual himself. There is nothing irrational, excessive or unreasonable about the fear of Islam. In her University of Leicester speech today the Tory Party Chairman, Baroness Warsi, raises the now familiar cry of Islamophobia, warning that describing Muslims as either “moderate” or “extremist” fosters growing prejudice. If it is a question of either we would have to choose "extremist" because at the root of the Islamic ideology is a belief that Islam is supreme and that any means, including lying (taqiyya), are legitimate weapons to achieve world domination."

Constant claims of 'Islamophobia' regardless of the context is a device used to raise a political ideology to a level beyond criticism while religions such as Christianity are under constant threat. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this phenomenon is its contradiction with feminist ideals of 'equality'.

Feminists have used similar tactics in the Anglican Church with their constant cries of misogyny and homophobia. After attacking Western Anglicanism their attention has turned to the Roman Catholic Church which is threatened from within as well as from outside.

 Irish Church must confront issues to avoid 'decline into irrelevance' shouts the Tablet headline. "The Church needs to confront its teachings on issues like celibacy, female ordination, its theology on sexuality and its hierarchical structure, otherwise it will continue to decline into irrelevance, Fr Kevin Hegarty has warned."

In an obvious nod towards secularism he said, “People began to lose confidence in an institution whose teaching on this subject was so out of sync with their lived experience.”

Mary McAleese who was the Irish President of from 1997 to 2011 has condemned the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality as "evil" and was "hopeful the Pope would change the church's position on the issue".

No doubt the former President was influenced by that fact that she was the first recipient of the Vanguard Award at the Gaze LGBT film festival in Dublin. In June she became the first former Irish president to take part in the Dublin Pride parade when she marched with her son Justin and his husband Fionan.

If the Roman Catholic Church follows the example of Western Anglicanism, what hope is there for Christianity in the West?

Free speech must be maintained. If people disagree they must defend their position. Fair comment must not be silenced by unwarranted charges of phobias.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Caption Corner


"Wonderful @3choirs opening service at @HFDCathedral today themed around women's suffrage. Women's words read and beautifully
 sung, powerful sermon from @BishopJuno. Privileged to be there."                            Source: Twitter @NikkiGroarke Jul 28

As usual publishable captions will appear in Comments.