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Thursday, 31 May 2012

A welcome U-turn




The lady may not have been for turning but fortunately George is. He may have been surprised at the level of criticism of some of his budget proposals but his U-turn on charitable giving is most welcome. Well done George!

Monday, 28 May 2012

It's not a job for Christ's sake!

Photo: Getty Images


My hope that the spirit of unity and Godly love would be allowed to settle on the Church of England at Pentecost was short-lived. The response from the former Chair of WATCH to the amendments agreed  by the House of Bishops to the draft Measure concerning the ordination of women as bishops is uncompromising: "Churchgoers in Cambridgeshire could turn up to find the pulpit empty if 'furious' campaigners for female bishops in the Church of England carry out their threats to strike. Christina Rees, a lay preacher in Barley who has been a member of the General Synod, the church’s parliament, for 20 years, told the News there is 'uproar' over last-minute changes to new legislation. .... American-born Ms Rees, who is a leading campaigner for female bishops, told the News many members of the church are threatening to leave in protest and there are loud calls for strike action."

In an earlier outburst the Rev Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, questioned why women should stay in an “abusive institution”: “Do we stay, hoping it will get better? Do we stay, because we feel called by God to be in this marriage? Do we stay, thinking we can continue to try to change it from the inside? Or do we flee to the nearest refuge (let's ignore the fact for now that they rarely exist) — leaving home, family, community, and our dreams behind?" Dr Threlfall-Holmes should have realised that the cost of discipleship is not easy and certainly not one to be defined by secular employment laws. 

We have been here before with threats from women clergy to leave unless they get their own way. This vociferous group which campaigns for parity in employment based on false claims of inequality have dictated the direction the Anglican Church for far too long using bully-boy tactics which have nothing to do with religion. 
Equality of opportunity in the work place is their guiding principle; faith is secondary, if it figures at all. The call now by Christina Rees to use their not inconsiderable feminist muscle to threaten the stability of the church clearly illustrates what the feminist movement has been up to all along. It is time to call their bluff. They do not want to serve, only to be served, accepting no authority but their own. As they have often told those who disagree with them, it's your choice. For Christ's sake and that of His church, take it or leave it.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire




The feast of Pentecost brings to a close Novena 2012 when we have been praying for unity and generosity of spirit so that our church may be truly inclusive. Pentecost is the feast people of my generation associate with the Whitsun treat. What better treat could there be than for the Holy Spirit to inspire Christ's disciples to live together in peace and Godly love, each allowing the other to worship according to custom and conscience.

Friday, 25 May 2012

The Church of England, US style



As churches have continued to empty throughout Wales during Dr Barry Morgan's reign as Archbishop (over 15% according to figures reaching me), VirtueOnline paints a depressing picture of the direction of the Crown Nominations Commission now thought likely "to be driven by TEC supporters, headed by the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan who is closely aligned with the full agenda of the Episcopal Church that includes the likes of New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham, TEC Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, Canadian Anglican Archbishop Fred Hiltz and many others." 

God help us!


Postscript
More from the Telegraph here.
  

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Comment is free

From Women's Views on News

Church faces crisis over 'tainted' women bishops plan ran the headline in the TelegraphHistoric plans to allow women to become bishops have been plunged into crisis after existing bishops voted through an eleventh-hour concession to traditionalists. In this article the dramatic headlines are balanced by wide ranging comments from interested parties. The Independent put it this way: Supporters of women bishops have rounded on senior leaders within the Church of England after they inserted last minute amendments to proposed legislation that will allow female clergy to hold the highest levels of office alongside their male colleagues.

Both papers presented intelligible reports on what Ruth Gledhill described as the worst -written press release since the Reformation. A less balanced view emerged in the Guardian's Comment is free including this revelation: [The Rev] "Miranda Threlfall Holmes, whose piece demanding no changes at all we published on Saturday, put up an embarrassing blogpost comparing the bishops to a particularly disgusting man who had gouged his wife's eyes out and then kept her in the house for 12 hours to stop her getting medical attention. She has subsequently taken down the post, which she now calls intemperate. I think she has been spending altogether too much time caring about Anglican politics." *
Last year Mrs Briton became incensed, and is still, after reading a bishop's view that "The ordination of women will rid the world of homophobia, misogyny, brutalisation of women in all situations including those in war zones."

However bizarre their views at least these people have an 'insider's' view of the direction in which they think the church should be heading, usually from the spiritual to the secular, but taking Comment is free as an example, it is amazing how many secularists feel free to pass comment on people's faith when faith clearly has no meaning for them. Worst of all, though, is insiders who should be people of faith using views of secularist outsiders to bolster arguments against those in the church for whom faith really matters.


* More from the Telegraph here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Graceless



It didn't take WATCH long to respond to the House of Bishops discussion on the proposed Women Bishops Legislation:

"WATCH (Women and the Church) is deeply disappointed to hear that the all male House of Bishops has, in a closed meeting, decided to make two amendments to the draft legislation on women bishops that had been so carefully crafted after years of debate and scrutiny from all sides and had commanded the support of 42/44 dioceses across the Church of England.

They have failed to listen to the voice of ordained women and those who support their ministry and been swayed by those who are opposed into making concessions that can only undermine the ministry of women in future years.  Their decision to intervene in this way will significantly undermine the credibility of the House of Bishops both inside and outside the Church. The exact wording of the amendments is not in the House of Bishops’ Press Release, nor are the figures of how many bishops voted for and against them. WATCH will be considering the amendments in detail over coming days and will issue a full response in due course.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said: “The House of Bishops’ intervention will be an enormous blow to the morale of women clergy who were looking to their bishops for clear affirmation of their ministry as a welcome gift to the Church.”

So the "all male" House of Bishops has, in a "closed meeting", failed to listen to the voice of ordained women. Perhaps instead they took note of the 2,200 women who had the opportunity to petition the House of Bishops against women bishops but I doubt it. In a complex amendment procedure the House of Bishops appear to be saying that women bishops would be in charge but there may be circumstances in which traditional Anglicans should receive a modicum of respect for their deeply held religious convictions, something that WATCH appeared to agree with back in 2008. But that has been part of their deception throughout their campaign. Gain ground then put the boot in.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Crown Nominations Commission: Fair play?




Today I spotted this interesting observation from the American Anglican Council on the Archbishop of Canterbury selection procedure:

   "Finally, with regard to the larger Anglican Communion, we see the revisionist elite in the Church of England and the current politicians in Parliament working together to produce a desired outcome in the selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury. The fact that the Archbishop and Primate of Wales, Barry Morgan, will sit on the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) is absurd. Wales is a miniscule church, with fewer and fewer people attending church practically every week. Archbishop Rowan Williams was the previous Primate of Wales, and he did such a good job of shrinking the Welch Church that they made him Archbishop of Canterbury. Now Rowan's successor Barry Morgan, who has continued Dr. Williams' work of shrinking the church, is to sit on the commission that will nominate the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Another person who has been chosen to sit on the CNC is the Rev. Kenneth Kearon, who as the head of the Anglican Communion Office helps to foist the revisionist agenda of the Anglican elite onto the rest of the Communion. What does Kearon bring to the Commission if not the desires of the liberal elite of the Church of England and the revisionist West?" Full text here.

Dr Morgan's appointment has already attracted criticism here with some choice comments here. While I cannot comment on the possible shrinkage of the Church in Wales when Rowan Williams was Archbishop, in the September 2011 edition of 'Highlights' the Church in Wales published some disastrous Membership and Finance details. They were hidden away on the back page of a document that trumpeted Equal Opportunities for all in the Church, all who matter that is - see this report from the Let nothing you dismay Blog.


I am told by those close to him that the Archbishop of Wales feels hurt when people are unkind to him, that is, whenever people disagree with him. If people hold to their creed they are not being unkind, rather they are defending the faith. If Dr Morgan and his modern liberal friends followed Christ's example rather than spending their time trying to force their own agendas onto the Anglican Church (here and here) we wouldn't be in the mess in which we now find ourselves with declining membership, shortage of funds and constant squabbling about secular issues which have nothing whatsoever to do with the faith of the wider Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. So the question has to be asked, do they believe what they recite in the Creed? If not, all becomes clear.

Friday, 18 May 2012

From the Diocese of Salisbury


Picture: Friends of Salisbury Cathedral

From the Salisbury Journal


MEMBERS of the Salisbury Diocese have jointly issued a major new paper ahead of a forthcoming vote in General Synod on draft legislation for women bishops. Contributors to the 54-page document include former MP and chairman of the House of Laity Robert Key, the Dean of Salisbury June Osborne and co-ordinator for Learning for Discipleship Dr Stella Wood.

Canon Jane Charman, who wrote the introduction to the document, said: “Women are truly among some of the most gifted, dedicated and inspirational clergy in the Church – a Church which has yet to honour them as they deserve. “What women have chosen to say and the tone or voice in which they have said it has added significantly to my understanding of this issue and how it is perceived and experienced by those who are most directly affected by it. “This seems to me worth sharing and my prayer is that this offering from the ordained women of Salisbury will in some way assist those who will soon be voting on the measure.”

The Archdeacon of Sarum, Alan Jeans, said: “It’s a hallmark of this diocese, from the bishop to the pews, that all are to be valued and affirmed for who they are and what they bring to the Church’s ministry. I would commend the paper to those in the diocese who are both for and against the measure, as a helpful contribution to the ongoing discussion.”


 Let us pray during this Novena that the gate is left open for those people who are "most directly affected by it" and that "all are to be valued and affirmed", particularly those cradle Anglicans who have seen their Church torn apart and told simply to take it or leave it.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

How did we get here?



The General Synod of the Church of Ireland has passed a motion upholding marriage as a union between one man and one woman but for upholding tradition, the Church of Ireland Synod [is] blasted for 'homophobia'.

How did we get ourselves into the ridiculous position that those upholding tradition are pilloried as extremists? What was previously considered normal is now considered outrageous. In another example, Cranmer is being persecuted by the Advertising Standards Authority following "a number of complaints about an advertisement carried on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage". Same sex marriage is the latest trend in a movement, often in search of votes, that has brought the church to its knees, not to pray but by pressing fashionable minority, secular values on the church with no regard for tradition and scripture. In research carried out for the Coalition for Marriage, the majority of the 150 MPs who have declared themselves support equal marriage, a decision also taken by President Obama, perhaps sensing some electoral advantage in the decision. 

While there is no excuse for unchristian religious extremism, the homosexual campaign for so called equality is in danger of turning away supporters of equal rights. Same sex couples deservedly have equal rights through civil partnerships but it is not homophobic to reject the notion of same sex marriage. Equality does not mean sameness especially when it dilutes the faith of the church. Unsurprisingly the champion of minorities (other than those who keep the faith), the Archbishop of Wales has already expressed his support for same sex marriage along with so called senior bishops of the Church in England. In a recent hard hitting article for Virtueonline the question was posed: What future for the Church of England: Is it too late to save her?  The Church of England is now a very short step from following precisely the same agenda as The Episcopal Church. Here a few paragraphs to give the flavour of the article:

 "The tragic facts are these: in order to maintain the illusion of a universal Church of England, inseparable from the state and its people, the Church's leaders have spent more than 150 years in trimming Christian doctrine so as not to "offend" anyone. Or to be "inclusive". Or to make the scriptures and Christian doctrine conform to the prevailing scientific fad of the day. Or, perhaps worst of all, in the truly misguided belief that by watering down the gospel they might be more successful in persuading unbelievers to come to Christ. They have compromised, with relative impunity, down the years, writing from the security of senior positions within the Church's establishment and protected by the national courts from any complaints which have come from concerned church members - but rarely, if ever, from the bishops who are supposed to be the guardians of Christian teaching. ... The Church of England has no effective mechanisms, either for guaranteeing orthodoxy of public teaching by its leaders, or for dealing with those who lead the way in subverting its witness to the gospel. Many of the leading revisionists have actually commenced their careers as teachers at the Church's seminaries. The outcome for the Church is constant drift in the direction of unbelief. Every novelty which is proposed has to be met halfway, with a compromise. The direction of movement each time is a step away from a recognisable faith in the gospel as the Church has received it, and the further alienation and exclusion of those within the Church who seek simply to be faithful to that gospel.

The catastrophic abandonment by the Church of England's bishops of their intrinsic role as guardians of Christian teaching concerning the Scriptures and the Creeds has been accompanied by a progressive relinquishment of their teaching authority in favour of voting on doctrinal and moral issues by the Church Assembly and latterly by the General Synod, whose members are not required to possess any qualification for judging such matters and who increasingly take their lead from media and politicians who want to see the Church redesigned in their own image. If it is possible for leading Anglicans to declare that there is no Hell, that there was no Incarnation and no Resurrection, and that there is no need for repentance and conversion in the universalist institution which the Church of England has become, then any appeal to the Scriptures for guidance as to God's will, or definition of morality, is met with blank looks and bafflement by many lay and clerical leaders for whom such an intellectual and spiritual universe is largely unknown." 

So what hope is there for the Church of England? It was not encouraging to read that the Apostle of Faith by Fad has been elected to serve on the Crown Nominations Commission, the body that will nominate the next Archbishop of Canterbury, an honour he will no doubt regard as an endorsement of his secular creed. 


The writing is on the wall.



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Defiance is the only answer


"Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having."


Read the background to this post here. The Coalition for Marriage site can be found here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Novena 2012




Christian Today has published details of Novena 2012 which is inviting parishes and individuals to dedicate time to prayer from 17 to 27 May, and “for a positive outcome for all” at the July Synod. Suggestions include prayers for unity, a spirit of generosity, and for the healing of divisions. Full details here.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Small change at the top

bskyb

Various reasons were given alongside the local election results explaining the poor performance of the coalition parties. At the grass roots there were complaints about bringing forward controversial issues that were not in manifestos such as gay marriage and Lords reform while senior Opposition politicians had much to say about the unfairness of government policies when the rich gain as the poor suffer. 

Amidst all the arguments one area is beyond dispute, executive pay. According to a report by the High Pay Commission last year the pay of top executives had increased by more than 4,000% in the past 30 years, compared to a mere threefold increase in the average worker's salary, fuelling the gap between the highest paid 0.1% and the rest of British society.

After the recent Aviva shareholder rebellion the Independent is now encouraging more shareholders to revolt. But not all senior executives ride the gravy train. Prominent among them in this campaign is the ex-Greggs chief, Sir Mike Darrington who heads up Business Against Greed. His video is a breath of fresh air. You can watch it here.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Hope for England!




Splendid news for traditionalists with the announcement from the Diocese of Chichester that the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner is to be the next Bishop of Chichester. 

In the statement Dr Warner is described as "a traditionalist who has worked resolutely in recent years to encourage provision in which people of all integrities can remain together". Surely that is how it should be, echoing the sentiments of the former Archbishop of York Dr David Hope. Archbishop Rowan Williams has shown the same integrity. Only in Wales has this been lost.

As the Church of England considers the next stage in the Women Bishops saga let us pray that even at this late hour, a way can be found for people of all integrities to remain together and follow Christ in good conscience. 


Postscript
Clearly generosity of the Spirit is too much for Women and the Church (WATCH) to stomach. In response to the appointment of Dr Warner, their Chair the Rev'd Rachel Weir is reported to have said: "The decision to appoint another diocesan bishop to Chichester who will not ordain women will cause widespread disappointment throughout the diocese and across the rest of the Church of England". If as Dr Hope remarked, there is "no place for discourtesy, aggression, and even abuse" towards women who have been ordained, should not the same courtesy apply in the opposite direction?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The right to wear the cross

Photo: Rex Features


A belated post after my memory was jogged on seeing this article repeated in the Catholic Herald. See previous posts here and here

"In a Telegraph report of 28 April, David Barrett relates that Michael Nazir Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, has written to the European Court of Human Rights in support of Christians who are claiming that they have suffered discrimination at work because they have been banned from wearing a cross. In his submission, Bishop Nazir Ali writes: “We have reached a stage where Christians in the United Kingdom risk their employment if they wear a cross. However, the United Kingdom courts have permitted the wearing of a Sikh bangle, the Islamic headscarf and even a corncrow haircut.”

The Government plans to argue at the same Court that employers have the right to ban the wearing of the cross because it is not a requirement of the Christian faith. Archbishop Rowan Williams, in what seems an embarrassing own goal, appeared to support (or at least not protest against) the Government’s position, by stating at a church service in Rome in March that the wearing of a cross had become something “which religious people make or hang on to” as a substitute for true faith. I disagree with him. “Religious people”, those who publicly profess their Christian faith, wear a cross as a sign of this faith (and who is he to judge their motives anyway?) It is non-religious people – often celebrities – who affect a cross simply as decoration or jewellery, but the Archbishop didn’t say this.

He should have said what was left to retired Anglican Bishop Nazir Ali to say: Christian employees should have the right to express their faith by wearing a cross. The Bishop went on to state, “Any policy that regards the cross as just an item of jewellery is deeply disturbing… It is disrespectful and insulting to practising Christians…The cross is ubiquitous in Christian devotion from the earliest times… The cross is the most easily recognisable Christian symbol in architecture, church furnishing and the dress of the clergy.” He added: “I am aware that many Christians wear the cross and would be distressed to be required to remove it.”

Bishop Nazir Ali echoes what Cardinal Keith O’Brien said in his Easter Sunday homily when he urged Christians to “wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ on their garments each and every day of their lives”, adding, “I know many of you do wear such a cross of Christ, not in any ostentatious way, not in a way that might harm you at your work or recreation, but a simple indication that you value the role of Jesus Christ in the history of the world, that you are trying to love by Christ’s standards in your own daily life.”

I was once given a pair of black earrings in the shape of crosses. I have never worn them. They couldn’t be seen as anything but items of jewellery; very different from the little silver Celtic cross, given to me by my mother, which I have worn round my neck for years. Perhaps it is time for parish priests to follow the example of Bishop Nazir Ali and Cardinal O’Brien, and preach about the importance of wearing a cross as a symbol of faith – and not as a style accessory.

The Church doesn’t make a “rule” about wearing a cross, rightly giving people the liberty to choose. But reverence for the cross and what it symbolises concerning the price of our redemption is “a requirement of the Christian faith”. If Christian employees choose to wear one, the Government should recognise this as an expression of deeply held beliefs – beliefs that have shaped the history, laws and culture of this country."

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A fit person?

Mirror picture: Getty
It must have come as little surprise to most listeners when media mogul Rupert Murdoch admitted in his evidence to the Leveson inquiry that "he got immediate access to Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron". He is a smart operator who makes sure that party leaders need his seal of approval.

Listening to the evidence given by James and Rupert Murdoch to the Culture Select Committee and under oath to the Leveson Inquiry their grasp of detail and ability to recollect facts was extraordinary, until their own integrity was in the spotlight. Only then did amnesia set in. The term "wilful blindness" has been used to explain how Rupert Murdoch knew all that was going on, except what went on under his own nose.

In its damning report, the Culture Select Committee split on party lines in its majority judgement that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to run an international company. Coming so soon after the Prime Minister's defence of his Culture Secretary yesterday following his dealings with the Murdoch empire, the explanation given by the Tory members that such a conclusion was beyond their remit may leave many wondering if Rupert Murdoch still has immediate access.