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Friday, 29 June 2012


Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

It seems that having one's hand in the till is a difficult habit to break. The lessons of the past have been ignored encouraging greed on an unprecedented scale by people who clearly regard themselves as untouchable in what was once regarded as an honourable profession. It is time for an example to be made of these unscrupulous bankers before they wreak even more damage on the rest of us. Hot on the heels of the rate rigging saga yet another major scandal has emerged with the mis-selling of financial products to small businesses, the very people the government has been busy trying to encourage to help get the economy moving again. The governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King outlines here what needs to be done to change a banking culture which has "let down" the many honest and hard working people in the financial sector. Let's get on with it.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Just keeping the Lib Dems happy?

The Lib Dems are having a ball. Following the the distraction of their cherished policy of same sex marriage, today sees the tabling of the House of Lords Reform Bill, something for which they have waited 100 years

Neither proposal has any relevance in the pressing need to sort out the economy and get people back to work restoring some dignity to the lives of those suffering the consequences of previous mistakes. On Lords reform, Mr Clegg told Sky News: "There's a very simple principle at stake which I think most people would agree with, which is that people who make the laws of the land should be elected by the people who have to obey the laws of the land."

I agree Mr Clegg but we already elect MPs to make the laws of the land. We don't need another elected chamber in opposition. Reform of the second chamber should concentrate on merit by appointing 'peers' to bring expert knowledge of their respective fields to the Second Chamber irrespective of part line.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

In praise of Rowan

Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA

   Rowan Williams, said Colin Thubron, introducing him at a Royal Society of Literature event on Wednesday, is not only perhaps "the most distinguished occupant of his seat since St Anselm", but a scholar, a historian, a theologian, a linguist fluent in "ancient and modern Greek, and even Syriac, and a poet and a translator. "God gave you all these gifts," Thubron went on turning to him and paraphrasing the words of Richard Harries, "and as a punishment made you archbishop".
   This wry tribute set the tone for an evening (with a theme of religious and poetic language) in which the society's members welcomed the archbishop of Canterbury sympathetically as a fellow author.
   Interviewed by Fiona Sampson, Williams linked poetry to liturgy as twin modes of "exploring", driven by a need to to go beyond mere naming - "the impulse to say more than is there , more than you have to". What drives the poet is "wanting to feed into a conversation. Poetry that sets out to have an improving effect on society is doomed. When Auden said, 'poetry makes nothing happen' he was exaggerating, but you know what he means. It's not propaganda, it's an invitation, an offer."
   On liturgy, the archbishop was at his boldest, extolling the Book of Common Prayer and scornfully dismissing modernised liturgies where "the aim is to make things clear". Instead, Williams favoured using "rather wild phraseology and pushing the boundaries, as that way we might discover something unexpected. Pile on the ritual."
   Urged by a questioner to "say something about joy", as he'd provided an overly grim account of poetry, the archbishop complied, talking of joyful moments in Eliot and the need to "give full weight to exhilaration too". But the lover of Geoffrey Hill and Dostoevsky conceded that "I will always go on about struggle", possibly due to "ancestral Celtic gloom". - John Dugdale, The Week in Books, Review, Saturday Guardian 23.06.12.

Those privileged to know Rowan understand why he is often referred to simply as Rowan, rather than by his formal title. An unusual distinction for an archbishop but this sums up the man, the man who has been described as perhaps "the most distinguished occupant of his seat since St Anselm". No pretensions, no desire to humiliate, a man of great learning presenting things as he sees them. It has been said that if he has a fault it his inability to say no. Some of the less scrupulous have played on this getting him into hot water and leaving him open to criticism but often from a different perspective. A summary based on Rowan's valedictory book Faith in the Public Square can be read here.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

So near, yet so far

The Agenda for the July 2012 General Synod has been published. As the news release succinctly puts it:  "The Agenda provides for the Synod to deal with the final stages of the major legislative process designed to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of England while also making some provision for those who, for theological reasons, will not be able to receive their ministry. If the legislation is approved, by simple majorities, by the House of Laity and the Convocations, the way will be clear for it to be presented for final approval on Monday 9 July. As with the women priests legislation in 1992, the whole of the morning and afternoon sittings has been allocated to the Final Approval debates."

'Some provision' just about sums it up. A mere nod towards those who were promised an honoured place in the church. WATCH has plotted their removal on just about every false pretext. Why? So long as traditionalists remain in the Church of England (and the Church in Wales) they are an embarrassing reminder that the Anglican church has separated itself from the historic faith which we affirm in our creed yet the feminist mitre is almost in their grasp, so near yet so far from the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in which we profess our traditional belief.

If the liberal cause is just why has there been such a dirty campaign? It is no coincidence that the same weapon is being used to make people accept same sex marriage as has been used by those in favour of the ordination of women, deception. Regardless of their views, opponents of same sex marriage are described as 'religious hardliners and anti-gay'; homophobic bigots discriminating against homosexuals to deny them equal rights while ignoring the fact that many homosexual people oppose the move believing marriage to be the joining of a man and a women and what is being sought is not equality but a hastily ill-considered re-definition of marriage.

Despite the fact that thousands of woman petitioned against the measure, many of those in favour of the ordination of women accuse opponents of misogyny, homophobia, prejudice, discrimination and the brutalisation of women when in fact they simply disagree on theological grounds. Others try to read into the Bible anything that suits them. For example, much is made of Mary Magdalene being 'the Apostle to the Apostles' ignoring the important fact that what Mary did after she found the tomb empty was to run to tell the men, Peter and the disciple Jesus loved, the Apostles to whom Jesus entrusted His church.

Now the vote is said to be in doubt. Supporters of women's ordination threaten to vote against the measure just as they threatened to leave the church if they did not get their own way and have threatened again, even calling of strike action. There is a feeling by many that we have come thus far so just get on with it reminding me of the minister who suggested we raise the motorway speed limit to 80 mph because so many people ignored the law. The wider church is in no doubt, what is proposed is, in theological terms, unacceptable in the catholic church, Orthodox and Western. This is not about equality of opportunity in the work place. 

There can be only one legitimate vote: NO.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Disestablished and ignored or overlooked?

Has the Church in Wales been ignored or overlooked? Not a mention in the gay marriage saga despite their Archbishop being so decidedly pro-gay. This must have come as a severe blow to His Grace as he hopes to impress the Crown Nominations Commission with his liberal credentials, unless of course his nomination was simply a ploy to send nobody of any standing to the Commission. After all he represents only 1% of the people of Wales - oddly the same percentage as the people claiming to be gay or lesbian - but surely that would be too cruel even for someone who has been so divisive in his church and improbable since he represents the views of the ruling elite of liberal extremism. 

Could it be then that the Church in Wales was thought to have no place in the consultation? After all, one of the complaints of the Church of England about gay marriage is that it could lead to disestablishment, the position of the Church in Wales. Perhaps they have a point! But do I detect a split in the Welsh bench? Their response to the gay marriage consultation makes some valid points, particularly so on the Scope of the Consultation, a welcome change from the usual tub-thumping by the Archbishop about gay rights which have been relegated to an oblique reference to pastoral care and support in the final paragraph, something he refuses to grant to congregations in his own church who do not follow his liberal agenda. Perhaps the other Welsh diocesan bishops have finally realised what a mess the Archbishop and his liberal chums have made of the Anglican Church.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Minority madness

Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for it and died penniless in exile. Alan Turing killed himself after providing our nation with unparalleled service in our greatest need. Just two tragedies illustrating that prejudice against homosexuality does humanity no credit. But is there a line to be drawn? Estimates suggest that just 1% of the population consider themselves gay or lesbian, only some of whom would like the opportunity to be 'married' rather than to be bound by a civil partnership. This is seen as a step too far, particularly in a religious context. The debate about same-sex marriage appears to be out of all proportion to the numbers involved but an injustice is still an injustice if it is legitimate. But what of justice for whom marriage is a sacrament which joins man and woman together for the procreation of children in biological and spiritual union as expressed in the Book of Common Prayer:

At the day and time appointed for solemnization of Matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the body of the Church with their friends and neighbours: and there standing together, the Man on the right hand, and the Woman on the left, the Priest shall say,

   DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
      First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
      Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.
      Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

Government assertions
 that churches will not be forced into conducting same-sex unions have already been dismissed. There is a cautionary warning from Canada here.

The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, summed up the position in this piece in the Guardian: the CofE had been supportive of civil partnerships when the legislation was introduced eight years ago. But he added: "I think the difficulty we have here is the substitution of equality for uniformity, that is to say that there can be no distinction at all between men and women. The government is seeking to meet what it perceives to be the needs of the gay community. I would say that the Church of England is sympathetic to those needs, we want to see a society in which gay people are fully included and their needs are fully provided for.""But this does not amount to a basis for introducing a complete redefinition of the concept of marriage based on a consultation process which is at the very least rapid
"From a standing start within three months to arrive at a fully considered, weighed and articulated redefinition of a fundamental social institution which has been thought about in one particular way for centuries and which is broadly accepted as a social institution in the same way internationally - to change all that on the basis of a consultation like this seems to be at the very least unwise and ill considered."

What I find remarkable about this debate (which seems to have arrived from nowhere and has become such a divisive issue when there has been no mandate for change) is the supposed drive for justice for a tiny minority view which confuses equality with uniformity. Why is it that those in the Church of England who now see themselves in the majority do not have the same regard for those of us who, through synodical procedure, find ourselves in a minority as we seek to uphold our traditional belief in the priesthood in common with the wider Apostolic church?  The Church of England at last sees the writing on the wall with the threat of exclusion. Many of us already know what that means!  

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Water Aid: please email you MP

A Water Works update in
April detailed how the International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP announced that the UK is to double its targets on water and sanitation. An extra 30 Million people will now be reached by 2015 through UK aid – at least 60 million in total.

Mr Mitchell will be delivering a keynote speech at a meeting being organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries in the House of Lords, Committee Room 4A, from 11:30 – 12.30 on Tuesday 19 June with contributions from Alice Anukur who is the Country Representative for WaterAid Uganda.

Supporters of WaterAid's work are being asked to encourage their MPs to attend. UK residents can easily do so by following the simple instructions here.

Friday, 8 June 2012

What is it about (some) women?

"Many bishops are deeply committed to supporting women’s ministry. Yet collectively, the House of Bishops has given the appearance of being most concerned about protecting, as far as possible, the consciences and feelings of the minority who strongly object to women bishops. Meanwhile, less attention has been paid to everyone else’s consciences and feelings, the practicalities of administering a very complicated system and the impact on mission. 
For instance, on 21 May 2012, when announcing the changes to draft legislation, a news release on behalf of the Bishops restated that they “will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders”."

- Part of the text from a new 
piece for Ekklesia by Savi Hensman of the 'care and equalities sector'. I commented on a previous piece here. She assumes not only that women have a God given right to be bishops but that the Church of England must get round to full acceptance of same-sex unions:

 "When the Church of England eventually gets round to full acceptance of same-sex unions, if priests and congregations are allowed not only to opt out but also to be overseen by a bishop with similar views on gender and sexuality, the number of alternative bishops could multiply. Church leaders would be well advised to review the principle before then."

Peppered with supposedly supportive quotations from the Bible, like many who hold similar views Savi Hensman writes of the consciences and feelings of the minority who strongly object to women bishops while showing no concept of the of the wider catholic church in which her view is the minority. In her penchant for quoting scripture I note, perhaps unsurprisingly, that she made no reference to Matthew 7:15 or to Ephesians 6:11. But of course, not every part of the Bible suits her case. While scripture is open to interpretation and counter quote, Christ's example and the tradition of the Apostolic church, the rock on which she was built, is not. Is it any wonder that Anglicanism is falling apart!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Call of Wisdom

Click here to listen a beautiful new anthem, The Call of Wisdom, written by British composer Will Todd and performed for the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral today by a choir made up of children selected from around the country. The Queen's face says it all as she listens intently to the repeated words 'I am herewhich have much resonance for people of faith and recall Her Majesty's Coronation Oath. The Queen has 'been here' reigning for sixty years in a remarkable act of service and devotion to duty, demonstrating what a promise means, an example well captured by His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury in his sermon, contrary to the carping criticism in the Mail Online. 

Having said that, if only our Bishops and Clergy likewise would seek to "maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof":

   Archbishop: Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?

   Queen. All this I promise to do.

God Save The Queen.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Order out of chaos

"We live in a time when the leadership and structures of The Episcopal Church have abandoned the faith once delivered and substituted a "false gospel" which they are now threatening to spread - as a matter of manifest destiny - to the rest of the Anglican Communion." - AAC

The latest update from the American Anglican Council provides some encouragement for Anglicans who have not been swept along by a fashionable urge to fit the Gospel around current political obsessions. For the fortunate, order has been created out of the chaos resulting from the "false gospel" now spreading, as predicted, through the Church of England and beyond having already consumed the hierarchy of the Church in Wales whose Primate has been appointed to the Crown Nominations Commission and who will no doubt regard the opinions of The Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres who should be the next Archbishop of Canterbury as completely irrelevant to the church today

As the feminist movements in the Church of England ponder over the Amendments to the women-bishops Draft Measure I was amused to read in the Church Times article that the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod (GRAS) said that the Bishops had pushed the Draft Measure beyond an acceptable level of "generosity and compromise”. Where did generosity and compromise figure in their deliberations or those of Women and the Church (WATCH)? They have used every device to secure exactly what they want on their terms. Don't be mislead by claims that they may have to vote against the measure because it demeans women. They will do anything to gain power. Once they have it that will signal the end of the broad church that was the Church of England.