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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Church in Wales: Code of Practice

Governing Body members vote in favour of ordaining women as bishops       Photo: Church in Wales

The Bill proposed by the bishops of the Church in Wales to enable women to be consecrated as bishops was successfully amended by the  Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven Peggy Jackson, and the Reverend Canon Jenny Wigley. Their amendment substituted a voluntary code of practice for the statutory provisions contained in the bishops' bill. Details can be found here along with the Select Committee's recommendations.

Appendix 2 to the May 2013 Report of the Select Committee includes an Explanatory Note to the Jackson/Wigley amendment (Amendment 3):

Our amendment seeks to reflect the overwhelming view of Governing Body members (as expressed in questionnaire responses in 2012), that:- 
 a) there should be provision for women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church in Wales, 
 b) there should be recognition and provision allowed for those who in individual conscience dissent from this move, 
while also keeping faith with other aims, as expressed:- 
 a) in 2008 – that provisions for conscience should not be included in the body of  formal legislation, 
 b) in 2012 – that legislation should not include structural provision to accommodate dissent.

The resulting vote did reflect "the overwhelming view of Governing Body" which, judging by the "huge cheers" that followed, must have been made up largely of like-minded supporters. By contrast the result of the vote against women bishops in the Church of England last November was received in dignified silence. There were no celebratory outbursts but complaints followed alleging that the Synod vote did not represent the will of the Church. It did but not part of it - the Church of England. Nevertheless a campaign was launched to set aside the rules and fast track legislation which included a process of facilitated discussion and reconciliation. This process should provide a model for the Church in Wales to restore the trust that has been lost.

After the Governing Body vote the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said, “While we, as bishops, welcome the decision that women can now be ordained as bishops in Wales, we recognise that there are some people who do not. We want to make sure that adequate provision is made for them so that they will still feel valued and accepted in the Church and will continue to worship and minister alongside us.  We have been entrusted to draw up a Code of Practice within a year and we are keen to consult as widely as possible with church members in order to reflect their views as best we can.”

The Church in Wales suffers from a lingering problem. Those with conscientious objections to the decision to ordain women no longer "feel accepted and valued within the Church". The lack of trust caused by the decision of the Bench of Bishops not to replace the Provincial Assistant Bishop has to be addressed if "adequate provision" is to have any meaning.

On the face of it the Church in Wales made its position clear in a press release hereAs part of the legislation passed, the Bishops are required to draw up a Code of Practice to ensure all members of the Church, including those with conscientious objections to the decision, continued to feel accepted and valued within the Church. [My emphasis - Ed.]

The Jackson/Wigley duo explain their amendment as follows:
Our amendment seeks explicitly to restore the relationship of Trust between the body of the Church in Wales and the Bench of Bishops, and to reassert the desire for this trust to lie at the heart of the bishops’ ministry and their role as a focus for unity.
Our amendment would bring Church in Wales legislation more closely into line with other churches in the Anglican Communion who have passed legislation to enable the consecration of women bishops - in particular the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland. In none other of the churches of the Anglican Communion so far has provision been made for conscientious dissent in legislation, but only in Codes of Practice. We do not believe that Wales should be the one to set a new precedent on this matter. 

Wales need not be alone. The bishop's role as a focus for unity has suffered badly in Wales while the Church of England, of which Wales was part until disestablishment, has avoided the problem through the ministry of Provincial Episcopal Visitors, a ministry retained under a code of practice based on guiding principles which are to be read together in a spirit of "Simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality" (GS 1924) here:

 Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to 
acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the 

 Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, 
including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those 
provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as 
priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear 
decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of 
discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God; 

 Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological 
conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests 
continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican 
Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to 
flourish within its life and structures; and 

 Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of 
England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that 
maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to 
mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England. 

The expressed intention of the Jackson/Wigley amendment was "to bring Church in Wales legislation more closely into line with other churches in the Anglican Communion who have passed legislation to enable the consecration of women bishops". In the Church of England, "pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority designed to maintain the highest possible degree of communion and contribute to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England" is an essential part of the new deal. Members of the Church in Wales deserve nothing less. The Church in Wales has 'simplicity' in its legislation. Now it needs 'reciprocity and mutuality' in its application to allow mutual flourishing if the bishops are to regain their credibility.

If the challenge is beyond the Bench permission must be granted and arrangements made for bishops to cross borders in the new spirit of church unity. That at least will ensure that all members of the Church, including those with conscientious objections, feel accepted and valued again.

Written submissions have been invited and should be sent to the Provincial Secretary at 39 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9XF, or to before 31 December 2013.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The ruin of Landaft

Formerly the responsibility of a long defunct, non-representative body of the Church in Wales this lovely old building was allowed to fall into decay while those charged with her care busied themselves with worldly matters. The ruin is said to be haunted by Clarissa, a financial wizard taken in by its dark master, Bazzer. Some claim to have seen her ghostly apparition haunting the decaying building looking for the elusive pointed hat denied her in office despite doing all her master's bidding.

It was impossible to find buyers for the beautiful works of art it housed before the cathedral crumbled because people were no longer interested in religious artifacts after the church became a mirror of society, the only success achieved by His Darkness before his forced retirement a generation ago.

Plagued by rumours of financial irregularities and nepotism among those charged with ensuring that there was no church impropriety, the congregation just faded away because nobody heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Bastineau  23 November, 2043

Friday, 22 November 2013

They just don't get it

Pic: Fr Ray Blake's Blog

I thought I was beyond shock in the woman bishop campaign until I read the article in the London Evening Standard here under the headline "Women bishops debate reaches the royal family".

Admittedly a minor Royal, nevertheless the implication of royal approval is clear but how crass. Julia Ogilvy, daughter-in-law of Princess Alexandra of Kent,  has "taken up the cudgels by interviewing 12 female Christian theologians for Women in Waiting, to be published by Bloomsbury in March". She writes:

My experience in marriage and business is that women and men work very well together and I am equally passionate that women have the ability to transform organisations like the Church,” ... “I am not an academic theologian but I am a Christian called to love my neighbour, whoever that might be” ... “So often women apologise for having a passion for something or for sounding too ambitious when that would be so normal for a man in the same situation.”

These are her 12 female "Christian theologians": Lucy Winkett, Sheila Watson, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Vivienne Faull, Elaine Storkey, Jane Williams (wife of Rowan), Sarah Coakley, Alison Elliott, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Chilton Knudsen and Helena Kennedy.  

I don't know what criteria were used to draw up this list but any list that includes Katharine Jefferts Schori must be suspect from the outset unless it is a list of women who have brought the Anglican Church to her knees. 

Women deserve success based on merit, the same as men in secular employment, but the priesthood is not a secular job to be filled using secular criteria. There are many women of outstanding ability, a fact illustrated daily through the medium of television but that is no reason for admitting them to the priesthood. The Church is not society yet encouraged by the buffoon Baldry, see here and here (Q3 Col 1225), Dave cannot wait to see women bishops in parliament, not for their contribution to debates but simply because they are women bishops, another feather in his cap to add to his same-sex marriage trophy. That is the whole basis of the women bishops movement. It is another 'want', a fact well illustrated in another article for the Telegraph here under the headline "Women bishops: Today I'm proud to be a member of the Church of England".

Jemima Thackray roars off with:
"Today I am proud to be part of the Church of England. I don’t care what former Archbishop Lord Carey said this week about the church ‘being extinct in one generation’. I don’t care what kind of negative spin some parts of press will inevitably put on today’s vote in favour of new proposals on women bishops. I don’t even care that these proposals are potentially unworkable in practise. I can still say that today I’m proud to be an Anglican". What Lord Carey had said was that 'the Church of England will be extinct in one generation'.

If Ms Thackray doesn't care that the church of England" will be extinct in one generation many do, including all those women who despair at the ignorance, or is it deceit, of those who claim to speak for them. Last year after the women bishops legislation failed under the agreed procedures there was another headline on the Virtueonline blog here, "UK: Half of women bishops opponents in Synod were women". They were pilloried for their actions because their beliefs did not fit in with modern, secular norms. Why should they? They understand Christ's message. The others don't get it but we all are having to pay the price of their ignorance - or of their deceit. No matter if the church fails, some will have pointed hats to keep as souvenirs.

For women and men who do care I have just received an encouraging letter from The Society. Check here and keep the faith.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

"The thing that you will do - do it quickly."

The Archbishops of York and Canterbury during the General Synod                 Photo: Getty Images

Twelve months ago at Synod there were no smiles. Today it was different. It is now full steam ahead. It is fast track to women bishops in the Church of England. Reports here and here.

Christ does not come into it. It is all about (some) Women and the Church who are not shy of using half truths for their own gain. From The Tablet: "Canon Rosie Harper, who supports women bishops, said: “Pope Francis has got it – he’s stopped judging people and started loving them, and Catholic church attendance is rising. Stop being weird and vote yes." Not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, simply economical with the truth and there will be much more to come, including untruths. 

The Catholic church along with the Orthodox church has warned the Church of England that what they are doing is wrong because "the church has no authority to ordain women, and this view must be held by all as a definitive belief" Pope John Paul II (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis), a fact confirmed by his successors. Pope Francis went further. He calls church careerism a 'leprosy' on the priesthood. 

But bravo Susie Leafe of the conservative group Reform who said that she could not in good conscience support the new legislation because she believed that she and other congregations could not flourish under a woman leader. Integrity is not dead.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sell out?

Photo: Getty Images

There is something about this image that makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. Perhaps it is because a person is the focus of attention. It has been used many times to illustrate articles about the ordination of women, most recently here under the heading 'The Church of England is on the brink of resolving its 13-year battle to introduce women bishops'. As the Telegraph puts it: "Under the new proposals, an independent ombudsman would be appointed to intervene when traditionalist parishes complain they are not sufficiently “protected” from women bishops’ authority. Leading opponents of female bishops believe the measure will “go sailing through” this week’s debate and on to final approval by next year or 2015".

This apparently is sufficient for Forward in Faith and Reform to claim that "the latest plan is 'the best way forward' for the Church". Is this a sell out? There is a weariness about the whole affair but is that any reason for those who in conscience are unable to accept the ordination of women to throw in the towel? 'The Church' is much bigger than the Church of England. Can we still claim to belong to the Holy Catholic Church if we fail to oppose what we believe to be wrong? I am heartily sick of listening to the secular drivel trotted out by supporters to justify their covetousness. There is no justification for the ordination of women in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church yet there appears to be a readiness to run up the white flag as Damian Thompson puts it here

Reliance on a referee has seen many a battle unjustly lost on the field of play but even assuming that the 'independent ombudsman' is of the highest integrity he/she will have an unenviable task. WATCH have fought tooth and nail to get their own way, objecting to everything they have regarded as a concession to their opponents. How many times will they be prepared to 'lose' before there is pressure to have the new measure rescinded?

The last of the Guiding Principles in the  Report from the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate [GS 1924] states:
Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of 
England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that 
maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to 
mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England. 

In the run up to the vote on women bishops in the Church in Wales, the Ass Bishop of Llandaff lost no time in telling people that provision for the Provincial Episcopal Visitors (flying bishops) in the Church of England's Act of Synod was intended to be of a "temporary nature" (here).
Claiming insider knowledge, he testified as to what was meant:
"John Habgood, formerly archbishop of York, is widely acknowledged as the architect of the Church of England's Act of Synod, the Act that was promulged in 1994 and included the provision of PEVs. I was John Habgood's chaplain at the time, worked with him on the Measure and can testify that the intention of the Act was to be of a temporary nature, giving people opposed to the ordination of women a gracious space during a period of reception of women priests. As you probably know, I am now Lord Habgood's official biographer, and so have had recent conversations with him about that crucial period. His recollection coincides exactly with mine, that the intentions of the Act was that it would apply for a limited period of time. Inevitably the provision of PEVs strained the catholic understanding of episcopacy and ecclesiology as expressed in a UK Anglican setting, where formerly the bishop of a diocese was the centre of unity in that diocese; however, it was felt, in the run up to the Act of Synod, that that strain was bearable for a limited period in order to hold things together."

In the Church in Wales the time limit expired when women were ordained to the priesthood. The post of Provincial Assistant Bishop created to get the measure through was immediately dropped when Bishop David Thomas retired in 2008. In September this year the Welsh bishops introduced a bill which included a measure that would have made statuary provision for dissenters, a measure hailed by some as the way forward in the Church of England. That was a farce (here). The bishops voted in favour of an amendment in opposition to their own bill to remove statutory provision and make it voluntary through a code of practice. The mover of the amendment was a former GRAS activist imported into Wales by their scheming archbishop for now obvious reasons (here, and here).

The dissembling Statement of guiding principles in GS 1924 should act as a warning that what we are dealing with is politics, not the faith of the Church. If trust is to be of the essence for the future, the past does not augur well but one thing is clear, those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests cannot in all conscience vote in favour of women bishops or even abstain. That we have had to fight, fight and fight again to save the Church we love should be proof of that.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Swan song? If only...

The Archbishop of Wales                                                                                      Photo: Church in Wales

[NOTE: According to the Church in Wales web site the programme referred to below has been re-scheduled for broadcast on 8 December 2013 by which time the Archbishop should have retired from the scene had he been employed in the secular world he so much admires but since he is responsible only to himself no doubt he will continue to apply his own personal standards and stay put. - Ed.]

Whether the English 'Songs of Praise' or the Welsh 'Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol',  first, praise where praise is due. My thanks to the Church in Wales for providing bloggers with such fertile ground for blogging.

From a recent press release: "The Archbishop of Wales will present a special edition of the S4C worship singing series Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol on Sunday 17 November (8pm, English subtitles) to celebrate his tenth anniversary as head of the Church in Wales".

'Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol' is the Welsh language version of  Songs of Praise broadcast on S4C which, just like the Church in Wales, serves a minority of people in Wales. It is ranked ninth in the top twenty S4C viewing figures with 31,000 viewers. That's 1% of the population, curiously a similar number of people who attend Church in Wales services regularly each Sunday. But the Archbishop likes minorities, always providing that they are secular, see here and here . They give him the platform he otherwise would be denied for his political posturing to the detriment of the Church. For minorities viewing outside Wales S4C can be accessed online, by satellite and cable, see here.

The S4C programme is produced by a Cardiff-based independent TV production company, Avanti, strangely the same company that was used to produce Songs of Praise sessions from Llandaff Cathedral which resulted in allegations that procurement rules may have been broken. If that rings a bell, so might this headline: "First female Dean of Llandaff Cathedral quits after two months". Full story here but discount the mischievous and unsubstantiated claim: "Church in Wales sources have told WalesOnline that Dean Henderson had had “a 'difficult time' since her appointment, with some clergy resenting the appointment of a woman", a story put about to influence the vote on women bishops with great success after two prominent women clergy in the Archbishop's entourage succeeded in removing statutory provision for worshippers who have not been taken in by the current fad for using the church as an organ of society. 

It is fitting that the Archbishop will be celebrating his own ministry since everything has to be done his way. A chapel boy from Neath, he clothed himself as an Anglican after using his local Anglican Church to learn to play the organ, obviously one of his passions! His journey ends in Llandaff, Cardiff, "where he now lives and where he was first ordained 41 years ago". He says: “I’m deeply aware that I’m following in a line of some of the giants of the Christian faith – people such as the translator of the Bible to Welsh, William Morgan, Alfred Oliver, Joshua Hughes and Richard Lewis and that makes me feel very humble.” Humility is not an obvious trade mark. No bishop from Dubricius in 522 to the much loved Roy Davies in 1999 has done more than Barry Morgan to marginalise the Church in Wales. His magnificent Cathedral is in dire straits with the prayerful few constantly pressed to increase their giving sacrificially to support his 'take it or leave it' regime which is designed to marginalise those who disagree with his secular approach to religion.

If you were to ask people what first came to mind on hearing the word 'Cathedral' no doubt many would say music. A musical tradition to match the splendour of the architecture, the diocesan church par excellence as Barry described his Cathedral. In Llandaff the reality is very different with talk of financial irregularities, nepotism and in-fighting - see comments under the 'Morgan's organ' entry here.

Relations in the Cathedral have taken another knock with the news that 'Peggy Pilot', the omnipresent Archdeacon of Llandaff and part time Cathedral overseer cum temp Dean is to investigate allegations of homophobia within the Cathedral’s choir, story here. No prizes for guessing who will be exonerated.

Two thousand years after Christ appointed His Apostles, Dr Morgan believes that it has fallen to him amongst all the "giants of the Christian faith" to break with the Apostolic Succession. That is not humility, it is conceit. Only he and his fellow bishops now enjoy positions of security in the Church in Wales. While they are adding to their pensions, lesser mortals face an uncertain future under the Church in Wales programme of managed decline. Instead of adding to the number of Christians, they have done the opposite while pursuing their narrow objective of appointing a woman bishop for purely political reasons contrary to the beliefs of the Apostolic Church. Barry's goal now looks likely to succeed unless the church collapses beforehand under the weight of episcopal incompetence.

Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol is often recorded in Welsh chapels with congregational singing rather than a large formal choir, the fate that awaits Llandaff Cathedral on current trends although they will have a magnificent £1.5m organ to accompany the handful of worshippers left in the congregation.

If only Dr Morgan were returning to his roots and this programme were his swan song. Then there would indeed be songs of praise, thanking God for an overdue retirement, 'Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol' yn wir!


Fans of Dr Morgan, another minority no doubt, will be disappointed to learn that Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol this week has been cancelled/postponed having given way to a fundraising concert for the Philippines appeal, details here.

Donations can be made here

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Queer bashing

■ Peter Tatchell:  “Traditional hetero masculinity
oppresses women and gay people, with sexist
jibes, domestic violence, rape, homophobic taunts
and queer-bashing assaults.” 
Source: UK Gay News
Readers may have noticed that I was taken to task by a commentator following the 'Morgan's organ' entry for interpreting 'gifted queer' as a slur rather than a badge of honour. Forgive my ignorance and my apologies to all those queers, gifted or otherwise, who glorify in the appellation while choosing to read this blog if only to find offence when none is intended. For others who are similarly ill-informed in matters queer, there is some preparatory reading on "The New Sexual Radicalism" here.

Lest there be any doubt, I have no problem with 'queers' as such. But let me be clear. I have little if any sympathy for queer bishops who put themselves first by promoting their gay agenda at the expense of the Church. The damage they have caused to the Anglican Communion in particular has been immense yet the promotion of their self-centred movement has been described as progress! The first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church, Gene Robinson, attributes this to "decades of activism and of gay people identifying themselves as such" (story here). The reality can be read here. Shrinking congregations hardly equate with progress.

 Earlier this year the House of Bishops announced that they would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promised to be celibate. I had no problem with that in principle but the policy created a conflict between intrusion and Gene Robinson's "gay activism" which puts bed sharing above house sharing. Activists did themselves no favours with supporters of civil partnerships when it became clear that we had been used by people who regard civil partnerships only as stepping stones to their true goal of same-sex marriage. Same sex people living together for companionship is nothing new. Being able to benefit from the legal safeguards provided by the civil partnership legislation was a matter of justice, not a sexual liberation free for all. I campaigned for civil partnerships on the basis that security should not be denied to people living together for companionship simply because they are of the same sex. But that was not good enough for same-sex marriage campaigners. They demanded that marriage should be redefined. Dave fell for it and made one of his biggest mistakes.

How people behave in the privacy of their own homes, regardless of their sexuality, is not something that should concern others but actively promoting homosexual preferences does not indicate celibacy. The latest rumours have it that the Pilling Report will suggest a further relaxation of the guidlines: "Clerics should be able to follow Church teachings without having to make a solemn vow", what amounts to a "don't ask, don't tell policy" leaving sexual matters to conscience and the mercy of God. The difficulty with this approach is that clerics such as Gene Robinson queer the pitch for others by making it clear that their sexual proclivities are paramount creating open conflict within the Church in a campaign of stealth leading to same sex marriages in church and blessing civil partnerships.

When Prince Charles let it be known that he was to marry Camilla Parker Bowles with whom he had been having an adulterous affair, it was decided that she would be known as the Duchess of Cornwall, not the Princess of Wales for fear of offending people's memories of Princess Diana. It was also misleadingly suggested that she would become the Princess Consort on the accession of Charles to the throne for fear of offending loyal subjects who couldn't bear the thought of 'that woman' being Queen Camilla. Not so according to experts. Unless legislation is enacted, which is most unlikely, when Charles is King we will also have Queen Camilla. This strategy of progression by stealth is the same process which Women and the Church have used in their campaign of self-advancement regardless of the fate of others and is being used by the LGBT movement to advance their objectives.

Homophobia, like Islamophobia, has become a common charge against anyone who dares to have a contrary opinion. So let's get this in proportion. "LGBT people constitute at best 1 percent of the entire globe’s population. Their “rights” are largely non-essential things such as the sentimental need for acceptance, the joy of throwing a wedding banquet, the delight in showering with people of different genitalia, and the ambition of having children without having to share property with a partner of the opposite sex. Yet the campaign for such “rights” has received 6 percent of all generosity in the world, from a pool that also meets the needs of orphans, paupers, refugees, and victims of famine and natural disasters." See Witherspoon Institute report on Sexual Radicalism here.

Gay bishops: Episcopal Bishops Gene
Robinson (New Hampshire, retired, left),
and Mary Glasspool (suffragan, Los
Angeles) with Guy Erwin Bishop of
Southwest California Lutheran Church
(Gene Robinson via Twitter)
Not content with the decriminalisation of homosexuality in this country, the introduction of civil partnerships which many non-queers supported, and 'same-sex marriage' which many queers and non-queers alike did not support as Dave rammed it through parliament, queer bashing continues. But queer bashing has been reversed in this country. It is the queers who do the bashing if they take exception to anything they don't like. From UK Gay News: "Gay Activist Says Straight Male Machismo Underpins All Tyranny". If that sounds familiar, it is the same strategy used by the feminist movement to blame all the world's ills on opponents of the ordination of women, see here and here to give two examples.

I must give credit for this entry to a persistent critic who prides himself on being "queer" and who opined in response to a comment: "gifted queer" is not in any way a slur - queers (like myself) have reclaimed the term into a positive self-description. It's the true genuis [sic] of us homosexuals to take an insult and redeem it into a label of self-idenitification [sic] (something almost Christian there). I'd be happy if someone called me a "gifted queer". That is on the same lines as voiced by the 'gifted' but offensive queer, Peter Tatchell who along with other queers invaded the pulpit while the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, was preaching an Easter sermon in his Cathedral, story here. Nothing is sacred any more. The Church is being used from without and within.

The way homosexual people were treated in the past and are still treated in many countries is abominable but so is their treatment of straight people now. To protest in a Cathedral on Easter Sunday showed an astonishing insensitivity but so does the use of the Church by bishops who choose to advance their own cause at the expense of the Church . It has been widely trailed that the Pilling Report, in addition to relaxing the rules on celibacy, will also recommend that "a formal form of liturgy is introduced by the Church for couples entering into same sex ‘marriages’ or civil partnerships". The tail is now wagging the dog. How queer is that!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Morgan's organ

With apologies to Dylan Thomas, it's been organ, organ all the time with Morgan, they've been martyred to his music!

In a few day's time on 8th November, Llandaff Cathedral will echo to the sound of music played on the magnificent newly completed £1.5m Nicholson Organ. The timing is unfortunate. Just before the grand event a press release has announced that "The 'Dean' and Chapter are proposing slimming down the Cathedral Choir in order to save nearly £50,000 which would significantly cut down the anticipated deficit of £81,000. Seven men – five lay clerks, one choral scholar and the assistant organist– are at risk of redundancy and will be invited to take part in consultation meetings over the next few weeks." [Additional report here - Ed 6/11/2013]
Matthew 23:17 springs to mind!

The 'Dean' will be the Morgan Jackson duo. As former temp Dean and minder they have been busy papering over the cracks in Llandaff Cathedral in the hope of attracting another candidate to sort out the mess created by organ Morgan and his cronies - see comments under previous entries here, here, here and here among others.

From the Organ Appeal site:
"Music is an essential part of the worship at the Cathedral. Llandaff is the only Anglican Cathedral in Wales with a dedicated Choir School and a professional choir that consists purely of boys and men. The Cathedral Choir sings at six services each week during term time as well as at the Christmas and Easter services. The organ accompanies the choir and therefore needs to have the tonal variety and subtlety for this purpose. It is also essential that it can lead large congregations in the singing of hymns, as well as being flexible enough to allow the playing of a worldwide organ repertoire."

Some amendments required there! The organ project was a considerable act of faith. It was initiated in 2007 when Church in Wales average Sunday attendance figures had already slid by a third from over 60,000 in 1990 to under 40,000 in 2007 (see graph in earlier entry here). By the time the organ was completed sixteen years later in 2013, the CinW average Sunday attendance looks set to fall to below 30,000, a 50% drop on 1990 figures and representing a mere 1% of the population of Wales yet the Archbishop retains the title of Archbishop of Wales giving him the political clout he would not otherwise enjoy, rather like an unelected member of the House of Lords. In fact the Church in Wales has become Morgan's organ.

In his word "the Cathedral is the Bishop’s church, the place where he has his chair – the place, in other words, where he has his home but the place from which he exercises oversight over the wider diocesan family". Where music is an essential part of the worship in fact. There is no hint of contrition in the press release, just a spokesperson's "very heavy heart". Weighed down by guilt? 

Where else in public life would you find a Chief Executive or Overseer and board answerable only to themselves with a governing body stuffed with members who loudly applauded the planned demise of brothers and sisters in their midst? The Archbishop would do well to follow the example of the other Nicholson in the news, Sir David Nicholson, the man in charge of the NHS who also thought he was indispensable but is to be replaced by a well respected 'opposition' man. What an excellent idea! Dr Morgan is past retirement age. He has been Archbishop for 10 years and has overseen nothing but decline.

The Church in Wales should be looking outside Wales for an 'opposition' man without all the CinW political baggage to be the next Bishop of Llandaff and Archbishop of Wales. A bold decisive step is needed to save the Church in Wales. The rest of us are accountable for our failures, why not the Welsh bishops? 

Monday, 4 November 2013

"Not the British way"

"Two thirds of Britons said full face veils made them feel 'uneasy'. "                Photo: Rex Features

"Banning Muslim women from wearing the veil is 'not the British way' and would be like attempts to clamp down on the miniskirt in the 1960s" according to Baroness Warsi in an article for the Telegraph here. Not the best comparison and definitely not the view of the majority of Britons in another Telegraph article here who want to see a ban on full face veils in all public places, similar to the laws in France. What people do in the privacy of their own homes is up to them but if Muslims want to enjoy the benefits of freedom offered by a Christian country they should not abuse the privilege.

The true "British way" encourages openness and freedom of expression. But these values must not be used against us as a means of changing Britain by imposing alien cultures on others, especially in the knowledge that the same privileges of religious expression are denied to non-Muslims in Islamic countries . Wearing the veil is not the British way. Like Islamic dress which is now commonplace, intentionally or unintentionally, it supports cultural jihad by 'normalising' an ideology that despises Western culture:

"In Western Europe, Islam has achieved much of its goal of eroding Western values, culture and institutions from the inside. Islam has very keenly used the failed concept of multiculturalism to exponentially increase the Muslim population in Western Europe while concurrently instituting a policy of creeping yet deliberate institutionalizing of Islamic “states” within the host countries.
There are a few tactics that have greatly helped Muslims to achieve these goals. First, Muslims have demanded that the host nations incrementally adopt various aspects of Sharia law and Islamic traditions, or else risk being deemed discriminatory or “Islamophobic.” Meanwhile, Islamic immigrants increasingly elect not to assimilate into their host societies, choosing instead to cultivate ethnic separatism and push for the creation of a (Muslim-only) state-within-a-state. Finally, Western leaders acquiesce to many Muslim demands in order to avoid further Muslim violence and crime that has plagued Europe over the last two decades." Full article here.

Today comes the news that a terror suspect has gone missing after changing into a burka at a mosque and is being hunted by police. Will they be inhibited in their task by complaints about 'stop and search'? Earlier this year burka-clad Selfridges raiders escaped with £1m worth of watches, story here. It is too easy to play the victim in this country. We are becoming the victims of our own stupidity. We are acquiescing to demands that would be denied to us in other countries because of a misplaced sense of fair play.

In reality Islam has been shoved down our throats for years without our knowledge on a 'not asked, don't tell' basis, see here. I don't want to eat the flesh of an animal that has been bled alive listening to religious phrases recited in praise of Allah. That is not the British way. The last time I shopped at Waitrose was when I enquired whether a leg of lamb was halal after reports that most New Zealand lamb was. The butcher's response was that all their meat was halal implying greater respect for the beliefs of Muslims than for Christians. Although their web site now states that some non-halal meat is available, market share and the profit motive appear to be uppermost in their marketing strategy. By contrast Morrisons has a clear marketing strategy of selling non-halal meat unless specifically asked for. Occasionally things go wrong as demonstrated here but such episodes clearly demonstrate a greater sensitivity to Muslim beliefs than to Christians who are regularly served halal meat slaughtered "In the name of Allah" without their knowledge. Full story here.

Having condemned multiculturalism as a failure a couple of years ago with the comment "We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.  We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values", last week the Prime Minister announced that "Britain is set to become the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that can be bought by Islamic investors in a bid to encourage massive new investment into the City." Read the article here which drew this response from the Spectator:

And once it is officially proclaimed a good thing for a non-Muslim country to offer sharia-compliant products, it will not be long before rich and powerful people will start arguing that other sharia-compliant customs — marriage, for example, and criminal punishments — should also be accommodated in our law. Our great western economic and financial institutions seem unaware that the battle for sharia-compliance is highly controversial in the Muslim world itself. Extremists push it, moderates resist it. The British government and the City of London are lining up with the former.

Christ had a few things to say about getting around the law so why in a Christian country do we welcome a system of Islamic compliant finance that complies with rules set by Islamic scholars, the same class that issue fatwas against us? Even if we need the money, it is not the British way.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Excess baggage?

New Vicar of St John's Cardiff     Photo: Church in Wales

From the Church in Wales web site comes the announcement that a high profile woman priest has been imported to become the new Vicar of  the formerly prestigious but now decaying parish of St John the Baptist in the centre of Cardiff where the Millennium Stadium is the main attraction. No doubt the Archbishop will be hoping that she has better staying power than the previous woman vicar of St John's who, according to local sources, decided that she had been sold a pup, as, it is rumored, was Dean Janet Henderson. So is there an implied promise of higher office to come?

Looking at the Vicar's impressive CV, the movers of the Jackson/Wigley amendment which removed from the Bishop's Bill the statutory provision for those unconvinced that the ordination of women is theologically sound have good reason to worry about their own chances of either of them being the first woman bishop in the Church of Wales despite having found favour with their leader after, reportedly, doing his bidding. 

But did Dr Morgan know that the new Vicar comes with excess baggage which offers a ray of hope to people who thought that consideration for the beliefs of others had ceased to be a part of Anglicanism? 

Taken from the conclusion of the Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones' doctoral thesis “Doing God in Public”:

"To engage generously is also to communicate trust. Trust promotes
relationship, improving the context of our mutual encounters, which also enhances the
capacity for communication. Trust also invites others to come closer to our
community, increasing their exposure to our own practices. Trust is particularly vital
in those encounters where there is least potential for substantive encounter, since trust
is a fundamental element of Aquinas' primary precepts of natural law. More than this,
where others are able to meet us believing trust is present, the implication they can
draw is that we have their 'good' at heart – and thus trust helps open the door more
widely to exchanges about how we might come more fully to understand what
comprises such 'good'.

 Wherever possible we can and should at least attempt to establish where the
potential exists for substantive common ground that rests on foundations to which we
give allegiance, and then attempt to build upon it. Engaging with optimistic
generosity does not guarantee that we will always be met in kind, nor that all
difficulties in substantive communication will be overcome and others will readily
admit to the superiority of our views. However, to fail to engage is to be complicit in
the persistence and deterioration of the status quo, with all its injustices and failings.
To engage is always to insist on, and always to promote, the potential for greater
human flourishing according to humanity's ultimate telos found in the God by whom
and in whose image we are created. This is the Anglican way." (My emphasis - Ed)

After the Archbishop won the day at the Church in Wales' Governing Body Dr Morgan said: "I hope it will be possible that no-one will be lost. It's a matter now for discussion. I promise on behalf of the bench of bishops that we will talk to a range of people across the Church. We'll come back in April to hear what people have to say but in the end the bishops will have to draw up the code of practice."

We must hope that Dr Rowland Jones' conclusions will not be discarded as excess baggage but taken on board by the bishops of the Church in Wales and, indeed, of the Church of England as a timely reminder of the traditional, broad Church, 'Anglican way'. No-one need be lost if there is genuine love and understanding.