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Thursday, 27 February 2014

What [M'lud and] the West needs to know

Sentencing the two terrorists who murdered British soldier Lee Rigby on a south London street, the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, branded them traitors to their religion. He said their actions were "a betrayal of Islam and of the peaceful Muslim communities who give so much to our country" (story here). Not surprisingly Adebowale shouted at the judge "that is a lie", and later "you know nothing about Islam".

I winced when I heard the judge's comments. They reminded me of an interview with Tony Blair in the above video when he was asked what he knew about Islam. Advance to position 39 mins to hear Mr Blair's blustered defence although I recommend watching the whole video if your perception matches that of Mr Justice Sweeney. Mr Blair said that he had "learnt things about the Quran that he never knew before and that a lot of Christians would be interested". Had he been more interested in the facts he may not have made the false statement at the beginning of the video that "Islam is a peaceful and tolerant religion", making the same mistake as other Western leaders in the video.

Alexander Boot sums up the position admirably in his Blog (here):
 "There are 107 verses in the Koran unequivocally calling for the murder of infidels and apostates, plus another 41 preaching holy war and world conquest. True enough, there are also some other verses preaching peace.
But almost all those came early in the book, before Mohammed moved to Medina and hardened his position. According to Islamic law the later sanguinary verses ‘abrogate’ the earlier ones, invalidating them in case of a conflict.
Thus scriptural support for the judge’s assertion of the peaceful nature of Islam looks rather shaky, not to say nonexistent. Moreover, the blood-soaked history of the last 1,400 years shows that Muslims practise what Mohammed preached – you don’t need me to give you a list of clashes between Christendom and the Islamic world.
Why, 90 percent of armed conflicts currently under way anywhere in the world, from Indonesia and India to Africa and the Middle East, involve Islam. A betrayal of Islam, Your Honour? More likely faithfulness to it."

Last week I blogged on the Prince of Wales dancing to the Saudi tune. He, the judiciary, politicians and religious leaders need to educate themselves, not delude themselves into thinking that appeasement is the solution to Islamic extremism. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Morgan's organ (2)

Photo Credit: Llandaff Cathedral

From Anglican Communion News Service (here): "Llandaff Cathedral now has one of the finest organs in Europe". For the next six days more information here with Newsreader Huw Edwards trying out the £1.5m organ.

Ruined after Reformation, Llandaff Cathedral has had more than its fair share of troubles. The bombing in 1941 by the Nazi German Luftwaffe was followed by an 'Act of God' in 2007 when a lightning strike rendered the organ unusable. In an earlier Morgan's organ entry (here) I drew attention to more avoidable man-made problems. But things have moved on.

On 28 February 2014 the Rev'd Gerwyn Capon is to be installed as the new Dean of Llandaff Cathedral. I have heard some fears that having been Archbishop Morgan's Chaplain, the new Dean will not be allowed to be his own man. Indeed rumour has it that the former Dean took flight precisely for that reason but whatever the facts another failure cannot be countenanced. The new Dean must be his own man. He will garner support for being so. There is no more room for failure.

Likewise this is the time for the Archbishop to redeem himself. He has achieved his cherished pre-retirement ambition of permitting women to serve in the Episcopate. Celebrating his success Dr Morgan pledged to talk to Church members who, as a matter of conscience, "find the decision difficult" expressing the hope that no-one would be "lost" from the Church in Wales as a result of the decision. The Code of Practice consultations have been completed. My understanding from a report here and from comments after a previous blog entry (here) is that the meetings were held in a "constructive and generous spirit" with a "wide consensus emerging in the Province that there is need for the restoration of episcopal provision for traditionalists". 

So, at the end of this sorry tale, perhaps all members of the Church in Wales can once more live and worship happily ever after.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Richer and poorer in Saudi Arabia

I was somewhat bemused when I first saw this video. Surely it was a spoof! But no, it is Charles, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne. You can read about it here. His sword dance originally preceded going to war in a country where the practice of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. I find this rather odd given that as King, Charles will be 'Supreme Governor of the Church of England' and 'Defender of the Faith' (see here) but in our multi-cultural society he is understood to prefer the title 'Defender of Faith', that is any faith, including Islam which seeks to be the only faith, not just in Saudi Arabia but throughout the world using whatever means necessary to achieve supremacy.

At the lower end of the scale (see here) Indonesian maids working in Saudi Arabia are for the first time to be "guaranteed a monthly wage, time off, and contact with their loved ones, under a new agreement signed by the Gulf kingdom and Jakarta. Human rights groups say the pact is a step towards ensuring the protection of foreign workers' basic rights in Saudi Arabia. But it fails to address a worrying trend of domestic helpers filing complaints of exploitation and abuse only to face counter-allegations by their employers of 'theft, witchcraft or adultery,' according to Human Rights Watch".

The Human Rights Watch World Report 2013 highlights a situation in Saudi Arabia where multi-culturalism is far from encouraged, even among fellow Muslims: "Saudi Arabia does not tolerate public worship by adherents of religions other than Islam and systematically discriminates against its Muslim religious minorities, in particular Shia and Ismailis. The chief mufti in March called for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula".  Also, the rights of women are non-existent: "Authorities continue to suppress or fail to protect the rights of 9 million Saudi women and girls and 9 million foreign workers."

Meanwhile, in Great Britain we continue to promote multi-culturalism which takes all and gives nothing. Turning a blind eye to the elimination of Christianity in Muslim countries, see here, clerics delude themselves into thinking that by turning the other cheek out of context without regard for the consequences will protect us. Deferring to Islam is contrary to the Christian belief that there is only one way to the Father. If Church leaders and our potential Supreme Governor don't get it, what hope can there be for Church and country?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Opinionated obfuscants

Over the weekend I read a couple of articles offering opinions which made me despair of the direction that Anglicanism is taking. 'God loves you'; a simple message contorted by groups desperate to validate their own agenda at the expense of others. The emphases below are mine.

First up, from the Belfast Telegraph (here) in an article headed 'Women bishops, yes... but female Pope a long way off'.
A few quotes:   "Of course, there are still die-hards who believe that women should not become bishops...", "Such historical sexism was acceptable in societies where women were, and still are, treated like chattels", "The Church of England seems particularly out of touch with modern society, and it is hard to take seriously most of its stately Bishops gliding along in gorgeous dress-like regalia and funny hats", "The Roman Catholic Church, which venerates Mary, has strict views on women in the church, lay and otherwise. That view will not change in my lifetime or yours, so don't hold your breath for a female Pope", "the ordination of women as leaders in all the main churches will depend on their limited man-power. One reason for the Church of England's urgent requirement for women bishops is the lack of good male candidates for these key posts".

And from The Guardian (here), 'Vivienne Faull: a pioneer tipped to be the first female bishop' - yet another article about women being best suited to be bishops because they are women, contrary to scripture, tradition and Christ's own example.
Again a few quotes: "If she were not a woman, she'd have been a bishop years ago. Her mixture of competence, energy and honesty would propel anyone to the top of the Church of England, and her CV ticks all the right boxes", "She was among the very first generation of women to become priests, and has slogged through 20 years of institutionalised misogyny as a result", " she once explained: 'The local population took the view that if a woman led the funeral service, how would you know that you were properly dead?' ", "For 10 years Faull has been a member of the high-level commission that explores theological agreement between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. She believes the Roman Catholic church will eventually introduce women priests", "She looks forward to the blessing of same-sex partnerships", "Faull's finely judged intervention would mean the churches that allowed for same-sex marriages would still be Christian churches – something the homophobic parts of Anglicanism would utterly deny", "Despite a career spent working against the misogyny of the institutional church, what is striking about her manner is the lack of rancour."

'God loves you' means ALL, including the allegedly sexist, homophobic, misogynistic die-hards who are regarded as 'out of touch with modern society'. But faith cannot be determined by modern society. To believe that "the Roman Catholic church will eventually introduce women priests" is simply an opinion contrary to the historic teaching of the Church. 'God loves you' cannot be used to undermine what is also true, that “The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union, permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side”.

A blog entry (here) offers a personal response to the House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage (here). The comments are heartfelt and the pain real but that does not make it right that the Church should be governed by modern society because individuals feel the need to witness God's love on their own terms. Traditionalist 'die-hards' who only wish to remain faithful to the Church will not be side-lined merely to watch as the complexities of modern society, which are of our own making, are used to rob the Church of the real meaning of 'God loves you' simply to advance minority causes at the expense of others.

Postscript [19/02/2014]
Read David Ould on 'Real love' here.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Sacred cow

Feminism: the sacred cow of the modern Anglican Church

Forget the golden calf -

 "We Christians must face it: The Bible is hugely misogynistic" so stop 'reading it like 'a car manual' and 'reconcile the Bible with the present day'. So says Jemima Thackray (a chaplain in Winchester) in the Telegraph (here). 

Holy cow! How many Christians have been labouring under a misapprehension for the best part of two millennia, not to mention all those poor Jews, misguided for thousands of years before that. Although prior to Jemima's intervention there is a rather good example of how to interpret the law in Christ's seven woes which denounced the false religion of the Scribes and Pharisees as "utterly abhorrent" to God and worthy of severe condemnation (read here).

Commenting on the General Synod vote to fast-track the legislative process which would allow women to be appointed as bishops, Jemima says "the proceedings started rather awkwardly when the Bible passage, which happened to be that day’s lectionary reading, conveyed a message that was utterly at odds with the goal of elevating women to leadership roles within the church. [My emphasis - Ed.] It went something like this:
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” (1 Timothy 2:11-14)".

In the suppression of that passage of scripture the message has added weight. Had a passage been to their advantage it would have been claimed as the work of the Holy Spirit but at Synod the Holy Spirit has to have the approval of the sacred cow of feminism to speak. - If it doesn't suit, just drop it. The Telegraph is running a poll with Jemima's article asking: "Do you believe religious texts should be taken literally?" At the time of writing over 54% responded "No, they need to be read in the context of their time." 

Faith it seems is becoming irrelevant but as Christians this should be the basis of our belief. If religion has to be supported the spirit of the age there is no faith so the Bible gets discreditied or ignored. Of course many biblical stories illustrate a point as in the parables but where does this stop? Did Christ die on the cross and rise again or was it merely a 'conjuring trick with bones'. Academics who spend their lives pondering minutiae should be more guarded in their condemnation of those with a simple faith. We are the body of Christ, all Christians, including those who are being marginalised for remaining faithful to the Apostolic Church

It is understandable that feminists would prefer to ignore the facts. Otherwise they would have to accept that the world was full of priestesses at the time of Christ but "the astonishing thing was actually that they were absent from the community of Jesus Christ, a fact that in turn is a point of continuity with the faith of Israel" (Light of the World).

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Guiding Synod

The General Synod yesterday approved a private members motion on a new promise introduced by Girl Guides UK in September 2013. Guiders, ex-guiders, lay and ordained queued to speak, mainly in favour of the motion. One woman priest went so far as to claim that she owed her ministry to her membership of the Girl Guides when she developed a liking for parading up the church aisle in uniform. Despite procedural manoeuvres including a call to proceed to next business, the motion had strong support although a male priest protested that Synod had no business meddling in the affairs of the Guide movement. At one stage unwholesome tittering erupted around the chamber after the mover confessed that she didn't like young girls very much; she preferred older women. In the sexually charged atmosphere created by the items on the agenda the mover was forced to clarify what she meant which tended to confirm a claim that the Church of England has become obsessed with sex and the ordination of women.

For reasons previously explained (here) I found it particularly ironic that the now secularised Church of England was complaining that the Guide movement was following the same path. The background paper [GS 1943A] compared the new "To be true to myself and to develop my beliefs" with the previous "To love my God". Better still would be the original "To do my duty to God and to the Queen". If that is not acceptable, then join an organisation or form one which accords with one's own beliefs. But that is not how it works today as traditionalist Anglicans have found to their cost. Feminist entrists in the Church of England have been so successful in appealing to a godless general public to promote their secular ideals that the spirit of the age is now more important than the Gospel giving rise to statements such as 'others would see the Church as increasingly “irrelevant” and promoting attitudes “akin to racism” over its hold special services honouring same-sex relationships' - Justin Welby (here). 

Being true to oneself and to develop one's beliefs are fine principles in themselves as Buddhists would no doubt agree. 'To love my God' would probably have more appeal to Muslim recruits. For Christians there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ. That is what the Church of England should proclaim.

The Scouts retain their promise "To do my duty to God and to the Queen" but unlike the (girls only) Guides, the Scouts have had to become gender neutral. How long before they are forced by a potential girl Scout to force another change. 

Synod,  'Physician heal thyself'.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Mutual flourishing

The Joker has it, the Joker has it

As expected, the Church of England has overwhelmingly approved a fast-track scheme which could see its first women bishops appointed this year after being told it has run out of male clerics who are "up to the task" - see Telegraph article here.

It came from a member of the Synod who was applauded as he warned bluntly that it “urgently” needs to ordain its first women bishops because it has effectively run out of male clerics who are up to the task. He said that, with a string of bishoprics already lying empty and a growing backlog of appointments to make, the “shallow pond” of suitable male candidates had already been "overfished".

I was horrified by the remarks but the comments were well received. A similar lack of charity had been displayed at the Governing Body of the Church in Wales last September after their bishops sold-out to an amendment to their own motion which would have offered some protection for traditionalists. That statutory provision was to be replaced by a voluntary code of practice 'in line with other provinces', not least the Church of England, was greeted with "wild delight". The mover of the amendment hoped that women in the Church of England would be encouraged by the result. "Sisters across Offa's Dyke, look to us," she said. More shame them if the Church of Wales is to be held as an example with the continuing prospect of no acceptable sacramental and pastoral oversight for traditionalists unless the Bench of Bishops significantly change their stance.

The Church of England has demonstrated that on the question of women's ordination, theology is as shallow as the pond they are left to fish in. Had they been able to see beyond politics they would understand that 'the pool' now consists of mainly like-minded people who have compromised their faith for personal advancement, claiming to see the work of the Lord even when all the evidence is against them.

This morning I read another disconcerting claim (here): How TEC funds Facilitated Conversations. Now that explains a lot!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Softening up Synod

Credit: Telegraph - women bishops vote by 2015 at the earliest Photo: ALAMY

From the Telegraph: Final hurdle for women bishops to overcome - Church of England General Synod meets amid hopes of swift end to years of wrangling over women bishops – but row looms over the precise meaning of ‘trust’.

Yesterday there was a debate on Gender-Based Violence [GS 1933]. Forgive me if I appear a little cynical but this debate appeared to be firmly in the camp of 'men have been beastly to women' so women must be ordained to redress the balance, notwithstanding the fact that it is not women but men who are becoming increasingly marginalised in the Anglican Church and in society in general if television coverage of events is anything to go by. 

Alternative statistics which showed the balance of gender based violence was not as marked as suggested were rejected as were two amendments to ‘Leave out “violence based on gender” and insert “sexual and domestic violence”' and ‘In paragraph (c), leave out “boys and men” and insert “all people” ' (amendment details here). 

Violence in all its forms is un-Christian and violence by males against females is particularly abhorrent even in this gender neutral age but it was no surprise and perhaps no coincidence that we were reminded of a familiar theme that the brutalisation of women has at its core the absence of women in the episcopate. 

Only one thing appears to really matter now in the Church of England: women bishops. Never mind how or what has to be said. Hence all the rule bending and the never ending drip, drip of how tough it is for women in the Church. After yesterday's debate you could have fooled me.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Honoured and lauded, for what?

"The former Church of the Good Shepherd building is now the Islamic Awareness Center."
Photo: Jamie Dean

Archbishop Justin has welcomed news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford. He said "This award, richly deserved, reaffirms Bishop Katharine’s remarkable gifts of intellect and compassion, which she has dedicated to the service of Christ."

Read about her "dedicated service to Christ" here in the case of the former Church of the Good Shepherd which was sold to become the Islamic Awareness Center rather than let orthodox Anglicans buy their own church building. 

More stories here, here, here, here and here among others. Here is an extract from a recent entry :
"A.S. Haley of Curmudgeon blog fame wrote on Sept. 2010, "We thus arrive at an estimated total of some Twenty-Six Million, Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($26,650,000) dedicated thus far by the Church of Katharine Jefferts Schori to lawsuits and illegal disciplinary actions. That is quite a negative achievement for someone who has been in office for not even four years yet." He now estimates the figures to be between $30 million and $33 million. "If the spending continues at the same rate, by the time her term is up in November 2015 (and assuming her last budget is like those before it), she will have committed the Church to an impossible-sounding Sixty-Four Million Dollars in legal costs.""

Archbishop Welby added: "Prior to becoming ordained, Bishop Katharine pursued a career in oceanography, and her enduring deep commitment to the environment has evolved into a profound dedication to stewardship of our planet and humankind, especially in relieving poverty and extending the love and hospitality of Christ to those on the edges of society. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said of Bishop Katharine, 'In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin.'

"It must be noted, too, that Bishop Katharine’s achievements serve – and will continue to serve – as a powerful model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church."

If the Presiding Bishop is "a model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church" it is not difficult to see why Anglicanism is where it is.

Postscript [09/02/2014]
For further background information watch Anglican Unscripted video newscast, Episode 91, here.

More here from VirtueOnline correspondent Mary Ann Mueller [10/02/2014]

See also How TEC funds Facilitated Conversations from TitusOneNine (here) [11/02/2014]

Thursday, 6 February 2014

There is only One Lord

 Readers who have clicked on this icon in the right hand column will have seen a short video clip (here) with the quotation: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." As Greg Koukl says, there is never a suggestion in Jesus' teaching that all religions are basically the same and it doesn't matter which one you follow; quite the contrary.

Why then are other religions held in such respect and Christianity so ridiculed? As Cranmer puts it (here), "It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister should find himself incapable of referring to the Bishop of Bath and Wells without referencing satire", having compared the Bishop of Bath and Wells with a character from Blackadder.

More seriously I was struck by this comment from "The end of Christianity in the Middle East?":  The first paragraph of the chapter quotes from a report by the charity Aid to the Church in Need, in which it soberly and chillingly asks whether “future historians [will] say of us that we were first-hand witnesses to the extinguishing of Christianity in the very countries where the light of our faith first took hold?” 

What a devastating indictment yet Islam continues to be treated with the utmost respect by Anglican leaders. Why? There is only one way to the Father - through Our Lord Jesus Christ. I sometimes wonder if they really believe it. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

We are all partakers of the one bread

Normandie WWII                                                                                     Source: PhotosNormandie

The point of posting the 'Meditation on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass' video was to remember why we do what we do, not how we do it. I had intended to post the entry under the title 'Lest we forget' but then I recalled that I had already used it (here) to remember others who had made the supreme sacrifice.

As usual my wife expressed my own thoughts more succinctly when she said in response to some of the comments received, "there is beauty in the simplicity of a said mass in the early morning or late evening when maybe only a few are gathered together but there is also beauty in the splendour of a solemn mass, the colours of the vestments, the music and singing. There is no need to be 'pro' or 'anti'. Each has its place." 

Generally worshippers are able to choose between a simple said service and a sung service or they can choose another church where the style of worship is more to their liking. But there is now a more serious dimension. Church members who are unable to accept the ministry of women as priests and bishops must still be permitted to respond in good conscience to Christ's invitation:

 "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."

This is the challenge for the 'enlightened' Anglican Church. It must not fail.