|The Rev Crone|
The BBC's Religious affairs correspondent, Caroline Wyatt, recently posed the question: Is the UK still a Christian country? The answer was 'Yes'. But based on analyses by the US Pew Research Center, the conclusions suggest that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%. The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK - the "unaffiliated" - will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.
One would have thought that alarm bells would be ringing but no, feminism, LGBT and what is absurdly labeled 'equality' is all today. Faith and regular worship have been sidelined.
Ruth Gledhill was reporting on the latest in the Westminster Faith Debates series at London's "liberal flagship church", St James' Piccadilly. Among the guest speakers was the Rev Kate Bottley, described as a 'Gogglebox tv' vicar. She amused her audience by relating a story about how she had told her hairdresser that she was coming to London to take part in the debate on women bishops and the difference they can make. "What's a bishop?" her hairdresser asked. After the vicar explained, the hairdresser said she did not know what the Church of England was either.
If the Rev Kate Bottley's hairdresser, or anyone else wants to know what a real bishop is like, they should watch this video as Bishop Mark Lawrence speaks to his text from Hebrews 12: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith".
But the event wasn't about traditional Christian values. Adam Dinham, the only man on the panel, and who is married to a Muslim man, and who was there as director of the Faiths and Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths, which sponsored the event, said he had wanted the evening to celebrate and think about the contribution of women as faith leaders in the Anglican community as well as other religions and traditions".
Represented among these religions and traditions were a "leading witch and herbalist" who shared the Church of England platform with the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori and Helene Mobius, who heads the prison chaplain ministry of the Pagan Federation who challenged stereotypes of women. She said, Paganism had a "deep reverence" for both the feminine and masculine, not in a partnered but in a "conjoined" sense. This was not to diminish the role of God because without His "fertile seed" the cycle of life could not continue. However, she criticised the debasement of women in society which had seen words such as "crone", which once meant "elder", used as a term to mean something quite different.
She explained: "The word crone does not mean wizened old cackling pagan". Instead it referred to a woman who had passed beyond menstruation. It was the "passage of the mother becoming grandmother, no longer able, thankfully, to reproduce." This led to some discussion about whether there should be an authorised liturgy in the Church to mark the menopause.
Given the number of menopausal women clergy that idea must have been received with some impact. Perhaps the honorific, the Rev Crone could be introduced to make the Church of England more relevant to paganism? And why not? There are calls for a service to meet just about every occasion, the most recent being for a service to "celebrate transgender identity like a Baptism" (here). In fact, there seems to be more of an appetite for celebrating the extraordinary than for the straight forward worship of Almighty God, particularly on a Sunday by "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith".
Which brings me back to the Googlebox tv vicar. She is "all for a mid-week church service" so that she can have a "Sunday lie-in" (here). A joke perhaps but many a true word spoken in jest. She added, "I don't think declining church numbers are down to a loss of faith rather increasing pressure on people's time. Perhaps the Church could recognise this." Or, as the Archdeacon of Norwich, Ven Jan McFarlane put it in response to the revelation that Norwich is the most godless city in England: the citizens of Norwich are "doing their churchgoing differently", ie, staying away.
In new Anglicanism the daily Eucharists have been eroded and Sunday Masses cut so busy people are less able to make their Communion compared with the Roman Catholic Church yet these women want to spread their brand of Christianity to do for the Catholic Church what they have done for Anglicanism.
For millennia the Word of God has been received through the Bible. It is being replaced by the opinions of feminists, LGBT pressure groups and any other so-called 'equality' groups obsessed with 'sameness', interpreting Holy Scripture to suit the latest 'equality' cause. Do they not know, or do they conveniently forget, that "for just as each of us has one body with many members, these members do not all have the same function"?
The Rev Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James', said that it mattered not so much that women were bishops and priests, as "how" they were bishops and priests. The authority held by a woman will be held "differently" from that held by a man. How true, but probably not what she meant. If she had been interested in biblical authority, she need only have referred to 1Timothy 3:2. The revisionists long argued that we were all the same but having achieved their aims, women now have to be seen as different.
A fuller report in the Church Times quotes Presiding Bishop Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori as saying that women could offer a "witness to the otherness of God" as could gay bishops, or those who were young, or old, or from BME backgrounds. "White, male, English-speaking bishops with degrees from Oxford or Cambridge are only one sort," she said. "They cannot image the fullness of God."
And there was me thinking that the 'otherness of God' was represented by mystery and holiness.
Perhaps the flavour of the event was best captured by another guest speaker, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. She was "applauded for her moving acapella solo of The Lord's My Shepherd, sung with female instead of male pronouns"! That certainly is different.
Here is the panel: