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Monday, 5 March 2018

Misogyny, repression and stigmatisation

Source: Church in Wales Diocesan press releases
  One of the less important casualties of the severe weather was the launch of a new book under the category Gender Studies in Wales. 

Due to be launched at that bastion of inclusiveness, St Asaph Cathedral, it claims to offer "significant and original insights into women, Welsh identity and religion":

"Women, Identity and Religion in Wales by Manon Ceridwen James, a Canon at the Cathedral, is the first comprehensive study of its kind from a present-day perspective. At the heart of the book are conversations with thirteen women whose lives and experiences reveal how women facing misogyny, repression and stigmatisation are able to respond with resilience and humour." [My emphasis - Ed.]

I have not read the book and at £24.99 for a paperback copy which, from the reviews, trots out the usual gender studies cliches, I have no intention of doing so. From the abstract of the author's University of Birmingham Ph.D. thesis:

"The thesis is structured as a theological ‘critical conversation’. Dialogue partners include Western feminist theologians and their claim that women find it difficult to assert an authentic self and also sociological and historical texts looking at religion, women and identity in Wales. Christianity has played a significant part in Welsh identity construction, particularly in creating a repressive self-image for Welsh women for political reasons."

Putting such claims in the context of my own grandmothers, mother, wife, mother-in-law, daughters to granddaughters, a period getting on for one and a half centuries, over half of which I have personal experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Quite the contrary which later generations are happy to confirm. It is all politics.

One reviewer described the book as a "valuable and challenging contribution to our understanding of womanhood". What she means is those women who have used religion to further their careers in a so-called equality campaign.

Equality of opportunity in the workplace is to be applauded but the church is not the workplace. Vicars are not employed by the church. They are 'employed by God'.

Blind to the reality that surrounds them, feminists are stuck in the past. They speak for themselves advancing their own cause regardless of the cost to others. If other women become casualties, falling by the wayside in the name of equality, hard luck.

As the Archdeacon of Llandaff candidly explained before she was imported from the Church of England to execute Barry Morgan's disastrous plans for the Church in Wales "new individuals with conscientious difficulties over women’s ministry will simply have to make personal decisions and individual choices, to find accommodation as best they can". With resilience and humour?

Many faithful women have been ousted from their church. I know from experience how it has hurt them to be abandoned but many more women suffer physical hurt and hardship through FGM, human trafficking and slavery. The inferior status of women according to different cultures in our midst is a scandal. To help them requires genuine service, not self advancement while supposedly fighting for social equality so real injustice continues.

Claiming misogyny, repression and stigmatisation is part of the feminist strategy. It has reached the highest levels in the church. We have witnessed two women bishops appointed in Wales followed by one in Scotland in addition to those in England and numerous female clerics repeating the same allegations of discrimination.

Mud sticks. There is plenty of it bringing the church into disrepute. The consequences are all too clear. Christianity in Great Britain is waning fast. When pressed the so-called abuse amounts to no more than a difference of opinion.

When secular values are applied to the church repression and discrimination are alleged. It is not misogyny to take a traditional, theological view on the ordination of women, in fact many more Christian women fervently believe that a woman's place is not at the altar. That is not repression. It is their deeply held faith.

Secularisation of Anglicanism has been a disaster resulting in decline, not growth, but still the alleged 'victims' peddle their untruths to gain advantage. That people outside the church are taken in is hardly surprising when clerics in the church complain it is so. The result is further opportunities to attack the church and our Christian values.


  1. It strikes me that Christianity has never been about my rights, which is all we currently hear. It is surely taking up the cross and following. What a shame we don't get steamed up about the rights of our fellow Christians around the world where they are persecuted.
    Regarding the bit about "employment". Under the new clergy contracts, I gather that clergy actually have no rights what so ever. It was sold on the lie that it brings clergy nearer employment contracts, when actually it removes the "living" with it's security, and places clergy entirely at the mercy of the senior staff. Many in the C oF E have tried to challenge this and got no where. In Wales, clergy simply leave.

  2. No rights at all - what is equally sad is the "9 till 5pm" culture that priests are now forced to adopt. It is rapidly becoming a job and not a vocation - which appears to suit many senior clerics.

  3. Clwyd Correspondent6 March 2018 at 07:39

    Two little details about this book. First, it was turned down by an informed and discerning mainstream theological publisher (SCM Press) before landing at the University of Wales Press, where they would have inevitably struggled to know about an accomplished mainstream theologian capable of giving it a rigorous peer review. Second, I notice there is scant mention of divorce between its covers, and the breaking of marriage vows, particularly in relation to the dignity of the ordained office.

    Still, we should be thankful for small mercies. Canon Dr James arrived in St Asaph Diocese just in the nick of time, to allow Gregorius Maximus to promote a woman in place of the highly popular (not) Canon Mary Stallard who had managed to alienate more or less all the clergy during the dying days of John Davies's episcopate. Good luck, Ynys Mon, you are about to get a woman with a high opinion of her own opinions!

  4. Take heart Clwyd. Some of us remember Mrs James when she was known as Mrs Parry. Not her maiden name and not a widow if you take my meaning. Gregorius Pomposo Maximus' protégé will find stony ground in the Misery Areas of the North.

    1. Bryn from Bethesda8 March 2018 at 08:22

      Yes, Watchman, and some of us know from close quarters how Dave Parry bore the cost of (the now) Ms James's other 'cop out' (besides her woefully inadequate ability to articulate an historically rounded doctrine of the Trinity), i.e. 'copping out' of her marriage vows on the grounds of boredom.

    2. Of one thing we may be certain Bryn she will not be invited to conduct a book signing event in Neuadd Ogwen. My spies tell me that the overwhelming sentiment there is a resounding "Good Riddance."

  5. In May 2016 Canon Dr Manon James, the Director of Ministry in the St Asaph diocese and Tracey White, Diocesan Funding and Training Officer, made a podcast on the diocesan website purporting to explain the Trinity.
    Before you lash out £24.99 for the book perhaps you’d like to consider these two quotes by Dr James from that podcast.
    1) “God is three persons – Holy Spirit, Father and Son. God is three and one. I don't know how that can be but God is a mystery. I know that's a bit of a cop out.”
    2) "When we think about God we think of God as an old man in the sky."
    Anglican Misfit

    1. Ouch, definitely not a theological epic, based on the quotations Anglican Misfit. The Trinity a "cop out" then ..."we think of God as an old man in the sky"' This is a childs early view, not one who has a personal faith in Him. The premise however, is a starting point, for an ensuing debate?

    2. £24.99?
      I'll stick with Andrex.
      It's much cheaper and much smoother!

  6. It looks as if the authors of the last three posts have had to sit through one of Mrs Parry-James's sermons A B. At least they have survived the experience and continue to affirm the Christian faith.

  7. An antidote to Mrs Parry James' polemic has been prepared amongst creative sources in the North A.B.
    With apologies to Hogia Llandygai and to Bryn from Bethesda here we go.

    Mae rhywbeth bach yn poeni pawb,
    Nid yw yn nef ym mhobman'
    Yr hyn sy'n poeni'r ardal hon,
    Yw Merched Bazza Morgan.

    Merched Bazza Morgan,Merched Bazza Morgan,
    Yr hyn sy'n poeini'r ardal hon yw Merched Bazza Morgan.

    These words do not apply to any specific person or persons but to an unfortunate and calamitous situation.