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Monday, 23 July 2018

Mary Magdalene

The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene, Alexander Ivanov, c.1835                                                                                                               Source: WikiArt

Don't tempt me! 

Depending on how you read the painting, 'Don't tempt me!' could be a caption under Ivanov's painting of The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene.

That is not the message conveyed by the bishop of Bangor who preached at a service for the feast day of Mary Magdalene, live from Bangor Cathedral on Sunday 22 July 2018. He emphasised these points:
  • We know very little about Mary Magdalene.
  • She is mentioned in the gospels at least 12 times.
  • Often depicted in the past as a 'loose woman', we now recognise that label as wrong.
  • She is one of the most loyal followers of Jesus witnessing his ministry, his crucifixion and his resurrection life.
  • She is, perhaps, the best example in the Gospels of how love transforms everything.

"How love transforms everything"!

🎜All you need is love🎝 has become the anthem of Western Anglicanism. Today's Golden Calf. Rather than our traditional understanding of God's redeeming love it has become a means of absolving all manner of excess.

Bishop Andy referred to Mary Magdalene as "someone from whom evil spirits had been driven. She was a tormented person. She might have described her life as being ‘out of control’ or unsustainable....The Christian faith is good news for people like us. Because it begins with the conviction that God loves us. This love isn’t founded on the merits of our lives or the choices we’ve made or make. It’s simply in the nature of God whose love is inexhaustible and inextinguishable."

Of course God's love is inexhaustible and inextinguishable but it makes no sense to use the example of someone "we know very little about" as justification for re-writing our understanding of Scripture.

Developing his theme +Andy  said, "There is an irony that the women, those compelled to silence in public life, are now compelled to tell the ground-breaking news of the resurrection. Today it’s easy for us to miss the offense, scandal and drama of this in the ancient world. Women! The ones who had no voice, few rights and fewer privileges now elevated to the highest place. It’s as though we’re meant to see that all who feel on the margins, outsiders, are the very ones whom God calls and draws." [My emphasis -Ed.]

Ah, yes! Minorities rule.

The emphasis placed on the elevation of Mary Magdalene to the position of ‘Apostle to the Apostles’ included a reading of the poem ‘They have taken away my Lord’ by Janet Morley leaving the impression that the whole point of the service was to justify the rise of feminism in the Church in Wales and all the free love baggage that arrived with it.

Pity really. It spoilt an otherwise enjoyable service but that is the Church in Wales today.



    1. Yes.A clear instruction "... dicit ei Iesus noli me tangere nondum enim ascendi ad Patrem meum vade autem ad fratres meos et dic eis ascendo ad Patrem meum et Patrem vestrum et Deum meum et Deum vestrum…"

      Ivanov's painting echoes many similar interpretations of the moment, Correggio, Bartolomeo, Titian, etc

  2. How many were in attendance subjecting themselves to this drivel?

  3. Bishop Andy clearly watched the gnostic film about Mary Magdalene during lent this year, and bought into it's distortions. He also fails to study Jewish scholars who argue that women in Bible times were given far more respect and rights than those in regions around Israel. In Acts we read of a women business lady, which would hardly happen if women were as oppressed as he'd like to believe.
    This is very dangerous teaching as if I wish to do anything, so long as I call it love, I can do it. That does not chime with either the bible or church tradition.

    1. How wonderfully convenient for the bishop and fellow Bench Sitters. It seems that God's love is "inexhaustible" and "inextinguishable" so long as a bishop or archbishop's private scandals and public conduct is not questioned. Dare we ask about conduct "causing scandal and offence" at swimming pools AB?


  4. PP. When exegesis is schewed then all hope for a strong sermon outcome is totally lost on the congregation. Are we now is a Church were the craft of the sermon is thing of the past. I am sure that many theologians will have something to say, if the Biblical academics if Bangor's University hear this diatribe.

  5. There are no Biblical academics in Bangor University any more PP.

    1. In matters of conduct unbecoming of a bishop within the Church in Wales the issue of "biblical academic" pales into insignificance.


  6. This is what we used to call 'eisegesis' - forcing an interpretation into the text rather than exegesis which is the art and skill of bringing out the meaning from the text. Its not as though the 'love wins' mantra is hard to refute, but if your leaders cover their ears and shout 'lalalala' at the top of their voices then they have already irrevocably rejected orthodox doctrine.

    What's laughable is that they actually see themselves as nuanced and dextrous in their (mis)interpretations and those who believe in plenary verbal inspiration as dangerous troglodytes.

  7. PP. But Bangor's University still has a theology school, so someone there will see through the miasma of the prelate's love song PP.

  8. Dear A.B. The responses to this post reminded me of the translation by Dr. D M Lloyd of the early 17th century document Llanstephan 3.
    "There are two kinds of clerics, prelates and subordinates. Prelates such as bishops and archbishops are praised for wisdom and prudence and the skilful accomplishment of their
    church government, and their firmness in maintaining the rule of the church, and their mercy to the poor, and their deeds of charity, and their prayers, and their spiritual actions, and their discriminating generosity, and the maintenance of their courts and their meekness and other honourable ecclesiastical qualities...."
    Great is our loss.
    A restoration and re-formation is called for.

  9. So the penny has dropped at last. The BBC informs that the bishop Peter Ball scandal was an establishment and judiciary cover up.

    Well blow me, you could have knocked me down with a feather (www.scandal and & www.gowermaster- Fantasy Island )

  10. Simon Stylites27 July 2018 at 22:26

    Some hard-hitting comment in the Church Times of all places:

    "Bishops were ‘perfect accomplices’ for ‘nauseating’ Peter Ball"

    "Several senior clerics who had held Ball in high esteem, most of whom had “flooded to defend him” after the police investigation and, latterly, his conviction. It had become clear in the Chichester hearing that abusers were required to “manipulate and charm” everyone around them, not just their victims [...]

    "Among his defenders was Michael Ball, his twin brother and a former Bishop of Truro, who repeatedly urged Lambeth Palace to restore Peter Ball to ministry during the 2000s in what has been described in evidence as a “manipulative” campaign which drew on connections with senior figures, including the Prince of Wales."

    This one really goes right to the top: even Prince Charles was called to give evidence. Lord Carey and the rest are hiding behind the figleaf that they were "played" by Ball. This does not explain why Carey gave Ball a Permission to Officiate after his first conviction, nor why he ignored several letters detailing Ball's activities that were sent to him in the 1990s.

    Also curious is that Ball was not first choice appointment as Bishop of Gloucester, but was edged into that role by an adviser to John Major, Sir Robin Catford, who dropped heavy hints that Ball was the right man for the job. The C of E backed another applicant but Catford convinced Major that Ball would do better.

    All in all, the Bishops of the C of E closed ranks around Ball and despite the litany of complaints against him, consistently gave him the benefit of the doubt. Were they intimidated by the social connections of this shameless namedropper?

    In any case, it proves that senior clerics in England are just as spineless as their brethren on the Bench in Wales.

    1. Et in terra pax28 July 2018 at 12:10

      Oh, our former Archbishop wasn't merely "played" by Ball, he intervened in the 1993 case that eventually saw Ball accepting a caution for gross indecency:

      "Lord Carey was already aware of six letters which had been sent to Lambeth Palace by members of the public, making further allegations about Ball's behaviour."

      Bishop Ball had numerous supporters amongst the great and the good who wrote on his behalf in numbers. Carey helped proceedings by keeping the accusatory letters out of the hands of the police. Even when Ball was cautioned, Carey wrote to the "other" Bishop Ball - his twin Michael at Truro Cathedral - to say he thought Peter was "basically innocent."

      Bear in mind that rumours about Peter Ball were circulating as far back as the late 1960s when he founded a monastic community that involved some very unusual activities. Later his "Give a Year to God" scheme provided him with a way to access vulnerable youths. It's extraordinary that all this went on until the early 90s when he was finally found out:

      After his caution, Peter Ball initially offered to leave the UK but found sanctuary in a cottage on the Duchy of Cornwall's estate. He was still permitted to preach at various public schools, right up to 2007, and took services elsewhere. Bizarrely he was even accused of impersonating his identical twin brother Michael and leading services in Cornwall as the Bishop of Truro!

      The whole thing is a deeply disturbing spectacle of collusion and deviance. Ball was very good at befriending the powerful and working his connections. Even though the various investigations have been going since 2015, only now have they begun to pull all the threads together.

      I'm really staggered at the lengths the C of E went to shield this perverted man from justice. It's every bit as bad as anything the Catholics did in their abuse scandals.

      Needless to say the victims received no care, pastoral support nor solace in this whole affair. At least Ball's reputation and that of the C of E have been thoroughly tarnished.

    2. Ball, was not the only one who "was very good at befriending" or milking, the powerful", (silk profession), whilst "working His connections" (purchased editorials).

      His Darkness, being also regarded just as "deeply disturbing a spectacle of collusion and deviance".