Category Archives: Church of England

08 Aug

God gets it right at his second attempt

God got it wrong first time round and was told to try again.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office funds an institution called Wilton Park which has just published a report Opportunities and Challenges: the Intersection of of Faith and Human Rights of LGBT+  Persons

“Evangelical Christians in the Global South – mainly Africa – should be expected to re-interpret the Bible to make it compatible with LGBT+ ideology.”

This agency, supported by the British Government demands “direct action” and says, “Religious leaders should be held to account for their promotion of hatred against LGBT+ people. Queer lawyers and their allies are well-placed to challenge hate speech through administrative law and litigation.”

The churches must be obliged to provide “enlightened textual exegesis.” There should also be “…teaching of LGBT+ in Sunday schools and Queer theology in colleges training people for the church’s ministry.”

The report denounces missionaries and Christian teachers for “spreading prejudiced views”

The Wilton Park report calls for “the improvement” of the Bible, particularly of accounts of “Sodom and Gomorrah which perpetuate hatred.”

I quite agree. I have spent my life as a theologian and I confess that for all those years I took the Bible to be the Word of God. But, following my enlightenment by my LGBT+ friends and by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I now see that the Bible is a wretched travesty, a primitive and pernicious denunciation of homosexual behaviour which, thankfully, our enlightened and emancipated understanding reveals to be one of the greatest blessings received in the whole history of the human race. Not only do I approve, therefore, of the rewriting of biblical texts to demonstrate God’s Original Error and to prove what a holy and blessed thing homosexual behaviour is, but I shall make my own contribution to this new vision by offering a fresh translation of the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“ And it came to pass that the Lord did look down upon the cities of the plain, even upon Sodom wherein dwelt the shirt-lifters and upon the whole company of them that did bat for the other side  which wast called Gomorrah. And the Lord repenteth of the wrath that wast aforetime kindled in his heart against them and all their doings which (in the days wherein God erred) he declared were abominations. And behold, the Lord said, ‘I will no more cause mine anger to be poured out upon them, neither will I destroy them in my judgement. And I will cause their works, even unto their shirt-lifting and their batting for the other side withal, to be blessed and to be honoured among all men…and women and among them that wist not what manner of creature they be.’

“So the Lord set his pink ribbon in the heavens as an everlasting sign that he would no more wax wroth against them that were in the olden time called an abomination but which are from henceforth to be called them in whom the Lord delighteth. And lo the Lord spake unto them and said, ‘I will give unto every man and woman and unto them which wist not what manner of creature they be boxed sets innumerable of Judy Garland movies and The Lamentations of Stephen Fry even unto every one of them in his/her/their own cottage.’

“And they all arose and with one accord said, ‘How come we shirt-lifters, brown-hatters and them that do bat for the other side to hear in our own polari the wonderful works of Stephen Fry?’

“And behold, the pillar of salt which aforetime wast Lot’s wife (Let him that readeth understand) wast turned into Judy Garland. So the multitude of them lift up their voices and sang Candle in the Wind.

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02 Aug

Well, well Welby

There are varieties of fatuity – and then we come to Archbishop Justin Welby.

Yet again this week he offered to the nation the benefit of his boundless wisdom and called for a cross-party commission to negotiate Britain’s departure from the European Union. He said major decisions should be “taken off the political table.”

Even someone with less perspicuity than Welby – always supposing such a person could be found outside Bishopthorpe Palace – would understand that Brexit and the whole business of Britain’s negotiations with the EU are political  issues and so it is nonsense to suggest that they be removed from the political realm.

We might as well suggest that when Welby sits down with his fellow bishops to discuss, say, a fresh translation of The Athanasian Creed, the matter should be “taken off the theological table.”

Besides, when Welby wades in as he has with his dazzling moral superiority on full beam, you would think that even he would understand that such an intervention is itself a political act. Thus incoherently he uses a political statement to declare that the matter should not be political.

The Archbishop’s first language is gibberish

He told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “Can the politicians not put at the front of their minds the needs of the United Kingdom to come out with a functional, working system for Brexit, and agree that certain things are, as it were, off the political table and will be decided separately in an expert commission, or commission of senior politicians led by someone that (sic) is trusted in the political world?”

Welby would benefit from reading the well-known primer for infants and juniors Janet and John Look at Polity. For the decision to leave the EU was a political choice made by the British electorate. What we did in the referendum of 2016 was to express our will and then hand the matter over to the politicians whose job it is to work out the details

He wants “an expert commission” or “a commission of senior politicians led by someone that (sic again) is trusted in the political world.”

Does such a paragon exist?

What he really wants is a nanny – someone who knows best.

I wonder that Welby hasn’t noticed that Brexit is a divisive issue and a sizeable minority of the electorate voted against it. Any “expert commission” would of course itself be contentious from its appointment, with one side claiming it to be independent and the other side accusing it of bias

Crying for nanny is of course a characteristic of the infantile mind.

Like weak men everywhere, Welby has a craving for authority, for someone to tell him what to think and what to do. Plato would have provided him with such figures. Plato called them Guardians which the Latin philosophers translated as Custodes.

And they immediately asked the question, Quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?

Who Will Guard the Guardians?

Round of applause, please everyone. Let’s hear it for the Archbishop of Cant.

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17 Jul

Four legs good; two legs bad

I don’t know how they get away with it. Let me try to explain, but first you’ll need a bit of background

The first Bishop of Loughborough is to be Rev’d Canon Gulnar Eleanor Francis-Dehqani, Canon Francis-Dehqani was born in Iran in 1966 and, along with a great many other Christians, she and her family fled that country after the 1979 Islamic revolution which brought to power Ayatollah Khomeini

The new bishop likes to be called Gull and the Diocese of Leicester (of which Loughborough is a part) has told us what they expect from her: “Guli will take a full role in the work of the Church across Leicester and Leicestershire, but the post will also have a focus on supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) clergy, lay workers and congregations in the county.”

Gull is delighted with her job specification:

“I’m very excited…”

(Newly-appointed hierarchs always start off by telling us how excited they are)

This one is excited “…about the potential for this role which draws together several important themes in the current life of the Church. Whilst being a bishop for the whole diocese, it (sic) will be a particular joy and a privilege to learn from and draw out the rich resources of Christians from minority ethnic communities.”

Well, she does not exactly speak as we speak in the street, but I think we know what she means. Since her escape from Iran, she has held a great many posts in the realm of synods, quangos and church committees and she has mastered the art of talking multi-culti bureauspeak.

That’s what I meant by saying I don’t know how they get away with it. I mean Gull and the Diocese ought surely to be arraigned for racism?

We can only imagine the furore that would ensue if a diocesan office had issued a job-specification as follows: “The post will have a focus on supporting White, English and Majority Ethnic (WEME) clergy, lay workers and congregations in the county>”

And if the appointee’s response had been: “It will be a particular joy…”

(Joy, like excited is another word they can’t leave alone)

“…and a privilege to learn from and draw out the rich resources from the majority white English population.”

An appointee saying such things would be denounced immediately for shameful and vile racism. She certainly wouldn’t be appointed. For the scandal is that you can be as racist as you like – so long as the objects of your racism are British and white.

I have listened to the arguments of the multi-culti fascists for for half a century and so I know them all off by heart. We are allowed to make exceptions in the case of preferred minorities, because they are under-represented and so we must give them a leg up with a good dose of positive discrimination.

The trouble with this is that there is nothing positive about it. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination.

The multi-culti bureau-speakers are racists. And they get away with their racism because the counter culture, the culture of preferring minorities, is the culture now.

Do you remember chapter three of Animal Farm and Snowball’s condensation of The Seven Commandments of Animalism? “Four legs good; two legs bad.” 

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29 May

Hoo ha ha! Hoo ha ha!

A great part of the genius of the Church of England  authorities is their limitless ability to find ever new ways of wasting money to no significant purpose.

One of their wheezes is to finance congregations which model their worship on the pop concert. Prepare to clap and wave your arms in the air. Guitars at the ready. Bawl out times without number choruses so void of content that they weren’t worth singing once. This has been the trademark practice of Holy Trinity – chianti and pizza – Brompton for decades. It’s religion, but not as we know it, Jim. So what? It puts bums on seats and it brings in the cash.

Now the authorities are hoping it might just postpone the church’s final demise – for a few weeks, anyhow.

This method of “being church” has proved itself so successful that HTB now exports it in what are called “church plants.”  Churches in Derby, Portsmouth, Chelmsford and Bristol have…I suppose the word I am looking for is “benefitted” from this scheme and £1.35million has been given over two years to six of these HTB plants. In addition, St Luke’s, Birmingham, a church planted by the former director of worship at HTB, the Revd Tim Hughes, was given £350,000, while other HTB plants, St Swithin’s, Lincoln, and St Matthias’s, Plymouth, each received £200,000. St Swithun’s, Bournemouth, St George’s, Gateshead, and St Mark’s, Coventry, were each given £150,000.

Seven projects were paid for by the central authorities and, though six of the seven were operated by Holy Trinity Brompton, Andrew Brown, the secretary and the chief executive of the Church Com­missioners, insisted, “There is no bias towards HTB.”

Indeed not. For another new jape was launched in the Midlands when £2.6 million was given to Birmingham diocese’s Growing Younger programme.

I’ve just had a look at this jape and so I can tell you something about it.

It was started by the Bishop of Birmingham and the Archbishop of Canterbury with “star baker” Martha Collison. The two senior clergymen stood together on a platform in a darkened city centre church where they teased and chafed each other for a few minutes as if they were a comedy duo – which alas! they are not. Then they stepped down from the platform and called forth a group of teenagers called “The Sparklers,” Guess what they did next? That’s right, you’ve got it in one: they lit a sparkler and passed it around. This was supposed to symbolise something, but I forget what.

Those, myself included, who find it difficult to understand what Growing Younger is all about are in luck, for a commentary (in perfect Welby management-speak) is provided on their website. Let me try to give you the flavour…

There will be “facilitators” who will “work in a focussed way” be “highly skilled” (at what?) and they will “work flexibly.” The facilitators will bring “fresh thinking” to the project and “discern vision and strategy” while they will also “model good practice.” Then there will appear “a piece of commissioned evaluation” and the assurance that “research has been integrated” to provide “a baseline assessment” using “evaluation tools.”

There, there – don’t distress yourself: the mental nurse will be along in a minute, as soon as she’s finished tending to the Archbishop and the Bishop of Birmingham.

In fact I don’t feel very well myself. I know what usually wards of my hysterical collapses: it’s to quote Tom Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes:

“And perhaps you’re alive. And perhaps you’re dead. Hoo ha ha. Hoo ha ha. Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.” 

There, that’s better – just a bit, anyway.

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21 May

Sexual Apartheid

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has appointed Fr Andrew Woodward, priest-in-charge of St Mary’s Kemp Town and Rural Dean of Brighton, as the first Bishop’s Liaison Officer for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex LGBTi community in the Diocese of Chichester.

Fr Andrew’s job specification is to provide the bishops and parishes with up to date information about the pastoral needs of the LGBTi community and to make the church’s ministry among this community more effective.

The priest will “represent the church in this community so as to build bridges and enable pastoral support for a substantial group of people who feel the Church is alienated from them.”

A spokesman for the diocese added: “Many in the LBBTi community feel they are tolerated but not included.”

Dr Warner says: “This post is about pastoral bridges in line with our diocesan strategy, know, love, follow Jesus. It is primarily about building, opening and crossing new and existing bridges towards great understanding and mutual flourishing.”

The Bishop added: “I think it is important to stress that the post holder is not expected to be an advocate for change in legislation or theological position. Neither should the creation of this post be understood as establishing a particular policy change or a new direction of travel in the Diocese’s position on same-sex issues.”

For this relief, much thanks

Of course it is the responsibility of the church’s ministers constantly to be looking for ways in which to make their ministry among all people more effective. But I’ve got news for them:

There is no such thing as “The LGBTi community.”

There are individual LGBTi people but they do not live in community. Those who identify themselves by one of the letters LGBTi are simply making public their particular sexual preference.

Why anyone should wish to make public what always used to be regarded as a sensitive, personal and private matter is a question that defeats me. But nowadays, it seems, many  feel the urge to advertise their sexuality. And the love that once dared not speak its name now shrieks at us at the top of its voice from lewd processions along the high street.

Inexplicably, perversely, this display is called “Pride.”

I wonder, is it only sexual deviants who are expected to announce to the general public their preferences? Perhaps I ought to draw together a crowd of my “straight” friends and process with a banner reading, “WE SLEPT WITH OUR WIVES LAST NIGHT.”

But there is a bigger issue and it centres on that word “community.”

Chichester diocese tells us that LGBTi people “feel alienated.” Well then, why do they insist on alienating themselves by self-identifying as a distinct community? Groups setting themselves up as “communities” received its reductio ad absurdum some years ago when The Independent newspaper, in all seriousness, wrote about, “London’s sadomasochistic community.” In the face of such utter barminess, satire becomes impossible.

The self-ascription of the word “community” by specific separatist groups actually destroys community and creates a multiplicity of sects. When this was practised in South Africa, the British political establishment condemned it as Apartheid. Why then when the very same thing is practised here is it applauded as “a celebration of diversity”?

There is one community in this country and we are all part of it. And to say otherwise is to destroy all possibility of social cohesion. Why don’t the authorities – religious or secular – understand this plain truth?   

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29 Apr

Suffer the little godchildren

We can always count on the Church of England to come up with an exciting new wheeze to stave off the final throes of bankruptcy.  So they have got Rev’d Canon Dr Sandra Millar, head of projects and development for the Archbishop’s Council, to produce an exciting new order of service to help facilitate this exciting new wheeze to put bums on seats and tenners in the collecting plate. This takes the form of an order of service for a freshly invented and exciting occasion in the liturgical calendar called Godparents’ Sunday

The new and exciting order of service aims to bring God’s people together and empower them to reflect and rejoice through many exciting activities.

I hope those who turn up will be enabled to cope with all the excitement.

Dr Millar is eminently qualified for her role as contemporary liturgist for, before she was ordained in 2000, she had a career in marketing with the Co-op and Boots.

Her exciting new service stands squarely in the imaginative tradition of modern rites and it reminds us of the luminously creative project of a few years ago called Love Life, Live Lent in which congregations were invited to stick little bits of yellow paper on larger bits of blue paper and perform a loving line dance for the Lord.

If the Lord enjoyed that, I’m sure he will enjoy the form for Godparents’ Sunday too.

If you promise not to laugh too loudly or for too long, I’ll tell you about it. But first, let me discipline my tongue and my pen and adjure the temptation to wax satirical. Here it is straight then, in all its infantilised glory, from the Church of England website 

“You will need large sheets of paper eg lining paper on a roll or a large sheet with the heading ‘Memory Wall.’

“Felt pens for directly writing on paper/fabric OR post-it notes and pins.

“A large sheet of paper, flip chart or projector with ten words written on Eat, Talk, Listen, Read, Watch something; Drink; Look around; Stop for a rest; Play Games, Meet people.

“Ten smaller cards and Blutak so that words can be covered up and easily revealed..

“Four large cards each with one of these phrases: Being There; Part of the family; Good choices; Sharing faith

“Yellow and white ribbons and two ‘prayer trees’ eg places where ribbons can be tied [optional]

“Heart shaped chocolates or godparent/godchild badges [available from www.churchprinthub.org] to give away [optional]”

What immediately strikes us about Dr Millar’s modern masterpiece is that it is deeply rooted in philosophical theology. That phrase we are asked to write on one of our four large cards, “Being there” is of course a translation for Godparents of Martin Heidegger’s phrase Dasein and represents the inauthentic condition of humankind “thrown” into the world and obliged to discover the courage “to be towards death.” ***

(Best not  make too much of that if their are any godchildren present).

As you can see, Godparents’ Sunday belongs to the scholarly tradition of Playschool and Blue Peter. And I needn’t have worried about the temptation to satire, as this latest offering renders satire impossible.

I confess I’m a bit worried about the chocolates, given that we’re informed daily we’re suffering an obesity epidemic.  But I needn’t have worried about this either, for Dr Millar suggests that congregations follow up their chocolate-scoffing festivities with a “Fun and Sports Day.”

Completely in character and true to form, the Church of England gets this bit wrong. They say this exciting “Fun and Sports Day” should be held on Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May

But Bank Holiday Monday falls on 1st May.

Suffer the little godchildren…

*** Sein und Zeit by M.Heidegger, in association with Noddy and Big Ears say “Let’s Play Church!”  by Enid Blyton and Justin Welby

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31 Mar

Carey the patriot: Welby the fascist sympathiser

It is encouraging to read that George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury (1991-2002), has suggested that Donald Trump might be a “good Samaritan” for the dispossessed American working class – the millions scorned, neglected and betrayed by the US political elite for decades. As the result of the presidential election in the US, the vote for Leave in Britain and the growing strength of anti-elitist parties throughout Europe have shown, millions have declared their contempt for the elite of “liberal” intellectuals, apparatchiks and career bureaucrats who have dominated the political scene throughout Europe and the States since the second world war. People have lost patience with the elite’s culture of entitlement and thrown them out.

Naturally, George Carey is already being excoriated by members of the political establishment and by the left-liberal sections of the media from which they draw their support.

Members of this establishment can barely contain their rage over the fact that both here and in the US they are effectually being disestablished.

Contrast George Carey’s refreshing statement with speeches by Justin Welby in recent months. Welby urged us to vote Remain in the EU referendum, assuring us that there is nothing in Christianity in general or the Church of England’s doctrines in particular to disapprove of the EU. Thus he showed his ignorance of The Thirty-nine Articles which are central to the constitution of the Church of England and to which Welby himself was obliged to give his assent upon the occasions of his ordination and consecration. Article 37 says, “The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this realm of England.”

Not under EU rules, she doesn’t: for the EU works consistently for the abolition of the nation state.

And then there is the small matter of Welby’s having sworn the Oath of Allegiance to her Majesty. In better days, he would have been put in the Tower for airing such views.

But then Welby thinks himself enlightened and progressive, as all members of the left-liberal establishment do. He is in fact a leading representative of that arrogant culture of entitlement, of career bureaucrats and operators of the management cult of ordered decline:  that failed establishment which the people have belatedly rejected.

Welby has condemned both Trump and anti-EU, anti-immigration “populism” as “belonging to the fascist tradition in politics.”

And nobody laughs!

I’ll leave Trump out of this for the time being – at least for long enough for us to discern his political direction. But to condemn fascism while supporting our membership of the EU is a species of doublethink of which George Orwell would have been proud:

Consider: the ruling EU Commission is unelected, a self-appointed, self-perpetuating privileged committee of commissars; in effect a politburo. They are entirely unaccountable to the European electorates. The EU has not published audited accounts for twenty years, so we have no idea how much of our money they are spending or indeed of what they are spending it upon. There is no democratic process in the EU for the making of policy. The so-called EU parliament is a rubber stamp for the Commission. Thousands of new rules and laws are made every year and then imposed on the member states. Effectually, the EU governs by decree and diktat.

Is there a word for this? I say there is, and the word is “fascist.”

Well said, George! Is there the chance you might stage a comeback?

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29 Mar

Our racist church

Why has the Church of England turned racist?

Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester, has just announced that there is to be a new appointment designated “bishop for ethnic mi minorities.” Why? Because, says the Bishop of Leicester, the church is “too quintessentially English,”

Leave aside for the moment the question of how one can be “too” quintessentially anything – for “quintessence” is what it says it is: the very quick and soul of a thing. But, as the modern services demonstrate only too clearly, our church authorities are not too familiar with the English language, what will go into it and what won’t.

The whole point of the Church of England is that it was always meant to be quintessentially English. It is, after all, the national church. Read the divines who were most eminent in its creation, such as Richard Hooker and William Law: “Every man of England a member of the Church of England” and “The whole realm shall have one use.”

It is as if Martyn Snow does not even satisfy himself with his coinage “too quintessentially English,” for he blathers on a bit further and adds that the new bishop for minorities is deemed necessary because the country, and particularly the Leicester area, has experienced “cultural changes.” We must respond to these cultural changes, says Bishop Snow, “by enabling greater representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Christians.”

In what ways are BAME Christians not “enabled” presently? Does the Bishop of Leicester mean to suggest that a white English priest cannot or should not minister to black or Asian Christians?

On that score, would he say that a black or Asian priest cannot or should not minister to white English Christians?

The very notion of a bishop for minorities is at best patronising. Actually, it is blatantly racist. If you really wish to marginalise someone, assign him to a special group..

We know from forty years experience that the hierarchy and synod always follows secular fashions, only, like some prince consort, one dutiful step behind. The secular fad being followed here is the disastrous policy of encouraging multiculturalism which separates people into “communities” on racial grounds and creates undesirable ghettos.

When this was practised in South Africa, it was rightly condemned as Apartheid. When it is practised here, it is lauded by all the same “liberals” and “progressives” who took to the streets to protest about the segregation that was the rule in South Africa.

The notion of “communities” is fatal to the establishing of an integrated society. There is one community to which we all belong: one church, one realm, one England. This was the Elizabethan Settlement which has given us a decent set of political liberties for 400 years. This settlement has been adjusted and refined over the centuries by, for instance the accommodation of dissenters through the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act (1828) and the Catholic Emancipation Act (1829)

It should not be beyond the wit even of our contemporary senior ecclesiastics to allow similar adjustments to be made to extend membership of the one English community to those of other faiths

Dump the patronising attitude towards so called BAME Christians. And ditch the implicit racism.

The living symbol of our national integrity is the Monarch who is both head of state and supreme governor of the Church of England.

You might say the genius of this settlement is precisely in that it is quintessentially English.

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29 Jan

By mirrors and prevarication…

Slowly but surely, by hint, innuendo and prevarication, by a deathless procession of committee meetings and interim reports, the Church of England is working its way towards changing its teaching on marriage. Three years of “shared conversations” on the subject have just ended and the Bishop of Norwich has published a summary in which he says: “At present clergy are advised that they may offer ‘informal prayer’ to those registering civil partnerships or entering same sex marriage.  The parameters of such pastoral support are unclear.  The House proposes that there should be more guidance for clergy about appropriate pastoral provision for same sex couples.”

Society has, as they say, “moved on” and the church is getting left behind. Archbishop Rowan Williams noticed this fact and referred to it in his last sermon before he retired: “The church has a lot of catching up to do with secular mores.” Thus this very modern prelate inverted the teaching of St Paul who, on the subject of pagan values, commanded, “Be ye not conformed to this world.”

But what did St Paul know, living as he did all those centuries ago and long before our great Enlightenment?

The bishops and the synod are hell bent – I choose the words carefully – on catching up with the secularists. How do I know this? Because the bishops and the synod have got form: they have fallen into line with every “reform” in social manners and customs since the 1960s. We can be sure that there will be no point in the process of continuous “reform” at which church leaders will declare: “This is a step too far. Proceed no further. Stop!”

But there will be no explosions, no nasty shocks. The ecclesiastical committees will proceed by stealth and duplicity. Press release will follow press release and memorandum of understanding will begat memorandum of understanding. It will take as long as it takes. Only the result is certain. The Enlightened Ones – Williams’ catchers-up – will not take the decisive vote until they are sure of winning it.

Meanwhile, what? Let the very progressed Bishop of Norwich spell it out:

“No change in doctrine is proposed but it is often pastoral practice – how we treat people – which matters most.  This means establishing across the Church of England a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people, for those who experience same sex attraction, and for their families, and continuing to work toward mutual love and understanding on these issues across the Church.  And so we speak in the report about re-examining the existing framework of our pastoral practice to permit maximum freedom within it.  We recognise two areas in particular where advice in relation to the pastoral care and support of lesbian and gay people needs fresh thought.”

Notice at once the trademark double-speak: There will be “no change” but there will be “maximum freedom.” Freedom to do what?

Our Lord’s teaching on marriage remains the same. We have a choice: obey his teaching or disobey it. That is the only “maximum freedom” Christians are permitted: freedom of the will.

The bishops and the synod will proceed with a shifty gradualism of which Fabius Maximus (280-203 BC) would have been envious.

This is the strategy: there  is to be“…a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people.” On the Christian criterion of “hate the sin but love the sinner” this cannot be faulted. But the paradoxical willingness to accept those who deliberately disobey Christ’s teaching – while desperately balancing on one leg to insist that his teaching still stands – will lead to the eventual abandonment of the teaching; not (at first, anyway) by decree but by default.

Then Rowan Williams will be able to rest easy in his retirement, having seen that the church truly has caught up with secular mores. That is only for the time being. For secular mores will soon gallop off again into even more Progressed and Enlightened “reforms.”

And the church will do… Well, we know what the church will do. What it always does and that is to play catch-up, very successfully.

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21 Jan

When I hear the word “culture”…

Wondering where to look next for a bit of excitement, I stumbled upon the briefing and agenda papers for the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England to be held next month. My pulse raced and I could feel my face purpling as I read: 

“The Church of England needs to undergo a major ‘culture shift’ to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives.”

My excitement was occasioned by the utter brilliance of this proposal. The Church has been around in England for 1500 years, but this is the first time a genius has arisen among the hierarchy to suggest that members of the Church might talk to their fellow-countrymen about the Christian faith. The idea is so radical and innovatory that the brain-dead ecclesiastical bureaucrat – sorry, I mean of course the pastoral expert- in Church House has actually had to coin a phrase to describe it. 

This luminous phrase is “culture shift.” And its radical nature is all in the fact that “culture” is not something we naturally associate with the contemporary Church of England

Unless of course we mean guitars and overhead projectors; with cutting up little bits of yellow paper and sticking them on bigger pieces of blue paper; of decorating cup cakes; of “holding a line dance for the Lord.” All these cultural activities, and more besides, are what the Church authorities recommend in their course booklet, Love Life, Live Lent.

Recently they produced something even better when they suggested that parish churches should become “Pokemon Hubs.”

“And behold, he saith unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world and wherever you come across anyone barmy enough to take any notice, tell him to set up a Pokemon Hub’.”

The report, entitled Setting God’s People Free, calls for Christians “…to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere – from the factory or office, to the gym or shop – to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.”

Brilliantly the Church House genius understands that, for Church members to be able to do these things, they will have to be taught.

This is an insight of truly startling originality and forces us, at the point of wonder, to contemplate the infinite depth and resourceful creativity of the mind of the contemporary Church. 

These inspired suggestions are key elements in the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform – the latest wheeze – sorry, “…an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to help grow the Church.”

Which, being interpreted means, “The Church authorities – bishops, synods and the like – have been so mindlessly inept for so long that hardly anyone comes to Church any longer. So we’ve run out of money, folks. You’d better get out there then are pull in a few punters – or we won’t be able to pay for the synodical bureaucracy and the bishops’ expenses.”

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