Category Archives: Church of England

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
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.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
20 Jan

The massacre of the innocents

Archbishop Justin Welby recently visited Auschwitz and afterwards said, “We must reflect on the human capacity for evil and the need to both recognise and challenge this wherever it appears. We must protest to the limit against evil: before it occurs, as it happens, and in its aftermath.”

That was very well said and profoundly Christian, befitting an Archbishop. Its pertinence is particularly noticeable in his phrase “wherever it {evil} appears.”

The extermination of 1.1 million people by the Germans at Auschwitz was a signal atrocity, but it was not unique. The Germans murdered six million Jews in their death camps, but the Russians under Stalin slaughtered three times that number – and some say even more than that. Still more were killed by the Chinese under Mao.

So this is where we should mark well the Archbishop’s phrase, “wherever it {evil} appears.”

And evil appears everywhere and in all ages “All have sinned and fallen  short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). This is the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, the fact that, while we may strive to do good, our will is inclined to evil. St Paul says, “The good I would, that I do not; and what I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19). We are divided selves. 

Nowadays the doctrine of Original Sin has gone put of fashion. Since the Enlightenment we have thought increasingly well of ourselves and so now the truth of the doctrine of Original Sin has been replaced by the lie of Progress. Modern, “liberal” Christians don’t believe in Original Sin: they think it’s just one of those dismal superstitions held by primitive people in the “pre-scientific” bad old days. Modern types are quite sure that they have grown out of such “negative” views.

The modern “liberal” preacher does not set about to convince us of our sinfulness but to cultivate our sense of self-esteem.

But it is easy to give the lie to the “liberals’” denial of the fact of Original Sin. If we are really so progressed, improved and altogether better than our forebears, why were more people slaughtered in the wars and genocides of the 20th century than in all the preceding centuries put together?

This is where I want to come a bit nearer home. The 1.1 million murders of the Auschwitz atrocity were an unspeakable evil. But since the Abortion “Reform” Act of 1967, 8,2 unborn children have been destroyed in the UK because their existence was. deemed inconvenient for those who procreated them. The legalisation of abortion, we were told, would abolish the dirty and dangerous backstreet clinics and termination would be allowed only within the first 24 weeks of gestation and in cases where the foetus was severely damaged or where there was a danger to the life of the mother.

“Termination,” they say blithely, clinically. They forget there should be an “ex” before that word

But for decades abortion has simply been used as another method of contraception used by the sexually incontinent.

8.2 foetuses destroyed since 1967. Currently at a rate of 200,000 every year in the UK. That’s an Auschwitz every five years.

And you tell me you don’t believe in Original Sin?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
25 Dec

Begone gloomy prelate!

“2016 has left us awash with fear.” Thus spake that leader of the Church Militant in this state of England, the Arch-community dirge-chanter of Canterbury, Justin Welby. We are haunted, he chants, by “the fear of terror and the economics of despair.”

If you Google SKY News, you can see a picture of him actually looking haunted and afraid.

Speak for yourself, Mr Welby. I’m not. I would rather believe the angel who said, “Fear not” than the wimpish Primate of all England.

The aim of terrorists is to make us afraid. I’m not going to oblige them, and I am confident most of my fellow countrymen are not going to succumb to fear either.

And what’s all this about “the economics of despair”? Foreign investment, since the referendum, is at the highest level on record. There are more people in work than ever. A score more economic indicators register strongly on the plus side.

There are so many things to be thankful for. Obama has (nearly) gone. We were spared Hillary Clinton. Trump is (almost) in the White House. The England XV went through the year unbeaten. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow scored a stack of runs.

Welby himself has served another year at Canterbury – which means he has one fewer to go until the day he leaves office.

And Leave won that referendum.

Best of all, it’s Christmas Day. The Word is made flesh and dwells among us, and we behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father: full of grace and truth.

So Lord descend to us, we pray: and take that Justin Welby away.

I’ve got a better motto for us: Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus…”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
23 Dec

And the word was made trash

“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

When it comes to the Church of England, we feel obliged to ask, “What mind?”

The Church authorities have produced a two minutes film “Joy to The World” presented by Gogglebox vicar and Songs of Praise presenter Rev’d Kate Bottley. It has been designed to compete in the “Advertisement of the Year” competition with the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco

The film begins unpromisingly with Ms Bottley, dressed in civvies, trying to appear…. well, like unto her imagined audience. And behold, she openeth her mouth and spake unto the people these words: “My idea of Christmas is me, in my ‘jamas, sat (sic) on the sofa watching a lovely film.”

The rest of the two minutes does nothing to make amends for this philistine irrelevance and I wondered for a long time what the purpose of this film might be. Clearly, it was meant to portray the priest as unclerical and untheological as possible. I don’t think she found this difficult.

And yet the image she projected was also a cliche – the cliche of the thoroughly modern vicar or vicaress who is not at all churchy, but just like you.

But the authorities haven’t grasped the irony that this image is exactly what the Church is like today: vacuous, suburban attitudes and mores – no different in fact from the world to which St Paul said we are not to be conformed.

The film offered a short resume of what it wanted us to perceive as the modern clergyperson’s Christmas. But there was nothing about the Incarnation. No glimpse of the Christmas gospel. A lot of excited rushing about bathed in a soft focus cloud of sentimentality.

Since the Church of England omits to preach the Christmas Gospel, the least I can do is to write out the words here, John 1:1-14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
21 Dec

A black day for Rose

From the seat of her high-ranking position as chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons, the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a black woman, complains that there are not enough black and ethnic minority clergy being promoted to high office. Her own office as chaplain to the speaker is a fine hideout from which to make such accusations. It reminds me of Soren Kierkegaard’s riposte to Bishop Mynster: “This prelate in all the majesty of his ecclesiastical regalia ascends the pulpit of his glorious cathedral and preaches on the text, ‘God hath chosen the humble things of this world’ – and nobody laughs!” 

Ms Hudson-Wilkin blames “institutional racism” within the Church of England. And still nobody laughs.

She had better report this deficit to the second highest-ranking cleric in the church then, the Archbishop of York who was, last time I looked, a black man.

We are accustomed to hearing from class and race warrior Rose on these matters. A couple of years ago, she was interviewed on Radio Four and talked of little else in half an hour. She is a sort of ecclesiastical Doppelganger of Diane Abbott.

The occasion of the reverend lady’s renewed expostulations was the consecration of Karowei Dorgu as the new Bishop of Woolwich. He too is black.

Am I still the only person laughing? 

I don’t think we should get overly theoretical about this perceived deficiency of black and effnik hierarchs. Let’s concentrate on the practicalities instead. If a remedy is thought to be required, how is this to be accomplished? Are there to be quotas to ensure that black candidates are promoted, that is preferred over white candidates solely on the grounds that they are black?

If so, this amounts to racism. It may come as a surprise to diversity-mongers, but black people can be guilty of racism too. (Indeed, the claim they cannot be guilty of this offence is itself an act of racist prejudice, albeit against whites) The race warriors talk about “positive discrimination.” But there is no such thing. One person’s positive discrimination is another person’s victimisation.

There are only two criteria for the promotion of clergy into positions of high office in the church – or indeed for the promotion of anyone anywhere – and these are ability and suitability.

All the clamour for special preferment to be given to black candidates is manifestly unfair and unjust.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
30 Nov

There once was a bishop who lived in a hub…

The English cathedrals are doing very nicely, thank you. The First World War Centenary Repair Fund, administered by the government, has so far contributed £40million – and a further £5.5million this week alone. And this is not their only source of revenue. Businesses are often generous in their support: for example, a few years ago Goldman Sachs gave £40million to St Paul’s for the renewal of its stonework. And this as the canons were speaking in support of the Occupy movement and excoriating the City banks. There are 44 cathedrals and they charge admission – and it’s not cheap. St Paul’s will let you in for £18, generously reduced to £16 for children and pensioners. At Westminster the fee is £20 and at York £15. the cathedrals attract 11 million visitors each year, so you hardly require pencil and paper to work out how much the Deans and Chapters are raking in – well over £150million from pay-at-the-door alone.

Mind you, they need to bring in the money to pay themselves their stipends for, while the average Vicar receives £25,000pa, cathedral Canons are paid rather more and Deans get £34,000.

There is one more big difference between the financial condition of the parish churches and that of the cathedrals. The average parish church is required to pay tens of thousand of pounds annually to diocesan central funds through an ever-increasing tax variously known as the quota, the common fund or the parish share.

The cathedrals pay nothing.

Effectually, this means that each Vicar or parish priest must be a permanent fundraiser to provide his own stipend.

So we see there operates in the Church of England a sublime equality – though some places are more equal than others.

Cathedrals have often been described – chiefly by the Bishops and Deans who inhabit them – as “the jewels in the crown of the English Church.” A spokesman for the C. of E., responding to the latest tranche of cash from that WWI Centenary Repair Fund, was even more lavish in his praise. “Our cathedrals,” he effused “are valuable community hubs.”

So we are to understand that the hierarchy’s new vision for Christian churches in England is to see them as an aspect of social work by practitioners of the social gospel – which is only the social bit without the gospel – and another sign of the Church’s suicidal secularisation perpetrated by those who were ordained and appointed to teach us about the things that are sacred.

And lo is written, “My house has been called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a community hub.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
27 Sep

The Church of St Jargon & All Gobbledegook

The Church of St Jargon & All Gobbledegook – formerly known as the Church of England – is affectionately called “Jarg’s” or “Gobs” by its devotees. It is “a resource  where exciting things are happening.” Last year, for example, they appointed Mike Eastwood, Liverpool Diocesan Secretary, to the “exciting” two days a week job of Director of the nationwide Reform and Renewal movement, aka “The Welby Babes.”.Mike has held exciting posts before his current appointment. He was Director of the Directory of Social Change – and they don’t come more exciting than that in the social engineering and class warfare sector!

The official announcement of Mike’s appointment mentioned that he had previously worked for the not quite so exciting Resourcing the Future Task Group and that, “He brings knowledge of the Church to support the programme into the delivery phases.” His responsibility at R&R will be, “…to bring the current work streams together and co-ordinate the activities in a way necessary for delivery.”

When we read such invigorating sentences as these, we can see at once that the new name, The Church of St Jargon & All Gobbledegook was chosen with brilliant aptness. 

The announcement continues in the same exciting style: “Mike will retain his role in Liverpool, with some changes in day-to-day activities to ensure manageability of workload.”

The tired old C. of E. is in its death throes – thank God. The stuffy old diehards, Prayer Book lovers and the like are dying off too. The numbers attending church show relentless decline. We should see this as a blessing, as the dead wood makes way for the exciting new ethos of R&R with its stimulating rock music “worship groups,” its informal, pass-the-parcel style liturgy and its scintillating shoals of “management teams.” 

The chronic shortage of priests is “enabling” R&R “to explore exciting new possibilities for lay leadership.” 

The future is bright. The future is all Jargon & Gobbledegook (with charismatic choruses obbligato).

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
08 Jun

The Father of Lies

Has the Archbishop of Canterbury now descended so far into the realm of unreality that his utterances disqualify him from the holding of his high office? He does not speak out of Christian conviction but from a Panglossian mess of evasion and political-correctness.

Yesterday he declared Nigel Farage’s  warning that European women are increasingly in danger of being raped by migrants to be “absolutely unacceptable.”

But Mr Farage spoke the truth.

Where has the effete and absurd Mr Welby been living these last few years?

Did he not read about the wholesale rapes and assaults by migrants in Cologne at the New Year? Does this pusillanimous buffoon, cocooned against reality by his own fantasies and wishful thinking, not know that, owing to the influx of Muslim migrants, Sweden is now second only to South Africa in the number of rapes?

I hesitate before intruding into the Most Reverend idiot’s hermetically-sealed conscience to offer a few contradistinctions:

Sexual violence in Germany has skyrocketed since Angela Merkel allowed more than one million mostly male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East into the country. The crimes are being downplayed by the authorities to avoid fuelling anti-immigration sentiments:

“The moment they [male migrants] see a young woman wearing a skirt or any type of loose clothing, they believe they have a free pass.” — Restaurant owner at a mall in Kiel.

“Every police officer knows he has to meet a particular political expectation. It is better to keep quiet [about migrant crime] because you cannot go wrong.” — Rainer Wendt, head of the German Police Union. “We, the police, are warning about a potential breakdown of public order this summer, when women who are lightly dressed are confronted by young male migrants.”

I could bore you with a score of such reports, including our own shameful refusal to acknowledge the rapes and other sexual assaults, similarly perpetrated over many years, on young girls in a dozen English towns and cities.

If it is the duty of every Christian to try to discern the truth and proclaim it, how much greater does this responsibility belong to a Prelate?

But this risibly inadequate man, this dissembler and false prophet, studiously refuses to notice what is staring the less distinguished among us in the face?

Outraged as we must be, we are yet reluctant to speak the words of Oliver Cromwell to Justin Welby:

“You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
02 Jun

The Incredible Shrinking Church

The Anglican boat is still heading for the demographic rapids.

Official figures just announced say that between 25% and 40% of full time stipendiary clergy are aged over 60. Only 3.4% of all clergy are from black or ethnic minorities. In his commentary, the Church of England Director of Ministry, Julian Hubbard, writes: “While the number of stipendiary ordinations showed a welcome increase between 2012 and 2015, this is not sufficient to redress the gathering effect of clergy retirements predicted over the next ten years.”

He added, “The statistics on the age and ethnicity of clergy show that we still have some way to go to ensure that the whole cohort fully reflects the demographics of the wider community.”

Mike Eastwood, Director of Renewal and Reform, the Church of England’s main response to falling church attendance, said: “These figures support what we have been saying about the need for renewal and reform in the Church of England. Renewal and Reform is about a message of hope, through changed lives and transformed communities, as people discover their vocation to love God and serve others. Renewal and Reform is not a top-down project to fix the church, but a narrative of local hope in God shared throughout the church. As part of Renewal and Reform, we are currently consulting on how we better release the gifts of all Christian leaders in church and wider society, whether ordained or not.”

As a priest with 46 years service, let me try to interpret the ecclesiastical spin for you.

In a word, Mr Hubbard has looked in the cupboard and found it to be bare.  These numbers mean that the Church of England is very shortly going to be desperately short of full time, decently educated and properly trained priests. I will come back to the decently educated and properly trained aspect in a minute.

First, we notice the Church’s politically-correct obsession with racial quotas. St Paul said, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek,” but the talkative old tentmaker did not foresee the preoccupations of the modern C. of E. Why this obsession with colour and racial origins? In Mr Hubbard’s contorted language, why should “…the whole cohort fully reflect the demographics of the wider community”? Why should the racial origins of the ministers be precisely proportionate to those of the parishes they serve? Everyone walking about has a brain (we suppose), yet hardly any of us are brain surgeons. Millions take the tube every day, but few actually drive the trains. And the euphemistic phrase “positive discrimination” cannot disguise the fact that the obsession with racial quotas is itself an example of racism.

Mr Eastwood’s verbose exposition of the policies of Renewal and Reform are all blather and bluster – a species of what in RAF slang was always known as “flannel.”

His peroration about the “…better release of the gifts of all Christian leaders in Church and wider society” is a glossy way of saying that in future the cash-strapped Church will resort to appointing unpaid layfolk to do the work presently undertaken by the stipendiary priesthood.

This will, of course, involve a further dumbing down to follow that which has been the norm in the C. of E. over the last forty years. When I was training for the ministry, some ordinands took degrees and higher degrees in theology and philosophy. But the minimum educational standard was impressively high, consisting of the 13 papers of the General Ordination Examination (GOE) – affectionately referred to as God’s Own Exam. There were 3 papers on Old Testament and 3 on the New; two on doctrine, another two on history, one on liturgy, one on pastoral studies and a final one on Greek.

Since that time, there has been a relentless falling off in which all kinds of ad hoc training schemes have come and gone, with the result that most clergy under the age of 55 know very little theology. Most of them have never so much as opened The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, let alone used those books which used to be the head and cornerstone of English Christianity. The worst of it is there now exists – under the shibboleth of “anti-elitism” – a perverse institutional pride in knowing nothing.

Under all the spin, smoke and mirrors, the truth is that congregations will continue their precipitous fall and increasingly be taught and ministered to by people who are hardly qualified for the task.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail