Saturday, 31 March 2007

Muslim’s church post ‘world first’

A MUSLIM is to promote dialogue between communities from Blackburn Cathedral - in what is thought to be the first appointment of its type in the world.

Anjum Anwar will leave her current post as education officer at the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) at the end of March, and will take up the newly-created job of dialogue development officer.

Canon Chris Chivers, who has responsibility for inter-faith issues, said he knew the move would raise eyebrows, but said: "We are not trying to convert each other, and we are secure enough in our own faith to do this." Read more

Muslim 'Dialogue Development Officer' appointed to Blackburn Cathedral

A Muslim woman is to join the staff of a major cathedral, in an appointment believed to be the first of its kind.

Anjum Anwar, currently Education Officer of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, will work with Canon Chris Chivers, showing how dialogue between faiths, cultures and communities across Lancashire, and beyond, can be developed in practice.

Ms Anwar, who has been honoured for community service in Lancashire, has been appointed to a post at Blackburn Cathedral as its Dialogue Development Officer. Read more

Jane and Tamsin's Guardianista Easter

[...] On Sunday morning the elusive Easter bunny visits, hiding chocolate eggs around the garden in nests and secret places (thoughtfully placing unwrapped eggs in paper cake cases to deter ants). He cheekily uses camouflage techniques: green eggs in green bushes, blue eggs in the hyacinths, and so on. The kids go out with decorated baskets to collect as many as they can and bring back their goodies to share out.

If your children want more of a challenge, you can ask the bunny to leave numbered written clues or riddles in blown eggs leading to a treasure trove of chocolate eggs. Read more

'Moral equivalence' of humans and animals?

Ed: Just when you thought the next problem was the uniqueness of Christ.

[...] Human history shows little sign of progress. We are, in most respects, as stupid and cruel as ever. But we have, at least, expanded our moral community, bit by bit, forsaking prejudice of kin, race and class, until today, when we have come to include the whole human species in a single embrace.

Once we admit that non-human ancestors are morally equivalent to ourselves, it becomes logically impossible to hold the line against other kindred species. New Zealand, Spain and Norway are among nations that have encoded ape rights in their laws. If the theory of evolution is correct, all species are linked, for all creatures are part of a single continuum and have common ancestors. If apes are admitted to our moral community on the ground of their similarity to humans, then other creatures will have to be admitted on the ground of their similarity to apes, and so on until all creation is encompassed. We should then be morally self-disqualified from eating or exploiting any species. As Bertrand Russell once said, there is no logical conclusion “short of votes for oysters”. Read more

Captive marine 'Challenges Muslim dominance of women'

They insisted that she conceal her fatigues with a white abaya, cover her hair with a hijab. It was with her soft voice and in her round, girlish handwriting that the apology for her country’s actions had to be made.

This war has a workaday military guise, but as the treatment of Leading Seaman Faye Turney shows, it is a collision between two irreconcilable civilisations. Its spoils are more than oil reserves, disputed waters or regional influence, but, at its very core, the right of dominion over women. Read more

Taxpayers may be penalised for IR mistakes

Taxpayers can no longer expect to be presumed innocent by the taxman under proposed changes that will increase penalties for unpaid tax.

Under the changes, introduced in the Commons last week, taxpayers will be forced to second-guess assessments from HM Revenue & Customs inspectors and scrutinise the work of their own accountants or pay hefty penalties for mistakes. Read more

Salt Lake Rector: Anglican conflict about power, not sex

Recently states have taken measures to legalize nontraditional domestic relationships. Regardless of your position on homosexuality, imagine how you would feel if all of a sudden the British prime minister announced that he would introduce a bill in Parliament that would immediately begin to establish alternative governments operating within the United States and accountable not to the United States or any state government, but only to the British Crown, for those Americans who dissent from their own state legislature's actions. Read more

Friday, 30 March 2007

Easter Message from the Bishop of Chelmsford

[..] In the happy celebration of Easter we are called to trust in the God who brings life out of death, hope from despair and new beginnings out of disaster. It is a story we can trust because it is true! Read more

Back to Church Sunday gets a boost in Colchester Episcopal Area

The latest edition of Colchester Connections, the news letter of the Colchester Episcopal Area Team, contains a major item on Back to Church Sunday, urging as many churches as possible to get involved.

According to statistics, forty percent of the UK population are people who have stopped attending church for various reasons. “It is to them,” Canon Penny Horseman writes, “that this initiative is addressed.”

“Here is an idea,” she says, “that will work whatever area you live in.”
“I am happy,” she continues, “to come and speak to deaneries, benefices and parishes about the experience of other churches in doing this and to add a few tips of my own.”

In Saffron Walden deanery, the Rural Dean has responded positively to the suggestion that churches across the deanery might work together.

Meanwhile, the PCC at St Peter’s, Ugley, voted last night to put B2CS at the top of their priorities for outreach this year. They are also going to contact local churches and campaign together.

One suggestion by a PCC member was that adverts could be displayed on the back of local buses. Another suggestion was a half-page advertisement in local papers.

Back to Church Sunday is on September 30th. Churches must order materials by the end of May.

Body found in lake is suspicious

Just another hilarious headline, alongside 'More dentists will pull out'.

Indian fashion designer spotlights female abortions

Ed: Why is it called 'foeticide'? Does that mean there's, like, 'good abortion' (plain 'abortion') and there's 'bad abortion' (foeticide)?

The young designer, Neeta Lulla, herself a mother of two, used her catwalk show to put the spotlight on 'foeticide' – the practise of aborting unborn children when they are known to be daughters, rather than the preferred sons of the family.

Although some states have passed laws to make it illegal for scans to reveal the sex of unborn children, the practise of foeticide is still believed to be widespread in parts of rural India. Read more

Church of Ireland fails to appoint new bishop of Connor

The Church of Ireland Episcopal Electoral College for Connor Diocese has failed to appoint a new Bishop of Connor.

An Electoral College of the Church of Ireland met yesterday in Armagh to elect the new Bishop of Connor to succeed the new Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Alan Harper. Read more

Ethiopian evangelist 'killed by Muslims'

The US-based human rights group International Christian Concern has just learned that an Ethiopian evangelist named Tedase was beaten to death by militant Muslims last Monday during a street evangelism assignment in Jimma, southern Ethiopia.

This latest killing is the second time in six months that Christians residing in southeast Ethiopia have been attacked and killed by Wahabbi Muslims – Muslims who belong to the extremist Wahabbi sect imported from Saudi Arabia.. Read more

Former TEC bishop joins RC church

The Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, has appealed for unity following news that his predecessor has entered into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rt. Rev. Daniel Herzog retired as Bishop of Albany Jan. 31. Bishop Love said he learned of Bishop Herzog’s decision in a letter dated March 19 which he received upon his return from the spring retreat of the House of Bishops. Read more

Changing Attitude reports Nigerian “same-sex” bill “abandoned”

See here.

Vietnam priest jailed for dissent

A Vietnamese Catholic priest has been jailed for eight years for dissent after a dramatic one-day trial in which he denounced the ruling communist party.

Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, a pro-democracy activist, was led into court in the central Vietnamese city of Hue in handcuffs along with four alleged accomplices.

At the start of the trial he refused to stand and identify himself before the chief judge, Bui Quoc Hiep.

"Down with the Communist party of Vietnam!" Ly shouted before a police officer covered his mouth and removed him to a nearby room. Read more

Canterbury: How to make amends?

The Church of England should consider how its inheritance could be used for those still suffering because of the slave trade, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this week.

In an interview broadcast on a BBC Radio 4 programme, Trade Roots, on Monday, Dr Williams said that reparations “as such offer too mechanical and calculating a model for making amends”. But, he said: “The point about moral responsibility is that the slave trade yielded considerable profit for institutions. But how that is dealt with now means asking the wider question about how that heritage is used to help most effectively those suffering because of the legacy of slavery.” Read more

From Cairo, a call for apology and reparations

Another week, another day marking a momentous occasion, for Europe that is. However, for Africa and the African Diaspora in the Americas, this week marked a very different date -- the 200th anniversary of the British abolishment of the slave trade. Organisers of the celebrations spared no effort in painting its dire consequences in the starkest colours. Read more

Thursday, 29 March 2007

'More dentists will pull out'

Ed: This has nothing to do with Anglicanism. It was just a genuine headline I couldn't resist. See for yourself

LGCM: 'This is not a safe place'

The Reverend Richard Kirker, Chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement is unimpressed with a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury on making the Anglican Communion a “safe place” for lesbian and gay people.

“It is being kind to call this statement too late, too little and too vague.” said Mr Kirker. Read more

'Zoo': where do we draw the sexual line?

From the Sundance Film Festival Documentary competition section.

In the predawn hours of July 2, 2005, a dying man was dropped off at a rural emergency room in the Pacific Northwest. A surveillance camera captured the license plate of the car that deposited the man at the hospital. This led detectives to a nearby horse farm, where they found hundreds of hours of videotape of men from all over the world having sex with Arabian stallions. The man's cause of death was a perforated colon.

Although this incident made headlines and the tabloid news, Zoo is the complete antithesis of what you expect. Robinson Devor's filmmaking is as smart as it is eloquent. To begin with, Zoo is neither graphic nor exploitive. Most of it takes the form of recreations, but from the point of view of the men "who met for years without disturbance in the shadows of Mt. Rainier," as Devor puts it. He cleverly captures the essence of these men and their alienation by creating a visual poetry. Read more

Should apes have human rights?

Apes and humans have common ancestors but should they have the same rights? An international movement to give them "personhood" is gathering pace. Read more

CofE College backs down on gay weddings

Canterbury Christ Church University has decided not to ban gay weddings on its grounds.

The university is a teacher training college for the Church of England, and its Chancellor is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Read more

Celebrate Abolition: Use the Wilberforce

[...] The clamoring for apologies and reparations for slavery in England during recent weeks--stoked by steady coverage from the BBC--made Tuesday's incident almost inevitable. Last week, for example, London Mayor Ken Livingstone dismissed the contribution of parliamentarian William Wilberforce in defeating the slave trade and demanded national contrition. Livingstone called on all Londoners to repent their "squalid" evasion of guilt. In an op-ed for the Guardian, he summoned all residents to join him in "formally apologizing for London's role in this monstrous crime."

Similarly, Anglican leader John Sentamu used the BBC One Sunday program to call on the government to apologize. The second most senior cleric in the Church of England told the interviewer that Britain "should have the sense of saying we are very sorry and we have to put the record straight." (Several months ago, in fact, Tony Blair called Britain's role in the slave trade "profoundly shameful"; earlier this month he expressed "deep sorrow" for its support of the institution.)

Meanwhile, activist groups and politicians ratcheted up demands
that government payments be made to the descendants of slaves. After debating a reparations advocate on BBC 24, Baroness Caroline Cox warned the House of Lords: "I hope that we will not allow the celebration of the year of [Wilberforce's] achievement to be a condemnation of our failures." Read more

Archbishop of Canterbury casts crucial vote against supercasino

The Archbishop of Canterbury cast a crucial vote last night when he turned up with other bishops in the House of Lords to speak against the government's proposals for a supercasino in Manchester - which were defeated by just three votes.

It was the first time he has spoken or voted in the Second Chamber since May last year, and will heat up the debate about the place of unelected bishops in Parliament.

The votes of the three bishops proved decisive in defeating the government. Read more

'Nihilistic hatred alive amongst UK intelligentsia'

People sometimes reveal their true opinions and feelings indirectly or by implication. One of the most startling and revealing pieces of theatre criticism I have ever read was published last week, on March 23, in the liberal British newspaper, The Guardian. It was a review of a new production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in the provincial city of Sheffield.

Praising the production, the reviewer, Lyn Gardner, wrote: “Perhaps more than any other production I’ve seen, it suggests that the first thud of axe against tree trunk is a blow for a revolution that will eventually sweep Madame Ranevskaya and her family into the oblivion they deserve. It’s a case of good riddance to bad rubbish.” [...]

I think it is very unlikely that the theatre critic was so ignorant that she had no idea of what went on while the winds of change blew. No one is that ignorant. This being the case, we must conclude that she actually approved of what the winds of change wrought. This is a most uncomfortable thought, for it means that the impulses of nihilistic hatred that brought about the catastrophes of the 20th century are with us still, particularly among the intelligentsia. Read more

Lack of disasters helps Lloyds of London

Ed: Just in case you thought there were too many signs of the end.

An unusually low level of catastrophes last year saw a big swing back into profits at Lloyd's of London, the insurance and reinsurance market. Read more

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Anglicans 'fully open human sexuality talks'

[...] Dialogue on human sexuality in the Communion has gone on for decades as the Anglican churches seek understanding amid increasing acceptance of gay lifestyles in societies. In 1998, the Lambeth Conference made a commitment to "listen to the experience of homosexual persons."

While calling Anglican people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation, the listening process does not mean that the Anglican churches accept the position of those they are listening to, the Communion clarifies.

"However, it does mean that we seek to hear God speaking to us and discover his will. It does require that we offer respect and, perhaps change the way in which we speak." Read more

Bishop of Bristol: Government guilty of 'abuse of power'

Ed: The Bishop of Bristol looks remarkably like the Bishop of Chelmsford in the original version of this story.

[...] Bishop Hill feels strongly that the Government has handled the SORs irresponsibly and is guilty of an ‘abuse of power’. “It feels like one group with power has exercised that power over another group of people in a way which has been very un-consultative,” he said. “In a way which seems to me to be thought through only at a very superficial level.”

He said he was not against gay people having rights in society, but “the issue now, to me, is secondary to the process by which people like me, who have a religious disposition or people even with a moral disposition, can be walked over in an un-consultative way without the right to exercise our right of conscience.” Read more

George Carey: Blair making society totalitarian

Last Friday, in a surprising and unfair attack, Roy Hattersley accused me of demanding disestablishment if the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) became law. That I had not done anything of the sort did not seem to deter him. What, in fact, I am concerned about is the way that a liberal democracy is increasing becoming totalitarian. Read more

New Precentor for Chelmsford Cathedral

THE vicar of St John the Baptist Church is leaving his flock and heading for Chelmsford.

The Rev Simon Pothen, 46, vicar at the church at the top of Pinner's High Street is leaving to be the new Canon Precentor of Chelmsford Cathedral.

Rev Pothen, vicar at the church for the last five years, said: "It has been one of the hardest decisions of my life really, because we have been so happy here." Read more

See also here, and a sermon here.

Skiing down the escalator

Ed: Remember that line from Chariots of Fire, "God also made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure"? Well I reckon God was rolling on the floor when this happened.

Disappointed by the lack of snow on the ski slopes of Europe this year? Looking for an alternative skiing venue that's unaffected by climate change? Well, why not try what this chap decided to do – ski down the escalator at Angel tube station. (Read the article and watch the video.)

Telegraph: 'Nothing stupid or immoral about lots of sex'

[...] I think it's fair to say that young women can be very stupid. In city centres up and down the country they are binge-drinking their way to oblivion on Saturday nights. Binge drinking can lead to binge bonking.

There's nothing stupid or immoral about having lots of sex but often, these women sleep with men they later wish they hadn't. Read the whole sorry piece

Every child to be screened for risk of turning criminal

A new-style "11-plus" to assess the risk every child in Britain runs of turning to crime was among a battery of proposals unveiled in Tony Blair's crime plan yesterday.

The children of prisoners, problem drug users and others at high risk of offending will also face being "actively managed" by social services and youth justice workers. New technologies are to be used to boost police detection rates while DNA samples are to be taken from any crime suspect who comes into contact with the police. Read more

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

'Listening Process' dominated by Western Liberal assumptions

Correction: I had previously written that Philip Groves was on the staff of St John's College, Nottingham. In fact, he is only on the Council - a misreading on my part of his biographical notes. JPR

A summary of responses to the 'listening process' called for after the 1998 Lambeth Conference has been published on the Anglican Communion official website.

However, a quick perusal of the relevant sections of the site shows that it is culturally and theologically dominated by Western Liberal assumptions.

The 'glossary', for example, is a glossary of Western expressions: 'coming out', drag, Queer theology, etc. There is no indication here that any English, let alone other-language, colloquial expressions relevant to the issue might exist outside the shores of the UK and North America within the Anglican Communion.

Similarly, Liberal assumptions predominate. A Transvestite is considered "a pejorative term". "Ex-gay" includes someone who "lives with same sex attraction issues within celibacy". Perhaps most tellingly, there is this, unattributed, quotation: ‘"Gay" and "lesbian" are the names we have proudly chosen for ourselves while "homosexual" is a sterile psychiatric/medical term.’ Who, as Tonto once famously asked, is this "we"?

Again, the theological basis of the process is full of Western Liberal angst. Issues of 'pain' and 'sharing' predominate. Fear is assumed to be the underlying barrier to 'listening':

"The issues surrounding human sexuality have made us all feel vulnerable.
Some fear the ending of the faith as we know it.
Others fear not being accepted.
Some fear being split in two with conflicting loyalties.
Some fear to ask questions and some fear to answer them."

It is all very reminiscent of an English diocesan jamboree, whereas the attitudes of the Global South are marginalised. The 'Facilitator', Revd Canon Phil Groves, has African experience, but he is English and it shows.

John Richardson
27 March 2007

Abbey protestor demands slave-trade apology

A lone protestor Tuesday demanded an apology from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II for the slave trade in a Westminster Abbey church service marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.

The commemorative event, attended by the Queen, 80, Prime Minister Tony Blair and hundreds of dignitaries, came to a sudden halt when 39-year-old human rights campaigner Toyin Agbetu ran up to the altar shouting: 'You should be ashamed' and 'this is an insult to us.' Read more

Liverpool vicar vows to fight his (holy) marching orders

A LONG-SERVING vicar could be stripped of his position, because he is allegedly unfit to carry out his work.

Church of England officials are using little-known legislation to dislodge Rev Michael Rooke from St John the Evangelist, Knotty Ash.

It follows a catalogue of complaints and a fall in the congreg- ation from more than 250 people to less than 20. Read more

Anglican Mainstream responds to Inclusive Church

Statement on behalf of Anglican Mainstream in response to the Press Release by Inclusive Church dated March 26 2007.

Inclusive Church have now joined the six members of the House of Bishops who declared full fellowship with TEC following the Dromantine Primates meeting.

The issue is not one of ecclesiastical power structures but of obedience to the liberating truth of God in the Bible.

It is important also to be truthful about history.

Since the Lambeth Conference of 1998 adopted Lambeth 1.10 by an overwhelming majority of over 600 votes representing almost 90 per cent of the Bishops, how can Inclusive Church claim the conclusions of the working party “were hijacked by a few conservative bishops.”? The fact of an overwhelming majority for Lambeth 1.10 has benchmarked this orthodox position as a moral compass point for our church.

Anglican Mainstream has been contributing to the listening process in discussions with the Listening Officer, and at their own invitation, in two meetings with Inclusive Church's leadership. Anglican Mainstream also sponsored a meeting at General Synod when the experiences of those who are moving on from homosexual practice and attraction to a fuller identity in Christ were shared.

Meanwhile Anglican leaders in Nigeria have been working closely to uphold human rights issues in the proposed legislation on homosexuality. The Nigerian position is that those in their country who were set free from the slavery which was itself a powerful global expression of contemporary western culture then, do not wish to return today to the cultural bondage of sexual licence.

It is illegitimate to identify inclusion for lesbian and gay people irrespective of their behaviour which is an expression of submission to contemporary culture against the teaching of the Bible as an heir to the campaign to end the slave trade which made its stand for the teaching of the Bible against the culture of its time.

Back to Church Sunday: tasks for February/March

If you are planning to be one of those churches taking part in Back to Church Sunday across the Diocese of Chelmsford, these are (were!) the tasks for February and March:

  • Find some people who have come back to church, either through Back to Church Sunday or in other ways.
  • Ask these returnees who invited them, how they enjoyed church and a little about their story of faith, as they are comfortable to share it
  • Having these stories will help you:
    • Promote the idea in diocesan newsletters and on the web
    • Support the promotion of the day internally
    • Tell human interest stories for a diocesan specific magazine for Back to Church Sunday and the Back to Church Sunday website
  • These people might take part in your media launch in September.
  • Think ahead for a date for this. Book your bishop if you can. Liaise with colleagues around the country about their plans. Launching on the same day maximises national publicity.
During May you will have to order your materials, so if you haven't discussed this at your PCC yet, you need to get a move on, especially with Annual Meetings coming up.

We are now listed as a participating diocese, but there is no information yet on the Diocsean website.

UK: 1% of world's population, 20% of CCTV cameras

Experts have called for a halt in the spread of CCTV cameras.

Britain is now being watched by a staggering 4.2million - one for every 14 people and a fifth of the cameras in the entire world.

The Royal Academy of Engineering also warned that lives could be put at risk by the lurch towards a 'big brother' society in which the Government and even supermarkets hold huge amounts of personal information on us. Read more

Olympic champ Jonathan Edwards insists his marriage is intact despite his Christianity crisis

Jonathan Edwards, the Olympic champion who once refused to compete on a Sunday, has quit as presenter of the BBC's long- running religious programme Songs Of Praise because he is no longer convinced of the existence of God.

He will make his penultimate appearance tonight as a man deeply troubled by the collapse of his Christian faith, the driving force of his life since his childhood in Devon, where his father was vicar of a parish in Ilfracombe. Read more

Inclusive Church (UK) welcomes TEC rejection of Tanzania proposals, notes CofE has 'moved on'

We acknowledge the frustration which has led the Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) to reject the requests of the Dar Es Salaam Communique for the creation of a parallel church structure.

We welcome their strong affirmations of the equality before God and human rights of all people.

We wish members of TEC to know that we fully support them in their response to the Primates. [...]

In the meantime, the Church of England has moved on. The debates at General Synod on Wednesday 28th February showed that there is a desire by Synod to take a more mature and supportive approach to Christians who genuinely see the inclusion of lesbian and gay people as a Gospel imperative.

We are now in the ridiculous position where we have gay clergy living in relationship at all levels of the hierarchy - and where the blessing of same-sex relationships is taking place in a significant number of parishes. Parishes trying to live out the radical and inclusive welcome of Jesus Christ are thriving. But because of the untenable policy of the House of Bishops none of this can be acknowledged. Read more

Changing Attitude welcomes TEC statement, notes 'dishonesty' in England

Changing Attitude England (Ed: Patron the Bishop of Chelmsford.) welcomes the statement and resolutions issued by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church at their recent meeting. The response agreed by General Convention in 2006 to the requests made of The Episcopal Church in the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dromantine Communiqué of 2005 was made at huge cost to their gay and lesbian members. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Integrity who have worked tirelessly for the removal of all discrimination against LGBT people at every level of the life of The Episcopal Church and for the authorisation of a rite of blessing for lesbian and gay relationships. [...]

Since 2005, many priests have registered their partnerships. Some of them spoke of their partnerships during the debate in General Synod on 27 February 2007. Many bishops refuse to ask them such an intrusive and inappropriate question.

England has a number of gay bishops, some partnered, and over 1,000 lesbian and gay priests, many living with their partners. Most of them live discretely, knowing that a witch hunt might take place were they to be more open about their relationship.

Several hundred lesbian and gay couples have had their relationship blessed in church by a priest over the past 20 years. In some parishes this is done publicly with the full approval of the Parochial Church Council and the knowledge of the Diocesan Bishop.

If The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are to be expelled from the Anglican Communion, then the Church of England will also eventually be expelled because our practice is exactly the same as theirs in all respects except openness and honesty. Read more

Largest Episcopal church in Colorado votes to leave TEC, join CANA

The vestry of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish in Colorado Springs, the largest Episcopal parish in the state and one of Colorado’s oldest churches, voted to leave the Episcopal Church today.

Effective immediately the parish has affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican). Read more

Bishop of LA: Williams should act like Churchill, not Chamberlain

The Bishop of Los Angeles is dedicated to remaining a full member of the Anglican Communion, but he also says he would like to see the Archbishop of Canterbury take a firmer stand toward those he believes are trying to destroy The Episcopal Church.

“It’s time for [Archbishop Rowan Williams] to stop being Chamberlain and start acting like Churchill,” the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno told his diocese during a ministry fair on March 24. Read more

Cristina Odone: How can CofE pay reparations?

I am second to none in my admiration for Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. But how can he suggest that the Church of England pay reparation for its historic role in the slave trade?

The Church's coffers are near-empty, its vicars so badly paid that many claim income support and a third are in crippling debt. So how does the Primate plan to raise funds for this reparation - flog a cathedral or two?

The one in Wells would make a perfect central site for a new Tesco: frozen foods near the original nave, clothing under the famed inverted arch, and the meat counter by the transept. York Minster would be fabulous as an indoor leisure centre - with an ice-skating rink in the Lady chapel and wall-climbing ropes dangling from the Gothic roofs.

But hang on: if we are talking about historic reparation, surely the Established Church should hand back all the churches it stole from us Catholics? (In context)

Bishop of Chelmsford 'Disappointment as EU Forgets Christian Heritage'

Ed: "When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me." Hosea 13:6

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, has expressed his disappointment after celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the EU failed to include a reference to Europe’s Christian heritage.

European leaders gathered at the Berlin Philharmonic on Sunday as Germany, current EU presidency holders, led the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

To mark the 50th anniversary, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, issued the “Berlin Declaration”, a statement highlighting European values such as democracy and outlining a vision for the future which includes fighting climate change. It contains, however, no reference to God or to Europe’s Christian roots. Read more

Monday, 26 March 2007

Fathers show daughters that life without sex is fun

With dinner and speeches over, the happy couples took to the floor as the disc jockey opened musical proceedings with a Glenn Miller number.

The men, all in suits and ties, were old enough to recognise the tune, but not so their younger dancing partners in ball gowns and carefully prepared hair. For all the dating couples were made up of fathers and their teenage daughters.

They had come to a Purity Ball, to celebrate the father-daughter relationship and to take home written promises to each other. The girls' pledge said they would remain virgins until marriage, while the fathers vowed to love and protect them. Read more

God: "No apology necessary for slave trade"

In response to recent questions about the need for apologies for the slave trade, God has issued the following statement:

“Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right. He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live.

Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things (though the father has done none of them). Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.

But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things. He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live.

Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’

Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

(For the full statement, go here.)

Church 'needs to make amends' for slavery

A Church "partly shaped by slavery" still needs to make amends, says the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Amid the debate about how meaningful an apology is - when it's made by people several generations distant from the suffering and trauma inflicted - another question has loomed.

Should there be some form of physical reparation for the terrible trade in people in which Britain had a disproportionate share?

It comes as a bit of a surprise to some that an organisation as benign as the Church of England might have to consider such a question.

But its leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, thinks it must. Read more

Sunday, 25 March 2007

The Frivolity of Evil

Ed: Old (2004), but thought provoking.

[...] There has been an unholy alliance between those on the Left, who believe that man is endowed with rights but no duties, and libertarians on the Right, who believe that consumer choice is the answer to all social questions, an idea eagerly adopted by the Left in precisely those areas where it does not apply. Thus people have a right to bring forth children any way they like, and the children, of course, have the right not to be deprived of anything, at least anything material. How men and women associate and have children is merely a matter of consumer choice, of no more moral consequence than the choice between dark and milk chocolate, and the state must not discriminate among different forms of association and child rearing, even if such non-discrimination has the same effect as British and French neutrality during the Spanish Civil War.

The consequences to the children and to society do not enter into the matter: for in any case it is the function of the state to ameliorate by redistributive taxation the material effects of individual irresponsibility, and to ameliorate the emotional, educational, and spiritual effects by an army of social workers, psychologists, educators, counselors, and the like, who have themselves come to form a powerful vested interest of dependence on the government.

So while my patients know in their hearts that what they are doing is wrong, and worse than wrong, they are encouraged nevertheless to do it by the strong belief that they have the right to do it, because everything is merely a matter of choice. Almost no one in Britain ever publicly challenges this belief. Nor has any politician the courage to demand a withdrawal of the public subsidy that allows the intensifying evil I have seen over the past 14 years—violence, rape, intimidation, cruelty, drug addiction, neglect—to flourish so exuberantly. With 40 percent of children in Britain born out of wedlock, and the proportion still rising, and with divorce the norm rather than the exception, there soon will be no electoral constituency for reversal. It is already deemed to be electoral suicide to advocate it by those who, in their hearts, know that such a reversal is necessary. Read more

Number of children charged with killings soars

Ed: Remember the tally of teenagers convicted of murder I was keeping on the old Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream site?

The number of children prosecuted for murder or manslaughter has risen by more than 140 per cent in two years, prompting new fears over Britain's teenage gang culture.

Home Office statistics show that the number of 10- to 17-year-olds sent for trial on homicide charges leapt from 44 in 2003 to 106 in 2005, the most recent figure available. The number convicted of murder before their 18th birthdays almost tripled in the same period, from nine to 26. The findings follow a recent spate of teenage murders and have led MPs and experts to warn that violence and the use of guns and knives are spiralling among children. Read more

How 'Back to Church Sunday' worked for a rural benefice

[...] What this has demonstrated to me as a Rural Incumbent is that ‘Back to Church Sunday’ can work very well in small rural parishes as long as the regular congregation makes the effort. We didn’t have large bill boards, radio ads or anything of that kind just people offering a personal invitation. We had several welcome packs but people seemed more interested in the home made cakes and the fellowship than the glossy bags though the children did devour the Fair-trade Chocolate within seconds. Read more

The day God didn't save the Queen

Ed: Probably this month's weirdest post.

There's not much good to be said about the English team and not much bad about the Israelis. England was better than Israel before the game and still better after it. But Israel wasn't too bad. Only time will tell whether the point we scored was good - or pointless.

More than God saved the Queen last night, He saved our team, mainly in the second half. Dror Kashtan's alignment was offensive, but it was the defense which saved the day. Read more

Slave Trade 'a blessing in disguise'

[...] Without the Slave Trade it would have been difficult for my ancestors to have received the education, exposure and opportunities that came their way the time that it did. It reminds one of the story of Joseph in the Bible, who rose to prominence in a foreign land and who was used by God for His people. Though slavery in any form is inhuman, it is possible sometimes that God brings good out of evil. It is true that the Europeans (even the Church of England was involved) came to take us slaves and treated us badly and thousands died on the voyage across the Atlantic yet, the fact remains that some of the slaves later became great people.

The name ‘Erugunjimi’ for instance, properly pronounced and understood means ‘slavery has favoured me.’ It was likely therefore that the name was an appellation either given to or given by Mr. Henry Johnson himself. I therefore align myself with my great great grand father and can categorically say that the Slave Trade was a blessing in disguise to the Johnson family. Read more

Bishop blames racist murder on slavery

The murder of black teenager Anthony Walker was caused by the legacy of slavery, according to one of the Church's senior clerics.

James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, made the claim during a service to mark the 200th anniversary of the decision to abolish slavery in the British Empire.

He told a 400-strong congregation at Liverpool Cathedral: "As I have immersed myself in the history of slavery, the more I believe that our racism is rooted in the dehumanising treatment of black people by white people during the slave trade." Read more

Nazir-Ali: Why I am NOT saying sorry for slavery

[...] Those marching have been shackled hand and foot and have been wearing sweatshirts saying: "So sorry."

And yet this should be a time of celebration and of thanksgiving for Britain's role in bringing this great oppression and cruelty to an end. Why do the leaders and people of this country find it so difficult to acknowledge their achievements and to recognise the true source of their moral commitments?

If a civilisation is constantly criticised, run down and apologised for, the danger is that its virtues will cease to flourish. Read more