Saturday, 30 June 2007

What tattoos say about us

Ed: An old article that for some reason showed up in my Google Alerts today. Still, it is an interesting read.

[...] The tattoo is thus the art form of the cultural vandal, and it is no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that the cultural vandal’s views should almost always be expressed with inarticulate sub-demotic vulgarity.

It is also no accident that some members of the middle classes should have adopted a typically proletarian form of bodily adornment as a badge not only of independence, but also of liberal virtue. A tattoo establishes them as tolerant, open-minded, and sympathetic towards those below them in the social scale: the highest virtues of which they can conceive. The tattoo thus appeals to the kind of modern bourgeois who believes that foulness of language is a token of purity of heart, or at least of sincerity. The tattoo, like the constant resort to the swearword, is an attack on bourgeois propriety, and as such a demonstration of largeness of heart and generosity of spirit.

Of course, this antinomianism (itself so tiresomely bourgeois) has a tinny ring. I am reminded of the recent obituary of a British pop star in The Daily Telegraph (the fact that this newspaper, once the favorite reading matter of retired admirals pickled in port, should carry obituaries of pop stars at all is itself a cultural shift of some significance). The subject of the obituary was said to have been so irritated by what he considered the false gentility of the school he attended that he forever after used the demotic speech of South London. In other words, he adopted, in the name of authenticity, a form of language that was not his own and did not come naturally to him. The fate of all people who imitate others to achieve authenticity is to live a lie. Read more

Changing Attitude challenges Bishops Akinola, Minns, over 'condoning lies and violence'

[...] The Episcopal Church is being judged because it elected and consecrated Bishop Gene Robinson in accordance with its own polity. Archbishop Akinola and Bishop Minns will be judged if they condone something far more serious - a deliberate attempt to destroy the reputation of a fellow Christian and to put him at risk of serious violence, because, as an openly gay Nigerian Anglican, he stands in the way of their attempt to prevent the full inclusion in the Anglican Communion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Read more

Changing Attitude Nigeria holds children's party at orphanage in Port Harcourt

This past weekend, Sunday 17 June 2007 at The Orphanage Home, Borokiri, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, forty-eight lesbians and gay men from all over the city of Port Harcourt created history for LGBT Christians in Port Harcourt and Nigeria.

Out of the sheer need to show love and compassion to the abandoned children, Changing Attitude Port Harcourt which represented members of the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches held the first ever children's party for the children of the orphanage. This is the first time gays and lesbians have come under one umbrella to make a positive change for charitable causes in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

CAN Port Harcourt bought gifts for the children, comprising of baby pampers for the infants, provisions for their consumption, and toys and drawing books to broaden their young minds for great things.

Present at the gathering were gay and lesbian Christians who have learnt to love and accept ourselves for who we are. What we believe in has helped us to see that what is missing in society is what is missing in us - a little heart, a lot of brother- and sister-hood, and to see that we must speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of our society. Read more

Shopkeeper fined £250 for hitting back against thieves

A shopkeeper has been fined £250 and given a criminal record because he fought back when he was attacked by shoplifters.

Jacob Smyth chased three youths out of his hardware shop in Penzance, Cornwall, when he was set upon. When he was kicked in the groin by one of the hooded youths who had stolen cans of spray paint Mr Smyth hit back.

Police issued fixed penalty tickets to the shoplifters but charged Mr Smyth and a colleague with assault.

Yesterday he pleaded guilty to assault at Truro Magistrates’ Court. He claimed after the hearing that he had been advised to plead guilty because otherwise he could have faced a six month prison sentence. Read more

The terror trail that links Robespierre and the Haymarket bombers

At a time when Islamist terrorism seems to have returned to the centre of London, it is easy to forget that during the 20th century terror was used on a vast scale by secular regimes. Today suicide attacks are automatically linked with a belief in martyrdom followed by paradise in the afterlife. Yet suicide bombing of the kind we now confront is a terrorist technique that was developed by people with no such beliefs. Though they claim to reject all things modern and Western, Islamist terrorists are continuing a modern Western tradition of using systematic violence to transform society. The roots of contemporary terrorism are in radical Western ideology – especially Leninism – far more than religion. Read more

Church split feared as Pope backs return of 'anti-Semitic' Latin Mass

Ed: The Independent appears not to know about the Church of England's Collect for Good Friday, which reads, "O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks [Muslims], Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen."

A plan by the Pope to authorise the widespread return of the controversial Latin Mass, despite concerns that parts of it are anti-Semitic, has provoked a backlash among senior clergy in Britain and threatens to divide the Catholic Church worldwide. The 16th-century Tridentine Mass - which includes references to "perfidious" Jews - was abandoned in 1969 and replaced with liturgy in local languages, to make worship more accessible to the bulk of churchgoers. But the Pope announced on Thursday that a long-awaited document liberalising the use of the Mass, which some clergy fear will also limit the Church's dialogue with Jews and Muslims, will be released next week.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has written to the Pope to say that no changes are needed. Concerns about the prospect of the introduction of the Mass were also underlined on Thursday at an unusual meeting to underline resistance to it. But the Pope subsequently issued a statement revealing that he had illustrated "the content and the spirit" of next week's document, which will be sent to all bishops, accompanied by a personal letter from him.

There have been months of debate about the impending statement within the higher echelons of the Church. Cardinals, bishops and Jewish leaders are concerned by the text of the "old" Mass, which has passages, recited every Good Friday, which say Jews live in "blindness" and "darkness", and pray "the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ". Read more

Naples Mafia drives priest out of city

The local Mafia in Naples has forced a priest who preached against crime to quit the city.

The Camorra, which masterminds a significant part of Europe's cocaine trade, threatened to kill Father Luigi Merola if he did not leave.

The final warning came in the form of a photograph of the priest with a bullet entering his mouth. Father Merola was in charge of the parish of Forcella, a violent neighbourhood in the heart of the city which is controlled by the crime gang. He has had a police escort for the past three years and last week, a 30-year-old man was shot just outside the priest's church.

Although he was popular in the area for his fight against organised crime, the local curia finally decided that it was too dangerous for Father Merola to remain. Read more

First artificial life 'within months'

Scientists could create the first new form of artificial life within months after a landmark breakthrough in which they turned one bacterium into another.

In a development that has triggered unease and excitement in equal measure, scientists in the US took the whole genetic makeup - or genome - of a bacterial cell and transplanted it into a closely related species.

This then began to grow and multiply in the lab, turning into the first species in the process.

The team that carried out the first “species transplant” says it plans within months to do the same thing with a synthetic genome made from scratch in the laboratory.

If that experiment worked, it would mark the creation of a synthetic lifeform. Read more

Magistrate walks out over Muslim woman's veil

A magistrate is facing an inquiry after refusing to deal with a defendant wearing a full Muslim veil, the Judiciary of England and Wales said yesterday.

Ian Murray walked out of the case at Manchester magistrates' court yesterday because Zoobia Hussain, 32, of Crumpsall, Manchester, was covered by a hijab.

Hussain's lawyer, Judith Hawkins, said her client was "shocked and distressed" and found Mr Murray's treatment of her "insensitive and unacceptable". Read more

Burnham-On-Sea Royal Mail staff join nationwide post strike

Ed: Amidst the divisions in the Anglican Communion, the bombs in London and the floods in Yorkshire, this was a headline and a story I could not resist for its brilliant take on global issues. There will, whilst things like this persist, always be an England.

Postal deliveries and collections were cancelled in Burnham-On-Sea on Friday (June 29th) as Royal Mail staff in the town joined a nationwide strike over pay and conditions.

This was the picket line outside the town's Royal Mail sorting office in Dunstan Road on Friday morning, where only senior management were working.

Read more

Connecticut church faces eviction from property

The pastor of a Bristol parish that voted itself out of the Episcopal Church in May has been removed from ministry by the Connecticut Diocese, and church members have been given until July 8 to vacate their building.

Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith said the Rev. Donald Lee Helmandollar "renounced his orders" and was deposed - the equivalent of being defrocked - on June 13 by the clerical members of the diocesan standing committee. Smith said he has since written to leaders at Trinity Episcopal Church informing them that the diocese intends to take over the property July 8. Read more

Friday, 29 June 2007

Kenya to Consecrate Suffragan Bishop for U.S. Parishes

The Anglican Communion Network welcomed news today that the Anglican Province of Kenya has elected the Rev. William Murdoch suffragan bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese in Nairobi. Bishop-elect Murdoch will join Bishop-elect Bill Atwood in supporting Kenyan clergy and congregations in the United States. As he takes on this new responsibility, Murdoch will continue to serve the Network as dean of the New England Convocation. Read more

Marriage rate hit by crackdown on immigrants

The number of Britons choosing to marry has fallen to its lowest level since records began after a government crackdown on bogus weddings.

The marriage rate fell by 10 per cent to 244,710 in 2005, down nearly 30,000 from the previous year, according to figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics.

The drop was a return to the trend of long-term decline that had been interrupted by rises in the rates between 2002 and 2004.

It coincided with a Home Office initiative to halt sham marriages in which foreign nationals attempted to avoid immigration controls by gaining instant British citizenship.

Since February 2005, all non-British or European Union citizens have been required to obtain a Home Office certificate of approval to marry - a long and costly process.

Only those choosing Church of England weddings have been exempt, and vicars have noticed a sharp rise in the number of migrants approaching them over the past two years. The dioceses of London and Southwark issued new guidance to clergy last week to ensure they were not unwittingly conducting marriages of convenience. Read more

No-smoking signage for churches may not be 'reasonable'

[...] York Minster reported no difficulty: a spokeswoman said it had glass doors where a notice could be placed. Anni Holden, speaking for Hereford diocese, said that, despite concerns, the churches there would be conforming.

They are less compliant in parts of Suffolk. “Anyone trying to put up a notice on a medieval church would need a faculty to do so, and wouldn’t be granted one,” said a spokesman for the diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich on Tuesday.

The legal advice is that there is no exemption for churches. The concession has been granted of a review in three years’ time, when churches could lobby that the signs are unnecessary. But one barrister, David Lamming, a member of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, concludes that churches and cathedrals “can safely ignore the new signage regulations” on the grounds that it is “reasonable” not to put up a no-smoking sign in a sacred building in which no one would consider smoking. Read more

"Sydney proposes alternative to Lambeth Conference"

Ed: A bit of headline over-statement, as yet, I think.

CONSERVATIVES are planning an alternative meeting in the UK at the same time as the 2008 Lambeth Conference, it emerged this week.

The diocese of Sydney’s standing committee agreed on Monday that the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, and his five regional bishops should attend the Lambeth Conference next year. Yet members were exercised by the invitation to bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States who “agreed to or participated in” the consecration of the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, a gay man living with a partner.

The resolution advises Dr Jensen and the bishops not to accept the invitation “without making public in protest, speech and liturgical action, both prior and at Lambeth, our diocese’javascript:void(0)
Publish Posts principled objections to the continued participation of those whose actions have expressed a departure from the clear teaching of scripture and who have consequently excluded orthodox Anglicans from their fellowship.”

The resolution goes on to request that Dr Jensen approach “other orthodox bishops of the Communion with the purpose of meeting in England at the time of the Lambeth Conference for Christian fellowship and the planning of joint action within the Communion to contend the faith of the Apostles once delivered to the saints”. Read more

New report: frustrated older clerics are ‘demotivated’

Ed: That'd be me, then!

[...] The report calls for “strategic solutions” to help the thousands of clergy in their 50s and early 60s, who will not get a post as one of the 373 bishops, deans, archdeacons, or residentiary canons. “How can the Church develop a culture which cherishes its ordained human resource?” it asks.

There are more than 10,000 parochial clergy and chaplains in sector ministries. Half the Church’s incumbents are 50 or above, and 39 per cent are 56 or older. “Given these statistics, not being appointed can hardly be viewed as failure,” the report says. Read more

New Church of England Study Resource Explores Ordination

The Church of England has published a new resource to help any members preparing for ordination this summer. Read more

Babies born out of wedlock rise by a fifth

Ed: Given the disadvantages to the individual and society, is this trend an example of what is sometimes called 'structural' sin?

[...] Campaigners yesterday linked the rise to Gordon Brown's tax credit system, which is far more generous to single parents than to couples.

They also blamed the continuing decline in the status of marriage and worries about the cost of divorce, heightened by big money court settlements.

Academic Patricia Morgan, author of a series of studies on family breakdown, said: "Tax credits have played a big part.

"Two out of three of the babies outside marriage will have been born to couples with one eye on the benefit authorities. There is strong state incentivisation of lone parenthood."

Earlier this month former Labour welfare minister Frank Field condemned the 'brutal neglect' of two-parent families in the benefits system.

His research showed that a single mother with two children under 11 on the minimum wage received tax credits last year that took her weekly income to £487 if she worked only 16 hours a week.

But a two-parent family with one earner would have to put in 116 hours of work on the same pay to get the same money.

Children born to unmarried couples are far more likely to end up in single-parent families than those born within marriage. A typical cohabitation lasts three years, while marriages average 11 years. Read more

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Gene Robinson MAY be invited to Lambeth 2008

Ed: Contra Ruth Gledhill's own headline 'Gene Robinson 'to be invited' to Lambeth, says ABC, I note that the leaked letter (who leaks these things for goodness sake?) from Lambeth Palace only says, "The Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status." He may yet decide it can't be done, especially when the poo hits the fan, but we will see. (Stifles yawn.)

A number of Anglicans in England have been writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury in protest at his decision to leave Gene Robinson off the invitation list to Lambeth. I have been 'leaked' one of the letters sent back in response. Signed by Canon Flora Winfield, of his office for International, Ecumenical and Anglican Communion Affairs, it reflects on the Archbishop's concern about the 'canonical impediment' to Bishop Robinson's consecration. The letter concludes: 'The Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status.' Full text printed at the end of this post.

A source tells me he will indeed be invited as an official guest, with a voice but no vote, in the same way that eight TEC delegates were invited to the ACC meeting at Nottingham. Ecumenical guests would fall into the same category. Martyn Minns will not be invited in any category however. The two more recent consecrations, including that of Bill Atwood, have not been discussed yet. Read more

UK Civil Partnership statistics 2006

There were 18,059 civil partnerships formed in the UK between December 2005 and the end of December 2006. A total of 16,173 took place in England with 1,131 in Scotland, 627 in Wales and 128 in Northern Ireland. Almost 2,000 partnerships were formed in December 2005. On average, 1,600 partnerships were formed each month between January and March 2006, falling to 1,500 between April and September and 800 between October and December.

More men than women formed civil partnerships. In 2006, 60 per cent of all civil partners were male compared with 66 per cent in December 2005. In England, 9,913 male and 6,260 female partnerships were formed up to the end of 2006. The corresponding figures were 633 and 498 in Scotland, 318 and 309 in Wales and 71 and 57 in Northern Ireland.

Male civil partners tended to be older than female civil partners. The average age at formation in the UK in 2006 was 47 for men and 44 for women compared with 54 and 46 in December 2005. The average age of all partners in 2006 was highest in England (46) and lowest in Northern Ireland (41). The average age was 45 in Wales and 44 in Scotland. Read more

UK marriages decline 10% between 2004 and 2005

In 2005 there were 283,730 weddings in the UK, down nearly 10 per cent since 2004 when there were 313,550 weddings. Marriages fell in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the first time in three years. In England and Wales marriages fell by 10 per cent in 2005 to 244,710, which is the lowest number of marriages since 1896. In Northern Ireland marriages fell by 2 per cent to 8,140, while in Scotland they dropped 4 per cent to 30,881. Read more

I also want women to dress modestly - and the men, too

[...] So when did we stop understanding when to dress modestly?

The answer is very recently, according to Professor Aileen Ribeiro, an expert on the history of dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, who says that in the past the rules on appropriate dress were widely understood. She says that plunging necklines for women and tight trousers for men have been recognised as sexually provocative since the Middle Ages.

But in previous generations, church and society dictated what was allowed. 'Many people no longer know what is appropriate unless it is written down,' she says. 'Hence our anxiety over what to wear on a formal occasion when instructions are not given. 'And when it comes to your village church service, the churches are often so desperate for churchgoers that they don't say what they think the rules should be. If they did there would be complaints

What does it say about the spirit of the age?

Professor Ribeiro sees the willingness to expose too much flesh in all the wrong settings as a sign of indifference, a lack of sensitivity.

And I agree that to go to church in shorts or with your knickers on show is symptomatic of an 'If it's fine with me, then to hell with you' approach to life. It's the kind of attitude that leads so many people to bawl down their mobile phones on the train or to turn up their iPods so that everyone has to endure the infuriating sizzle of leaking sound. Read more

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Horror movies no longer scary, just revolting

Ed: Surely with the soul as with the computer, garbage in, garbage out (contra Philippians 4:8).

It's hard, right now, to be a fan of the ever-reviled horror genre without wanting to poke your own eyes out, or perhaps go at them with a blowtorch, as they do in Hostel.

It's not that the new wave of films are morally reprehensible or have the very fabric of society in their sights; they're just unspeakably nasty.

As someone who would put The Shining, Psycho, Alien and Don't Look Now way up on the list of the greatest films ever made, I do wish this weren't the case.

Those are all movies that have given a lot of us sleepless nights over the years, stuffed with powerfully graphic imagery, taking no prisoners in terms of who is victimised, and made with an absolute determination to torment and disturb their viewers.

But Saw III? Vacancy? Captivity? This is a different breed of film entirely, and disturbing in quite another sense. Read more (caution)

It really is love at first sight

Ed: And now for some good news ...

Countless poets, musicians and artists may have offered less austere definitions of love at first sight, but the natural phenomenon is no fleeting fancy.

New research has revealed that nearly four out of ten relationships which had their roots in instantaneous attraction are still going strong a decade later.

At a time when the nation is witnessing its highest rates of divorce,

38 per cent of Britons who got together with a partner they fell for the moment they met are still together. And with 87 per cent admitting they still believe in the principle of love at first sight, the spirit of romance is alive and well. Read more

Hospitals see 14% rise in drink victims

Ed: Just a question - are these people victims of drink? Did the alcohol somehow drink them?

Hospital admissions for drink problems soared 14 per cent after Labour relaxed the licensing laws in November 2005.

There were 187,640 alcohol-related hospital admissions in England during 2005-2006, compared with 164,787 the previous year.

The number of deaths climbed from 4,037 in 2004 to 6,570 in 2005, according to figures from the Information Centre for Health and Social Care.

They also show a doubling of alcohol-related hospital admissions in the past decade, up from 89,000 in the mid-1990s.

The figures include adults needing to be admitted for hospital treatment for intoxication, mental and behavioural problems, but do not include physical injury and accidents linked to alcohol.

Most worryingly, the number of children needing hospital treatment has risen by a third in a decade as binge drinking by teenagers continues to climb. Read more

Is the Army becoming Presbyterian?

[...] The chaplains’ profiles on the official website certainly suggest not only that the Free Churches are over-represented, but also that most Anglican chaplains are evangelicals.

But it does occur to me that traditionalist Anglicans and Roman Catholics have only themselves to blame: both Churches are so full of sanctimonious pacifists that it’s no wonder that chaplains are hard to find. Evangelicals, in contrast, will not rest until the last atheist has been rooted out of his foxhole. And good for them. Read more

How the Chinese see us: a nation of drunken youths

[...] "I went to Leeds – it was rough and dirty. Girls danced on tables with no underwear – wore short skirts, were vulgar."

"Gentle country not true, too many drunk people, terrible young people everywhere."

"Young people get drunk – the behaviour would be frightening."

"I hate the teenage people with little education, gathering around, holding booze, talking rubbish."

"Bloody terrible young people – not so well educated, very rough – drunk culture."

"Fighting in the street, drunken hooligan."

"Crime of youth, doing nothing, in the street threatening people."

"There is an emptiness in night life there – party, party and nothing else – at the night the people are boring. When I went to England, I thought there would be something special in culture – people would say interesting things – speak about plays or stories. I thought it would be a garden of thinking." Read more

Jonathan Edwards 'happier without God'

[...] The upheaval of recent months has not left Edwards emotionally scarred, at least not visibly. “I am not unhappy about the fact that there might not be a God,” he says. “I don’t feel that my life has a big, gaping hole in it. In some ways I feel more human than I ever have. There is more reality in my existence than when I was full-on as a believer. It is a completely different world to the one I inhabited for 37 years, so there are feelings of unfamiliarity.

“There have also been issues to address in terms of my relationships with family and friends, many of whom are Christians. But I feel internally happier than at any time of my life, more content within my own skin. Maybe it is because I am not viewing the world through a specific set of spectacles.”

“The only inner problem that I face now is a philosophical one,” Edwards says. “If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in. One thing that I can say, however, is that even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity. Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true.” Read more

Australian Churches slam stem cell legislation

The Catholic and Anglican churches both believe legislation passed by the NSW Parliament to overturn a ban on stem cell research was wrong.

The bill to allow the research, also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, passed state parliament on Tuesday night after a 27-13 conscience vote in the upper house.

The Catholic Church described the legislation as immoral while the Anglicans said it had serious ethical implications.

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, said he did not believe there had been a wide enough debate on the issue. Read more

Weather prophets of doom

[...] 'There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing,' I was told once by an English weather stalwart. This and other aphorisms, which some might find helpful in today's climate, can be mused on at Yakism's Page. But what of those who believe that global warming, if it exists at all, is God's way of bringing about the apocalypse?

This is what the Bible says: 'When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place ...' Revelation 6:12-14. The last red moon visible from Britain was in March this year.

But we are just one little country. The Heat is Online is tracking extreme weather conditions round the world and inputting six-monthly logs of the results. RaptureReady's Tom Strandberg believes 'global warming could very well be a major factor in the plagues of tribulation.' Reading the news these days is a lot like reading the Bible, says the Victorious prophecy site. Apocalypse soon brings together weather events and other extremities with religious beliefs. Bible Prophecy is more specific, linking weather and other news to particular Bible passages. Read more

Jews, Unitarians 'kicked off' main Church-State body

Writing in 2000, the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, was characteristically munificent in his praise of the Churches Main Committee. 'In its work of conveying to the Government the views of the Churches on the legislation and other matters directly affecting them, [it] has the distinct advantage of Jewish representation,' he wrote in a booklet, Wrestling with Caesar. 'It is a personal view that this diversity could be developed to mirror the new religious culture of Britain in a field where faith communities have so many interests in common.'

Seven years later, the Churches Main Committee, set up in 1941 to liaise with Government over public policy and law making, has indeed examined its make-up with a view to developing it to bring it more in tune with modern times. The review was set up in 2005 and chaired by Tory MP Peter Bottomley.But far from expanding the membership of 39 religious groups, it is to restrict it to particular Christian bodies only.

Out will go the United Synagogue (Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks), the Unitarians, the Christian Scientists, the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, the London City Mission and the Seventh Day Adventists.

In will come... well.... nobody. Read more

A briefing paper on the Anglican Covenant by Andrew Goddard

[...] There are no solid reasons - either in principle or pragmatically in the current political context - for evangelicals or anyone else to object to Synod making a commitment to positive participation in the covenant process. There are many reasons - theological and political - why evangelicals and others who share our commitments to world mission, to learning from Anglicans around the globe, to safeguarding biblical faith and to facilitating harmony among Anglicans should wish the Church of England wholeheartedly to support the covenant process. Indeed, in terms of our life together as a Communion, the covenant process is - like the Windsor Report in which it originated - now 'the only poker game in town'. If the Communion is to have a future together then the form of this will be discerned in and through this covenant process. For the Church of England to abandon that process through non-participation, or destructive participation, would therefore be for the eye to say to the hand 'I don't need you' and for us as a province to embrace a vision of Anglicanism in which every one does what is right in their own eyes. Read more

Rwanda will not attend Lambeth 2008


In response to the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Honourable Rowan Williams, inviting the bishops to the Lambeth Conference 2008, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, who met in Kigali on 19 June 2007, resolved not to attend the Lambeth Conference for the following reasons: Read more

Side door 'open' for same-sex blessings in Canada

Despite the news headlines, the Anglican Church of Canada did not close the door on same sex blessings at the Church’s General Synod in Winnipeg this past week. Nor did the Church take the steps specifically requested by the leaders of the global Anglican Communion – known as Primates.

By General Synod declaring that same sex blessings are compatible with Anglican core doctrine, nothing now stands in the way of these blessings continuing in the Diocese of New Westminster (in the Vancouver area) and being introduced into dioceses throughout Canada.

The Primates have called for a clear, unambiguous endorsement of traditional Church teaching on sexuality and an end to same sex blessings, as has been practiced in the Diocese of New Westminster since 2002. This General Synod has created confusion and ambiguity. By its action – and lack of action – the Church has clearly signaled that it does not value walking with the global Anglican Communion. Read more

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Modern day slavery?

Ed: Reading this, I just thought 'What kind of life is that?' And I suspect it is widespread.

The work-life balance of the UK's lawyers is to come under scrutiny as part of a Law Society review to see why record numbers appear to be leaving the profession.

Some say the popular belief that the life of a City lawyer is all about big bonuses, expensive holidays and flowing champagne is misguided and, in fact, the career is more likely to end in emotional or physical breakdown.

One City lawyer, Zoe (not her real name), explains how her job brought on anorexia and depression, and ultimately forced her to leave a top law firm. Read more

New Archdeacon of West Ham announced

The Revd Elwin Cockett, currently Team Rector of Billericay and Little Burstead, Rural Dean of Basildon, and Chaplain to West Ham United Football Club, has been appointed by the Bishop of Chelmsford as Archdeacon of West Ham, in the Diocese of Chelmsford, in succession to the Ven. Michael Fox, who retires in August. The Archdeaconry of West Ham includes the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest.

The Revd Elwin Cockett writes: “There are not many more exciting places to be at the moment than the Archdeaconry of West Ham, with all the challenges and opportunities represented by the 2012 Olympics and the regeneration of East London and the Thames Gateway. I very much look forward to listening to, and learning from people across this vibrant and diverse Archdeaconry as we seek together to serve God and to be 'salt and light' to the world around us.” Read more

150,000 gay pupils suffer abuse

More than 150,000 pupils have been targeted by school bullies because they are gay, research suggests.

Two-thirds of lesbian and gay pupils have experienced homophobic bullying, ranging from verbal abuse to violence and even death threats, the survey by equality organisation Stonewall found.

About half of teachers did not intervene when children used homophobic language like "dyke", "queer" or "rug muncher", the study said.

And some pupils even claimed their teachers joined in with the abuse. Read more

Teachers ‘hold back on gay bullying’

HOMOPHOBIC bullying is endemic in Welsh secondary schools and teachers are reticent to take action, according to a report published today.

The survey by Stonewall shows almost two-thirds of lesbian and gay pupils have been victims of homophobic bullying.

It said half of teachers fail to respond to homophobic language.

One Welsh teenager said, “They know how to handle racism but they don’t clamp down on people for being homophobic.”

The School Report, the largest poll of young gay people ever conducted in Wales and the rest of Britain, shows the extent of homophobic bullying by pupils and even staff.

Teenagers in Welsh schools described to the survey how they had been bullied and said more should be done to train staff in how to tackle the issue.

One 14-year-old, said, “I can’t tell anyone because, basically, no one knows that I’m gay. I got punched in the corridor today, for example, and I can’t tell a teacher because it will involve coming out.”

Another pupil, aged 16, said, “I was once threatened by a friend’s brother over an instant message that he would beat me to death on the streets if he saw me or torch my house whilst I’m sleeping in it.”

Stonewall Cymru estimates there are several thousand gay and lesbian pupils in secondary schools in Wales.

Policy officer Matthew Batten said, “It’s estimated that 6% of the population is gay so you would probably have two or three gay or lesbian pupils in a class.” Read more

Monday, 25 June 2007

Sydney Standing Committee welcomes Attwood, protests Lambeth

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney has passed resolutions welcoming the consecration of Bill Atwood by the Archbishop of Kenya and protesting at the invitation list to Lambeth 2008. Read the resolutions here.

Canadian Synod agrees gay blessings 'not against core doctrine'

Canada's Anglicans narrowly voted Sunday against letting priests bless same-sex marriages, but they also agreed the blessings do not conflict with their church's core doctrine, a step opposing sides agreed opens the door to such ceremonies in the future.

The moves by the Anglican Church of Canada came at a time when divisions over the Bible and homosexuality are roiling the world Anglican fellowship.

The resolution that failed would have let priests conduct blessing ceremonies for gay couples who have already married in civil ceremonies, but would not have allowed priests to actually marry same-sex couples. Civil marriages for gay couples have been legal in Canada since 2004.

The resolution required a majority rule in three orders - the laity, clergy and bishops. It failed only in the order of bishops, which voted 21-19 against it.

"There is no question that there was a lot of disappointment on the part of some people and a lot of pain, and some people will be saying, 'How long, oh Lord, how long will this conversation continue?' And it will continue," said Bishop Fred Hiltz, who was elected to lead the Anglican Church on Friday and voted for the resolution.

Gay rights activists, however, took solace in an earlier vote Sunday, in which the Anglicans agreed that same-sex blessings do not conflict with the church's core doctrine. In that vote, the clergy and the laity were combined and voted 152-92 in favor; the bishops voted 21-19 in favor.

"We now have theological agreement that same-sex unions are not in opposition to doctrine and that's a big deal," said Chris Ambidge, president of the Toronto chapter of gay advocacy group Integrity. "However, it's just a 75 percent win because there's no pastoral benefit to gay and lesbians with what has happened today. The church approved things in principle, but said we're not going to do anything about it." Read more

Canada two votes from gay blessings

Canadian Anglicans failed by the narrowest of margins on Sunday night to agree to allow their churches to bless the committed relationships of same-sex couples.

In a tense vote after nearly two days of debate at the church's synod in Winnipeg, lay and clergy members voted in favour of a motion that would have allowed dioceses in Canada officially to authorise blessings. But the church's bishops voted against the move by 21 votes to 19, meaning that the motion failed, because it needed to be passed by all three groups. Read more