Monday, 24 March 2008

Telegraph: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: whatever happened to the ‘yuk’ factor?

[...] The British believe in secular science but have ceased to have faith in their religious instincts. In 1990 it was not just the hereditary peers who found the idea of animal-human hybrids simply too disgusting to be tolerated. It was the common response, the “yuk” factor as a test of the limits of scientific experimentation. The House of Commons was at one with the House of Lords. Twenty years later the scientists have almost won – they won in the Lords and are quite likely to win in the Commons. We are, I think, a worse country for the change of view.

The Prime Minister and Chief Whip may have affected this mood, certainly they have thrown the House of Commons and the Labour Party into confusion. They can rescue themselves only by an undignified climbdown. They threatened to impose a three-line whip in support of the Bill which could have meant the possible resignation of ten ministers, three of them from the Cabinet. Gordon Brown has challenged the Roman Catholic Church, always a high-risk policy. He is now faced by the criticisms of two cardinals and a Welsh archbishop. He ought to have realised that the Roman Catholic community, recently reinforced by half a million Polish immigrants, takes its religion from its bishops and not from its ministers. Read more
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A N Wilson: A little help in reading the Bible

Doctor Johnson was talking to a friend about a young woman who had converted to Quakerism. Mrs Knowles, his interlocutor, described the woman as "an amiable young creature" who had left the Church of England to embrace "a simpler faith". Johnson was having none of it.

He described the poor girl as "an odious wench… She knew no more of the Church which she left, and that which she embraced, than she did of the difference between the Copernican and Ptolemaick systems."

Mrs Knowles: "She had the New Testament before her."

Johnson: "Madam, she could not understand the New Testament, the most difficult book in the world, for which the study of a life is required."

Having been studying the New Testament all my life, I heartily echo the Great Cham's words (and please, those of you who have cracked its secret, don't write). It is a very difficult book. Read more
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Mouneer Learns Bitter Lesson from Windsor Process

[...] Mouneer was also critical of the presence of TEC's Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori saying that he and others were inhibited from speaking freely. "This was clear from the comments of some other members outside the meetings," he said.

"While the presence of the Presiding Bishop of TEC was important during discussions, her presence, as we decided about resolutions of assessment of the response of TEC, inhibited other members from speaking freely this was clear from the comments of some other members outside the meetings."

While Mouneer was extremely critical of the ecclesiastical politics going on within the inner sanctums of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter F. Jensen, took a more aggressive posture and ripped the Episcopal Church saying repentance has not happened in The Episcopal Church and he was withdrawing his bishops from attending the Lambeth Conference.

"The decision of our Bishops not to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008 is the culmination of ten years of thought, prayer and action. We have played our part in challenging false teaching and practice, always hoping that those who have flouted the strong position taken by the last Lambeth Conference would turn back in repentance. As part of this, we have developed strong fellowship links with the many Anglican Christians all over the world who feel as we do that the crisis over human sexuality is of momentous significance, and who are determined not to accept unbiblical teaching and sinful practice." Read more
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Guardian: Gay bishop's mission to unite

It is fitting that Bishop Gene Robinson spent much of his Easter enduring the wintry conditions of the Great North Woods of New Hampshire, performing his ministry to small but loyal congregations. For although he is one of the few bishops who could claim to be a household name across the world's Anglican communion, he has been all but frozen out by the head of his church, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

As the first bishop to speak openly about having a homosexual relationship, he has heard fellow Anglicans describe gays as "lower than beasts".

The Guardian spent the Easter weekend with Robinson as he battled the winds and blizzards on a 400-mile road trip around his US diocese. But the conditions were nothing compared with those he has encountered trying to make it to the Lambeth conference, the 10-yearly gathering of the world's Anglican bishops, which takes place in Canterbury, Kent, from July 16 to August 3.

Two weeks ago Robinson was told he would not be allowed to take part in the event - the only bishop out of 880 to be excluded. He will still go to Canterbury, but with no official status and the same access as a member of the public. Yet he will, inevitably, be one of its star attractions. Robinson will not go into detail, but says he has his own events planned, including one with award-winning actor and gay rights campaigner Sir Ian McKellen, who will perform a reading. Read more
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Telegraph: Dr Rowan Williams nudges our consciences

We have our differences with the Archbishop of Canterbury, but we have always admired his intelligence and piety. These are never more sublimely on display than when he eschews politics and sticks to theology, as he did in his sermon yesterday.

Dr Williams took up a theme with which most churchmen in the modern age have wrestled: how to reconcile what Jesus taught about wealth with the reality of the "comforts and luxuries" of Western life.

The New Testament's passages about money make many Christians uneasy. When the man who "had great possessions" asks what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus tells him: "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."

The unfortunate chap can't do it, of course, any more than the rest of us can. The passage prefigures the discomfort that is bound to arise when doctrine seeks actualisation in a complex and fallible human society. Read more
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Police arrest two in Canterbury Cathedral

Two men were arrested on Easter Sunday after staging a protest in Canterbury Cathedral just as Archbishop Rowan Williams was about to deliver his sermon.

The men, aged 26 and 56 and from Yorkshire, held placards and shouted protests about the Archbishop's comments on Sharia law. Police interviewed them under a law dating from 1860. Read more
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Telegraph: The Easter message: prepare for the end of civilisation

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, gave a warning yesterday against materialist greed and prophesied the collapse of civilisation. In his Easter Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Williams said that the luxuries we took for granted could not be sustained for ever.

In our culture, thoughts of death were too painful to manage, he told worshippers. Criticising modern society’s approach to mortality, Dr Williams said: “Individuals live in anxious and acquisitive ways, seizing what they can to provide a security that is bound to dissolve, because they are going to die,” he said.

“Societies or nations do the same. The individual grabbing the things of this world is in fact the mark of an inner deadness.” Read more
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