Saturday, 8 May 2010

Church of England Evangelical Council survey on "The Future Role of Bishops in the Church of England"

"The CEEC survey was completed by a reasonable number of respondents, 86% of whom were men, 69% of whom were ordained, and of whom half were aged 50 to 65 with a quarter who were either younger or older. Replies came especially where evangelicals are strongest.

The key dominant issue facing Bishops today was the need for mission, something re-inforced when respondents were asked what should be the top priority for Bishops. The answer was Mission and Teaching the faith. While the issue of declining attendance and the importance of speaking out in public were also seen as crucial they were nevertheless secondary to the key topic of mission."

Download as a pdf here. No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

'Fresh turmoil' over women bishops

The Church of England is facing fresh turmoil within its ranks as it published proposals paving the way for the consecration of women bishops.

Women bishops would be created without safeguards demanded by opponents under plans drawn up by a group working on the legislation.

The scheme, to be debated at the Church's national assembly, rejects measures such as new dioceses or a special class of bishops to cater for objectors.

Instead, women bishops who might be appointed in the future would retain the authority to make local arrangements for objectors if necessary after referring to a statutory code of practice.

The proposals are expected to spark a walkout by some Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals in the Church of England if they are approved by the General Synod of the Church of England meeting in York in July. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Friday, 7 May 2010

So bad it's good: Why do we find evil so much more fascinating than goodness?

The Devil, so they say, has all the best tunes. Why is evil so irresistibly glamorous? Why is it that when I told my 12-year-old son that I was writing a book on evil he replied "Wicked!"? Virtue may be admirable, but it is vice we find sexy. Nobody would have an orange juice with Oliver Twist if they could have a beer with Fagin. As Oscar Wilde remarked, anyone who doesn't find the death of Dickens's saintly Little Nell uproariously funny must have a heart of stone. We all love to boo a villain, whether it's Colonel Gaddafi or Simon Cowell. Popular culture is obsessed with ghouls and vampires, zombies and monsters; this Friday, cinema's archetypal evil guy, Freddy Krueger, returns in a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street. Nothing is more delightful than being scared to death.

When did evil start to look so alluring? One answer might be: when goodness began to look boring. We can blame this on the puritanical middle classes. It is they who redefined virtue as thrift, prudence, meekness, abstinence, chastity and industriousness. It's not hard to see why some people should prefer zombies and vampires. Goodness came to seem negative and restrictive. As the poet Auden wryly remarked, the Ten Commandments consist in observing human behaviour and then inserting a "not".

Yet goodness hadn't always been as dreary as this. For some ancient thinkers such as Aristotle, it was really a matter of knowing how to enjoy yourself. It meant learning how to flourish as a human being, developing your humanity to its fullest, finest extent. Being human on this view is something you have to get good at, like playing the tuba or tolerating bores at sherry parties. For Aristotle, it had an intimate link with happiness. Being virtuous for him was the quickest route to well-being. The good man or woman is one who excels at the precarious business of being human. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Don’t write the Restoration out of history

Samuel Pepys, my very favourite lecher, noted in his diary on May Day 350 years ago that London was ablaze with bonfires, that bells were ringing and that the streets were full of men sunk to their knees, drinking the King’s health. Pepys, ever the kettle-coloured pot, moralised that this excess of drinking was, “methinks a little too much”.

Charles II had been declared the rightful King and was on his way home, restoring the monarchy and setting a seal on the brief British republic, that strange and overlooked brush with theocracy and radicalism.

The poorly named English Civil War, which was in reality a British and Irish, many-stranded revolution, is unaccountably missing from our popular history narrative.

Think of revolution, and what comes to mind? Bolsheviks rampaging through the Winter Palace, stripping gilt from the walls? A Frenchwoman, drunk with blood lust, screaming for another aristocratic head to hit the bucket? Revolutions are for foreigners. They get all the glamour and all the turmoil of violent regime overthrow. The gutters of Paris and St Petersburg filled with revolutionary blood, not London’s.

This 350th anniversary of the Restoration is passing with barely a whimper. Our island story, as told in schools, on television, in fiction, seems to skip straight from Elizabeth I to Queen Victoria, from Virgin to Empress, with lots of apologies for slavery and empire en route. When our history meets our culture, only the Queens count. Read more

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Postmodernism: A Unified Theory of All the Trouble in the World

Like the "fatal error" message that pops up unexpectedly on a computer, the phrase itself is menacing: "post-normal science." I ran across the phrase as I was reading Climate Change and the Death of Science. The author's explanation did nothing to allay my anxiety.

Once there was modern science, which was hard work; now we have postmodern science, where the quest for real, absolute truth is outdated, and "science" is a wax nose that can be twisted in any direction to underpin the latest lying narrative in the pursuit of power. Except they didn't call it ‘postmodern' science because then we might smell a rat. They called it PNS (post-normal science) and hoped we wouldn't notice.

This death sentence for science left me with the same enervating feeling I get at the precise moment I realize my hard drive is crashing. How could science, too, fall into the grasp of postmodernism's insanity? The author continues:

What has become of science? We thought that science was about the pursuit of truth. Then we became perplexed at how quickly scientists have prostituted themselves in the service of political agendas ... scientists refusing to share their data, fiddling their results, and resorting to ad hominem attacks on those who have exposed their work to be fraudulent.

Science has succumbed to the same virus that beset literature, art, economics, and the rest of the social sciences: postmodernism. Postmodernism is a progressive virus that negates reason, objectivity, and truth -- replacing them with relativism, subjectivism, and pragmatism. Having colonized every other branch of academics decades ago, postmodernism has now come for science. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Desmond Tutu: 'South Africa has lost its pride'

Desmond Tutu has delivered a withering verdict on the state of South Africa as the country prepares to host the continent's first football World Cup.

The archbishop emeritus, often described as South Africa's moral conscience, condemned rampant crime and corruption and said the legacy of racial apartheid was still being felt.

Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president, now a frail 91 and deep in retirement, would be deeply saddened if he was aware of recent events, he added.

"Something happened to us," Tutu, 78, told South Africa's Die Burger newspaper. "It looks like we have lost our pride. And it is not because of poverty.

"I don't want to make apartheid the scapegoat, but it might be that we are unaware of the damage that was caused. To all of us South Africans. "The damage to people who implemented such an inhuman policy, as well as the damage done to the victims." Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Thousands of Anglican churchgoers could cross over to Rome with bishops

Churchgoers in almost 300 parishes that disapprove of women priests may take advantage of Pope Benedict XVI’s offer to change denomination if their “flying bishops” lead the way.

However the Church of England is expected to make a last-ditch attempt to stop the disillusioned groups leaving, by offering them concessions over the introduction of female bishops.

As The Sunday Telegraph disclosed, the bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet held a secret meeting with papal advisers last week to discuss plans for Anglicans to convert to the Roman Catholic Church en masse.

At least one key member of the English Catholic church’s commission on the Anglican Ordinariate – the Pope’s move to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Holy See while retaining some of their spiritual heritage – was in Rome at the same time. Read more No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.