Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Try Again (Female Bishop Amendments)

Let's try another scenario (if I can get this right).

PCC Secretary
Parish of Water
Deeping Lake

May 29 2030

Ms Karen Delawney
Lincoln Castle

Dear Ms Delawney

We understand that there is a diocesan scheme that follows the code of practice that gives you the role of finding a priest and bishop for a parish that writes to you in this fashion. Our priest is retiring soon and so we need a bishop as soon as possible. The bishop should be theologically compatible with our views.

The PCC has delegated me, as you are delegated, to outline our views.

As we believe that life starts at conception, we are concerned that a pregnant priest might have two people in one, one unordained, blessing the bread and wine. We do not believe that this has been properly thought through on a theological level.

Secondly, we believe in real presence, that is the production of the body and blood in the appearance of bread and wine. This leads to concerns about women who are menstruating and therefore expelling blood, or indeed the position just after childbirth. Again, we have not seen much written theologically about this in recent times.

We are also concerned about female priests who may be penetrated by men wearing condoms. We believe that this takes away the potential for extending life, and life is a sacred flow, and therefore particularly involves women being so penetrated.

We further believe that these functions of women lead to a greater level of emotional and irrational response to situations and that these could be pastorally prejudicial, for example in an inability to keep a professional distance in the situation of a parishioner's difficult emotional condition.

We also discussed apparent damage that can be done bodily if a man is ordained by a woman, and so we would wish not only that his theological views are agreeable with ours but that he would not come from a line of ordinations involving women (as they may have been pregnant, giving birth or menstruating).

Please recommend some names that we might interview them for theological compatibilty, or perhaps there are some choices already available where such views are recorded on a database.

Thank you. We hope you are in good health.

PCC Secretary
Parish of Water
Deeping Lake

Bishop Karen Delawney
Lincoln Castle

June 5 2030

PCC Secretary
Parish of Water
Deeping Lake

Dear PCC Secretary

Fortunately the diocesan scheme has someone listed who can fulfil these functions and meet your concerns. It is not exactly 'pick your bishop' but this person seems to be theologically compatible on every minute level and concern. So I have already delegated him to be your bishop, although I reassure you that he is bishop by derivation already.

Bishop Karen Delawney
Lincoln Castle

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Understanding the New Ordination of Women Bishops Amendments

Bishop Jane Delawney is the new Bishop of Lincoln in 2025.

A parish PCC Secretary at St. Peter's Deeping Hollow, rural Lincolnshire,  writes.

Dear Mrs Delawney,

We understand that you purport to be, for some, the bishop of this diocese. We need a man who you might delegate as bishop instead and will bishop to us because he has derived bishop powers at his ordination - derived properly and unpolluted because no woman was involved either when he was ordained or when his ordainers were themselves each ordained.

Our priest, Arthur Dox, agrees with this PCC and shares our convictions. He himself was ordained priest by three male bishops in attendance none of whom were ordained priest or bishop by women.


PCC Secretary, St. Peter's Deeping Hollow.

A parish PCC Secretary at St. Paul's Quick Sandy, a town in Lincolnshire,  writes:

Secretary, John Boy
Lincoln Castle

Dear John Boy

We are a Conservative Evangelical parish looking for a different bishop. Please don't contact Jane Delawney on this matter as if she delegates any action we would regard it as headship and she cannot do it for us.

Can you have a word with a bishop who is clearly evangelical and a man? It doesn't matter if a woman ordained him, so long as he is male and can be in charge. We don't accept transexuals who started out as female.

If you won't do it we will find our own, probably overseas.

PCC Secretary
St. Paul's Quick Sandy

[Predicted!] Code of practice: Ensure that there is a supply of bishops who have derived orders from a line of exclusively male ordained bishops. Female diocesan bishops or male bishops ordained by women, or ordained by men ordained by women, or any history of women in the line of ordinations, can delegate a bishop from a line of exclusively male ordained bishops and who regards this as necessary for valid ordination.

Jane Delawney
Bishop of Lincoln
Lincoln Castle

PCC Secretary
Deeping Hollow

Dear PCC Secretary

As your and everyone's diocesan bishop observing the Code of Practice I would suggest that your own priest is ordained bishop by the three bishops of Beverley, Goole and Sunk Island, all of whom were ordained in an exclusive male line and think it important. As the Bishop of Sunk Island is going to retire soon, Arthur Dox will be bishop elect for Sunk Island. He would then have bishop duties elsewhere and so will help organise your replacement priest. Remember that although I am delegating this matter the bishops all operate in their own right.

Jane Delawney
Bishop of Lincoln
Lincoln Castle

Jane Delawney
Bishop of Lincoln
Lincoln Castle

PCC Secretary
Quick Sandy

Dear PCC Secretary

As your and everyone's diocesan bishop observing the Code of Practice I have the right to delegate a bishop of your PCC's express theological convictions. I will do this just once after which he will deal with you in future. He is the retired bishop Arthur Tickles and he will see you soon.

Jane Delawney
Bishop of Lincoln
Lincoln Castle

The Secretary is asked to reply:

PCC Secretary
Quick Sandy

Jane Delawney
Bishop of Lincoln
Lincoln Castle

Dear Jane Delawney

Please do not do anything for us. We will find our own bishop. We have decided to appoint the Right Reverend Art Tickles, who was recently retired.

PCC Secretary
Quick Sandy

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Entryist Out

So it turns out that Richard Turnbull has been removed from Wycliffe Hall as Principal. The conservative evangelical attempt at entryism into the theological colleges may be coming unstuck.Simon Vibert and appointees will probably keep up the identity of the place but only until there is a new Principal. Turnbull may stay in another role.

I made a lot of this in 2006 and into 2007 when my website noted the entryist strategy employed by the new Principal, to go after liberal evangelicals and replace them in order to get after the real enemy, the liberals. In fact, my transcribing his talk to Reform made my then new blog and older website reach out to more Anglicans. He appointed the like-minded, and probably they were not suitable. Maybe the wheel has come off his wagon and the 'liberal-evangelicals' will live longer after all.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Arriving at an Unpolluted Jesus Christ Construct

Here is a sort of three-way debate. There is that CEEC Statement and a supporter of it like Andrew Goddard. There is then that statement (and Anglican formularies) and opponents such as Colin Coward with Changing Attitude. Then there is someone like me. My basic ethical agreement is with Colin Coward and Changing Attitude, but can he and it hold up the basis of the Colin Coward argument as highlighted by Andrew Goddard?

It is not possible to find an accommodation between teaching based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and the evolution of gay identity and the expectations of same-sex loving Christians. Changing Attitude’s prime loyalty is not to these formularies and this inheritance of faith but to the deeply personal call of God to us in faith and love. We test our inheritance against the example and teaching of Jesus Christ. Where there is conflict, and of course there is conflict aplenty, we opt to follow Jesus.

My argument from this is where does this construction of Jesus Christ come from? I posted this comment on Fulcrum itself, which (as I write) has yet to appear:

The question is whether there is a general 'thrust' of meaning and ethical intent as an interpretation of Scripture, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. It brings back the question of the basis of the declaration of assent. Colin Coward presumably thinks that in that collection of words is the essence of something he calls Jesus Christ; but if not then he is declaring a marginality regarding Anglicanism in that he is loyal to what he calls Jesus Christ whilst not caring too much what is in those formularies. So it might not just be 'experience' based, often given as a liberal basis of faith, but it might and it might be a form of religious humanism - what is wholly human, and therefore what is Christ about that.

I've written here that the [Anglican] declaration of assent is so worded that no one giving it is forced to agree with every item on the creed, or every article or formula. It just is not asked of any individual, though it is given that the Church is correct in having these. The individual is to give loyalty to the inheritance, and also to use exclusive forms of this Church. I personally think he is pushing it further than it will go.

I would ask what is his construction of 'Jesus Christ' and if it is, for example, based on the historical Jesus and how. Last Sunday the preacher in our Unitarian church is an Anglican and she referred in passing to Jesus's weak pastoral skills - he tends to give some people the brush off. Now if this is correct (and she has a point), how does that relate to the construction of 'Jesus Christ'? Is Jesus, for example, morally and ethically perfect and how do you know so? How do you locate such humanism? I suggest you can only say that from tradition, and if you can't say it from tradition that, actually, you cannot say it. If Jesus Christ is just a code word for ethical superiority then it may be good enough to argue as ethical superiority but it isn't good enough to argue as Jesus Christ.

It is why I argue that if you cannot say the declaration of assent, as I cannot, then these constructions of Jesus Christ start to fall apart. He might be the other side of the line from me. I still think there is a Jesus of Nazareth to work out, but it is not a code word for ethical superiority or guarantee of pastoral humanism.

Incidentally, earlier, I had cause to post a different kind of comment to the thread Should Orthodox Christians depart from Fulcrum ? after the usual repetitive reference was made about revisionist Anglicans and those irrelevant trolls from outside:

I come here wearing special trolling costume that gives out a funny if regulation smell to repel those who may be sunning themselves in evangelical short sleeved shirts and blouses. On my black hat it says 'Beware of the Troll',  and my visitor's ticket acquired at the guarded barriers reminds me that my views here are irrelevant. And as I sit on the park bench alone, giving off the putrid smell, I occasionally hear people talk about liberalism and liberal views, often without visiting where I have come from or nearby, or refer to other beliefs, or refer to matters experienced directly by me in neighbouring places [I] once inhabited if no longer resident, and so I might mutter something of that experience to the wholesome citizens. But all the while I am careful to show my pass and remind people to hold their noses so that they are not contaminated by my commitment to heterodoxy and become ravaged, as I am, by theological disease. Though, I have heard, all this might not be good enough, because people who have spoken to me and thought about the reply have caught bad colds and ended up in evangelical hospital, and sometimes left out the back door and gone over the border where, apparently, they've been told they are not ill at all.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Website Attention

Given the Pluralist test sub-website - SETAM on the menu, to show a friend what a web 'shop front' would look like as he contemplates shifting towards Internet selling from a shop, I am now looking at my website and transferring some content in its direction from several creative places (including here). I've just submitted a puzzle idea and content to the Hull church for its calendar (bimonthly magazine) - but it can be online instantly - and there were two articles merged into one page on Puritan into Unitarian Bowlalley Lane history. The history isn't just rehash as it asks extra questions. I'm looking forward to receiving choir backed CDs and making them usable in the church for each planned service.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Licence to Kill

My loose end was to help kill the Covenant in the Church of England and thus bodes better for the different folks that make up the Church. The gathering of bloggers against the Covenant grew but also turned into a coalition, with Lesley Crawley leading the charge. Now there is a new licence to kill the Covenant, especially internationally, and Malcolm French has a submission numbered as D007 to be accepted as a resolution at The Episcopal Church General Convention this year. Best wishes to M in his efforts.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

C of I Bishop Doesn't Get It

Perhaps the Church of Ireland bishop Harold Miller, who'd like to know whether Dean Gordon is bonking with his Civil Partner, will tell us first whether he is busy in bed. He says that and yet:

Bishop Miller hit out at liberals for alleging that a “witch hunt” could take place against gay clergy...

Don't get too worried, he says, as Dean Gordon cannot be sought out and disciplined retrospectively of the Church of Ireland vote. And, furthermore...

I can’t quite get to the core of what the issue is for them.

Tough at the ecclesiastical top, isn't it? Ignorance, more like.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Signing on the Dotted Line

Some people debating on Fulcrum don't seem to get the point (on several threads) that the Church of England does NOT require assent to every credal statement, the Articles and other formularies for its ministers, and that, actually, The Episcopal Church is more demanding! I reproduce my evidence.

The TEC Anglican individual says, specifically: and I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation

So, the individual says that the two Testaments are the Word of God. The C of E Anglican does not. He or she is asked whether the loyalty to the inheritance is to be the person's inspiration and guidance. And he or she does so affirm. So there is no such declaration about the Testaments, and none about the creeds or articles. It is inspiration and guidance from loyalty to the inheritance of faith, the faith that is revealed. [Some of my Unitarian friends might take note about this!]

In the declaration you are about to make, will you affirm your loyalty to this inheritance of faith as your inspiration and guidance under God in bringing the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making Him known to those in your care?

Declaration of Assent

I, A B, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness..

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Reason to 'Transfer' - a Surprise

There was quite a surprising conversation after the service today at Hull Unitarians. It's always good to investigate why the newest attender is coming along in terms of beliefs and attitudes, to a Unitarian church. An ex-Anglican, the stance is liberal Christian. Immediately that raises a question for me as to why there isn't space within for someone who even if liberal believes in God and the centrality of Jesus still in the C of E. The explanation was - even for a heterosexual - that it's the gay issue and the stance of the Church of England.

I'm surprised because I hadn't quite believed that this is what would cause someone to change denomination. So I said about the Church of England having its general position but sort of hedging its bets, unlike the Church of Ireland that has just made a decision to effectively exclude active gay relationship people. Although inactive in Anglicanism for a while, the transfer is to a denomination I said that wants to have equal marriage, though each congregation must decide for itself. Manchester Cross Street was the first to register but Liverpool Ullett Road has been the first to actually do the Civil Partnership. But it is not equality on offer, as the Partnership can now take place on religious premises but the actual partnership with the registrar has to be secular. The government is (or was) offering only civil marriage in a register office and not in religious premises. Unitarians formally want equality, thus to marry, but the Quakers are actually doing it in defiance of government, as they have done before.

Meanwhile we did a checklist for fun of beliefs. Yes, belief in resurrection. Bodily? Yes. Another asked if the body is reanimated at the point of death or its prime. Had assumed death but hadn't thought about that.

I said I did not believe in resurrection of any kind, nor was Jesus resurrected, but it was a belief at the time based around expectation: once he was dead he was either Messiah or nothing, and they still continued to celebrate the Jewish rituals with the spare place for Elijah and Messiah etc. I said it was a fast moving change of belief under this expectation among Jews and for Gentiles could only be a salvation type faith.

Meanwhile another new attender, not present last week, wanted to read the semi-biographical sermon of a long-standing member given last Sunday. I said it struck me as black and white, moving from a Baptist scenario where lack of belief in a second coming was an absence of faith through to an "intellectually superior" Unitarian position, whereas I could think of many theologies in between. But he said he did go to University, studied theology and did mention the largely Anglican make up of tutors who formally subscribed to creeds that they otherwise did not believe, presumably to meet expectations in the parishes.

I'm in the Unitarian orbit because I absolutely do not believe in particular doctrines. I said in our chat that, for me, God is an ideal but I use it so others can as they will. But fancy changing denomination because of sympathy with the gay issue. Surprising, and rather welcome of course.

Irish Boundaries

Having taken a foot out, the Church of Ireland General Synod decided to put the foot back in. It bundled together motions that had been withdrawn, after bishops thought they should be discussed. The notion that it is better to let sleeping dogs lie was thus put to one side, and the dogs were woken up.

The motion affirms the superiority of scriptures and then immediately asserts that marriage is by one man and one woman. Well, that's not consistent in the Bible at all. It is pretty strong on polygamy as well. So the Church asserts Scripture and also its own Canon 31. Then it says, to make it clear, if you want to fuck you have to be a man and a woman and already in marriage.

This is a bit like saying, in a country with computers, that letter writing in business should be carried out properly with a typewriter. It is like looking into sunshine and describing a snowstorm. It isn't even up to reality with heterosexuality, never mind any other form of sexuality.
On the other hand, if you are in a relationship of another form, and fucking, the Church is asking its other people to be courteous and understanding. That's decency. But presumably, to make disciples of all people is to bring them to a condition where fucking only takes place between a man and a woman in a heterosexual marriage. So a gay or lesbian relationship person, on entering this Church, and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ according to its understanding, should stop fucking, and stop engaging in serious sexual contact (presumably penetration), and instead become close friends. If they don't, then they are the equivalent of sinners. Heterosexual people before any potential marriage should also stop it.

This is important, because rather than let sleeping dogs lie and at least give the sense of an open possibility of future revision, the Church has made a decision. The decision includes looking towards work on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief by a Standing Committee, though presumably no mistake has been made in affirming now the exclusion of fucking from all forms of relationship other than the marriage of one man and one woman.

So the obvious result of this is that all people who are gay and lesbian and active (who penetrate one another - and lesbians do too) and all those who fuck prior to getting married, should consider themselves sinful and in need of stopping, should they be members of the Church. The other thing to do is to leave.

The Church of Ireland, and indeed no Church, has any moral reach other than for those who sign up to its strictures (and scriptures). It has made a decision and done so in recent times and therefore excludes those who take a different view. At present I am separated and regard myself free to enter a relationship with another person in full freedom of as much sexual involvement as consented between those of us directly involved. I do not regard this as sinful, despite a formal ticket of marriage still being on the books. I don't live in Ireland, but should I move there I can confirm that I won't be joining up. Not that I would, on belief grounds.

It just seems to me that if you are not in a heterosexual marriage, and you are fucking someone else happily and consensually, and you are a member of the Church of Ireland, then you either ought to stop fucking or leave the Church of Ireland.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


There is another side: the quid pro quo of entryism. It is that the institution has a right to determine its boundaries and to police them.

Half the problem in some Churches is that no one is sure where the boundaries are set. There are forms of words but they have long been circumvented. I've listened to people give the Declaration of Assent not long after having a chat with them when they have, in discussion, denied elements of something they declare. They declare the creeds and historic formularies - so the latter is just the thrust of the Thirty-nine Articles

Soon the Church of Ireland will see the Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Down & Dromore table motions about human sexuality to its General Synod. It might be possible to kick these into the long grass. Some opponents say that there has been a lack of time for consideration. One resolution says sexual expression only within heterosexual marriage and the other is a sort of 'behave yourself when you talk about gays' as if this latter resolution makes the first non-homophobic. Of course the position is homophobic: it is generated in a dislike for what gays do, and translates into institutional inequality and exclusion. It is framed in terms of scripture and tradition as if this gives the exclusion moral force, when all it does is show the inappropriate use of scripture as it has nothing to say about sexuality as such.

But if the resolutions are passed then the Church has made a decision, and the only honourable course then is for gay people and sympathisers to leave. The Church does not presume a membership nor does anyone owe it their membership. If you don't like the boundaries, go and start a Church without them. Of course there can be campaigning against the boundaries, but these will be freshly laid.

The situation in the Church of England is slightly different in that there is more flux to the situation. Many of us campaigned against the Covenant and that has gone, and there should be female bishops in prospect. The closet gays are the ones most likely to leave, or disappear into a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic closet altogether until death or retirement. It is a tradition passing to a Roman Catholic ordinariate.The boundaries are thus in contention, under pressure, and the final outcome is still open. With the Covenant gone, the way is potentially open towards gay inclusion, though I doubt it will happen. But if the C of E was to resolve to exclude gay people in loving relationships from blessings and ministry then they should leave.

I'm in a Church that has no exclusions regarding gay people in ministry, and is campaigning for equality of marriage. Civil Partnerships in religious premises (the partnership itself still has to be secular) is hardly equality, even if it represents progress in recent times. On the other hand, my Church has doctrinal freedoms that many gay Christians would not want. But the answer is that once a Church determines its boundaries it has a right to enforce them. Now the Church of England claims a duty regarding everyone and all places, but it is quite normal to dissent from this and put oneself outside.

It will have to enforce them if entryists get busy, otherwise the entryists will burrow away and succeed. The host will be altered according to the efforts of the entryist. By all means campaign but if a recent decision gets made that excludes, then it is best to obey it and get out. The Covenant would have been such a decision for liberals to consider their position (in my opinion.

Entryism: and how the 'Closeted' Depend on the 'Revisionists'

I have been criticised recently for being unfair. This is on the matter of entryism, because the claim is made that orthodox congregations broadly speaking will be supported by a new trust fund set up in the Southwark diocese. Being orthodox means, in this context, supporting the Jerusalem Statement that GAFCON produced a few years ago, and GAFCON sees this as a rather open, non-partisan, statement of affirmed orthodoxy.

Well, having a Jerusalem Statement is not itself entryism. You can have all sorts of statements you like and claim them as orthodox, super-orthodox, heterodox, and indeed you can campaign for them. The oft-claimed weakness of the Church of England is its party structure and thus different schools of understanding with a heavy pressure group follow-though. It even affects parishes, indeed it does. This is not entryist either.

What is entryist is the method. The Jerusalem Statement began, not as a series of workshops at the Jerusalem Gathering, of GAFCON 1 as it will become, but as a statement more or less made in a leadership session and approved by the gathering. The same leadership also created the Primates' Council of its own sympathisers, and its own Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

Here is the point. The Conservative Evangelical element of the Western Anglican Churches is really quite small. To make an impact they have to find those other evangelicals who are close and get them to join in with their strategy, but never to lose control of the strategy among the few. They then get to an edge where others also follow their strategic statements and methods, and siphon off those who don't in order to get at a defined enemy.

Some evangelicals take a view that the Church of England provides sufficient statements by which to be evangelical. So the strategy by the entryists against them is to accuse them of being 'institutional' and that institutional unity is being preferred to one based on belief. Clever, but it is unfair to those who say that there are already belief statements. That strategy marginalises, siphons off, other evangelicals. The real opposition are those who are called 'revisionist' - and let's see how many evangelicals are included as revisionist.

Take a liberal who subscribes to the creeds and thrust of historical formularies. What if such a liberal also says that he or she agrees with the Jerusalem Statement in the same manner? Do we think that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will say, 'That's all right then.'? Of course not: those in receipt of moneys are those who are of prior approval from the insider decision makers. It is a club mentality among the knowing.

What makes it all entryist is the use of money and institutional methodology. So you set up a fund that is under close control and it decides who gets support. Revisionsists, so identified, are excluded, and so will be many institutional unifiers with revisionists. Empty churches discovered are then fed with FCA money, approved ministers, and no doubt a laity plant from a congregation, to get them going again but under the approved doctrines. So monies that would have gone through the official channels now go through channels of a particular group. The group also has set up alternative episcopal oversight, so that places out of step with an 'institutional' or 'revisionist' diocesan bishop, other clergy and staff can have alternative oversight without official permission.

It is about the winkling into a host body the intents and purposes of a smaller body, one that gains financial support both internally and from outside backers. The entryist is thus parasitical on the larger body, from the perspective of the larger body.

Being entryist doesn't mean you are outsiders trying to come in, but that you are inside and trying via control systems to spread yourself further.

The alternative with your own funds and bishops etc. is to set up your own Church. Maybe this will be forced upon you, if the host body so ejects you. But the entryist doesn't, because it fancies the reach that the host body already possesses in terms of the society and culture at large. It wants to get hold of the existing plant and equipment. It's loyalty to the existing body is thus because it wants that for itself.

So let's be clear about that.

And then what about the oh so orthodox existing means and channels of authority that keeps its very heterodox behaviours hidden so that it retains approval of existing systems? I think we call that the closet. That is an affront to truth, because it is pure deception. Sometimes, in a changing situation towards openness, decpetion can be tolerated because it is temporary. But when that deception happens at a time of enforcement, when someone who is open and honest takes the consequences not of the behaviours (or potential behaviours) but of being honest, then the institution is becoming rotten.

However, don't think that the current entryists are tolerant of shop-window deception. Just as they 'know' who are the closet liberals, and will exclude them, so they will come for those of authority who are well within the closet. Those in the gay closet are only useful for a time in presenting a united heterosexual or nothing front, because eventually when one campaign against liberality is being made successful so they will come for those known to be in the closet. Entryists always need enemies. The enemy is route-progression for the entryist, burrowing its way through the host body and replacing with its own people.

Bizarrely, it is the 'revisionists' and the liberals who let the closeted get away with it. They create the degrees of tolerance, and not least the ethic of individualism, that allows the closeted in authority to get away with being hidden themselves and to present a contrary face. To some extent, liberal credalists and those in the closet are doing the same thing - presenting a front that isn't quite what they believe and do. That's why, should the revisionists be winkled out by entryists, the closeted will have nowhere to hide.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Clegg Must Go; Liberal Democrats are Finished

I am not a soft Liberal Democrat voter. I am a core Liberal Democrat voter. I voted for them in every General Election except 1979 and 1997. I vote for them in council elections. But not this time. I had choices only of Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. So I voted Labour. I do quite like Ed Miliband and agree (roughly) with their economics (because the curves have shifted - monetary policy doesn't work, tax cuts doesn't work, but spending does work - into deep recession and Keynes is back).

In one interview Labour MP and one time Liberal Peter Hain accidentally let the cat out of the bag. He referred to progressive parties and the Liberal Democrats. That's the point. The Liberal Democrats I'd vote for are the ones of the party built further by Ashdown and Kennedy, and according to the manifesto of the 2010 General Election. But that manifesto turned out to be a fraudulent one in advance and the Liberal Democrats are little more than a prop for the Conservatives, now becoming a bungling government.

Nick Clegg recently told Andrew Marr, I think, when asked if he'll lead the Liberal Democrats into the next General Election, "You Bet." Well, here is another You Bet. If he doesn't announce he is going then, as for me, not voting Liberal Democrat at the next General Election: You Bet.

Clegg is toxic. He only has to stand and speak and he is toxic. We know what will happen. He will go into the next general Election. The Liberal Democrats will be destroyed. Then they will remove him. Then it is unclear whether they can ever recover and if so would take thirty years (I'll be well dead by then). It may well be, though, that come the next election the party is already too weak to give itself a chance at the election, assuming anyone much wants to vote for them.

The only hope is that as the Liberal Democrats fail and fade, and lose legitimacy in government, that they can take the Tories down with them. I have no interest in UKIP's anti-Europeanism and Tory hot buttoning, but I hope they can help bring the Tories down as well glued, as they are, to the Orange Book wooden legs.

Electors have long memories. They wait and then they do what they intend with their votes. I am waiting. I'd like this lot gone tomorrow but I will wait.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

First Southwark, then England Throughout

Here we go. The entryists are now busy. They will organise a trust fund for so-called orthodox churches within Southwark. And the clever bit is:

The Trust is simply an alternative mechanism to funding churches within the Diocese.  Such churches will still pay their own clergy costs and still pay a contribution towards Diocesan and National Church central costs.

In other words, a contribution (after a deduction) is still paid to the diocese, presumably after a calculation has been made regarding the portion of churches that are 'revisionist' and therefore what to deduct.

The Church of England ought to sit on this one fast. It has never discriminated against internal parishes on the basis of churchship. Further the trust will pay out to pick up apparently failed parishes and fill them with their own so-called orthodox types.

Entryism does not promote its own sect, because that isn't strong enough. The Labour Party Trots in Militant were always friendly to other left wingers, who believed similar headline extra-doctrinal things, on a reciprocal back-scratching basis. What mattered however was that Militant still ran the show, using money and other means to direct the traffic. Its activists spread out and were eyes and ears, and then gathered together to decide strategy.

Southwark is only the most obvious, but it won't be the only place for this entryism. One approach then is money and siphoning some of it off to go under its control; the other is which bishop they choose to obey - either the one in situ or the ones they bring in for the purpose.

After Williams: End the Managerialism

The death of Eric James (1 May) is one of those passings that acts as something of a marker. His kind of open, critical, investigative liberality in regard to Christianity is in some crisis today within Anglicanism and could even be a lost cause now. Eric James is the chap associated with Honest to God (1962) by John Robinson and The Honest to God Debate (1963). Of St Albans, he moved in important circles but he never made it further up the greasy ecclesiastical pole after his friend Robert Runcie made his mark.

This has come about as I was considering this well praised Tom Sutcliffe article on Rowan Williams. It is a long article and indeed too long, even repetitive in places. I think there is an error at the heart of the article, and it is that Rowan Williams is liberal in theological sympathy but was trapped into a managerial all-Church solution to problems, following on from the managerialism of George Carey. The assumption is that whilst George Carey was an outside, bumbling, ineffective clot acting well above his abilities, Rowan Williams was a trapped, wasted talent who was disastrous by default not intention.

I actually think that Rowan Williams very nearly achieved what he wanted, and knew what he was doing and did it with intent. The reason is because he is not, and was not, a liberal - certainly not of the kind of Eric James. People keep making this mistake.

Rowan Williams is, I suggest, on the Catholic side of postliberal. That is, there is an ecumenical standard of Christianity that is born out through performing its narrative. This is collective first, and is not individualist in the terms that being liberal involves being individualist and exploring from the bottom up. Rowan Williams certainly deals in narrative detail - very detailed - but always in the context of the overall story that you live by and through. The truth of something is born out through its practice.

The Covenant was his tool and he was clever at promoting it. He could annoy and get past both the doctrinal and the liberal at the same time. It was consistent with his theology to have something that was process based, that favoured the whole, big picture, even when it would be discussed in the details. That was the Covenant - to first apply the brakes, second to present the problem, and then discuss the problem at length and in detail at the centre and to make a kind of ruling about where any Church was relating to the wider Communion-into-a-Church.

Williams knew perfectly well that to achieve this involved now and for the forseeable future the 'sacrificing' of the gay community. He did it with Jeffrey John, and others could do it, and the people themselves could do it. This was because it was for the greater good of the collective. He bent his biblical pronouncements towards the fundamentalist not because he believed them but because they could support the collective.

Along with this conserving postmodern theology went his ecclesiology, that of Catholicism, Western mainly but Eastern as well. That meant the purple system of hierarchy, and that across Anglicanism meant links across the purple made large gaps in the walls between Anglican Churches and their otherwise autonomy. It might only be that the purple people together discussed and learnt from each other, but they were together and there was therefore a larger Church in the making.

In Radical Orthdoxy - and Williams's position is similar - the Church is its own ethical guarantee. So if the Church discusses, then it is the proper forum for the outcome.

What scuttled Williams's grand plan was the clergy and laity of the Church of England and its divergent synodical processes. People could see what this Covenant would do in terms of freezing things, which after all is what Radical Orthodoxy and Yale Postliberalism does. They are both non-objective systems and snapshots of a kind of cultural moment. One is an imaginary Middle Ages Platonism and the other a little later terms of ecumenical agreement.

Williams can talk about male and female bishops in terms of derived and delegated roles in that the Catholic view has this given and performative basis. It comes as close to the old objectivity as possible, except that it is based instead in language. There is always wriggle room in language. But the rules as to the language were set some time ago, when people didn't think it was principally about language, symbol and communication.

It is why Rowan Williams can discuss the Qur'an or the Bhagavad Gita and do so with the intentions of those books; it comes from someone who indeed speaks many languages.

None of this is incompatible with seeking a fair debate and being something of a ringmaster - but a ringmaster when the circus has an objective, and that was the Windsor Process into a Covenant.

If it sounds like he doesn't believe all that he pronounces, it is because he does become collective within the role. For example, he rather likes Richard Dawkins and Richard Dawkins simply goes 'by the evidence'. Straight talk is efficient and direct. In one of his later books, Don Cupitt realises the importance of direct and straight talk. Of course, when Dawkins starts to say that the universe is wonderful and awesome and majestic, I want to come in with religion-words to heighten the sense of smallness, largeness, wonder, thankfulness, wishing, and let's bring in art and music to these. But Rowan Williams cannot do direct talk. He does round about talk, because he is committed in advance to the collective talk outcome of Christian performance. So he will go into detail about birth narratives as Christmas and death narratives at Easter and be quite convinced that he is talking sense and that a kind of reality is involved, even if there is not a scrap of science involved and not much in the way of history either (though he said it was to Simon Mayo, in a reply to one of those 'trap' questions). So, since his job, Rowan Williams has thought that the virgin birth matters more, but is hardly in his round about talk going to just call it poetry as suggested by Richard Dawkins - it becomes a kind of self-legitimating round about talk because it is needed.

So such a person will give a collective view -  an 'I am an Archbishop and this is what I teach' answer.

Yes, he tried to impose a managerial solution on the Church of England to solve a problem of a too broad Anglican Communion, and the good folks of the Church of England stopped him. He was stopped at the second to last hurdle - the last one being back at the General Synod itself, when it would have been driven through.

The next chap who comes along will find a bunch of GAFCON primates waiting to force a vote that the Chair of their meetings should be elected among themselves. The new person will have to be pretty quick in sitting on that one, and indeed to put something of himself over and into his various duties and let the divisions and separations go where they will. The managerialist solution as a method ought to be brought to an end.