Tuesday 29 June 2010

Quick, Move On

I used to keep a watching brief of Independent Catholics; at one point I even thought I might become one. I had correspondence with one of these groups until they messed about with a friend and when they objected to a blog entry in which I said they were positive about homosexuality and me stating that there is a positive connection between such groups and homosexuality, in contrast with many Churches.

From time to time I have got into further trouble making lists of where some of these sometimes called Episcope Vagantes can be found. This is because they keep moving and then get stroppy when the list falls out of date and they find themselves still associated with a group with which they have fallen out. I do change the list when asked. Once an email kept landing in my junk mail and then I was threatened with a lawyer simply because of a listing that was now out of date.

A grouping I looked at closely was the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church, set up after numerous groups and name changes and steered by the talented musician Bishop John Kersey. He wrote lots of webpages for this new grouping, and he headed it with Bishop Andrew Linley and the new boy Bishop Alistair Bate, one time lay leader of Glasgow Unitarians (I have discovered his picture on a copy of The Inquirer). Now, incredibly, Kersey and Linley have gone and they are not even listed in the The Independent Liberal Catholic Fellowship. Linley joined Kersey in a new set up, The Apostolic Church of the Divine Mysteries, although it has a direct connection with Kersey's somewhat spiritual mentor Bishop Bertil Persson (who also wrote about those Bahais who accepted the Guardianship of Mason Remey). His new outfit claims to be more traditional Catholic than traditional, in that it is pre-Nicene in its observances. I don't see the commitment once held towards the Liberal Catholicism of Leadbeater and Wedgwood, though this may be there, nor can I see what has happened to any religious connections with the private and independent and immensely named European-American University that has ad hoc courses and publications linked to these concerns.

Now the news is that LCAC has decided to drop having a Metropolitan, and have decided on a more collegiate Presiding Bishop approach, with Alistair Bate as the first. Good luck to them. I always thought he had a better strategy in developing, in effect, a congregation based around esoteric Christianity up there in Edinburgh; you cannot have a Church simply based on ordaining people from each and every tradition and making bishops as you go along, even if there are people receiving rites of passage in the meantime. Whether a congregation is online or regional or local, you have to have a gathering. Otherwise it is too fantastical and like playing at it. I understand he still takes services at Newcastle Unitarians as well as doing some Druid type workings.

I think the argument can be made that they draw from the Free Catholics of Rev. Joseph Morgan Lloyd Thomas (Unitarian: 1868-1955) and W. E. Orchard (Congregationalist), and they might mention Ulric Von Herford, the Unitarian minister who became an animal rights bicycling and monastic church ministering Liberal Catholic Bishop, but it's a bit much to claim Francis David of Transylvania, who became entirely Protestant and of the left wing of the Reformation. When Knut Heidelberg was ordained minister in Hungary and took this back to Norway, it was specifically stated in the ceremony that they did not believe in apostolic succession in the sense that Catholics do. It was a procedure of recognition, not handing down some sacred deposit.
Of all of them the most ecumenical and mainstream is probably the Open Episcopal Church associated with the Most Reverend Jonathan Blake, a self-financing bishop with a high media profile. His outfit looks to the Old Catholic prior to the Liberal Catholic development and, like all these groups, is socially inclusive if 'regular' in a doctrinal sense. My interest is inevitably more in the liberal groups, even the stranger ones: I'm just not into magic.

New Commission

GS 2010


1. Due to widespread cutbacks and need for economies, and with the coming Anglican Communion Covenant in mind, the current theological resources of the Church in England at the national level should be brought together to form a new Faith and Order Commission of Knowledge for the General Synod ('the Commission'). As well as consolidating the present arrangements, the proposal intends to revive the dead bodies and enforce beliefs more comprehensively.

2. The proposal has been prepared in discussion with the chairs of the Council Of Christian Knowledge ('COCK'), the Faith and Order Group ('FOG') and the Bishops Ultimate Learning Link ('BULL'). The idea has also been considered by COCK and BULL, the Standing Committee of Ultimate Ministry ('SCUM') and the House itself, and has been supported, with minor amendment, at each stage. The Archbishops’ Council has been kept informed and we love it all.

3. Theological resourcing for the Church of England at the national level is currently provided by the Doctrine and Ultimate Church Knowledge Society ('DUCKS'), BULL and FOG.

4. In the past DUCKS provided extensive theological resources, either by large ambiguous set piece reports or confusing individual essays in books, published every five years or so. A few decades back, however, the Church ran out of ideas anyone could agree about and DUCKS has failed to quack, leaving much to COCK and BULL thanks to SCUM.

5. SCUM suggests BULL for any theological issues that might arise within the work of the House or College of Bishops, and sometimes seeks out COCK for what the bishops want. This provision would continue under the new arrangements.

6. FOG clears up theological resources and reflection for the House or College of Bishops and COCK can erect arguments for the Synod. Over the years, FOG has clarified a number of issues via reports and other documents, adopted by the House of Bishops and made available to the wider Church in the form of Summaries of the House Investigations of Theology ('SHIT'). Synod has appreciated the amount of SHIT that has come from the House of Bishops as a result of the workings of COCK. FOG focuses on ecclesiology and ecumenical theology, although it adds biblical studies, liturgy and ethics, scrutinising and reviewing material under the sub-group Associated Revision Scrutiny Ecumenics ('ARSE'), and the SHIT that presently comes from ARSE will be needed within the new Commission. FOG normally has several bishops among its membership and often receives commissions from COCK.

7. The current proposal is to combine DUCKS, BULL, FOG, ARSE and SHIT into one body, but not COCK or SCUM. The Commission, sometimes called 'FOCK', will therefore have a special relationship to the House of Bishops in an act of centralisation consistent with the Archbishop of Anglicanism's policy.

8. FOCK will receive requests or commissions from COCK, as well as from the Archbishops and the House of Bishops and will publish through a new group called the Church Ultimate Matters Media ('CUMM'). CUMM will spread its work through medium term projects of a fundamental nature, as well as responding to immediate concerns, and these will be seen inside its Fundamental Anglican Navigation News Yearbook ('FANNY').

9. The Commission's membership will be 16, including an episcopal chair. There will be six bishops (including the chair), and clergy and laity. The FOCKers will consult external scholars under the scheme Academics Necessary Under Specialities ('ANUS') in order to navigate and satisfy COCK and use CUMM to get into FANNY.

10. The FOCKers' chair and members will be appointed by the Archbishops after consultation with the Appointments Committee, so these will be known collectively as the Territorially Invited Theologians ('TITS') (as is the case with the DUCK). The Archbishops will consult with the SCUM to find out who are the TITS and secure the ANUS, both of which will ask COCK to get some CUMM into FANNY each year.

11. As well as the external ANUS, there will be further external group for referencing called the Presbyters Ultimate Business Examination Symposium (PUBES), so that all material that the TITS work on in conjunction with the ANUS will be seen by the PUBES before it gets into the FANNY. PUBES will have the liberty to meet separately if required, on the outside of FANNY and well after COCK.

12. There will be four FOCKS each year, one being in a hotel in Brighton, whereas much else will be via webcam (similar to FOG).

13. The new staffing of the Commission will be based in the Central Secretariat, known as Secretariat Extended by eXpertise ('SEX') so that SEX rubbing along with TITS and ANUS will enable the COCK to get CUMM into the FANNY allowing for the peer review of PUBES. There will no longer be any need for FOG.

14. The cost of each FOCK will be held within the Central Secretariat’s budget under SEX. The expenses will use already the well-used Commission On Necessary and Determined Overseen Moneys ('CONDOM') system so that it is important that finances are safely spent. It will be important to see that the CONDOM is robust enough to enter into negotiations to secure the ANUS who may well be more expensive than our own TITS.

15. The Chair of the Commission will have a seat on the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee. Known as the Chief FOCKer, he (or later she) will be responsible for seeing that the CONDOM is used properly.

16. All the General Synod laws will be adapted automatically so that the Church FOCK four times a year can use the SEX with the appropriate CONDOM system to extend COCK's demands using CUMM to fill each issue of FANNY via the work of TITS and ANUS and using the evaluation of PUBES. At the head of this remains SCUM, but there will be no more need of DUCKS, BULL, FOG, ARSE or SHIT.


Saturday 26 June 2010

House Disaster

I have not only been offline for a long time, but off electricity from Thursday morning until Saturday morning after a flood in the bathroom at 3 am caused many waterfalls in the kitchen. I dialled 999 for Fire, and he isolated the corroded expansion pipe to the bathroom sink. He also put a hole into the bowing kitchen ceiling below to stop it collapsing. I went to try to sleep (I didn't) and at 6:15 am went to the still usable toilet, and back into bed at 6:20 am when there was an almighty crash. There was nothing to see in the bathroom, but a look downstairs and the ceiling had fallen in.

Thursday and after the second try the insurance water people changed their minds and did come to repair the leak and thus the sink could be used, but as it is not properly attached I signed a get out of their responsibility should the sink move and water spray out elsewhere.

St Mary's Barton curate and husband were very helpful, on the scene in a flash Thursday morning and over to their place and ate, where next day on Friday I showered, shaved, had clothes washed, and ate, with good chat both days, and now at last we have (more than) decent neighbours they took my frozen food to keep frozen and also gave me food and drink and enjoyed good chat at their table. Other people in other places were informed and assisted too, including my friends who, on Friday night, did more than assist me in getting the kitchen cleaned up. Items left on the kitchen table were flooded and many destroyed.

An electrician came on the Saturday morning - he had to come because of the wires of the joined fluorescent lights had been trailing in the damp rubble, one smashed and one dangling. He put up a simple emergency light. He also looked at the defunct shower, with advice to continue with baths until the shower unit is replaced, the only practical option. Incidentally, you can see the bottom of the bath from the kitchen, so any slopping over of water will go through, but then this was always the case. There are no floor panels under the bath, only the joists, so water slop always did go on to the thick plaster ceiling below.

Monday 21 June 2010

Two for Tea

The Archbishops of Anglicanism and The North have signalled their intention to propose jointly in due course an amendment to the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church in England due to be debated at General Synod in July. This note explains their reasoning.



1. Women are lovely aren't they and the Revision Committee that has looked into them needs much gratitude. Thank you for your discoveries. However, as Archbishops we would like to overturn all that painstaking and already overturned work and impose our own point of view, and expect the Synod to understand that it is episcopally led. We do not want our ecumenical friend Benedict the 16th to get his way and attract out all the sanctimonious nutters from the Church in England in order to fulfil his ambitions when we need them to fulfil ours, such as passing the Anglican Covenant and introducing a stronger Catholic order of which they would approve. We want these people to think that there is good news for them in this Church.

2. The General Synod keeps voting for women bishops, but the Church is not nor should be a democracy. It should be led by bishops under strict biblical scrutiny, which is why we want to close down the Doctrine Commission, the Faith and Order Advisory Group and the House of Bishops' Theological Group and replace them with a hard-line Faith and Order Commission consistent with the coming Anglican Covenant. So we want to push through our proposed amendments. This is consistent with another of those generally infamous 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolutions, this one saying that 'Those who regard women as second class citizens in ministry are as much Anglicans as those who would have women in the priesthood and episcopate'. This resolution fitted nicely with Lambeth 1998 1:10.

3. How can we solve a problem like 'jurisdiction'? Someone other than the diocesan bishop needs to provide episcopal oversight for those who are unable to accept the new situation if the sanctimonious nutters are to stay. The need for such provision is widely accepted, despite the fact that Synod has not accepted it in its representative functions.

4. The Archbishops Rowanov Treetri and John Sendmehome had a cup of tea one day recently. John Sendmehome asked how can these people stay, and Rowanov Treetri spoke at length and in great detail to produce a proposal that has the backing of both men, although John Sendmehome has said he doesn't really understand what Rowanov Treetri was talking about.

5. Motivated by the new Civil Partnership coalition government between David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the idea is of having a 'co-ordinate' jurisdiction where a diocesan bishop holds hands with a male bishop of acceptable lineage to the sanctimonious nutters, although a she will have to wear gloves.

6. The jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop - whether male or female, but always heterosexual - remains intact; he or she would remain the bishop of the whole of the diocese. There would be no holes in the diocese, although he or she might think so.

7. So a parish would say, something like, 'We don't like her, or we don't like him because he was done by a her,' and then him or her would put his or her hands up and say, 'Don't worry, you will not be polluted by me any more. It's a no-go area, even if formally I can go there.'

8. However, instead of him or her sending for another different him for them, the other him would come along on the basis of a piece of paper written out by a committee.

9. So it would be nothing to do with him or her, even though him or her retains jurisdiction over a church over which him or her cannot do anything because another him comes along to do it instead.

10. In the case of the (let's call it) unpolluted parish, one bishop would have jurisdiction over that parish just as before, but be unrecognised as to the fact, and another would have jurisdiction because of the piece of paper.

11. So some people would see him or her and also him in charge, whereas the unpolluted parish would see just him in charge, even though him or her would also be in charge actually and formally, though rather on the quiet side.

12. In the local cathedral the him or her and the brought in him would signify their joint control recognised only by some by carrying their mitres under their arms, thus spreading but also diluting the offence given recently to the visiting Presiding bishop, Kathy Jefferson Shoreline, who is also identified as a woman.

13. In the case where a male sanctimonious nutter or lunatic fundamentalist is the bishop, a parish might ask for episcopal oversight from specifically another woman, but they can whistle into the wind. The Church is not a democracy, nor an equal opportunities employer.

14. The two who have co-ordinate jurisdiction would of course meet and co-ordinate policy in their localities (after all, more than one parish may use him instead of him or her), although the unpolluted parish would have to be convinced that the policy is all his work and not his or hers.

15. We think a few tweaks to the current draft legislation will do it; in fact the r can be removed so that this becomes daft legislation.

16. If passed we believe that the resulting chaos would help disguise the hurt and frustration that would be felt on all sides, much more evenly then than if a clear decision had been made and the pain was felt on one side.

17. The fact that two bishops could hold hands (subject to a female wearing gloves) brings no change whatsoever to the Church of England, despite the fact that nothing like this has ever been dreamt up anywhere else in the Anglican Communion. If the Church in England is reported for this supposed innovation by other members of the Anglican Communion under the provisions of the proposed Anglican Covenant, we shall tell them that foreigners have no jurisdiction in our Church, that after all if we wanted to have five bishops for any one locality we could. We call this polyepiscope or polyputthekettleon as a preferred piece of terminology.

18. We are amazed that no one had thought of this before, including Archbishop Sendmehome.

19. Now it is up to the General Synod to agree with us.

20. In Christ there is no male or female, although actually there is in this Church.

+Rowanov Anglicanus: +Sendmehome Norse

Sunday 20 June 2010

Organic Growth versus Acquisitions

As The Bottom Line with Evan Davis points out this week, growth can come with acquisition or by organic growth, the latter meaning building up a business. Acquisition suggests that nothing in fact grows, it is a purchase in, but resources may be integrated in a new firm and value added that way. It is daft, for example, to reinvent a wheel when the product you want is out there, to be integrated into another product line.

In the religious world the equivalent is structural ecumenism or rationalising, or building within a church. In the 1960s and 1970s there were delusions of growth by rationalising and joining congregations, the biggest and best case being the formation of the United Reformed Church. Building a decent gathering from a number of places gives another chance for the new place to develop. Yet the URC continues to diminish. Such transdenominational mergers always weaken traditionalisms within the subsequent denomination and thus one of the hooks of attachment is lost. Also some traditionalists form continuing Churches and thus make a joining a bit messy.

The Methodists have an active closure programme within their own denomination, and it might like to merge back with the Church of England (could be a culture shock there).

The problem is that people are attached to buildings, locations and styles, and so every merger loses people along the way, who simply stop attending. It shows just how much church attendance is a cultural matter, and that there is not some irreducible ecumenical core.

Evangelicals seem to make most claims to organic growth, but it's more complicated than this, however, because people also circulate. They are loyal to the evangelical brand rather than one of the old denominations. For as long as they have the belief pattern, they may well move around from one place to another according to attraction. Some of the big media churches are vacuum cleaners from smaller less exuberant or entertaining evangelical concerns.

Unitarians have no one to merge with any more, so churches either bob along the bottom or work out their own organic growth. They once merged with Unitarian Baptists, and with Cookite Methodists and liberalising congregationalists. Those were the old days. Nowadays liberal theology is in some trinitarian denominations, but the formalities and self-deceptions about liberal positions (many a trinitarian of old wouldn't recognise some of the descriptions that pass as 'trinitarian' these days) mean a wall between Unitarians and other liberals.

The nearest merger group would be the Society of Friends, but then there is a radical difference of style. Unitarians still practice with the culture of a Protestant Church, even if the content is heavily modified - still prayers/ meditations, hymns, readings, address. There are still ministers, although they have no exclusive functions.

What the Unitarians have to do is make themselves better known. There must be, well we know there are, many people out there who have enquiring minds about the divine and who would investigate different faiths and philosophies, or have fairly settled views that fall outside the ecumenical fixed stance for Christianity (incarnation, resurrection: and basically a cult of an individual). The Unitarians offer a place where people can meet with different others and yet practise religion in terms of meditation, contemplation and worship, through the language of faith and doubt. Unitarians are practiced in this themselves, and it has to be a participatory faith. There is no overriding loyalty to a book or tradition: it has to be individual conscience.

A liberal faith with a democratic polity in each place has to be equalitarian, and why it was the first denomination to have professional women ministers (the first in England started training in 1897) and ministry is open without regard to sex or sexual orientation.

I made a response-comment in a recent blog entry that I understand that we are evolved. To use what a media evangelical said recently (as his sarcasm), it means Mary the mother of Jesus is the evolved product of the chimp's ancestor (perhaps this was said for the benefit of Roman Catholics, who say they accept evolution). And of course I do not regard Jesus as any different from anyone else, in any sense. He had wisdom, made mistakes, learnt, and the material he learnt and lived by is available to anyone. There are no mechanisms by which one person's martyrdom, if that's what it was, transmits to others and absolves them of anything, other than as a form of example. All this is so obvious (to me) it is hardly worth saying, but as someone who still practises Christianity elsewhere at the margin as a means to reflection, I perhaps need to say this to counter assumptions and because these assumptions exist - I don't say the creeds or stand at the Gospel (it signifies 'presence') nor do I partake in the Eucharist any more. There is far more to reflect upon than one man, far more in the world, in nature, in the sciences, social sciences and arts: these all have signals of transcendence.

This is actually rather a simple stance, however much I can make it complicated: it even tends to be anti-theological, but then so much theology is an attempt to make black look like a shade of white.

These views are all over the Christian churches these days, it would be odd if they weren't: but structurally the Unitarians are condemned to their own structural and organic growth or diminishment, and that's the strangeness of organisations.

I doubt I will be alive in 2050, but it will be interesting to see where all the denominations are then. I suspect many will have arrived at something like the Unitarians, and oddly the Unitarians may have been able to bob along the bottom with the unique selling point, even if it is not one that attracts big numbers. We cannot predict, however.

Friday 18 June 2010

Andrew Goodgod on that Letter

Reflections on the Archbishop of Anglicanism's
Pentecost Letter:

A pathway for Anglican spiritual renewal?
by Andrew Goodgod

It was back in the reign of Henry VIII that Anglicanism began, although it was not called that then. From Catholic beginnings...

[Note: this part of the original draft has been edited out]

So many weeks and so little time, in that three weeks back the Archbishop of Anglicanism issued his letter of utmost clarity and charity, writing to the bishops, clergy and faithful of Anglicans, as a man in his position is reet, might and mote to do.

Prior to that he had issued a private letter to the Presiding Bishop when The Episcopal Church had the cheek to ordain a male heterosexual bishop Doug Ian, who until then had sat on an Anglican Communion committee (and he might be replaced). The Archbishop asked her to remove herself from Anglican things and apparently she rang up the Archbishop and told him to "shove off".

Thus the Secretary General naturally followed up the Pentecost Letter with his letter removing The Episcopal Church from ecumenical forums as it no longer is a Church with Anglican views.

Both letters produced a storm of protest, so that my nutty brother Giles Goodgod wrote an open letter first giving approval to the Presiding Bishop Kathy Jefferson Shoreline and then disapproval to the Archbishop, the order of which showed just how much he has become my wayward brother. I think he hasn't got over the thrashing I used to give him in our bedroom when I stole his toys and he started crying.

She herself had her own Pentecost message in response to the Archbishop's Pentecost letter, in which she allied herself with the history of the Calvinist Church of Scotland. She went to Scotland to apologise for that to Scottish Episcopalians, and in a further sign of both regret and resistance carried her hat under her arm in Southwark Cathedral. What an appropriate place: the hotbed of liberalism since the days of John Robinson, known as the low point so far for the Church of England in its history according to Bishop New Testament Wrong, our Fulcrum hero, who has decided to retire into academia due to lack of influence.

Before she could go to Southwark she had to have a Criminal Records Bureau check and show who ordained her and where to the Archbishop's secretariat, who thought she might be an imposter.

Thankfully in America we have A Frame Reader and Christopher Shites to write endless pages showing why the Presiding Bishop is wrong and they are right. I am trying to write as much as they do, to give the impression of weight and seriousness (just as we tell our students to do the same).

This brings us more or less up to the present day, and so here my historical description has to end unless I get into futurology.

Sadly most of the Archbishop's Pentecost Letter had to address the Anglican dispute which excites so many of us, as we dream of pushing around the chess pieces of world Anglican politics and we make precisely no difference regarding anything.

Our far too patient Archbishop has arrived at where decisions cannot be avoided, since the lesbian bishop was concentrated in a swimming pool with a glass ceiling.

Decisions cannot be avoided, said the man and thus he has started excluding people.

He has been very clever, making it look like he is concerned with all three moratoria - gay bishops, same-sex blessings and border crossings of Anglican bishops - and only at an official policy passed level. Thus the Church of England can have same sex blessings, like the one coming with Colin Coward, but because it is unofficial it does not matter. So the Church of England is fine and gets off Scot free (ha ha!). And although Martin Mynns continues as a bishop of the Nigerian Church (to replace the Anglican Communion), no enquiries have gone that way but rather to the Coneman with the 99 Flake asking whether he is busy at present. Fortunately the Canadians recently passed a resolution saying that everything regarding same-sex blessings is good and localised, but the Church itself has no view, and so the Archbishop can concentrate on just removing The Episcopal Church and say clever Canada.

So duplicity is at the heart of the proposals, and in a very bureaucratic manner. And in this spirit the Archbishop will ask the Nigerians and Coneheads and others what more can be done to remove the Presiding Bishop and other representatives given the need "to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice" according to the way the Communion finds out what these limits are.

What has the Archbishop not done?

1) In seeking to exclude, he has not followed a separatist and exclusionist approach. He is not frightened of GAFCON setting up in the UK, as it has recently in Chelmsford.

2) In using same-sex blessings and gay/ lesbian bishops as a form of outlawed heterodoxy against Anglican identity, he has not contradicted the sensitive Anglican concern for including minorities.

3) He is prepared to listen to those who are excluded and thus they become unable to talk in any place where he might hear them.

4) Thus he has deepened the conversation, to preserve relationships and exchanges, to take place outside the Communion.

5) He has not, as yet, removed the Presiding Bishop from her role at the Primates' Meeting or the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion because she told him to "shove off" when he did suggest it.

So the Archbishop has hardly acted at all.

Why has the Archbishop taken this action?

There are a number of weaknesses in his letter.

1) The logic of the Archbishop's decision is contradictory and utterly baffling, if it can be understood at all in his verbosity even as I try to learn his particular skill of communication.

2) There are some statements in his letter which are in cloud cuckoo land and bear no relationship to reality, but I am not sure what they are.

(3) There is one striking omission: sense. I give this below.

1) The stated logic: a rejection of Communion faith and order, which is very clear because they in America cannot be Anglicans and represent Anglicanism.

2) The Episcopal Church is a local Church and no more, whereas the Anglican Church is a big thing across the world with the Archbishop as boss. This has been established over the years, according to the Archbishop.

3) Rome. Anglicanism as a big Church is really a different form of Roman Catholicism that has Protestants in it.

4) The Episcopal Church carried official policy resolutions that fly in the face of the global Anglican Church and are thus local aberrations of the international curia and thus threatens the ecclesial identity and ecumenical activity of the Communion as a communion of Churches and amounts to a unilateral redefinition of the Communion.

This should not be allowed.

Some people think babies should be christened and some think they should not be, but the Anglican practice is set out worldwide and no one can change that. Thus no one should be able to change anything else that is not sanctioned by the worldwide Anglican Church. Who says women can be bishops? This was never passed either.

It would be eccentric to place such people of different views in a position where their viewpoints were implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions among other viewpoints that might overlap. As A Frame Reader has pointed out: "We are right and they are wrong."

[The next twenty pages are edited out as they constitute repetition.]

Now conscience is not the supreme authority. Scripture is the supreme authority and the world wide Church has to make judgements about the extent to which people's consciences are properly informed by and consonant with Scripture. Given that it is obvious what Scripture says, we cannot have such deviations or deviants.

Then there is the issue of pumping up bicycle tyres, known as pneumatology. You cannot just invent the idea that there is a bicycle pump of a Holy Spirit following on from Jesus Christ, just because Jesus said farewell and there'll be a bicycle to ride later on. This is just nonsense. If we take the example of the Gentile woman who said to Jesus he'd feed the dogs better than her daughter, and he then changed his mind, and sent a healing bolt of lightning out yonder to her daughter, we thus know that Jesus never learnt anything or changed his mind. He never learnt to ride a bicycle: we know this. So the Holy Spirit is not going to change its mind either. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit learns nothing, because both are perfect in every way, and therefore people of the same sex must button it.

But the Archbishop can see Christ in such wrong people. Still, he is overgenerous: he sidesteps the question of the nature and form of ecclesiastical discipline and giving such people a good whack, or imprisoning them as they do within Africa.

Fulcrum is now the centre of the Church of England and represents the opinion of the world wide Anglican Church. We now insist that our interpretation of the Bible is correct, and the Holy Spirit does not budge. We have mapped the Communion and written the history of Anglicanism umpteen times already. We fight off the Conservative Evangelicals and we isolate the Liberals. They thought they didn't mean it when we asked them for assurances and warned them of consequences.

The danger is that if the Anglican Communion is allowed to be represented by the local Church in any sense, then the world wide Anglican Church would have to be removed from the Communion.

The only alternative is a pluralism and confederacy that might not be Christian in a postmodern global fellowship of unbelievers in which levels of diversity and liberalism are bound to be high.

What is to be Done?

We need to sharpen the instruments. You can buy a Tesco Value bunch of knives in a wooden block for £4. It can be cheaper to buy a new set instead of one knife!

There is a clear lesson here for Anglicanism: let's sharpen up all the instruments and not just the one, the lonely Archbishop and his Secretary General.

He might invite more views, but we think the road ahead is obvious. Cut them out, keep them away, let TEC wither on the vine.

Kathy Jefferson Shoreline should not preach in Southwark ever again, indeed she should be stopped by the UK Border Agency and asked if she is really human at all.

When the primates get together, they should be asked if they are not actually apes. She might call their bluffs, but we know that bonobos engage in prostitution, homosexuality and cannibalism, and these are our nearest neighbours as primates.

Get the bonobos on the Standing Committee, as it signs up new primates with the Covenant signing on process. In the meantime, keep Doug Ian off it. And when the big chimps tea party takes place at Lambeth in 2018, let's keep TEC out, if it hasn't shrunk then to the ecclesiastical equivalent of a prune.

We have a marvellous Archbishop who is facing the destruction of the Anglican Communion, and he is doing as much as he can to bring this about. He will get this Covenant introduced, even if he is the first, last and only one to do it, whether the Church in England can legally have it or not. This is the only way forward because Fulcrum says so.


So forward with the Archbishop and the world wide Anglican Church! Hooray for Fulcrum! Hooray for verbiage!

Business as usual is not an option, which can be sunk into the Indaba process. What a wonderful idea that was. Sharpen the Instruments and cut out the cancer. Resuscitate Anglican Churchianity!

The Pentecost letter will surely be seen as having set a path which will assist the world wide Church's renewal in the Spirit. I'll end with a poem to the Holy Spirit and pneumatology:

I've got a bike,
You can ride it if you like;
It's got a basket,
A bell that rings,
And things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could
Holy Spirit should.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world,
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I've got a cloak:
It's a bit of a joke!
There's buttons up the front,
It's holy black,
I've had it for months.
If you think it could look good
Then I guess it should.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world:
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I have a chance
To get hold of a manse.
The Archbishop?
He has a palace!
He's getting rather old
But he's more callous.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world:
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I've got a clan of bishop made men:
Here a man,
There a man,
Lots of bishops here then!
Take a couple if you wish:
They're on the pish.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world:
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I know a room of episcopal loons:
Some speak,
Some think,
Most of them are clockwork.
Let's go into the other room and make them work.

From Acorns

Notice the launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) down in the Conservative Evangelical hotspot of Chelmsford on June 16th. This FCA replaces the local version of Anglican Mainstream, so called. The FCA is a loyalty of correction to Anglicanism, what otherwise provides an alternative to Anglican breadth and thus 'entryism'.

FCA is a Reformation based entity, despite tagging along some traditionalist Anglo-Catholics, with an interpretation that joins The Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the Thirty-nine Articles and the Ordinal, despite Anglicanism in the Church of England now regarding the Thirty-nine Articles as a historic formulary that needs no more than a nod by the ordained and a Common Worship liturgy that is at a little distance from the BCP.

The FCA extends its activity here from its opposition from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada - thus is an embryo of the Anglican Church of North America - and sees the liberal Christian stances (that of social inclusivity and apparent theological liberalism) as present in England and elsewhere in the UK, indeed that in England liberalism is dominant in ministerial education that excludes other theologies.

Really? There are quite a number of evangelical theological colleges, and one more Conservative Evangelical party college at Wycliffe. There is the supposed centre ground occupied by Fulcrum (although it's a nice position for a division) and previously the likes of Fulcrum could never have imagined it was at the centre. There is an Archbishop who is theological but he is no Robert Runcie. The "doublethink" or double-expression of Anglican theological liberals and radicals is even more intense these days, those that can stand it of course. The idea that liberal Christianity is predominant now is a fantasy of those of narrow creed like the FCA types who promote their present day agendas by waving their little BCP books.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Not Affirming Liberalism

I will advertise the next Affirming Liberalism one day conference. It is on 30th October 2010, around Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire. Professor Keith Ward will be speaking on 'Can Liberals be Biblical Christians?'and Dr Peter Vardy will be speaking about 'Good and Bad Religion'. There is car parking and the college is a short walk from Crowthorne railway station.

I find this approach to liberalism inadequate and institutionally limited. I use as evidence here Dr Martin Percy's approach as of 2009. This statement, for example, is utterly open to contradiction:

Firstly Liberalism is always receptive to contemporary culture, science and the arts. Liberalism, because it is concerned with freedom, is first and foremost concerned with pursuing wisdom and the truth wherever it is to be found. There is therefore no fundamental or absolute discontinuity between the truth that is out there and the truth of Christianity...

Of course there is discontinuity: Christianity is dependent on supernatural or ontological relationships, in order to defend and uphold the uniqueness or at least the definitiveness of Christ. Defending is in contrast to finding truth wherever it may be found. The truth 'out there' can be far broader and therefore not correlative, and some of us would claim that religion is a human creation so that the 'out there' metaphor won't do - it is a part of human creativity and a liberalism can go in any direction.

Secondly Liberals tend to be sympathetic and syncretic to applying their knowledge and insights to particular situations. This requires on the one hand respect for revelation, texts and traditions, yet at the same time making sure that the hermeneutical methods are praxiomatically relevant. Gay, Black liberation and political theologies tend by and large to be infused with the liberal spirit; they are about freedom for individuals and communities, and at the base of their method lies a relative freedom in the exposition of the material of Christianity.

Not all black liberation and political theologies are liberal, and again there is this assumption that there is a 'knowledge' to be applied.

Thirdly Liberals tend to stress that Christianity has ethical and political implications. Liberals are not content with Christianity being seen as a propositional religion concerned with correct dogma and simply holding fast to the creeds. Liberalism believes that Christianity is relational, and is therefore fundamentally about how religion takes on social evils such as poverty, war or racism. Correspondingly liberals tend to be quite optimistic about the prospects for society, believing that the Kingdom of God can at least start to come on Earth if the Christian faith is lived out in society - even possibly in a compromised form - rather than simply taught to society. Yet this is to be done with humility and patience, not arrogance and speed, even though it may need to be radical at times...

Liberalism is optimistic about society, because we are the builders. Whether there is any sort of God or not, little will be achieved without strategies of human improvement. There have to be modifications even rejection of the Christian notion of original sin, indeed the original sin that Christ apparently redeems. He also says:

Liberalism, in its desire to make itself accessible and understood in the modern World, has sometimes been guilty of enhancing its own self-importance while reducing the credibility of the Christian faith. This is certainly not what many liberals intend and one should certainly draw a distinction between serious Liberal thought and other forms which simply glide over hermeneutical difficulties, and are more vapid in their treatment of doctrinal and moral issues.

If Christianity is found to be unethical, and liberalism is a means to find the ethical, then liberalism is more important that the Christian faith. If it is necessary that the Christian faith is compromised in order to establish a better ethical position, then better that it is compromised. There can only be hermeneutical difficulties if you are committed to a fixed source of textual insight. A point comes, for example on the gay and lesbian issue, or say animal welfare, and the Bible and a tradition, where you simply say the Bible is wrong and reject what it says. No hermeneutical difficulty exists there - it is just wrong. He goes on:

Put more simply, the purpose of Liberal thought is never to compromise Christian faith, but simply to rediscover the means of maintaining it and developing it in the present.

What a load of nonsense! It neither seeks to maintain nor to undermine Christianity: it is just that it may do, and if it does it does. It certainly doesn't intend to uphold it either. But he will say:

To be liberal - to be engaged in the task of free thinking and to be freeing people from their situations in which they are enslaved - we must engage. This engagement must be intellectual, of course. Yet I must also be orientated towards the World and the Church, in order to bring the grace and power of God to situations through piety, respect, mutuality and plurality.

The giveaway regarding all this is where he says:

...but above all with a commitment to others who do not share our theological construction of reality. Ultimately, the keeping of Liberal faith is not a possessive exercise that is designed to protect the interests of Church or party. Rather, it must be manifest in a form of giftedness in which the treasure of the Gospel is maintained on a trustee basis for the whole of society.

This notion that there is a Gospel different from Church is a make-believe. It is all about 'our theological construction' and is thus defensive engagement.

Liberalism is instead about truth being found from where it exists, in different forms of intellectual discussions, academic languages and common languages of the religions, the sciences, the social sciences and the arts. There are no artificial boundaries. Christianity becomes a series of mythological sub-systems making a system, rather equivalent say to the Aztecs, and a liberal view undermines at least some of its mechanics and ontology.

The point about a liberal approach is that people who have different views come together and actively tolerate, and use the coming together as further truth finding. This is the basis of a liberal Church. The religious aspect is the reflecting, contemplating and some sort of symbolic worship or meditational practice.

The grouping called 'Affirming Liberalism' is a moderate, liberalish, Anglican Church Party: another one to add to the list. I'm not really interested in that. I'm a liberal religious, radical in content. Martyn Percy doesn't even begin to address the breadth of liberal religion: his is just one limited corner.

Monday 14 June 2010

Hard Problems

From time to time I return to this website, and leave on some of the videos while I do something else, and then give varying amounts of attention to whatever might be said.

The best video is the questions one at the end, with varying qualities of questions and replies.

I like the representation of a hard but old problem and well solved now. A little girl builds a house with Lego watched by her daddy. The house is then broken up and the pieces go back into the box. The little girl asks, "Where has the house gone?" and her daddy says, "It is in the box." This is now a well solved issue in the sciences, but its equivalent is only recently being challenged in the social sciences.

Yes I do know the answer and it is within physics. If you don't, listen or find out. It is also why many theologians make errors in their logic, and one good reason why (to go to a theological extreme) creationism is drivel.

For example, in economics, the liberal approach has been to work down to individual utility, and indeed there is all that about indifference curves (I remember the switch made from one to the other when I was doing Economics as an undergraduate). But none of this really answers where taste and therefore utility or indifference comes from. It used to imply individual psychology, an aggregate of individual demands directly based on those one by one utilities. No one believes this now, and also no one believes in the rational behaviour that underlies such Economics.

After a service I attended a baby naming party this last weekend, and wondered why do these people all look like this? Why do women in particular, younger especially, dress all in a very similar way? Where does the demand for these sorts of displays come from? And fashion is only one fashion. Go back and look at them in the early 1980s, for example. Or compare my time in sixth form to my time as a sixth form teacher, where your eyesight is instantly trained to imagine looking at people as windows while engaging as carefully as possible in what they were saying.

I didn't just do Economics but Politics and Sociology at the same time, and we were compartmentalised into each. I remember Sociology coming up with views about surplus value that had no place in Economics, and so I'd attack the basis of the Sociology and some sort of kinked supply curve. (From memory - it was in the late 70s to early 1980s this, my brain is telling me Baron and Sweezy and that is pure memory as well. Oh, I now live in the Internet age: let me enter their names... Ah it is Baran and it was all about Monopoly Capital: "Ah yes, I remember it well," as the song goes.) So I was a little undergraduate trying to undermine Marxian Sociology as I did those days with my essays all using economic liberalism. The Economics department and Politics department each too had no time for Sociology, especially the Marxist ideology driving half of the department, and it was odd that I ended up in Sociology but did so to pursue my interest in people and religion (I did have a crap three months at the University of Essex where I abandoned an American Politics MA).

It is interesting to hear that the emphasis on uniqueness in your work (say at Ph.D - I made a justification that my work was original) mitigates against different people all attacking one problem and coming up with solutions. But then there is something artificial about the uniqueness claim, and was only ever a uniqueness at the margin.

Another interesting point is that the system of rewards for academics works against anyone sitting down and spending a lifetime on one problem. They end up doing small work with the easy potential for research results that gets boxes ticked. Big unsolvables are 'pre-paradigmatic' and thus have no easy way of even formulating the problem never mind coming up with a solution. (Think about Darwin, who categorised and listed in order to come up with a method of a problem to generate his tentative and still problem-existing solutions, and how since so many findings that Darwin could not have known have made the general Darwinian scheme more robust.)

Something not mentioned in that symposium is why one leading academic usually has only one good idea, fairly young in life, that forms a partial solution, and that's the one idea that gets regurgitated forever more until the end of that life.

From Madam Ruth or Madam Rut Elvis

I get too many of these to highlight even the most heartwarming, but this email from Evangelist Madam Rut Rolandh Elvis at madam.ruth3@btinternet.com was directed at me personally via undisclosed recipients through the well known Microsoft church directory system and I would like to share it with the Church and the world. I am so touched by the biblical reference, which I shall quote to my solicitor as an alternative approach from his efforts.


Dearest in Christ,
I hope you will not be embarrassed receiving this mail as we have not had previous correspondences on this. I got your email address through the assistance of Microsoft church directory system.

I hope you will not impede the trust and confidence I repose in you. In brief introduction.I am Mrs Madam Ruth Elvis Roland ,from Saudi Arabia.I am married to late Mr Elvis Roland,who worked with Saudi Arabia Embassy in Ivory Coast for Twenty years before he died in the year 2007,after a brief illness that lasted for only five days.

We were married for Eighteen years without a child. Before the untimely death of my husband,we were both born again Christians. Since after his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he kept the sum of (US$3,000,000 M)(Three Million Dollar) in a General Trust Account with a prime bank in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire in Africa,and this money is still in the bank.

Recently,Following my ill health, Doctors have told me of my detoriating ill health due to my cancer problem.Having known my condition, I decided to donate this fund to a Christain organization (Church) or believer in

Christ who will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein,according to the desire of my late husband before his death. I want this fund to be used in Christain Activities like, Orphanages, Christain schools,and Churches for propagating the word of God and to endeavor that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that "Blessed is the hand that giveth".I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are still muslems and I don't want my husband's efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way.

This is why I am taking this decision.I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that "the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace".I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband's relatives around me always.I don't want them to know about this development.With God all things are possible.

As soon as I receive your reply, I shall give you the contact of the bank in Abidjan,Ivory Coast.I will also give you the document that will prove that you the present beneficiary of this fund.

I want you and the Church to always pray for me because the lord is my shephard.My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian.Whoever that Wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth.Please always be prayerful all through any delay in your reply might be a reason for me to contactc another believer or Church for this same purpose.

Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein.
Best Regard,
From Evangelist Madam Rut Rolandh Elvis

When it's 'For Liberal See Woman'

The interesting piece of journalism from Australia suggests that a backlash is taking place regarding a more basic gender issue inside Anglicanism (at least) than that of sexuality and ministry.

The Conservative Evangelical position that women cannot be in charge or preach to mixed congregations is creeping back into the 'females in ministry' debate. But there is more to this, I think, and it is the association with having women as bishops as a liberal cause and it is the surveying that shows that many women have theologically left of centre views. In other words, women in ministry, a gender issue, is becoming connected with the overriding evangelical-liberal divide.

For example, the one means by which the Church of England can become more like The Episcopal Church is if women are bishops and there is a general sense of equality in ministry. Equality is then one of the values that the Church comes to embody and represent.

Now a middling evangelical position has been in favour of women's ministry, but we have an ideological war that associates the middling evangelical position with a compromise that allows the liberals too much space - the 'Liberal Evangelical' position becomes one to overcome by the Conservative Evangelicals so that they get a clear run at the liberals. In this bipolar setting (after Catholic traditionalists have become so weak with their Anglican tradition coming to an end - the Gore Catholics being associated with 'liberals') , the cut goes through the middling evangelicals, the issue being are they more liberal and discerning in biblical method or are they more evangelical in label and loyalty.

The result is a downdraught from the Conservative Evangelicals about women not being heads of congregations or preaching to mixed groups and this is affecting those who would be middling evangelicals. That women ministers are associated with more liberal views, and that female ordination of bishops is seen as a liberal issue, means that especial pressure is being applied to evangelical women seeking ordination or already ordained. I wonder if this is one reason behind why the 'Radical Evangelical' continues to report her own misery on her blog in entry after entry (I see that she has used my revision of her image - good!) even if the self-account is one of personality and institutions. Evangelical women will be squeezed from both ends, from one end that questions if they should have been ordained at all and do such roles, and from the other end about their belief stance and party position.

It is always dangerous when, especially in a bipolar institution that is already thus unstable, one identity (your sex) becomes a shortcut to another identity (evangelical or liberal) that is the centre of the ideological battle. It makes the battlelines easier to run, and fuels the assumptions about who is what and where.

You cannot tell if someone is liberal or evangelical without listening, and then because of the ideological demand for credal loyalty you also have to learn to read between the lines as to how anyone actually means what they say. If, however, you can simply look at someone's body shape, hear the voice, and read the name, and make the identity, then it shortcuts the need to listen. But it will suit evangelicals to be able to make the quick identification if the Church is to become more clearly evangelical and not be frustrated by liberal uncertainties.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Music Provision

Saturday I provided the music for a naming ceremony for two young children at Hull Unitarian Church. The music was chosen, and some weeks back I used my computer to record an ad hoc choir at the church to lead one of the hymns and the other was from a Unitarian choir. In the ceremony I sat with equipment perched on the organ behind a curtain and pressed the buttons as required. I could see the service leader, who adopted material inspired by that of the British Humanist Association. He and I held back for a while afterwards and joined the large party having a party at a commercial premises.

Then today with the same equipment in place I sat in the same place and delivered a CD as music support for a minister led service on the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Francis David, the first Unitarian bishop of Transylvania. In the later 1500s there was an exercise in religious pluralism from Transylvania in the south to Latvia in the north that predated Western religious pluralism. The Unitarian King John Sigismund, the only ever Unitarian monarch, granted religious freedom to the four main religious groups in his land. After him the four became frozen as such and tenuous in freedom; in Poland the Jesuits once back in power from 1660 destroyed the Socinians in particular (forced to flee, and did: treated worse than Jews) and the Protestants in general. The music included playing a recording from the former organist, and it was as if I was sat behind there playing as the (slightly processed) sound through the speakers had some accuracy to the instrument sat there.

Normally the CD player of the church is at the back of the room and not perched, hidden behind a curtain, on the organ. This is not an equivalence for an organist, then, but actually if a CD is prepared, and the delivery is timely, then it substitutes. The difference is that the 'organist' in a machine does not respond to the congregational singing, so the singers must listen to the music. One hymn most relevant to the occasion, 'Unitarian Saints' was delivered by a Unitarian choir taken from a cassette tape originally and processed before arriving on that CD, but there was no introduction, so I merged a piano introduction in the same key to the choir. Odd, but it worked. I'll be doing more in future services as part of my religious and volunteering efforts, along with others who can play the machines and who pick either ready made or processed CDs (and sometimes tapes). I want to show direct use of MP3s too.

Archbishop Addresses the MPs and Lords

Sermon for the New Parliament: Sunday 13 June 2010

The Archbishop of Anglicanism preached at a Service for the New Parliament at the State Privilege Church, Houses of Parliament. He didn't recognise many people there because, apparently, an election means that some people lose their seats and others win them, and there are different people selected in existing seats, especially after so many resigned after fiddling their expenses. Because the Chaplain to the Speaker did not know what to say to the new boys and girls, he asked the Archbishop if he'd like to say a few words instead, and the Archbishop is always keen to show the level of consistency between how he relates to the world and how he relates to the Anglican Communion, especially now that different parties make up the government.


Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God. So anyone reading this interprets that Caesar gets what doesn't matter so much compared with what goes to God -the punchline of the saying. However, in this photograph-sharing televisual world, I'd like to concentrate on the fact that the coin has a person's head on it: we know the coin carries the stamp of Caesar's authority on it because his image is there, and so what belongs to God also has his picture on it, though we struggle to find his image anywhere, and then I have my own image on my website as head of the Anglican Communion and this reflects the authority I am trying to build, although as yet I have not minted any Anglican coin in the slot machines for entry into Anglican institutions.

People are, like myself, made in the image of God, so it is said, and much has been written about how this can be interpreted as power going to one's head. Presidents and Prime Ministers all face this difficulty. It is as if we can get hold of an institution, with a license to exploit and wreck it. But actually the coin or note, with our images on it that look like God, so different from the bland images on the euro incidentally, which relate to little but an economic crisis for the new Roman Empire in the making, are not about the unlimited right of capitalistic ownership but the creative responsibility to make something of the world, this world, for the glory of God and his institutions and the liberty and dignity of every human being as they get creative as God is indeed the creator.

And what institutions are closer to God than those which reflect the narratives of faith? You may not share any of these narratives, being perhaps largely secular MPs curious to come to a service preached to you by someone as illustrious as someone in my position, with my image so to speak on the Anglican coin, but I do head the institution that reflects one particular narrative of faith, the Christian equivalent of the ulema.

And so we have a curious three way split here, the coin with Caesar on one face, God on the other face and me on the chiselled edge. And in the story of the tribute we all give, in the various ways that we do, Jesus refuses to criticise the government, as he wants to be arrested on a demo of his own choosing according to the biblical narrative rather than one according to the government's latest legislation that even in his context questions the liberty of every individual. In fact he will have a role for money later, as he later tells Judas to go and earn a bob or two at the right moment so that the right narratives kick in at that moment, in the fidelity-to-older-scripture accounts we have of the biography-like presentation that we in our tradition call our own.

There is then the big picture for every manager, football coach, politician, archbishop, who seeks to be more than a mere manager of the State's or Church's business - that under God we consider at least the dignity and participation no less of every kind of person, that we do not ask them to sacrifice themselves perhaps by some diktat to a letter via an official who does the job with the person whose image is somewhere on the coin.

What we don't want is the stand-off that sometimes arises when we try and talk about what 'strong' leadership means, whether it is in the government or the Anglican Communion. We don't want to be patronised or bullied or stripped of the fruits of our own work. But nor should we hand over all responsibility to non-State or non-Church agents, so that when we have the task of cutting or excluding we should be prepared to take the decisions ourselves, eventually at least. We are accountable; we should each of us be prepared to say that "I am accountable" when I take actions. One mistake is to have a culture of obsessional legislation, leading to a paralysis of initiative and pervasive anxiety, as one gets with prescriptive laws, documents and artificial Covenants.

Who are we then? Are we not the delinquent children of Friedrich Hayek, Sidney Webb, Pope Pius IX and J. M. Thompson, the latter of which wrote about 'Post-Modernism' in my own sphere in The Hibbert Journal back in July 1914, starting on page 733?

Perhaps we are, or maybe not, but we delude ourselves if we think another ideology or paradigm is on the way - because, rather, they are breaking down, which is one of the conditions for something new about to emerge. In the meantime, we have this condition where voters could not tell the arguments made by politicians at the election, and readers and listeners cannot tell the arguments made by me in my lectures and sermons. But the practices remain, thus of legislating and law making, and in my case borrowing such concepts to legislation and administrate at a Communion wide level which, at least, is innovative at the level of the Anglican Communion and is perhaps a new paradigm for Anglicanism introduced by myself for all others.

So the government and myself can or cannot fail to put human dignity at the front of our own policies. I have myself innovated on this matter regarding the renewing date of Pentecost, where I seek to exclude those in representational terms who make the mistake of confusing the full notion of human dignity with religious ministry.

We enhance dignity not by legislative or administrative means, but by deliberately building capacity for co-operation, encouraging mutual dependence and skill-sharing, and thus in the confusion of dignity and ministry it is necessary in my governance, for example, to limit co-operation, encouraging mutual dependence and skill-sharing by excluding in an administrative and legislative sense.

After all, the marketing of a 'social-quality market' of collaboration and skill sharing has been one of the tragedies of the last thirty years, and we need something better. So, in my own field, I do not consider Anglicanism to be the sharing of best practice nor the absence of sharing practice but rather holding back until the resistance in sharing best practice is mellowed over what may be many years ahead and to exclude the best practisers until we arrive at that outcome.

We should not promote human rights alone, that provide one vision of a way ahead, but mutual care, and sharing, such as skills and co-operation. Such practicality must include, however, the supposedly 'unproductive', the very old and the very young, the mentally ill and physically challenged and terminally ill. It is not about discrimination, for such groups that face discrimination, that are asked to sacrifice themselves, can of course look after themselves. I call it 'civic warmth', the trusting of the wider social fabric, rather than actual near and real people: in that from government activity in legislating and directing policy, trust can grow.

And it is trust that has lain at the heart of the problem. People have felt they have not been told the whole truth about some matters, for example in my own activity the number of same-sex blessings that we do in England but unofficially and without formal recognition. Some of that perception has been unfair. And government has dealt with the financial problem eating at the heart of the value of Church of England pensions, especially after our formal acceptance of same sex partnerships in the clergy for pension purposes, which, fortunately, legislative and administrative action at a Communion and Covenant level quietly ignores. But the ineradicable impression has been of systems that have rewarded or connived at duplicity, and that trust has been squandered.

The people of the United Kingdom do not want to see politics or religion reduced to entertainment, slogans and personalities, like we have increasingly in our own evangelicals. We end up demonising such personalities, which is hardly the intention of the evangelicals or politicians themselves, and I wonder about including both identities in the same breath. The danger is of the evangelicalistic and politicalistic campaigning backfiring and working against the dignity of our public life. But the harsh truth is that this kind of dignity has, more than ever, to be worked at in terms of including all people at the table.

Perhaps at this moment I can come to refer to the Bible reading, which the rules tell me I ought to do. Faithfulness to the law of Moses gathers a people drawn together out of exile, out of isolation. So we cannot have forgetfulness of the law, as it means fragmentation, people losing touch with each other, and so in my own practice I move ahead with new Anglican law that will create isolation and fragmentation in at least some cases, that is part of the cut and thrust of the administrative and governmental lifeworld. It is its own punishment, and renewal institutionally does not come without acknowledgement of this fragmentation. It is something for which the entire community of God's people has to take responsibility, not one leader, not one party, not one Archbishop or his Secretary General, though American politics has the phrase that the buck stops with me, and starts with me too in this case.

So the buzz words, the marketing speak, must be 'dignity' and 'civic warmth', however much we use these, fail to use these, or indulge in cynical deception as a strategy towards some greater and more noble goal. It is an unfashionable idea and yet needs dusting off as something we can all acquire in our own spheres: the ongoing significance of our decisions, of patience and losing patience with others and willingness to discover or exclude together what is good for a community, even down to parish church level ultimately, or in the towns, on the beaches, in the hills and we shall never surrender.

We seem to have forgotten how to celebrate, but fortunately some do remember how to celebrate. Religious believers are not some sort of weirdos who randomly and unreasonably come together unoccasionally to reaffirm the some say bonkers views that they hold. No, they hold to a narrative rather different from the major guiding narratives of understanding of the day and come together regularly or unregularly to affirm these minority stances, such that there might be a God who directs the traffic of history despite (or subject to) such a randomness of events and the human building of culture that in fact calls for the expansion of dignity. Celebration is a form of thanks for where we find ourselves in the midst of our history, our environment, on this time-limited 5 billion year old earth in one corner of the rapidly expanding 13 billion year old universe.

The Christian Church has historically been the main carrier of this celebratory vision, although this may change, especially if there are moves to introduce aspects of Sharia Law, which I have been privileged to discuss over the years. So the rhythms are there, to be added to by new drum beats and different melodies, not least, though not exclusively, in the life of the established Church and offbeats in the Communion.

I am not asking for privilege, in such matters, though I would like to be able to continue to speak in the House of Lords after Nick Clegg has had his way with the undoubtedly messy matters with democracy and liberty, being the overemphasis on human rights that marks our culture today. I wish to speak, not for a privilege of voice, but to add to the breadth and comprehensivity of the debate in the public space.

Still less do I call for religious censorship, even in areas of employment and discrimination, which the Church would like to keep to some extent. Equality legislation does undermine our belief in the apparent dignity of all people. But we are weaker in the Church, and taking these knocks is weakening us more, and so we need some special thought as to maintaining our place in the public square, such as my ability to speak in favour of employment discrimination when it comes to whom the Church wants to employ.

Giving to Caesar what is Caesar's then, actually, is not a good model for our common life. We need the other side of the coin, and we need the edge of the coin too. We need a strong ground for the affirmation of fixed and non-negotiable dignity in all human beings, as the Church and Communion continues its negotiations in these areas. Giving God what belongs to God involves what is in Caesar's own realm, and so we do not simply give to Caesar what is Caesar's. I wish to criticise Jesus here. So may this new Parliament mark a new level of enthusiasm and imagination for what is God's, and in what is human dignity, just as we struggle with these matters within the Anglican setting. Perhaps the answer here is that we have quite a bit of Caesar in what belongs to God, but then mixing things up a bit has always been the vision or way of organised religion, just as it should be in the way of the State, whether carried out by politicians or clergy. Amen.

Friday 11 June 2010

Single in Ghana? Become a Methodist!

There's a new solution in Ghana to being single and not being able to find that life dependent partner. You climb up the Methodist Church ladder and soon the problem vanishes.

According to the Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Kwaku Asante, Presiding Bishop of Methodist Church, men high up in the Church have been telling young women that if they sleep with them then they might get a decent long term job.

This is what he told the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Association of Methodist Men's Fellowship in Accra on Friday. Presumably some are celebrating indeed, some are jealous and some ought to be shocked.

But the three day event is called "Return to your first love" which suggests that some are on to their second or third love that isn't love at all.

The bishop said that some Christians are deceptive in appearance, and need self-introspection, take stock of activities for the previous year and strategise for the future. One wonders about which activities they are taking stock. Maybe they are strategising their Church career paths.

Perhaps there isn't "too much simulation" in Christians today, but too much stimulation. He calls such people "deitists" who presumably aren't theists and aren't deists. Most Christians now had self-centred motives, reckoned the bishop.

Nii Armah Ashietey, a government regional minister of Greater Accra, deplored the appearance of vice in the Church.

A Mr Richard Stanley Quarshie, who is the National Chairman of the Men's Fellowship, reckoned that the men had been spending too much time watching movies. One wonders about the content.

So yet again sex rears its head in the Church and the apparent incapability in some places of a Christian keeping his trousers zipped up.

Thursday 10 June 2010

A Sad Publication

Lots of paper junk still comes through the front door, and unless there is a direct route to the bin it can pile up and add to the mess already on a cupboard top near the front door.

The latest delivery is for University of Hull alumni, and a smelly printed thing it is too of some now combined publication. It is all about the corporate image of the University and all good news. It is led by business and business based research, with some to the arts later on. Not one aspect is critical at any point. Its most celebrated ex-student is a corporate boss of a pointless international drinks company, who bangs on about global sustainability and cultures, the very opposite of what his firm represents. His platitudes could have come from many a multinational corporate nobody.

I am someone who must be, by this and other measures, one of their worst achieving ex-students, but I can see that this is nothing but marketing speak. I value humans differently than this university publication. As for former heads of the University being mentioned, I bet they had a more critical view of a more critical institution, a place of learning for the sake of learning, with an agenda of developing critical thought. Does a publication like this convince anyone of anything, other than the pen pushers of marketing speak and the divergence of otherwise creative minds that this form of writing involves?

Today a government minister is unsure about what to do regarding the terrible debt HE students face, a debt that goes on to skew the housing market later, and involves difficult employment decisions (including debt repayment avoidance in some cases). This is the real news about universities, to do with the legacy of a Labour Government that started destroying the universities and kept them on a trajectory of being an arm of corporate business, no doubt to continue. Rest in Peace, universities.

The publication and its smelly ink is now in the bin after approximately one hour of consumption. No doubt this action is repeated by other people receiving such publications from other universities up and down the land, produced in the name of competition and corporate image.