Saturday 16 October 2010

Society of Saint Augustine Explained

Peter Levite: Now we have on the line a Reverend John ap Puritanson, who is going to tell us the latest development in what has become known as the ANGLICAN WARS [shouting]. Hello, Reverend John. Is it true that you are a descendant of John Pym of the Civil War era?

John ap Puritanson: Well I'm not so sure about that...

Peter Levite: Are you sure about anything?

John ap Puritanson: Well I am sure that John Pym, seeing as you refer to him, motivated the people of London to support the parliamentary cause, believed in law, and joined the English Parliament and Scots Covenant together in a Protestant cause.

Peter Levite: For someone unrelated you seem to know a lot about him.

John ap Puritanson: I wasn't aware that you had to be related to someone in order to know about someone. But I do know about my all important Puritan forbears.

Peter Levite: Before I get to the main point, I WAS READING [shouting] a book in a charity shop that says the Kingdom is coming to everyday life, in a sort of market redistributive social economy like we have now, undreamt of in the days of religion, and sacred language is now part of every day language. Does he share in one of your Puritan forebears?

John ap Puritanson: Ha! You can find Donald Cupid in charity shops now. No, he has forefathers in the Cambridge Latitudinarians, and is a heretic. Such people should be ejected from the Church, unlike the Puritans who were eventually.

Peter Levite: So he'll be related to local boy John Harrison, local to the Radio Chadderbox area.

John ap Puritanson: Who?

Peter Levite: Who did the timekeepers to find out longitude. Keep up!

John ap Puritanson: No. No. Look, what do you want to talk about?

Peter Levite: Well you're known as the Chelmsford Hardliner, so tell us about this new Society of Saint Augustine.

John ap Puritanson: No, I'm known as the Chelmsford Puritanical, by my enemies. You're thinking of someone else: Peter Gouldboy; now he really is hardline. He's Ware, I'm Chelmsford-ish. I'm in a place called Ugley, and it isn't, but not far from a chap who was a Unitarian minister and has hidden himself away as one of our clerics in Essex, the McGhost.

Peter Levite: I'm only going by what my researchers tell me. Where?

John ap Puritanson: The Ware Hardliner.

Peter Levite: Where is where? What's ugly?

John ap Puritanson: Hertfordshire. Ugley is near the M11. Look, there is a Society of Saint Augustine. It's a creation of a group called Anglican Average and follows on from an Anglo-Catholic group, called Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda.

Peter Levite: I've got notes here about a rhinoceros, about Winifred, Hinge and Bracket. Can you enlighten me?

John ap Puritanson: It's not Winifred and Hilda but Wilfrid, see. Then Hinge and Bracket is the joke name given to that group by its detractors because many of my Anglo-Catholic colleagues are a bit, well let's say, effeminate.

Peter Levite: Closeted gay.

John ap Puritanson: They like the garb. Rhinoceros?

Peter Levite: Rhino.

John ap Puritanson: Rhino? Oh. It's Augustine of Canterbury not Augustine of Hippo. It's the one who came to England from the pope at the time, even though the Celtic Christians were here.

Peter Levite: We ARE doing the history today! Tell us about the present. My researchers tell me this has a lot to do with the Pope's visit and Ordinariates, so called.

John ap Puritanson: The Pope has offered ordinariates - like societies - to these Anglo-Catholics, right, so that they can have an Anglican experience but be part of the Roman Catholic Church. But it means married bishops aren't allowed, so the odd married bishop can become at best a priest. So then came the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, that offers I suppose a Roman Catholic experience inside the Church of England. You know, the code of practice by which these folk can avoid women priests is pretty much homeopathic in measure, so they are sort of self-organising instead. And then, despite Anglican Average, and the Friendship of Confessing Anglicans, we now will have a Protestant Society of Saint Augustine. There is the group I'm part of, Reform, but that has been an abject failure. So the parallel is that instead of running off to say the Free Church of England, the Society of St Augustine will give a Protestant experience inside the Church of England. But I thought that was the point of the Friendship of Confessing Anglicans. Anyway, this will not allow women to have headship.

Peter Levite: Headship? Like a headteacher?

John ap Puritanson: The problem with the Anglo-Catholic side is the theology or rather ecclesiology. It's not Protestant. It's all about who touches whom and the liturgical performance, so if a female bishop ordains a male priest he then isn't a priest, according to them. If he went on to be a bishop, he wouldn't be a bishop. So there is an uncertainty once you have female bishops. But we go by the Bible, and what it says about headship, so each male and female is taken on their own terms. The debate is around the fact that they are male and female and regardless of who ordained them, on the lines that a man can teach men and women and a woman cannot have headship over men or men and women. Sunday school is fine, however. Though some are beginning to add a bit of biblical criticism - not liberal you understand - so the texts actually make more sense when just talking about families. So the man is the head of the family as Christ is head of the Church, see, so he is the decision maker, but should sacrifice himself and love his wife see - even lay down his life. And she should know when to keep quiet, in the family context. That's not about keeping quiet in church.

Peter Levite: Well text in listeners if you think a woman should keep quiet in the family and a man laying down his life for her. Beats divorce, eh?

John ap Puritanson: Definitely beats divorce.

Peter Levite: I can think of the number of times I've taken a woman to a restaurant and could have said, "Quiet, I am eating."

John ap Puritanson: Only when you are married.

Peter Levite: IS THAT A GOOD ENOUGH REASON TO GET MARRIED?! [shouting again] Email or text in, listeners.

John ap Puritanson: Now the Ware Hardliner, you ought to ask him about all this, because he goes on and on about his marriage, about his child, and he addresses homosexuality and the Bible in considerable depth and length. He has a lot of personal investment in these issues.

Peter Levite: These societies then; it seems to me you folks in the Church of England are all joining societies.

John ap Puritanson: The problem is whether they are yet more pressure groups or have any legal status - well they have no legal status as regards the rest of the Church. Also are they yet another evangelical and indeed traditionalist failure in the making?

Peter Levite: I heard that evangelicals are the majority of the Church of England.

John ap Puritanson: They might be, but yet another society doesn't mean translating into success. It could mean the opposite. We have a problem of self-sufficiency in congregations, a kind of Puritans' outlook. Either we are in a Church with bishops or we are not. The person who set up the Society of St Augustine himself failed to get elected to the General Synod. That says it all.

Peter Levite: Well thanks for that, but it's time up I'm afraid as soon it is almost time for the Lara Crofter show. Hia Lara, what have you got for us today?

Lara Crofter: Are you in the studio Peter?

Peter Levite: That's where I normally broadcast from.

Lara Crofter: I think I'd better remain silent, Peter.

Peter Levite: THAT'S THE BEST THING YOU'VE SAID ALL WEEK! George. Where are you?

George Hudson: Bridlington station Peter, where there is a whippy wind. Peter, I had an email that you were with Carol Countdown eating out and you told her to be quiet. Apparently she was adding up the bill!

Peter Levite: Yes, thank you. BYE. We have one email from Don Shaw in Beverley that says, 'I told my wife to go to Beverley Minster and it means an hour and a half of peace when I don't have to go into my shed. I fully approve of the Reverend John ap Puritanson's view of Christianity.' One positive comment there then and here we are coming up to the news.

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