Monday 26 November 2012

My Service, and How a New Attender Appeared

To be honest, I don't think my service Sunday was one of my best. It took as long to write, as I also write my own prayers (I just don't like what I find elsewhere, and I'm as capable as they are at putting thoughts together). There were too many new hymns and I did chop a reading down to size myself once the main point had been made. But it did reflect my own changes and did take a chance to explain how I understand the thinking of Rowan Williams and my differences with such. It's my turn back to a more realist position, and why whilst I agree with Don Cupitt about religion I don't agree with his all-embracing philosophical stance. As well as presenting the service I continued to do the music.

We had a new attender among the pathetic turnout. Now I am on a dating website and so far have been enjoying a text exchange with someone locally. She learnt (slowly) of my religious involvement (it's not something to advertise these days - by far the biggest number now is 'no religion') and she is herself neo-Pagan. But she told an ex-Catholic friend of me and the Unitarians and so that friend attended today for the first time and rather liked it. And I seem to remember that our Muslim attender's first time was when I took the service, and she kept coming until it was time for her to return to Iran.

The dating evening was a cock-up Sunday evening, because I didn't see the person with whom I've been messaging, but she was in this smallish, very packed venue with its blistering loud music. After 50 minutes I went outside to see if she was arriving, when she was already inside with a friend. So eventually after a further half an hour mainly outside I went and joined my friends arriving at another pub.

But no problems as my dating friend may arrive with new attender at the coffee morning on Friday. If both were to get involved (and my dating friend excused herself so as not to make me nervous - eh?) then we might be even further on the way to rejuvenating with more new blood the congregation. We have recruited new faces recently and if we hadn't the place would be in a sorry state indeed.

Saturday 24 November 2012

More Spin-off: Bishop N. T. Wrong Intervenes

Peter Levite: I'm joined in the studio regarding the fall out of no women bishops by the male bishops N. T. Wrong and Anthony Wedgewood Bigg. Shake hands Bishop Bigg, Bishop New. Yep. Ow, that's a bit strong. I also have with me Jade Stowaway, Rachel Marsovenus and Lesley Tilgate. Ooh, kisses from you all. That's nice. Why purple balloons, two of you?

Jade Stowaway: It's our colour of protest. Women clergy are going to start wearing purple.

Rachel Marsovenus: Rock on, I'll make it fashionable.

Peter Levite: In the spirit of your Church, let me address the men first. You have just published a response, Bishop New, to the threat by...

New Testament Wrong: Call me Newt.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: I can't stay long; I have to keep moving. I want to be able to continue to organise our people.

Peter Levite: You fear some sort of knock on the door, Bishop Bigg?

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: Be careful what you say.

Peter Levite: Bishop er Newt, Parliament seems to be making it clear that it is very unhappy. You could lose your exemption from equality legislation.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: To be a Church in one nation is a sin; we should stretch a fellowship across the world, our bishops govern themselves abroad and to here and offer oversight. Or a third province would do it. Not only was that measure unacceptable; the present situation can't go on either where there are no bishops like me, no one of the true conviction like mine replacing those men who have retired. We need people to confess their Anglicanism, we need them to be in fellowship, we need good men as our presbyters, we need to be secure that our male bishops are properly chosen and function worldwide. Parliament is irrelevant. I'm sorry but I must be going to my next location.

New Testament Wrong: I don't know what he's fantasising about, but from where I am in Scotland I'm saying Parliament should get its tanks off our lawn. Otherwise we'll blast the institution into the Thames.

Peter Levite: Well thank's for letting me cross examine you, not, Bishop Bigg. Strong words, strong words, Bishop er...

New Testament Wrong: Don't mess with me. I couldn't give a tinker's tipple about modernity or liberals or the State or Erastianism. I take my cue from the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ - Christ! - and nothing else. That's the lynchpin, and I can prove it. [Bangs the table] Mary, she said so. That's the proof, the first one.

Rachel Marsovenus: Way to go!

Jade Stowaway: It's good to have Bishop New on side; he's like your protection.

Lesley Tilgate: Protection racket more like.

New Testament Wrong: Just you be careful - my reach is far and wide. We all know about the Timothy verse, the 1 Timothy 2 taken as refusing to allow women to teach men. But serious scholars like me disagree on the actual meaning, as the key Greek words occur nowhere else.

Rachel Marsovenus: We need serious biblical exegesis to overturn the plain meaning of the text without appearing to be liberal.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg [opens the door from the corridor outside]: Who cares about so-called serious scholars in the present day? That's just your own version of modernity. It's not true, anyway. The words are not unusual. And as for Mary, we don't ordain newscasters. She never took Judas's place, did she? Look, there's no one about but I really must be going.

Lesley Tilgate: No female bishops without equality! The spirit moves through modernity, that's what liberalism represents. What's this about an empty tomb anyway?

New Testament Wrong: Liberalism is Whiggism and nothing to do with the witness of the Church. Shame on "liberals" in the Church to invite the State to bolster their own cause. We obey the historical resurrection, the God we follow, not David Cameron and his "progamme" or Tony Baldry or anyone else. The Church that obeys human authorities has forgotten what it means to be the Church. And I shall remind them.

Lesley Tilgate: You forget the vote. And that was human. God doesn't intervene. As I said in my sermon on the raising of Lazarus, God didn't raise Jesus in a historical sense. That doesn't happen.

Rachel Marsovenus: Eh?

New Testament Wrong: How dare you question the wisdom of a scholar like me? Don't forget that your ecclesiastical career was going nowhere but for liberal romantic sympathies and don't forget it can go nowhere in the future. One nod from me is all it takes. And that goes for all of you.

Peter Levite: Not me, not a successful local newscaster who gets the public to text and email in their comments - looking forward to them on this! No, I wasn't ordained either. Has he gone? Oh, he has gone. Bishop Bigg has left the building.

Jade Stowaway: The Bible should be our guidebook as evangelicals but clearly we give it to the people afresh in different cultural settings and in ours no one can understand that vote. Is my balloon going down?

Peter Levite: There is someone at the window. It's double glazed - can you hear him? It's Bishop Bigg.

Lesley Tilgate: He says, hang on, "You have devalued the name 'evangelical'. You all have. I cannot stay any longer."

Peter Levite: Oh he's gone.

New Testament Wrong: If he attempts to organise a semi-detached evangelical confessing network then it should be crushed at birth.

Jade Stowaway: It's already born.

New Testament Wrong: Then it must be cast out. So the key point is Junia was ordained, and Phoebe was clearly an ordained businesswoman. Mary Magdalene is the reality whereas modern ideas of "progress" are simply a feminist parody that no one has experienced.

Rachel Marsovenus: Such excellent exegesis! Where does it say that about Phoebe?

New Testament Wrong: It is my opinion as a serious scholar.

Rachel Marsovenus: So I can't use it then.

New Testament Wrong: You can use it if you pay me royalties. The State was always on the wrong side of history, let's be clear, which is why Christianity is now flourishing as a main means of explaining what is important.

Lesley Tilgate: Progress and feminism unrealised? The common narratives today are completely non-interventionist. What about chaos theory, secularisation, science? The Church's dogma is what's behind the times.

New Testament Wrong: But not in the Church! If you want to be in the Church you start obeying the Church's rules. It is the liberals who are the hangers-on, and if not for you and those appalling Episcopalian liberals - in America I mean, not quite so in Scotland, though they're not far off, but exeptions where they buy my books - yes that without the problem of liberals we evangelicals would probably get on well.

Lesley Tilgate: You're as divided as you can be. At least the liberals are united - unity from diversity. Huh - dogma? Inequality? I don't know how I put up with it. Oh yes I do.

Peter Levite: So you women - not you Lesley - have the purple balloons. Do you think the Group of Six, the Archbishops, Proculators and Chair/ Vice-Chair of the House of Laity, will be forced to bring Synod back, especially if Parliament threatens to remove equality legislation opt-outs?

New Testament Wrong: Have you not listened to a word I have said? If they have, they will get their tanks off our lawn. Otherwise plague after plague could visit this land as evangelicals pray to God to send an evolved virus.

Lesley Tilgate: I cannot see the Chair, Sir Flip Giddy, agreeing. He voted against, after all.

Peter Levite: But if Parliament acted?

New Testament Wrong: Let me put your name 'Levite' in my book. What is your first name?

Lesley Tilgate: Don't tell him, Peter.

New Testament Wrong: Ah, 'Peter'.

George Hudson: That's an old joke, that is. I'm on the platform at York, a train is in going up to Aberdeen. Stops at St Andrews. Railways - that's progress.

New Testament Wrong: I have unfinished business down in the south. I want to wish my good friend and confidant Rowan Tree a happy retirement as an adult education art teacher.

Lesley Tilgate: You were never his confidant. Look, you don't frighten me. Yeah this Church might be forced to act.

New Testament Wrong: So why do you think he has become an adult education art teacher? No longer to be even a theologian-in-situ, unlike me. Just a nod, just a tap of the finger. Remember that.

George Hudson: Can I just say that the weather will be as wet as this fresh paint on this York seat?

Friday 23 November 2012


There is a campaign arising for The Group of Six, that is Archbishops and leaders of the House of Laity in the Church of England, to use its discretionary power to call another General Synod and vote again on the draft legislation to ordain women as bishops.

Why would Dr. Philip Giddings, as Chair of the House of Laity, agree to this? He is not likely to change his mind, is he?

There is not going to be a change in the vote based on trying to convince the minority that they are only just a blocking minority. They are not going to be persuaded that organising themselves into the General Synod House of Laity makes it unrepresentative. They already think that they subsidise a large number of failing congregations.

Labour's Militant Tendency weren't asked to organise just a little less; and when the House of Lords refused to reform Lloyd George didn't say perhaps they might just vote again. The problem is the General Synod has no means to overcome the blocking minority in the way that Lloyd George could have created hundreds of hereditary peers.

Some on the liberal side say only a single clause measure will do in future, for proper equality; but on the blocking minority the demand is for a non-geographical diocese or another province, or such to produce a Church within a Church. They now know they have the numbers to demand this. But such cannot be acceptable, because it is doing the Fellowship of Confessing Anglican's entryist job for it. This and similar legal provisions of 'untaint' and secured male-only authority creates holes in dioceses where the female bishop, or male bishop of female consecration, cannot go. The unity of the bishop is lost.

So, much as Fulcrum may not like my opinion, this is an impasse. Frank Field says give the blocking minority what they want in order to establish the principle. But the more that is offered, the likelier is the division of the Church of England to the point where it is, effectively, two Churches. The point about feeding a crocodile what it wants is that it comes back for more.

In terms of waiting, the problem is that the fundamentalist churches are just going to get bigger in proportion to the rest. The next General Synod elections will be no better for the progressive view, and more likely to be worse.

So there we are. The other point that seems to be continuing is the fact that the liberals still don't budge. The liberals seem to put up with anything and everything. But you don't have to put up with this, otherwise why not be a Roman Catholic or Orthodox and really have what is unsuitable, or, for evangelicals, get some hardcore Free Church of England? Is it just privilege and outreach, or establishment, that is the attraction? Or the money? Worried about what you actually do believe when you are free to alter your beliefs?

So, for repetition: this was the best chance and it was lost. Now plan the future.

Effectively Chucked Off Fulcrum

In effect, Fulcrum has kicked me off their pages. In fact, I think they are right. I have stressed a number of times that I have been a visitor, and clearly now there is the addition of troubled times in the Church of England. I don't really want to be posting on such a web forum and my views are not within the evangelical sphere of any kind. They have a doctrine to uphold, a general stance to discuss, and they also have increasingly difficult times with Conservative Evangelicals, and I have no interest in upholding any of these doctrines.

Fair play to them for holding my opinions at all! They do genuinely stretch out and there are fuzzy borders. I'm not even near them: I represent liberality in religion full stop. There are Conservative Evangelicals who call Fulcrum people 'traitors' (I've just read this elsewhere) and such is indicative of the present condition of internal Anglican relationships. It is obviously unfair. But the recent vote in the General Synod does expose Fulcrum and its own failure to advance the consecration of women from an apparent evangelical viewpoint.

The problem is that I see a knife through the middle of Fulcrum's position. That is, the blocking minority of Conservative Evangelicals will attract some in Fulcrum more committed to evangelicalism. But others are appalled at what they have done, and must see a future more with liberal types. The centre ground doesn't hold. I've said this before; well, some things get repeated.

Perhaps Fulcrum is having a clear-out. I can think of some other repetitive posters there, though one Conservative Evangelical who nearly sabotaged the site with his aggressive repetition has been quiet for a while. Perhaps he was chucked off too.

I received this:

Hi Adrian

I'm afraid I'm not prepared to authorise this post. You have come up with similar lines again and again. I honestly think you should take a rest from Fulcrum.

John Martin
Gen Secretary

[I had been asked by Bowman: What is your actual difficulty with Rudolf Bultmann's old demythologising program as applied to the Resurrection?]

Because it is a deception. To know that dead people do not come back to life, but to continue to 'use' it in some scriptural dynamic of the Church, is not having your cake and still eating it. For most folks, it appears by such 'sophisticated use' that the dead person did come back to consciousness. It brings theology into discredit. No other subject operates in this way, other than fiction. So better to be clear. And indeed groups do and can form without such belief and do so for ethical purposes.

Hi Adrian

Likewise I will not authorise this


No measure for the ordination of women as bishops will pass. The division is there and the road is towards more sectarianism of the Church from society. The Conservative Evangelicals will now get proportionately stronger. The pro-equality people say in the future a single clause is the only way. The resistance will say a third province or minimum male-led non-geographical diocese. So it will not pass. People who are progressive minded, actual liberal minded, ought to leave. The URC is making reasonable progress on these grounds, though I don't give much towards its longevity.

The debate above the above had been this (in time order):

Posted by: Pluralist     Wednesday 7 November 2012 - 06:43pm

There is a different approach altogether. These scriptures are nothing more than of a different culture separated by time as well as others are separated by space. They require he equivalent of a social anthropologist to imaginatively 'time travel' as well as any contemporary person trying to show them loyalty. They contain beliefs and ideas that we simply do not share any more, either in intellectual thought or common practical thought. Like creeds, the exist in a museum of thinking. The more fundamentalist a Christian, the more capable they seem to be of throwing a switch to live in this world with all its standard explanations for things, and then live in their church-world of their strange imagination.

The fundamentalist approach to scripture is like a person who extends energy but does no work. The texts do no work. They explain nothing wider than their own curiosities.

Posted by: Pluralist     Saturday 17 November 2012 - 06:32pm

Regarding your reply to me: These are not cultural equals. One of them, ours, does actual work, it delivers results, and delivers results sometimes contrary to as we might wish. The other, delving into the biblical mindset, as if we can, does not work because it is fanciful and imagined. It shows a belief in things supernatural, in after-death, in beyonds, in rapidly ending things that did not, matters now that would be good for fiction and imagination, but no more than that. I'm aware of the philosophical arguments, including about the limits of language, but the strength of evidence-based thinking is in the delivery and knowing the lack of delivery and thus the need to keep looking. This is not to deny the place of arts, culture and awe, and about human service and exchange, but they exist in their relativities and not in some imagined world claiming superiority never mind equality. And I see no purpose in a religion that involves the cult of the individual when the individual himself never wanted it. Gandhi, who was aware of the same possibility regarding himself, said a clear no in advance, and of course we know far more about Gandhi and his ethical stance and then anti-tribal position (which you do not get from Jesus) and self-sacrifice than we do regarding Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha etc. The question is not about what they did, each or all, but what we end up doing and critically using our own culture to achieve it, including the transferable ethics they and other previous folks may have passed on.

Posted by: Bowman     Friday 9 November 2012 - 03:05am Adrian-- Drained of its snark, the basic idea in your last post is more right than not, and quite useful. Reading the bible as canonical scripture does require a bicultural mind, the first culture coming involuntarily from some accident of birth, and the second from a civilisation acquired voluntarily and largely from the scriptures themselves. And yes, as with any bicultural identity, it does take cultivation and skill to see the world in a binocular way. Switching? A monocle really isn't necessary unless one is weak in one eye. Some actually are, but most human beings do learn to see with the second eye of one civilisation or the other. So it can't be that hard to begin with, though there are those with exceptional vision and attentiveness, and different civilisations open different vistas. A few of us, as you say, are capable enough to compare them. And fundamentalism? It's the attempt to be religious whilst being monocultural on the old modern model-- just the first culture just because it was first. In today's pluralistic societies that seems hopelessly stubborn and egoistic, eh? But it is best not to judge the one-eyed. Does anyone intentionally make such a sad, drastic sacrifice of the intellect as to live all one's life in a labyrinth of accident whilst realising that there is so much more outside it? I don't think so. Those who find the exit take it.

Posted by: Bowman     Monday 19 November 2012 - 04:03am

Adrian, despite your courteous opener, your post does not seem to have responded to my last post. It's very good to hear from you in any case, of course. However, the standard arguments that you did post in your reply seem not to engage my proposed views on either the scriptures or Jesus. This is not surprising-- the latter have barely been presented. Alas, given the normal time constraints of a useful life, it cannot be a high priority for me to explain or defend arguments that I am not actually making. As the thread actually progresses, however, then my own arguments should get clearer, and if you still believe that your arguments have some interesting traction on them, then I hope that you will raise them again yourself.

Meanwhile, I should note that if you can show that e.g. John McDowell's influential critique of the impossible "disentangling manoeuvre" is mistaken, then your place in the history of Western thought will be assured. The more profound epistemological critique synthesised from many thinkers in Hilary Putnam's Collapse of the Fact/Value Distinction appears to have made this development irreversible. However, if you cannot discredit at least McDowell's argument, then there is probably no value-free (or, if you prefer, "evidence-only") sphere from which one can critique bodies of thought.

Posted by: Pluralist     Monday 19 November 2012 - 12:41pm

Seriously, Bowman, I look forward to your arguments getting clearer. I am aware of the apparent absence of neutral ground to argue from, but I look forward to another non-interventionist defence of an interventionist religion. There is a funny thing about, say, dead people not coming alive again that no amount of words can disguise - these things either happen or they don't. They don't.

Posted by: Bowman     Tuesday 20 November 2012 - 04:04am Thanks, Adrian, for the uncanny, timely reminder of your "dead men don't rise" argument. # A reply was composed, but my connection timed out as I hit "send," losing the text. Dead texts don't say anything either, but I believe in the reconstruction of the said, and some transform of it should appear over the weekend. # Neutral ground? No need for it, if we have shared ground in the pursuit of justice, peace, and beauty. # McDowell's argument is useful in the defense of pluralism and eclecticism, among other things. Putnam's "Reason, Truth, and History" is a free download, and interesting, but "The Collapse of the Fact/Value Distinction" is a better overview.

Posted by: Bowman     Thursday 22 November 2012 - 02:12am Adrian, I'm realising that despite many explanations your own view is unclear to me. # (1) What is your actual difficulty with Rudolf Bultmann's old demythologising program as applied to the Resurrection? After all, to accommodate your premise that normal people can't believe in "miracles" of any kind, he situated the event of the Resurrection in the non-miraculous kerygma of the Church. That is, he accepted the ordinary "methodological materialism" of the science he knew, but not the "eliminative materialism" that would deny the reality of everything else. Setting NT hermeneutical and hustorical considerations completely aside for a moment, why would even that kerygma not be a reasonable basis for banding together to feed the hungry, fight for justice, work for peace, create beauty, discover things, etc in Jesus's name? People actually do those things in churches I know well. Do you think that they should stop? (2) What in your present religious views supplies a reasonable basis for people to band together feed the hungry, fight for justice, work for peace, create beauty, discover things, etc? Do people actually do those things for that reason in non-traditional fellowships you know well? # Unlike some villagers, I agree with Tom Wright among others that reasoning about the Resurrection is intrinsically (cf. theologia crucis) non-coercive. Some people get it, and go on to collaborate and do things because of it. Other people don't get it, which proves very convincingly that other people don't get it. We have known this for a long time.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Synod Crowd Gather in the Studio

Peter Levite: I can hardly see myself going backwards from going forwards as the Chadderbox panel rapidly reconvene just after the result from the Church in England General Synod that voted by six votes not to have women bishops.

Rachel Marsovenus: If only someone would do decent hermeneutics on 1 Tim 2.

Harry Tick: Ah male superiority, the one other evangelicals have to dodge around with some liberal-like footwork.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiss. Women bishops is NOT liberalism.

Harry Tick: Included.

Lesley Tilgate: Not by me. I'm glad it failed. Now I can go on saying how unequal and unethical the Church in England is while drawing my salary as one of its representatives.

Rachel Marsovenus: Anyway, it wasn't voted by six votes not to have them; six votes more and we would have had them. Us, I mean.

Peter Levite: So far we've heard from Rachel Marsovenus of near Derby, er Lesley Tilgate near Aldershit, and Harry Tick from around here. We've got people coming in and going out all the time. Yes, come on in.

Barry Brokeback: This is a deeply disappointing position to be in, personally. I don't know how you, Lesley, can stomach it with your so called progressiveness, and Rachel you get what those around you wanted. I don't want to have to join Harry Tick when there are people suffering in Africa at the hands of Anglicans, but what a beacon we are not here.

Rachel Marsovenus: It's about doing the right theol...

Barry Brokeback: No it is not, not at that level. You will never convince them, never ever. They represent the nastiest bunch of unethical types you could get in one place. It's far more that we have a sweep of creation that represents a demand for love and everything. Theology is crap; I'd rather hug a tree.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: I'm not stopping in case there are any other issues arising. I've retired to organise our own people, you know. It is time we had a Church in England that confessed its full faith and that means the biblical verses that have our kinds of bishops whether from abroad or at home. This decision means we have a chance to turn the Church in England around now. But goodbye as I want to operate in secret, away from authority of other kinds.

Peter Levite: Let's cut to the chase. Your outgoing Archbishop, Rowan Tree, has achieved nothing - no convenant, no women bishops; your incoming one, Justin Ewing has a headache from the start.

Jade Stowaway: Absolutely. I mean, how can SeeSaw be in the middle, the centre, if we cannot support our Archbishops? What a disaster. We cannot now, ever, find common cause with Conservative Evangelicals.

Harry Tick: I told you. The cut off point is you. Some of you Open Evangelicals will go with them still; some of you will have to find common cause with liberals.

Rachel Marsovenus: Hiss. Surely they can be persuaded.

Jade Stowaway: I wouldn't bother.

Anthony Wedgewood Bigg: I'm only outside the door, you know. I'm making a note of those comments from so-called evangelicals. Evangelicals? The name has been watered down for too long. Look, I'm going as I don't want to be seen.

James Graham: Hello, I am Bishop James Graham.

Peter Levite: Not seen you before but join the party.

Jade Stowaway: Wake; a bloody funeral.

James Graham: It's the way I tell 'em. It's a most disappointing outcome. We will be holding an emergency meeting of bishop-p-ps. Zzzzz.

Barry Brokeback: I think he's fallen asleep. Wake indeed.

James Graham: I'll get a taxi and go home.

John Sendmehome: Hellooo everyone. Hope you're feeling all happy and hearty. A man hired a taxi and said, 'Take me to Norwich.' The taxi driver asked, 'Which part?' And the man said, 'All of me.'

Peter Levite: Oh you're here. Yes, come in - who are you?

Noel Gordon: Noel Gordon, sometimes called by my nickname Ugh Noel.

Rachel Marsovenus: Ugh, I'm supposed to be friendly with you.

Peter Levite: So what's your take?

Noel John Gordon: Well the tricameral Synod reflects rightly the nature and sovereignty of God, and you believe in serious theological reflection Rachel, not like some idealistic equalitarians...

Peter Levite: Do come in, especially you two. The microphones will pick you all up.

Justin R. Ewing: Fracking oil, what a terrible decision.

Noel John Gordon: I haven't finished yet. We didn't trust you others in the majority that you would let us flourish, and neither side on this trusts the other. So we should repent, all of us.

Barry Brokeback: There's nothing to repent about. This is the dregs of the minority who have not allowed the vast majority to experience the breakout of the sunny uplands.

Noel John Gordon: Well you don't obey any of the rules, and we have rules. You're on the fringe, mate, and know it. The sovereign God has rules, our rules. It's up to us of belief and tradition, you know those who believe in the Gospel, to go away and come back to the majority and show you what you should accept in any future legislation and then you might have bishops who are women for yourselves. Do some serious theology.

Lesley Tilgate: No women bishops without complete equality, maybe in twenty five years time.

Harry Tick: In twenty five years time your Church will be a sectarian irrelevance.

Peter Levite: Who are you? Come in.

T. J. P. Hooker: I'm Peter Hooker. I won't stop. Perhaps God is sending this Church mad. Madness comes before destruction, right? Well instead of destruction, we should separate. The Episopal Church has it right, except it did it wrong. Split. Take the light from the dark, and we the light get the women as bishops on a simple basis. Bye.

Noel John Gordon: Repent first.

T. J. P. Hooker: Bit of that: over to Justin eh?

John Sendmehome: Definition of a bi-shop. A place that sells it both ways.

Peter Levite: It's not a very good end to your stint of Archbishop of All England. What have you achieved? Zero?

Rowan Tree: Well I would not say that this isn't frustrating. There are a not inconsiderable number of very sad people now who I can hug. We will need a lot of pastoral care, I think. I tried to present a one considerable intellectual argument on this, as I did on the Covenant. About me as Archbishop, well, hum, the jury used to be out but I think it has come in with its verdict. But I knew that and decided to take up adult education teaching instead, introducing some folks to painting.

John Sendmehome: We just go over the same arguments again and again. I think we need the Gang of Six.

Peter Levite: What like in China?

Justin R. Ewing: We need some managerial heavy-lifting.

Rowan Tree: There'd have to be some negotiation over this, I think, some ways in which we can be patient and compromise so that the Gang of Six can make a proposal to hurry up.

Noel John Gordon: No chance. The leaders of the House of Laity shouldn't do it whatever the Archbishops want and if they do it'll be stalemate. We're not going away you know.

John Sendmehome: If triangles had a God, God would have three sides. Like our lovely Synod.

Lesley Tilgate: I give it twenty five years. Me and my non-interventionist God will get stuck into mission, though I'm not sure why. The perversity of this is an opportunity.

Rowan Tree: Such paradoxes do have potential when you follow the narrative through.

Lesley Tilgate: I've had dreams about you.

Rowan Tree: But you don't need a hug.

Lesley Tilgate: I won't say no.

Rowan Tree: That's a yes in my language, I think.

Lesley Tilgate: That was nice; thanks for that.

Jade Stowaway: Can I have a hug? I need a paper towel.

John Sendmehome: Hey, if there is no intervening God, who pops up the next Kleenex out of the box?

Jade Stowaway: Thanks Rowan. You're cute you are.

Rachel Marsovenus: Can I have a hug? Off the new chap if you want.

Justin R. Ewing: OK but look, there's everything wrong with this stupid fracking decision but nothing wrong with your ambition.

Rachel Marsovenus: It's not ambition. I'm not ambitioning.

Justin R. Ewing: Climb every mountain, ford every stream, drill for oil.

Barry Brokeback: Can I have a hug?

John Sendmehome: I think at this point we might have to look into civil limits to hugging inside the more discriminatory setting, I meant discerning...

Rowan Tree: Perhaps hugs have a limited application.

Peter Levite: Is there any more to be said on this?

George Hudson: Yeah, me, at London Bridge. I looked at the rain and I thought these must be God's tears, and then I realised I am a weatherman and of course that's like thinking drivel.

Noel John Gordon: Theological ignorance is no defence.

George Hudson: Nor is supernatural pseudo-science.

Noel John Gordon: Rules are rules: that's the lesson of today.

George Hudson: Anyway, tell the new bloke there are storms ahead and howling winds, and the waves will become so high and disruptive that the link you have to the land might just get cut off.

Justin R. Ewing: I'm listening.

Peter Levite: News! I wonder if this will make the news?

Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Best Chance has Gone

I think the Unitarians should consider setting up an ordinariate where Anglicans can pursue some sort of equal basis of authority. Progressive Anglicans might also reform on other matters too.

This really does take away all ambiguity: the Church of England represents prejudice from top to bottom. It lacks social credibility and connection.

This was the best chance it had to gain women bishops. The next time it comes up the same sorts of people will say no, and they will represent the greater portion not less. People of talent will go elsewhere. The Conservative Evangelicals are only going to get stronger as the Church gets smaller and disconnected.

Women, like gay people, have a right to feel utterly frustrated. You are not properly represented in that Church, and ethically you should get out. Frankly, this applies as much to men as women, gay, straight and in whatever varieties we have.

Monday 19 November 2012

Now or Ever More Unlikely

Not all progressive and ordained women, then, want to have this legislation to allow women as bishops. the uber-liberal Lesley Crawley is against, because it is not real equality on offer.
Better to leave it twenty five years, she says, and do something else, until equality comes more naturally and thoroughly.

The problem is it won't. The Church of England is sectarianising, becoming more detached from ordinary thought (as expressed by Lesley, among others, who has blogged as not believing in an intervening God). It is getting more evangelical. If it stays as a place for traditionalist Catholicism, then it will take away the need for the Roman Catholic Odinariate. The one thing that just might put a spoke into the wheel of sectarianising, along with open gay inclusion in all its ministry, is female inclusion in all its ministry. It might happen with a Code of Practice, but women involved in all ministry will be a stronger position for getting rid of such a Code of Practice in due course than not having women in ministry and hoping all equality happens at once.

People like Lesley are in a minority, and will be so increasingly without some measures to prevent the evangelicals taking over.
Better to force them into a Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the like that can be identifiable in order to maintain a Church with at least a modicum of connection to reality.

But the argument for, given in The Independent, is not a credible one, for such uber-Liberals including me. Here's the unconvincing section from the letter published there signed by umpteen hundred folks, including evangelical Rachel Marszalek, who likes a bit of the charismatic thingy. They are in favour:

First, because the Bible teaches that “in Christ there is no male or female”, but all people are equal before God. Just as the churches have repented of our historic antisemitism and endorsement of slavery, so we believe that we must now show clearly that we no longer believe women to be inferior to men.

Secondly, Jesus treated women radically equally. He encouraged them as disciples, and chose a woman as the first witness to His resurrection, at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law.

Thirdly, we have promised as clergy to “proclaim the faith afresh in every generation”. We fear that failing to take this step would do the opposite, proclaiming instead that the church is more interested in the past than the future.

The legislation to be voted on represents enormous compromise from all sides. Those who wish to avoid the ministry of women will still be able legally to do so.

Unconvincing. The Bible also teaches women to keep quiet, not to teach men, that they were derived from a male rib, and other such rubbish. Secondly, Jesus did not treat women equally with men, and chose 12 males with a woman hanging on, possibly a love interest. He also treated Gentiles with less courtesy than the main interest, the privilege and responsibilities of Jews chosen by God in the believed last days. Paul it was who universalised the coming Kingdom, turning Jesus into the salvation figure of the above letter. The idea that Jesus 'arranged' his first witness to his reanimation is unhistorical voodoo theology. He did no such thing, but then humans don't come out of death including Jewish rabbis. Gods do not intervene (as Lesley will confirm). As for proclaiming afresh in every generation, voodoo theology isn't the way to do that. Lesley wants to do that, without intervention, and she hasn't signed the letter.

It is no more simple than if you miss this bus this time, then don't expect another bus to come along with a better chance of getting on it. If the Church of England votes doesn't vote for women bishops, then women who believe in equality should get out. You don't have to be a member, don't have to draw its salary.

How someone justifies staying in such an unequal organisation I don't know, but an insufficient vote for will allow all the other inequalities to go on.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Brain Wiring

The days of the polymath are over. Francis William Newman, the Unitarian brother of John Henry, was a polymath, at a time when this was just about possible. He was a historian, an economist, a theologian, a mathematician, a philosopher, a dietician (and leading vegetarian) and these at credible, academic levels.
Now it is not possible. I like to think that I can give a run for someone's money on a number of subject areas. I'm not bad with theology, a bit less with theology, can do descriptive and diagramatic economics, high level sociology, a little social anthropology, improved a lot on historiography, and quite good on politics as theory and structures. I can also draw and paint. Here's something that the person involved likes (see right):

But I know how my brain is wired up, and it is towards the abstracting and literary-logical. The weakness is in mathematics. I am sufficiently numeric, but rather lost with mental arithmetic, but this absence hampers me. So I cannot do physics at anything beyond a basic understanding of contemporary issues, and economics done via maths leaves me puzzled (though why humans would ever behave mathematically is its own puzzle - the stupidity of economics) and even human and some other branches of Geography that should be descriptive and debating ends up in a mess of numbers proving goodness knows what.

And this is why, facing something like NoteTab clips - a sort of macro for doing things with text in text processing, I am easily overtaken. I can see logically what steps I want to do that gets me from A to B, and I can employ a simple keyboard and related language to do these tasks. The problem, I am told, is that keyboards are sticky and slow, and delays have to be added to avoid the clips failing. (This I know to my cost - a ^!Keyboard SHIFTDOWN instruction in a clip that failed left the computer in a permanent SHIFT down position and unrecoverable for navigation and selection except by rebooting). I can also understand the ^!Menu commands, and some variants, and they are faster. Every week I use clips to take a burning CD data file and turn it into a running order, but most of that is manual intervention after initial clip treatment. Where my brain fails is in the logical thinking that is epitomised in RegEx, a sort of conditional language that directs and limits what certain instructions do. I also need to learn how to embed one instruction into another, and the Help files that do show how are not always best written for people who think like me. I can spend a lot of time with the clipbook writing Help file and get angry as I jump from one place to another and wish better examples were offered - some also being offered more usefully in clips themselves.

So it is that I had a go, and then others had a much better go, at extracting lyrics and titles from music files. One then not only produced a few RegEx lines that extracted lyrics in the correct order but also made a good estimate each time at producing a verse structure. How the hell that was done, when the lyrics follow the music in a continuous line, I do not know, and for all the staring at the equation (is it an equation?) I cannot tell what is doing what.

The problem is this. Any music composed file has several outputs. One is synthesised music, based on the notes and timing, and that can also be exported as an audio file (for its kind of editing) and thus sing along to it from an audio CD. The composed file can also be exported to a sheet music file as a .PDF. It shows the music and lyrics underneath - it is like a print out but to a file, as with any .PDF. But another output is to a generic .XML file (and compressed variants) that is indeed XML - looks like HTML. As I understand it, HTML has now become a subset of XML despite being earlier. So this means tags and data within them, tags that mean something to all music composers with XML input, and thus interpretation and positioning of the data. I understand that many a word processor and spreadsheet has 'gone over' to XML.

Now take a Music made .PDF file and you can extract out the music. Some software will do this: mine is free for one page of sheet music only (ofen well enough). But if you extract out the lyrics, they come by first syllable each verse, second syllable each verse and so on, until you have a jumble of syllables all of which need reordering. I'm sure a clip can take the number of verses and reorder the syllables to produce the words. But it seemed to me easier to use the coding in the .XML file to identify the lyrics and guide the order of output, and produce the items in order. Furthermore with the main title on the top line, it was possible even for me to get that to become the filename for saving the result.

The experts in the clip help group simply took over the task, and I must use the best code made, but it isn't mine. Here it is, nevertheless, and obviously the good clip writer makes a clip as short as possible. I still see the need to add an OK or Cancel box because of the need to have an .XML file to work on before the clip is executed. Here, then, is beyond the limit of my ability to think, and a good exercise in knowing my limits. However, I know that I should be able to have a more comprehensive link for my burn list to become a playlist and I shall be working on that alone for my satisfaction, also knowing that someone else could produce it in minutes. After all, there is the brilliance of software writers themselves.

By the way, I cannot read music.

Monday 12 November 2012

Remembrance and a Note about Welby

Personally I'm ambiguous about Remembrance Day: like many do think, it strikes me as carrying a State-militarism approval subtext as well as remembering the fallen and a desire for peace. I was pleased that the service taker today made reference with disapproval of the campaign to 'morally' force people to wear poppies - I noticed "Carrotty" on BBC Radio 4 saying there is surely an obligation to support... Well, not when it gets muddied by ideologies and interests. My friend told me how it has become corporate: at his place of work he was 'required' to wear a poppy and he refused, discovering the management did not know much about its origins or meanings. It has simply there become corporate presentation policy and best show. I do not wear a poppy either - neither red, white nor purple.

The church has always had BBC Radio 4 on at 11 am and its Remembrance Sunday two minute silence. Since we set up the sound system, I now do this. Well, I nearly didn't. I set my new projecting alarm clock and it didn't go off. Normally I arrive at the church at 10 am to set up but here I looked at the celing and it was projecting 10:10. So I fell out of bed, did bathroom quickies, into clothes, grabbed keys, out the door and in the car, and arrived 10:30 (a 15 min. drive at best). "Don't panic," I said, going in - "Don't panic?" said one who also usually arrives early. Nothing had been done except the hymn board. No one seems to be able to do it (not that they had the CDs). All was set up and the CDs went on, and I listened in to the wired-up DAB radio. As the last part of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man played and ended I put the final words of "Carrotty" through the main speakers straight to the silence which, actually, was a passenger aeroplane flying overheard. The Last Post played and then I faded the broadcast out for the service taker to light the chalice and begin. And so all the hymns and meditational music were played including, to finish, Eric Bogle's The Green Fields of France - a long listen but everyone did.

After shopping, eating and C-Span on BBC Parliament I dozed off, and dreamt of the matriarch coming round the curtain with the preacher in view, and to the empty room I said, "I'm so sorry..." as if I had fallen asleep on the job. So to the computer.


I have resisted putting anything in this blog directly about Justin Welby. I don't know him even if I have read plenty second hand. He seems evangelical that has taken on some Catholicism including social teachings and listens enough to include potential changes of mind. He seems to carry a lot of goodwill, including from liberals, though also the other candidates were either weak or had become unavailable by age or health. If the General Synod fails to put women into the episcopate he will have a bad start because the disappointment and infighting will be considerable, and also this is the best moment to do it ahead of further sectarianism by dogma. This chap may be managerial and finance orientated, and may have the wisdom to know what he cannot change. What he cannot do is change how people think, that the effective leading edge of common thinking now is provided by the likes of Dawkins, Al-Khalili and Cox, plus Derren Brown (Friday - God as a placebo), and that Christianity as an explanation for things is simply dying off. I wonder if (assuming women are equalised) he will make ecumenical moves to Protestant denominations. They are all structurally falling in and have considered again a more 1960s and 1970s view of ecumenism that then failed - necessity means reorganising and perhaps giving up to reabsorption.

Rowan Williams perhaps thought too highly of his own position and capabilities and in his "read the ordinal" Catholic arrogance forgot that his reasoning wasn't everyone else's. This chap may have more humility.

Friday 9 November 2012

A Debate About the New Man

Peter Levite: I want to thank my panel for assembling at such short notice, although all of you but one are at home. We have at various parts of the country Reverend Lesley Tilgate...
Lesley Tilgate: At last you've got my name right.
Peter Levite: ...who lives and ministers near Aldershit; Reverend Jade Stowaway, who lives in our capital city, and a member of SeeSaw; Reverend Rachel Marsovenus, who lives and ministers at Burp; and the unreverend Harry Tick with me in the studio here at Wykkyfish. And it's the announcement that Justin R. Ewing is indeed going to be the next Archbishop of All England in the Church in England which means he will also be a sort of boss of the world Anglican Church.
Lesley Tilgate: It's not a Church. We spent a lot of time defeating the Covenant of the outgoing Archbishop to prove it's not a Church.
Peter Levite: Well let's begin to talk about this chap, a very contemporary chap in that he went to the top school of the country, and like most people who went there, was born to rule. Twenty first century and all that, and it's the religious equivalent of Sir Alec Douglas Home.
Rachel Marsovenus: But it's not his fault he went there. And as an evangelical, he must be one of the people.
Lesley Tilgate: I love the Alpha-Omega Course.
Harry Tick: That fundy thing dressed up as questions.
Peter Levite: Oh? So how can you love the Alpha-Omega Course if you don't believe in the resurrection as an historical event?
Lesley Tilgate: I haven't come on here to talk about me or about that.
Peter Levite: I notice you don't answer my question.
Harry Tick: I bet he would 'cause he went to that hand waving church which markets, copyrights and sells that course you've just mentioned.
Rachel Marsovenus: I don't see how you can disbelieve in the resurrection as historical and actual when you've been and get visited.
Peter Levite: What, visited by your local vicar?
Rachel Marsovenus: By the Holy Spirit, who also must have been involved in selecting this man.
Peter Levite: Wasn't exactly a straightforward process. It ended in having a giant tombola and people buying tickets.
Lesley Tilgate: That was my exclusive.
Peter Levite: But the rest of the candidates weren't that much more appealing. Er, well, they're old news now so let's look at him and who he is.
Lesley Tilgate: It's really important that he had a proper job, like I did.
Rachel Marsovenus: I did some teaching; I value the written word.
Peter Levite: Ah but he was an oil executive and busy in Africa. Lot's of stories of capitalist oil and exploitation of the locals in Africa.
Jade Stowaway: Significantly he was asked about what makes an ethical businessman when he came to the big career change, almost like his real conversion moment.
Peter Levite: Tell us the story.
Jade Stowaway: He and his wife Sue Ellen were taking a walk with Tarsus Parking, a very evangelical minister, going from the Diocese of Southfork to Damascus in the Home Counties. And it says here, in chapter 6 verse 35 of his biography by Mark Matthew, 'Tarsus asked him, "Pray, what makes an ethical oil executive?" And he replied, "Not sleeping with my secretary and not fiddling the accounts." Sue Ellen gave one of her characteristic grins of agreement. And Tarsus replied, "No, in your case it needs more than this. You must get ordained. And so it was that, as we shall see, Justin R. Ewing became deaconed as Rev. Justin R. Ewing, and served a curacy.'
Rachel Marsovenus: The real conversion experience is not when you become a Christian, and say you are, but when something else happens on top.
Peter Levite: Which has been a meteoric rise through the ranks, so that he  has been Bishop of the North East for only a short time, since New Testament Wrong occupied the post.
Lesley Tilgate: That's good because he can remember his former job, which is important when doing this job to be able to remember the job you did before this one.
Peter Levite: Remember, listeners, if you want to comment, send in your emails and texts. So what are his challenges?
Jade Stowaway: We hope we get two women bishops at least, my campaign is Yes Two Women Bishops, and then that job is done for him because we will then get four and the sky is the limit, or at least the House of Bishops. Then there is whether he can relaunch the Covenant or something like it.
Lesley Tilgate: Doubt it. It was Rowan Tree's great Catholic model of orthodoxy of purple. As an evangelical, J. R. will be more into a fellowship of believers. It won't matter if the Churches are more confederal.
Jade Stowaway: It might. He still might pursue reconciliation ministry among them. But what might matter more is if the hard right here try to organise a Church within a Church, to be like their own unofficial diocese or third province via an international oversight of bishops to have a women free zone when it comes to authority. He might tackle them just as structurally.
Harry Tick: Yes, they haven't gone away. And a certain Anthony Wedgwood Bigg has just left the dioces of Morse as a suffragan.
Peter Levite: You've said little, Harry Tick.
Harry Tick: I'm listening.
Lesley Tilgate: What he will be interested in is dysfunctional dioceses, how the money works, organising - and that's about the Church in England.
Rachel Marsovenus: If he could get more people excited, more bums off their seats.
Harry Tick: But if the far right organise their own money, their own training, their own preferred college, their own bishops and loyalties, then he will have to tackle the money issue.
Jade Stowaway: He does though represent the rise of the general evangelical within the Church in England. And he was getting into attacking loan sharks and youth unemployment in the North East.
Lesley Tilgate: I can live with that.
Harry Tick: But this is it. We are talking about the sectarian direction of a national Church. The North East was once a place for theologians and lefties, and they found an abrasive one last time who couldn't even decide on what name to use; this time they've had a capitalist and not a theologian at all. The sheer poverty of the competition allowed him to be projected fast, and he wouldn't have been chosen if there were more substantial figures or had been young or well enough. But the sheer fact is that for most people this news is no news, his elevation is an irrelevance. He represents little other indeed than a requirement to manage the institution and make it more practical, rational and solvent.
Lesley Tilgate: Unlike your little Church of shrinkage, tiny congregations, a collapsing centre...
Harry Tick: And there are grey areas and compromises but people can say what they believe rather than have strategies of deviation and survival that encourage dishonesty.
Lesley Tilgate: Well we can try to build some of that into the national Church, to give it spaces for people to be different, the Spirit moving it to new ideas, new places, culturally connected.
Rachel Marsovenus: No we need the Spirit filled revival, not like his Unitarians but like the Vineyard and Pentecostals. We need that experience and then you get the numbers.
Harry Tick: Spiritual entertainment.
Rachel Marsovenus: No it's not.
Harry Tick: It has a limited market: only so many to move from church to church.
Jade Stowaway: All of which proves that I occupy the centre, on the SeeSaw.
Harry Tick: Where the cut comes. It depends - if the Conservative Evangelicals stay, if the charismatics grow, you become the centre, and divided increasingly between your evangelical tendency and your open tendency, as to who you can live with the most. If the far right evangelicals organise themselves, effectively break away, should the new Archbishop even kick them out, then you will be to the right, with consequences I might say for those on the left.
Lesley Tilgate: They don't do doctrinal trials any more.
Harry Tick: There are ways and means; there are always ways and means.
Peter Levite: Final thought: he's not pro-gay, is he. You know, elitism, hierarchy, organisation, not into gay equality.
Lesley Tilgate: It's bad but we have to persuade.
Rachel Marsovenus: I am pleased.
Jade Stowaway: I'm probably changing my mind.
Lesley Tilgate: It depends what weight he gives to the wider Anglican Churches around the world. Rowan was more pro-gay but forced to be anti for the wider purpose of things; this new chap has no baggage at least and might surprise us.
Peter Levite: So a really final thought: how might he surprise us more?
Lesley Tilgate: Well, if he is managerial, and evangelical, he might look the other way from this Archbishop to the non-conformists undergoing structural rapid decline, and facilitate how they could come back on board - Methodists who can believe in threefold ministry, even the URC that doesn't.
Harry Tick: That's right. After women can be bishops, the older, traditional Catholicism is sidelined and therefore the other ecumenism can happen, and after going local the sheer decline and absence of purpose of these other historical denominations means they can come back in.
Peter Levite: Goodness me. Paul from Scunthorpe has emailed in and said that we've just had a reasonably sensible discussion but he still didn't understand it or what relevance it has got.
Keeley Sunshine Superwoman: The thing is, Peter, none of any of that explains anything. When I tell you the weather, like it will be sunny tomorrow but cold, there is the whole chaos of weather bubbling up under shifting parameters within the climactic system. It generates itself and it explains itself. One of your contributors said she doesn't believe in something supernatural, but the whole of that is supernatural and a different way of explaining anything. It is like visitations and interventions and wholly unscientific to how we explain anything today. So just how relevant is any new Archbishop?
Peter Levite: And I was going to ask you about the weather.
Keeley Sunshine Superwoman: I told you: cold and sunny.
Lesley Tilgate: I am trying to do without all the interventionist stuff.
Harry Tick: You can't; your religion is based on it. The history of ideas is the history of removing interventions and visitations. You cannot generate history by pumping up experience, you cannot make reality through text; religion needs to become a form of oversight and ethical expression compatible with explanations of reality.
Lesley Tilgate: We can still tell stories.
Jade Stowaway: We can still make ethical comments from those stories.
Rachel Marsovenus: Those stories can be regulative, setting definitions and limits.
Harry Tick: Why?
Peter Levite: News!

Tuesday 6 November 2012

A Far-Off Sermon

Peter Levite: So that was 'Man in the Middle' with Maurice Gibb doing most singing, but he's not the man in the middle any more is he, in fact there's only one on his own!
Phil Comfort-Soft: Only you could say it like that, Peter.
Peter Levite: So what is on your programme this afternoon, Phil?
Phil Comfort-Soft: Same as yours. Keep it local.
Peter Levite: Ah but I don't always, like this interview to end today's programme is one I'd die for. How about that? I live my life for interviews like this one coming up.
Phil Comfort-Soft: Don't be too nasty, Peter. Be soft and pleasant, like me. And, go on the great public of Wykkyfish, and beyond, who have so many opinions and can't get off those phones, send him all those emails and texts.
Peter Levite: Lesley Bloke, so good to have you with us again.
Lesley Tilgate: For once and for all, my name is Lesley Tilgate. Why are you laughing? What religious insights do you want this time?
Peter Levite: Yours, just yours.
Lesley Tilgate: As I understand it, you are a local radio and TV presenter in Wykkyfish, which is hundreds of miles to the north of where I am. I've put you on to Jade Stowaway, 180 miles from you, nearer, and she's got lots of comment, or closer still is Rachel Marsovenus, you know, who lives in the town of Burp, maybe 80 miles from you. So what do you want from me?
Peter Levite: About your sermon.
Lesley Tilgate: My sermon? What for Sunday just gone? Given to about twenty people in a church just south of Aldershit?
Peter Levite: You published it on the Internet.
Lesley Tilgate: So, I also publish what we have for dinner on Facebook.
Peter Levite: All Saints Day Sermon, your er Jesus came to change the world.
Lesley Tilgate: Go on.
Peter Levite: You say: "Saints are you and me" and "we are the means through which Christ changes the world."
Lesley Tilgate: We are.
Peter Levite: You believe that?
Lesley Tilgate: Obviously. I said it.
Peter Levite: So, working for others, "the church exists to bring forward, to bring into existence the Kingdom of God. The place where Love, Joy, Peace exist."
Lesley Tilgate: Yeah.
Peter Levite: So you get to the reading. You have to preach the gospel don't you. "Lazarus had been dead for four days. Jesus could have come sooner, but he didn’t." You say that's an 'as if', an experience of grief.
Lesley Tilgate: uhh. It's an 'if only' experience of grief.
Peter Levite: Stay with me. Then you say, like present experience, "She is talking about the past, but Jesus is very much in the present. I believe that the resurrection isn’t a historical event on Easter Sunday, it is something within us, we are an Easter people." How can you say that?
Lesley Tilgate: Because we are the means through which.
Peter Levite: But "the resurrection isn't a historical event on Easter Sunday" is not preaching the gospel.
Lesley Tilgate: I'm not preaching that gospel.
Peter Levite: I bet you wouldn't say that on Easter Day.
Lesley Tilgate: Well look on the Internet and you'll see come Easter Day.
Peter Levite: And then you go on to say, "And so Jesus came to the tomb, the place of death and called out: LAZARUS, COME OUT! And so 'The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."'" But you leave that as it is.
Lesley Tilgate: What about it?
Peter Levite: Lovely. The switchboard is lighting up. Well, you don't say that Lazarus didn't come back to life. The implication is, if Jesus did not come back to life after his death, then Lazarus did not come back to life. But you dodge that one.
Lesley Tilgate: I'm preaching the gospel.
Peter Levite: Gosh, this is easy. You deliberately didn't say what you implied! You do not believe Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It isn't historical. You are saying one thing about Easter to leave this unsaid but implied. You are doing a sleight of hand.
Lesley Tilgate: Oh, what a master of content analysis. You want to ring me, hundreds of miles away, about a sermon of no wide significance...
Peter Levite: You've already said that point. My producer tells me that in the hubub we actually have Rachel Marsovenus on the line. Listening to my little programme?
Rachel Marsovenus: I've just been rung up and grabbed it online. I want to say that it happened, that it happened like it said, and in every detail like it says, and it should be believed. In Easter that man left his grave and walked again.
Peter Levite: I'm enjoying this. That's not what she says. Nor is it what Jade Stowaway on this programme said about your essays and since. That 'postliberal' thing. And then this Theo Hobson who says of this retiring Archbishop, that it's not historical but ritualistic.
Rachel Marsovenus: That was my tutors and college. Look, you can't have the experience I have without thinking it must be true, though I sometimes have to go to some independent Vineyard churches to get the experience.
Peter Levite: And Jesus arriving late and Lazarus living again.
Rachel Marsovenus: Miracles happen today you know.
Peter Levite: What dead people living?
Rachel Marsovenus: Him that presents that satellite TV channel, he healed someone and was told afterwards he actually was dead.
Peter Levite: You believe that then?
Lesley Tilgate: Can I go now?
Peter Levite: No.
Rachel Marsovenus: Yes.
Peter Levite: I can see why she is an Anglican minister, because she either does believe it or wants to believe it. You don't.
Rachel Marsovenus: Who's she?
Lesley Tilgate: You. But he means me. I believe that we are Easter people. Anyway, I am as much Anglican if not more in my outlook.
Rachel Marsovenus: Yes that does worry me at times.
Peter Levite: But answer this then: how is anyone not an Easter person?
Lesley Tilgate: If you don't believe it.
Peter Levite: You don't believe it.
Lesley Tilgate: I do believe it. I believe we are Easter people.
Peter Levite: So how am I not an Easter person?
Lesley Tilgate: You don't believe it.
Peter Levite: So what do I have to do to believe it?
Rachel Marsovenus: Ooh this is getting evangelical!
Lesley Tilgate: You want to do the work of Christ to bring in the Kingdom.
Peter Levite: Like his teachings, then. When he was alive.
Rachel Marsovenus: Teachings, life, death, resurrection.
Lesley Tilgate: Yes, all of those.
Peter Levite: But you don't believe in his resurrection. You said so.
Lesley Tilgate: No I didn't.
Peter Levite: I heard it. I read it out.
Lesley Tilgate: I said it was not historical. I believe I'm supported by a good number of theologians on this point.
Rachel Marsovenus: Some people think he was raised spiritually. It's not enough.
Peter Levite: Oh no, she's saying it didn't happen, didn't happen in spirit, body or any other way. Ghostbusters think ghosts are historical - they come into our time.
Lesley Tilgate: So does the gospel, but the gospel itself isn't of our time.
Peter Levite: Neither are ghosts. But on a certain day, a ghost is seen.
Lesley Tilgate: It's nothing to do with ghosts. It is to do with reading texts and responding from experience.
Peter Levite: Basically I put it to you that you are just a secular person and this is all words.
Lesley Tilgate: Of course it is words. We are language-using biological beings who encounter one another socially and we can be driven by our religious outlook.
Adam Tilgate [overheard]: I'd write that down.
Peter Levite: Not what you think, is it Rachel?
Rachel Marsovenus: It's not about thinking.
Peter Levite: George - help me out!
Linda Oasis: I'm on today. George Hudson is still filming about railways.
Peter Levite: Do think she is wriggling, Linda?
Linda Oasis: Chaos theory, Peter. I believe in that. That's both the weather and you, and it will be changable tomorrow.
Peter Levite: Phil Comfort-Soft is up next, and listeners can enjoy his programme with the washing machine on. Bye to my correspondents.
Lesley Tilgate: Cretin.
Rachel Marsovenus: Exciting.
Phil Comfort-Soft: Wasn't quite the three-nil you expected Peter.
Peter Levite: Paul from Scunthorpe has emailed in saying, 'She's clearly on the make but does anyone give a...'
Phil Comfort-Soft: Aldershit. I've been there. News now!

Saturday 3 November 2012

Jade Counts Bishops

Peter Levite: Once again my little radio programme here looks into the latest in our marginal religious affairs - well, my producer tells me I must. Now normally I like to speak to our friend down south Lesley Tailgate, sorry Tilgate, the former Lesley Bloke but she told me to contact someone else instead. I think she said she was visiting some parishioners in Sodoff, or some place like that, but she did recommend that I talk to someone in a different camp from her, Jade Stowaway. You have been on my programme before.
Jade Stowaway: There were lots of people in debate.
Peter Levite: They're a bit more difficult to set up when you've got budget cuts. One to one is cheap, and less money to performing rights if we can string these out and play fewer records. Right, so you are a member of a pressure group that is calling for women to be made bishops in the coming Synod.
Jade Stowaway: The group is now called SeeSaw, finely balanced around what we think is the evangelical centre, and SeeSaw is saying Yes Two Women Bishops.
Peter Levite: Why?
Jade Stowaway: It's a way to solve the dilemma of those opposed. If we just have two, then there's plenty of space for traditionalists not to have any. We have a transition period.
Peter Levite: I thought it meant, like, Yes TO Women Bishops, like More Four, on television, is, oh, well, More of Four. No that doesn't work does it.
Jade Stowaway: That'll be next. Let's Go Four More. Do you get it? Let's go for more, see. So once they get used to a couple, we might make it six.
Peter Levite: Where does this end?
Jade Stowaway: Twenty Twenty Vision. Four hundred. All of them and some more.
Peter Levite: My researchers tell me that some say you're not much of an evangelical these days. Like they say you're into women's things and you're not exactly on the SeeSaw with the gay inclusion thing. Like as soon as you had women priests, as soon as you get women bishops, the Church in England inevitably liberalises and you are one good example of this.
Jade Stowaway: What is biblical about continuing oppression?
Peter Levite: Don't ask me, I don't know anything about it, but listeners can email in, or send a text to tell me your opinions on yet another subject none of you know anything about. But you used to turn up with your mate Rachel Marsovenus, and she is said to hobnob with all these people who don't even recognise her as being a minister.
Jade Stowaway:  Hey, sometimes when I go to diocesan wide events, there will be people who will literally not speak to me, or do look at me like I am a piece of crap. Rachel, er, she's still up north somewhere now. I used to know her when she had an engagement with postliberal theology, but she is a bit more scared than me with engaging in so-called liberal issues and so has gone off into a world of charismatic experience I think. But the last I heard she does street pastoring like I do.
Peter Levite: What hanging about at night time in the open air.
Jade Stowaway: I don't like what you are insinuating there.
Peter Levite: Not incinerating anything this bonfire season.
Jade Stowaway: A bit more useful than hanging about waiting for custom.
Peter Levite: Like clergy? Hah! Everyone has their uses.
Jade Stowaway: Lesley Tilgate told me about you.
Peter Levite: What did Lesley Tilgate tell about me?
Jade Stowaway: That you are some local news presenter who artificially gets aggressive with interviewees as if that is the right thing to do, and sometimes you shout.
Peter Levite: What's postliberal theology?
Jade Stowaway: It's the theology not of history but of text, that the text is its own guidepost as to the definition of being Christian and the encounter with what is in the text. So it is at one remove, but it is regulative. But for some people it's not objective enough.
Peter Levite: But if you, and women, are more liberal, then you are presumably not post liberal, which is like after you were liberal and you'd be less.
Jade Stowaway: Well thank you for at least an intelligent discussion.
Peter Levite: Rather it's that I'm clueless about a word you used.
Jade Stowaway: Well, that sort of postliberal is not very post liberal, more after liberal. It is against individualism and experience, but then women have so much experience to shape theology, and of course my debating friend up north is generating her own charismatic experience because of the implications behind postliberal theology - that it is not historical. It does not rely on history.
Peter Levite: I thought you evangelicals did. It all happened. Like virgins having babies and people saying I was dead a few days ago.
Jade Stowaway: Are you all right now?
Peter Levite: Not me!
Jade Stowaway: I think experience is the way to do theology.
Peter Levite: So that's liberal then.
Jade Stowaway: Well it's a process.
Peter Levite: Is that a technical term or is process not liberal?
Jade Stowaway: Process is associated with liberal.
Peter Levite: See, we also used to have a chap on called Harry Tick, and he said you all just make it up according to what outcome you want. This theology is just discredited. It is not thought that is like done by a scientist, or a historian, or social stuff, where the thought can contradict what you want: you just make it all up.
Jade Stowaway: Well, it's an adventure according to where people are informed by traditions but critical of them when they have been experienced as oppressive.
Peter Levite: So your SeeSaw group, are they also including gay people as they experience themselves?
Jade Stowaway: Er, no, not really. SeeSaw isn't primarily about experience.
Peter Levite: Well that rather undermines what you've been saying.
Jade Stowaway: I'm not saying what they've been saying.
Peter Levite: So what do you think then?
Jade Stowaway: I'm sort of changing my mind, or have been.
Peter Levite: So that would be a liberal thing would it, changing your mind?
Jade Stowaway: Well, a woman thing. Well, yeah.
Peter Levite: George Hudson is out filming somewhere so the weather is from Linda Oasis. Linda, have you eaten yet?
Linda Oasis: Oh you cheeky presenter; is your tie straight today?
Peter Levite: I'm on the radio. Where are you?
Linda Oasis: I'm in a Polish cafe, Peter, in Whitby, having a sandwich with Keeley Sunshine Superwoman, my colleague. So yes I have. And it will be Keeley-like today, if a little cold.
Jade Stowaway: Hilda of Whitby; what a woman.
Peter Levite: Is she one of your minister colleagues? Is she...
Jade Stowaway: No, in the past; before my time, Peter.
Linda Oasis: Even before yours, Peter.
Peter Levite: Well if I can't talk to her it was very pleasant talking to you, Jade, and see we have women doing the weather. You were a lot more pleasant than that Lesley Bloke. She's so rude to me. Familiarity breeds contempt, eh?
Jade Stowaway: I'd be interested in your listener reactions.
Peter Levite: Now come on, don't be too optimistic. That's just our appearance of contact: drivel by the unwashed ignorant bucketload. Talk to you again?
Jade Stowaway: Possibly. Don't forget - Yes Two Women Bishops!
Peter Levite: Paul from Scunthorpe has emailed in saying, 'Yes to all that but does anyone give a...' Now come on and watch your language, people.