or you’d cry!
or you’d cry!
What has happened is that the amazingly well-organised shenanigans of the LGBTI+ people appear to have triumphed yet again, because most of us go on quietly trying to live true Anglican lives and don’t have any agendas, apart from trying to do God’s will.
The vote in Synod yesterday says it all. 242 members voted to support the Report, including all but one (he made a mistake!) of the 44 bishops. They were the ones who’d been listening to the people—all of you, not just those who belong to some campaign or brigade or other. The sort of humble person who used to be known as the Man (or woman) on the Clapham omnibus.
106 of the Laity also voted to accept the Report. Of the 184 people who voted against accepting the report, one was the muddled bishop and 100 were the clergy.
If it had been a straight forward vote the Report would have been accepted but because it was done in this convoluted way the House of Clergy could claim a victory of sorts.
I read a blog the other day about those who used to participate in the church in good faith. They, too, have suffered greatly by no longer feeling comfortable in a church where they worshipped for years, and are angry and disappointed by the continuous onslaught on the church’s definition of marriage. Why, asked the blogger, are our voices not heard?
My husband could tell you why. Loud noise is usually damaging and for the last few years it has severely damaged the church.
Since I moved to live in Wales I have had little opinion of Welsh bishops. When they don’t get their own way, they join the noisiest crowd and bang on until all the true Anglicans have left and there is no more opposition.
But these English bishops seem different. No duplicity; no mendacity.
Ed Shaw is a member of synod and a trustee of Living Out, a charity that exists to support same-sex-attracted Christians who have chosen to remain celibate. He and others like him are relieved that the bishops have upheld what they say is the biblical position on marriage.
“I think the Church of England has carefully listened,” he said. “I think the Church has also come to the settled view of what Christians have always believed down the centuries and what most Christians believe around the world.”
Well said, Ed Shaw. I hope you’re right.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if it suddenly went very quiet and we could again hope to hear that still small voice.
On Sunday morning I decided to give up blogging. The night before I had seen the former Bishop of Worcester using the word betrayed about people who are Gay or Lesbian Christians. He and 13 other retired bishops had responded to a report by current bishops to Synod on the subject of, of course, Same Sex Marriage.
Everything I read seems to point to a terrible lack of truth and honesty at the very core of the Anglican church. Why should I bother to blog? Who needs that amount of grief at my age?
Then several things happened.
First of all, I woke up to a church service on my husband’s ancient, distorted clock radio, droning out a hymn. At which point I burst into tears. It was a hymn I used to love, ‘I cannot tell,’ to the tune Danny Boy—a tear jerker at the best of times—and reminded me of how much I miss the hymns in church along with so much else.
So I found it on YouTube! And while I listened, these words, in particular, struck me.
‘I cannot tell how he will win the nations, how he will claim his earthly heritage, how satisfy the needs and aspirations of east and west, of sinner and of sage.’
But this I know, His will will be done.
So I dried my eyes, read the service of Matins and then I listened to a sermon. http://www.transformingminds.im
And what a sermon. Reverend Jules Gomes preaching, for 25 minutes, on, believe it not, Discipline and Punishment. Honestly! In the 21st century! No wonder his Bishop bullied him out of the church! He’s the bishop that cut the Devil out of baptismal services. If only the Devil could be got rid of so easily.
The next thing was an e mail from my son in Dubai sending me a link to the retired bishops’ letter. He thought it bizarre and was looking forward to my blog on the subject. This was followed by another similar e mail from a clerical friend in Cardiff. He is always encouraging although he attends one of the churches which is sticking to Anglican truths—and thriving, needless-to-say—despite all that Llandaff has thrown at it.
Finally, the one and only husband spoke up. What he would really like is for all supporters of SSM to be totally ignored, on the grounds that the noise they make is out of all proportion to their size and importance.
Since his life’s work was involved with noise – anything from bumblebees and snoring to submarines and Concorde – he is very aware of the damage noise can do. His other complaint was that there is too much dodgy data around the subject. I may not be an academic scientist but even I can spot dodgy data when I see it. Take this, Oasis report, “In the Name of Love”, which claims to prove that churches cause Gays to commit suicide. It cites two bits of evidence but omits a third which proves the opposite.
The letter from the 14 ex-bishops doesn’t contain any data at all, or if it does I haven’t found it among all its verbiage. Take these sentences.
‘‘Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice. Our experience would lead us to doubt whether there was an expectation around that canons and doctrinal statements would be changed within any reasonable timescale, and that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes, but you might not have had to spend as much time explaining why if those other voices had been allowed to come through more clearly.’
Authentic seems to be the important word here and although I thought I knew what it meant I looked it up to check. Genuine. Real. True. Honest. Faithful. Trustworthy.
So what exactly are the bishops saying? That the genuine, honest voices of lesbian and gay people have not been allowed to be heard? Does that mean that all we’ve heard so far is not true or faithful. Is all the evidence of gay power already in churches in some way not authentic?
In December, the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, attended the premiere of a film called All One in Christ. He said then, that the film was powerful because it was a film of personal testimony, with people bold enough to speak of their complicated, sometimes rejecting, experience of the Church. “It’s a film which demands attention,” he assured us. Well it’s certainly getting attention at the moment. It’s on the big screen at Cineworld, Llandudno Junction tomorrow night, Thursday 16 February 2017, at 8.00 pm. Tickets cost £6.50.
One of the original 14 signatories of that letter is The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, formerly Bishop of Hulme, and now a local Mission Area Leader. He should certainly know whether the film is authentic or not, since he has a starring role in it, along with +Gregory’s Chaplain to LGBT people. Surely they can’t believe this film is unreal or dishonest or untrustworthy nor that their views are not being sufficiently broadcast. This is one of the cinemas that wouldn’t screen the Church’s Christmas message in 2015 because it involved people reciting the Lord’s Prayer, so showing All One in Christ is, presumably, a real breakthrough.
As I write, the lunch time news is showing the scene outside Church House, where late this afternoon Synod will debate, yet again, Same Sex Marriage in church. Protestors are gathered outside with placards, some of which show the word Hate. Christians, which is what Anglicans try to be, can’t hate. It’s against our religion.
What a year so far. Forget Trump. It’s the stuff happening in the Anglican church which is truly jaw dropping.
First it was Glasgow and the Islamic denial of Christ’s divinity in St Mary’s Cathedral. Then there was Gloucester, where an exhibition in the cathedral put Christianity on a par with all religions and none and which was opened by an Islamic call to prayer and included the following.
The event will really be an exciting event full of firsts for the world of faith, we are assured. Oh, goody.
Then there was Llandaff. Clerical ladies dancing liturgically around a tacky, tissue paper bonfire, invoking the names of Old Testament women and cavorting in the Cathedral Close with sparklers. Lastly, ordinands in a highly respected theological college, Wescott House in Cambridge, thought it would be a great jape to hold a service with the liturgy written in Victorian Queer slang.
I’m prepared to think the Glasgow incident was an unfortunate mistake which wouldn’t have been blown up in the media if the Provost had had the sense to issue an immediate apology.
The queer liturgy in Cambridge is neither clever nor funny, nor was it a mistake by the students involved; it was carefully planned and thought out.
What the hell – I use that word advisedly – is going on? What on earth were they thinking. Were they thinking?
MAECymru stands for Merched a’r Eglwys (women and the church), also ‘Ministry and Equality” and Mae Cymru means “It’s Wales”. What Humpty Dumpty would call a portmanteau title.
What’s so sad about the MAE stuff in Llandaff is the insult it is to the committed women clergy, most of those ordained originally 25 years ago, who still behave in the same way, quietly fulfilling their vocations, taking their services using established liturgies, visiting the sick, christening, marrying, burying, with dignity, compassion and reverence and having nothing in common with the LGBT+SSM sisterhood, but too often tarred with the same brush. Those who are unable to support women priests should at least acknowledge that, at the moment, these particular clergy are hoeing a very lonely furrow and have nothing to dance about.
Jesus didn’t need empty gestures to get his message across. No fireworks. No dancing, liturgical or otherwise. No mock bonfires. When He made a fire He cooked fish. He used simple words, so simple that these days they frighten us. We no longer tell things the way they are but the way we would like them to be. We are brilliant at obfuscation, mendacity and gobbledygook. Jesus told it the way it is. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 How could Gloucester happen after reading this?
Is it going to be like this for the rest of the year; dafter, wilder, madder? Or could today’s reading from John 15 make life plainer and simpler for us all.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
This is NOT fake news.
I thought it must be, because it is so weird that it defies belief. I certainly find it unbelievable, but then I do have trouble with a lot of modern life, including, so often, its absence of common sense. But surely it isn’t only the elderly who find this news definitely bizarre.
Here’s the news that is not fake.
That is the advice the British Medical Association has issued to the NHS. Yes, the same NHS which is in the news night after night because it is in, or close to, a state of Crisis. Suddenly, as you frantically cope with chaos and a lack of beds, you are going to have to watch the very words you use. It won’t be so bad if you work in Geriatrics say, although even there I suppose there are quite a lot of people who are ‘mothers’. But it’s going to be very tough on GPs, and Maternity services will be in a state of panic in case they say the wrong thing.
Just imagine the scene, for a moment. There you are, in a Labour ward, concentrating on this precious delivery. The midwife is encouraging you in the age old way. “Come on, Mo….” She stops in panic, the emerging baby forgotten. She was about to say the forbidden word. “Come on, pregnant person……” doesn’t have the same ring about it, does it?
I do not care one iota if a woman wants to think she is a man. If she becomes pregnant and still insists she is a man I shall avoid her. I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings or give offence, but my common sense would be so seriously affronted that I would be worried about what I might blurt out.
Women have babies and become mothers. That is what women do. Men do not have babies. I would have hoped that was perfectly obvious.
What causes me to rant and rage is this determined assault on my native language. If something as powerful and respected as the BMA can ban one of the most emotive and fundamental of all English words what will be banned next. Words like boy and girl are already on their way out in a—to me, terrifying—effort to encourage children just starting school to choose their ‘gender.’ Youngsters, eight to ten year olds, too young to judge for themselves on most things, are being fed hormones to interfere with puberty. This is “1984” and “Brave New World” happening now, with support from bishops and the BBC. And we don’t seem to care.
There is absolutely nothing democratic about any of this. An edict like this begins to smack of the totalitarian state. This directive from the BMA appears to have been issued simply in response to the perceived ‘needs’ of one 20 year old human being. She has been legally defined as male after hormone treatment. (Oh, yes. The Law is in on this.) Now, apparently, he/she has put on hold an operation—for what I can’t imagine—in order to have this baby. I’m pretty sure that must mean she still has the female bits that matter when it comes to having babies. That is simple common sense.
Be warned. Once one person has gone down this route, no matter how much the legal definition of “Male” flies in the face of the bleeding obvious, several others will follow. There will never be enough of these transgender pregnant people to justify banishing some of the most fundamental words in the English language but don’t bank on it. People who seem unable to see beyond their sex and gender agenda are a fiercely powerful lobby.
This is an unhappy follow up on my last post.
In Glasgow’s St Mary’s Cathedral a woman recites from the Quran denying the divinity of Christ during an Epiphany Eucharist.
I’ll pause while you think about that.
In Gloucester Cathedral there is a Multi Faith event in which all religions are welcome to take part, including Witches, Druids and Pagans.
Stop again and have another think about the incomprehensibility of that.
After the Glasgow gaffe, by Kelvin Holdsworth, the Provost, several theologians, beginning with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who knows a bit of which he speaks, commented on the inappropriateness (to put it mildly) of this. In particular, Revd Canon Gavin Ashenden, wrote about this and spoke in a video interview with an American cleric. (YouTube Anglican Unscripted #262) It’s well worth watching. He spoke clearly, thoughtfully and with authority, using words that were simple and direct. No theological jargon; no modern media-speak. He just explained why it was wrong.
Meanwhile, down in Gloucester, one of the facilitators of the multi-faith shenanigans, Revd Ruth Fitter, was interviewed by Gloucester Live. She talked a lot of muddled mindlessness but included one statement that horrified me. An event like this encourages “Christians to embrace all religions rather than spread the gospel in any way.”
To the Church’s shame it is Gavin Ashenden who has been muzzled. Forced to resign as a Chaplain to the Queen, Defender of the Faith, for speaking the truth.
Glasgow seemed not to know, or didn’t think it mattered, that verses from the Quran, which specifically deny the divinity of Christ, were recited during an Epiphany Eucharist.
Now, an Imam has opened an Exhibition in Gloucester Cathedral with an Islamic call to prayer.
This interfaith event included Buddhist chanting, Rasta drumming, and a Pagan rock band, as well as input from Zoroastrians, Druids, Witches, Pagans, and Baha’i. Fine, on neutral ground, but not in a cathedral which has been dedicated to Christianity since the 11th century. The Reverend Ruth Fitter, vicar of St. Paul and Stephen Church, who helped to arrange the event, thought the call to prayer was “absolutely beautiful.”
I long ago reached the stage when, if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry and it’s certainly easy to laugh. One blogger mentioned Ruth Fitter’s pink hair. The incomparable Mrs Proudie, on Archbishop Cramner’s blog had her Archdeacon describe Ms Fitter as a “muddle-headed yoghurt-knitting kumbaya-merchant” hosting “a multi-kulti-fest, where all other faiths are exalted and our own is side-lined.”
Actually, it’s even worse than that. Ms Fitter says she thinks an event like this encourages “Christians to embrace all religions rather than spread the gospel in any way.” That’s not side-lining Christians; it’s putting us right in there with Druids and Pagans and, of course, Witches. In an interview with Gloucestershire Live she tries to explain her own faith.
“I happen to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to dwell with me and save me from my sins. That doesn’t mean I expect others to change their faith or believe wholeheartedly.” That seems a bit wishy-washy woolly to me, and is followed by a gloriously naïve statement. “It does mean, however, that I hope they will offer me the same respect as I seek to offer them.” Given the well documented evidence of the hideous persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East and in many parts of Africa I don’t think her expectations are going to be met any time soon.
As for her final comment—I don’t know what to make of it.
“At the end of the day, we really make God very small if we think he cares about us fighting the corner for Him. Don’t you think He can do that for himself?”
In fact it makes me wonder what on earth ordinands* are taught these days. I’m told that a group of ordinands were recently visiting a church in Cardiff, just to look around, when one woman asked the Vicar, ‘What is this Evensong they keep going on about?”
*My spell-checker doesn’t recognise the word ‘ordinand’ although it knows organogram. Why doesn’t that surprise me?
The Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow seems to have got his knickers in a twist and his bloomers in a bundle with a vengeance. I am appalled to learn of the abuse that has been thrown at him (by Christians?). I’m glad to know that the police were completely supportive — such hatred and intolerance have no place in Scotland, nor anywhere else. The protests continue to rumble on, however, including many thoughtful articles by leading theologians, who give very cogent reasons for their dismay and doubt. Never-the-less, I’m still left puzzled.
After a lot of ‘mulling’ I have come to the conclusion that what probably happened was that the Muslim reader automatically added the last three verses of Surah 19, the verses denying the divinity of Christ, although they did not appear on the printed order of service, because that’s the way she’d learned it and she was not thoroughly aware of the significance. That seems to me the most obvious explanation. In which case, the most common-sense thing would have been for Kelvin Holdsworth to issue an immediate apology. End of story for most people.
Mind you, I still think it was not a good idea to have a reading of the Quran on that occasion. I have been to many services where there have been representatives of several other faiths, some of whom have done readings or have said prayers. But never during a Eucharist service on a special day like Epiphany.
I have now read what Kelvin himself said on his blog, and I have also read all the comments and responses, though that particular page is now closed.
In this blog the Provost tried to justify himself. That’s rarely a good idea. There were also other remarks that I found a bit strange. For one thing he said he is gay. I didn’t know that and I can’t see why I should need to know it; how can that fact be relevant? Another odd thing he said in his comments was that he recites the Nicene Creed without crossing his fingers. Could someone, please, explain what on earth that has to do with anything? And a third thing that worried me—comments about choosing the ‘wrong’ tune for “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning” caused almost as much angst and discussion as the reading from the Quran. Perhaps it’s not just the Provost that’s got his bloomers bundled.
And now for something to raise a smile.
I thought I would rethink the scope of my blog for this year and I was also determined not to whinge about current ecclesiastical and other stupidities. But it’s impossible to avoid them. Universities colluding with the Snowflake generation, inadequate bishops and empty boxes, for a start. Not what I had intended but difficult to ignore. At least the empty boxes blog was inspired by a most respected blogger, Father Hunwicke, who has my own low opinion of ridiculous nonsense inserted into the liturgy.
I spent some time mulling over bishops – I do do a lot of mulling – and had just come to the conclusion that perhaps Martyn Percy had been a bit hard on them with his 95 Theses, when that act of crass stupidity took place in St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow. Not only did a Muslim get to recite a bit of the Quran but some of the verses chosen denied the divinity of Christ. All right, he was a Provost, not a Bishop, but he was in too senior a position to allow something either asinine or worse. If you get the chance, read Revd Dr Gavin Ashenden on the subject, or better still watch him on the video on Ancient Briton’s blog.
And then just as I think it can’t get any worse, and I’m trying very hard to be positive, I read the weekly-on-line information sheet from the diocese of St Asaph.
St Asaph Round-up: Dydd Iau, 12 Ionawr 2017
There were four main items of news and the second one, a notice of a visit of Bishop Matthew Mhagama, of South West Tanganyika, was the sort of thing we have been reading in Church notices any time in the last hundred years. An appeal for help and support for a part of the world still suffering poverty and need. The sort of place we used to send filled boxes to.
However, of the other three notices, two were pretty much what we’ve got to expect up here — sex and sexuality — and the third is incomprehensible.
“Exploring our Boundaries” Not any old boundaries but, you’ve guessed it, our human sexuality ones. Even with the retirement of the Archbishop of Wales in a few days, SSM is still more important than any other aspect of Christianity in St Asaph. Does that mean +Gregory is hoping to step into ++Barry’s shoes? The “Boundaries Day” will include worship – of what isn’t specified — and will have “input from well-known” [and in my opinion, somewhat confused] speaker, Jayne Ozanne.
The next notice naturally continues the theme. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere in this diocese beyond the reach of the LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy. Last month is was film premieres. This month it’s Open Tables. These offer “safe spaces”, natch, “worship and shared stories ………” and whatever other fun and frolic is involved.
The third notice left me utterly mystified.
Enneagram Workshop with Gordon Melvin in Llangollen Friday 13th January at 6pm until lunchtime Sunday 15th.
Price: £150, excluding a variety of accommodation options.
I had to google Enneagram (not to be confused with Organagrams, which relate to Mission areas) to find out what it was, and what it had to do with religion or theology or church. The answer is nothing. It’s a kind of personality test, supposedly to tell you your strengths and weaknesses. In other words all about Moi. You’d do better to save your £150 or give it to Bishop Matthew, or stay home and read the Bible or watch a wild life programme, preferably about penguins.
I do hope Bishop Matthew Mhagama doesn’t see this information or he may decide not to come.
I’ve looked at them from every angle and I still don’t get it. Why does the Church love empty boxes? What is it about empty boxes and the church that I don’t understand? I’ve blogged about them several times (April 9th and Nov 8th ) because they seem to me to symbolise the emptiness at the heart of Anglicanism at the moment. All “fur coat and no knickers” as I have rudely said before.
I thought no one else saw these boxes in the way I do but now, oh joy, I have an ally. And no less an ally than the redoubtable and deeply learned Father John Hunwicke.
In his blog “Father Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment” today, under the title ‘Shoe box games for adults’ he draws our attention to the new rituals designed for services during the Week of Christian Unity which begins on Wednesday, 18th January. I’ll give a flavour of what he has to say.
“This year the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in collaboration with some Ecumenical Partners, has set out quasi-liturgical formulae for use. These forms constitute successful attempts to scale heights of risibilty which have not to my knowledge previously been attempted. This is your real hard-core Guinness-book-of-records rubbish.
“The central ritual involves the moving of stones. But, because carrying real stones might be a bit like hard work for the aged biddies of each sex who are likely to be symbolising their second childhoods by taking part in these events, the “stones” will in fact be shoe boxes covered with packing paper. No, I’m not making this up. Twelve of them. With labels. Labels naming ‘things that divide’. The ‘stones’ will be built up to make a ‘Wall of Division’ which will then be dismantled and formed into a Cross. (What happens if the officiants disagree about the neatest way in which twelve empty shoe-boxes can be arranged into a Cross, and end up in a melee of fisticuffs, is a rubrical detail which these curial nut-cases have not catered for.)”
Isn’t that lovely? And isn’t he right? Surely it’s not our bishops or theologians who believe that moving empty shoeboxes around could possibly do anything for Christian unity. However, I have to admit it was our bishops here in Wales that actually worshipped at an altar made of tatty tinsel boxes. Perhaps the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy could add a note to his 95th Thesis. Forget empty boxes. Reintroduce the practice of filling boxes for the poor and needy. I think most people would find that a much more unifying gesture.