I love curry . . .

There’s nothing like a good takeaway curry on a Friday night for rounding off the week and giving a spicy start to the weekend. I also love reading and knitting and a good straight malt.

And I “love” God. For that reason I think the English word love is one of the weakest, niggardly, most pathetic words in the English language.

However, over in America there’s a Curry that doesn’t love Love and a Love that doesn’t love Curry! Which is awkward because both Curry and Love are Bishops in the Episcopal (i.e. Anglican) church.

Screenshot 2019-01-22 15.46.00.png

“Love” says Bishop Michael Curry

Over here in Britain millions more people now know about the Right Reverend Michael B Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church thanks to the impassioned sermon he preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, all about love. Not at all the sort of sermon we’re used to in your usual society wedding but certainly memorable.

This same Bishop Curry is now at odds with one American bishop – ironically with the name of “love”! The problem is simple. Bishop William Love is the only bishop in the Episcopal Church who believes, deeply and sincerely, that marriage is between a man and a woman. (There may be other bishops who don’t much like SSM but Bishop Love is the only one who is prepared to stand up and be counted.)

Screenshot 2019-01-22 15.47.26.png

Bishop William Love of Albany, USA

Bishop Love cannot support something called resolution BO12, which basically says if you won’t allow same-sex marriages in your diocese nor allow other bishops to come in and oversee them for you then you have to go. So much for good disagreement and embracing diversity.

Type ‘love’ into the thesaurus and you get dozens of synonyms, from ‘affection’ and ‘adoration’ to ‘mad for’ and ‘soft spot’! ‘Lust’ is also included but it’s interesting that the word ‘charity’ doesn’t appear. Perhaps wisely. Charity doesn’t always show itself in the best light these days. There have been too many charity workers who have clearly mistaken lust for love.

The Greeks had six words for genuine love, but Christians are usually happy with three. When we use love, and we don’t just mean “I very much like . . .” we mean eros, romantic love; passionate, over the moon love.

Romantic love is wonderful. Even thinking about it sends shivers up my spine! But, it has its limitations.

Imagine five years down the romantic line and you and your wife have three children. The youngest has a stinking cold, which she has given to you, a stuffed up nose so she can’t breathe and it’s three in the morning. Number one son has an ear infection and is screaming with pain.  Your wife has fallen and sprained her wrist. Half way through a full wash load yesterday evening the washing machine died.

I know, from long experience, that memories of candle light dinners, watching fireworks while drifting along on a boat on the Seine or tumbling abandoned in the hay, will be no help whatsoever in that scenario. If all you’ve got is Eros one or other of you will walk out at first light.

What you need – what we all need all through life – are masses of Agape and Philia.

Agape was a word we used to hear often in church years ago although Bishop Curry didn’t mention it and I never hear it in the church I now attend.

Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. After five years of marriage and three children, don’t forget Eros, but Agape is the love that will get you all through. Marriages thrive on romantic moments but only Agape will get you through the inevitable grim bits.

Then there’s Philia. This describes brotherly love and true friendship and in family life you need a lot of this—shown by loving friends and neighbours who will rally around in a crisis.

However, the addition of Agape and Philia will more than see you through. Because by now your love will have deepened to such an extent that you have compassion and tolerance and generosity which has not only enriched your own lives but those of your friends and neighbours. You are no longer alone living in an exciting erotic bubble.

This is why I thought Bishop Curry’s wedding sermon was inadequate. This is why I don’t trust Jayne Osanne and her Just Love slogan. That’s why I think love is the most inadequate word unless it’s attached to Bishop William Love who is a brave man.

IMG_0240.jpeg

And I just love Milly!

Advertisements

We still live in interesting times.

I more or less gave up blogging last Autumn. I had a little flurry of activity in August when I posted four blogs in quick succession, and a re-post. Then nothing.

Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 14.06.35.png

The first of the August blogs recorded my difficulties in trying to spend some of the £10 million that the Church in Wales was giving to us for evangelism.

This is Allan Coote, a London bus driver, reading the Bible outside St Paul’s Cathedral last summer. But only for half an hour a week. The Dean and Chapter can’t cope with more than that.

 

In the second blog, among other things, I was expressing amused disbelief that the Freemasons had voted to include women—but only if they had first joined as men! The third blog, entitled ‘The Absurdity Goes On’ and posted on the same day, was inspired by a row over a wall plaque in York. It was to honour somebody called Anne Lister who was apparently the first famous English lesbian. The row erupted because the word lesbian did not appear on the plaque for fear of causing offence.

The fourth one, Storm in a Teacup appeared on August 11. It concerned the furore caused by Boris Johnson’s comment that a woman in a burqa looks like a letterbox. Actually he wasn’t completely correct. He meant the niqab – the burqa doesn’t have a slit in it.

Well, it was the silly season. So I decided to enjoy the summer and write again when I felt inspired. I re-posted one more blog – Tommy Tubby Again – on 28thSeptemeber as a tribute to my father. On September 28, 1918 he won the DSO. It was also his 25th birthday. After that nothing inspired me at all.

Three things have brought me back.

The first was checking my blog site for the first time in three months and discovering that people were still reading me. December 21st was the only day when I didn’t have a single visitor. Sometimes, someone obviously settled down to read many blogs one after the other. And when I counted I discovered I have readers far from the boundaries of Wales—in 28 different countries, in fact.

Well, I thought, perhaps I have still got something worth saying.

Secondly, serendipity. Several times in the last couple of weeks I have come across words and phrases, especially in the psalms, that seem to be nudging me to stand up and be counted.

And thirdly, the nudges and winks from my dear friends in Cardiff.

However, to be honest, I have nothing new to say. I still have just three things that I think are of fundamental importance.

The love of God as revealed in the Scriptures

The Anglican Church as it used to be but is no longer

Traditional marriage between a man and woman for the sake of family life which is the bedrock of a civilised society.

So while I’m wondering where to begin I am going to re-post my most read blog by far, from April 9th 2016. If I knew what there was about this particular blog that made it so popular I would do the same thing again and again. I suppose it must strike a chord with all the old Anglicans still sitting listening to meaningless words through empty services.

In any case, I suspect I shan’t be short of subject matter. Welby’s representative in Rome doesn’t believe in the Resurrection. Welby doesn’t want a lorry park in his Kent back yard. Curry is trying to silence Love. I’m sure I’ll find something to say.

Empty boxes, empty gestures, empty words

Screenshot 2016-04-09 11.58.20.png

“You Cubes” in a Welsh Cathedral-November 2014

When you leave something, whether it’s the Front Bench, a job, a marriage or a church, it may seem to onlookers that you have left after a row. When it becomes clear that it was a relatively small straw that broke the camel’s back, it may be thought that you left in a fit of pique, or on a whim, and that you’re too stubborn or too proud to apologise and return.

In fact, in almost every case, the small straw comes along after months, or years. In my case I came to the conclusion that I must sadly cut my ties to the Church of Wales after a couple of years of increasing frustration, irritation and hopelessness. After a Diocesan Conference in October 2014 which had left me feeling utterly disillusioned, the scales began to fall from my eyes the following month. That’s when I became convinced that the C in W was bumbling along a road I didn’t want to take, to a place I didn’t want to go.

Do you remember these boxes? The trendily labelled You Cubes.

For many years, in our village church, we used to fill old shoe boxes—at Christmas, or for Water Aid, or in response to a disaster like an earthquake. Some boxes were filled with baby clothes, others with small toys, games and crayons, and still others with toiletries—toothbrushes and toothpaste, scented soap, face cream and after shave. (In a crisis it’s important to restore self esteem and nothing does that better than a bit of luxury.)

The boxes in these photos are different. They are empty. Covered with shiny paper and all sorts of bits and bobs, they are supposed to tell the story of individual spiritual journeys. They seemed to me to be a perfect illustration of the saying “Fur coat and no knickers;” the complete antithesis of what our Lord Jesus Christ is all about. The more I looked at them the more I felt shock, puzzlement and finally outrage. Could no one, from Bishops, through Archdeacons, down to Area Deans, see the symbolism of the empty boxes, particularly just a few weeks before Christmas? Did no one in a lowly post in a Diocesan office dare say, what many must have thought, “this is a daft idea”?

Matthew 7:9-10 “Or which of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”

These empty boxes summed up what I thought of the Church in Wales. Empty boxes, empty gestures, empty words.

Screenshot 2016-04-09 11.56.18.png

An altar of empty boxes. This says it all.

Get the L out of here.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 17.05.14.png

I’ve always been grateful to God for giving me a sense of humour. It has been my salvation so many times. Recently, I have begun to appreciate even more my sense of the absurd. In fact, I am coming to the conclusion that it is through a sense of the absurd that God is going to show us the dire straits we’ve got ourselves into. Some people have made the fatal error of taking themselves and their perceived needs too seriously. What is worse, they have done infinite damage by convincing those in places of power and influence that they must also have due respect for all this nonsense.

Remember when the Archbishop of Canterbury, no less, stood up and assured us that any sort of coupling, between any sort of gender, to create any sort of “family” unit, was as good as any other because that was the way the world is now. Untold studies and statistics have proved that children brought up by a man married to a woman in a long term relationship do better than any other arrangement. That is just a simple truth but very few people thought the Archbishop was being absurd.

Here are two pieces of news that have helped to convince me of God’s sense of the absurd.

Stonewall, the gay rights organisation, explain why they exist.

“We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone. We believe we’re stronger united, so we partner with organisations that help us create real change for the better. We have laid deep foundations across Britain – in some of our greatest institutions – so our communities can continue to find ways to flourish, and individuals can reach their full potential. We’re here to support those who can’t yet be themselves.”

Unfortunately, yesterday’s Times explained how the organisation has managed to upset the Lesbians.

“Lesbians have accused Stonewall, the gay rights organisation, of erasing biological women by saying that ‘male-bodied persons with penises’ can be lesbians.
The Lesbian Rights Alliance (LRA) has sent an open letter to Stonewall demanding that it take the L out of LGBTQ because it makes ‘lesbians invisible and erases lesbians through its promotion of the Trans Agenda’.
“The 135 signatories say that Stonewall supports the absurd idea that male-bodied persons with penises can be lesbians’.”

Well, it is absurd. But there’s so much that’s absurd about LGBTQAI brigade statements. Those 7 letters could have another 64 initials added to them to include the 71 different genders that are supposed to exist at the moment. Once one gender, such as the Lesbians, break away that will be the start of chaos. I foresee a time when there will  be a ‘Pride’ march every week to cater for every category. There’ll be a Bi-gender march, not to be confused with the Non-Binary march, and a Trans-sexual female march which is not the same as a Trans-gender female march. In addition, Agenders, and Androgynes appear to be quite separate from the Androgynous, to say nothing of the Two-spirits or the simply Other.

What worries me is that this nonsense isn’t limited to the 2% of the population who claim to belong to one or other of the 71 different genders. If you don’t believe me look at this from yesterday’s Guardian. Even the most respectable and dignified of organisations can’t seem to see the absurdity of what they are doing.

Screen Shot 2018-08-02 at 13.37.32.png

‘“A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason,” says new guidance issued by the Freemasons’ governing body, the United Grand Lodge of England. Those who have transitioned from female to male can also apply, the guidance makes clear.’

How can any journalist write that and not question the logic? Why would anyone who had loaded his body with hormones and had his penis chopped off, in order to become a woman want to join a men only organisation. Doesn’t that strike you as really, truly mad?

At Last. Common Sense from a Bishop!

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 10.14.16.png

The Bishop of David’s celebrates St David’s Day

Every year on St David’s Day, the Bishop of St David’s sends a message to members of the Senedd. [For overseas readers: the Senedd is the Welsh Assembly of politicians who make decisions (frequently daft) about matters specific to Wales.] Here, in italics, is the text of the Bishop’s message.

“Like St David, we live in difficult times”.

Too right, particularly in the Church in Wales. As Bishop Joanne will know only too well, out of a population of 2.1 million fewer than 30,000 attend church regularly.

“In Wales, we are facing an uncertain future over which even our politicians in the Senedd and local government have a limited amount of control.”

Perhaps it’s no bad thing the Welsh politicians have limited control.  I’m worried about their interference in family life and education. Too often it seems politicians, not teachers, decide what children must learn. Even more worrying, parents find they have little say when they are unhappy about some adverse effect on an individual child. It seems impossible to ‘opt out’ any more. 

“As ever, it is the voices of suspicion and bigotry that shout the loudest.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 14.11.35.png

At times like these, it is important that we hold onto our core Welsh values of community, common sense and honesty.”

 At last, a bishop calling for common sense—a value that I have elevated in frequent years almost into a virtue. Surely honesty should be a core value everywhere and always?  Community! That’s the best bit. I sincerely hope the Bishop intends to do everything in her power to rescue the whole community of the Church in Wales from further decline.

“On his death bed, St David called his community to a renewed commitment to “the little things”.

Those words remind me of the poem, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

Among those ‘little’ things he tells us: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.

Very little things but what a difference if we all lived by them every single day.

“We may not be able to have much control over Westminster politics or the mainstream media but St David reminds us that the control we can exercise over our own words and actions are vital. Whether we are politicians, journalists or members of the public, it is our words and actions that form the Wales of today and tomorrow.”

Only ‘politicians, journalists or members of the public…’ ? What about the words and actions of Church of Wales clergy? Or has the bishop omitted the clergy because she knows so many of them don’t count for much these days.

 “On this St David’s day, let us renew our commitment to honesty, kindness and generosity and, at least on this side of Offa’s dyke, nurture communities of welcome and hope.”  

+ Joanna Tyddewi

Welcome and hope. Oh, yes, please. Do everything you can, Bishop Joanne, to persuade your fellow bishops, not only in Wales, but throughout the UK, to offer a welcome and give hope to all true Anglicans, even those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Post Script

Only as I was previewing this blog before posting did I notice something that should have been staring me in the face. This message was to celebrate St David’s Day—St David, our Patron Saint, brought Christianity to Wales. Joanna Pemberthy is his 128th successor. But there is no mention of God, no mention of religion; I suppose I should be glad there is no mention of sex. This could have been written by a worthy social worker or a politician seeking re-election. Just out of interest I checked on the Bishop of Llandaff’s last Christmas message. In over 500 words this was her only sentence with a reference to Christianity. “As Christians recall how God gave His own son, born as a baby and sharing in human experience, we are invited to remember the power of gifts.” I wonder what they’ll find to talk about at Easter? Cadbury’s eggs, perhaps.

Weasel Words and Nonsense

Once upon a time, long ago when I was young, Bishops were wise men of learning and Vicars and Rectors knew a fair bit of Theology. Even when they weren’t quite so clever nor so well educated they still had an abundance of common sense. If you went to them with a problem they could talk it through with you to a sensible solution.

Obviously times change, standards change, ideas change, but is it only my age that makes me think bishops these days have gone bonkers?

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 16.30.48.png

“Celtic” bishops vainly hoping for Unity with the Vatican

Certainly, when I saw the above photo it seemed to me that the Welsh bishops—all six of them—had, collectively, lost their marbles. They had all toddled off to Rome with the excuse that they were there to aid Christian Unity. This jolly was despite the fact they all support—fairly agressively—women priests, women bishops, and same sex marriage. They must be stupidly naive if they thought there was any chance that Rome would adopt their views just like that.

Perhaps they got the idea from +Gregory, the bishop up here in St Asaph. He had a jolly to Ireland recently in the interest of Christian Unity with various Orthodox bishops, none of whom will have anything to do with women priests or same sex marriage. (These bishops should not be confused with the great Russian and Eastern Orthodox churches, which is presumably why the meeting was held in Dublin.)

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 16.32.12.png

The Bishop of St Asaph is in Unity with them but not with me.

Of course, any initiative which can bring about Christian Unity must be a good thing but the so-called Celtic bishops had a fat chance of achieving anything with the Vatican. I can’t help feeling they could have spent their time much more effectively, though not so exotically, closer to home.

Where is all this “good disagreement” we hear so much about? Where are the forums where differing views can be discussed and debated quietly and intelligently? Not in Synod, I’m afraid. Where is the “diversity” the clergy are bending over backwards to embrace. I wouldn’t be welcome by the Vicar in my “parish” church because I can’t support SSM. Worse than that,  as an advocate for marriage between a man and a woman, preferably for life, the inference is that I must be homophobic. So far, the vaunted advantages and benefits of Mission Areas haven’t provided even one church in my Area which will give me a “safe, sacred space” where I can feel at home.

A year ago—was it really only 12 months ago? It seems like another age—the Bishop of St. Asaph appointed an LGBT chaplain. At the time, when asked what she would say to people who couldn’t support her, the Revd Hildreth-Osborn replied: “To those who aren’t supportive, I’d say, ‘If you’re judging people, you have no time to love them!”

If you take the time to think about those words you realise they’re a typical ‘soundbite.’ Sound good: mean nothing. What does she think Jesus meant when He said, to the woman taken in adultery, for example. (John:8) over, “Go, and sin no more”?He realised she had done something wrong, had told her so, but had not stopped loving her.

The ridiculous phrase, “Radical new Christian inclusion” used by Paul Baynes, Bishop of Liverpool, in his endorsement of the Jayne Ozanne Foundation, seems to mean kicking out the Gospel of Jesus while supporting “Just love for all”, whatever that means.

Jayne Ozane says she believes people can believe what they like.  Good, In introducing her new Foundation she also said that people like me have “A simplistic and ill-informed view of the Bible.” That’s exactly what she has.

Sadly, the Celtic Bishops would rather jaunt off to Rome than potter round their dioceses trying to establish any sort of unity with those of us who have been pushed out of our churches in the name of new radical LGBTQUIA+ inclusion.

 

 

The Time is Now

 

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 17.02.17.png

The Holy Family by Murillo

Just before Christmas my son and his family moved in to live with us, so, instead of making New Year resolutions I’ve been meditating on the world in which my two granddaughters, aged four and six, will be growing up. They were not entirely happy thoughts; there is too much in the media that I find confusing and alien.

Curled up in an ancient armchair reading Beatrix Potter to the granddaughters is a timeless experience although I’m surprised Potter’s books haven’t been banned yet. “The Tale of Two Bad Mice” involves a story of theft and vandalism and there is surely too much cruelty to animals in the “Tale of Peter Rabbit” to be tolerated by the snowflake generation. Sitting on the floor playing with Elsa and Anna from “Frozen” isn’t quite so nostalgic; these “dolls” are more like dolly birds, with their sexy outlines and enormous Disney eyes. Fortunately, the elder one actually prefers Lego, the younger is animal mad and both seem healthily ignorant of sex and gender.

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 17.06.50.png

Elsa from Frozen

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 17.09.15.png

Peter Rabbit and his family

In such an idyllic family scene what can there be to worry me?

I am worried because the two pillars of my world are the two things that are now so under threat that they could well disappear before the girls reach adulthood. Those two fundamental ‘pillars’ are the Anglican church and the Family which have formed the bedrock on which I have built my life.

Way back in November, 2014 the Welsh bishops held a conference in Llandudno, called ‘The Time is Now’ to announce the great reformation that would result in 2020 Vision. (2020 Vision is intended to celebrate the 100 years since the Church in Wales broke away from the Church of England.) It was designed to ‘revitalise churches’ and provide ‘a place where ministry and mission would be done in new and creative ways.’

We can all see what these ‘new and creative ways’ are doing to our revitalised churches, can’t we?  Parishes have been abolished (though I doubt many parishioners know that) and the newly created Mission Areas are driving to depression and despair the few valiant souls who are trying desperately to keep open their moribund churches.

At the time of the conference three years ago I already had grave doubts about it. Why Llandudno? Nearby St Asaph and Bangor both have cathedrals on sites dedicated to Christianity since the sixth century. However, this conference was to be held in a theatre. Not just any theatre but an aggressively secular concrete box with nothing remotely spiritual about it. And in keeping with the surroundings an altar was built out of empty cardboard boxes. Honestly! I couldn’t make it up.

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 16.53.37.png

Altar of Empty Boxes

However, the time is truly Now if we want to save the two fundamental institutions of church and family. There are many strands woven together that have caused this disaster but at its heart are hubris, hypocrisy, LGBT+ and the fuss made about Same Sex Marriage.

Christian Marriage has to be between a man and a woman.

I believe marriage serves a purpose—nothing less than the continuation of the human race. Creating and nurturing a new human being is not only the most important thing we do but is the only completely, utterly creative thing we do.

Very early on, homo sapiens discovered that the best way to care for the next generation was within a close knit family unit, with a mother and a father who were prepared to commit to each other and their children until death—not divorce—divided them.

That is what marriage is. That is what it is for. That is its purpose.

Since we are fallen, finite human beings we make a mess of it over and over again, but that is no reason to abandon the ideal. I could list endless studies that prove that children brought up by a father and a mother who are married and who stay married to each other are given the best possible start in life. Nothing else does the job as well.

Unfortunately, even the Archbishop of Canterbury seems happy to accept second best.

During a visit to Christian leaders in Moscow he warned that churches must learn to live with a world in which families are no longer led only by married couples.

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 17.17.43.png

Archbishop Welby meets His Holiness Kirill in Moscow on  21st November 2017

He went on to say, ‘in the last 40 years there has been a great shift in the understanding and the reality of family life’.

There has certainly been a great shift in the reality of family life and a universal acceptance of what my generation quaintly called ‘living in sin.’ Which wouldn’t matter except for the fact that only one in three children born to co-habitating parents remains in a stable family until the age of 12, compared to three out of four children born to married parents. That’s quite a significant difference, no matter how good a job single mums and assorted step parents are doing.

            He ended up by saying ‘The family, however it is experienced, is the place where we can be at our strongest and most secure.’ True, but why tag it on the end of his speech, without emphasising its crucial importance. I think he was cowardly not to  make it crystal clear that Christian marriage is the best option.

If the Archbishop won’t stand up for marriage and all the benefits that accrue from it, including to the state, then we, us, you and me, will have to.

The Time is is NOW.

IMG_3358.jpg

How to entertain two small girls on a cold wet Saturday afternoon. Nor are these boxes empty. They have been beautified in order to keep special treasures in them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Weasel Words — Clarification and Obfuscation

 

IMG_3286.jpg

This is Milly. Full name Milly Molly Mandy – a long name for a long dog. She is a sausage dog but she is NOT for slicing.

Since the beginning of July, when my one and only husband almost popped his clogs, my life has changed drastically, and by no means for the worse. In some ways it’s been definitely for the better. I no longer listen to the Today programme, for example.

Therefore, I didn’t hear the Reverend Richard Frith, Bishop of Hereford, explaining that his Diocesan Synod had been merely seeking clarification, with their motion regarding same sex marriage blessings.

Here is that motion in full.

“That this Synod request the House of Bishops to commend an Order of Prayer and Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage for use by ministers in exercise of their discretion under Canon B4, being a form of service neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter, together with guidance that no parish should be obliged to host, nor minister conduct, such a service.”

Following the Equal Marriage Act of 2013 the Church of England issued the following statement in February 2014. I suppose it took them a long time because the words had to be very carefully chosen.

“The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships……….The College made clear on 27 January that, just as the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage remains the same, so its pastoral and liturgical practice also remains unchanged.” (My emphasis.)

I read that and was immediately transported back twenty or thirty years. In those days I frequently found myself asking one or other of my children, “Exactly what part of the word NO do you not understand?”

But this is the Church of England and Sex that we’re talking about so, of course, there are weasel words. This is the sentence missing from the pastoral statement above:

“The House did not wish, however, to interfere with the clergy’s pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances.”

Is it the word ‘informal’ that’s causing the bishop’s confusion?

Informal: not according to the prescribed, official or customary manner; irregular; casual; relaxed; easy going. The Church of England and the Church in Wales are certainly irregular these days, but not very relaxed or easy going if you can’t follow them down their road.

It’s interesting that +Richard is seeking “clarification” because he’s quite good at obfuscation himself. I suspect, from the clever wording about his marital status that there might be a divorce in there somewhere. I thought, when I first read about the synod motion that this was yet another attempt to push the boundaries, then I read Psephizo’s blog of October 24th about salami slicing and growing a beard. Brilliant confirmation! And it’s happening everywhere you look.

Can Hereford change the Church on sexuality?

Letter to Archbishop Justin Welby

Letter to the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Copies to:- the Diocesan Bishops of Swansea and Brecon, Bangor, St Asaph, Monmouth, St Davids and Bishop Designate of Llandaff.

Your Grace,
I see that you have written to the GAFCON Archbishops to tell them that you ‘do not consider the appointment of a “Missionary Bishop” to be necessary.’
Of course, it shouldn’t be necessary and it would be a great shame if the Church in England, where it all began, should be seen to be in need of support from outside. However, I think a Missionary Bishop here in Wales might actually ensure the survival of the Church in Wales for a few more years, or even in the long term.

May I tell you a little about myself, where I come from and where I am at the moment, because I think I speak for many in the Principality?
I was baptized into the Anglican church in September, 1937 and have been a lifelong Anglican. My mother read her Bible daily and encouraged me to be confirmed and to explore my faith by reading the Bible and attending Bible Study groups.
I am not a Traditionalist. I supported the ordination of women originally, and have been fortunate enough to know many of those first women priests. They wanted to serve their God and genuinely believed that they had been called to do so. They were not feminists and they had no hidden feminist agenda.

You make it plain what the situation is in the Church of England when you say, “I want to reiterate that there are no changes in the liturgy, the situation or in the rules regarding human sexuality in the Church of England.” Having listened on-line to Dr Jeffrey John preaching in Liverpool Cathedral I’m not sure that is absolutely true.

In any case I live in Wales. Here we do things differently.

You say in your letter: ‘I would like to remind you of the 1988 Lambeth Conference resolution number 72 on episcopal responsibilities and diocesan boundaries. This resolution reaffirms the historical position of respect for diocesan boundaries and the authority of bishops within these boundaries.’

There you have my problem in a nutshell. The bishop of my diocese encouraged the vicar of my village church to enter into a civil partnership and then made her his LGBTQI+ Chaplain. Since then they have pursued a policy to encourage and exult gay rights with lectures, films, and special services. I believe firmly and sincerely in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, preferably for life. That puts me out of the reach of the ‘patience, humility or gentleness’ you hope will be shown to people who believe different “truths.” The attitude towards me is “like it or lump it.”

Marriage: one man and one woman, devoting themselves to each other and to any children they may have. Close knit, stable families of three and even four generations, have a strength and breadth of wisdom and vision that enable the individuals in that family to withstand the inevitable troubles and tragedies of life. It also gives a family the courage to stand up for truth and honesty.
Obviously, same sex relationships are not the marriages described in the Bible. As far as I can see Shared Conversations have not worked and never can work. There has to be another way.

With the end of parishes and the establishment of Mission Areas there are now many ways of offering alternative church services to people of different persuasions. Surely one church among the nine or so in my Mission Area could be devoted to people like me. All we want is a simple service, which follows the prayer book, where there is no re-interpretation of the Bible for the sake of secular trends or political correctness, and where responding to the needs of the poor is more important than sex.

My current bishop is unlikely to let this happen but a missionary bishop might, and that would make my life incomparably richer.

I remain, Your Grace, most sincerely and faithfully, albeit unwillingly,
An Anglican Misfit.

“Create a wilderness and call it peace.” Tacitus (adapted)

I was very sad to learn of the death of Bishop David Thomas. I felt I had a true friend in him. I never had the privilege of meeting him but I knew he read this blog and enjoyed it. He gave me great encouragement to carry on even when things seem hopeless. Thanks to his support I believe my battle for Christian marriage is not yet over.

In his paper ‘A Noble Task‘ Bishop David Thomas reflected on his experience of ministry as Provincial Assistant Bishop and how this might change if the episcopate in Wales were opened to women.

Screenshot 2017-05-20 11.19.57.png

Bishop David Thomas

“People sometimes ask me how I imagine my ministry as PAB might change in the event of women being admitted to the episcopate in the Church in Wales. The only honest answer I can give is that it would not change; it would be over.”

The Anglican Communion, which includes the Church in Wales, still officially believes that Marriage is between one man (a male human being with XY chromosomes) and one woman (a female human being with XX chromosomes.) I’m sorry to go into so much detail but these days it is all too easy to give quite the wrong impression.

However, some interesting comments were made about my last blog. I thought I was describing a simple solution for Mission Area Leaders to provide a church where people with distinct views could be accommodated, even those who believe that Same Sex unions can not be truly a “Marriage”. But it has been pointed out to me that Anglican Bishops are all powerful. What a Bishop wants, (no matter how it’s wrapped up in weasel words) is what their people get.

It is all too clear what the Bishops here in Wales want. It’s what we’ve been getting for the last 17 years. It’s the bishops’ fault that, when Bishop David Thomas retired from his noble task, he was not replaced. It’s the bishops who decide what we are going to go on getting in the church in Wales as long as it lasts.

Anglicans in Cardiff have been pleading for years to have what they call ‘the swamp’ drained. It isn’t just Cardiff; it’s all of Wales. We have six big frogs in very little ponds and the power of a bishopric has gone to their heads. They are going to lead the entire Anglican Community into a world where the Bible has been reinterpreted and Jesus is regarded as a bumbling social worker of doubtful gender.

Look at the figures.

There are an estimated 84 million Anglicans in the world, most of whom, give or take a couple of million, believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

There were 53 million people in England at the last count, of whom around one million are Anglicans. Wales has a population of 3 million, few of whom are Anglicans. England has 43 Diocesan bishops of whom two are women. Here in Wales we have six diocesan bishops of whom 2 are women. We also have 2 chaplains specifically for LGBT+ people.

Throughout Britain 1.7% of people consider themselves Lesbian, Gay. Bi-sexual or Transgender. Assuming those proportions are true for Wales, just under 500 people come into that category.

I have no idea how many  of that 500 are Anglicans but there must be far fewer than those who believe marriage to be between a man and a woman. Do you think the bishops would appoint a Chaplain just for us?

I fear not. Tolerant liberals usually brand people like me as bigoted and homophobic. Since heterosexual marriage is still the official doctrine of the Anglican Communion, at least we’re not hypocrites.

There’s no need for Jonathan Pryke. MALs have the answers.

Screenshot 2017-05-09 21.42.46.png

A Church with everything one needs. An altar, pews and an atmosphere of sacred stillness

We don’t need Bishops parachuted in from Africa to sort out the Anglican Church in Britain. We don’t even need Jonathan Pryke. We already have MALs!

As the Archbishops told us after ‘that’ vote in Synod,

“The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.”

Who could possibly object to that? As one of the excluded I certainly wouldn’t.

“We need to work together” the Archbishops said “ – not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone – to move forward with confidence.”

We can. We really can. The Mission Area Leaders are already in place and primed to do the job. I have been studying their qualifications and the Area structures. (see my blog of October 18th, last year.) To be an MAL you have to be exceptionally able with just the right qualities to bring

“about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity” and “a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church.”

One of the things the Re-organisation—20:20 Vision or whatever it’s called—has done is abolish Parishes. I haven’t yet met a single churchgoer who thinks that is actually a good idea but the Early Christians weren’t organised into parishes and look what they started. Mission Area Leaders now have a unique opportunity to re-organise their areas in such a way that all the different needs of the present Anglican Church here in Britain can live together in Godly Love and give up all this nonsense about good disagreement. That is clearly not working and is never going to work, given it involves people who insist on not just thinking but believing and feeling and yelling as well.

A better world could be achieved very simply. The structures are already in place.

Screenshot 2017-05-09 20.53.31.png

Blueprint for ending disagreement

All you need to make this initiative work are a minimum of four churches in a Mission Area to serve four different congregations. If you look closely on the left of the above diagram you will see that they are already in place. The first group, (Church St A) are obviously those who are still worshipping in their local ‘parish’ church, either because they love it the way it is, or through tradition and loyalty. And, of course, they will be the most difficult for the MALs to cope with because they have been Faithful and they will NOT want to be moved.

That leaves three other main groups, who have already left the church. These people will be much more accommodating because, after years in the wilderness, they will be only too thankful to have a church to go to that believes what they believe. So Church St B will become St AC (to accommodate Anglo-Catholics) and church St C will become Church St E for the Evangelicals.

Finally, there is the last group, Church of St D, to which I belong. We are the easiest of all to provide for. We accept women priests. We can even cope with women bishops if they’re not too stridently feminist. Our sticking point, the red line that is being crossed over and over again, is our simple belief that Christian Marriage is between one man and one woman.

That is really all we want, although the list of things we do not want is quite lengthy. We want a bog standard Anglican service, lead with respect and dignity, and—when it’s a Eucharist—with solemnity.

Screenshot 2017-05-09 20.51.00.png

Not necessary in Church St D

We don’t want fancy dressed vegetables, rainbow flags, dancing round paper fires, walls of cardboard bricks, altars made of tatty boxes, or arts and crafts with yogurt pots and sticky paper, all of which have featured in modern churches recently. And positively no Imans and no Koran readings.

The clergy allotted to this sort of church will be overjoyed. Just a prayer book and a bible will be all they will need. They will be able to devote the time saved to preparing a thoughtful, theologically based sermon.

It will make life so much simpler for the Mission Area Leaders, too. This bit of re-organisation should be a doddle since they’ve already got a blue print. All they will have to do is find four different sorts of clergy, for the different strands of Anglicanism required. There may have to be a bit of juggling once the system has been in place for a while. Some churches may be more popular than others and may need a bigger building, for example.

Here in Wales, Welsh language Anglican churches would probably also be most welcome. In the St Asaph Diocese, and possibly in others, the LGBTQ+ Chaplain may well choose to serve a predominantly Gay congregation. Of course, it does mean that the Bishops have got to play fair, too. Much as they may want SSM despite Lambeth 1:10 (1998) they will have to recognise that those congregations that can’t believe in SSM are neither homophobic nor bigoted.

Screenshot 2017-05-09 20.54.29.png

Empty boxes looking for a home

The great benefit of this arrangement is that it would do away with disagreement—good or bad—in the churches themselves. We could stop wasting time listening to people with whom we cannot possibly agree. Instead we could go to church knowing exactly what to expect and then, when we returned to our villages, or communities, Christians, of whatever shape and form could get on happily with doing God’s work at the local level.

Of course, since all congregations are made up of human beings of the fallen, finite variety there will always be some who will complain that their specific needs aren’t met. Well, that’s something the MALs will have to wrestle with, because, once these new, belief-specific churches are up and running, there won’t be much else for them to do.

Go for it, MALs.