Thinking Anglicans Contributions: Early 2007

January 2007

..I did ask Bishop Wright (NTW) ... not to rush into print. But maybe the train (driven by others?) had already left the station.
Who rushed into print? This Reform and others Covenant [quotations are from a defence of the Reform and friends' based Covenant for the Church of England] did.

..CCE shows that large numbers of evangelical Anglicans have had enough of dodgy bishops and their own evangelical tendency
They mean that dodgy bishops have evangelical dodgy ones? Or the actual evangelical identity. Let's see...

..NTW's article, into which documentary evidence exists that Fulcrum claims significant input
Fulcrum is clearly an evangelical tendency, so they are split whichever side of the fence this one bishop jumps.

..If NTW's project to transform the CofE and the Communion was succeeding...
So they are opposed to N T Wright's method too.

..NTW wants to downplay the difficulties of the present situation, and claims it was worse a generation ago. But his argument is from the position of hegemony
Ah, it is anti-establishment, and evanglicals in the establishment have no chance...

..In the Civil Partnership Guidelines from the House of Bishops, evangelical bishops did not speak up for orthodox causes.
So all of them are no good? Do they have to be replaced? Or disciplined perhaps?

..NTW suspects the substance because he does not trust the people and networks linked with it.
He might just be right. So they really do regard N T Wright and other evangelicals as suspicious as well. This is important in order to know where the dividing line has been placed.

..This style of argument belongs [by NTW] to the more tendentious end of sceptical biblical scholarship of the last century which NTW has done much to discredit. We cannot move forward under a continuous hermeneutic of suspicion.
Unfortunately, that biblical scholarship has not gone away; and there are several hermeneutics still quite active.

..[Reform and company was] afraid of potential leaks if we consulted more widely. We have circumstantial evidence about how the leaks happened.
Conspiracies! Enemies!

...CCE is designed to help the Archbishops from the Global South realise the size and strength of the orthodox in England.
So they are involved, like a cavalry (not calvary) waiting behind a green hill far away.

..whether the CofE will belong to the monocultural and revisionist Episcopal Communion, or an orthodox Anglican Communion in which the Africans and Asians play a full part.
Well, it will belong to both, either together or apart. Rather like the next statement admits:

..NTW's project will not deliver the goods. It is not possible to solve these problems by getting agreement on the substance, on one agreed theologically orthodox correct statement.
Then this:

..The common ground for Anglicans can no longer be the liberal consensus. The Global South has made sure of that. That is why TEC is pushing for The Episcopal Communion which at least 12 English Bishops and most of the Scottish ones want to join.
Name them! Anyhow, the Global South has little impact on European Christianity. It exists in its own cultural framework. The Anglican communion is a disparate body of occasional gatherings. The mistake is to try and make more of it than exists. The Church of England has its own development, and is closer to the Scots, Welsh and Americans in its theological arguments, and to those in several other denominations in the Global North, and just a few in the Global South too.

..The corporate world has mechanisms to deal with non performing leaders and more particularly leaders who have become a liability.
It is a pity, perhaps, that the "dodgy bishops" have been held back and been unable to present some of the insights of modern theology, that for too long preaching has been made to sound orthodox while having other meanings for those who can read between the lines. It is time for more clarity all around.

..The moral and spiritual revisionists have declared war on the orthodox. Unless we stand up for the truth
Rather, what has happened is that the Broad Church holding operation has failed given structural changes, and evangelicals are declaring war against liberals and some of their own.

..London's significance for the future of the church
The point about London, as a world city, and with a large growing black set of congregations (some highly supernaturalist and even displaying what a sociologist would identify as magic), is that London is relatively different. It is almost American in that churches provide ethnic and communal focus. European culture evangelicalism is not the success story claimed, nor is it any evidence of divine favour compared with those who minister support, service and healing in a moe closely shared language.

..We believe the best way of keeping the CofE together is if proper provision is made for the Episcopal leadership of the orthodox. If not, the church will begin to disintegrate as in the USA.
It won't because all those that they call dodgy bishops, and liberal priests and, let's not forget them (they seem to assume we do not exist, or are paternalist about us) liberal laity are still around. Who is going to follow Reform's and Anglican Mainstream's agenda? Even some evangelicals are not going to follow their agenda. They say it can't stay together anyway:

..But is there even a common ground of doctrine in the CofE to change? No.
No, and therefore, no matter what these Reform and others want to do, the result will be the same - they will cause the split.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 4 January 2007 at 9:41pm GMT
...There was a lot to comment about, and I re-ordered what Chris Sugden put, especially in his continued distance from N T Wright and "establishment" evangelicals, for comment. His piece of writing, which was intended to clarify, has simply dug the hole even deeper. My mistake was perhaps to give another rather shambolic piece of diatribe more credibility than it is worth. They don't want to save the Church of England, only themselves by their own strained logic, that the best way of keeping the CofE together is to split it.

Friday, 5 January 2007 at 12:18pm GMT
No, if you want to keep people in you give them space to think and reflect. There is a lot of surface appearance in churches, where the preacher looks ever so orthodox on all the headlines and the people listening either say nothing or appear to go along with the role performance in that place. When given space, then it becomes right to investigate and find out and it can be a journey together and, pastorally, at different paces. There is a world of experiences and learning out there, and people who put up a front might like to drop it for a bit of self-honesty and discussion. There is an argument that newness to a religion requires a fast, simple presentation - and I don't subscribe to that myself either because people are searching when they turn up too and there is plenty to fascinate an enquirer. But clearly after some time of even of taking in headlines and the basics, there is the need for beginning depth and internal challenge. If you don't develop the interesting stuff then a believer will come across programmes on TV or a theology book by accident and could crash when what they cherish seems undermined, or they react defensively; better then to develop slowly and well.

Monday, 8 January 2007 at 3:24am GMT
Predictions by Mr Scargill were routinely condemned... subsequently either vindicated or shown to be understatements... Ah Yes, but he was no tactician, and went to extreme methods that played into Thatcher's hands. It was not public opinion that mattered (so much, the miners carried much sympathy) to Thatcher though, it was stocks of coal and police deployment. The foolish tacticians of the moment are the Christian right, liable to lose battle after battle in the public arena, and one reason why they keep trying to eat other, disagreeing with them, Christians

Tuesday, 9 January 2007 at 7:32pm GMT
[ps The main cases where I can think that I would want to treat homosexuals different from heterosexuals would be in providing services, education etc that might be used for facilitating or promoting same-sex sex.] ... (Apollos..)]
Does the legislation require that churches purchase double beds? These could replace the pews. Good idea for the 9:30 am on a Sunday, though, because then worshippers can even arrive early (like the night before). By the way, single beds will also be needed for times of menstruation (Leviticus 15:19-24) and giving a sign of Peace will have to be via semaphore. Although I am heterosexual and married, and all my mixed fabric pyjamas were thrown out years ago (Leviticus 19:19), I still would not be able to take up my bed, because, wearing spectacles, I cannot approach the altar for communion (Leviticus 21:20)

Wednesday, 10 January 2007 at 9:04pm GMT
The religious parts of school assemblies are asking schools to do something many of them find uncomfortable and irrelevant, and the "broadly Christian" basis of them does lead to a kind of unitarian assumption that laurence mentions. There is a kind of the State accepting parents passing the buck of religious involvement to it. RE, locally derived - not part of the National Curriculum - but compulsory, can be justified but not when it is compulsory. I justify it as teaching abstract thought which students have to start to acquire as they get into teenage years; the trouble is so much RE in schools is so bad and lacks progression, so that there is a lot of repetition of what took place even in primary schools. I'm a qualified RE teacher, it is the medium through which I got my teaching qualification, but it is the most awkward and ambiguous subject in the curriculum because it has the shadow of Victorian morality over it, as do assemblies, and illustrates all that is wrong about being British and the appearance of religion. If it was the responsibility of faith communities to teach their faith, and that was all (other than for examined courses), then there might be a bigger role for those communities in providing religious education. Set against that view would be bias - learning untruths about other religions - where schools ought to be better, but there is a great deal unsatisfactory about compulsory RE and I would abolish compulsion.

Friday, 12 January 2007 at 10:34pm GMT
>As a liberal, I believe I have reason to support the Covenant process and hope other liberals will do so.<

It won't work, because if it has the outcome you suggest (opportunities for liberals) then it won't be enough for the Reform, Anglican Mainstream, Global South (selected) wing. If they get what satisfies them, it will not be acceptable to TEC, Wales, Scotland, much of the C of E, New Zealand, South Africa, much of Australia...

I doubt it will be Covenants of Evangelical, Catholic and Liberal, as if the Liberal one is core on to which the others can add. That won't be accepted either.

There'll just be a choice of Covenants, two or three, with the Open Evangelicals in the most difficult position of choosing.

For liberals, the Covenants emerging will also be an opportunity for honesty, to put the creeds clearly as historical background documents along with the 39 Articles, to bring theological findings more to the fore, and to develop a pastoral and serving Church where belief is part of a discussion that follows on from worship. The only other function of a liberal Covenant would be to undermine covenants, that is to enhance the freedom of association.

It only took me half an hour to write such a Covenant, so no worries about rushing.

Friday, 12 January 2007 at 10:19pm GMT
Comments: recent interviews with the PB Voice of Integrity:

I asked whether, as the once-inclusive Archbishop of Canterbury apparently has been, "Now that you're Presiding Bishop, have you felt pressured to moderate your position on homosexuality?" She answered right away, "I think I've been pretty clear about what my position is. That's my position."
Accurate observation and she's quite right and indeed a voice of integrity in the United States. I approve of her words too, from the other interview: ...I think the Episcopal church provides a liturgically familiar kind of setting, but with an openness of perspective that insists that people have to come to their own conclusions. The answers of faith aren't going to be provided for you.

Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 12:33am GMT
[About Churches objecting to new anti-discrimination laws]

I remember a conversation, that went something like:

"You can't come in here."
"Why not?"
"I don't like the colour of your trousers."
"Oh well, that's fair discrimination."

Baffling, really.

Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 1:19pm GMT
I cannot think of how often I've turned up at a church at say 6 pm to find it was on at 4 pm that weekend, and so when there was some doubt I saved my effort. Also Sunday is a day for lying in, and early gatherings don't attract passing traffic or the half-curious. The opinion section in the Guardian yet again has this anti-secularism and let's have Britishness attached to Christianity. No let's not, let all the religions set out their stall on a neutral playing field. By the way, if you think you know what Christianity was like from the earliest days, then this tiny and largely unknown group gives another perspective: I've been putting in quite some effort these last few days helping one of its remaining 300 or so people left in its movement tell of the earliest days of belief in Jesus as Messiah:

Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 12:26am GMT
The scenario works in various ways:

A Covenant is produced that is unacceptable to many, possibly at both ends, and then the process would be to produce others - in other words, leaving is delayed beyond the point where various provinces declare they are out of communion with this and that, and it gets down to parishes all over Anglicanland.

But if TEC leaves, then the Covenant would be unacceptable on the liberal end (surely) but we'd expect TEC to work on its own basis of faith and to reach out to others. They would form their own links and again it would come down to parishes.

It is just possible, but highly unlikely, that a Covenant is purely about processes and manners, and be aceeptable to TEC hanging on and then Akinola and company would be forced to produce their own, and they'd seek their alliances. Some parishes would want that foeign oversight.

One way or another, it sort of ends up in the same place.

The effort with the Anglican communion seems misplaced. In the end the crunch points are what the Churches do, and whether they stay together as provinces or splinter to realign. Whilst Anglicans may splinter, even other denominations may themselves undergo structural changes and attach.

Monday, 15 January 2007 at 1:06am GMT
Funnily enough Sunday the local Anglican church trouped down to the Methodists for its Covenant service, as part of an exchange. They had visited us the previous week. Preaching was exchanged.

The Anglican congrgation can easily add to the Methodist and fit in their church, and vice versa. The Methodist Church faces a final end by about 2050 if it carries on like it is.

Now the Church of England pretty much recognises it fully and completely now, or it will, despite its lack of bishops. American Methodists have bishops but they derive from a priest doing it (he didn't find one in Scotland like TEC did). But the Chairs of Districts can become bishops and no doubt there can be a laying on of hands for all of them that doesn't and does appear to be reordination. Anything is possible when it is wanted.

In the end, that is what all this international stuff boils down to, an comes to what is necessary and unacceptable. The fact is what some regard as necessary others find unacceptable. Then out of that separating the now incompatibles comes opportunities.

British Methodists when separated from the Church of England found opportunities that actually meant further separations. The reasons they did so mainly died away, and they came back gain. Already the decline of traditionalist Anglo-Catholicism has meant more opportunity regarding making something more wanted and therefore possible with Methodists. And the opportunities will be ecumenical.

Monday, 15 January 2007 at 1:20am GMT
>TEC has been hemorrhaging membership, is heretical and apostate. More akin to the Universal Unitarian Fellowship than a Christian church, it needs to go away, wither, and vanish.<

As a matter of information, the Unitarian Universalists have had a small but steady growth in the United States, where it quite well defined in its libralism. It stretches from the historical Unitarian Christianity of Kings Chapel Boston through to its other "rational" position of religious humanism, to other more spiritual and arguably comparably "irrational" positions of Eastern mysticism and neo-Paganism. Some of the churches specialise, and some have groups representing the different positions. The Church is a deposit of American literary Transcendentalism.

Now in terms of the intellectual geography of theological ideals, there is plenty of space for a moderate, thoughtful and critical Christian Church such as TEC can be. There is plenty of space beginning, say, at the Kings Chapel position. Perhaps if it opens up around an appreciation of the diversity of Christianity in the pre-Nicene days, that diversity kept breaking out, that the Reformation had liberal as well as authoritarian directions, and both modernism and postmodernism is an opportunity for breadth, TEC might well occupy this space of tolerance and for human values very well. And so might other Western Anglican Churches too.

Monday, 15 January 2007 at 8:50pm GMT
...My point is that the UUA holds its own and has indeed grown slowly in the contemporary religious climate. It is a minority provision. That is not, though, my main point - rather that it occupies a slot in the American religious landscape and it leaves plenty of space for the Episcopal Church, and a wide space too, where it can express modern and postmodern Christian theology and into some traditional stances, and add to that a range of liturgical practices from the experimental to the evangelical and high. If it wants to overlap with New England Unitarianism it can, and with some of the continuing Anglican sects it can. That's it.

The topic here is TEC, its range, the UUA and the USA religious landscape; the UK is somewhat different. I am though going to buy for myself Dennis Wigmore-Beddoes' Yesterday's Radicals, reprinted in 2003, which is a scene setter and important work for Anglicans and Unitarians in the UK in Victorian times (both Churches inherit many patterns from then) and into Edwardian times, when there was co-operation and why they could never quite merge their efforts.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 1:57am GMT
Well if you look at it, definitions of trinity are rather more complex than simple doctrinal definitions (if they are simple) and Unitarians are sometimes not quite unitarian in implication. So the notion that there is a hard and obvious wall between them is not so. It was not pre-Nicene (and surely they were Christians) and it was not in aspects of the Reformation either. The intellectual geography of theology is rather more continuous.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 2:23pm GMT
The numbers game gets us nowhere but the ability to renew is important.

I've spent many hours over some days achieving (I hope) a smooth account of the Kanai, a Jewish group who starting from about his death to 70 CE believed Jesus (Yehoshua/ Jshua) was the Messiah. It has only 300 adherents left in the whole of Europe. The message it displays has its own importance, a maintenance of the most primitive Jewish Christianity that we too easily forget and which puts into relief the changes from Paul, Greek culture and Roman power. Kanai is still caught between a rock and a hard place, and whose members are recording their tradition.

British denominations at their most successful, that is up to 1913 when by growth they felt their importance and influence, still failed to match the increase in the population. Soon those denominations were hit by actual decline, as well as a loss of optimism from the First World War and, later, the severe decline of middle class involvement and collapse of the Sunday School movement.

We have it predicted that the Methodists and URC are finished by 2050; the British Unitarians are down to a pathetic 5000 now and ought to be finished by 2050 (the age distributions are the same). The C of E is a little better off. However, set against the C of E, the URC and Methodists have no contemporary unique selling point, and could well fold. Oddly, the Unitarians will still have a distinctive position. New recruitment these days into a church tends to be virtually random (some Unitarian chapels have had remarkable turnarounds from near death - York was one), but it is possible to market denominations that occupy a particular space, and this is what I am saying about TEC, can be about the C of E, has been about the UUA and can be about the Unitarians in Britain.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007 at 3:00pm GMT
This Unitarian thing... If you look in the Bible there is no doctrine of the Trinity, and this was noticed by some reformers. It was noticed in Transylvania (Rumania) in the 1500s and a Bishop Francis David (pron. Dah-vid) eventually became Unitarian and so did his King John Sigismund. They were able to because Turkey was nearby. Socinus out of Italy thought David had gone too far, but set up a Socinian Church in Poland. That was crushed by the Jesuits, and Unitarians in Trnaylvania suppressed by Austro-Hungarian power, wiped out in Hungary. It is village Unitarianism now.

In England 2000 ejected CofE Puritan ministers 1662 decided they could rely on the Bible alone for their Calvinism. With their congregations suppressed, there were no Presbyteries. These still parish oriented churches became Arminian and drifted in a liberal direction.

Later ideological capitalistic liberals took up a more denominational form of biblical Unitarianism (miracles, resurrection etc.). This went further than the first named Unitarian chapel set up by ex-Anglican Lindsey who used an Arian version of the BCP 1776. But German criticism and liturgical breadth, that of the parish mentality, was successful in 19C. From this a minority religious humanism grew.

In the USA congregationalists often became Unitarian. The likes of Emerson were ejected as too radical, and a new more humanistic movement grew, which merged back into the Unitarians. Merging with Univesalists in 1961 created a more radical movement than in the UK with a majority religious humanism and latterly neo-Paganism. Kings Chapel Boston; it is a one off "museum" to past Unitarian liturgy and style and retains its Anglican ethos.

Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 3:29pm GMT
>How did it get from Transylvania to the USA? Bram Stoker?<

I remember when Don Cupitt, the Anglican priest, and far more radical than many a Unitarian, had something dismissive to say about Unitarians, and yet was in a Camridge college play as Dracula. Dracula, I thought, should not insult the Transylvanians.

They were entirely separate developments. They didn't even know about each other until the nineteenth century. Central European Unitarianism has two bishops and a catechism, whereas Anglo-American Unitarianism is about being creedless. However, the UUA (as might be imagined) has the money to help develop congregations.

The other place of concentrated Unitarianism and also village based is in the Khasi Hills, India. More jokes vicar? That was from a local rejection of Welsh Calvinists in the area and a chance meeting with an American Unitarian, in the area due to I think an interest in the rationalist Hindu Brahmo Samaj, and later over in the UK Ram Mohan Roy worshipped in Lewins Mead Unitarian Chapel, Bristol. The Hindu monotheist body meets the Unitarian and UU (and more groups) in the International Association for Religious Freedom.

Friday, 19 January 2007 at 12:57am GMT
All it has to do with it is space to occupy in terms of religious provision.

But it has got something else to do with it, means and ways that religious liberalism come about. It is about secularisation and religion, about liberty of thought and religion, about having a place in the market place and appeal, about making sense in this culture.

People say they believe in the Trinity, but if people say what they mean by that today many would horrify their forebears. The Unitarians of that time would be happy with many modern definitions of the Trinity, for example symbolic and social ones, but called it Unitarianism. Over the decades both these groups - the UUA/ Unitarians and Episcopalians have moved to the theological left. Even todays fundies are pansies compared with those of the past.

I'm someone who has read both, and see how they did it, and the differences are fascinating (including in the 1960s and 1970s, but they have both gone in the same direction.

(Once upon a time all Unitarians were trinitarian fundamentalists. But they did not know that then.)

Friday, 19 January 2007 at 1:05am GMT
I tend to provide paintings and drawings as means towards charitable inserts. I once did a cartoon strip of Unitarians about Unitarian issues. It was too controversial when published. People recognised themselves.

Friday, 19 January 2007 at 9:23pm GMT
The issue seems to me to be breadth and boundaries of the Church, and what it does.

The reason I am Anglican rather than Unitarian is one of spirituality and practice, plus my view that from the historical Jesus to the Christ of faith there is a wealth of resource for reflection: notably a sacrificial relationship hopefully inclusive with others around us and a practice that reflects this.

In the 1920s a Free Catholic group arose. It never went anywhere. It was sacraments without creeds. Conversations with a number of Unitarians dismiss it even now as an oddity, and I suppose it was. Plus the position of many Unitarian Christians now is defensive, and it is not my way to be defensive. I wanted people of difference to be togther, and believed that symbolic worship could be developed freely. But the long Puritan shadow was everywhere. I do not leave church services now in frustration in a way I did so often.

My practice-theological position is roughly equivalent to the Daniel Liechty end of postliberalism. It is also slightly Buddhist in practice first and then critically evaluate beliefs from that. That means a practice alongside a theological openness regarding doctrines. There is usefulness in a spiritual path too.

I would hope that TEC is going in this direction (it does not exclude doctrinal belief, it just does not demand it) and would be a beacon for others. However, I do not have a good track record in Churches doing what I fancy, and don't actually expect it.

Friday, 19 January 2007 at 9:41pm GMT
Well 700 is good but tame, hardly likely to make much difference, and then at the other end 701 wants to introduce that Puritan idea of "godly discipline" - those who know their Puritan history recall "godly ministers applying godly discipline" such as stopping people fishing on a Sunday. Now it is about bedtime. 710, the multifaith one, wants to investigate good practice to tell people of other faiths about salvation through Christ alone. I think the word I'm searching for here regarding good practice with that message amongst other faithful people is "the door" - from the inside. Just imagine it, among say my Buddhist friends busy with meditation with such a godly minister arriving telling them something like that. Oh - *good* practice, I see. Send them a postcard.

Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 3:17pm GMT
Sorry. I had to chuckle at the typing error: sunagogues. I could design one, where we can look agog at the sun. I'd ask my recent Kanai(Messianic Jewish - Yehoshua or Jesus is Messiah) friend about the dimensions of such a sunagogue, so it can be of the proper Temple dimensions (she says like just about every mosque ever built).

Monday, 15 January 2007 at 1:37am GMT
As someone who has a high regard for the retired bishop Joack Spong Idon't think it gets us anywhere to have the label renegade passed around.

I remember the former Bishop of Durham David Jenkins on TV in an audience wanting to make it plain how he wanted to distance himself from Jack Spong on the panel, and there had been David Jenkins under fire during his ministry and since writing about being under God in freedom. I just thought, how wrong to play what was the same game.

It is the same game now being played towards TEC, and it is not resolved by trying to isolate some liberals and radicals to then appeal to evangelicals and others as if to appeal to their better theological nature.

There is a chap in a local church who likened my faith and that of others to Saul's and those who aren't yet born again, and yet we are very friendly, keep talking (theologically - would anyway) and I conclude he is sincere and faithful. I more naturally to myself conclude that Jack Spong is faithful and is of great help to many in his analysis of Christianity today and suggesting a reform to the Churches.

I don't think we get anywhere attacking people who agree with us on a particular issue because we disagree with them on another as a tactic to try and win around people who disagree with us on both.

Friday, 19 January 2007 at 8:19pm GMT
Yes, Ford Elms, and my point is that the cut-off point - between those who go the way of the Reform etc type Covenant and excluding TEC on the one hand, and something else in the other more liberal direction - is somewhere probably just to the theological right of you. You are one of those who feels it is right to talk in terms of maintaining doctrine, even the Virgin Birth you included (I just graoned when I saw that in your list), and it is perhaps your section, along with such as N T Wright, who are feeling most pressure from the preparations intended or otherwise towards schism.

My point is broader. As my just delivered book shows (specifically about the affinity between Broad Church Anglicanism and Unitarianism in the 19C) shows, this movement leftwards has a long background. Bishop Spong is just one of the latest. I don't find his approach soulless at all. What I find odd is something like the theology of Rowan Williams (and sticking to his theology for now) in which he pushes language to the limit and lives within the detail to make claims that can't be sustained outside of it. Theologians before him have seen the problem, and the notion that he maintains orthodoxy inside what looks like a bubble is problematic to say the least, and without any of the devices of understanding the bubble as employed by someone like John Milbank. Rowan Williams finds Spong as depressing as you do, and has wondered why he doesn't join the Quakers instead, but I just think there is an honesty about Spong and a more direct relationship between application of religion and contemporary culture and its application to Anglican approaches.

Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 1:56pm GMT
... once again twists logic to turn around an argument. If a person does the harmful deed, then the person is imprisoned not the deed, so these sorts of "love the sinner not the sin" arguments are quite limited.

Once again, it is very simple, we are talking about stable, loving, positive relationships, or intended and can be, not exploitations of sexual advantage and power, or to be biblical (for a moment), allying sex with the idolatry of behaviours that in the end prove rather worthless and disposable. However, faffing around with other people for a bit of fleshly entertainment it is just not that big a deal, whereas threatening people who are homosexual or who have or seek homosexual relationships is a very big deal.

These people, like others, are who they are, contribute to the good, and are part of the stability of society as are all relationships that are about the other person and the self. So, we say, recognition of these relationships is a good thing, including offical, adds to the quality of our society, and should be blessed. Then let these people, like anyone else, enjoy themselves in bed.

Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 3:21am GMT
King Kong theology ...

Can you explain this? One minute it is directed at ... and the previous minute it might have transmitted Unitarianism in Transylvania to the USA.

I can only think King Kong theology beats its chest, climbs up high and makes a display of itself, oppresses women and threatens other people's airspace. Perhaps in the Transylvanian case it means running between the trees (Transylvania is the Land beyond the Trees).

Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 3:28am GMT
I just cannot see the point of the article. In the end, the people to criticise are those who are doing the protesting, not some others with whom we might actually agree. It is instead joining in the current fashion for having a go at the secular, which is a bit easy and a bit of a diversion at a time when the Christian ship is the rocky one.

If the problem is media atheists bashing Christianity, then tell what the alternative is: describe what a more reasonable Christianity is, in terms of belief, from the fundamentalist one.

Monday, 15 January 2007 at 8:38pm GMT
Perhaps if Akinola can be convinced it is a mere jamboree the 120 might not turn up...

Wednesday, 17 January 2007 at 12:51am GMT
>Jeremy Bentham would be most disapproving!<
I'll have a word with him, he's still in his display box.

Yesterday's Radicals chapter two is the Affinity Shown in the Approach to Higher Criticism so I'll see if there is anything relevant.

Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 5:58pm GMT
There is a nice quote with many current overtones regarding pressure for theological conformity and reticence, against which Professor Jowett (with a J) states:

"not to submit to this abominable system of terrorism which prevents the statement of the plainest facts and makes true theology or theological education impossible."

Letter written by Benjamin Jowett to Dean Stanley, reproduced in Wigmore-Beddoes, D. G. (1971, reprinted 2002), Yesterday's Radicals: A Study of the Affinity between Unitarianism and Broad Church Anglicanism in the Nineteenth Century, Library of Ecclesiastical History, Cambridge: James Clarke and Co., 28.

Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 3:06am GMT
Giles Goddard [liberal inclusive Anglican who is writing to unrelated evangelical Andrew Goddard] first:

The Book of Common Prayer was one of those occasions when a large number walked out - 2000 ministers and also lay people too. So whilst it wanted to find a "mean between two extremes", it did not work from the outset. It excluded because it demanded assent and consent to everything in it. It is important, perhaps, to add Baxter to Hooker.

Why do the Methodists and URC also show breadth? Partly because they are both results of mergers and have an inbuilt ecumenism that has softened traditions within. Anglicans, in contrast, have parties, and lost sections in the past. Somehow Anglicanism needs that internal ecumenism - and this dialogue might help.

Why does Giles Goddard in his history of influences ignore ideas and theological developments - those essays that have changed Anglican thought? It is odd that this is ignored from his perspective (not the only time this happens - it's like an unrecognised history).

The institutional question: well Michael Hampson has it better, that the C of E has moved from basically a triad to basically a dyad, and two is a dangerous number. In a complex world, more complexity would be more useful.

The reply makes me think about scripture as regulative, but that intepretation of it is now so wide. Its regulative function is within liturgical use, almost confined to be so. And can this hold? The "are being rejected or undermined" might be past tense in any theology department: it is all problematic.

I wonder what people are doing speaking as if hanging on to a rope when the rope is twirling and threads are coming off. Andrew Goddard writes: "unless this is set in an agreed context of limits to action" - so the outcome is decided before the debate? Hardly 'the truth wherever it may lead', is it? Why is there this lack of confidence? And are "traditional customs" not a connected but different discussion?

I rather see the point of Josh Thomas: whereas Jaw Jaw is better than War War, some are experiencing War already, or are about to in a very serious and nasty fashion. The nature of facing a predicament is always uncomfortable, yet has to be faced. A problem here is that these talkers may find themselves on the same side; neither Goddard has fired the first shot.

Monday, 22 January 2007 at 3:04am GMT
>deploring discrimination and persecution on the ground of sexual orientation (can't remember the exact phrasing of that<

Except when it comes to finding children parents, apparently.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:30am GMT
The background to Giles Fraser's piece is the decline in all the various inspiration theories of the Bible, to the point where the bible stands nakedly as "regulative" for the Christian religion. If something becomes regulative, then in its nakedness is becomes something legal, like how the regulation applies. This notion of being regulative is supposed to happen in a general sense, and should not open itself to line by line legalities.

Whilst the fundies who send in the lawyers maintain more supernatural views of inspiration, it is an evidence of their creakiness among even their own that the lawyers' approach is being used, but we also realise that it is the quest for power that leads to this approach.

Giles Fraser is right, that it is to be rejected. They can do this process for themselves, but leave the rest of us out of it.

Incidentally I do not regard the Bible as regulative in a strong sense or alone, but see it as an inheritance of definitions, and increasingly is part of this division between liturgical practice and reflective belief, the liturgical practice as a pathway and giver of insights as being the more conservative. In a weak sense then it has a regulative element from its liturgical function, but that's it.

Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 3:40pm GMT
>it prefers analysis to solution of problems<

What is the problem? Is it the vast cultural and understanding difference over time, or is that just more analysis?

Solution... Should we perhaps read something else instead/ as well? Or should we carry on, and just explain the various informed views about the readings, possible connections, and let people make of them what they will? Is that a solution? Depends what you want.

Monday, 22 January 2007 at 2:25am GMT
>The man on the street does not give a toss about the "historicity or cultural context of the Gospels", he wants to know how Jesus can make him a better person.<

Really? Do people want a relationship of dependence, how Jesus can make each a better person? Is this what they seek? The whole point about recent theology, even if it is us talking among ourselves (for a time) is because it sees that (some) people might want to be better people, but they want to do it as autonomous people.

This was the whole point about the Secular City [by Harvey Cox, theologian], around which it fashioned some theology (analysis). Oh, and for those who don't like the busy secular city, there are always the types who still ponder ultimate questions. But they ask questions and do not seek dependence.

So the issue is not how Jesus can make them better people, but how Jesus may be a model for people to gain their autonomy and self-worth to become better people, and how that might be served.

And this is why it needs analysis.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 1:56am GMT
Now, ..., you are analysing. Join the analysts. You ask, How do we present alternatives to the prevailing culture? The answer is that we already do.

People who present a dogmatic and usually simplistic view of the Christian story do so along with present day culture, in other words they have a high belief distance from the culture but do it with ease of entry via spiritual entertainment. It has some success with rotating to it frustrated people from other churches and a few new captures.

People who present the Christian story in relationship to how people think today (and have been journeying through the faith) can do this with what has become a more distinctive alternative cultural presentation.

So the evangelical end has cultural similarity on presentation and cultural difference on the message, the liberal end has cultural difference on the presentation and intellectual/ cultural similarity regarding the message (very roughly speaking). The latter relates to religion as myth, and that myth is accessible through more artistic and symbolic representation that needs an alternative culture, just as in distinctive art, whereas the evangelical end with its literalism tends to present it in the otherwise most accessible way possible, as if this alternative universe is normal.

I realise this analysis is open to some criticism, but that is why we analyse.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 3:07pm GMT
It's just a mismatch. Bring back the Nine O'Clock Service (Sheffield). That'll look good.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 1:44am GMT
Has anyone watched those minority channels that get sent cheap programming, one of them being Nicky Gumbel standing up and doing a sermon of sorts to an audience at Holy Trinity Brompton. It is one of the most tedious pieces of TV going. Nutcases like me might watch it, just to see what the alternative universe looks like these days. and some of those in his line of work might think it's all right, but anyone else must just yawn in puzzlement. That's the problem.

On the other hand, writing a letter to the government and talking about people with a strong faith having a basic prejudice within their conscience, when there are children left in care, likening this general matter (?) to avoiding abortion - now that people *can* understand. Or rather they could if it was done in the blunt way the Roman Catholic leadership writes letters these days.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 1:07am GMT
Was that letter [English primates to the government protesting about non-discriminatory regulations, following on from the more direct language of Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor] about the understated unmentionables?

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 12:51am GMT
I must admit, though, that the archbishops' letter is terribly well meaning, like the government is, whereas Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor knows how to bend fingers and pull nails. I agree very much with Graham Ward's last two sentences. The archbishops ought to realise that they do not represent all opinion on this matter, including the before-the-job opinion of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 3:34pm GMT
>Or is it true that liberals are only liberal when you agree with them; anyone who dares to hold a different view or hold different beliefs and values should be treated with the utmost contempt.<

It is not even about beliefs and ideas of *some* Christians, but the reality that people are being discriminated against according to that one section of the population affecting these others - and the wider community, represented in parliament, thinks otherwise.

So it these private institutions cannot provide these services to all, others should.

I'll defend the right of the National Front people to speak to their own and stand for election until what they say has an impact on behaviour that discriminates, and it is the same here. Believe what you like, but the community has been and is coming to the view that there should be no discriminatory impact.

Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 12:21am GMT
Sex is about relationships, erotic contact and release, it is not the equivalent of putting a bulb in a light holder or pushing a plug into a socket in order to turn the power on.

Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 2:21pm GMT
Half-stated by the Anglican archbishops is, nevertheless, full consequence, and fully-stated by the Catholic version, leaves no doubt. So it is time to provide these services properly. These leaders declare their further marginalisation and privatisation.

Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 12:13am GMT
There are incestuous relationships, especially among those who did not grow up together and for whom the usual blocks don't form. And if they have children, things go wrong - ask the Hapsburg Dynasty. These children are an-other, and these affected an-others are a concern of the community. Whether Jehovah's Witnesses (adults only, in full knowledge) are forced to have blood transfusions depends on society's attitude to suicide among the can be healthy: these involve themselves. Other examples are individual cases.

The matter of the Roman Catholic restriction and institutional objection is simple: if it does not believe its agencies can present children for adoption on a non-discriminatory basis, then stop doing it. Roman catholciism can believe what it likes. I suspect, though, a great many individual Catholics agree with the legislation - ask John Reid, and even Ruth Kelly is one of the drivers of this legislation.

The two C of E Archbishops do not represent all Christian views; after all, it was not so long ago, that Rowan Williams himself was inclusive regarding gay people, and he was able to read the Bible then. A great many Christians agree with the former Rowan Williams.

Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 9:52pm GMT
A Convenant that can "be considered and potentially embraced by all" is not one that will satisfy the need for having one in the first place. Producing one that does satisfy that need will mean producing others. The issue will be how not to be pressurised into accepting the one, and also how to embrace an alternative.

Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 10:33pm GMT
Clearly there is a head of steam building on this, and a lot of speculation too (a BBC 2 programme called Newsnight is a bit like this, often living in the future asking "what will happen" as an alternative to analysis and the answer is always "wait and see").

Nevertheless planners need to know the options, and there is quite a possibility of ambush while Rowan Williams carries out his (comment free?) chairing of the disaster. If there is a ganging up, and TEC is shown the door of this over-important Anglican Communion, mixed up with producing a Covenant to exclude TEC and the like minded, followed by an encroachment on its territory, then it will be important for many other Anglican Churches to reject such a Covenant that will in effect be used to support these actions. We can all guess which Churches may well reject it - but most important would be that the Church of England rejects it too. It might be harder to pass through its tricameral Synod than the Chairman thinks, and even if it did that might not be enough to gain acceptance.

Then it would be beneficial if there is, produced by a badly treated TEC, (at least) another Covenant. It probably would not get through the C of E either, but, given the shattered glass everywhere, some bits of the glass might well take up something more suitable. It would give an opportunity at last to recognise that people are important whoever they are, that theology has changed, and that we live in this century and not somewhere back in magical mystery times or of clenched fists with bolts of lightning coming out of the sky.

Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 3:52pm GMT
I don't know where this understanding comes from (...), of how a fundamentalism is produced. Yes Jainism renounces the world, but produces a behaviour that affirms the world. The point is, if everyone practised ahimsa then there would be peace throughout the ecological order as well as throughout humankind.

I wonder what sort of world would this God so affirmed want? Does this God want a world of God-affirming Fordmakers, that ends up burning up resources and producing pollution on every continent, or does this God prefer the last God-ignoring Fordmaker, who, similar to Buddha, preached a way to individual enlightenment that resulted in affirming the world?

We don't affirm our own religion by attacking others. I rather think Christianity is doing well enough in the fundamentalism stakes too.

There are a few houses in this street that ought to be put in order first. It might be an idea to invite the Jains in to offer some advice.

Oh and I rather agree with Giles Fraser, that seeing a reflection of a large section of this society we zap its most obvious member in this trashy world of circulating money.

Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 9:39pm GMT
Just as a follow up to my previous message, this Sunday evening was another meaty sermon around the whole Candlemas etc. thing, the sort of sermon you can learn from thanks to having a particularly well read and good lay reader. These human resources make all the difference. But at one point I laughed, and was told after it was put in "for my benefit" (!).

It was a section that we might question the basis of the infancy narratives, and acknowledge the doubt in the gospels about the status of Jesus, but unless you believe in the incarnation as Paul implied (?) then you're wasting your time. That was my laughter point - not aloud. So I said to him afterwards: like these infancy narratives don't support it, further narratives don't support it, but Paul does - well, did Paul believe in the incarnation? Er, in reply he said later texts hint it but they might not have been written by Paul, of course. No - so unless you, bang, believe this, that and the other you're wasting your time. Not then the Jewish Christian approach of the Shekinah and walking with God, which is consistent with the texts, or all those early Christians... But I said it was very meaty, very good.

Showing my book last week led to a discovery of another chap there (who by membership of a group is at least as radical as me) and so with him there was a similar discussion, though unfortunately he couldn't hear a lot of it. He said it's, you know, encouraging people in, that we know only as much as you do, and we go on the road of discovery together. Quite.

The point of this is that whatever may be the requirements put on those with Church jobs, that a learning and discovery Church is - I'd suggest - a distinctive model that is attractive, and is welcoming, and treats people as adult equals on their journeys. It is a warm approach and open, to investigate and discover what this tradition can say about contemporary lives in their difficulties and successes.

Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 7:51pm GMT


February 2007

It is the difference, isn't it, between power and influence. Reform and friends want to evangelise the nation by conversion, which misreads the situation and it isn't going to happen. The alternative is service and example, and leads to a good reputation and influence - something like the Quakers have achieved. However, the tone of this piece is service despite having a different point of view from society, whereas perhaps Christianity should change its point of view. Or at least some Christians will.

Friday, 2 February 2007 at 1:35am GMT

I used to have a brick made out of sponge. A wave but not to jump and oy... And try to respect those curious boundaries. It is what a sociologist might call a role ambiguity, the difference between friendship and working, and it creates a confusion which, in the case of the parish priest walking around, cannot be ironed out. But, have a laugh why not.

Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 5:17pm GMT

I agree with Giles Fraser about how blogging and discussion boards lead to easy personal attacks, and through anonymity. I use "Pluralist" because it carries a personal history, plus if you click the link, so to speak, you can find out about me more than you can about most. I think we can be clear and try to keep to good manners at the same time.

The problem comes when you criticise someone's performance and strategy, or lack of it. One wonders who would choose to be Archbishop of Canterbury these days. to put up some sort of reasoned evangelical theology, and it goes absolutely nowhere so that, in the end, even he ends up shouting at the fundies. I don't think his theology is sustainable - it is clever but bends itself to doctrine at critical points rather than continuing with reason - and part of the problem is not simply impotence of liberals but that they have always compromised (not a bad ethic, after all) and been deliberately unclear. Well, now the predicament has been laid down, clarity is important, because the future is at stake. Conversation is open, we are all grown up, and we ought to be honest.

Saturday, 3 February 2007 at 4:09pm GMT

I think Ratzinger is very interesting, and Don Cupitt picks up a point that he undermines his own position. Ratzinger produced a book stating he wasn't giving out the papal position, and so split his personality into academic and Pope.

The lecture, notorious for his crack at Islam, was far more interesting for his reliance on Greek culture as the means of revelation, connecting with a self-limiting God and not of pure transcendence. This is undermining.

This is the justification for the mistranslations of the Septuagint, and the whole post-New Testament doctrinal framework. He arged against liberal Harnack or Ritschl and those historian types who want to reproduce a purer, more Jewish, Yeshua of history. But we all know these positions are relative and cultural, and giving Greek culture some sort of divine privilege is special pleading. It is this sort of reliance, looking for support, that brings the edifice down.

I have to say, though, that Cupitt's latest position of dismissing heterological (symbolic language of religion) for autological language (mean what you say directly) is not actually religious, and religion is like art and is going to be imprecise. I have a review coming out in the next Faith and Freedom (Manchester College) where I argue against his new position. I think we also need to look at the rather forgotten but in his time important theologian, James Martineau, who understood the conservative relationship of liturgy to belief, and the then subjectivity of belief or what we would now see (combining the two) as postmodern.

(Cupitt review) (about a third down?) (Broad Church, Unitarians)

Saturday, 3 February 2007 at 4:31pm GMT
They don't ..., but then it gets lost when changing the guard - and when lost it comes down instead to matters of employment legislation and employment rights, which is a different model and a different power relationship.

Monday, 5 February 2007 at 10:13pm GMT
Clarity poured into frosty glass bottles and with corks firmly pushed in.

Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 7:57pm GMT
Yes we take part in public squares as Christians, those who affirm lesbian and gay people as equal, in relationships, active and inactive in all sorts of activities, the sexual included (boy are you obsessed ... with "same sex sex" - please sort it out) who should be open to conduct all forms of church ministries, who could have forms of ceremonies that recognise the sacred character of their faithful relationships, just as with others.

Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 11:58pm GMT
Yes, it could well be that state rules mean national or local government provision - for example, so that gay retired couples who want to have their own room in a retirement home do not have to travel miles to find a private one that would be welcoming. It needs, though, legislation to say that someone hoping to set up such a home and provide a public seervice and/ or draw a profit cannot discriminate. If some don't like it, don't do it, and indeed then the state ought to provide. It ought to provide anyway.

Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 5:10pm GMT
Beware of Daily Telegraph reports and editorials. As I understand it, Rowan Williams is not arranging:

massively complicated plans to divide the 38 Anglican provinces into "constituent" and "associate" members of the Communion [editorial]

He is rather hoping to produce a Covenant into which provinces can opt in or opt out, and therefore being in full or impaired communion. Those left out will surely form their own connections.

Where the Daily Telegraph is right is that the emphasis on an Anglican Communion is wrong anyway. It is as if the Archbishop is trying to present a "Church" to the Pope, when he discusses ecumenical issues.

There is not such a thing, just initial exports from England that have been reworked differently in parts of the world and run their own affairs.

The Nigerian Church is doing a lot of preplanning for the February gatherings. They are out to make all the strategic moves, and Williams the Chair of the meetings might find his own (continuing) impotence worsen against the preplanning. If they are against even Sentamu appearing (are they?) then they are out to get their way. The Nigerians and others probably do not need a Covenant to define the structures of who is in and who is out, but use the more structural vehicle of CANA and more on a non-geographical basis.

The Episcopalian Church is obviously going to have to look after itself, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is not a CAEU soon either, a structural route to missiona and grab so called orthodoxy. The Archbishop of canterbury might indeed like to return home and watch his boundaries too.

Monday, 5 February 2007 at 2:58pm GMT
I agree with drdanfee when he stated: (Canterbury loves that smokescreen apparently as much as they do, or at least finds plenty of occasions like equal adoption to use its disguises.)

This is additional to my point, and picked up by others. That, at the same time as Akinola and company are clearly being strategic, and, after their own meeting, coming to the primates meeting for an outcome, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been involved in allying the Church of England in an anti-equality stance and the bishops are going to introduce smothering amendments to two clear motions to the General Synod.

In other words, the Church of England leadership is adjusting to accommodate to the stance of the Anglican Communion and its Global South, by nip and tuck and kicking into the long grass, for which there will quite possibly be a "reward" of a takeover attempt that does intend not just to define this Communion but go physically into territories outside own provinces according to self-defined necessity, as has already begun.

Monday, 5 February 2007 at 9:54pm GMT
Naivety is all over this piece. There may well be poverty relief and development between Anglican Churches, but the mission side has become aggressive and a dead duck, as has any sense of a united ecclesiology. He writes as if you can set up bishops, priests and deacons, and all will be well.

To me, whether it is Affirming Catholicism or Inclusive Church, the inclusive role of the Broad Church is somewhat finished. It does not do that function any more. The charismatic evangelicals do not want it, the liberals are more distinct, the Open Evangelicals are the split point and nor can they persuade the dogmatic evangelicals. And the Nigerians are aggressive and imperialistic regarding dogmatism and power.

The argument about cultural assumptions, as though we just clear them away to let through objective truths, like women bishops, and presumably gay bishops too, does not wash with many. They regard these as cultural innovations, not removals. The delusion is that there is some objective norm anyway, as if it was not cultural in the past, or will not be cultural in the future (after a few more reforms). This is the liberal delusion, the continued reasonableness of inclusion, that they might agree with us. No they don't, and with good grounds.

The fantasy world is this objectivity to be found under the next reform. It is this idea that the others might come around to see this point of view. No they won't - so then what?

Monday, 5 February 2007 at 3:19pm GMT
Without getting diverted by Christopher Shell's response, I mean whilst, I really do warm to the attempt to be inclusive and including in as many as possible - one reason why I am trying to get some contributions included on Fulcrum about Goddard to Goddard, when they get added - there is an argument in the Inclsuve Church approach that won't impress the side it must appeal to and, I suggest, does not stand up.

Inclusive Church is saying that secular society has moved on, and women have full equality, but the Church has not and identifies a cultural past to be removed in order to achieve an objective orthodox present. They say, no, the Church was right and this is now a cultural innovation. So many will not buy this. And they certainly won't over homosexual equality within Church ministry.

Read a book, even a liberal one, in the 1970s. They still refer to "men" and there is little demand for full female equality in ministry. Then and before many liberals did not agitate that orthodoxy was incomplete. Homosexuality is little mentioned, and remember the Man Alive programme in the secular world about an objective disorder and sad lives lived by people to pity.

Well it was cultural, but so is the move to be properly inclusive - properly because it is a preference that constitutes more to their good and the good of all than not doing so and this is what we see and what we prefer. And many do not.

Culture changes all the time, and changes how the Bible is read, and how doctrines are regarded, even if liturgies seem to reflect some sort of argicultural feudal past. This is what is changing.

Monday, 5 February 2007 at 10:10pm GMT
_There is no one who Rowan will allow to tell him what to do._
It seems to me that some more than others have been telling him what to do (including, no doubt, Tom Wright) - or they will act.

_His commitment is to work for the unity of the Church and the advancement of the Gospel._
He is acting for a unity of some of the Church, but not all of it - by the very expectation that it will indeed divide.

_When there is some kind of parting of the ways it is always painful for everybody. ...rootedness of the Anglican Communion in Scripture and tradition, that by doing its reasoning work wisely, this will enable it to come up strong after this crisis. Even if it means a bit of pruning, the plant will be healthier for it. ...anything that needs pruning will not be lost but grafted back on sooner or later._
There will be parting of the waves, but it is not pruning. The other plant will continue to function. There will be a then a variety of the species, and find others like it with which to mate and blossom. The grafting won't be to Tom Wright's liking, with plants of other varieties found in Canada, Scotland, Wales, parts of England...

Doctrine is already compromised, already more symbolic, already moved on. It's too late on this one, and bending arguments to fit in with some preset limit won't work any more. The theology in the universities won't go away. However, you can still be "orthodox" on an older understanding and accept the full role of gay people in ministry and Church as nowhere is this ruled out.

I'm sure the Nigerians won't be satisfied by this centrism anyway. They are the ones making a structural invasion into the United States, and maybe anywhere. The Episcopalians will make new associates, and I for one wish the American Church every good wish. The ecumenical potential is also there. But the English situation is likely to be one hell of a mess for a while due to its parties and lack of consistency.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007 at 2:15am GMT
There's a real sense, isn't there, that whereas all around people seem to be losing their heads, Katharine Jefferts Schori is keeping hers.

Thursday, 8 February 2007 at 11:49am GMT
Talking about other views, I think Ruth Gledhill's latest journalism in her "wow" about Zimbabwe and the Mothers' Union fighting the evils of homosexuality is a new low in her stir-it journalism.

She sees it simply as added pressure, of mothers adding pressure to primates in Anglican affairs. This is in Zimbabwe for goodness sake, a nasty, failed, hungry country if ever there was one, and all it can come up with is a demo on anti-homosexuality - no doubt approved of by its embarassing fascist leader Mugabe to gain the approval of this Nigerian-Anglican led drive.

She should know better. The report, like the demonstration to come, should be treated with contempt.

Friday, 9 February 2007 at 1:06am GMT
So this new (?) plan, recently highlighted by Graham Kings of Fulcrum

drawing from the Anglican Communion Institute

is all because the Covenant is too slow in coming to satisfy the eagerness of the Nigerian and friends invasion. This won't work either.

Imagine setting up a recognised TEC within an unrecognised TEC. Is that not establishing a model to be taken up by others, as in the Church of England?

What has Reform asked for? It has asked for its own bishops and extra structure, otherwise it will get more congregationlist and do it itself. It has said in order to avoid attaching to Akinola, it wants its own pure connexion (to use a word). And they are stonewalled (rightly).

However, here is precisely that example being suggested. Of course the actual TEC should not agree to this, just as the Church of England would not or should not. TEC should not even walk out at Tanzania - let the others vote if they want to. They haven't enough votes. Rely on this Covenant proposal - and, when it is done, let's see who else wants it.

It does seem, however, that the Nigerians, with their pre-meeting meeting are the most strategic and ready, and indeed have their own intentions.

A structural division is still a structural division anyway, whether it is set up at home in the face of foreign invasion to be compatible with it, or directly by foreign invasion.

Friday, 9 February 2007 at 12:53am GMT
There is an interesting definition of the Anglican communion in the Nigerian Synod statement:

the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

Which is rather different from the claim that these dissenting congregations are still in the Anglican Communion (Church of Nigeria).

Friday, 9 February 2007 at 1:31am GMT
_The fact that our Ordinals never mention the possibility of practising homosexuals being ordained is that such an option was inconceivable – indeed, reprehensible._ George Carey...
Well it is conceivable and indeed is quite the opposite of reprehensible and, recognised, represents a stable form of relationship.

_bypassing Paul's teaching in Romans I concerning homosexuality as irrelevant to our times, or as a cultural equivalent to women wearing hats in church_
Arguably it is indeed the cultural equivalent to wearing hats, and in any case the context of homosexual get togethers was an almost brothel-like causal and friendly meeting of Greek cultural man to man (and women free) passions: an equivalent of twentieth century lonelier meetings in public toilets - faithless, dangerous, upsetting for anyone else going to such places and for momentary release. Both Pauline and contemporary situations have an "idolatrous" faithlessness about them. This situation is about relationships, one to another, that are faithful, positive and build between two men or two women.

_their continuity with our Lord's teaching concerning the creational significance of marriage between a man and woman that is lifelong, faithful and tender._
I rather think that Jesus and Paul had a temporary view of marriage, for Paul an "if you must" view given the transience of the present world. Jesus' view seems to be you were locked into marriage. Biblical scholarship indicates later texts linking marriage to patriarchy and Church are not by Paul. Jesus was not establishing a Church.

_they of all people knew that it went against the mind of the Communion and could only be seen as a wilful arrogating of individual freedom_
But where was the discussion, then, and where was the prophetic voice that recognised honesty in relationships? The Americans found it.

_the stark poverty at the heart of our tradition as the fundamental four Instruments of Unity_
It is oversold, and seems to be a bureaucratic seduction for Archbishops who really ought to just meet for sandwiches, chat and prayers.

_An overly-rigorous covenant is likely to be rejected by provinces in the West, but a bland and unchallenging one will leave the growing churches of the global south un-persuaded._
That's about right.

Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 2:58am GMT
The dream of freedom has not yet been realised, in any community in this land of across the globe. As long as any of us is restrained by custom, law, prejudice or bigotry, we all remain in chains. Our labours in this church continue to sing of hope for the full fourishing of all God's children, black, white, Native, Asian, women, men, gay and straight, differently abled and full and able-bodied. We still yearn for the realisation of Paul's ancient creed, "in Christ there is neither slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, male and female." In Christ we are all beloved, we are all wanted, we are all of infinitely precious worth.

(from an image PDF - Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori)

Send a copy to Tanzania: this defines what it is all about.

Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 10:38pm GMT
Rather a good letter, I think (plain speaking from an unambitious academic snob).

Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 10:57pm GMT
Ruth Gledhill is like one of those children in the playground that goes around kicking other children in the shins to add to the mayhem, but when the teachers come out is the one who points at the others in all innocence.

Sunday, 11 February 2007 at 4:04pm GMT
Words from a certain Rowan, Cantuar...

_and if you also believe that the specific shape of this priesthood can properly develop as the Church moves on, to include those among the baptised who have regularly been excluded, SCP exists to help you flourish as a deacon, priest or bishop in the Anglican Church._

Dated 2004 apparently. Since then the walls have been moving in, and the door is locked, and the window will not open - oh, and press cannot get in either.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007 at 2:09am GMT
Some things are becoming clear, and some things are as yet unclear. No doubt Nigerian HQ will provide leaks for journalists with the main meeting place sealed off.

Clear is that there is some sort of structural proposal, but it is still unclear that Rowan Williams would find it acceptable. And it may not matter whether he does or not to any outcome. The Covenant is too slow, but it may be still his option, especially if Lambeth 2008 becomes a Covenant joining party - and who will decide that?

Would there be a bargain, that there can be a TEC within a TEC, traded for both TECs recognised as in the Communion? I can't see that makes any sense. Nor would it be acceptable, presumably, for a recognised TEC inside an unrecognised TEC - not to The Episcopalian Church proper (the would be unrecognised). But would the Nigerians withdraw their connection for such a TEC within a TEC? Of course they would not, nor would anyone believe they had if they said so, given the recently made bishop and connections.

If there is a TEC within the TEC, there might be a Cof E within the C of E. Gosh, they'll all want one.

What must seem increasingly in decline is geographical provinces, even geographical dioceses - maybe even geographical parishes. The Nigerians seem to have got ahead on this, and they are in a position where no agreement still leaves them doing what they have been doing. Their approach is "Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)" is it not?

What would be the point a year later of joining or not joining a Covenant?

I was just chatting this morning (in church, as it happens) with another member of the congregation about this, and I thought we'd end up with a shell called the Church of England and islands of activity where the different religious definitions exist.

I thought afterwards that as well as different Convenants as a later outcome, a likely outcome could be Non-Covenant Anglicans in some parishes as a preference, but not second class to any other.

As they say, we shall see.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007 at 12:45pm GMT
At this point, this is very interesting.

So, ith a few hesitant points, the upshot of the working sub-group is that "GC06" did meet Windsor's expectation, but that the Global South has not at all in terms of incursions inro TEC's space.

It means that the Covenant process is going to be around this position, on the communion doing things together.

So that's all right then. Except it isn't, is it. First of all, the Covenant, if it is pitched at this level, will be no use for those who see it as a maintenance of orthodoxy around a world communion. It will be pointless. And it would be pointless - narrowly drawn, about processes and possibly about consensus building and likely to see dicoeses behave in their own way here ane there.

Secondly, if this is the measure of the outcome, and all primates go back into the Anglican jungle happy enough, then Akinola on a charge is going to look rather instead like a Duke of York who marched his troops up the hill only to march them down again. He would look a fool.

The chances of a recognised TEC within an unrecognised TEC must be near zero now, and a recognised mini-TEC inside a recognised big TEC seems pointless from an Anglican Communion perspective, so it means that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) will have to carry on.

So the Bishop of Winchester on the radio this morning, and the good friend of Rowan Williams the Bishop of Durham, seem to have been a little sidelined. They are looking a bit daft.

Now they are going to have to decide. Do they support the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) or the Anglican Communion? Is the Covenant likely to be any more than a wet weekend?

Fudge is interesting, because it calls on those who are really aggressive, ie the Church of Nigeria, to be so, rather than the one standing where it is, TEC, to act. Well, we shall see. The other (or "the") HQ down the line has got to decide what to do, from the top of the hill.

Thursday, 15 February 2007 at 9:29pm GMT
NP, I am not celebrating etc.

I wrote "At this point, this is very interesting."

At this point, because I am aware that inconsistencies are part of meetings, and there are going to be pressures as a result of these findings.

NP, you have been clear virtually every post that TEC innovated, is in the wrong and called for "Global TEC" to begin and do something different from Anglicanism. The Windsor findings contradict your view, and an agreement by Primates and a Covenant consistent with this will also fail to support your view.

I am opposed to a Covenant. A Covenant will either be inadequate for the Conservatives or too restrictive for the liberals. It may even be good for neither. Nailing something together by a Covenant when it is spinning furiously will just lead to more shattering. In my view a spinning organisation needs the lightest touch possible if it is to slow down. Federation not communion, even just live and let live.

You might notice, furthermore, that I share some of the views of the Conservatives, in the sense that the Windsor findings are something of a fudge. However, the difference is that I am liberal-radical, and that the theological changes that have taken place ought to be incorporated more openly into Anglican definitions.

The Archbishop wrote recently that there are cultural and historical reasons why the creeds cannot perform the function of keeping the Anglican Communion clearly as one. This is an admittance, by a roundabout route, that we in the West can and many do apply a more liberal and symbolic interpretation of these old creeds - and my point is that if the creeds of the old language cannot do it neither will a Covenant with new language. People will not be put into a straightjacket.

However, a Covenant that is just about Communion and not doctrinal won't however bother such liberal people, but on the other hand it won't do much of a job either for Conservatives and the noisier bishops.

And in any case, my view is that the incursions in to the United States will not stop, and that the structural changes by Akinola will continue regardless. If they don't he will have egg on his face, which is inconsistent with the glory heaped upon him by his own website.

Friday, 16 February 2007 at 3:47pm GMT
NP, I've just noticed that you have used the word "fudge" as well - perhaps we have an element of agreement, though sometimes fudge can be useful (say on a non-essential matter or something that would upset a more fundamental finding).

If you want to see my attitude to Covenants and the like, and all these written attempts to hold people in, have a look at a piece of mine just published on the National Unitarian Fellowship website:

Called Moving On, it tells why I moved to the Anglican Church and includes some analysis of conservative postliberal theology (what do you think of that?) as well as more liberal postmodern theology. I also refer to Rowan Williams' theology

I am not sure if the non-registered can see the discussion that resulted at

Having reviewed Yesterday's Radicals about beliefs in the nineteenth century, it is worth pointing out that Broad church radicals are not a new innovation, and TEC is hardly doing something new.

Friday, 16 February 2007 at 4:48pm GMT
The question for Mark is, given the basis of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), whether he would be prepared to come under its jurisdiction, and, given the links to Reform, Anglican Mainstream and the distasteful Christian Institute, of the website of the churches under John Simmons, whether he would also contemplate also oversight from the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) given the presentations recently of Reform and friends. After all, these may be on offer to both in the near future.

Thursday, 15 February 2007 at 4:29pm GMT
Perhaps there is a kind of atonement theology here: that these seven did not go to the eucharist so that others may be able to go (something like that)...

It is a lower number than previously, but this comes after the Windsor Report with its 66.7% pass (as the cartoon puts it - but the 33.3% bit was a kind of neutral and in today's marking a non-negative needs the benefit of the doubt). Plus the press conference indicated difficult discussion ongoing.

Clearly Akinola is not going to end CANA, and his Church website wants to announce who was absent, so he's not marched them down the hill yet.

I bet they have a eucharist in "the" headquarters.

Saturday, 17 February 2007 at 1:00am GMT
An interesting point coming through is that there is some continuing residual restraint on TEC; but it may well be temporary and there won't be another Windsor. So it is from Windsor to the Covenant, and why the Covenant will be pitched around Windsor (surely - but let' see). However, the Covenant if it continues Windsor will require a pause to the incursions across boundaries as much as to TEC and who it ordains.

Trouble is, look at the responses around various websites and blogs, and some Conservatives will be looking for a new home as individuals and maybe parishes either leaving elsewhere or trying to take the property.

And the forum at Anlgican Mainstream has people saying they will not be going on the electoral roll even in England. How significant this is I don't know.

There may still be more pressure for more fixing of the situation of course.

Friday, 16 February 2007 at 4:07pm GMT
The Daily Telegraph opinion is second class stuff. One thing that emerges here is that there has been nothing on TV news, precious little on the radio, adn the news has been analysed through the Internet - much repetition but some keen analysis. One consideration towards whether to chuck out all TV equipment when the next licence is due.

Giles Fraser is a bit OTT - against his argument is the Fulcrum position. They are quite torn apart, pushed in two directions at once. N T Wright (of that position) now looks rather silly, having attacked the Reform and friends' Covenant and then bashed at the American Church with apparent knowledge of his "good friend" Rowan Williams, who no one would push around, only to find Rowan Williams with others had constructed a document of a rather different kind. Nazir-Ali and Scott-Joynt are in another world, completely sidelined.

The ball, basically, is in Nigeria's court, and a test of its strength and those in the Global South it can still count on, because it is in deep - deep in Virginia for a start. If they carry on there, the Americans may well resume more imclusive approaches, and after all it is not a communion that decides suddenly to move on, it is actual Churches - as with ordaining women to priests and bishops. The Covenant has to allow for a process of change, and I can't see Nigeria and what remains agreeing to this.

They might have a few extra crumbs tossed their way, maybe via the delay to this Covenant, but it doesn't alter the balance of things. Nigeria and company are needing to regroup. Their action over the eucharist, adn being in too deep, suggests they will.

What's the betting that when the Covenant proposals get sent to the bishops electronically before release to the public that they shall leak?

Saturday, 17 February 2007 at 4:58pm GMT
Andrew Goddard continues on with this idea of a TEC within a TEC, in that he writes:

_the Camp Allen Windsor bishops, and the proposal that they be recognised by the Communion as a ‘college of bishops', provide the best way forward for the Communion_
By the report of the Sub-Group, this is a dead duck - unless the Primates via some overpowering numbers could reject the report. They haven't the numbers.

When will people recognise that their fantasised outcome has been dissipated? Tom Wright was not proved to be correct, he was proved to be wrong, that he obviously misunderstood his "friend" the Archbishop, and that TEC passed by 2 out of 3 and a neutral 1.

Politics is a funny thing: the report may be flawed, but if it gets past those Primates then that is it. Then there is no basis for a college of bishops or anything like it, or to censure TEC.

The disgruntled Churches within the Global South, as a minority, who have gone into TEC's territory, then have to decided whether to carry on or get out - a matter for the communion to continue to address.

Before the Tanzania meeting conservatives were going after TEC not just on the gay inclusion issue but also linked it to doctrine as a whole. Again they have lost this one too.

On the basis of this report, the Covenant is not going to be about doctrine, but process: that might slow down inclusion of gay people into church life via blessings and ministry; but given that provinces do innovate (as with women bishops) this is hardly going to be conclusive - it surely will be about consultation into the communion or it makes no sense.

My own preference is to regard this communion as pointless, and that TEC should do what is right and prophetic. I'm a IV person at Goddard's analysis. But the conservatives should realise that their game is up: their solutions about a college of bishops is a dead duck. The reality remains the connections with African Churches and what happens next.

Sunday, 18 February 2007 at 3:03pm GMT
Trevor Barnes' report is poor on detail and therefore analysis. He sidestepped mentioning the Windsor Report Sub-group, probably because it was too complicated for radio. It isn't just a gay-orthodoxy division, which the radio pointed up.

The radio report did not mention Akinola effectively being in the United States with his own bishop there and thus congregations, and I'd see this as connected with him not going to Zanzibar (surely he did not go just to avoid being photographed!). He said he was not going to go to Lambeth 2008 without all this resolved, and presumably (for him) it is not resolved, on his terms, yet.

Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream was singing Akinola's praises; well, just suppose Akinola decides to go it alone, with his definition of Anglican Communion - what is Chris Sugden going to do then? Will it be heresy or schism then?

Sunday, 18 February 2007 at 4:58pm GMT
And Freddy Mercury was a Zoroastrian, and had a Zoroastrian funeral.

Sunday, 18 February 2007 at 7:43pm GMT
I'm away in Cambridge and able to react from a commercialised NHS hospital and at a rush of digesting this news.

It seems to me it hangs on this primatial vicar taking over from Akinola, via the original suggestion of the Presiding Bishop. At the same time, the Episcopal Church has to freeze its intentions. The power that Akinola has by being in the US already has pushed the thing his way, at some steps from the Sub-Group report, but not completely.

It seems to me to be a mess, one where clarity and best result is saying to TEC to not to agree to the freeze. They might, and wait to see if Akinola gets out. He may not, but his is the real power. At the same time, the Presiding Bishop remains a player.

The fault of this is surely this thing called the Anglican Communion. It is playing too big a role and causing no end of distortions.

The interesting outcome, as far as I can tell, is that both liberals/ progressives and conservatives are now saying the Episcopal Church should leave the communion. I think it should do its course as set, and let it be removed.

I read The Guardian first (well, browsed at it in one of these hospital shops) and it is about leaning on the liberals. It is more complicated than that. There is still no censure on TEC, there is still full inclusion, it just has to freeze itself. Well, it might for a while, but if Akinola and company don't get out then it should get out.

There may be more important principles of autonomy and prophetic witness towards inclusion than this fix. This is my view.

This fix in any case means no fix for the Anglican Churches - actual Churches - because it means - just as a TEC within is TEC *IS* now back on the agenda (which is inconsistent) it also means a C of E within the C of E (and so on).

In other words, Rowan Williams' first political fix, which was enough, the two out of three, was not enough for the powers in the communion, and so he has gone for a TEC within a TEc, it spells disaster for Churches if it helps the communion, and it should be chucked out.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 1:30pm GMT
The report of the Sub-Group gave the Episcopal Church two out of three, with a neutral third, and that itself was a political fix (whatever its merit or lack of merit) that made the Conservatives depressed, and kept the Episcopal Church on board though slowed some of its freedoms. Unfortunately it did not deal with the reality that Akinola and others had already put his foot into the United States.

So the actual agreement ends with a shift in his direction, to apparently create the primatial vicar option once suggested by Jefferts-Schorri, but with foreign oversight, and toughens up compliance with a deadline, but still no actions against the Episcopal Church.

It reminds me of Northern Ireland, where negotiations sway and deadlines get imposed, with no agreement now but a deadline.

The practicalites here do not work. Martyn Minns will remain as a bishop of the Church of Nigeria, and presumably Nigeria will wait for a September declaration by Episcopal Church bishops. In turn they will regard Nigeria suspiciously, because of the reality of CANA. Furthermore, these bishops may decide that they cannot alone make these decisions and need a General Convention.

They may indeed decide that the faithfulness and integrity of their Church requires that they do not sign to these outward restrictions. Plus, the not quite TEC within a TEC does still involve the Communion: wider than Nigeria, but Nigeria leaning and pushing what goes on.

One possibility here is, like Northern Ireland, to play with deadlines, and make little moves and look for reciprocal actions regarding the other side. But to what eventual outcome?

It is not like Northern Ireland, is it, because the eventual agreement is to freeze a situation that is temporary anyway - the isolation of full recognition of gays and lesbians in terms of celebrations and ministry. An agreement to stop something that could start again when the magical religion and rural cultures of north of South Africa apparently "catch up"?

Come on. Churches are (as The Guardian infers) about ethical standards of honesty. The Episcopal Church has democratic processes. If it falls-in, the structures from abroad are basically still there and it has lost its integrity and for what? So it should decide that this inclusion is more precious.

Then dismiss the conserving, bureaucratic Covenant, so that other Anglicans can rise to do the same.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 2:36pm GMT
It is useful to read something, and having read it I am revising my view of this Covenant and what it does. It does look like something very plastic or rubbery. It is possible, for example, to take a view that all the problem scritural texts can be interpreted to still allow faithful lesbian and gay people can be included in all levels of ministry and with church blessings. That's number 3 of 'Our Commitment to Confession of the Faith'.

In practice, though, it means an attempt to impose at communion level whatever is the going balance of opinion and cultural readings of selected scriptural texts. One wonders where the ordination of women would be if individual Churches were not able to innovate on the basis of own understandings.

I would tweak very little of it, even with a radical-liberal approach. This Covenant might find itself subjected to the same lean-on forces that the Sub-group report found in the Tanzania meeting. The conservatives will find this Covenant will do nothing for them.

One wonders why any Church would be excluded once inside it; and though I'd tweak little I'm sure, freshly written, The Episcopal Church if (IF) excluded after the September deadline, could write something so much more inclusive, ethical and with integrity for a basis of others meeting with it on a discussive basis.

It is what they'll do with this Covenant that causes me to think it should be rejected; in the meantime the Episcopal House of Bishops might reject this Tanzanian outcome. It is worth nothing to them, and has no wider value of itself.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 4:26pm GMT
Careful Merseymike, you sound a little like ... and those Anglican-Mainstreamers who say that religious liberals are pursuing another religion (or "virtually" another religion as Apollos or ... has said.

As regards ... above, well I find his view "virtually" obnoxious, and strongly agree with ... posting today at 12:38am.

However, I'll risk a with one agreement with ...:

>I wonder what the fall-out for him will be when the other primates have had time to consider how he treated them - burying the report for 6 months, springing it during the meeting, and nearly drumming them into accepting something that they later decided was far from the truth! Now that *could* be a reason for asking whether Cantuar's moral stature has sunk so low..<

I think this is a valid point. Clearly Rowan Williams (I don't go for all this + ++ +++ stuff) has looked in one direction a while and given conservatives the thought he had signed up, whereas I have actually read some of his output previously. And no doubt this Sub-group report was very silently kept, while the conservatives got themselves into a right lather of expectations, and sprung into the meeting. Perhaps there was no other way. The Covenant is equivalent to that Sub-group report. But all that did was make the communique inconsistent with the Sub-group report, and leaning in the opposite direction the horse trading might still produce an outcome by US bishops of more people compromising themselves while everyone sort of carries on doing what they did do before...

Thursday, 22 February 2007 at 2:05pm GMT
..., I am not into bibliolatry and your interpretation of Christianity, and if you identify something as traditional (as has been done against every change) you are making a selection that denies other just as legitimate hermeneutical readings.

Friday, 23 February 2007 at 1:37pm GMT
I see that some liberal leaning blogs are more positive about both the Communique and the Covenant. I'm not sure I am, but the view I'm going towards is how unhealthy all of this is.

Looking at some of the responses these bloggers get in the merry-go-round of messaging, one thing that comes out is how the process buys off peoples' integrities.

We already know the loops and hoops that Rowan Williams has jumped through by which a once thoughtful theologian has become some chairing bureaucrat of impossibilities and looking like he's had brain surgery, where someone responding ends up rather cheapily creating a character called "Akinilliams". No doubt by signing up, Katherine Jefferts Schori has been compromised too - so far her calm and incisive commentaries have earned her a strong reputation in a short time, but having signed on the dotted line has now the problem of looking in different directions at once and who will look isolated if her bishops decide they cannot comply with this communique (though increasingly it looks like it won't take too much to comply, and this Covenant is close to being meaningless).

Some of the denominationalist Unitarians I knew, who defined themselves by contrasting with the other, and I found to be tedious and unable to see their own contradictory outlooks, used to define Anglicanism as hierarchical and liturgical duplicity. I think this is built in, and demonstrated during Tanzania 2007.

Thursday, 22 February 2007 at 1:43pm GMT
... - I don't think they will go into reverse. There are two developments: bishops are showing that the price is unacceptable, and Akinola is threatening to walk out of communion with *Canterbury* in September if nothing is done about the Episcopal Church. Plus the arguments, from Rowan Williams' own hand, for the Communion of these opposites, is very thin.

You know, it is just possible now that the TEC bishops continue with a prophetic, ethical, inclusive church and provide some minimal statement, that therefore in September there is another fudge attempt to hold all sides, and then either there is a walkout by Nigeria, or perhaps the Episcopal Church breaks off anyway.

If TEC goes, Canada won't want to be in the restricted group, nor many others. If the Nigerians go there will be a sense of relief in some provinces that at last some progress can be made of a fully welcoming Communion.

Next time, with Nigeria in with Canterbury, the logic must be a conservative Archbishop of Canterbury. Next time, with TEC in with Canterbury, the logic must be a liberal Archbishop of Canterbury who can actually chair the Communion with some consistency with his published views. Should both be in, no one sane would want the job, and would probably have to be a conservative, someone like George Carey (oh, he was the previous chap) and then TEC and more would be gone anyway.

Friday, 23 February 2007 at 2:39am GMT
I'm struck by the tentative weakness of Rowan Williams' argument. I know his approach is tentative, but here it really looks like it is on its last legs.

The first attempt, the Sub-Group, was an attempt to keep the Episcopalians in, and then there was NOT a situation to explore if a "desire to stay with the Communion is strong enough to cope with a halt for the sake of continuing to move and work together". No, there are those who are moving forward, and those who are going nowhere.

It is not that there will be discussions and then some moving forward (to what, African and American agreed gay blessings and clergy in faithful gay and lesbian relationships?). Come on! Some say never and some say now.

And it looks like, unless it is bluster covering for his previous noises, that Akinola is saying by September that Nigeria itself will walk if the Episcopal Church is not stopped and this means Nigeria will not take its tanks off the American lawn until then of course.

What will be the outcome at this next crisis point: another Northern Ireland-like deadline, and trying to compromise Akinola like Jefferts Schori has been compromised? How about doctrinally tightening up the Covenant and getting the Episcopalians in at the same time? Is this the idea, so that nothing changes but the appearance?

This is the thinness of the argument. We already have another Nigerian ultimatum before the jet aircraft have even cooled, directed against Canterbury not the US. This is a joke already.

Ten minutes ago I was wondering on Faithspace whether and how the outcome would work out given all its nuances and confusions, and the jelly blob of the Covenant so far - and suddenly it is already clear.

Comments by a number of The Episcopal Church bishops are beginning to show some clarity. Put an end to this.

Friday, 23 February 2007 at 2:16am GMT
What is Rowan Williams' argument actually for the Anglican Communion?

1) "because the relations and common work of the Communion, especially in the developing world, matter massively."
2) "And also because the idea that there might be a worldwide Christian Church that could balance unity and consent seems worth holding on to, for the sake of the whole Christian family and even for the sake of human society itself."
1) can happen anyway. Unless he means American money already being rejected by a number of African provinces.

2) There is not balance of Unity and Consent - there is a rope and two teams pulling in two directions, some in the same Churches.

Is that it?

Friday, 23 February 2007 at 2:20am GMT
Fr Joseph O'Leary - I don't know what the difference is between an impaired communion and none. There is more likely to be something like two actual communions, and no doubt messages between them. Perhaps there could be federation. The point is, the present cannot go on, and there must be inclusion.

I think the issue is broader than the gay and lesbian one, but includes it and cannot leave it. It is a model for human rights, and a model for inclusion.

Friday, 23 February 2007 at 10:44am GMT
..., you are lumping things together that do not lump together. Reform and Fulcrum can't be considered in the same breath - as Tom Wright showed not so long back.

Friday, 23 February 2007 at 1:22pm GMT
This is nasty stuff from Canon David Anderson President of American Anglican Council:
"It makes it so clear that Gene Robinson is unacceptable in his capacity as Bishop that he is going to have to go. He could either go gracefully and resign or he's going to have to be removed. Otherwise, TEC cannot meet the demands of the communique.

"It is very difficult to say if he will go gracefully. He has been the poster boy for the gay and lesbian community. He might actually be at some risk from his own community if he steps down voluntarily. It might be better for him to be forced out than to step down voluntarily.
Utterly lacking in basic humanity, making out as if the gay and lesnian lobby are holding him in position under a threat of violence, the only violence being shown is that of Canon David Anderson President of American Anglican Council.

This is the ethical objection.

Friday, 23 February 2007 at 10:31am GMT
Notice also that the span of response regarding TEC goes much wider than the specific concerns of Tanzania. They include the more general doctrinal issue, as they see it; they criticise use of consensus and majority contrasted with the message 'once delivered to the saints', they contrast a process of delays and prevarication with now setting a deadline, state that the Global South continue to support breakway congregations (which is contrary to a decided more communion based overseeing) and indeed set their sights on more progressive or progressive-including provinces.

As for their conference, it sounds more like a talking to than a listening. It is like if they held a trial - they'd provide the witnesses.

Theological work and insight is not some sort of pastime whilst there is no impact on belief, nor different cultural readings of scriptures themselves written in a cultural context. There is no reason for TEC ever to come to the kind of submission they expect, or anywhere else that has evolved into wider views of faith.

Their lack of interest in the draft Covenant is explained by its consistency with the report of the Sub-group on the Windsor process. Presumably, given the overturning of the emphasis of the Sub-group they don't regard this Covenant as relevant. Once TEC falls into imaginary order, and becomes something else, or is gone, they presume a much different Covenant would come about - one that is dogmatic and has a selective reading of the Bible on theirs and Nigeria's terms.

Saturday, 24 February 2007 at 4:14pm GMT
_We are no longer a part of TEC and our call is to show the world a new way of living and a new way of loving._
So that is Martyn Minns' interpretation and says CANA is recognised. Was it? What it means is they carry on.

The official version, surely, is that this Primatial Vicar transfers oversight from Nigeria to a Communion body of five, that includes two appointees from the Presiding Bishop and one from Canterbury. So this is not quite the same thing.

Plus having taken the property, Martyn Minns wants no one to take it back.

So alongside this temporary primatial arrangement are a couple of tanks parked with the crew still there and the chief still sending out orders. No one has gone home and no one is going home.

The only question in my mind is whether TEC should just say sod all this and we carry on, or be a bit skillful in making a presentation towards staying in the communion based plus the legitimacy of difference within Christianity, and let Canterbury decide whether to throw out TEC or watch Nigeria walk. Or another deadline.

The best outcome is if the Nigerians walk, but either way all this mess is unsustainable and rather pointless, with a need for more clarity in relations.

Saturday, 24 February 2007 at 3:50pm GMT
Perhaps this is the place to draw attention to Accepting Evangelicals and the association with alternative worship of the creative postmodern kind.

Other pages too about personnel involved.

Monday, 26 February 2007 at 12:01am GMT

_The "low point" of the Primates' Meeting came, Jefferts Schori said, when one primate equated homosexuality with pedophilia and another said he couldn't see why the Anglican Communion should study homosexuality if it doesn't need to study murder._
Yes, and they are primates. What a disgrace. Did anyone take the minutes?

_She said that a "saving grace" of the primatial vicar proposal is that it would eventually end the incursion of other primates into the Episcopal Church._
No it won't - they are not going. This has been made clear now. They'd only go if TEC became something it is not. If TEC is removed from the communion, they will switch the parked tank engines back on and start firing.

_conversations will be meant for the bishops to hear what is being said among the people of their dioceses_
Any chance of the same in Appointeeland? Or are they here just going to make declarations to journalists and on the radio, or issue statements?

I think Jefferts-Shori is holding the line quite well, especially given the difficulty she is in. She's doing a good job: she might get to be in a communion of diverse views or she might be leading the Church in a missionary direction and perhaps a less wide but important communion. I mean TEC would not abandon people, and it certainly ought not to be abandoned either. Whereas Rowan Williams remains thoughtful, he seems in been compromised to the point of having abandoned any obvious ethical principles except unity (with leaders who equate homosexuality with murder and paedophilia), whereas Jefferts-Schori in being thoughtful and compromised seems to have kept her principles.

Sunday, 25 February 2007 at 12:51am GMT
I don't know about a postmodern approach in TEC, but if so the other side has a premodern (but affected by the modern) approach and that's as much of a problem given the complexity of contemporary culture and identities.

As for the battle, well they don't even agree on the questions so it is going to be interesting to see who and how matters will be decided in September or October. Presumably it will be Lambeth Palace, which means more on the lines of the Sub-group and draft Covenant, so if TEC gives answers according to its understanding of the questions, it will be Nigeria that goes walkies and perhaps the exercise will do them some good.

Sunday, 25 February 2007 at 2:31pm GMT
Let's examine this postmodern point a bit further. Because I am a postmodernist and happy to admit it involves some creativity.

Over on Fulcrum they like to point out that their Anglicanism in the UK has world class theologians, such as Wright, McGrath and O'Donovan. When I did my MA course in 1998, they didn't appear for a second. Perhaps they are more recent. Anglican theology was seen as denominational, and English theology a bywater. Theologians worth studying were American and German, and the only English Anglican theologian to make any impact was John Milbank, of Cambridge, who promotes Radical Orthodoxy.

Radical Orthodoxy is like a rebirth of Christendom and it is postmodern! Postmodernism itself has a conservative and liberal side. The Conservative side comes in two main strands, revelatory performance or cultural criticism: one is the biblical drama narrative of Hans Frei, with the performance of ecumenical doctrine of George Lindbeck. John Milbank is the theology of Church strand, who also dismisses objectivity in contemporary culture, because now culture has a secular theology. So he uses postmodernism to create a bubble inside which he almost becomes premodern. (The criticism of this is social science research method is a disciplined anchor for drawing results about the present condition; he builds a fantasy not a challenge.)

So when these pontificating bishops make soundbite comments, they might investigate further. There is a liberal postmodernism too, as with Mark C. Taylor, where God dies into writing, and again Don Cupitt in England didn't get a mention and nor did the equivalent (Presbyterian) Lloyd Geering in New Zealand (who has a revered status there). This liberal postmodernism is both a response to pluralism and the poststructural nature of language when applied to religion (like Baudrillard). I'm here, theologically - a freer, art-based, creative position, working in and around a tradition. TEC might have only a minority like this.

Sunday, 25 February 2007 at 11:11pm GMT
This World Service extended report is by far the best of the radio reports.

I summarised each contributor. Space limits me to one: Bishop of Southwark

I still support him, good and noble, fine priest and bishop. Any Ab of C would find it difficult. C o E is broad and Anglican Communion broader. Archbishop Rowan puts unity right at the centre of his concern, and therefore major problems in pursuing that unity in terms of truth. He leans over backwards to support those with whom he would fundamentally disagree, perhaps he treats rather badly those with whom he naturally would agree. At the present time the American Church is being treated rather badly.

It is not so about biblical authority, it is about interpretation - Anglican position is "thoughtful holiness" of brains as well as souls.

He's the best archbishop we will have because he is a man of God, who believes that provided he can keep people together and talking there will eventually be a meeting of hearts, minds and souls. I think in 6 months present structures will be pushed to their very limit and if the limit means losing substantial parts of the Church we then have to reconsider present structures - then move to a Commonwealth of independent provinces - a sustainable and effective model in decades ahead.

Rowan is not a disappointment: it is sad that we have not allowed him to play to his strengths which is to talk to world and Church about God and related to contemporary life. He can't get round to that because of the noise of everything else.

[My summary] (Also done Andrew Brown, a Kampala bishop and Stephen Bates)

He thus diagrees with RW - already sees a spiritual commonwealth as sustainable and Williams' approach has been wrong.

Monday, 26 February 2007 at 1:15am GMT
... - existing Churches have changed. Movements changed them, theology changed them, cultural settings changed them. Texts have been altered, unaltered texts have been read differently. And they will change again, as they are doing.

We have a woman archdeacon. That was impossible not very long ago. That is a change. No doubt one day there will be a male Archbishop who is partnered with a man and had some sort of church marriage with him.

Unless by then Arhbishops have become virtual, and you just enter the question you want and the answer comes out according to formularies and the latest interpretations.

Monday, 26 February 2007 at 4:35pm GMT
I think the interviewer was expecting signs and wonders, and got few. He was full of assumptions, and they were not matched. Notice that Archbihsop Williams stonewalled the personal position question, regarding homosexuality and same sex marriages.

A:I have said what the position of the church is and that`s the position I teach. ...the resolution of the Lambeth conference in 1998. That is the position that I teach.... As Archbishop, bishop, priest of the church, that is the teaching which I must keep my allegiance with.
So he has disappeared as an individual. There is something wrong here.

This is not a reflection on him, but is it possible to have an Artificial Intelligence bishop-robot, pre-programmed with the historical formularies and lastest resolutions on any issue? Then we just need to tap in the question and get the answer.

Or look it up for ourselves perhaps.

Monday, 26 February 2007 at 4:20pm GMT
The opening address to synod by Rowan Williams is certainly painful and difficult reading.

The central problem is his desire for some sort of unity across these provinces: that this notion of Catholicism has to have a structural outcome.

Well we might struggle then with actually rejoining Rome, or becoming a branch of Orthodoxy and applying the same arguments there. In that this does not happen, the same is the case within this diverse Anglican situation.

Catholicism is, then, if you like, a mystical concept, something that has an ongoing claim, but does not in fact have a structural reality - unless of course an individual comes to a view and joins an Orthodox Church or the one that broke away, Roman Catholicism.

It is right to think that the problem at communion level has its features in the provinces, it is wrong to think that solving the problem at communion level is a means to solving it at province level. Better to focus at province level in each and every case. Trying and making failure at communion level may well set up the structures to get it wrong at province level.

Indeed, Akinola has Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and he does have a concern for Anglican Communion. Which is why he has interfered in TEC's space. Had he not had this concern, and kept to organising his own space, half of this problem would not have arisen. Now he may be the means for interference and break-up within provinces.

Rowan Williams can still travel about Africa. There can still be agreements between provinces about important service to various parts of the world. It is just that the communion ought to be looser, as Bishop Tom Butler has suggested - a spiritual commonwealth at best.

Monday, 26 February 2007 at 3:53pm GMT
You're right on the button, .... A beauty in simplicity, the need sometimes for stepping out and not being the slowest speed, the impossibility of his project, and the loss of everything in terms of creidibility all around in pursuing it.

And therefore the response is either clarity or temporary tactics to this discreditable situation.

I respect Dr Williams but I think he is wrong on two important points of principle.

First, I think he is wrong to patronise the simple answers - what he calls, with curled lip, "the less labour-intensive options". This is the classic error of the very clever man. Jesus, by contrast, kept it very simple, and always praised the simple people - including children - as closer to God and the kingdom of God than the learned and clever people.

Second, and compounding the first error, I think he is wrong to repeat here, as he has said before, that the Church must always move at the pace of the slowest - that no important change can be made without consensus. That is to entrench the conservative position, whether it is right or wrong. It doesn't avoid or defer a decision. It makes the decision. And it is the wrong decision.

He makes other more obvious errors, of course. Not least of these is in thinking that there is any real prospect of The Episcopal Church accepting "a comprehensive abstention from any public [same sex] rites". Comprehensive? Any? This requires unanimity which he could not even secure in England, let alone in the USA, let alone given the extremely crude and u...ersuasive bullying tactics which accompany the offer of this particular bitter pill.

And, if his judgment is that his much prized unity (which is no small thing, but not everything) can be bought at this price, but it cannot, in fact, be bought on these terms at all, then he has lost everything - he has lost TEC, he has lost unity, he has lost the credibility of the church in the liberal West, he has lost the liberals everywhere (not just in TEC), and he has sacrificed his own convictions along the way.

Oh dear.

Monday, 26 February 2007 at 6:16pm GMT

Monday, 26 February 2007 at 9:40pm GMT
Does the needle on your record keep jumping, ...?

People here are looking at a real situation of danger to Davis Mac-Iyalla, and aggressive homophobia by a principal driver of the Anglican Communion (Akinola) and a silence in Canterbury about this: of a listening process that seems to be a sham (even Rowan Williams admits to this) and of a need, at the least, for a developed biblical hermeneutics beyond that given by those like Akinola.

At the same time, there is no need to "launch TEC Global" as TEC could well present a report and find Lambeth unwilling to suspend invitations to its bishops to Lambeth, and may only do so if Nigeria threatens to walk and may not need to suspend if Nigeria walks anyway.

It won't be TEC global. It will be other provinces not prepared to have the same bullying and blocking processes applied to a Covenant as to the Sub-group report, that efforts to tighten the communion and centralise will be resisted.

It won't be TEC Global but a looser arrangement of provinces, if the September 30 deadline fails, though I suspect through hell and high water Rowan Williams will try to launch his Covenant and have an Anglican Communion that can present itself in front of Rome and Orthodoxy as a thing in itself.

Much more likely is Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Global, an interfering institutional arrangement picking up the likes of Reform and Anglican Mainstream in England.

But let it. Since the Traditionalist Catholics were sidelined in the C of E there has been more progress towards female bishops and (I'd say still peculiarly slow) better progress towards Methodists, and if Nigeria Global sends its cavalry into the more fundamentalist end of Anglicanism there might just be more progress regarding inclusivity amongst the rest.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007 at 5:41pm GMT
Davis Mac-Iyalla [Changing Attitude member in Nigeria who is directly threatened by new legislation in Nigeria outlawing any meeting between or expressed sympathy of homosexuals]: people are looking, listening and keeping watch for your safety because of your important representation.

Friday, 2 March 2007 at 2:51pm GMT
This is a sort of - we have different views, we welcome gay and lesbian orientation (but leave out the fulness of gay and lesbian life - we can't handle that yet) and, er, we are stuck in a rut.

Another thought: down in Abuja they won't be too happy with the drift of the sentiment in both motions, will they, even though each is about being stuck. One way out of the mud rut may be if Nigeria gets the hint.

Pity no one is proposing an emergency motion about the situation in Nigeria, its legislation and the abuse of human rights with its Church support. Can they do emergency motions? It would be interesting to see how bishops might sit on one.

Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 10:00pm GMT
Read it and your mind goes into "unravel it" mode and then realise there is nothing but about nothing much there. It's just diversity of views about a position the Church has taken that is under review anyway. That'll be one to send to the government to tell it that it has a clearer ethical position than this Church.

Wednesday, 28 February 2007 at 9:49pm GMT
Interestingly the latest Goddards exchange has Andrew Goddard explaining why there cannot be two integrities and won't allow for Giles Goddard's inclusve approach. Both are on Fulcrum as follows:
Giles Goddard 25 February
Andrew Goddard 27 February

Both write after the Tanzania meeting, and here is my comment:

I'm critical of both of them, in that the narrowness of Andrew Goddard's point is undermined by the relativity of the clobber passages in the Bible, but that relativity affects everything and Giles Goddard wants to play the orthodoxy game again. That game is institutionally dependent.

Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 11:31pm GMT


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful