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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Pied Piper of Llandaff's Wedding Tune



Members of the Church needed to be “transformed as persons so that people can see in us
some transformation so that they too will want to be drawn into that kind of life.”
- Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales in 2005 

In 2005 the Church in Wales (CinW) issued a new teaching pack, The Rule of Life, to encourage members to engage more with 'a spiritual life in the Church'. Based loosely on the Rule of St Benedict it was designed to cover "prayer, study, service and community life". The "transformation" is a far cry from the Rule of St Benedict. Prayer, study and service have become politics, revision and despotism.

In 2015 the focus of the CinW is on being more relevant to society than engaging in a spiritual life. As the number of worshippers has declined 'community life' has become largely devoid of traditional religious spirituality. Today people talk of 'being spiritual' not in the religious sense but because they appreciate nature, crystals and joss  sticks. People living in communities where tragedy has struck now leave bunches of flowers to rot against railings while local vicars indulge in massive candle lighting exercises to provide temporary comfort for the grief stricken who no longer have any concept of eternal life.

The CinW Handbook "Parochial Administration" explains members' expectations of a spiritual life in the Anglican Province of Wales: "Everyone lives in a parish although the form that a parish takes varies from one area to another. The parish is probably best defined generally as: "…an area under the spiritual care of a cleric (the ‘Incumbent’ or, in the correct meaning of the word, the ‘curate’) to whose religious ministrations all its inhabitants are entitled” this is sometimes known as the ‘Cure of Souls’." [My emphasis - Ed.] The 'Cure of Souls' has become almost meaningless now that spiritual care is governed by political correctness and conscience is allowed to rest only with the bench of bishops.

For many cradle Anglicans their spiritual life has become a question of 'how far can they stretch credibility in the face of increasing secularism in the Church'. Having established women's rights as the main objective of the Church in Wales, the bench now turns its attention to the destruction of Holy Matrimony under the guise of equality.

In September 2014 the Church in Wales announced a consultation to consider its position on same-sex marriages. It is clear from his closing remarks in an interview here which way Dr Morgan is facing: "These are complex issues, but the conversations in April clearly point to the fact that Governing Body members wanted to deal with the issue with greater pastoral sensitivity than for the re-marriage of divorcees." Dr Morgan added: "In the light of the results of this consultation, the Bishops intend to bring the matter back to the Governing Body with proposals for a way ahead." In other words it doesn't really matter what the consultations produce. The bishops will decide after ensuring that there are enough members of the Governing Body to dance to Barry Morgan's tune.

True, the re-marriage of divorcees has caused problems for the Church but re-marriage is not comparable with the union of same-sex couples. To be trapped for life in a loveless marriage does not obey God's commandment to love one another. While the privileged few escaped through annulment the majority suffered for their mistake until life's end. Much is made of the fact that same sex-couples love each other but it does not follow that Holy Matrimony should be bent to validate their desires. Civil partnerships were designed to ensure that same-sex couples living together enjoyed the same civil rights as heterosexual couples but activists are determined to substitute sameness instead of celebrating difference.

The moulding process has been evident in the media for some time, most graphically in the current series 'Sex and the Church' for BBC2 where Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch parades his personal preference for same-sex relationships as he "explores" how "Christianity has shaped western attitudes to sex, gender and sexuality throughout history".

In Wales the softening-up process saw the Standing Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales hark back to the past to justify Barry's stance and provide ammunition for  his acolytes to use in the so-called consultations. The only thing missing is a return to the ducking stool for recalcitrant worshippers.

The results of consultations are used as evidence only when they are favourable to the bench. Personal preference is put before the good of all the church while others wait to see which way the wind blows before voting to keep in favour with Barry and his bench sitters.

The duplicity of the bench of bishops is evidenced by the following two paragraphs from the Doctrinal Commission's Report:

148. The results of the Lancet’s Survey on Sexual Attitude and Behaviour
published in 2013 underline this sense that what is taking place currently is a
significant departure and is not simply the next step in greater permissiveness
in relation to sexual practice. Whereas in 1991 less than 50% of men, and
53% of women, felt that ‘Adultery in marriage is always wrong’ the present
study shows these percentages to have increased to 66% and 70%
respectively. It also shows that, while in 1991 25% of people thought that
there was nothing wrong at all with same sex relationships, this figure has
increased to approximately 57% today.

149. Pastoral accommodation hints that we offer an unconditional hospitality to
those with whose practice or prohibition we might instinctively disagree.
Those who promote this approach would argue that it would define a new
arena in which it becomes possible to listen more deeply for the voice of the
Holy Spirit, ‘not only in the thoughts, words and lives of those with whom one
agrees but in the contributions of those one believes to be wrong’.

Note "Pastoral accommodation hints that we offer an unconditional hospitality to those with whose practice or prohibition we might instinctively disagree" and reflect on the treatment of cradle Anglicans who have not replaced faith with secularism. Why is it more acceptable in the Church in Wales to be homosexual than to be a traditional Anglican?

No matter whether the gay community represents 1.5% of the population or 10%. A relative few will want to avail themselves of any opportunity for a church wedding. It may be the first and last time they attend church apart from gay clergy seeking approval of their circumstances. Set against the number of Anglicans for whom this could be the last straw, the Church in Wales is certain to be the loser. By the time Dr Morgan retires he will have effectively killed off Anglicanism in Wales while playing his politically correct tune. As for The rule of St. Benedict:

"Always we begin again."

It is never too late Barry.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Church in Wales Lowlights April 2015




"Places like Wales you can write off with Brazil as either in the pocket or in the mindset of Katharine Jefferts Schori in the hard left." - Anglican Unscripted 172 (@12.38)

The recent meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales was dominated by the representation of women in the church: "Equality agenda responsibility of the whole Church" see pages 4 and 5 (of 8) in Highlights. It did not occur to them that self praise is no recommendation.

Never one to shrink from voicing her own opinions as if they were representative of the Holy Catholic Church, the Venerable Peggy Jackson "saw a disconnect between who we are and who we think we are. 'We must address our own issues. We want positive action, not positive discrimination.' She urged women to step up and take responsibility". Peggy and her chums may be big fish in a very small pond but in no way are they who they think they are.

But Barry did not have it all his own way. Another of his chums, the Lord Harris of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford and "a leading CofE liberal thinker" who thinks that the "Koran should be read at Prince Charles' coronation" (here), inserted an unpopular recommendation in the Church in Wales Review:

Recommendation XLII
1) Fees for occasional offices should be paid into church
accounts and go towards the cost of the Share in the Ministry
Area.
2) Clergy stipends should be recalibrated to ensure that they are
comparable to that of neighbouring Anglican churches.

As a former Dean of Llandaff was fond of saying, that went down like a cup of cold sick with Church in Wales clergy who rejected the idea. The motion was lost, with 48 votes against, 34 for, and 27 abstentions. Again there is nothing like self-interest for moving the soul. Much like the "Damascus Rangers" who in a flash saw which side their bread was buttered after the Church in Wales decided for themselves that there was no theological objection to the ordination of women.

From page 27 of the Review report, "The Church in Wales is unusual in allowing clergy to keep fees for funerals, weddings and other occasional offices. This system is open to abuse and we find it unacceptable". It is an oddity of the Church in Wales that other Provinces are held up as exemplars when it suits and then dropped or otherwise ignored. Recall how the Code of Practice in the Church of England was held up as an example of care and compassion in the debate on women bishops only to be dropped after the motion was successfully amended to accept the innovation before a code for Wales was agreed by those for whom it was intended!

Compare also the use of discretionary funds: "Care for those in need is an essential feature of Christian discipleship and an important part of the Church’s work. At the same time this work needs to be effectively managed. In the past people in need have turned to the clergy for help from Discretionary Funds. This role for the clergy is no longer appropriate. - But fine in the Church in Wales! Christ had a word for that. 

One of the oddest moments occurred in Question Time with the question:
 Will the Bench of Bishops, recognising that current Church policy is to instruct all clergy to use fermented communion wine at the Eucharist, consider in individual and exceptional circumstances, for pastoral reasons, permitting a cleric with the approval of the bishop, to offer a separate chalice of non alcoholic communion wine

Bishop Gregory responded:
"The question opens out unexpected theological intricacies. The Anglican Lambeth Quadrilateral said that "the two sacraments ordained by Christ himself—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord—are ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by him." This means the use of wine—the fermented juice of the grape—is essential to proper celebration of the sacraments. The reception of bread alone should be pastorally sufficient when well explained to anyone who has difficult receiving alcoholic wine." 

At last, I thought, some theological sense but then Bishop Gregory added: "Dealcoholicised wine is available for use in the Eucharist; and a discrete second chalice could be used". So how long before the Liturgical Commission recommends a change to "took the cups"? Perhaps in due course, on its road to non-conformity, the Church in Wales will encourage the use of optics and individual communion glasses in the part of the church set aside for coffee so that everyone can do their own thing.

The main issue for the Archbishop, his campaign for same-sex marriage, remains hovering in the background. It is currently being discussed around the Province in preparation for it to be imposed regardless of the outcome of any discussions, just as the Code of Practice was imposed after disregarding the outcome of provincial meetings which agreed that adequate provision should be made for Church members who were opposed on theological grounds to the ordination of women. If the bishops of the Church in Wales kept the faith there would be nothing to discuss. "Places like Wales you can write off". Seems so.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Beyond the veil


Photo: Philip Hollis/Telegraph


"Muslim migrants 'threw Christians overboard during row on boat from Libya to Italy', say police" - The Independent

"Muslim women should be allowed to wear the veil in court, top judge suggests" - The Telegraph


Two headlines from yesterday's newspapers. Intolerance protected by tolerance. How very British, sowing the seeds of our own destruction through kindness which is not reciprocated. That is not turning the other cheek, it is turning a blind eye. The veil may or may not be a sign of oppression depending on your point of view but it has become a symbol which enables some Muslims to thumb their noses at the rest of us while they continue to press for the implementation of Sharia after being welcomed to the United Kingdom.

International lobbyist on human rights and refugee issues, Jacqueline Pascarl lived as a Muslim woman from the age of 17 until she was 22 after marrying a Malaysian prince. She explains here that it is "rubbish" that Muslim women mostly wear the burqa to express their religious devotion. Burqas, she says "reveal more about men than women".

Nevertheless, the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, claims that judges should allow Muslim women to appear in court wearing a full-face veil. It was "crucial that courts and judges show, and be seen to show respect towards different customs". - Even if that involves tossing fellow refugees over the side for being Christians, killing at random, destroying churches and razing ancient settlements while committing "genocide of Christians in the Middle East"? That is increasingly becoming their custom towards minorities in Islamic states.

Lord Neuberger made his remarks in an address to the Criminal Justice Alliance because a judge had ruled that Muslim women wearing a veil over their face must remove it to give evidence in court although women will be allowed to wear a veil when standing trial. The ruling came after the Prime Minister’s office expressed support for allowing schools to ban students from wearing veils. A YouGov poll in 2013 showed that "61% of British adults agreed with the statement, "the burka should be banned in Britain", while about a third (32%) disagreed.

This is where it starts, learning by heart, in Arabic, the words copied by supporters of an illiterate man who claimed they had been delivered to him from God.


The results are all too obvious, among the latest in Australia where five teenagers aged 18 and 19 have been arrested in a series of raids in Melbourne for allegedly planning "atrocious" ISIS-inspired attacks on police and the public next week events in Australia on Anzac Day. Nothing it seems is sacred in Islam, except Islam.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Navel gazing v. the real plight of women


Boko Haram 'has abducted, raped and enslaved 2,000 women in reign of terror'


One year ago today over 200 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram. Dreadful as that event was, there has been much less publicity on the plight of around 800,000 children who have been forced to flee their homes. According to reports from UNICEF "more than 1.5 million people have fled their homes due to the violence." Muslim women often bear the brunt of this inhumanity along with non-Muslims.

Meanwhile at the Church in Wales' meeting of the Barry Morgan Appreciation Society Governing Body this week a large chunk of the Agenda will be taken up by the representation (plight!) of women in the Church in Wales resulting in the Motion - 

"That the Governing Body:
receive and welcome the Report of the Working Group on Representation of Women in the Church in Wales dated April 2015 and endorse the recommendations therein;
accept that the Church in Wales has not achieved in the last seven years the expected cultural change, the appointment of more women into senior posts and the greater involvement of women in Church decision making;
recognise that the equality agenda is the responsibility of the whole Church;
commend the Report to the Province, dioceses, deaneries and parishes for study and appropriate action;
request the Standing Committee to allocate the recommendations in the Report to the appropriate bodies for action;
request the Standing Committee to report back on progress in implementing the recommendations within 3 years."

The navel gazing is so intense that the Church in Wales is blind to the fact that Provinces which have adopted the feminist agenda are going downhill fast. Highlighted in the Report is this gem: "the Church was best placed to fulfil its mission when all of its members are enabled to fully acknowledge their gifts and duties and to exercise their unique talents and vocations as individuals", ie, jobs for the girls. It certainly does not apply to members who are out of favour because they seek to fulfil the mission of the universal Church rather than a self-indulgent separatist minority which claims membership of the Holy Catholic Church as they tear her apart. If they genuinely wished to "recognise that the equality agenda is the responsibility of the whole Church" [my emphasis], they would take the universal view.

Agendum 12 introduces "Evangelism - Witnessing to Good News in Wales and 2020":
"The essential vision behind the Church in Wales review of 2012 was that Church can be the bearer of good news to the world". Do they realise that there is a world beyond Offa's Dyke?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter reflections


"One supermarket chain buyer apparently asked the company
 that supplies the eggs what Easter had to do with the Church
"

The caption under the cross is a quote from an article by Caroline Wyatt, the BBC's new religious affairs correspondent in which she poses the question: "Is Easter still about religion for most?" She writes: "A large, feathery Easter egg stands in the middle of a small street in a shopping area in north London.
Beneath it is an Easter message: 'This egg is to remind people to shop at independent retailers'.
I had thought that it might be to remind people of the other message of Easter - the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, for example, which churches across the country will be marking on Sunday.

... For many years now, leading church figures have bemoaned the fact that in a country that is still officially Christian, with almost 60% of people identifying themselves as such in the 2011 census (although far fewer actually attend church services, or believe in God), the religious message of Easter has been drowned out by the secular festival of chocolate and shopping being celebrated at supermarkets across the country." To which I might add relevance to society.

I was more encouraged by the BBC's headline coverage of Caroline Wyatt's news report: "Easter services to denounce killing of Christians" or, as The Australian put it: Holy Thursday massacre prompts Easter reflections.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter message paid tribute to persecuted Christians while the Pope prayed for "killed Kenyan students [and] decries persecution". All credit then to Metropolitan Hilarion who said it as it is: "There is the genocide of Christians in the Middle East".

Muslims are not exempt if they don't toe the line. Just two of the latest examples here and here. Despite all the carnage and misery it has been reported that "Islam is set to rival Christianity for global adherence by 2050". This is not a time to cast doubt on the Resurrection. We are an Easter people "and if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith".

Anglicans in particular have paid a heavy price for being more 'relevant to society' than to the faith of the Church, few more so than in the Church in Wales where their Archbishop parodied Je suis Charlie when when he claimed "Nous sommes Jesus" in his Chrism Mass sermon. He then delivered his Easter message claiming: "while we may not be able to prove the existence of God or that Christ rose from the dead, Resurrection moments are part of daily life." Given his record that is taken to mean softening up his flock to accept same-sex marriage in the same way that he manipulated the Governing Body to accept women bishops before reneging on promises made to members of his flock who remain faithful to the Apostolic faith. His priorities are wrong.

Humanity is facing a grave crisis in the face of creeping Islamisation but there is a choice. Murder, rape and servitude under Islam or Christian faith, hope and charity. This is not a time to cast doubt on the Resurrection. It is a time for conversion

Saturday, April 4, 2015