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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Women's and gender studies and more serious matters

"If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts." - Professor Camille Paglia

I spotted this video of Professor Camille Paglia on Twitter @YeyoZa explaining why women's and gender studies departments should be defunded. I found it rather amusing after all the feminist claptrap which has infected the Anglican Church over recent years.

The so-called glass ceiling in the secular world was broken years ago. There is no shortage of women presenters, commentators, interviewers, interviewees, etc, etc, etc but still Women And The Church (WATCH) and their allies whinged on, insisting that the church followed to set an example! So the stained glass ceiling has been shattered, as has the Anglican Church in Great Britain with further decline shown in the latest report.

For people who follow the downward spiral of the Church in Wales, the name of the Archdeacon of Llandaff will spring to mind. She torpedoed any meaningful alternative provision with her phony Code of Practice and is now a leading light in MAE Cymru, the WATCH sister organisation in Wales.  MAE Cymru stands for ‘Merched a’r Eglwys’ (‘women and the church’). Their priority is parity dressed up as equality to ensure that merit plays no further part in the selection process.

The  bishop of St Davids and the bishop of Llandaff are happily obliging with their first appointments, the first female Dean of St Davids and the bishop of Llandaff's new female chaplain. Both bishops are keen on advancing LGBTQI+ issues leading to more confusion especially among the young and vulnerable as the traditional male role model ceases to exist.

Reported in the GuardianMore than 60 children a day calling Childline with suicidal thoughts. Figures from Childline represent a 15% increase on the previous year. They list four main HELP categories: Sexuality,  Peer pressureFaith and religious bullying, and Sexual abuse.

Social networking provides opportunities for contact undreamed of by a generation which recalls the age of the Telegram as the deliverer of urgent, often unwelcome, news. Today children can be in contact with anyone anywhere in the world and there are plenty of predators eager to exploit any opportunity leading children, literally, to expose themselves creating a vulnerability to be exploited.

Quite often children are much smarter than their parents when it comes to IT. They have tablets to aid their school work and smartphones to keep in touch, but with whom? The Xbox and similar consoles provide further opportunities for exploitation by the unscrupulous with parents often unable to keep tabs on all the electronic opportunities which many parents do not understand or ignore so long as their children are occupied.
Added to this, image, particularly among girls has reached crisis proportions. I often find it incongruous listening to an overpaid, excessively made-up presenter reporting on women struggling to feed their children. No heavy make-up with plucked and painted eyebrows for them. They are the grim reality, the victims in a society obsessed with image. So much so that if a boy prefers to be seen as a girl or vice versa he/she is actively encouraged while ignoring the well documented dangers suggesting a re-run of the problems complained of by Professor Paglia.

I see from the Telegraph in that the latest twist in the transgender debate is about to engulf the Monks of Mt Athos who fear that a new law will allow people to change their gender letting women into their all-male sanctuary.

Amidst all this so-called equality, inequality has become more marked. Just try joining a women's group as a man if you doubt it. Where will it end?

Postscript [19.10.2017]

'Heartbreaking' rise in self-harm among young teenage girls
Self-harm among young teenage girls rose nearly 70 per cent after 2011, due partly to “extreme” obsession with social media compared to boys, a new study has found. Full report here.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Depression! Time to get a grip

Archbishop Justin Welby,  "a risk-taker and reconciler by nature".- Gurardian/Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

From the Guardian, Thursday 21 March 2013 08.00 GMT:

"Justin Welby doesn't do fluffy spirituality – he's the tough leader the church needs

"The new archbishop of Canterbury will not be easily fazed by the burdens thrust upon him. Welby is a decisive man of action.

"Rowan Williams' parting wish, as he bid farewell to Lambeth Palace after a difficult decade, was that his successor might be blessed with "the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros". Many are wondering how the new archbishop of Canterbury will cope under similar stress. Justin Welby, a risk-taker and reconciler by nature, is gifted with unusual mental toughness, shaped through personal suffering. His background at Eton, Cambridge and Kensington gives the impression of untroubled privilege, but must be set alongside a broken home, an alcoholic father, and the tragic death of his firstborn daughter aged just seven months."

Fast forward to the Telegraph, 11 OCTOBER 2017 • 9:45PM:

"Archbishop of Canterbury opens up about 'black dog' as he reveals he suffers from depressive episodes 

"Justin Welby has opened up about suffering with a "black dog" as he reveals for the first time that he has suffered with depressive episodes. The Archbishop of Canterbury revealed that he has only recognised that he experiences the bouts of feeling "hopeless", which have not been formally diagnosed, within the past year.

"Asked in an interview for GQ Magazine whether he had been depressed, he said: "I think if you had asked me a year ago I'd have said no, and ten years ago I'd have said absolutely not. "But what was that phrase Churchill used? 'Black dog'. There is an element of that. I think as I am getting older I am realising it does come from time to time."

In his customary, forthright manner the Rev Dr Peter Mullen says it as he sees it when writing in his  'All Things Considered' blog. He writes, "Welby admits he’s hopeless" before going on to illustrate how the teaching of Scripture concerning sexual relations turns darkness into light, something Dr Mullen assumes Archbishop Welby has not done:

"Difficult as this might be to believe, it seems that the Archbishop of Canterbury has not thought to look at the 3000 years old tradition of Judaeo-Christian ethical teaching to help him settle his mind on the matter of sexual relations."

Depression has been described as a "common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration". Anyone who suffers from it deserves sympathy and understanding.

Less severe but also debilitating are periods of stress and anxiety, especially when brought on by others. So consider all those poor souls whose religion has been their only solace, taught from an early age to leave their problems at the altar to be borne by Him, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light". How are they expected to cope when their church has left them?

One would think on that basis that many bishops, particularly in the Church in Wales, would be feeling depressed at the misery they have caused to others. There is no evidence of contrition as they sideline the many while elevating the vocal few who allege injustices despite a church presence which is out of all proportion to their numbers in society (2%). Perhaps the bishops today have problems with numeracy as well as biblical erudition.

Looking wider, according to Pew Center Research, "Five Centuries After Reformation, Catholic-Protestant Divide in Western Europe Has Faded". From their August 31, 2017 Report:

"As Protestants prepare to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the prevailing view among Catholics and Protestants in Western Europe is that they are more similar religiously than they are different. And across a continent that once saw long and bloody religious wars, both Protestants and Catholics now overwhelmingly express willingness to accept each other as neighbors – and even as family members.

While some Catholics look down their noses at the Ordinariate and over zealous converts dismiss Anglicans who, for many legitimate reasons, have not followed them across the Tiber, there are also new Anglicans who see no problem in defining faith according to their own desires rather than as it has been received.

How ironic, then, that while the average (often lapsed) Catholic and Protestant has come closer together, the new 'liberal' Anglican church is tearing itself apart over the LGBTQI+ ascendancy when they account for just 2% of the population in the United Kingdom leaving many cradle Anglicans excluded because they remain faithful to biblical teaching.

Christianity in the UK is approaching crisis point as illustrated by the headline: An Oxford College has banned the Christian Union from its freshers’ fair on the grounds that it would be “alienating” for students of other religions, and constitute a “micro-aggression”:

"The organiser of Balliol’s fair argued Christianity’s historic use as 'an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism' meant that students might feel 'unwelcome' in their new college if the Christian Union had a stall. Freddy Potts, vice-president of Balliol’s Junior Common Room (JCR) committee, said that if a representative from the Christian Union (CU) attended the fair, it could cause 'potential harm' to freshers".

While Christians face "worse persecution than at any time in history" according to a new Report, 'progressive' Anglicans are happy to reject other Anglicans who remain faithful to scripture and tradition resulting in an alarming drop in numbers regularly attending church services put at only 1.4 per cent of the entire British population.

If we don't get a grip, Christianity which has formed the basis of Western society will become something for academics to ponder over in secular institutions and madrasas.

According to a 'Christian Today' report, the supermarket chain Lidl has edited out the Christian cross from churches in its Greek food range because it 'does not wish to exclude any religious beliefs'.

I wonder if they are have read about the boy in Mosul who was buried alive because he "steadfastly refused" to throw away the small cross he was wearing around his neck when ordered to do so by "IS terrorists". Read The Last Christians: Priest Describes Horror, Courage of Christians Being Killed for Their Faith

Depressing, isn't it.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Feminizing the Church in Wales continues at what cost?

 Springtime at St Davids Cathedral

In Spring 2018 there will be an unwelcome change for many in what they regard as the holiest site in Wales. A place of pilgrimage beyond politics. The Rev'd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, LVO, OBE, currently Priest-in-charge of Cardiff’s city centre civic church of St John the Baptist, will take up her new post as Dean of St Davids. 

That is no reflection on her ability. It is not a question on whether she can do the job but whether she should given that the Church in Wales is merely the current custodian of this place of worship when the Church in Wales represents only a tiny minority of Christians who believe that the Church has been wrong on scripture and tradition for two thousand years.

Canon Jones says in the Church in Wales Press Release today: "The Cathedral and its surroundings so strongly convey the sense of being holy ground. For so many, over so many centuries, it has been a sacred place to sense the presence of the living God who is beyond time and space, and yet who is also intimately close to each of us with the offer of redeeming love. It will be a tremendous privilege to join the community of those who today bear the responsibility of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with pilgrims and visitors from near and far".

For many this sacred place will become a museum used to advance the cause of feminism rather than a place of pilgrimage and worship. The Church in Wales plays a dangerous game. St Davids Cathedral is unlike any other in the province. "Nearly £2,000 per day" is needed for the maintenance, upkeep and running costs of "this wonderful working Cathedral" to quote from their web site. Visitors are essential for survival 

As women in the Church in Wales increase their power, with 'quota' appointments to gain parity, they play a very dangerous game.

The new Dean of St Davids, the Rev'd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones  (CinW)

Friday, 6 October 2017

Anglican Primates on Same Sex Marriage

This videoed press conference which was included in a press report on the acceptance of same-sex marriage by the  Scottish Episcopal Church must rank as one of the most excruciating performances of all time. Like Archbishop Rowan before him the Archbishop of Canterbury must have been wondering why he took on the task.

Archbishop Welby seemed paralyzed by a perceived need for political correctness leaving it to the  Rt Rev'd Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, to spell out the Christian faith in response to demands to accept same sex marriage as the norm on a par with the union of one man and one woman, thus validating that which is contrary to Christian beliefs.

As if paddling his own canoe, Mark Strange, the Scottish Primus, who had "previously made headlines by calling for gay marriage in church in 2015 and revealing he had been in love with a man", rebuked Anglican leaders for sanctions on Scots saying, "You should have greater concerns".

How easily that trips off the tongue when love (sex), often relating to one's personal desires, becomes the excuse to sidestep Christian doctrine.

It was left to Archbishop Freier to explain that the doctrine of the Anglican Church concerning marriage is clear.

He said:
"It is determined by our historical formularies, by our Prayer Book, and is about the life-long marriage of male and female persons together under God so that's a clear section that we have and was one that bishop Mark, the Primus of Scotland, confirmed remains in the doctrine of the Scottish Episcopal Church so I think we've got a strong centre in the Anglican Communion which is supporting an unchanged position on the doctrine of marriage but we also know across the Communion we represent places where, in some cases, homosexuality is unlawful. It can be punished by harsh sentences sanctioned by the State.

"To other communities where it's already been legislated, same sex relationships have an equal status in law with heterosexual relationships so where as a church family  spanning the different operation of conceptions about human sexuality and seeking to make some sense of it and keep the cohesion of or community strong, whilst recognising that these are not simple matters at all to do, so it is challenging, but in its centre there is a strong consensus that the doctrine of marriage in the Anglican Communion is clear and unchanged."

When pressed on "the pain that many feel that those who are proposing to accept same sex marriage are breaching the authority of the scriptures and are ignoring the truth of the word of God", Archbishop  Welby  admitted that what was being proposed was contrary to the scriptures, that it was a tear in the fabric of the Communion. "It made walking together much more difficult".

It would not be so difficult if the doctrine of the Church on same sex marriage were simply maintained instead of trying to accommodate the selfish desires of those who do not care about tearing the fabric of the Communion so long has they have their own way. Their gain is others pain.

Instead of informing society, the progressives would have the church mirror society thus validating their own feelings at the expense of the church. Each 'gain' leads to more demands, pressing forward to make the abnormal appear normal as it becomes more familiar.

The diocese of St Asaph in the Church in Wales is a prime example. An evening of celebration and reflection to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality is to take place in St Asaph Cathedral.

The event, entitled Coming out the Shadows, will "remember the pain of those who fought for the change in the law and whose lives were blighted, and share their hopes for the future."

Many heterosexual people fought for a change in the law but it was to remove the stigma of criminality, not to promote same sex marriage.

When successful, the progressives go on to use their slender majorities to stifle opposition with false accusations. “The theme, Coming out the Shadows reminds us that for many LGBTQIA+ people, life is still difficult with discrimination, homophobia and antipathy persisting.” Where is the evidence? The church is full of gay people.

This is yet another LGBTQIA+ promotion. The event at St Asaph Cathedral is "open to all with representatives of police and local authorities in attendance. It will begin with drinks and nibbles and a rainbow cake is being made specially for the occasion. The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Nigel Williams, will welcome everyone to the event". The money could be better spent.

Holding the event in St Asaph Cathedral "signals that the church acknowledges the pain that the criminalisation of homosexuality caused so many and how members of the gay community suffered just for being themselves – the person God created them to be.”

The progressives claim that love is all but it is self-indulgence. Where is the love when the fabric of the Communion is torn, causing pain to so many more, 98% more? As the Scottish Primus said, they should have greater concerns.

Rev’d Sarah Hildreth-Osborn (LGBTQIA+ Chaplain). Source Church in Wales
Postscript [07.10.2017]

1.   ‘I am copping out’: Archbishop of Canterbury refuses to say if ‘gay sex’ is sinful

2.   "Senior bishops have hit out at moves from some rebel conservatives to launch rival Anglican structures, accusing them of subverting the authority of the Church" (here). Pot, kettle and black spring to  mind.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Too little, too late?

  "Be joyful and keep the faith!" -  The motto of Credo Cymru   

Lay and clergy members of the Church in Wales who subscribe to the traditional Anglican understanding of faith and order are being invited by Credo Cymru (Forward in Faith, Wales) to Register as members of Y Gymdeithas, a Society for Wales under the patronage of the Welsh Saints similar to The Society in the Church of England. It is hoped that the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, will serve in due course as Visitor of the Society in Wales.

This puts into practice the suggestion of the Bishop of St Asaph in September 2016 following the Conference to Preserve the Breadth of Anglicanism in Wales that such a body be established  "to explore the possibility of a 'double belonging' to the society and to the diocese. Priests would continue to owe a duty of canonical obedience to the bishop with jurisdiction, who is the  ordinary, but they could have an affective loyalty to an Episcopal Visitor chosen for the society."

For many it has proved difficult to 'be joyful and keep the faith'. So difficult that many have given up on finding that the church had left them, seeing no point in paying to maintain an 'inclusive' institution that excluded many cradle Anglicans. 

But be that as it may. The appointment of two women bishops has placed conscientious clergy and laity in Wales in a difficult position, one from which they could see no escape. This move provides hope and a belated glimmer of understanding. Pray that it is not too little, too late.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sociology replacing religion

The Bishop of Llandaff, June Osborne delivering her first presidential  address
 to members of the Llandaff Diocesan Conference.      Source: Church in Wales

"As someone whose first love was sociology I’m fascinated by how people draw the various maps of their world so one of my earliest requests to help me understand the diocesan landscape was that we should have a large map in the office showing the physical shape of the diocese. It arrived last week and already I stand in front of it with colleagues getting them to explain to me how things work."
The Rt Rev June Osborne, Bishop of Llandaff 

The new bishop of Llandaff's first presidential address at a Llandaff diocesan conference makes informative reading. Strong on sociology but weak on theology and spirituality she should sit easily on a bench of bishops devoid of such talents. Formerly five of the bishops in Wales held Oxford Firsts in Theology.

Bishop Osborne said, "I will go on studying and using my map of the Llandaff Diocese but there’s another map going on which I’ve begun to study and that is the map of the diocese which we each carry in our heads. We’ve been doing some exploring of it today: and as I visit all the Deaneries in these next months I’ll be listening carefully to what you think ought to be our priorities because they’re writ large on your maps of how church should work."

This is far removed from the hype about the Dean of Salisbury beginning to transform Llandaff as soon as she crossed the Llys Esgob threshold. With parity high on her agenda her first move was to appoint a woman Chaplain as she began fishing for ideas on how to proceed in her new role.

Presumably the Archbishop of Wales had such imports in mind when he referred to the "huge range of talent, skill and faith" that the Church in Wales has among its people, both lay and ordained. 'Had' rather than has would have been more accurate. 

Archbishop Davies has promised  ‘more of the same’— but faster. In a pre- Primates’ 2017 conference video the Archbishop looked forward to learning from other provinces, ideas on new styles and new ways of delivering ministry, "something which we are seeking to do" in Wales he said. More of the same but faster can only mean accelerated decline. 

Consultation is a bench favourite to be ignored at will so the new bishop outlined how she was inviting clergy and lay people to help her draw up a common map of the diocese by pinpointing where they saw themselves and the part they played in it.

Sadly many of the most able clergy now see themselves in England while lay people play no part after the Church in Wales left them. 

The situation we find ourselves in is neatly summed up in the headline by Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent of the Telegraph: Number of new trainee priests hits ten-year high as 'celebrity vicars' make the Church look 'normal'

Celebrity vicars like the Reverend Richard Coles and the Reverend Kate Bottley have "made the church more accessible" according to the Rt Revd Jan McFarlane, bishop of Repton. She also highlighted the BBC's 'Broken' and 'Rev' as good media portrayals of the clergy. 

Perhaps she was not aware of the BBC series about church in Wales ordinands 'Why we’re all represented in the Vicar Academy'.

The report shows a "ten-year high" in trainee clergy with more women than men starting training as priests for the first time in sixteen years. One of the ordinands, a journalist aged 33 and mother-of-three, says she has been encouraged by moves to make the priesthood more inclusive to women, such as part-time curacies and courses that fit around childcare.

Another sociology job option of relevance to society.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Former Queen's chaplain Gavin Ashenden consecrated as 'missionary bishop'

Source: Twitter

Gavin Ashenden, the former chaplain to the Queen who earlier this year resigned from the Church of England over its 'liberalising' trend, has been consecrated a bishop. 

He has been consecrated as a missionary bishop to the UK in the Christian Episcopal Church, one of the continuing Anglican churches that emerged in the United States in the ongoing disputes in The Episcopal Church over the ordination of homosexuals and women. 

Report here.

Congratulations and best wishes to Bishop Ashenden as he begins his mission among us.

Further details from Bishop Ashenden here.