Friday, July 21, 2017

2018 Holy Land (and Greece) Pilgrimage

I happily (and freely) advertise a new pilgrimage to the Holy Land tour led by Dean Mike and Patsy Hawke (with extra trip to Greece) in May 2018.

Details are here and here.

A promotional video is here.

Mike is one of our best known clergy in ACANZP (having recently concluded a travelling role with our Missions Board) and is currently Dean of Nelson Cathedral.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Public Theology this Sunday at the Transitional Cathedral

Next in our Theologians at the Cathedral series is Professor David Tombs, Professor of Public Theology at the University of Otago.

All are welcome to participate in Evensong at 5 pm during which David will preach. Then after light refreshments, David will lead a seminar on his topic until 7.30 pm conclusion.

A notice re topic etc and suitable for church bulletins this week is this:

"‘Theologians in the Cathedral’ seminar

This Sunday 23 July at 5pm, the ‘Theologians in the Cathedral’ seminar by Prof David Tombs is being held at the Transitional Cathedral:

‘The Abused Body of Christ: Why does naming Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse matter for Public Theology?’

All welcome."

Frankly I am not sure what the topic entails so I am eagerly looking forward to enlightenment!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Flourishing through Bible Study

Recently Ian Paul through his blog Psephizo has generated a storm or two of controversy (e.g. #mitregate) and he has a stirring reflection/report on the recent CofE General Synod which seemed to be dominated by, er, one or two related issues.

I might yet come back to mitres and other clergy vestments (noting that the same General Synod resolved to permit greater freedom of clergy dress). But today I simply note to you a lovely guest post on Psephizo, by Richard Peers, a recent and well-received visitor in this country when he spoke at the Anglican Schools conference. Richard is Director of Education in the Diocese of Liverpool.

The post is on the value of participating in depth, academic Bible study conferences - a matter dear to my own heart - and its loveliness for me personally is that the conference he went to was at Tyndale House, Cambridge, a study centre and library it has been my privilege to visit on a number of occasions.

The last two paragraphs of the report make an important point in an era when we talk about the church "flourishing" and doing so precisely because we work on this flourishing occurring when we are acutely aware that our differences might inhibit it.

"I gained a great deal from the conference and would love to go again next year although I might be more comfortable with Biblical Theology than the very detailed work of New Testament. Tyndale is, of course, not my natural milieu but, as always, I was struck by the way in which orthodox Christian belief provides a deep fellowship. I met many people with whom I enjoyed talking and getting to know. It is probably just a personality thing—but I especially loved the lack of apparently clever cynicism that all too often pervades Anglican gatherings; there was no attempt at pretending other than that we were a group of people who love to talk about Scripture. There was no embarrassment, over meals or walking between sessions, at talking about this endlessly fascinating subject.

There is much talk in the Church of England about mutual flourishing. I spend a considerable amount of my time and energy trying to ensure that it is a reality. I am convinced that if it is to be real it must mean not that groups each flourish separately but that the ‘mutual’ means that we flourish because we gain from each other. I gained much from this conference and am grateful that I have had this enriching experience."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Politics of Jesus: the other "marriage" debate

There is a sea change going on in world politics, even amongst those nations full of climate change deniers! Previously unquestioned matters are now being changed without questions asked.

One such change is the (bad pun) coming up, that other "marriage" debate, the marijuana debate, about marijuana being made legal here and there. Actually, I am noticing that there is little debate. Articles in NZ media are mostly of the "look it does no harm and, better, when taken for medicinal purposes relieves pain and suffering." Despite my personal observation that marijuana advocates at promotional stalls seem to speak v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, there is little I can see in the media about the ill-effects of the drug.

Anyway, lest I give the impression I speak as some kind of expert, at this link is a considered piece with respect to the matter as it is being addressed in NZ these days.

Would you vote this election for a party which advocates for marijuana law reform?

Does it make a difference whether the policy is solely focused on medicinal use of marijuana?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lost (?) comments just published

Have discovered quite a few comments which had not been conveyed to me in the usual way by email so have published them now (relating a number of recent posts).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Confecting a Valid Eucharist


Recently the Vatican has been in the news for (according to headlines) banning the use of gluten-free bread at the Mass. Natch the reality is a bit more subtle than that. What the Vatican has done is clarify rules surrounding the bread to be used, in my words (1) not just any old bread from the supermarket (2) low-gluten may be used, where "low" equals some semblance of truth can be given to the description that it is bread made of wheat. Citing from the Cardinal Sarah letter:

"“Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread”"

Now, whether this works for coeliac disease sufferers is something I am not qualified to comment on. Nor do I find sufficient details in this Stuff article about the current Catholic regulations in NZ re "gluten-free" wafers to work out whether or not those regulations are the same as what I have cited above or different.

Intriguingly, for me as an Anglican who is comfortable with grape juice being offered as an alternative to wine (for children, for alcoholics), the letter also speaks about the offering of grape juice instead of wine. But it is not the grape juice we Anglicans typically use when we use grape juice:

"“Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist”"

But mustum is "thick" grape juice, the result of the initial pressing of the grapes: juice, skin, seeds, stems crushed into a thick liquid with 7-23% solid matter. In other words, this is grape juice on the way to becoming wine, without fermentation, and not filtrated to get the watery juice we call grape juice. (Note to parishes which use blackcurrant juice rather than grape juice: you really, really ought not to do that!)

Juridical approach to Validity

What most interests me as an Anglican, however, about this letter, is the manner in which it represents one aspect of Roman thinking which, mostly, is very different to Anglican thinking. That is, a juridical approach to minute matters of pastoral care and theology. Coeliacs may like or lump the proscription of completely gluten-free bread. Valid bread is defined by law and not by description. The validity of the eucharist, on this thinking, is valid according to following Roman canon law and involves not only a validly ordained priest following a validly authorised liturgy but also validly acceptable bread and wine (or, in certain permitted-by-the-bishop circumstances, low gluten bread and/or mustum).

For Anglicans, I suggest we are happy to use any bread which is described as bread (gluten free, rye, from the supermarket, made by prayerfully commissioned wafer makers, etc). And we do this, not because we do not believe in rules (we have some pertaining to communion, e.g. must be presided over by a priest or bishop)* nor because we are casual or careless (though sometimes we are, but that is a post for another day), but because we cannot see Jesus himself making a fuss over this (imagining there might have been some gluten free bread at the Last Supper, we think he would have happily broken and distributed that).

Also, we think that some rules are made to be broken. A eucharist in a Japanese POW camp, using rice grains and water is a valid eucharist because, under the circumstances, that is the best that can be done to obey the greater rule, Do this in remembrance of me. And, pertaining to coeliacs, we would happily break the rule re wheat-based bread in order to include coeliacs in communion than exclude them. If gluten-free rather than low-gluten bread is the best that can be done to obey the greater rule, then so be it. (See argument made here).

Now, my point here is not to argue the superiority of Anglican thinking over Roman thinking but to note that, when so much of our ways of Christian life, including emphasis on the eucharist, are bound by common traditions, values and attitudes, nevertheless there are some real differences in approach, which, from time to time, are highlighted in global, public pronouncements from our respective HQs.

*On the specific matter of bread and wine for communion, NZPB, p. 515 specifies:
"The bread for the Eucharist should be a good quality bread (either loaf or wafer) and the wine for the Eucharist should be good quality wine."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Beautiful Anglican Accommodation - Down Under's Way Forward

At last and in plenty of time for our diocesan synods in a month or two's time, we have the interim report and recommendations from the GS Working Group.

Read the Taonga article here, follow the links, and, obviously, read the full PDF document here. (There is a shorter version here but the details in the appendices are what count).

My verdict: a beautiful Anglican accommodation.


It gives (many) conservatives and (many) liberals what they have asked for, and makes few demands on the middle of our church.

I do not want to have to submit to the authority of General Synod (because it has approved something I am not happy with)?
I will not have to do that because the declarations will change.

I wish the blessing of a same sex partnership to be able to take place in an Anglican church?
In most, but likely not all, dioceses/hui amorangi permission will be given for priests to conduct such blessings provided the local vestry is agreeable to that happening.

I feel I would have to leave the church if it approved a blessing formulary (because that would mean our church had formally changed its doctrine on marriage). There will not be such a change. Services of blessing will be approved at a more local level - the diocese.

I am worried that I will be disciplined by the church if I conduct a blessing or if I refuse to conduct a blessing. That will be ruled out, both ways.

I am concerned that my parish, when it comes time to choose a new vicar, will be bullied by the Nomination Board into accepting a priest who will reverse my parish's policy on blessing of same sex partnerships. That can be prevented because parishes and individuals will be able to form communities of common accord with other like-minded parishes. Bishops must respect the ethos of those communities in making their appointment, indeed the appointee must come from within the community to which the parish belongs.

I do not particularly care one way or another whether my vicar does or does not conduct blessings of same sex partnerships. Nothing needs to be done. Keep cool and carry on as you are!

I want to be part of a parish which not only teaches celibacy outside of (heterosexual) marriage but which supports those who choose to be celibate and look for the support of their community of faith in being obedient to God in this way. That is not only possible, it is specifically provided for by the proposal: like-minded parishes including common commitment to teaching and discipline may group together in structured communities of faith, supported by a bishop.

Thus in a number of ways this is a beautiful, comprehensive Anglican  accommodation of the wide range of views on human sexuality held within ACANZP.

To be very clear: a beautiful Anglican accommodation does not mean that everyone is going to be, let alone has to be happy about what is proposed. There will be disappointment for some.

My argument here is that in a tricky, challenging situation in which we are not agreed, we have a proposal which has a quality of elegance to it, which demonstrates deep listening to speeches at the last General Synod and to submissions made to the Working Group, and, critically, a will to make some significant changes to the way we do things.

And all with a view to holding us together.

I hope this means no one leaves.

But if some do, I believe the losses will be few rather than many.

- for the geeks among readers, this is what I posted re the submission I made to the working group. You will see that a number of things I was keen to see are included in the report/recommendations. (That, incidentally, is not a claim that I had some great influence on the report. Once we failed to secure agreement at GS 2016 there was a logical path to where we needed to go as a church in disagreement, which influenced my submission and, I am sure, directly influenced the working group.)
- Also, Bosco Peters has a considered response here.