Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bishops' magic hands: once tainted, even disinfectant cannot clean them! (Updated)

Oh, dear, oh dear!

That's what we say Down Under about the dear old C of E when it gets its pantaloons in a knot.

Imagine discovering after a bishop has laid hands on you for confirmation or ordination that just before the service he had used the loo and forgotten to wash his hands afterwards. (Possible) Shiver down the spine stuff (some aren't fussy). "My hair is tainted. Pass the shampoo!"

But imagine discovering that a few days or weeks ago or even years ago the aforementioned bishop had had a moment of toiletry forgetfulness. "No problem, mate. Surely he has washed his hands more than a few times since. Why, he might even have had a shower or a bath since then."

Most taint is washed off. But not all. As you can read at Thinking Anglicans or on Anglo- Kiwi. Apparently if a male bishop touches a woman in an ordaining kinda way then no soap known to humankind, not even a powerful disinfectant can wash off the taint which lingers ... forever.

Now we are quite brainy down here Down Under and we can spot a compromise faster than David We-play-hard-but-fair Warner can spot some underhand play from the other side. (Underarm bowling is, of course, harder to spot.) So, dear old C of E, we do understand the 'dilemma' of how to keep everyone happy. We even engage in a bit of that compromise stuff in ACANZP.

But is there not a point where grown adults, living in the 21st century (i.e. able to critically read the Bible) ask simple questions such as, Does God require untainted hands for ordination to be ordination? Is apostolic succession about who has touched whom or about safeguarding the gospel?

And: what, just what are we saying about 50%+ of the human race when we say that their presence within the leadership of the church causes 'taint'?

And we wonder why people are not coming to church!?

- keep reading on Thinking Anglicans
- Bosco Peters makes an astute and needed point about 'Anglo-Donatism' here.
- the underlying theological issue, according to New Directions, is not 'taint' but 'theology and communion' or 'impaired communion' but that does not take us far from 'taint' because it is all about hands and who the hands have touched. 'Tainted communion', if you prefer!
- the question remains, Why should touching women impair communion as though there is something intrinsically problematic about women? This is the great challenge for catholicity (Anglican and Roman and Eastern) in the world today!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The most important questions of 2015

Readers here, the remnant of at least two who commented yesterday, will be pleased to know that I have returned from my holiday full of ideas for posts in the days and weeks to come. In no particular order of importance here is a sample:

- Could motels please offer greater uniformity of service? This is a very urgent question, especially in the holiday season. Most urgently is the service of providing some kind of bedside cabinet or table on both sides of the bed. It is a matter of grave injustice when only one of a couple can rest their morning cuppa on a surface roughly level with the top of the bed. Other needs for a motel 'Act of Uniformity' - this is a very Anglican problem - concern amounts of free Wifi on offer, number of TV channels available. Etc.

- Why are North Island roads better, on average, than South Island roads? Surely it could have nothing to do with the greater population in the northern island!

- Why had I never heard of Charlie Hebdo before 2015? This extremely important figure has hitherto been beyond my knowledge and thus my reputation as a 'global thinker' and 'man of the world' has been ruined by discovering, nearly in ripe old age, that this luminous figure has had no influence on my mental development.

- Heaven on earth is a reality! As discovered by attending a day of the Boxing Day cricket test at the recently opened Hagley Oval, here in Christchurch.

- Boy have I got some financial tips for you and your investments :) When I took Thomas Piketty's now famous book Capital in the Twenty-First Century away to read, I thought - on the basis of some comments I read - that I would be reading a socialist tract. Far from it. This book is a gem as it explains how capitalism has worked and is working. It takes a very long view about the success of capital investments - like analysing several hundred years of data - and thus I have a financial secret to share with you. 

Like all financial secrets to successful investing it is very simple and I will give it to you for free. Seriously, there are no strings attached. I get no commission from the following secret information. 

It is this: if you get more than 5% return over your lifetime on any form of investment you make then you are very, very lucky. Why? Because the long term investment return on capital is 5% or less (and currently it is in a period of 3-4% return, and we may not see a rise on that in our lifetimes).

The more alert of my two readers will now be pining for something 'more Anglican' than the above topics so a few have come to mind amid the stupor of the holiday mood:

- My liturgical hopes for 2015. Having visited a variety of churches in the past few months, could we possibly stop doing X,Y,Z and start doing A, B, C?

- The one vital piece of information every parish website MUST have. Clue: It is NOT that you are a welcoming, inclusive, vital church.

- Factional fiction, John's Gospel, and How God Became Jesus. You probably know the books I am referring to which also formed part of holiday reading.

- If hell exists, is its population less than 1? An intriguing thought. EVERYONE should read this post :)

- Motion 30 Is there a solution to this conundrum?

- In a world seemingly confused by the relationship or non-relationship between 'Islam' and 'Islamism' as in 'One is a religion of peace and the other is not, or is it?', should we start talking about Theocratic Fascism? But if we do that, do Christians need to look in the mirror in order to recall Christian theocratic fascism from the past?


Monday, January 19, 2015

Spiritual and sacred links for Monday 19 January 2015

Back to work ... back to blogging ... not quite over the holiday mood (for overseas readers, NZ is basking in summer sunshine and heat which is not quite a heatwave, the dark side of which is areas (such as as Canterbury where I live) experiencing drought which could imperil our agirculturally based economy ... incidentally, to all climate change sceptics out there, I notice last year was the hottest on record ... I guess we could all fry to death while disbelieving in both climate change and hell, the perfect storm of secular atheistic thinking ....

Enough of the provocateur, here are the links

1. Listening to God [Luke 10:38-42] - William Taylor - St Helen's Bishopsgate Video and Audio

2. Where are you going? [Matthew 2:1-12] - Dr Kendall Harmon

3. Kingdom Come: You and Me [Mark 1:14-20] - Archie Coates - St Peter's Brighton Audio

4. Legalism is not enough [Matthew 5:17-26] - Andrew Wingfield Digby - St Andrew's Oxford Audio

Commentary for Sunday 18th January
5. The Sunday Readings - Rev Stephen Trott

6. Preaching Ideas and Commentary - Rev Peter Carrell

7. Reading Mark 6-10 - Read the New Testament in a year with Rev Andrew Goddard
[and follow the links on the drop down menu Reading NT for other resources]

8. The bells of St Matthew's, Stretford near Manchester - BBC Radio 4

9. Choral Evensong from Christ Church Oxford - BBC Radio 3

10. Sunday Holy Communion livestreamed from St Helena's Church, Beaufort, South Carolina at 10:15 am Eastern Time, 3:15 pm London Time

11. Choral Evensong from Trinity College, Cambridge live at 6:15 pm GMT Sunday [1:15 pm Eastern]
[and afterwards podcasted at the link below]

12. Sunday Hour - BBC Radio 2

13. Archived Choral services during the holidays from the chapels of King's College Cambridge
and St John's College, Cambridge
and Trinity College, Cambridge

Please pray for the Ebola Crisis and for those working for a cure; for Christians and all facing persecution and crime in Syria and Iraq including refugees facing winter and hunger; for the persecuted church and in particular in Nigeria, Niger, Iran; for peace in France, Ukraine, Israel and Gaza; for St Michael's, Heliopolis in Egypt and for the Diocese of South Carolina.

14. Topical Prayers - Church of England
Egypt: Request for prayer: Tragedy Strikes Sudanese Congregation of St. Michael’s Church in Heliopolis
Nigeria: Boko Haram massacre: Satellite images show Nigerian town of Baga 'wiped off the map' - ABC Religion
Primate Okoh solicits for united effort to fight Boko Haram Insurgency - CoN[AC]
Niger: Churches burned down over anti-Charlie Hebdo demonstration in Niger – WWM
Syria region: Jordan's Syrian refugees living in dire poverty - UN - Christian Today
Iran: Christmas arrests in Iran: 11 still detained – WWM
Iranian Christian released from prison, pastor given additional one-year sentence – CSW
South Carolina: Prayers from Lent and Beyond

15. Sunday Programme - with Edward Stourton - BBC Radio 4

Food for thought
16. Church of England: Go Forth and Multiply – Economist
How I almost lost the Bible - Gregory Thornbury - Christianity Today
You're not too busy to read the Bible - Jen Pollock Michel - Christianity Today
Blogging, campaigning and the General Election - Law and Religion
Engage 2015 for the Rugby World Cup in September

17. Rejoice in the Lord Alway - Purcell - Sydney Sussex Choir

18. Light Up The World - Desperation Band

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Restful Holidays


Thoughtful reading for the holidays here Universalism, Augustinianism, Calvinism, Limited Atonement, Limited Reprobation, God is gracious and just but how, and in which world?

Anglican Down Under Blog Holiday

Time to replenish the "little grey cells". While reserving the right to post should peace and unity break out ecumenically, or a new gospel be added to the canon of Scripture, I intend to take a holiday from blogging until c. Monday 19 January 2015. (For northern hemisphere readers, it is summer Down Under and the nation more or less shuts down, people switch from blogs to detective novels for their reading, beaches entice, etc.)

Until then,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers :)

And, thank you for reading and commenting through the past year.


Some Christmas thoughts (apres Christmas)

Interesting to be part of two full Eve services, pick up, via Tweets etc, news of other full churches in NZ. Visible evidence to my eyes of young people present, not all of whom were with their parents. Christianity has not died here!

But what can we learn from the connection with church building/liturgical worship/heritage church rather than fresh expressions being appreciated at such a season?

I might come back after the holidays with some thoughts ...

Some Christmas Thoughts (prior to Christmas)

As a matter of fact I am pulpitless this Christmas but that doesn't mean I am not thinking about what could or even should be said this Christmas about the reason for the season.

Somewhere in my hypothetical sermon I think I would be mentioning that this Christmas the message of Jesus Christ is a little, perhaps even a lot harder to preach because this past year has been a very, very bad year for religion.

The violence and hatred expressed murderously in the name of one or two religions makes it harder for all religions to communicate their message. That some atheists in the 20th century murdered millions in the name of atheistic anti-religions such as Marxist-Leninism is a pretty bleak counter to those who wonder why any religion should be taken seriously when in the name of religion children are being beheaded in front of their parents, girls are being kidnapped, both girls and adult women are being sold into slavery and forced marriage. The list goes on and in 2014 has been viciously horrible.

There is something deeply wrong with religion in general when religious reasons are proffered for ill-treatment of fellow human beings, especially the most powerless in the face of men with guns: children and women. Could 2015 be a year when religious leaders start talking to one another and uniting in condemnation of humanity's inhumanity to one another?

Yet the dark religious clouds hovering over Christmas this year highlight the beacon of light which shines from the manger in the stable. That light is the light of the world, born in miserable circumstances to bring light and life to the whole world, to every man, woman, and child.

The light that shines from the stable is not the light of truth, if truth means we may maim and kill those who do not agree with us, and it is not the light of goodness and purity, if goodness and purity means that we may torture and destroy those we perceive to be bad and impure. It is the light of life, the light of love, the light of God who so loved every man, woman, child (i.e. 'the world') that he sent his own Son to all humanity to rescue us from precisely the darkness which threatens to engulf the world today.

The challenge of Christmas (if we may put it that way - it does sound serious and heavy in the midst of celebration) is to move beyond religion (if that means 'my religion' versus 'your religion') to the heart of God which is love. If religion does not serve this God, it is nothing. If the religion known as 'Christianity' does not serve this God, it has misunderstood the announcement God's heart makes to our hearts in Jesus Christ.*

In many ways the sermon is now preached. But I have also been thinking through this year about the awesomeness of the Incarnation. I think in my hypothetical sermon I would also want to at least mention this. The common accord with the reflections above could be this: when God takes up human flesh, God signals the true worth and value of every human being - God's love for the world is so great that God becomes the world, identifies and shares with us in our plight, and leads us to God's new creation.

There is a risk when we talk about the Incarnation that we reduce it to a kind of cosmic magic trick. "Look, God became a man. How awesome is that?" But that is not the Incarnation, and nothing in John's beautiful Prologue suggests anything like a display of awesome magic took place when Jesus was born.

Rather, when Jesus was born, God made a new birth for humanity possible. By becoming us, God opens the way for us to become God. Salvation is so much more than moving from the wrong side of God's ledger to the right side, from hell to heaven: it is to be drawn into communion with the Communion of Father Son and Holy Spirit.

But after 2000 years, have we made much progress as Christians in understanding this?

Let 2015 be the year when theology moves from its preface to its first chapter, when the church moves from infancy to childhood, and when religions wither on the vine!

*(Unfortunately there is evidence that Christianity is a religion which misunderstands this message! Here is but the latest, in this morning, 20 December, evidence of not understanding our calling to serve the God who is love).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Services for Travellers in NZ

Looking for a [Anglican] service to attend when out of town this Christmas? The following list could help. If you are housebound, at the foot of the first is a set of links to services accessible via the internet.

Note that for parishes with no website at all, you can find contact phone numbers by working from links on the following pages: Diocese of Christchurch, Diocese of Nelson, Diocese of Dunedin ...

SOUTH ISLAND - island to the north is "south" on this post!

Diocese of Christchurch

Christchurch city and surrounds

Transitional Cathedral, inner city, Christchurch

St Michael's and All Angels, inner city, Christchurch.

St Luke's, inner city, Christchurch

St Saviour's Sydenham and St Nicholas' Barrington

Opawa-St Martins

Holy Trinity Avonside


St Barnabas' Fendalton

St Paul's Papanui

St Mary's Merivale and St Matthew's St Albans meeting at St Margaret's College Chapel or, better information, here on Facebook

St John's Latimer Square BUT most services at Mairehau High School

St Timothy's Burnside and St James Harewood

St Christopher's Avonhead

St Peter's Upper Riccarton and St Luke's Yaldhurst

St Columba's Hornby, St Saviour's Templeton, St Paul's West Melton


South Canterbury

Fairlie and Tekapo

St Philips and All Saints Marchwiel Timaru

St John's Highfield Timaru

Christmas Eve Children's Services (interactive) 4pm and 6pm 
Christmas Eve Midnight service, beginning at 11.15pm 
Christmas Day service at 9am

Temuka and Pleasant Point - link is to general service information

Pre Christmas, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at St Peter's Temuka

Thursday 18th Christingle @ 7pm - a Candlelight Service for Children and the Young at Heart (30th anniversary of this service!)

Saturday 20th  4 pm Remembrance service to remember loved ones or for people suffering grief of any kind

Christmas Eve 10 pm Service

Christmas Day 10 am Service

Diocese of Nelson


Nativity church, central Blenheim

St Luke's Spring Creek (north of Blenheim) - scroll down this Facebook page


Nelson cathedral, central Nelson city

St Barnabas' Stoke

St Stephen's Tahunanui - just a walk from the beach!


Holy Trinity Richmond

Motueka (including Riwaka, Ngatimoti) - Anglican churches closest to Kaiteriteri

Brightwater and Waimea West

Diocese of Dunedin

Dunedin city and environs

St Paul's cathedral, central city

St Matthew's corner Hope and Stafford Streets, central city

All Saints Dunedin North / University

St John's Roslyn

St Peter's Caversham

Warrington (coastal village north of Dunedin city)

Central Otago

Queenstown and Arrowtown

South Otago


Balclutha and Clinton


St John's Invercargill

The following does not  represent systematic research into each and every parish listed on diocesan websites. As time permits I am trying to add some info/links re major cities and towns. 

Te Manawa o Te Wheke

St Faith's Ohinemutu Rotorua

Diocese of Auckland

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland city

St Columba Grey Lynn, Auckland city

St. Matthews-in-the-City, Auckland central city

St Margaret's Hillsborough, Auckland city

Church of the Good Shepherd Massey, Auckland city

St Chad's Meadowbank, Auckland city

St Oswald's One Tree Hill, Auckland city

St George's Church Papatoetoe, Auckland city

Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki

St Andrew's Cambridge

St Mark's, Te Aroha

St John's Waihi

St Mary's Cathedral, New Plymouth

Diocese of Waiapu

St John's Cathedral, Napier

Holy Trinity, Tauranga

St Andrew's, Taupo

Diocese of Wellington

St Paul's Cathedral, central Wellington

St John's Johnsonville and Holy Trinity Ohariu Valley

All Saints, Haitaitai, Wellington


Introduction to above links

It can be difficult when travelling to relatives for Christmas to know where to go to church ... at least when relatives are unreliable guides to local worship times. So as a free service to readers in search of a Christmas service in a strange city here are some possibilities ... BUT I NEED YOUR HELP to enlarge the offering. Thanks for those who have been sending links/info ...

I have been able to survey my own diocese (Christchurch = Canterbury and Westland) and the dioceses to our north (Nelson = Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman, Golden Bay, Buller, Grey District) and south (Dunedin = North, Central, South Otago, Dunedin, Invercargill). As time permits I may be able to do more this week.

If you were to offer additional information via comments I could keep enlarging the scope of the post. My preference is for a weblink to your local parish(es)/cathedral service times but failing that send the times/places and I will publish.

The criteria below where I publish a link is that the parish has an identifiable page with 2014 Christmas service times on it. No link, no publication unless times are sent to me via comments!

No order of priority here, but some attempt is made to group parishes by geography. For Diocese of Christchurch parishes I have worked from the AnglicanLife site to connect with each parish website listed there. If your parish is not listed below then either I have not researched well enough or your parish is not displaying Christmas service times on or around 14 December.

The observation needs to be made quietly but firmly that in an e-information age, it is most unfortunate that there are many parishes with websites which do not display Christmas service information.

In 2014 people look up websites to find out when services are on. They do not ring contact phone numbers as a first means of finding out.

In my research for above I observed the following:

Many sites do not contain Sunday service information on their 'front page.' Do people go to a church's website to find out what is great about the church or to learn when they can meet for worship at the church (to then find out in person how great the church is)?

Some websites are not functioning because some kind of trojan something or other has affected/infected their site. One site was in Chinese, another site told me about a publishing venture! Do we check our sites regularly for functionality?

One site had so much "byte" content that it took ages to download - so I gave up! It is good to have a superb site re web aesthetics but the essence of a website is that it is the e-newsletter and e-noticeboard of the church, not one of its glorious stained glass windows reproduced in gigabyte detail.

Some sites used to exist and now do not; other sites were maintained by someone ... until 2012. (That is also a comment which reflects on links held on diocesan websites. Every South Island link above I got to via the 'parishes information' page on each diocesan website).

There are many parishes without a website at all. I do not want to criticse those parishes because I do not know what struggles they have to do what they do without adding to their burdens the establishment and maintenance of a website. (As a blogger and as one of the administrators of the Theology House website I understand how much work a website involves and would want parishes to have website presences they can sustain or no presence at all). Nevertheless is there not an issue for our church as a whole in the e-information age about how we might assist parishes in the development and sustaining of basic parish websites?

For the Housebound ...

Here are some of the services being broadcast over Christmas

All times are London time unless otherwise stated - deduct 5 hours for Eastern Standard Time, 8 for Pacific or use this time converter:
Nearest UK Christmas services can be located here
and in New Zealand here

Handel's Messiah from the Temple Church - BBC Radio 3
Alpha Carols 2014
Hymns on Sunday - Radio New Zealand

3 pm GMT (10:00 EST or 07:00 PST) Service of Nine lessons and carols from Kings’ College Cambridge directed by Stephen Cleobury – BBC Radio 4
and on BBC World Service [3pm]
also broadcast at 2pm on Christmas Day 25th December on BBC Radio 3
more details and service booklet

3:30 pm archived recording of Choral Evensong from Tewkesbury Abbey in 2002 with the Exon Singers

5:25 pm Carols from Kings – BBC 2 TV [UK only - check local networks if viewing outside the UK]

7 pm 1954 Carols from Kings digitally remastered - BBC 2 TV [UK only]

11 pm Eastern ST Christmas Eve Service from St Helena's Beaufort, South Carolina [4 am London Time]

11:45 pm Christmas Celebration - BBC 1 TV [UK only]

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Someville Choir

8 am Christmas lessons and Carols from Exeter Cathedral - BBC Radio Devon

9 am Naval Christmas Service from Portsmouth Cathedral - BBC Radio 4

10 am Christmas Day Service from St George's Church Leeds – BBC 1 TV [UK only]

1:45 pm 60 Years of Carols from Kings - BBC2 [UK only]

3 pm The Queen’s Christmas Message – BBC Radio 4
and on BBC 1 TV [UK only]

The twelve days of Christmas - Rutter - Somerville Choir

Christmas with Premier Christian Radio

What does Christmas mean to you? - Diocese of Bristol


Sussex Carol [arr Ledger] - Choirs of the Cathedral Church of St Luke and St Paul Charleston

Merry Christmas from Trinity College Choir

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sacred and Spiritual Links - Monday 22 December 2014 including Oihi commemorations

The very big news of sacred and spiritual activity in Aotearoa New Zealand this week is the culmination of celebrations of the preaching of the gospel for the first time in our islands on Christmas Day 1814.

One major events was yesterday and a further event takes place on Christmas Day itself.

Taonga has articles here and here.

Bishop Kelvin Wright's Available Light blog has a series of posts on his pilgrimage from Dunedin to Oihi here.

The following links are supplied by a UK colleague:

Advent links remain available here for this fourth Sunday of Advent:
There will be a round up of Christmas services in the next few days.

Meanwhile I hope some of this may be of interest:
#1 Archbishop Glenn Davies preaching powerfully at the Sydney memorial service; #2 Raphael Samuel, recently made Bishop of Bolivia on God and his purpose; #3 Archie Coates on the presence of God with us; and #4 All Souls Langham Place have a series on Christmas Begins with Christ.

Prayers for you this coming week.

1. Sermon from a Service of Hope and Prayer - Archbishop Glenn Davies - St Andrew's Sydney Audio

2. How God Restores His Purpose - Bishop Raphael Samuel of Bolivia - Holy Comforter, Sumpter, SC Audio

3. Message of Christmas:God with us - Archie Coates - St Peter's Brighton Audio

4. Christmas Starts with Christ - talks from All Souls Langham Place

Commentary for Sunday 21st December
5. Preaching Ideas and Commentary - Rev Peter Carrell

6. The Sunday Readings - Rev Stephen Trott

7. The bells of St Peter's Congleton in Cheshire - BBC Radio 4

8. Choral Evensong from Manchester Cathedral - BBC Radio 3

9. Sunday Holy Communion livestreamed from St Helena's Church, Beaufort, South Carolina at 10:15 am Eastern Time, 3:15 pm London Time

10. Sunday Worship from Methodist College, Belfast - BBC Radio 4

11. Advent Carol Service still available from St John's College, Cambridge - BBC Radio 3

12. Sunday Hour - BBC Radio 2

13. Archived Choral services during the holidays from the chapels of King's College Cambridge
and Trinity College, Cambridge
and St John's College, Cambridge
and New College, Oxford

Please pray for the Ebola Crisis and for those working for a cure; for Christians and all facing persecution and crime in Iraq; for the persecuted church and in particular in Nigeria, Egypt, India and Iran; for peace in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza; and for the Diocese of South Carolina.

14. Topical Prayers - Church of England
Nigeria: Archbishop Kwashi 'Poor Nigerians need protection' - BBC News
Nigeria government 'outraged' by kidnap - BBC News
Egypt: Christian convert facing maltreatment in prison – CSW
India: Christmas 2014 ‘evokes not joy but fears’ for India’s Christians – WWM
Iran: Charges dropped against Church of Iran clergy – CSW
South Carolina: Prayers from Lent and Beyond

15. Sunday Programme - with Edward Stourton - BBC Radio 4

Food for thought
16. Happy Christmas from the Middle East - Canon Andrew White - Huffington Post
No, we love Yeshua - Fr Dale Matson
Richard Hooker and Magna Carta - Bishop Graham Kings
Miracle on Clifton Rd: God is in Charge - Robert Lundy
Six Clay Seals Discovered In Israel Linked To Era Of Kings David And Solomon - Huffington Post

17. Advent 2014 Week 3 - Andrew Evans - UCCF Video

18. Christmas Message from Bear Grylls - Alpha Carols Video

19. O Come Immanuel - Sheyi Martins - Alpha Video

20. O Magnum Mysterium - Morten Lauridsen - New College Oxford Choir

God bless you

Thursday, December 18, 2014

If you buy one Lenten study guide for Lent 2015 ...

Theology House's next Lenten study guide looks even better in your hands - thanks to superb design by Marcus Thomas. Taonga has the story and the ordering details here.

TH's website has the details here.

It's a bargain - eight studies for the price of six :)