Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Have aliens Occupied the C of E?

POSTSCRIPT INTRODUCTION Putting the Occupy/city/church finangle into theological perspective, read Luke Bretherton @ Fulcrum. Here is an excerpt:

"It is to be hoped and prayed that the same Spirit that seized John of Patmos to condemn the imperial system of Rome in the book of Revelation may yet still seize the canons and clerics of the Cathedral (and the Church of England more broadly) to condemn the system of domination in which the City of London plays such a catalytic role. This would surely be the basis of common ground with the Occupationistas. The differences between them should rest not in what they are against, but in how much they are willing to invest in human efforts alone. The Occupationistas largely look to a project of salvation achieved through political changes, whereas the Cathedral is meant to represent a vision of salvation that raises a question mark above all schemes which depend upon human effort alone. However, like the members of my church, most of the protesters I met were pilgrims on a quest for truth, justice and bit more love in the world. The church should welcome them as fellow travellers on a road it has travelled for a long time.

So rather than a face off between clerics and campers, the real battle is with the denizens of the Square Mile and Wall Street and their vision of the future. The bankers like to position themselves as the hard-headed realists facing down the fantasists and utopians encamped around them. Yet as well as spreadsheets and data sets there is an equally utopian and anarchistic vision guiding many in the financial services industry on both sides of the Atlantic." END POSTSCRIPT
We interrupt this series on the Gospel in the Communion to draw attention to the extraordinary and somewhat baffling sequence of events going on in the Church of England because some tents in which, apparently, few actually sleep at night, have been pitched in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral, London.

First, Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser resigned (seemingly because he didn't approve of legal action by the Cathedral being used to evict the campers), now the Dean himself, Graeme Knowles has resigned (seemingly because he did approve of legal action etc). Finally, ++Rowan himself has said something about the debacle, though it scarcely goes beyond cliches. The Man Who Tackled Mugabe: could we expect more of him on this matter of global protest over financial inequalities? Incidentally, ++Rowan's statement shows the value of fame (Fraser) and importance (Knowles) in the C of E. There has been a third "minor canon" who resigned, but he does not figure in the archepiscopal statement!

Is Susan Howatch writing the script of this narrative which has all the ingredients of her Starbridge novels (cathedral, dean, chapter, money)? Is the ghost of Anthony Trollope meddling in the thickening plot?

A simpler explanation, one Giles Fraser, an expert in philosophy would appreciate (see Occam's Razor), is that aliens themselves have pitched tents inside key Anglican leaders in a strategy called Occupy the C of E.

Of course the amazing thing about this saga re the C of E hitting the headlines is that it has absolutely nothing to do with that usual headline creating suspect s-e-x! :)

It would seem that the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres will need more deft footwork over the next few days than Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney if he is to survive this unexpected turn of ecclesial events.


Father Ron Smith said...

Anyone up with the play in the world-wide Anglican Communion would already be aware of the fact that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York had made their opinion known about 'Greed in the City' much earlier in the piece. To accuse them of non-engagement in the present situation is to completely misread what's going on.

This is a tussle between the Cathedral Dean and Chapter and the perceived right of the protesters to protest around the Cathedral Precinct. It is nothing to do with the issue of the object of the protest.

Canon Giles Fraser, leader of 'Inclusive Church' resigned because of his desire to align the Church with the freedom of the Gospel - whether to protect gays and women from persecution by the Church, or for the rights of peaceful protesters to protest.

Don't let's make this situation more fraught than it already is by throwing around false rumours.

Peter Carrell said...

I do not agree, Ron, that the Man Who Tackled Mugabe is unable to tackle the Dean and Chapter via some well-thought out words of guidance as to how to handle the situation for the good of the C of E, indeed of Christianity in general.

It does seem extraordinary that in this situation ++Rowan is using the legal aspect of the Dean and Chapter's powers to say virtually nothing when the situation cries out for the intelligent leadership which ++Rowan is able to give. This is the man, after all, accused of meddling in the affairs of TEC, whose legal status is even more removed from Lambeth than St Paul's Cathedral!

Andy S said...

With respect Fr Ron I do not think it is the churches mission to tackle "greed in the city" - rather it is to win souls for the Lord, one at a time, and it would only be great success in this endeavor that might bring about the desired change of outlook "in the city.

However this contretemps reflects badly on all - after all St Paul's Cathedral in London seems to be run more as a tourist attraction, a sort of renaissance era Disney World, rather than a house dedicated to the Lord.

Cynical old me can't help but think it is the loss of all those £14.50 admission fees that lead to the eviction of the protesters.

It's very a sad thing - life in a fallen world

Kurt said...

Whether one agrees with Dr. Fraser’s theology and politics or not (and I understand that many who frequent this site do not agree with him), the man has integrity. I believe that he is exactly the type of cleric the Church needs today.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Simon said...

+Richard will survive - he is adept at that in conflicts that threaten to drag him in. He wouldn't have thrived so long in the role of +Londin otherwise.
While it's his diocesan cathedral, the appointments are Crown appointments and he does not have ultimate say over the governance of the cathedral.
Equally, while regarding the situation from overseas, and seeing an internationally renowned cathedral dragged into the mire, one needs to appreciate that St Paul's does not come under the jurisdiction of ++Rowan at all, though he is a frequent visitor.
Meanwhile, as the UK's London-centric media continue to focus on the camp and its effects, thousand of parish clergy in the real world of the C of E, get on with what they've always been doing, as one of them, Dave Mock, has captured rather well:

Peter Carrell said...

That's a good link, Simon, thank you!

Rev. Andy Carley said...

Well maybe I'm a bit slow... but surely this is a missed opportunity? If a group of people turned up at my tatty, run down earthquake shaken parish in eastern Christchurch I'd be thanking God for a great evangelism opportunity. Just think how great it would be if God gave all of us the opportunity to tell others about Jesus by bringing them to our place instead of us having to go out to them!! How easy would that be? Of course you would have to do it every day, put on open air bible studies maybe even run a Christianity Explored, or Alpha course. I wonder, though, if the good people of St Paul's were to do just that, and who know maybe they are, how many of the protesters would hang around long enough to have their lives changed?

btw thanks for the link to the lostinthenorth blog, simon... refreshing reading!

Andrew Reid said...

Pehaps this situation gives greater credence to this earlier article?

Father Ron Smith said...

I see that former Canon Giles Fraser has been co-opted into the St.Paul's team to challenge the culture of corporate greed in the City. This, at least, is a good development, and a sure sign that both the Bishop of London and the ABC have sussed out a way forward from the deadlock.
Deo gratias!