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?



liturgy said...

Being one of your two, may I say, Peter, I'm looking forward to these posts.

The North/South Island divide is very noticeable - with more than just roads. We won't get equality until we have the capital down here for a while - the North Island has had all the capitals we've tried.

I too have several X,Y,Zs and A, B, Cs. And, as to parish websites, I struggle to understand why such a simple, essential thing is systematically done so badly. Deep down I wonder if we really do not think new people will join us. Deep down I wonder if we really do not want new people to join us. The paradigm of many Anglican parishes seems to be RC convents.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
"RC convents" as a paradigm might need unpacking ...

I think I would put the situation slightly differently:

Do parishes realise how much they have become clubs of friendly people who maintain fabulous clubs?

Then, Do these clubs realise how inadvertently and unintentionally they have become exclusive clubs, accessible only to those who accidentally share the tastes and values of their clubs?

liturgy said...

Yes, Peter, the club paradigm is helpful.

Unpacking the RC convents paradigm a little:
Go back to say the '70s, RC sisters were integrally involved especially in schools, but also elsewhere. Considering joining the sisters would be a regular conversation with young people, there may have been a sister traveling around, specifically encouraging people to consider joining. Every convent would have had a well-oiled process for those showing any interest. Sisters were in full-time, trained-and-formed, positions as novice mistress. Convents expected young people to join. Novitiates were bursting with enthusiastic young women.

Fast-forward to now. Certainly for most convents in NZ there would be little expectation to have a young person try the life. If one person did press to join, many a convent would probably have to think through what to do with such a person. Some would advise the young person to try somewhere else.

There has been a significant shift. As a parish priest I sought to shift from surprise to see a new person on a Sunday to surprise not to see new persons on a Sunday.



Father Ron Smith said...

And, being the other of your two regular correspondents, Peter; may I suggest, apropos: " do Christians need to look in the mirror in order to recall Christian theocratic fascism from the past?", that this question may better be put to the GAFCON Provinces than little old N.Z.
Acceding to criminalisation of intrinsic gay people may not be very democratic.

Welcome Back!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I had not thought of that aspect of theocratic fascism. I am thinking, as I look in the mirror, more of elements of Old Testament life (noting that on some matters the Qu'ran is heavily influenced by the OT), to say nothing of periods in Christian history when in the name of God we have killed people. 16th century England immediately springs to an Anglican mind!!

Father Ron Smith said...

In the course of a post I made recently on kiwianglo, I had occasion to compare the versions of the 139th Psalm as found in (a) Jerusalem Bible and (b)the N.Z. Anglican Prayer Book.

What I found was interesting. The J.B. quotes the psalm in full; whereas our N.Z.P.B. chooses to omit verses 19-22.

I am aware that there was much talk of the omission of these verses at the time - as being insulting of the Jewish Canon. However, I now realise how like the current ISIS ideology they are:

"God, if only you would kill the wicked! Men of blood, away from me!
They talk blasphemously about you,
regard your thoughts as nothing.

Yahweh, do I not hate those who hate you, and loathe those who defy you?
I hate them with a total hatred,
I regard them as my own enemies."

It does seem that maybe we Christians ought not emulate the theology of these verses - especially in the current controversy about ISIS militancy.

(Is this an example of felicitously up-dating the theology of the O.T. - in the light of modern-day antipathy to war-mongering?)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You will know your Marcionism well enough to know that the church updates the OT at its theological peril!

The difference between NZPB and (e.g.) JB among Bible translations is that the former has made selections about words appropriate to say in a worship service where the congregation is invited to join together in saying the words without further explanation.

The latter is the unexpurgated Word of God, which, if read in a worship service will be (or should be) placed before the sermon where explanation of the "offending" words can be given.

MichaelA said...

So Peter, in this post you are telling us about posts that you are going to write, and inviting comment on them from people who haven't yet had the opportunity to read them?

Okay, I can live that.

And note that I have just commented. :)

Anonymous said...

Going back to that vital piece of missing information on church websites, Peter, it is of course not merely an Anglican problem.

Last summer Marci and I were on holiday and interested in attending a particular Mennonite church in our neighbourhood. However, the information was missing, so we couldn't go!

But all is not lost. I happened to mention this fact to a friend who is a member of that church. He laughed and said, "Yeah, we should fix that!" This year when we went back to the website - there was the vital information - so we went!

Tim Chesterton

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Tim. Did you and Marci get to partake of the Eucharist with the Mennonites? Do they have this particular way of Christian worship? Or was it a prayer sandwich?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron. Not this time, although we have done so at other Mennonite churches in the past. They don't tend to break the bread very often.

Marci and I are old friends of the Mennonites, though, and we enjoy doing something different when we're on holiday. The church we were at was Lendrum Mennonite Brethren Church here in Edmonton (lendrumchurch.ca) and the service was on the first Sunday of January. Here is the order of service:

Prelude and Quiet Meditation
Call to worship (liturgical)
Moment for Mission (led by a congregation member, reporting on an outreach project in central America supported by the congregation)
Children's Feature
Prayers of the People
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-18
Sermon (by Carol Penner, the senior pastor - she was excellent)

Our observations:

It was not showy, it was very simple and understated, which tends to be the older Mennonite style
The hymns were excellent - the words were unfamiliar to us but the tunes were well known, sung in lovely four part harmony. I think they provided most of the 'liturgical' element in the service, and they did it well.
The style was simple and informal, and the welcome was warm (we knew a few people at the church, but soon met a few more).


MichaelA said...


Great to hear.

But I gather these aren't the sort of Mennonites that won't allow electricity in their homes... (can you work a web-browser using horse-power I wonder?)

Anonymous said...


There are many misconceptions about Mennonites. Only a very small minority won't allow electricity in their homes. My Mennonite friends like to talk about the two great migrations: (1) from Europe to North America (mainly because of persecution), and (2) from farms to the cities. The vast majority of Mennonites in North America today are well-educated city dwellers. The congregation we worshipped in on January 4th includes a well-known Canadian novelist who is a two-time winner of the Governor-General's award for literature.


MichaelA said...

Hi Tim, that's cool. Since I respect them regardless of whether or not they choose to use electricity, its all the same to me!

MichaelA said...

Re important questions of 2015, one of them will be raised by this article: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:MalL7Zq7wbUJ:changingattitude.org.uk/archives/8400+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

After this, I suspect that fewer and fewer orthodox evangelicals will believe anything the Archbishop of Canterbury says to them.

And of course it also shows that Reform was right in calling on its members not to have anything to do with the 'Shared Conversations' promoted by the bishops of the Church of England.

Peter Carrell said...

So out of that post about a jumbled and confusing approach to conversations in and between dioceses, bishops, etc, none of which are guaranteed to bring about a desired conclusion (whatever that may be) we are to make a judgement about the ABC?

MichaelA said...

Hi Peter, sorry if that was somewhat cryptic. I will do my best to explain:

If you follow Colin Coward's blog you will know that by "the LGBTI issue" in this context he means the effort to get a practicing homosexual consecrated as bishop in the CofE. In other words, the same step taken by TEC in 2003 that caused the split in the Communion, and the same step that Rowan Williams stepped back from in 2010 when Reform told him they would leave the CofE if he did.

For the ABC's representative to say that the purpose of the ABC's visits to Primates over the last two years has been to buy time for the LGBTI issue to be sorted out within the Church of England is explosive stuff – he told the various Primates and bishops that the purpose of his visits was to listen to their views, and most of them would have told him they were strongly against that very thing.

It appears that the ABC is supportive of consecrating Jeffrey John but hasn't admitted as much to the Primates or to the traditionalists within his own church.

Whether it actually happens or not will depend on the constitutional processes of the Church of England, but I was talking about how the ABC is regarded, i.e. whether traditionalists (or orthodox evangelicals and anglo caths, or whatever you want to call them) both inside and outside the Church of England trust him in future and believe what he tells them.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
CC may or may not be accurately reflecting what the ABC's rep said. I do not know. Over the years of reading things CC has said I have formed the view that a grain of salt or two may be handy.

MichaelA said...

I take your point Peter.

And even without commenting on Colin C, it is a second hand version when all is said and done - unintentional errors can occur.

Father Ron Smith said...

"If you follow Colin Coward's blog you will know that by "the LGBTI issue" in this context he means the effort to get a practicing homosexual consecrated as bishop in the CofE." - MichaelA -

Michael, I wonder just who is the 'practising homosexual' that is being promoted by Colin Coward to become a bishop in the Church of England?

If you are thinking of Fr. Jeffrey John you may just be barking up the wrong tree - unless your understanding of a 'practising homoseual' is different from mine, and most other people's.

This is where truth really needs to be separated out from common gossip.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Please take care about speculation in comments. Signalled above by "if you are thinking ..."

Michael gave absolutely no inkling what he was thinking about a particular person but you have stretched his general point to make another point about a named person.

Michael's point is quite unexceptional: Changing Attitudes will never be satisfied that the CofE has changed until there is a 'practising homosexual' as bishop.

Were the celibate J. John ordained a bishop I am sure CA would be pleased and carry on campaigning for change!!

Father Ron Smith said...

" Changing Attitudes will never be satisfied that the CofE has changed until there is a 'practising homosexual' as bishop." - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Here again, Peter. This is just supposition on your part. Perhaps you need to be guided by your own strict rules. Or am I wrong in supposing this?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
It is a supposition but you do not need to speculate about what is in my mind.
I have laid it out there. It can be tested (e.g. someone could email CA). It is likely to be true (on the basis of various things CA has published over the years).