Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Only persistence will win the future?

There are at least two imponderable, nuggety issues in the minds of some Anglicans hereabouts. Well, in at least one mind, mysteriously connected via a mind:body link to the keyboard by which these words are written :).

Mystery one is what will the end story of the Christchurch cathedral be. The latest intel via the frontpages of last Saturday's Press is accessible online here.

Mystery two is what will the end story be of the Anglican church (including the C of E, the Communion and Down Under's finest, ACANZP). We cannot escape this boiling, broiling if not brawling story. Much as I would like to "move on" re blogging about it, another twist or turn arises, pretty much on a daily basis. I don't blog on every bit of news and views, but I am happy to touch on those bits which arguably might move us onwards in our thinking.

In particular I am interested in those bits of news and views which might, maybe, possibly, potentially move us both forwards and together. (There is heaps of stuff going down which could blow us apart). So today I draw attention to a thoughtful, moderate line of thought by Doug Chaplin (as he blogs his way through the Thirty-Nine Articles), entitled The queering of celibacy.

One point he makes chimes in with something I am often pondering. (In my words) if we keep focusing on this issue as The Big Issue are we not contributing to oppression and injustice against those for whom This Big Issue is not an issue but their very lives?

On both mysteries of how the end games will play out, a certain kind of dogged persistence is required. Both mysteries are taking time to be worked out, much more time than any of us likes, and way more time than any of us thought they would take when we first realised the depth of the puzzles involved. Will only such persistence win the future of our local cathedral and of the state of the Anglican church here and abroad?

9 comments:

Andrei said...


"The working group tasked with breaking the deadlock on the Christ Church Cathedral is only investigating how to restore the historic building. It is not considering demolition.

The move is the first official indication that the cathedral, which once faced demolition, could be largely restored to its previous state.

In June, the Government tasked the group to find a solution for the building, which has been holding up the redevelopment of Cathedral Square."


It would be hard to find a better metaphor for the situation Anglicanism finds itself facing in the Western world in the 21st century and how it goes about confronting the issues it faces.

More talking - more reports - more delays

Why do people want a cathedral? How do they envisage it being used?

The heart of the matter is not the building, rather it is the Soul of the people

Years ago when my kids were young a knock came on the door - it was a school teacher who taught my youngest at primary school and who lives a few doors down. She understood we were a Christian family with different ways from hers but wondered if the younger two would be interested in Bible Study at the local Anglican Church - we agreed they'd benefit of course and off they went

That woman has abandoned Anglicanism and that Parish is about to close its doors (not over the ISSUE but on other matters of modernism that led to scandal and decimation of the congregation).

That woman told me she had been gritting her teeth and persisting for years until a particular incident drove her to the local Catholic Parish for spiritual sustenance though she has not formally become a Catholic to this day as far as I know. I see her still from time to time, she still lives a few doors down - we talk

The arcane matters of Theology mean little to most of the Faithful, the ISSUE even less and while you focus on these the sheep scatter

Anglicanism as an English expression of the Faith has much to offer, to revive it as such is your task - committees and talk fests are not the way forward

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, I think that Doug Chaplin is talking a great deal of sense in this article. I particularly resonated with the following opinion:

"In today’s context the almost complete disappearance of celibacy among the clergy (and more widely) is a question the Church seems unable to address. It is hardly valuing celibacy to turn it into a compulsory option for gay clergy (as some seem to promote it), while vaunting the joys of marital sex for everyone else. Turning to it as the “solution” for the “church’s problem” with homosexuality is not much more than binding heavy burdens for others to carry. Either celibacy is fully encouraged and promoted as a serious and valued vocation for straight as well as gay Christians, or it is misunderstood and poorly valued."

As a former celibate SSF Brother, who is also intrinsically gay, I am fully aware of the spiritual attraction to faithful gay Christians of the rigours of the celibate life in a Religious Community. However, that life is not easy for gay people- as it would not be easy either for heterosexual brothers or sisters in Community. The irony is that I left, not to be able to renounce celibacy - but so that I might answer God's call to priesthood.

I also did not marry to enter into a legal sexual relationship but because my wife and I came to love one another outside of that particular setting. However, despite the fact that our marriage (naturally, from my sexual-orientation) would be celibate, my future wife (a widow with young children) and my local bishops agreed that we could marry in Church - with no-one else needing to know our 'secret' (Propriety being observed??)

Having long since retired, however, it has become spiritually necessary for me (with my wife's enthusiastic approval) to quietly advocate for loving monogamous same-sex relationships - especially for those Christians for whom such a relationship is integral to their physical and mental well-being, even though some of their fellow Christians look down on them for what they discern as being contra-Scriptural. Each of us has their own conscience!

The Church has already changed - or at least, that part of it that is not blinded to reality - to the point where it no longer considers LGBTI people as enemies of God and of 'true religion. They have yet to understand that the very best way of dealing with such relationships is exactly the same as for heterosexual couples - in the saving grace of a committed relationship.

Even Saint Paul, himself preferring celibacy for all Christians, said that it was "better to marry than burn" - a sure indication that it was not against the Christian ethic to marry. This effectively encouraged a bonded sexual relationship, as against random promiscuity.

This fact should not belittle or discourage the reality of those people who have, according to one of the three definitions of celibacy given by Jesus in Matt.19:12&13, embraced celibacy for 'the sake of the Kingdom' (NB, it is my firm belief that another category; that of the eunuch 'from his mother's womb', more than adequately describes the intrinsically gay person - this is possibly the only reference Jesus made on the subject of homosexuality).

Father Ron said...

contd:

It was interesting to read very recently of young woman who has been part of the first year's intake of young Christians into the ABC's Community of Saint Stephen, embedded at Lambeth Palace who, while she was in that Community admitted that she had a long-term female partner and that they were monogamously committed to one another. in the deep sharing that took place in the Community, she never felt uncomfortable about sharing her life and faith situation with her co-members. This is in some ways an encouraging sign that the young of our Church are more in tune, perhaps, with the reality of the spirituality of LGBTI people than our Leaders.

The matter at issue at the moment - in the U.K. Church at any rate - is whether, or not, clergy and bishops in the Church who are same-sex partnered should be 'celibate' - a status claimed by the bishop of Grantham, but pooh-poohed by heterosexual conservative clergy as being either impossible or unlikely - well they should know, one supposes. Even people on this blog have expressed their disbelief in such a possibility. But then, they are not in that situation, so how could they possibly know?

So, to sum up then. Being a partnered gay clergy-person in the Church of England is now permitted - with the proviso that there is no sex involved. well, at least that's a win for openness against the sin of hypocrisy, and a positive step forward that even ACANZP ought take notice of in our Province.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Thanks for your challenging comment above and for sending a link to a controversial documentary in another comment. I started watching the documentary but gave up (not because it is not worth watching but because, time limitedness, I do not think its message quite hits the mark re faithful same sex partnerships, lived in a Christian spirit (versus, e.g., flamboyant gay pride excesses ... which are not being supported here).

Andrei said...

I wonder Peter how many of those who would raise Christchurch Cathedral to its former glory would faithfully attend a Sunday Service there come sunshine, rain, sleet or hail?

If the purpose is to make it the beating heart of the Christian Faith in Christchurch then my support is unequivocable but if its purpose is to cater to busloads of Japanese tourists as a picturesque backdrop for their "selfies" well I'm not so sure

As for the documentary it was not my intention to bring forth the lurid stuff but rather the effect on families and Nations which discussed in the later parts - particularly Christian lands that have suffered the yokes of first the Ottomans and then the Communists and now face the forces rabid sexualizing secularists

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Yes, understood about that aspect of the documentary.

I assume many supporters of reinstatement of the cathedral in Chch will not be regular worshippers there but our cathedral is a complex phenomenon within Canterbury society (which is why the process to date has been way more complex than most of us bargained on around 23 February 2011).

As Cantabrian Anglicans we have two challenges (at least):
- to respond and work with the many thoughts, ideas, emotions surrounding the cathedral in a way which enhances our ability to communicate the gospel
- once whatever happens to the building, to work on the use of the building in congregational worship, proclamation of the gospel, use of the building for large diocesan and ecumenical occasions etc.

Father Ron said...

re Andrei's opinion on the future of the Cathedral in the Square. My own preference would be to build a brand-new Cathedral to indicate the Church's need to keep up to date with modern seismic technology and architectural reliability - having in mind the 'sacred space' it is meant to represent.

However, my prayer is now that God's will be done in this matter, mindful of the adage that: 'Man proposes, God disposes' (provided man doesn't get in the way!) Like many people, one wonders how many of the restoration advocates would actually come to worship in a historically restored building.

carl jacobs said...

Many people came onto Cranmer's weblog and accused him of "attacking" Vicki Beeching in that post. Not one of them was able to sustain an actual charge by reference to the text that Cranmer wrote. I know this because I personally made a point of asking to do just that - cite the text and prove the point. The best I got was a few references to a few clauses or words ripped from context. This charge was sound and fury hiding a distinct lack of evidence.

But the charge was never about the evidence in the first place.

Jonathan said...

There's an article posted on Psephizo written by Andrew Goddard entitled "What does full inclusion mean?"- worth a read. Not entirely on-topic for this thread, but the appropriate thread has been relegated to "previous page" status :-)