Monday, July 6, 2009

Sex Money Power and the purposes of FCA and those agin it

First up, you can tune into the FCA conference (as I am doing as I write, listening to Archbishop Peter Jensen - I think, actually, a pre-conference event, 'cause it's Sunday in the UK as I write): head over to Baby Blue Online.

Second up, an interesting post by Lisa Severine Nolland: she argues that FCA is for 'such a time as this'. I think there is some naievty about her post. There is a 'situation', it needs better attention than the English hierarchy are giving it, and stronger affirmation than Fulcrum is offering. But does it need FCA with it's hidden and not so hidden agenda? In particular, it is difficult to discern any fulsome commitment to the ordination of women, and hard not to think that if FCA had it's hands on the levers of C of E power, there would be no further ordination of women. Thus Lisa Nolland would be confined to writing and prohibited from preaching in church and possibly even teaching in college!

Then, thirdly, Cranmer makes the point that things are out of proportion in respect of the attention we are devoting to sexuality compared to money and wealth. One has come to expect wisdom from archbishops and we are not let down here:

with this

"And, dear readers and communicants, homosexuality is not an issue worthy of schism: it is simply not of the order of the sort of debate that used to divide the Church: the divinity of Christ, for example, or the nature of his humanity – the great controversy at the Council of Nicea in AD325 – or even over liturgy or the transforming nature of infant baptism. The issue of homosexuality affects only a tiny minority of its adherents: it is of distinctly secondary, even peripheral, scriptural importance."

and this

"But Cranmer is persuaded that the whole issue may really be a non-issue because the wrong question is being asked. His Grace posited a few days ago that the modern era is sex-obsessed: we live in a consumer society, and there is little that is marketed without a glance, a wink, a flirt, a breast, or allusions to sexual intercourse, because ‘sex sells’. If one were to judge by the media (which is more frequently a mirror to society than a catalyst for change), the fascination with people’s sex lives is now more important than politics, religion, philosophy or even Mammon. Jesus may have had to address the latter as the dominating idol of his era; his judgement was that one may not serve both God and Mammon (Mt. 6:24). But he did not enter into discussion on the fiscal minutiae of cash, credit, bonds, shares, loans or interest; a macro-warning not to be obsessed with Mammon was sufficient. If one were to apply the same principle to the modern idol – ‘Eros’ – it is doubtful that Jesus would address its sub-divisions (gay, bi, straight, oral, anal, tantric); he would most likely directly challenge society’s obsessive fixation with Eros, and by so doing confront both those who prioritise issues of sexuality and those in the church who presume to judge them.

By devoting so much time and effort to the ‘gay issue’, instead of challenging society by deconstructing the question or focusing on poverty and wealth (for example), the church is simply showing itself to share the same obsessions as the world. Paul allowed no compromise on the restriction of sexual activity to heterosexual, monogamous marriage. But such an ethic seems almost utopian to our sex-besotted age, in which it appears at times that one’s identity is made to reside in one’s sexual organs and their untrammeled exercise. The issue for the Church of England is that this debate has been blown out of all proportion; it is neither a battle for the soul of the church, nor an issue worthy of schism. It is a question utterly peculiar to this era, and those on both sides of the divide – both politicians and theologians – might consider toning down the rhetoric and the apologetics, and instead preaching a message that, contrary to society’s thinking, sexual expression is neither a necessary line of inquiry in every human interaction, nor an essential component in human fulfilment."

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