Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Now that's interesting

... shows how much I know about the church in Sweden when quite a bit of the detail in this article by Andrew Brown is complete news to me!

It begins thus:

"The Church of Sweden's decision to make no distinction in its marriage service between straight and gay couples is not as straightforward a triumph for liberal attitudes as it may seem. For one thing, half the church's bishops signed a letter condemning it; but the extraordinary decision-making structure of the Swedish church means they have no special voice in its decisions.

The church is run by an assembly that is elected directly – in theory by all its members. In practice, the turnout is about 10% and the great majority are elected on the tickets of secular political parties. This is great for the political parties, who thus get another way to reward their members with office and a chance to practise getting out the voters. Before the last church assembly elections, Mona Sahlin, the leader of the Social Democrats, announced that party members have as much of a duty to vote in these as in any other elections. Sahlin is not herself a member of the church, nor a Christian."

Read it all here.

... shows how much I know what is going on in Benedict's grand plan, but Ross Douthat suggests that the real aim of the Anglican invite from B16 to join the fold as a separate flock is less increasing the acreage of Rome, and more keeping the growth of Islam at bay:

"But in making the opening to Anglicanism, Benedict also may have a deeper conflict in mind — not the parochial Western struggle between conservative and liberal believers, but Christianity’s global encounter with a resurgent Islam.

"Here Catholicism and Anglicanism share two fronts. In Europe, both are weakened players, caught between a secular majority and an expanding Muslim population. In Africa, increasingly the real heart of the Anglican Communion, both are facing an entrenched Islamic presence across a fault line running from Nigeria to Sudan.

"Where the European encounter is concerned, Pope Benedict has opted for public confrontation. In a controversial 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, he explicitly challenged Islam’s compatibility with the Western way of reason — and sparked, as if in vindication of his point, a wave of Muslim riots around the world.

"By contrast, the Church of England’s leadership has opted for conciliation (some would say appeasement), with the Archbishop of Canterbury going so far as to speculate about the inevitability of some kind of sharia law in Britain.

"There are an awful lot of Anglicans, in England and Africa alike, who would prefer a leader who takes Benedict’s approach to the Islamic challenge. Now they can have one, if they want him.

This could be the real significance of last week’s invitation. What’s being interpreted, for now, as an intra-Christian skirmish may eventually be remembered as the first step toward a united Anglican-Catholic front — not against liberalism or atheism, but against Christianity’s most enduring and impressive foe."

That's the end of the article. The beginning is brilliant. Read it all here. (H/T B Thomas)

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