Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Round Up

Taonga - at last - publishes something on the billboard fiasco. It is an apologia from Glynn Cardy:

"Archdeacon Glynn Cardy, vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City, has outlined his purpose in erecting a controversial billboard depicting Mary and Joseph in bed. He cites five aims:

1. To invite people to think about the virgin birth and the nature of God.

2. To say that there was more than one Christian way to think about the virgin birth and God. Indeed there are many.

3. To promote the Progressive view of Jesus having 2 human parents and God being the power of love in his life i.e. 'virgin' and 'son' are understood metaphorically.

4. To ridicule the very literalistic view that God is a male and literally sired Jesus.

5. To invite people outside of the church to see a type of Christianity here at St Matthew’s that they might be able to relate to.

Point one has hugely successful. Whether people agreed with our theology or not, conversations broke out all around the world in work places, homes, and schools.

Point two was not as successful. Many thought we were ridiculing every Christian view save our own. Yet, partly due to live interviews on radio and TV, this was corrected as we went along.

Point three again was only partially successful. Initially most media seemed more interested in those expressing outrage than reporting our reasons for doing it. Again as time progressed and overseas media in the UK and Australia picked up on the story this Progressive view got more coverage.

Point four was very successful. People knew we were criticizing the male god and the crude image of being Jesus’ literal parent.

Point five was the most pleasing of all. We have had lots of wonderful response from people on the edge or beyond the edge of Church for whom this billboard gave them reason to hope that maybe there was ‘room in the inn’ of Christianity from them. Or at least with us out the back."

Oh, so no apology for ridiculing God then?

[Later: I applaud Glynn Cardy/St Matthew's for not pressing charges against the woman arrested for slashing the billboard. Her action is inexcusable. But St Matthew's pressing charges would be a bit rich given the breaking of church law which has (arguably) occurred in this episode. For aficionados of our canons try these for fit: Canon 1 Title D C2 S3.6 (re authority of bishop), 1 D A5 (re Preaching Teaching Evangelism); 1 D A11.6 (re doctrine))].

Diarmid McCulloch offers some advice and encouragement to ++Rowan Williams. Naturally some of us will agree with Diarmid's description of ourselves:

"At the moment the English church is afflicted by humourless, tidy-minded souls who want everyone in it to think just like them, and who frequently use the Bible to achieve their aim in the manner of a blunt instrument in an Agatha Christie mystery. Resist them, firm in the faith! Remember what Neil Kinnock achieved against the entryism of Militant in the Labour party of the 1980s."

Then the diplomats among us might carefully refrain from saying whether we agree or disagree with this insight into the presence of women clergy in the church (I am particularly noticing the "fond of a box of chocolates or two" phrase):

"Consider, Archbishop Rowan, that one of the most positive images of the Anglican parish priest in the English media is the now evergreen Vicar of Dibley. There's what the Great English Public think of their women clergy: a bit daft, fond of a box of chocolates or two, but, underneath it all, a source of love and common sense for a community that always has the potential to behave badly. When you think of some of the other stereotypes of priests around at the moment in these islands or beyond, just thank your lucky stars for the folksy silliness of the vicar of Dibley."

Diarmid, as some reading his recent and monumental History of Christianity realise, is not perfectly objective in his interpretation of history. Thus we find him characterizing the situation in TEC with:

"The Episcopal Church of the United States of America has been subjected to continuous abuse and carping from fellow Anglicans, attempted poaching of its churches by dissidents and demands that it curb its understanding of love and sexuality to fit in with the sexual mores of an entirely different society."

That "entirely different society" would be the non-liberal half of American society, I suppose! And the "dissidents" would be those who hold to the historic Anglican faith and wish to be in communion with the ABC and Anglicans around the world!

I imagine that if Glynn and Diarmid got together for a coffee they would find a lot to talk about.

Then Simple Massing Priest suggests a new Anglican Stalinism has arrived with the latest version of the Covenant. Yes, that's the way to deal with any new idea. Give it a label such as 'Stalinism' or 'Nazi'. It's kind of the academic equivalent of Stalin's henchmen's speciality: a bullet in the back of the head to dispose of what you oppose.

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