Friday, December 13, 2013

Anglicans need Francis Effect on sad stats

Scientists have announced the discovery of the Francis Effect. Unexpectedly, while focusing on phenomena concerning Snowden Illuminations, Assad Acidity and Cruz Verbosity, a nearly accidental shift of perception occurred in a Roman laboratory this year resulting in a paper to the prestigious journal Nature Time announcing the effect on religion when a largely forgotten mixture of Spanish DNA, Jesuitical spirituality, cheerful countenance, humility and authentic discipleship are thrown together to make a catalyst for transformation. It has been named the Francis Effect after the latest member of the research team to join the laboratory.

However, in early responses to this scientific announcement, a vigorous debate has broken out concerning whether one of the contributions to the mixture is more important than the others. Professor Ignatius Loyola says that he cannot separate Spanish DNA from Jesuitical spirituality as the key factor in the mix. Dr Hans Kung, however, dismisses the role of Spanish DNA. He made the point that German DNA had no bearing on a recent experiment in the same laboratory which he himself thought had an unfortunate effect. From his own perspective, in keeping with his own personal life discoveries, he suggested humility was the most important part of the mixture.

In England Prime Minister David Cameron announced that, in keeping with his own approach to challenging issues (e.g. here and then in response to outrage, here), British scientists had assured him that the most important contribution to the Francis Effect was a cheerful countenance. This announcement, however, has been greeted with derision from a group of scientists known as the 'Anglican bloc'. A spokesperson for the bloc pointed out that cheerful countenance was potentially dangerous to emphasise. "What kind of disaster would befall us if we greeted, say, the Pilling Report or news that women could become bishops, with a cheerful countenance? The proper scientific method for reception of such matters is (a) Very Serious Furrowed Brows (b) Intense Debate." They did acknowledge, however, that humility played no part at all in English life, except in certain spheres such as the southern hemisphere whenever the English cricket team was visiting there.

Speaking of the southern hemisphere, a  little known scientific blogger, working in the ADU laboratory, has suggested exploration of the Francis Effect on Anglican statistics (also known as 'sad stats') could be fruitful. In particular he has proposed intense and urgent (but cheerful) investigation into the following hypotheses:

(1) the Francis Effect is primarily due to the contribution of 'authentic discipleship.'

(2) Popular reception of the Francis Effect is explained as people being really, really pleased that a church leader has Jesus-like qualities.

(3) When people experience church leaders (indeed any Christian) having Jesus-like qualities they enter a zone of thinking in which they are bombarded by ideas such as 'Maybe Christianity is true after all.'

(4) The scientific problem of Anglican 'sad stats' has a complex solution (involving a string of factors we won't bore you with here) but one part of the solution can be implemented immediately: capturing and then multiplying the Francis Effect through engagement in authentic discipleship.

CODA: The really scientifically thoughtful among us will want to know the Kantian angle on the matter of the Francis Effect, helpfully brought to you here.


Anonymous said...

Spanish DNA? Ay caramba, pero no entiendo lo que escbris aqui. Hermano Pedro. No sabes que el nombre 'Bergoglio' esta italiano? y que la mitad de la poblacion argentina esta de origen italiano? - como el jefe en la Guerra de las Malvinas, el General Galtieri....

Martin de las Pampas

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, this sounds a little bit like an advertisement for 'Destiny Church', whose prosperity Gospel relies significantly on scalps and revenues. I prefer to think of the Church as God's Instrument for reconciliation of humanity to God's self. This can sometimes be obscured by the panic and blame and shame philosophy of its most avid promoters.

"They'll know you're my disciples by you love" - Jesus. When blame and criticism overcomes this basic injunction of our Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christ, redemption may seem further off than ever - attracting only a core of sad and frightened people.

"In God alone, I put my trust" is the title of a well-known hymn. Let's try and be a little more positive about the power of God to redeem the world that God loves.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Martin,
Hopefully your English is good enough to understand the following:

1. An Italian surname is not a good guide to DNA structure of the so named person.

2. You may not be familiar with the historic pattern of families migrating from Spain to Italy to Argentina.

R. Dawkins,
Aetiologist, entymologist, DNA historian

Anonymous said...

Hermano Pedro, hallaras que el moviemiento genetico no estaba solo de Espana a Italia pero de Italia en Espana, como las famosaa palabras de Leporello en la cancion 'Madamina' en 'Don Giovanni' de Mozart muestran:
"Madamina, il catalogo è questo
Delle belle che amò il padron mio;
un catalogo egli è che ho fatt'io;
Osservate, leggete con me.
In Italia seicento e quaranta;
In Almagna duecento e trentuna;
Cento in Francia, in Turchia novantuna;
Ma in Ispagna son già mille e tre."

Martin de las Pampas

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Martin

Speaking of opera reminds me that foreign languages sound wonderful but we can be brought back to earth by recalling that were Giuseppe Verdi an Englishman then he would be Joe Green and we might not find his operatic works so entrancing!

PS You mentioned Mozart and now all I can think of is Karl Barth and his fervent devotion to the music of the great man :)

carl jacobs said...

Cricket and Opera do have common features - what with all those players standing around doing nothing for long periods of time. However opera does have the advantage of a fixed end point.

In a related story, Emergency crews were dispatched to the city center today for what observers thought was a mass outbreak of apoplexy. But upon arrival the Emergency Medical Technicians discovered a Test Match in progress. Ian Williams, the first responder on the scene, described the situation as typical. "This is actually quite common" said Williams. "It happens three or four times a year. We just take it in stride." Observers of the Test Match were unphased by the turn of events, and said they were still hopeful that something would happen on the Pitch by a week from new Tuesday.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Carl,
You are not far from the kingdom of heaven!

Anonymous said...

I can't say I've cared much for Verdi's stuff (whose name strictly means 'Greens' - plural, like a lot of Italian surnames), though I did have to sing the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from 'Nabucco', which we boys sang with extraordinary sympathy, and no doubt set on the path for future studies.
Carl, it is good of you to notice that cultures formed by watching cricket have established the hesychastic disciplines of meditation and silence, unlike their hyperstimulated ADHD-afflicted transatlantic cousins who cannot sit still for two minutes without the help of Ritalin.
A peaceful, meditative Advent to you!

St Martin the Stylite

Father Ron Smith said...

"Observers of the Test Match were unphased by the turn of events"

"unphased'? Surely, in this context the word unfazed would be more appropriate. Or is your original just an american spelling?

Father Ron Smith said...

re Martin's lingua sporadica;

Was it Saint Paul who said he would rather speak one word in a language that was understood, than to spout lots of unintelligible phrases known only to an exhibitionist linguist?

Martin, perhaps you haven't realised that in the discipline of theology, one word that is clearly understood is worth thousands that most people don't care to hear - let alone understand. Where I come from its known as 'showing off

Peter Carrell said...

It's a bit of fun, isn't it, Ron!

Anonymous said...

"Was it Saint Paul who said he would rather speak one word in a language that was understood, than to spout lots of unintelligible phrases known only to an exhibitionist linguist?"

Nein, es steht in meinem Neuen Testament nicht so geschrieben, doch vielleicht hast Du Tom Wrights neues noch nicht geschriebenen Buch gelesen - 'What St Paul Really Should have Said'. :)

Martinus Papaverum Altum quatiens ante Aratorem de Aotearoa

Anonymous said...

Anyway, Ron, didn't you know this blog is read in The Vatican?

A Francisco le gustan muchisimo los articulos de Pedro!

Martinito - 'No llores para mi, Argentina ....'

carl jacobs said...


Re: unphased

Yes ... well ... ummm

Let's leave aside the fact that 'American spelling' is unnecessarily redundant.

In the first place, you must understand that I am an Engineer. By well settled International Convention, Engineers are excused from applying ordinary rules of spelling and usage. So if I had inadvertently used the wrong word in that sentence, no charge could be laid against me. Not that I am admitting any misusage.

Second, an Engineer is by nature and constitution simply incapable of spelling the word pronounced "fāz" in any manner other than 'phase.' So if I had used the wrong spelling, it would be completely understandable. Not that I am admitting any wrong spelling.

The facts in this case are quite different, however. I was appealing to a well-established Engineering metaphor relating to Inphase and Quadrature that ...



Anonymous said...

Don't mind Carl, he's just going thru a faze.

Martin Webster

Father Ron Smith said...

Carl & Martin, F.Y.I.: from my 'Concise Oxford Dictionary: -

"faze v. (usu. with neg.) informal disturb or disconcert: 'she was not fazed by his show of anger'.
ORIGIN C19 (orig US. var. of dial. feeze 'drive off', from OE fesian"

There, that's got that off my chest! What surprised me, though, was the fact that the word originated in the United States. Now ain't that sump'n?

As Peter said: A bit of fun - doesn't come amiss in al out theological frolicking.

Happy Advent, ALL., Heterosexual and LGBTQ., celibate and not-so.

Anonymous said...

"Happy Advent"?
Not from me, anyway! I can't speak for the liberal Protestants out there, but my Catholic education taught me, following the Gallican rite, that 'Advent', aka the quadragesima Sancti Martini (of course) was a penitential period for reflecting on the Four Last Things. Even - especially - Cranmer understood this!

Put on the armour of light, saith the patron saint of soldiers,


Peter Carrell said...

Happy Advent, Martin, means, May it be your good fortune and joy to have an Advent which is an Advent, penitential etc, rather than an Advent which is a kind of proto-Christmas. As, unhappily, most of my Advents seem to be ... :(

Anonymous said...

I know, I'm just being contrarian! I actually enjoy Christmas more than I used to by reducing all the pre-Christmas food, carols etc which pre-empted the feast for me. I used to be 'carolled out' by a week before Christmas - tired of the repetition and the cliches.
I really wish Western Christians would follow the practice of the Eastern and ancient church and make the Pascha the principal feast -after a happy Lent, of course!

Martin Scrooge

Father Ron Smith said...

""Happy Advent"?
Not from me, anyway! I can't speak for the liberal Protestants out there, but my Catholic education taught me, following the Gallican rite, that 'Advent', aka the quadragesima Sancti Martini (of course) was a penitential period for reflecting on the Four Last Things. Even - especially - Cranmer understood this!"

- Martinus Misericordiae -

Of course, Martin, you Calvinists have never heard of 'Gaudete Sunday'. Nor, I think, would you want to experience joy at today's Mid-Advent Sunday Celebration. I suppose it's 'Eyes down for a full house' at your Church - not only today, but every day.

Perfect Love cast our FEAR!

Anonymous said...

Perfect love casts out the fear of death and evil. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and essential for perfect love.

I have found more genuine joy in Charismatic and Pentecostal circles, while my experience of many Liberal churches is that they are filled with fear; fear of Conservatives, fear of Evangelicals and Pentecostals, fear of rural heartland people who do not share the "values" of urban liberals, fear of of the political Right, fear of economic freedom, fear of any dissent against the Cultural Marxist status quo.

Anonymous said...

'Martinus Misericordiae' - 'Martin of Sympathy and Mercy' - that's beautiful, I'm tempted to use that, though really 'non sum dignus' - but it sums up exactly what we are about: running Alpha courses and a food bank, a men's prayer breakfast (high in meat and saturated fats), helping to build a girls' school in South Sudan, supporting an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City. Joyful? Well, how did that Male Chauvinist Prig put it? "Cor meum tibi offero, Domine, prompte et sincere." Sometimes I can put too many jokes in my sermons, but as a Calvinist I find these grace notes irresistible. I've always wondered if Puddleglum was the archetypal Anglican: I've certainly heard him in a few cathedrals. As James Boswell pit it, 'I tried to be a philosopher, but somehow cheerfulness kept breaking though.' Same with me.

Martinus (Miser Peccator et Miserens Peccatores)

Father Ron Smith said...

And a Happy Advent to you, too, Shawn!