Thursday, June 16, 2016

Australasian Notes: academics go head to head, church decline admitted by top bishop

Two Australasian academic theologians, Michael Bird (Melbourne) and Nick Thompson (Auckland) go head to head on the meaning of liberal democracy viz a viz issues which may themselves threaten the fabric of liberal democracy.  ... I wish Nick would enlighten us, however, on what a "(lacklustre) Catholic" is. Is that going to Mass only once a week? Or lacking zealous commitment to every public thought of the current Pope? :)

Recent posts here have expressed interest in what analysts are saying (or, Christchurch Christians, going to say when Peter Lineham visits on 2 July) about Kiwi Christianity. One of my strong beliefs, based on anecdotal and visual/aural evidence, is that our sharp decline in active Christian involvement is among Kiwis who are not first generation Kiwis and, conversely, many of our churches are being sustained by migrants. Even our strongest national church, the Roman Catholic church, has congregations, according to my own sight, where the worshippers are significantly impacted for good by migrants (e.g. Filipinos who are taking up employment opportunities both in town and country). No less an authority on Catholic church life than Bishop Patrick Dunn confirms this, using the phrase "Kiwi drift", according to this article.

My own conversations have been highlighting for me two factors that are of great Anglican concern.

First, that we (Kiwi churches in general, ACANZP in particular) are now at a point where the next ten years will be experienced as a tsunami in which a large number of parishes will be "swept away". That is, ten years from now, without a miraculous revival, ACANZP will have far fewer parishes. Assuming we retain a commitment to every square inch of these islands being geographically located in one parish or another, then parish mergers (if not diocesan mergers) will be forced upon us, especially in rural districts and regional cities and towns.

Secondly, a question arises, How widely recognised is this tsunami bearing down upon us?

POSTSCRIPT And, the fight continues, with quite a few fighters in the ring, and some kind of mix of boxing, wrestling and karate going on .... in the ongoing bout, Homoians v Complementarians, here and here.


Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

With respect to your first paragraph and the discussion in relation to the threat to liberal democracy, and the LGBTI vs Islam debate, I refer your readers to the youtube clip below by a young gay man Milo Yiannopoulos. This interview took place around the time of the Brussels airport bombing and prior to Orlando, but his comments as a gay man are particularly relevant. He is controversial, but straightforward in his thinking. (if you pardon the pun)

The interview gets started about 3:00 minutes into the clip. You can fast forward to that if you wish to avoid the initial banter. Christianity also gets a mention.

Father Ron Smith said...

"I can't claim anything more than a superficial understanding of Islam, but I do understand very well what it's like to have ignorant majorities windily opine about what "people like me" think and do. This is why I viscerally detest both Islamophobia and homophobia.:

- Nick Thompson -

Now here's an opinion I can fully identify with. Regarding the question about whether (or not) a person could be both a Christian gay and respectful of Muslims who are not homophobic; the problem for me (and, I suspect, for most authentic Christians who are up to date with the reality of gender and sexual difference) is that of religious fundamentalism of any kind - from whatever religion and from whatever perspective.

Fundamentalist religion, that is; religious thought and praxis that does not grow with the scientific and social revelations that have been given to us (by the Holy Spirit, in the case of Christianity, surely?) is liable to be inhibited by outdated and primitive understandings of the sort of God Who is the Source and Creator of all that exists. We who happen to be believers in the Triune God are also heirs of the promise to Abraham, Father of the 3 monotheistic faiths: Jewish, Muslim and Christian.

We cannot be children of Abraham without respecting the other 2 faith communities that are 'heirs to The Promise' made to Abraham. Therefore; we who are all part of the tradition of the Religion of The Book(s) have, somehow, to get along with one another as best we can - without (for Christians) forgetting that it is through Christ, the Son of God, that we are all offered the grace of redemption.

How we deal with this particular reality is the same whether we are straight or gay. How we identify with the call of Christ to "Love our Neighbours as ourselves" will have an impact on how we are able to co-exist as 'Children of God' in our world of today.

All phobias are counterproductive to any hope of convergence in the understanding of a Loving God - such as we Christians, are heir to. Homophobia is as sinful as Islamophobia. No more, no less! This may be why Jesus was concerned to keep company with the outcast and sinners of his own day. He was virtually welcoming outsiders at the expense of the 'righteous' "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners (all of us?) to repentance".

Brendan McNeill said...

"I can't claim anything more than a superficial understanding of Islam" Fr Ron

That says it all Ron, just watch the video and tell me where Milo a gay man gets it wrong.

Father Ron Smith said...

Careful, Brendan. You're quoting secondary sources here when you put my name to a quote! You will notice my identification with a (not my original) quotation.

Jean said...

Respect and love of others does not require agreeing with people about all things. Hence, sometimes I think homophobia and Islamaphobia (a new word to me) are correct words to apply in situations where antagonism and violence exist, yet incorrect words to apply to groups or individuals who do not hold the same opinions as those who follow Islam or of those who are homosexuals. Otherwise we might need to invent a new dictionary to hold all the 'aphobias' there could possibly be.

Michael Birds core point has crossed my mind before - why is it Christianity or Christians who hold particular moral views receive a lot of negative publicity and condemnation (I am not referring to extremists but in general, I can understand why people bombing an abortion clinic receive such attention); yet there is little or no challenges from those same sources towards other faith groups such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc whose views would be equally strong if not more so on the same issues?

I hold the moral viewpoint of sleeping around not being the best thing and yet I am friends with a few people who do so. They know my views and I know theirs. We might even debate it occassionally - but does this mean I am sleeparoundaphobic or they are monogomophobic? Because I have yet to persuade them of the greater virtue in my take on life shall I accuse them of prejudice for not choosing to see things the way I do?