Sunday, October 16, 2022

They do things differently across the Ditch ... don't they?

This post is about "The Essendon Saga" - a story from Melbourne, Australia, featuring:

- an Aussie Rules football club, Essendon, which prides itself on its "inclusive" character.

- their need for a CEO.

- finding that CEO, Andrew Thorburn, a man with a distinguished track record as a CEO.

- some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed reporters digging into Thorburn's background and discovering that (1) he has a lay leadership role in a group of churches, City on a Hill,* and (2) a preacher at that church back in 2013 preached something considered objectionable by a majority of 2022's secular population.

- furore (not particularly focused on what Andrew Thorburn himself believes).

- Andrew Thorburn choosing to resign a day after being appointed but expressing regret that a Christian appears unwelcome in Australia's public space.

- quite a few views then being expressed about values, what Christians ought to believe, what Christians actually believe, whether people of faith are welcome in public life in Australia, etc --- see below.

- (We should note that on the views which were objected to a large number of Catholics, Muslims could be ousted from public life on the grounds of what a priest or imam preached in 2013!!).

-*City on a Hill is interesting in its own right as an Anglican-aligned group of churches.


Not much to add to what I have read but:

1. Not sure that our NZ cultural/political space is quite as vicious as Oz seems to be.

2. I worry that what happened to Andrew Thorburn happens because he is not Catholic or Muslim, i.e. that Protestants/Pentecostals are easy pickings for a media intent on finding fault(lines). Is it fair to pick on one group and not others?

3. Dan Andrews, Victoria's premier, is, at least to a degree, an illustration of 2. He is Catholic and sends his children to Catholic schools. Catholic teaching has not changed one iota on the matters which deconstructed Thorburn's brief tenure as CEO. Yet he can adroitly distance himself from the church to which he professes allegiance by claiming "my Catholicism" is not like ... whatever he doesn't agree with.

4. I really admire Archbishops Freier and Comensoli for standing up for the right to be Christian, including "Christian" meaning: having beliefs not all agree with, and to have a place in public life. If you like, their Christianity is my Christianity in a way that Dan Andrews' Christianity is not.


A view here

A report here

Michael Bird here.

Archbishop Philip Freier statement tweeted here.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli has also put out a statement here.

Dan Andrews, Premier of the state of Victoria has spoken here about "my Catholicism."

Another view here.


Mark Murphy said...

There is considerable irony in a Aussie rules football club being more socially inclusive and diverse on matters of gender and sexuality than a Christian church.

But that is the howling reality we experience each day.

Anonymous said...

I understand ++Philip’s defence but wondering about his last comment. I would have thought personal beliefs do influence behaviour and in fact are meant to do so, or what importance do they have?

Anonymous said...

A football club in Cockaigne is firmly vegan.

When its new executive was caught slathering butter on some vegetables, he was asked to choose between animal products and his job. Strictly, this was not legal.

Nevertheless, he chose butter, eggs, cheese, etc over the job. Which confirmed to the club that he could not have been an effective advocate for its distinctive linkage of sport to what they see as a healthier, more ecologically sound, and so more ethical, diet.

Farmers with hens or cattle protested that they and he were good people who had no quarrel with vegans. It ought to have been acceptable to the club to let him enjoy his cheese whilst promoting his employer's abstemious cheeselessness. The club, they said, had failed in its duties to respect his culinary privacy and hire strictly on merit.

The club replied that the farmer-ethicists had erred in giving no weight to the right to free association of vegan football fans. Simply, liberal order gives all the freedom to associate with those whom they choose and no others. The vegan footballers had no ill will toward the man they had mistakenly hired; they just wanted-- and were justly entitled to want-- to be led by an executive with their own ethic.

"Meritocracy without vision is mediocrity. What kind of a society would we be if say churches had a duty to hire ministers on publicly certified merit in religious history, public speaking, and community organising whether they worshipped God or the devil at home? Surely the analogy is exact.

"Our neighbours the farmers are simply objecting to a football club having ethical ideas of its own that differ from the common practice. But why? Apart from a regrettable misunderstanding, nobody was harmed. Or if there was harm, it was because we ought to have been even more clear about our brand and mission.

"And looking around us, where are there institutions with only commonplace ethical ideas? Action is not human until it happens in some ethos. Any that do not articulate the distinctive ideas of their own best ethos are just not as good as those that do. As we demonstrate on the field in every game!"


Anonymous said...

I don't suppose Muslims or Orthodox Jews are welcome to hold "public" roles in Melbourne either? Or do Muslims get a pass because it's a "race"? Islam is a race, isn't it? Such are the weird ways of the modern religion of leftwing secularism and intersectionality. Nothing to do with truth, everything to do with seeking power.
Dan Andrews is a strange and angry man who is clearly in the wrong church if he imagines Catholicism is a matter of private judgment. St John Newman prophesied this about Protestantism in his famous "Biglietto" address but I don't think he imagined a self-described "Catholic" would say such things. But Andrews is at one with that passionate "Catholic" biologist Joe Biden who has declared that human life begins at birth and the Vatican is wrong; and that other famous "Catholic" philosopher Justin Trudeau, and that daily-mass-going "Catholic" Nancy Pelosi - who all hold views very different from what they professed thirty years ago. The City of God and the City of Man, indeed.
I became aware of the type of man Andrews is when Archbishop George Pell, after a long time in prison, was acquitted by the appeal judges - the only reasonable verdict one could come to - and Andrews not only refused to apologise for his political persecution but doubled down on attacking the Archbishop. The fanaticism that Andrews showed in inflicting that lockdown
on Victorians was only to be expected, given his intolerance and lack of self-knowledge. It's a common trait among the modern left, even the smiling "empathetic" Prime Minister who warns the United Nations of the dangers of free speech on the internet and tells her nation that she is "the sole source of truth".
Orwell, thou shoulst be living in this hour!

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Father Ron said...

Mark. You took the words right out of my mouth. The Church often lags behind society on issues of justice - sadly.

Mark Murphy said...

Yes indeed, Father Ron. I've tried to understand it, tolerate it, explain it to my non-Christian friends...but now I'm just thoroughly over it! No more tolerating oppression of sexual minorities in the name of Christ! I even now feel the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia's two-integrity system stinks. It's like allowing churches to be both abolitionist and pro-slavery.


Anonymous said...

That’s very funny Bowman 😃 and I suspect you are laughing at my naïve question… 🤔

Anonymous said...

Mark Murphy is right: it is absurd for an ecclesial body to support both the slavery of sexual sin AND setting people free to follow Christ in chastity and holiness. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." Or as St Auguetine read in the garden in Milan: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13.14)

The Anglicsn New Testament scholar Ian Paul, owner of the Psephizo website in England clearly outlined the incoherence and contradiction in the "policy" set out there by Peter Carrell:
a NZ Anglican parish could celebrate a same-sex civil marriage as "a blessing" approved by God;
Or it could reject this modern innovation as a sin and departure from the will of our Lord Jesus Christ for marriage as revealed in the New Testament. One inagines what the prophet Elijah would have said about this on Mount Carmel: "How long will you halt between two opinions? If Yahweh is God then follow Him. But if Eros is god, then folow him."
And ws know what George Orwell would have said about it. He would have called it "doublethink": the capacity of holding two mutually contradictory ideas in your head without being aware of the profound confusion.
When we throw into the mix the chaos being caused in Anglican schools in England by the transgender advocacy group called "Mermaids" (see the Archbishop Cranmer website) promoting "chestbinders" among schoolgirls, and you can only weep for the young lives in distress.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William and Mark,

The price of Christian certainty appears to be schism in order to offer a church for each certainty; or submission to a magisterium with the option of living otherly if one doesn't like the magisterium's verdict (how many Catholic couples do observe Humanae Vitae, I wonder).

The price of diversity of viewpoints among members of a church (as there certainly is within ACANZP on That Topic) while seeking to remain together in one family of God is that options within the church may be provided for.

It is not an absurdity to refrain from schism if possible and/or to refrain from telling parishioners they must believe such and such about a matter of controversy.

William: I keep finding that individual Catholics are remarkably sympathetic to the situation of gay family members and happily turn up for the blessings of their relationships ... will you tell Francis or shall I?

Mark Murphy said...

Dear William,

The gay couples I know have long since dismantled their shrines to Eros when their crops failed to double in value, and now go about in a fairly ordinary way, loving and accepting each other. You know what happens to sexual energy when you accept it? It settles down, it integrates. It adds to the goodness of the whole rather than living its life in a dark basement, a prison. You can get on with living life well and stop berating yourself and body, and get on with more legitimate conflicts such as climate change and what to have for breakfast. You move on from this silly, disastrous impasse of sex and God.

Dear Peter,

You're not avoiding schism this way, in this half-way house of two integrities. People continue to bleed away from the Anglican Church and regard it as a place of irrelevance and non-integrity when it comes to justice and love for sexual minorities. Or have left long ago, perhaps generations ago, and now see this dithering and anaphylaxis to change as further confirmation that the church is a hopeless case. Let's call it the silent schism = most of my generation.

In terms of 'telling parishioners what to do'; well, we're always telling parishioners certain things we believe are true - theological things, like the divine face of Jesus, or 'naturally revealed truths', such as women are fit to drive motor vehicles. Here's another one: same sex attraction is not a sin, will not damn you from the fullness of God's love (heaven), it's just a very ordinary, ordinary part of human diversity. Get over it.


Anonymous said...

Peter, lots of "individual Catholics" like Biden, Pelosi, Trudeau etc are passionately in favour of abortion, and one their brilliant biologists and ethicists, Professor Joseph R. Biden Jnr has declared that "human life begins at birth" and the Vatican and embryologists are wrong. Professor Biden was roundly attacked for saying this by Bishop Robert Barron, but hey, what does a Catholic bishop, a PhD in systematic theology and a former president of Mundelein Seminary, know about Catholic theology ?.. will you tell Francis or shall I?

Ian Paul said you had changed the biblical doctrine of marriage because you divorced the meaning of marriage from being dependent on sexual difference. Isn't that the very definition of sectarianism?

Pax et bonum
William Greenhalgh

Craig L said...

I think the most worrying aspect of this is well summed up in this quote from Bird's article:

"While many believe that Essendon protected its commitment to inclusivity, we now have a dangerous precedent whereby a person can be dismissed from a job, not because of anything they did or said but simply because of their religious affiliation."

I guess that CEO's are subject to more scrutiny than say employees of an organisation, but it is quite worrying.

For example, I work for an organisation that I'd say is committed to inclusivity (part of the core public service), but I also attend a church that would have views not dissimilar to those of City on a Hill.


Mark Murphy said...

Craig, you should obviously be dismissed from your job I'm afraid, if you refuse to go willingly.

Now I am thinking of Liz Truss. That was nasty.

But the point is this man was hired to *lead* an organization that has certain values; at the same time, he's is part of the *leadership* another organization that has completely opposite values (in terms of sexuality and justice).

He's not being dismissed because he is an Anglican, because he simply has a religious affiliation.

It's not really about religion at all.

Father Ron said...

Dear William, I find your contributions here to be paradoxical, to say the very least.

You appear, in this thread, to be pleading for uniformity in the belief of your particular Faith Group yet you, yourself - in common with your conservative protestant friend at 'Psephizo' - appear to advocate dogmatic beliefs that are no longer in synch with the leadership and denominational thrust of the Church you belong to.

Pope Francis obviously does not see eye to eye with you on the issues in question here. Just as Archbishop Justin Welby does not see eye to eye with the conservative theology of Ian Paul on these issues.

Are you right? Is the Pope right? Or can there we what might be called 'wiggle room'?

No wonder Jesus taught in parables. He obviously wanted his listeners to learn to think for themselves ("Reason'). The one thing he was sure about - the primacy of Love, even over faith and hope - witnessed to by his invocation of The New Commandment. I believe the Church is waking up (woke>) to this realisation, after too long in the doldrums. ("They'll know you're my disciples by your love" - Jesus)

Mark Murphy said...

I'm at least interpreting that this was the thrust of Bowman's informative piece on Cockaigne veganism.

Mark Murphy said...

Dear Ron, you always bring us back to Jesus in a way that doesn't make me squirm.

Anonymous said...

Naive, Moya? Only in the way that Socrates's questions were. You went straight to the heart of the matter.

As did those wise footballers in Cockaigne. Either their abstention will make them healthier than common omnivores or it won't.

If it does, what argument can prevail against that? "Even though it would shorten your life and make you stupid, you have a solemn duty to eat more animals because X." Nobody could believe that.

And if abstention doesn't measurably help them, then they will not wrangle interminably about the original meaning of the word *vegan*, or the true veganist doctrine, or what vegans are required to eat, or what the green wizard says, etc. They will fix their diet and maybe fix it again and yet again until it eventually does make them healthier than most.

They are, after all, athletes who love to train and to play for excellence itself. They do not seek health for the shallow goal of winning an ephemeral glory that fades. Rather they risk losing whenever they can to improve their training and playing until they have become their best.

Those with tastebuds to taste, let them eat (vegan) ice cream. ;-)


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for recent comments!

Just two brief replies:

William: my point above is not about Joe Biden (the vast majority of Catholics are against abortion). My point is, noting widespread lack of following Humanae Vitae in the West, that having a magisterium is no guarantee that every Catholic will follow every teaching.

Mark: I do understand that there has been a “silent schism” of people leaking away from ACANZP and other “ambiguous” Anglican provinces in the West. But I also understand that forcing an end to ambiguity on (e.g.) SSB/SSM is no guarantee that the leaking will reverse, let alone that progressive non-Christians will turn to the church. Forcing such an end will lead to further people leaving out church and I am not quite sure of the point of doing that. All doctrine involves consensus. On most matters we do have consensus. There are some matters, one in particular, on which we do not and consequently my quest is how we live with that difference, not how we end that difference (noting, of course, that decades are going by and people are not changing their minds!).

Anonymous said...

"No wonder Jesus taught in parables. He obviously wanted his listeners to learn to think for themselves."

It's not obvious but it could be true.

Why think? Why for themselves?

In Jesus's time, the religion of YHWH was in visible decay. Unclean pagans occupied the Promised Land, the radicalism of the Sabbath had been lost, the Shekinah had left the Temple, the moneychangers there corrupted its sacrifices, etc.

Even reformers who had tried to popularise piety (Pharisees), appropriate pagan philosophy (Sadducees), seize power (Zealots), or simply withdraw (Essenes) were in their several ways enmeshed with it. How was Jesus to avoid falling into the same trap?

His parables seem to have equipped listeners, not with yet another position on what should pass as proper in the family of Abraham, but to find the regenerative will of YHWH that was the point of calling Abraham in the first place. Considered as prophecy, his healing miracles and exorcisms framed the situation of their witnesses in a similar way.

In secular societies like ours, he might say that it is likewise one thing to ramble on about what opinions should pass as Christian in the godless public, and another to find his regenerative Way and practice it. After all when Protestants, Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics were new, that is what they said.

Would he again use parables, healings, and exorcisms to say this? In fact, he does.


Mark Murphy said...

Moata rau, Peter,

Very simply, to quote Diarmaid MacCulloch, being gay "is not a problem".

When we regard it as a matter of "controversy" we subtly or not so subtly go on creating it as a problem. Being gay is not a problem in the same way as being an ordained woman is not a problem.

It's not!

You just accept it and get on with it, rather than spending lots of energy searching through the Bible and theology. You just accept your minister is a woman and come to see that this doesn't disqualify her from preparing and delivering a sermon, attending to her parishioner's pastoral concerns etc.

Same with being gay. You just see that it is not a separate category of humanity or intimate relationship that we have to worry about - or create special division and provisions in the church for people who keep thinking of it as a problem.

My elderly mother, a former missionary, made the transition away from seeing same-sex relationships as a problem without any violence to her faith, and in the compass of 1 or 2 years.

Let's not be blackmailed by fear: I can't say the ordinary, obvious truth in case you'll be so offended and leave.


Anonymous said...

Mark, it's good to see your comments again.

Father Ron's generation, mine, and yours reflect different stages of secularisation.

When his was young, there were places where it was not noticeable at all. Sharp distinctions (like mine) between things churchly and things public were unintelligible to most people. Asked to distinguish (as I do) between conventional morality and Christian discipleship, most of that generation simply could not do it. Jesus died and rose so that we could gather weekly and say "Be nice."

(In the 1970s, the memorial acclamation was added to eucharistic liturgies that had never had it. Liturgists loved it; old people hated it. Seminarians would chirp "Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again!" from the chancel to a crowd of sullen mumblers.

When I was young, the breach had opened, but it was not yet a chasm. It was clearer to society at large than it had been that most people follow convention rather than churches. But to the young who stayed inside churches, this meant that we were Christians only insofar as we had faith-identities distinct from the bland niceness of civil religion. From experience, we thought of churchgoers as gregarious social animals loved by God but usually far from Jesus.

I recall college teachers who were perplexed that a close knit group of us (all Episcopalians) produced a monk, a nun, a Sandinista, a Sojourners communard, two conservative intellectuals, a few presidential appointees, and more vocations than the bishop could possibly use. They had expected (and probably hoped) that we would all be investment bankers who lived in good Acela suburbs and voted for liberal Republicans.

Your generation (?) has come of age amid deeper secularisation and the cultural polarisation that came with that. Young people here up yonder have mostly unchurched friends who are all of one political orientation or the other. Now churches are strained and sometimes torn by factions demanding that they show more left or right street cred.


Mark Murphy said...

Scorchingly secularized.

Part of me longs for my childhood days in India, sitting on a bus and discussing God with the person next to you like discussing cricket.

Of course, God is in secularization too.

My son is 10 and wouldn't be able to actually compute why a gay person couldn't be married in a church. It no longer makes any vestige of sense to most younger people. Which I find so wholesome.

Our friends visited us the other day - two Christian women, married as long as I've been, with two kids. My son didn't bat an eyelid.

I do think my generation and others coming after me are less allergic to faith, spirituality, religion even. They're quite curious now. But there's no tribal loyalties. They really want to hear about Christianity's view of love, God, and all, but there's no guaranteed specialness or privilege. It takes its place as another dialogue partner or "option" alongside Jordon Petersen, Greta Thunberg, and tantric yoga. Jesus, Jordan, Greta, and Kundalini. Sometimes co-manifesting all together in the same person.

The origins of the Church of North India, as my grandfather told it (who was present at its conception and birth) consisted of Indian Christians saying: we're not interested in your denominations, your historical conflicts.

Sometimes I feel sad that no one will know how to sing hymns anymore.

In Aotearoa, young people seem less politically polarized and more interested in fresh, relevant, and meaningful ideas or policies than party loyalties.

Anonymous said...

New Zealand is a very small player in a big and dangerous world.It was once very prosperous, it is now fairly mediocre econonically, and the ordinary expectations of life, like home ownership, are increasingly beyond the reach of many, largely for political reasons (not for lack of land). Australia remains the safety valve for the lack of opportunity and the poor productivity of the economy,
The majority don't profess any religion and live only for this life, You see it especially in the secular funeral services that now abound.
Christianity was once the "sacred canopy" for the country, it isn't any longer. Now a pseudo-Maoritanga-cum-ecoreligion is being promoted as an ersatz ideology. Nobody really believes this mystic jumbo but the left has made it political suicide to mock it,
The country could rediscover its Christian roots, of course (all things are possible). Right now it looks more like being drawn into the suffocating maw of the Chinese Communist Party.

Pax et bonum
William Greenhalgh

Father Ron said...

Dear Friends, there is one thing that may have been missed in talk about the relative 'morality' of sexual relationships, and it is this: Until society (and the Church) came to the realisation that gay people have similar (natural to them) feelings of sexual attraction to people of their own gender - to that of straight people to the opposite gender. This is what is natural to both categories of human being.

The benefit for gays - and to society - is that the new prospect of a legal monogamous relationship with a person of their own gender has taken away the need for illicit (and, formerly illegal) sexual relationships. Such sexual relationships as did exist (marriage was not then legal for gay people) were often hidden and not acknowledged. It was easier for gay relationships to be hidden and not publicly acknowledged - giving way to a degree of hypocrisy amongst those whose public persona could not afford to be compromised (Clergy and professionals?).

While heterosexual relationships have been more open, and therefore free from problems of hypocrisy because of their generally acknowledged 'naturalness' - even outside of marriage; gays were never able - because of pressure from the Church and society - to even 'date' - let alone admit to a sexual attraction which was considered 'taboo' by Church and society.

The degree of promiscuity involved was, therefore, the bigger problem for gays, where the need for secrecy often was the cause of neurosis, due to the need to keep 'The Secret'.
Heterosexual adulterers (being considered 'normal' sexual beings) have not, generally, been subject to the same degree of public shame, which, again for gay people causes feelings of a lack of self-worth; which can be productive of self-harm - even to the point of suicide (a proven problem for gays).

Legal Civil Partnerships were the first step towards giving gay people the chance to be upfront and honest about the possibility of a permanent relationship with one person - rather than embarking on a series of brief encounters that might have seemed their only option before legal recognition of their same-sex attraction to a permanent partner.

Then the prospect of a legal Civil Marriage enabled anyone to respectably enjoy a permanent relationship based on their mutual monogamous love for one another. They did not need the permission of the Church to enter into such a relationship, which is now considered equal to heterosexual marriage.

If only the Church, earlier, had been willing to welcome S/S couples - giving a Blessing on the partnership without the expectation of a formal marriage contract - there may not have been the pressure from Christian Gays to seek the possibility of being married in the Church! (Maybe that would have come in time). However, now that the secular world is offering legal marriage to S/S Couples, the time has passed for the Church to offer a simple Blessing on a faithfully-partnered S/S relationship.

The biggest step forward out of this impasse is the fact that the Monarch and the Church of England has accepted a civilly-partnered gay man to become the next Dean of Canterbury - a fact which has excited the Gafcon crowd into a state of frothing at the mouth, while at the same time giving them what they will claim to be the perfect excuse to enter into their separate ('Orthodox Anglican') existence. This, for Gafcon, is obviously excuse enough to continue their long-standing plan of self-isolation. What they need to understand, though, is that the road to schism is all their own responsibility. They could have accepted a degree of 'Unity in diversity, which we Anglicans have always encouraged.

Mark Murphy said...

Dear William,

On this one, the Anglican Church is miles ahead of contemporary NZ society with it's distinct, interwoven three tikanga system of governance.

I'm sure you'd agree with me in wanting that instead of the current colonial English parliament, whixh has been so catastrophic for Māori. Then the covenant made at Waitangi and elsewhere throughout this land, backed by evangelical Anglicans and Quakers in England, and sworn by Christian missionaries and statesmen here, could be more fully honoured. Mauri ora.

Mark Murphy said...

You're completely right, Ron.

Driving same-sex attraction into the shadows supports the sort of casual, promiscuous sexual culture Mr Greenhaulgh and others rail against.

We create our own monsters and then deploy ready-made punitive theology against them - i.e. celibacy or bust, bent double with constant confessions to the parish priest.

Like substitutionary atonement, there is a deep sado-masochistic pattern within our religion.

Father Ron said...

Well, Dear Bishop, even GAFCON is not immune to squabbles about doctrinal differences within its membership. Here is the very latest from 'You Know Who' on Nigeria's struggle for supremacy in 'orthodoxy' and authority:

Anonymous said...

Just four tiny problems with your bullish confidence, Mark.

1. "Three tikanga" is a polite way of saying apartheid. Was St Paul wrong in Galatians? In 15 years there will be more Asian NZers than Maori. Will you start an Asian tikanga? Will Anglicanism still exist in NZ? It won't in Wales and Scotland. All the demographic signs point to extinction.
2. The Maori Anglican Church is TINY, only a shadow of itself. Why have Maoris abandoned Christianity even more than white New Zealanders? Why are there more Maoris in Destiny Church than Anglicanism?
3. Maori mythology is polytheistic nonsense that nobody believes. Their gods are unreal fictions. Why does anybody want to invoke non-existent gods and break the first commandment?
4. Most New Zealanders have given up on Christianity. It has no guiding faith. The country is a lot poorer comparatively than it used to be. How will New Zealand avoid becoming a satrapy of Communist China?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Mark Murphy said...

We are living in cultural apartheid as Aotearoa Anglicans, waiting to go extinct, while Maori religious non-sense is used to blind the public to a general communist Chinese take-over?

Meanwhile, the poplars in our valley have thickened out, and a light southerly is playing in the apple trees.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William
Our Three Tikanga church does not involve any apartheid. That was a system which distinguished people groups by their race and constrained those people groups re who might associate with whom (from public toilets and the like throught to marriage rules). Anyone of any race or cultural background may choose which Tikanga they wish to belong to in our church. Pakeha, for instance, are found in Tikanga Maori and Maori are found in Tikanga Pakeha; and Tikanga Polynesia includes people of all races in the islands.

With respect to numbers, since when has the number of Maori or of Pakeha made any difference to our work on being a Treaty of Waitangi based nation?

Also, with respect to numbers, you should do more investigating, as I don't think you are up to date.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron,
That is a very intriguing Virtue Online article because, if true, then Nigerai separating from GAFCON as well as from the Communion would mean one of the striking claims of GAFCON (that it has more Anglicans than the remainder of the Communion) would be, in my view, seriously undermined.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Peter - it would be helpful to be up to date on numbers, but it is difficult to do this when, as far as I can see, no statistics are published by the Anglican Church on attendance or membership. I think Mr Bosco(?) Peters has sometimes raised the question of why you don't produce such stats. All I can go by are the 2018 census statistics which show self-described Christians as 37.3% of the population, and Anglicans 314k (down from 585k in 2001). Interestingly the numbers for "Christians" not further defined has increased, suggesting a weakening of denominational identity. From the 2018 figures, it is clear that the majority of NZers profess no religion.
Do you know yourself what your attendance figures are? I understand of course that the pandemic played pandemonium on church attendance for everyone and some people may never return.
I was being a little provocative (but also serious) in my comment about racially defined churches: I understand the mission strategy (Catholics may focus on Filipinos etc, there are 30 Filipino priests in NZ) but the vision of Galatians is surely post-racial. Why do Anglicans want to make them permanent? Do you think schools and healthcare should also be divided on racial-cultural lines? I think some people are suggesting this.
Do you have any record of how many Maoris are typically in Anglican churches? Are any records kept?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Father Ron said...

Yes Peter. And with these two paragra0phs of Virtue's report is would seem that the
unanimity of the fiefdom of Bishop Any Lines over AMIA and in Europe (AMIE) is being seriously undermined by Nigeria's move:

"The Church of Nigeria, or at least Abp Ndukuba in his letter, attempts to lay claim to the AMC, many of which have no connection to the CoN. It was not that long ago that many of these churches were formed under Abp Peter Akinola and Abp Okoh, Abp Ndukuba's two predecessors. --

"In following the vision of Abp Akinola from so many years back, GAFCON identified and consecrated Bp Lines to, in effect, unify the effort of bringing orthodox Anglican Churches together."

This does make one wonder about who - within the separatist group - might next be considered to be less 'orthodox' than its other members. Isn't GAFCON's defining 'raison detre' supposed to be its passion for its singular understanding of 'Anglican orthodoxy'?
(Oh, what a tangled web we weave...)

Anonymous said...

"the relative 'morality' of sexual relationships"

If one prefers a low hedge between church and world, or even no hedge at all, then Father Ron's chronicle of change could seem reasonable as it stands. But I prefer a high hedge, so some additional facts also matter to me.

(1) In the scriptures, the human social order has three divine institutions: family, church, and state. Each has its sphere.

(2) Weddings are family ceremonies in most cultures. In Israel, the wedding that Jesus attended in Cana of Galilee was a family ceremony. Almost to the end of the first millennium, churches conducted no weddings anywhere.

(3) In Byzantium, a judicial reform in 911 reassigned the civil law on marriage and divorce from judges to bishops. For the first time, churches as institutions were involved in the administration of nuptial law, and that law directly conflicted with the Eastern teaching that a first marriage is indissoluble and eternal after death. Since then, Christians East and West have had different beliefs, expectations, and disciplines for marriage.

(4) In the barbarian West, weddings among Christians were conducted by the fathers of brides until the C12. At that time, Western churches began to enforce monogamy and paternity by registering weddings. Later, it was further clarified that a wedding does not dissolve a prior marriage but a death does.

Anonymous said...

(5) In the medieval universities, scholastic schemes of sacraments failed to explain weddings as more than registrations because each couple is the minister of its own intercourse and for other more technical reasons. The reformers kept the medieval practice of registering weddings, but restored the ancient teaching that marriage is not a sacrament of churches but a condition of human life.

(6) Centralizing states meanwhile established their own records of births, weddings, and deaths. These became the referent for the titles, taxes, insurance, pensions, inheritances, judicial rights, child custody, etc that structure modern private life.

(7) Traditionally, intercourse with persons of the opposite sex was supposed as a universal desire, and intercourse with a person of the same sex was seen as a deviation from each person's actual norm. But by the turn of the last century, it was plain that a small percentage of persons have an exclusive and lifelong sexual attraction to select persons of the same sex.

(8) More recently, sexual attraction and religious experience that could only be observed as behaviour before has been studied as the function of processes seen in the brain. Findings will be superseded by better ones that are likewise superseded, but arguments that have long been philosophical are now also empirical. Continuity is possible, repetition foreclosed.

(9) Modern societies and their churches had few rural multi-generational families and many urban and suburban couples with nuclear families. Homosexuals would either marry with a difficult accommodation or not at all. Either was a temptation to promiscuity, and that fostered a vicious demi-monde.

Anonymous said...

(10) Meanwhile, the single state has had many legal, financial, and practical disadvantages. Even expensive private contracts could not remove all of them them for a homosexual couple who lived together. During the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, these inequities caused needless indignities for the dying and dispossessed their survivors of assets they might have inherited.

(11) Recently, many Western states have registered homosexual couples as an equitable remedy. Sometimes this has been called *civil union* and sometimes *marriage*. Under one name or the other, it is in widespread use where it is available. Large majorities of citizens have supported this reform; a minority deeply resents it.

(12) Churches in those societies have polarised and sometimes divided over their response to to the civil reform. At the poles--

(a) Equity is good; the reform is good. However, absent a religious meaning that attracts broad and authentic consensus, it is not a church matter. If churches either reject a just social reform, or act beyond their true consensus for non-religious reasons, or simply misjudge the extent and complexity of the matter, their integrity as Christ's Body is compromised. The result will be diminished trust among people whose main job in the world is to exhibit unity around their worship of God. The most loving and faithful path is to give an authentic, unforced consensus time to form, if it can. Believers, by definition, have this patience.

(b) Registered couples are married couples. Church weddings are directly analogous to the civil advantages in taxes, etc that were inequitably denied to homosexual couples. Giving them weddings renders them justice that is likewise analogous to that of the reform. Since state and church are just different agencies of the same society, there is no need for a further religious meaning let alone a slowly gathered consensus about one. Delay is upsetting.

(c) Both registering and wedding same sex couples uproots an old growth forest of understandings on which people far from power have based their daily lives since time immemorial. The Bible does not support it, and one cannot imagine a human entity with the authority from God to do this. A government that meddles in the common culture must be replaced, by force if necessary, and a church who collaborates with it can never be trusted again. Resistance to tyranny is imperative.


Mark Murphy said...

It is interesting hear your take on this issue: I've never heard this argument before. I think I'd trade in my religious wedding for a civil marriage that was open to all.

Anonymous said...

Parties are not paperwork. At bottom, weddings are licensure, and licensure is discipline. The discipline is intrusive.

In a relatively chaotic phase of our history, this was badly needed and only churches had the literate personnel to administer it. That original problem was solved several centuries ago.

Church weddings (or betrothal ceremonies in eg Spain) can still make sense today if their discipline is the fitting solution to some problem of faith today. If that is the case, then it would still be prudent to verify that the medieval prescription does fit the postmodern ailment.

If not, then we should want family celebrations that celebrate a milestone of life, some changes in roles, and a mysterious human universal. They need not be churchly to be godly.


Father Ron said...

I love that phrase of yours, Dear Bowman: "family not need to be churchly to be godly". I might even go so far as to capitalise the second adjective to "Godly". After all, Jesus did question what might have seemed to be 'Godlier' (in tune with God's plan of salvation) when he asked the question about the Pharisee and the 'sinner' in the Temple; "Which one, think you, went away justified?" We are all sinners (people for whom Christ died). Some of us are well aware of that and admit to it; while others may not be.

Craig L said...


Just a note regarding number of Christians in NZ and denominations etc. 2018 Census did actually change the religion question in that it didn't include a denomination tickbox with things such as Anglican, Methodist, Catholic etc.

The question just asked for Religion. I put "Christian - Anglican" or something like that, but others in my family just put Christian, so would have been coded Christian nec (not otherwise classified).

Anonymous said...

Craig, thank you for your comment.
It is clear that many wrote "Catholic" as well as "Roman Catholic", and I assume these are pretty much the same constituency.
Absolute self-described Catholic numbers seem to have held up (mass attendanceis another question, the decline in "the west" is sharp), while the population has of course increased and the numbers writing 'no religion'continues to grow. This is a phenomenon across the western world. Anglican numbers show precipitous decline over the past twenty years.I don't know of any Anglican figures for attendance, baptisms, confirmations etc which are the best judge of a community's strength. Does the Anglican Church in New Zealand keep any central records of these?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh