Touching the hem of Christ’s Vestments.


English: Logo of the Church of England

English: Logo of the Church of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MrC’s comments of ‘SAFEGUARDING: FOLLOW-UP TO THE CHICHESTER COMMISSARIES’ REPORTS FOREWORD BY THE ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY AND YORK’

Tomorrow there will be a discussion concerning the safeguarding procedures in relation to the abuse of children and vulnerable adults as it applies to the Church of England.  It seems however to be concerned, not only with prevention but also with punishment.

Whilst I fully accept the rightness of ensuring that people who are considered to be a risk to children and vulnerable adults are not allowed to have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults in church, I cannot see anywhere acknowledgement that such people may wish to repent and may wish to continue to have a sacramental relationship with God via the church.

The document fails to provide any guidance on how such people might be integrated into the Church.

The preoccupation about wearing vestments or clerical dress in this document is perhaps warranted, but the lack of pastoral guidance for the wicked is lamentable.  The demonising of such people is a sad reflection on the church and the dehumanisation of perpetrators is unhelpful.  They are reduced to the scathing reference; ‘these people’.

“The sexual and physical abuse that has been inflicted by these people on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame for years to come.” (my emphasis)

Be assured, I am not condoning any form of abuse, simply asking for a less vehement response in dealing with those who are responsible for ‘individual wickedness’.  We have a responsibility to ‘deal’ with them in their entirety, as sinners and as penitents.

It is good to hear the Archbishops citing Christ in their letter…

“All contemporary safeguarding policies and procedures in the Church should be a response to what we learn and see in Jesus himself… In witness to this faith and to our sense of obligation to children who are brought to Jesus through the care of the Christian community, the Church should set for itself the highest standards of care available to our society today”

Yet we also know that ‘what we learn and see in Jesus himself’ includes the grace of forgiveness and a responsibility to care for all who are outcast.

I also feel that the Archbishops should acknowledge that some abusers are themselves victims of abuse and may need special care by the church and church authorities for that very reason.  To cast them out may be to compound the very real harm they also live with.  I say this without any intention whatsoever of diminishing the guilt of the sinner nor seeking any action that would jeopardise a child or vulnerable adult.. or anyone else for that matter.  The daily rape by my Uncle and the chilling threats over many weeks when I was aged 7 haunt me every day.  I feel utterly desolate without the fellowship of my church and some acknowledgement of my repentance and desire to make some reperation.  My voice is the voice of a sinner, yes and i will always have that before me, but there is also the voice of the child within me, a voice that today I recognise more clearly thanks to my friends, both in Synod and online.  I could not cry out then, but i can today.

I would like the Archbishops to listen to me also when they say…

“It is right, therefore, that the General Synod should receive an account of the actions that the House and the Council have put in hand, have an opportunity to comment on the next steps, and be able to identify with the apology that we wish to offer unreservedly for the failure of the Church of England’s systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused.” (my emphasis)

I shall not be at Synod this year but I hope that the brave may find something here to speak about.

In His service  MrC

The cat napping on the Fence.


emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘ENCYCLICAL LETTER LUMEN FIDEI, ON FAITH’

MrC  has a bit of a funny position in the great scheme of things, balancing on the edge of Catholicism and liberalism and extremists on both sides take pot shots at the cat on the fence!

So I always try to read stuff with a mind of acceptance, and then analysis.

I read the above letter with some devotion and hopefully with a critical mind.

What is missing in this piece, imho, is an acknowledgement that the revelation of truth through ‘rational’ thought is not contradictory to faith.  Only if that faith is pickled in some preservative can the Pope(s) uphold a view that the light of reason is dimmed by the light of faith.

“that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.”

This view can be challenged by liberal thought, (liberal insofar as it accepts the light of reason as being valid in argument, theological and spiritual) because one can believe that science and reason illuminate the nature of God.

Two things come to mind.

The first affirms this belief.  That all light points to God and that these ‘lights’ cannot be contradictory because that would imply a house that is divided.  Mark 3:25 “… if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

The second is that in Christ we have the full revelation of the nature of God.  One might infer from this statement that truth reached through modern reason somehow stands in opposition to the truth revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

However one can argue that the full revelation that we have been given in the person of Jesus Christ is all that is needed for salvation.  This belief does not automatically preclude new revelations about the nature of creation or the physics of the cosmos, the workings of the human mind or the human body, and everything else that modern rational investigation has shown to us being acceptable to us as truth.

One is about salvation whilst the others are about the fruits of the tree of knowledge.  For MrC they both exist in unity and they are both part of that same light that we see in Him and through the workings of the Holy Spirit.

The real challenge for Christianity, and more specifically for the established Churches is accepting both and reworking superstitions and misconceptions that have over painted the light that is from God.  These are often fondly held moral views or modes of praxis that are rendered unworkable in the light of that reasoned light.

The trappings of how we do things and what we think of as being morally true are continually focussed by the gifts of reason and that should be embraced by Christians and traditions that are fondly held may have to be abandoned.  This should not shake our faith, for if we do believe that Jesus Christ is the full revelation of the nature of God’s relationship to humanity then we should also believe that this revelation will be in agreement with all truth; theological, spiritual and scientific.

Until we have the maturity of faith to appreciate the Light of Christ in all truth we are condemned to darkness, or at least to the dim shadows.

MrC

Waiting to die or to be raised? From Good Friday to Easter to Good Friday.


Waiting to die or to be raised?

"The Good Samaritan"

“The Good Samaritan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living in isolation, more or less, is particularly hard if memories of a previous time of abundant social contact, and happy contact often, become a constant reminder of the contrast in what was and what is.  The attempt to take an interest in other things, study, creative activity (painting, writing, reading) is difficult without any ‘end product’ being discernable.

I am made acutely aware of the situation that so many people endure in societies globally and in particular here in England, and I am especially mindful of the isolation that older people experience.    This ‘loneliness’ is perhaps harder to bear if one is living on a low income and more so if one is suffering from chronic depression.  I think it is reasonable to suggest that such isolation may contribute to increased depression if not become the actual cause of depression for many.

The desire for social interaction (and maybe the simple reason that I am writing this) is strong, but one can easily become ambivalent about the prospect of social contact.  Whether there is any real opportunity for being with others is another thing.  The needs of the socially isolated are complex and become more involved as time goes on.  The desire to be with others is opposed by the fear of being unable to successfully interact with others.  One feels out of practice, and even unworthy, though this may be more to do with my own particular case.

The failure to develop regular and meaningful relationships leaves the isolated person without the normal support that we might take for granted.  Simple activities, paying bills, dealing with authorities and even what to eat, are never shared; the only advice one has is ones own.  Easter is indeed a time for rejoicing and the resurrection from death of Jesus is a great fact that fills us with gladness and thanksgiving.   For the isolated person, though, it may also sharpen the contrast of how sparse ones existence truly is.

The Church is a vehicle for hope and it has been given a wonderful task, to declare The Resurrection of Jesus Christ anew to every generation.  One issue that today’s Church of England, and others in the Anglican Community share, is the proclamation of that Resurrection to today’s world and today’s people.

The Samaritan, the leper and the prostitute were welcomed and blessed by Jesus.  Today, we have the task of declaring welcome, on equal terms, to women, to all sexual orientations and to those whom society vilifies perpetually.

How will the Church declare the Gospel?  To whom will it speak?  Will it be able to do God’s work? Will it speak to everyone?  If it does then how will it enact that Gospel?  How will it welcome the isolated?  Will it be generous and give the isolated bread, or will it keep it tightly locked up in the tabernacle, in its exclusive rites and laws, in its fear of popular villification?  Do we hear the cock crow thrice still?

MrC

Whatever happened to the excrement in Jerusalem in the time of ‘Our Lord’?


Roman toilets! There were some better conditio...

Roman toilets! There were some better condition ones that looked so usable that they had to put a rope around them to stop people from using them, That would be my dream! (Photo credit: William Bereza)

 

The Romans were very advanced in their dealing with the effluence of humanity and presumably in the time of Pontius Pilate the Roman’s, at least had adequate sanitation.  But what of the excrement of the generic population?

Sure, many would have access to the pristine system advanced by the Roman’s but is it possible that most of the indigenous populace relieved themselves in a less than hygienic way?

Jesus was brought up in the Decapolis and it is probable that He was aware, and maybe familiar with, the Roman system.   But when He began His work in the more plebeian south ,including Jerusalem, then it is possible that the arrangements for the dealing of evacuation of faeces was not the ‘Rolls Royce’ of his time, and the stink may have influenced his irritation with the morals of the Jewish system in the temple.

Whatever the Historical truth of the matter it is unfortunate that the theologians of the last two hundred years have ignored this most basic of needs of every human being.

True religion must say something to us and touch every point of our lives.  The exclusion of defecation and its implications in the New Testament is a worrying concern for serious academics and until this is radically and adequately addressed then the certitude and indeed the acceptance of Christianity as a serious religion in the History of Humanity remains in question.

Mr C

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Noah, The Koala and Fundamentalist Evangelicalism


English: Noah's Ark in Iğdır

English: Noah’s Ark in Iğdır (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To what extent is evangelistic ‘Christianity’ allied to the literal interpretation of the writings of the Bible?  The abandonment of reason in favour of rejection of science in order to adhere to literal interpretation is worrying.  Koalas and Kangaroos are clearly not animals that would be occupants of the Ark, and their demise would be assured in a world wide flood.

Whilst I personally believe that God can, has, and does, intervene in this world; I do not believe that God inspires stories as stumbling blocks to true understanding in His existence, yet millions, of various faiths, and fundamentalist evangelicalists appear to belong to them, adhere fanatically to stories in the Bible that are incomprehensible in reality.

How far the Church of England is influenced by such people is deeply worrying, for such blind faith leads to strange and dysfunctional thinking about the nature of God.  It should be of serious concern to all Christians that we may be governed by and influenced by such people.  General synod, priests and Churches allied to the World Council of Churches are infiltrated by people whose beliefs reject reason and common sense.

Whilst irrational stories, recorded in the Bible may have emerged from stories based on past social memories of ancient societies, and may hold truths about humanity and God, to accept them as literal, in the face of scientific revelations that show them as wrong, is to hold on to a mindset that is unsure of itself, a mindset that is insecure in its belief in the true God and an insecurity about God’s interaction with humanity throughout history, thoughout time.

The Church of today must abandon such literal understanding and accept the revelation of reason, accept the fruits of human discovery and revel in the gift of truth that God has given us.

The right of each individual to believe what they will, might be a reasonable aspiration, but to allow irrational fundamentalism to influence the growth of the church is to allow the church to appeal to the irrational and superstitious inclination of humanity.  Such an appeal is not honest, is not sustainable and is not worthwhile.

If Christ is to live in our hearts then our hearts must also be open to the truth and reject the irrational and the superstitious.  Our Church must do the same.

MrC

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Challenge to you. Explain Christianity.


Christmas ball - Christianity

Christmas ball – Christianity (Photo credit: nabeel_yoosuf)

Why should anyone be a Christian?

What is the basic message that you would put to someone enquiring about the Christian Faith?

What are the essential pieces of information that one needs to convey the Christian faith?

Or is it something that is often socially and habitually acquired, perhaps from an early age.

Answers in comments please.a

 

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Moving on……


Moving Day (film)

Moving Day (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Faithful followers of this blog know that MrC has poked fun at a lot of people and occasionally pointed out some really bad behaviour by others.  I am not without sin either and it is not a perfect blog by any means.

Still, defending those who are oppressed by others, exposing bullying by senior clerics, these are things we are all required to do, sinners or not, and each and everyone of us will, if we submit to to following Christ and walking the way of the Cross, offering ourselves for the betterment of others, we will all be redeemed, even Bishops and Archbishops.

We are all equal, we are all created by God and we will all be judged by Him.  How far we come to know Him here on earth and live according to His will, as best we can; indeed how far we are able to forgive, may be the deciding factor in how far we are able to live with Him in heaven.

MrC

 

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Planning to be bad today? Don’t be surprised if you are.


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

I had made plans recently, quite important plans in many ways, ones that would have altered the things I might expect to change most days of the week pretty radically for many years.  I had discussed the ideas around these plans with many people, friends and professional advisers and family.  I still have those plans in place and I am hopeful that something may come of them but last night something happened that has blown a hole through my plans and now they are fundamentally challenged.

A guiding principle of my life has been that discerning the will of God in all things is fundamental and should guide all that I do.  For most things this is quite insignificant really.  I mean how I trim my whiskers may not be high on the Infinite’s agenda but He may have an opinion I suppose.  Yet in the matter of what I do with my time, then that may be of great significance to Him.

There are times when we put in a good deal of effort to understand what God wants us to do.  It is a question that is as old as we are; “what should I do?”  This question, or more precisely the desperate seeking of advice that flows from it, has allowed sorcerers, astrologers, statisticians and many a religion to become wealthy.  It has given quite a few ‘agony aunts’ a living and can give rise to sects dictators and war.

This desire that we have, to want to know what we ‘should’ do, is an important desire.  The principles that we decide upon to guide us in getting the answer to the question shapes our lives greatly.  If you are immoral and find it acceptable to exploit other people, then what you should do might involve getting what you want at everyone else’s expense.  If you consider yourself to be a little bit more moral maybe you would still want to get it at another person’s others expense but desire not make it obvious.  This is the choice that I think most of us go for and it is the choice of preference in senior clergy circles, often.

Then there are those of us, psychotics perhaps, who believe that a God exists, who want us, indeed commands us, to behave according to His rules, his principles.  This is the way that I understand the God of the book, Yahweh, the God that became incarnate in Christ Jesus.

The rules that Yahweh has set out for us are there to be argued and debated about.  Nothing in religion and ethics is ever straight forward.  But for me the fundamental law is this; To love thy neighbour as thyself.  To that end any plans that I may entertain cannot involve the suffering of others, and as a very peculiar socialist I also believe that nothing I do should disadvantage my fellow human being as far as I am able to influence matters.

However that question “what should I do?” remains a thorny one, even for this Christian cat.  The plans that I make in my mind are mine and the truth is, I don’t have any way of knowing how the future will turn out.  And nor does anyone else, despite their certainty.  The evangelical nutter who is convinced that everyone else is going to hell really is a psychotic.  He does not know that for certain and those who believe him are deluded.

The truth is that we cannot know the future, we can only guess at what may come to pass.  Our plans are transient at best, constantly needing to be changed and rearranged.  What we do, when we become fixated on a plan, is to become inflexible and fixed, unavailable for change and unable to listen to the voice of God, who is going to share with you a better plan.

God reveals Himself to us in the moment, and He does this constantly.  We need to be ready to respond to his revelation and whilst plans may give us clues to prepare for tomorrows eventualities, we are fools if we worship our own ideas.

Like Abraham, we should be prepared, but God may surprise us.

It was Abraham who was prepared to sacrifice his son, he believed it was God’s will.  God changed the plan and lamb chops were on the menu that evening instead.

MrC

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‘Hate’ is such a useful word at times


Words Hurt Too 201/365

Words Hurt Too 201/365 (Photo credit: SashaW)

If someone says, ‘I hate you’, or ‘I love you’, what do they really mean?

The subtlety of language has occupied my mind for many years.  Not so much the grammatical aspects, nor so much the logic of sentences in themselves.  It is the actual meaning that the person speaking wants to convey that has held my attention.

Listening to the outraged mother pour out her anger towards the local man who abused her daughter demanded that I put aside my dictionary, thesaurus and ‘rules of grammar’ book.  Sitting with the father who was sobbing words because he loved his son but knew he was going to beat him again if things carried on as they were, meant that I had to forget the rules of speech and listen intensely, carefully.

I am grammatically challenged, regularly; sentencly adrift, often; bemused by commas full stops and semi colons, now.

I do, though, manage to communicate something.  In church we are often troubled by a pedantic inclination to correct language.  It is a dilemma.

On the one hand we have the need to agree on a universal understanding, as far as possible, of words and their meaning.  On the other hand we need to allow for the creative, changing adaptation of language as the world around us changes and grows and this may mean that familiar words are used in new and perhaps strange ways.

I once thought that having a universal understanding of the meaning of words was a safeguard against misinformation.  A politician would say something and we would know immediately what he meant.  Listening to the words of the politician would be enough to allow us to understand the meaning of the message.  Today this is no longer the case.  If you listen carefully the T.V. news is frequently peppered with sentences that do not make sense or are misleading in the extreme, often by using incomplete sentences.

The church is no better and those in authority at every level misuse language, possibly subconsciously, to put their own spin on the message.  We all do it in fact, but at some level there may be the need for us to bring individuals and organisations to account.

I wonder how careful we are about listening to what we hear said?

For me, the real import of the word is not necessarily the precise detail of the word but the way it is said.  I apply this to Biblical study as one method of studying God’s ‘word’.  At the same time it is equally important to give sufficient weight to the words spoken (or printed) allowing for the vagaries of translation.  Understanding language is a balancing act, between literal understanding and interpretative skill.

MrC

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what does it mean…Church?


Copia desde la Crucifixion dibujada hacia 1540...

Image via Wikipedia

Now here’s a thought.  What is the church about?  Is it to worship God who made all things?  Is it to evangelise, to spread the message of Christ as saviour to all people?  Is it to bring help to the poor and needy?  You can add to this list of course.

Why are we so concerned about the buildings that we occupy, and why are we so bound by the structures of organisation that we have adopted over the years?  So much energy is put into maintaining both of these that I begin to think we spend our time and talents unwisely.

The Gospels tell us of a man, Jesus, who overthrew the negative aspects of Pharasitical thinking, the desire to put law and process above the love that God commands us to act upon.

To put it more simply, I don’t see Jesus having much time for the pomposity of a church that wrings its hands at the steps of St Pauls whilst closing its doors to the people who were once camped out there.  I do see Jesus wanting to sing along with the good Christians who went amongst them and shared the word in impromptu religious services.

I don’t see Jesus joining with Rowan Williams and Mr Sentimu as they use clever words in their attempt to discipline the Churches of America and elsewhere with their un-Anglican covenant.  I do see Jesus wanting to stand alongside the gay man He has called to be a Bishop and scandalising the church authorities who, in turn, do all they can to destroy him.  Does this sound familiar?  Christ was hated by the Jewish establishment, whilst he was on earth, because he spoke of a love that was unacceptable to them.  They rejected Christ’s ‘blasphemous’ message and engineered His crucifixion.

Followers of Christ have always been on the edge, at risk of rejection and amongst the outcasts of society.  The comfortable church that seeks acceptance, that concerns itself only with the trappings of permanence in this world, is a church that has turned away from Christ’s calling.  Sentimou’s alliance with Mr Rupert Murdoch, and all that he stands for, by appearing in the ‘Sun on Sunday’ is a cheap trick and has nothing to do with the work of Christ.  It is another example of a person who has lost His way, a man walking a different path to the path of Christ.

So what is the Church about?  I believe it is about acknowledging our sinfulness accepting His forgiveness of those sins and then rejoicing in the salvation that comes from Him.  It is not about getting the best deal or standing in judgement over other people.  It is not about the singular love of buildings, music, vestments, power, position or privilege.

It may be hard for a rich man to enter heaven, but it is harder still for many a church leader, I would imagine.

MrC

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