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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The Church needs to Change


god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

If the church is to survive as a purposeful and positive factor in people’s lives then it is going to have to change radically.  The superstition and sectarianism that it has depended upon for generations must come to an end if it is to offer modern society a Gospel that is relevant and believable in a new age.  Essential truths about the nature of God must be decided upon with a new approach and old interpretations that are harmful, and in many scholarly places discredited, must be rooted out.

It is true that the church has moved away from much that it once taught and it no longer gives credibility to blatant discrimination of Government and economic policies; slavery, serfdom, fear and arrogance have been rejected at last.  Though not in every case, not for everyone.  We still promote traditions that are anti-gay and the church remains an establishment that holds secrets and shuns openness and truthfulness in its dealings with finance and morality.  It is flawed and often behaves in a way that Christ would condemn.

More fundamentally the attempt to include within itself a range of extreme values that are mutually opposed has resulted in a deeply divided house,  It needs to define what it holds as true and make those values known.  The church needs to be freed from the ill-conceived idea of unity and position itself clearly with the values that Christ taught.  It is time to reject the individualistic theories and interpretations that  those who are at its extreme ends hold as ‘essential to salvation’.

The church needs to be honest and admit when it is unsure, be humble and admit that it has, and continues to get things wrong.  The Church needs to confess its sinfulness and seek forgiveness, for example; when it is harsh and when it obscures the nature of God   from the eyes and ears of the people it is called to serve, when it presents instead a vision of God that lacks compassion and accessibility.

To hold on to a God, indeed a Gospel that is excluding of many and irrelevant to most is foolish and cannot be sustained, nor should it be.  To believe that access to God is reserved to itself alone is against the word of God and extremists who promote such a view are heretical and wrong.

Holding on to privilege and establishment is contrary to the way that Christ taught us and rejecting that which it believes is embarrassing or it believes is damaging to its own survival is to also reject the God who scandalised His own people by hanging on a cross, rejected and despised.

Maybe it is time for all Christians to review what the Gospel tells us about the nature of God in our world.  Perhaps it is a time for all denominations to be humbled by the story of Christ and revisit their thinking and divest themselves of fondly held beliefs that are unhelpful and contradictory.

Re thinking the Gospel is not a novel idea, it has always been part of what we are as Church and history testifies to this, as do the writings of the New Testament themselves.  Change can be threatening but seeking a true understanding of the nature of God may demand change from each and every one of us.

I am tired of hearing the pomposity of fundamentalists in the church and the certitude of so many clerics, especially the most senior of our church.  There are those who twitter without thinking and I guess they live their lives in much the same way, but feel themselves right and justified by habitually adopting narrow thinking and by holding onto personal creeds that are far from what Christ taught us.

Somewhere in the Church of England there has to be a renaissance.  It is time for change and an abandonment of the shackles of tradition.  It is time for good people to  speak out and be heard, it is time to be open to new thinking and looking at Christ with new eyes.  It is time to cast off the bonds of slavery to the past and look seriously at what is relevant to God’s relationship with His people.

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Destruction of Sufi Shrines in Libya might conern all liberal thinking people.


I believe that the Christian Church in particular, is charged with the duty of tolerance and speaking out against injustice against anyone, and this duty to God belongs to us all.  The unfortunate truth is, however that we too become divisive and exclude those who we do not wish to associate with.  It is a small step then towards hatred and violence.

The destruction of Sufi shrines in Libya might be of serious concern to all liberal thinking people across the world irrespective of their faith, or lack of faith.  The report from the BBC says that the Libyan police stood by as the destruction took place whilst the politicians of Libya have called the action ‘criminal’.

The hopes of many Libyan people that a liberated Libya might resist future chaos will be challenged by this recent action, which is not the only extremist religious action in Libya, and other faiths, including the Coptic church are concerned by the actions of extremist groups in Libya against those who do not conform to their ideal.

The extremism of the Nazis in the 20th Century should have taught us all that the only way forward for humanity is a liberal tolerant and mutually respectful attitude.

It is a great pity that it often takes dreadful inhumane actions to sting the conscience of societies; the promise by right wing extremists in Norway to moderate their language and message following the massacre of 77 children by Brevik is an example.

However the guilt and intentions often fade away quickly.

Those  who wish to promote tolerance and liberal attitudes are needed today in every society, in every walk of life and in every religion.  I am not suggesting that liberals get it right always, but standing up and speaking out against injustice and intolerance before it gets hold of a society, a community, a faith is better than saying nothing and allowing atrocities to escalate.

“God opposes the proud’

but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5b)

MrC

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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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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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Two Baptism In the Bible? A Greater Baptism and a Lesser Baptism?


English: Baptism of Christ

Image via Wikipedia

In mark’s gospel he talks about St John the Baptist baptising people with water, ad St John himself speaks about Jesus baptising people with the Holy Spirit.  The distinction in my edition suggests that the baptism of John, with water, is a lesser baptism than the one to come.  “I baptise you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mk 1:8)

This outward sign of inward grace, Baptism, is clearly not a one-time event, at least in one sense.  Baptism by John, with water was not seen as being the only baptism that one might experience, for Jesus might also baptise, and according to the other three Gospels, this time with fire.

Whilst there is a tradition generally held in most Christian denominations in the church of having one Baptism only, I do wonder what has happened to the Baptism by fire.

The use of the imagery of fire, flame for example, as a symbol for the Holy Spirit is a use we are familiar with in Christian literature and art.  It is used in the description of the appearance of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Acts 2)

Whether this second baptism is done with the use of fire, rushing wind or anything else, it is a fascinating consideration that there is, somewhere in the totality of creation, a second Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

One might think that this ‘Baptism with the Holy spirit’ happens at the time of ‘Baptism with water’, or at a time when the individual declares, for them self, Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  My concern here isn’t with that, but rather with the notion that there is a second baptism at all.

I realise that there are many historic, theological, cultural and denominational perspectives that bear down on this subject.  I can hear the clamouring voices of the Theological antiquarian and I admire you all.  However, I am wondering if this focus, this resolution of baptism into two, is a helpful revelation for us ordinary Christians.

Please comment.

MrC

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Bad News Travels Furthest.


"The Sermon" from Tristram Shandy

Image via Wikipedia

I am learning a valuable lesson today.  I am writing this on Ash Wednesday.  If your intention is to get loads of people viewing your blog then DON’T POST NICE STORIES.  Today the number of people looking at the happy posting was down 50% by midday and I had lost two followers.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I am not hovering at the screen waiting eagerly for updates about follower’s n stuff, but I do keep an eye on it out of interest.

One might conclude that bad news sells.  If I rip into a Bishop or have a juicy piece of news about an Archbishop’s behaviour, the graph goes up and up and up.  Today I told a nice story about a saintly priest and it seems to be struggling to break surface!  Bad news sells, and this got me thinking.

What sort of sermons do people sit up and listen to?

I wondered if people preferred a sermon that was ‘fire and brimstone’, or uplifting and affirming’.  There must be at least two views on this amongst clergy because I have heard both of these types of sermon, and more.

So in the spirit of chasing the ratings, here is today’s ‘bad news’ story.

It was coming up to Christmas and I popped along to an evangelical parlour.  It was great, a brass band and microphones, plush seats and balcony view.  The Carols were fab and the place was toasty warm.  Then came the bloody sermon.

If you wanted a sermon to cut your throat to, this was the one.  I was a terrible sinner and was going to hell.  What amazed me at the door was the fact that the doe eyed regulars were congratulating the miscreant preacher and patting the silly sod on the back.  He almost fell backwards when I asked if he was the one who preached.  He grabbed my paw and put a big grin on his face and said oh yes; then I explained to the moron that his sermon was bloody awful and had not told us what Jesus came to say.  I reminded him that Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but that, through Him, the world might be saved.  His sycophantic groupies came to his rescue and I, and my rather embarrassed friends, left the building.

Well least-ways his ‘bad news to all men’ sermon was remembered.

MrC