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

Mr C’s Christmas Surprise (or more accurately Epiphany.)


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Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...

Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy: The Three Wise Men” (named Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar). Detail from: “Mary and Child, surrounded by angels”, mosaic of a Ravennate italian-byzantine workshop, completed within 526 AD by the so-called “Master of Sant’Apollinare”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Script…..

In the ancient manuscript of the Peshitta there is an extensive account of the fourth wise man, and more, which the Church has suppressed.

The ancient Syrian document tells of the start of their journey beginning with a lengthy debate the night before they set out.

Gaspar.           Go we now to follow the star? (as he smoked his woodbine)

Melchior .        No Gaspar, on the morrow for tonight we have matters to sort out first, prithee.

Balthasar        Yay, verily t’is true Gaspar for we are sore vexed and all awash with dissention.

Gaspar.           How then?  Whence comes this untimely discord?

Balthaser.       You were outside round the back when this tension was revealed,

Gaspar                        oh right, sorry about that lads.

Melchior.         Philip has said he will not ride with us this night.

Gaspar.           Why not dear Philip, were we not agreed on the date?

Philip.              Yay verily we were anon, but hie thee without me, for it is a bad omen that we travel under this cloud of disunity.

Gaspar.           Disunity?  Why this is news to me, what is up Dear Philip?

Philip.              I am unsure that we will be welcome in all lands and this vexes me sore.

Balthasar.       Philip thinks we need to include a woman in our number lest the lands we travel through think us biased and unbalanced.

Melchior.         T’is true dear Gaspar, how think you on this matter my old mate?

Gaspar.           I don’t know to be honest, what do our followers believe on this matter, have we consulted with them at all?

Balthasar.       Of course we have, as on all matters that bother them, but they have been hoodwinked by a few who believe that women are somehow peculiar to God.

Gaspar.           Bathasar, you have been our voice to them, what believe you about women?

Balthasar.       I too think a woman cannot ride a camel very well and it would be awkward for us if one of us rode side saddle.  I believe that it impossible to ride side saddle on a camel and thus no woman should accompany us on this arduous journey.

Melchior.         Forgive me brothers but I am not certain that all women ride side saddle anymore, I have reports of women riding camels as we do.

Philip               This is blasphemy for surely God ordained it so, that women ride side saddle and men do not.

Gaspar.           I have heard tell of some men, in forign lands, who have taken it upon themselves to ride side saddle in secret, and more….

Melchior.         Go on Gaspar pray tell…

Gaspar.           I have heard that in the northern kingdoms some men are riding side saddle openly, and that the common people do not find this amiss.

Balthasar.       I don’t believe it, say it is not so Gaspar…

Gaspar.           T’is true, I have letters from one of my cousins saying as much.

Philip.              I cannot condone this behaviour but our journey must succeed.  What are we to do?

After more deliberation and much puzzling Melchior spoke out.

Melchior.         I have it.  Let us take into our number a fifth, a woman.

Balthasar.       A Woman!

Melchior.         Hear me out friends.  If we compromise we can take a woman with us who would not ride side saddle and if we come to a kingdom that gives women equality we would be able to show her to them and appease them.  In our journal, however we will make no mention of her and our own followers will not be scandalised.  I know of such a woman who may fit the bill.

Philip.              If we are found out, we would be a focus for disunity, I cannot agree.

Gaspar.           Sounds like a good idea to me.

Balthasar thought and then spoke.  It is a good compromise and we might get away with it if were careful.

Melchior.         Philip, I entreat thee to reconsider.

Philip.              No my mind is made up, I will remain here and tend the followers as before.

Baltasar.         Than so be it.  Take our blessing dear Philip and go back to your former work.  Melchior, who is this woman?

Melchior.         Her name is  Katharine, a woman of clear vision and well versed in the use of the astrolabe and knows the powers of the Pebbles, shells, twigs and feathers.

Balthasar.       Fetch her and be quick.  We have no time to loose.

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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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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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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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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The Love of Money.


Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple

Image via Wikipedia

Mr Sentimoo, the Archfool of York, has decided to support Murdoch by allowing Murdoch to use him on the front page of his latest money machine the ‘Sun on Sunday’.

Mr Sentimoo will stop at very little to promote himself and uses the ploy of ‘promoting the church’ to achieve his own self promotion.  Don’t be fooled, the man is a self seeker and he has done well out of the system.  He has managed to climb the greasy church pole and he knows how to enjoy his status.  How many of us insist on being given smoked salmon for breakfast every day and woe betides if it isn’t served up (he is known for this in many circles).  This man is living the good life and thoroughly enjoys wagging his finger at General Synod when they ‘misbehave’ as well as being the arch-knobbler when the secret voting for a new Bishop needs to be changed.

Following on from the tomfoolery of the Sun on Sunday first edition we have further revelations of Murdoch’s news empire and stories of its corruption and indeed its corruption of others.  People who have been close to the Murdoch Empire and the journalists are telling us that there is a conspiracy of silence and a cover up of the truth of how far the corruption went.

We have heard of the big names, the celebrities and the bereaved parents who have been mistreated by the press and we have seen the hundreds of thousands of pounds that are being paid to settle things out of court, but we are also aware of countless more people, the little people, who have also suffered cruelly at the hands of this wicked giant.

And into this vipers brood walks the buffoon, Mr Sentimoo.  Jesus overturned the tables of the unscrupulous traders. Sentimoo wants to get a piece of the action.  Sentimoo has decided to attach his face to first edition of the ‘Sun on Sunday’ only by virtue of the important post he occupies in the church hierarchy and therebye he can enjoy the press exposure he craves.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that he has done this for some great religious cause.  He has attached his name, and the name of the church, to an organisation that very many thinking people loath.  He has stood behind the tables of the money changers in the temple of publicity and shouted loudly, “Read all about it” as he jingles his money bag.

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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

Room with a View


Mark 2:

English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Image via Wikipedia

It was way back in the very early 60’s when I first heard the story of the friends of a very ill man who was bedridden, tearing through a roof to lower the bedridden man down into the room below and at the feet of Jesus.  This was a wanton act of vandalism that allowed these friends to get past the pressing crowds below place their bedridden friend at Christ’s feet and successfully ‘jump the queue’.

There are a few contradictions for the grown up to puzzle over in this account, and two of them I have already alluded to.

Should these friends be allowed to get away with destroying other people’s property?  Is it the ‘done thing’ to deliberately gain an advantage over others by ‘jumping the queue’?

Whatever you might think about these questions, as a child I was filled with awe and indeed impressed by the friends determination and love for their friend.

But hidden in this story was a seed, a powerful force that has developed and grown.  It has become both a thing of beauty and something that has got me into lots of trouble.  It was that Jesus thinks it is okay to break the law in particular situations.

Whether that law is a social prohibition or  a state law, be it an historic tradition or a paternal command, in some situations it appeared that it was okay with Jesus to be different.

This is a blog, and long blogs don’t get read by many today, so I need to keep this short so I am not going into the workings of my thinking here, and some of it may be flawed, but the general gist, the outline is clear I hope.  My reading of ‘Situation Ethics by Joseph Fletcher, in my teens, helped a lot.  Indeed the ‘conservative’ William Barclay’s complete inability to understand Fletcher also helped to focus my understanding too.

I found a lot of things about the stories we heard in Church and at ‘Sunday School’ about Jesus and Prophets and Kings very interesting, and a lot more interesting than the Janet and John stories at School, or the stories about Roderick the red pirate and Gregory the green pirate….

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