It's been amusing reading the accounts of the Church of England Synod
this past week. The hypocrisy and inconsistencies flew thick and fast.
The Archbishop of Canterbury sort of apologized to the gay community
for throwing them under the bus these past few years since his
ascension to the throne.
"The rights and dignities of gay and lesbian
people are a matter of proper concern for all of us, and we assume with good
reason, even, I should say, with good Christian reason, that the securing of
these rights is obviously a mark of civilised and humane society.When those rights are threatened – as in the
infamous legislation that was being discussed in Uganda – we quite rightly express
Hmm, expressing repugnance? For Rowan, only months after the fact and
after every leader of the western world had already weighed in...
"The debate over the status and vocational possibilities
of LGBT people in the Church is not helped by ignoring the existing
facts, which include many regular worshippers of gay or lesbian
orientation and many sacrificial and exemplary priests who share this
orientation. There are ways of speaking about the question that seem to
ignore these human realities or to undervalue them; I have been
criticised for doing just this, and I am profoundly sorry for the
carelessness that could give such an impression."
"I'm sorry I threw you under the bus, but I had to do it...". Wasn't much of an apology, really.
At least synod gave fairly short shrift to the recognition of the renegade ACNA,
the almost aptly named pimple of a breakaway Anglican group in North
America. ACNA is obviously not as contagious as acne, because their numbers are still tiny, but it is just as unpleasant,
both in demeanor and tactics.
Then, with all the fuss and bother about gays in the North American
church, synod calmly passes a measure allowing surviving civil partners
of C of E clergy the right to continuing pensions, just as widows have.
"Gay clergy? Oh sure, we have those... Pay no attention... Moving on..."
Of course, the issue is not gay clergy - it's gay bishops that are the problem. Well, and not just gay bishops, because the C of E is knee deep in those too. It's openly gay bishops that's the problem. And don't ask, don't tell is working just fine for the C of E right now. And it will keep on working, right up to the point where it doesn't, which should be any month now.
And women bishops, well, we saw more waffling on that. Mmm... waffles... The only thing worse than an openly gay bishop is apparently a female bishop, so that must be stalled at every possible juncture.
He said that while “most hold that the ordination of women as bishops
is a good”, this good was “jeopardised in two ways — by the potential
loss of those who, in conscience, cannot see it as a good, and by the
equally conscience-driven concern that there are ways of securing the
desired good that will corrupt it or compromise it fatally”.
He said that for many women, and the majority of
traditionalists, there was a strong feeling that “the Church overall is
not listening to how they are defining for themselves the position they
occupy”; rather, they heard the rest of the Church saying “Of course we
want you — but exclusively on our terms, not yours.” This was
translated in the ears of many as “We don’t actually want you at all.”
Of course, that is exactly what the traditionalists mean. Duh.
Thanks for the amazing insight Dr. Williams. You may want to actually pay attention to what has happened in North America these past 40 years.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Santayana
Thanks for playing Dr. Williams, you've been a wonderful contestant...
The church has enough of a problem staying relevant to people's lives without alienating the average person-in-the-street deliberately. And by relevant, I don't mean hip, avant-garde or anything like that (which in their own way are irrelevant to the average person anyway). No, I mean relevant in that it can be a useful and even necessary part of daily life - like supermarkets and telephones. The vast majority of people, particularly in the UK, don't attend church. Most people just don't see that the church has anything to offer them. They see church as being populated by people not like them.
This isn't helped by the fact that a large part of the church clings to an ancient view of how society ought to work. Whether it's a biblical era perspective of societal life or a 15th century view, it doesn't really matter - much of the church in general sees some version of "the past" as an ideal that has been lost and needs to be refound and restored, rather than a mere amusing way-point in human societal history. See, for instance, the Rev Angus MacLeay, vicar of St Nicholas in Sevenoaks, Kent.
The church's vicar is Angus MacLeay, 50, a married father of two who
is a leading member of the evangelical group Reform, which is opposed
to the appointment of women clergy.
The group has produced a
leaflet, called 'The role of women in the local church', which uses
Biblical quotes urging them to 'remain silent' and informing them
'wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.'
section of the leaflet, quoting Corinthians, said: 'It would seem that
women should remain silent in the public weighing of prophecy or if
their questions could legitimately be answered by their husbands at
Another, referring to a passage from Ephesians, said:
'Because of the order and purpose of their creation, wives are to
submit to their husbands in everything in recognition of the fact that
husbands are head of the family as Christ is head of the church.....
'This is the way God has ordered their relationships with each other and Christian marriage cannot function well without it.'
"Bring back 15th century marriage!", they cry. Do they want 15th century sanitation and medicine too? I suspect not.
"A woman's place is in the home, just like biblical days!", they shout. Are they willing to give up their Range Rovers? Bet not.
Note that this piece was published in the Daily Mail - one of the more bombastic conservative oriented newspapers - not a good sign for Reform if the Mail is on your case...
However, when people get decide to "do-good" and get out of their depth, or let their emotions sway them into "doing good" when they lack the basic skills to do it effectively, it often leads to bad things happening - and not only to them.
A case in point occurred this week in Haiti when ten US "missionaries", aka do-gooding regular churchgoers from Idaho, decided to take 33 Haitian children across the border to the Dominican Republic with no authorization and even less of a clue. The BBC story sums it up pretty well.
The missionaries have been detained since Friday, when they tried to enter the neighbouring Dominican Republic with the children, whose ages ranged from 2 months to 12 years, without the right documents.
To be clear, a spokeswoman for the missionaries actually said:
"They really didn't have any paperwork... I did not understand that that would really be required," Laura Silsby told CNN.
The story continues:
The children were later taken to an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, where at least 10 told aid workers that they had surviving parents and knew their contact details. Officials are now trying to reunite the families.
"One girl was crying, and saying, 'I am not an orphan. I still have my parents.' And she thought she was going on a summer camp or a boarding school or something like that," said George Willeit, a spokesman for SOS Children's Village.
So while they were well-meaning, if thoroughly and utterly misguided, it makes it all the more obvious that these matters should be left in the hands of the professionals. As noted at the end of the BBC story:
According to UN guidelines, two years should pass after a disaster
before adoption can even be considered, giving time to exhaust all
efforts to locate family members first.
Which would mean waiting to do more "good" for another year and 50 weeks, then...
A similar case in Chad in 2007 resulted in a group being incarcerated then freed, but the long-term effect was described thus:
In sub-Saharan Africa, the case played powerfully as an instance of
white colonial arrogance; in France, it was seen as a misguided effort
to save lives; and among humanitarian groups it has been seen as the
kind of mission that puts experienced, professional aid workers at risk.