If I were Archbishop: One MP’ s radical agenda for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, E4
SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2012
Holding the Torch Name: James Swabey Location: Harpenden Church: Plume Avenue, Colchester, Essex Relay Leg: Eastbourne 17 July Occupation: Sports Leader at Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Reason for being selected for the relay: Coca-Cola put out an announcement asking for nominations of people who are using sports in their community to inspire young people or make a difference. I was nominated for my sports ministry work in Uganda, China, Rwanda and the UK. Next thing I knew Coca-Cola was asking me to write my visions for sports and tell them my story. I prayed about what to write, and felt God say to be honest about my relationship with Jesus and my desire to see people know Jesus and be transformed by him through the tool of sports. I knew it might not be very popular, but I just left it in God’s hands. Reaction to the news: It’s so exciting; I am getting paid to share my testimony! I get to talk about how I played sports all my life and that never fulfilled me, but life with Jesus has. I get to talk about the time of going into Uganda and Rwanda and starting up basketball programmes and running football camps. I get to talk about how many people were healed and how many people heard about the hope in Jesus through these clubs and events. Aims for the future: My plans for the future is to reach out to the 10/40 window especially in North Korea, starting a restaurant where people get touch by the presence of God, and reaching out to the Government, but also the poor.
ANDREW CAREY E2 • JOHN RICHARDSON E3 • ARTS & MEDIA E6 • BOOKS E7 • CATHERINE FOX E8 • JANEY LEE GRACE E8
May 20, 2012
Andrew Carey: View from the Pew
The relations between politicians and journalists V
ery few people now read or see only one source of news. We all take our news the moment we turn to our newspapers and visit our homepages and our favourite blogs. This is to say nothing of the decline in the circulation of newspapers and the growth of the number of television stations. Fears about the dominance of any one single media group, even the BBC with its over-bearing market dominance funded by a compulsory tax on every television, are now highly exaggerated. No newspaper could now any longer credibly boast ‘It was the Sun wot won it’. Yet the diminishing influence of media conglomerates like News International seem to have escaped the notice of politicians who until very recently courted News International editors and executives in an entirely unseemly way. One of the details of the Leveson inquiry that will stick with many people is David Cameron’s texts to Rebekah Brooks in which
he mistakenly signed off ‘LOL’ under the misapprehension that this meant ‘Lots of love’ rather than ‘Laugh out Loud’. People seem to find the relationship between politicians and journalists distasteful largely because of the behaviour of politicians. Yet this is wrong-headed. Politicians have always courted the media. What is really disquieting is the closeness of journalists and newspaper groups to the politicians and authorities they seek to scrutinise. The really shameful thing about the relationship of successive Prime Ministers to News International was not the fact that politicians sought this closeness, but that journalists and news executives didn’t reject the hand that offered to feed them. Journalists can never hope to regain public confidence and rebuild their reputations unless they return to a proper attitude of disinterested cynicism towards those who hold power.
Panic in the newsrooms... After a couple of weeks of not buying a newspaper -- the longest period in my adult life -- I picked up the Telegraph and leapt into the pages with the guilty enthusiasm of an addict. The stories all seemed to be apocalyptic in their pessimism and gloominess -- a reminder of why I had been skimming news online rather than buying my own dose of anxiety. Most depressing of all was the call by defence secretary, Philip Hammond, that Britain needs to spend more on defending itself against electro magnetic pulses (EMP) which are brought about as a result of a nuclear missile exploding in the upper atmosphere or due to a natural event like a solar flare. Yet, this was only the most extreme example of the apocalyptic mood of our times. The ongoing saga of the Eurozone is always on the level of a ‘disaster’. The meetings are always ‘crunch talks’. Meetings of ministers are always the ‘last chance’ to save the Euro. Greece is always at the ‘edge of the abyss’. It is little wonder that we have no growth when politicians and journalists periodically run around shouting ‘Don’t panic’ in the manner of Corporal Jones.
The march of totalitarianism My own style of apocalyptic journalism is the refrain that we are sleep-talking towards totalitarianism in the stealthy growth of cultural intolerance towards Christianity. Last week there were two examples. First the Law Society has banned a Christian organisation from hosting a conference at its headquarters on marriage. A range of diverse speakers were due to take part in the event, including a High Court Judge, Sir Paul Coleridge. Christian Concern’s, Andrea Williams was surprised to receive an email last week informing her that the booking had been cancelled at the last minute because the nature of the conference contradicted the Law Society’s diversity policy. The humourless bureaucrats of the Law Society can see no irony in reducing diversity in order to further diversity.
Second, the conservative website hosted by a blogger styling himself ‘Cranmer’ received a flurry of emails from the Advertising Standards Authority for hosting an advert from the Coalition for Marriage asking people to sign their petition. Apparently thin-skinned members of the public complained that it was homophobic to defend the law on marriage as it now stands. The truly astonishing thing is that the ASA has invited a blogger to explain himself rather than contacting the marketers who were responsible for the advert at the Coalition for Marriage. Furthermore, rather than dismissing the complaint as frivolous it is astonishing that the ASA has decided to pursue a formal investigation. Surely such complaints should be treated with contempt when they seek to limit freedom to speak in favour of current laws.
Instead of counting sheep, a pious young Clare Short sent herself to sleep by praying for souls in purgatory. The former Secretary of State for International Development described herself as someone who has lapsed twice, first from the Catholic Church and then from the Labour Party, when she gave a lecture at Roehampton University last week on how her Catholic upbringing had influenced her radical political faith. Describing herself as an ‘ethnic Catholic’ Ms Short said she hadn’t really been attracted to another Church. She had thought about the Quakers but she admitted: “I don’t really do silence.” She criticised the Catholic Church for being more concerned with contraception and abortion than social justice. Describing gay people as a ‘gift from God’, she claimed ‘everything the Catholic bishops say about sex is wrong’. Her comments drew praise from the largely Catholic audience for the stand Rowan Williams has taken on political issues. Asked about Tony Blair, Ms Short made little attempt to disguise her disdain. She didn’t think his conversion went very deep and wondered why he had left is so long. “Not even the Pope could make him see sense on Iraq,” she reminded her audience.
Muslims converting to Christianity risk their lives in some parts of the world but Christians in the West who become Muslims run no such risk. This makes it odd that Abdul Hakim Murad should claim in a column in ‘The Times’ that he knows a Catholic priest and theology professor who is a ‘closet convert to Islam’. Such a statement is impossible to disprove, however unlikely it sounds. Whispering Gallery does know one Catholic priest and distinguished professor who has visited Cambridge (where Murad lives) a number of times but although he has a deep knowledge of Islamic philosophy and reverence for Muslim spirituality this man remains a Christian. Murad (Tim Winter) who teaches at Cambridge and is himself a convert, claims there are ‘submarines’ or secret Muslims in academic posts, the House of Lords and in journalism. As an example of an open convert he mentions Khalil Dale, the British aid worker killed in Pakistan. Dale was a courageous and remarkable man but his conversion to Islam occurred 20 years ago. Reports from Pakistan suggest he may have revised some of his opinions. He was buried in a Christian cemetery. People who convert from one faith to another deserve respect for following their consciences at whatever cost but all religions need to beware of using conversion as a reason for triumphalism.
. .. y r e l l a G g n i r e p s i h The W
Four-legged friends in heaven
Evangelical pastors in the US at present are so pre-occupied with President Obama’s support for gay marriage that they have not got involved in the debate that has been stirred up by Rick Warren’s comments in an interview on ABC television that dogs and cats definitely go to heaven. In the same interview Warren was adamant that human beings only pass through the pearly gates if they have faith in Christ and this prompted Cathy Lynn Grossman of ‘USA Today’ to wonder about her dog who, as a puppy, devoured a copy of Warren’s big-seller The Purpose Driven Life. She emailed Warren. “People miss heaven because of their rebellion against God’s offer of love, by rejecting Jesus,” Warren told her in an email. “But dogs, which have no ability to sin nor moral conscience, do not have the ability to reject Jesus. It’s the same principle as a baby, young child or mentally challenged individual. The Bible calls them ‘safe’, not ‘saved’. In Proverbs we read ‘The Lord preserves the simple’ which includes persons without the ability, capacity or moral conscience to reject Jesus’.”
When this column named the Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, as someone worth serious consideration for the See of Canterbury one reader wrote in to complain that Jackson is a ‘liberal’. That judgement is not borne out by the role Jackson took in the Church of Ireland debate on same-sex marriage where his intelligent and statesmanlike speech helped to swing the vote. Those who know Jackson and are familiar with the Irish church scene say that he is best described as a ‘centrist’. On Good Friday he and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin made ecumenical history by carrying a cross through the streets of Dublin in a joint procession. Meanwhile the pundits are putting their money on Graham James, following the selection of the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, to sit on the Crown Nominations Commission as the Anglican Communion Representative. From Chicago Jonathan Wynne-Jones tweeted that this made James the favourite. But if Morgan does his job properly he will help the CNC to consider candidates outside England not just throw his weight behind the candidate whose theological profile best matches his own.
May 20, 2012
Reasserting Evangelism By John Richardson
etween 1984 and 1990, the Anglican Consultative Council, which acts as a coordinating body between the various parts of the Anglican Communion, developed the so-called ‘Five Marks of Mission’. These were: ‘To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom To teach, baptise and nurture new believers To respond to human need by loving service To seek to transform unjust structures of society To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’
Since 1984, the ‘Five Marks of Mission’ have gained widespread acceptance as an unofficial, but highly popular, summary of the Church’s raison d’être. Today, they can be found in many official documents, statements and so on. Their adoption, however, has had serious consequences for the Church and its mission today, particularly with regard to the place of evangelism. Thus, Martin Davie, in his A Guide to the Church of England, asserts on this basis that, “the Church of England ... sees mission as something that involves more than simply evangelism.” Indeed Davie explicitly critiques the definition of evangelism used in Towards the Conversion of England, quoting with approval the words of Paul Avis: “... mission is bigger than evangelization. Evangelization is a part of which mission is the whole. As Moltmann puts it, ‘[...] Evangelization is mission, but mission is not merely evangelization.” The problem with this analysis is that it has been rejected by a subsequent Anglican body set up to continue the study of mission: the ‘Standing Commission for Mission of the Anglican Communion’, also known as MISSIO. According to its report on the Anglican Communion official website, “At its second meeting (Ely 1996), MISSIO began reviewing the ‘Five Marks of Mission’ as developed by the Anglican Consultative Council between 1984 and 1990. We recognise with gratitude that the Five Marks have won wide acceptance among Anglicans, and have given parishes and dioceses around the world a practical and memorable ‘checklist’ for mission activities. “However, we have come to believe that, as our Communion travels further along the road towards being mission-centred, the Five Marks need to be revisited.” Crucially, and contra the assertions of Davie, Avis and indeed Jurgen Moltmann, the report goes on to say, “The first mark of mission, identified at ACC-6 with personal evangelism, is really a summary of what all mission is about, because it is based on Jesus’ own summary of his mission (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22; cf. John 3:14-17). Instead of being just one (albeit the first) of five distinct activities, this should be the key state-
ment about everything we do in mission.” (Emphasis added). In other words, far from personal evangelism being a part of mission, it is (properly understood) the very heart of mission. The reason for this will hopefully become clear if we look carefully at the definition of evangelism used in Towards the Conversion of England. This states carefully and explicitly that to evangelize is “so to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through him, to accept him as their Saviour, and serve him as their King”. The last point, however, is often missed, even by those doing the evangelism. Personally I find some difficulties (not to say confusion) in the ideas about justification being put forward by the former Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, and in some of the applications he suggests of the significance of the resurrection. However, I believe he is spot-on when he says that evangelism ought to be the announcement of the lordship of Christ: “... ‘the gospel’, in the New Testament, is the good news [...] that Jesus, whom ... God raised from the dead, is the world’s true Lord.” Our problem has been with the extent of Christ’s lordship. Undoubtedly this is in part because of our own sinfulness and the pervasiveness of sin in the world, which makes us unable to see what his lordship requires and unwilling to be obedient when we finally understand. In the former nations of Western Christendom it may also have been because the government and the laws did some of the work for us. Today, however, the challenge is perhaps greater than ever, and pastors must work harder to show what it means. Crucially, we must see that evangelism does not consist simply of calling people to ‘get right with God’, but, through a right relationship with God, to ‘get right with our neighbour’.
Anglican Life Church Society
What the Blogs Say The British Religion in Numbers blog reads: “Some Conservative politicians are blaming the Coalition’s losses in last Thursday’s local elections on the Government’s energetic pursuit of (essentially Liberal Democrat) policies which voters deem unimportant. The reform of the House of Lords and the legalization of gay marriage are often cited in this context. However, public support for gay marriage appears to be confirmed in a OnePoll survey published in today’s edition of The People newspaper. “Fifty-nine per cent of respondents said that they supported plans to allow gay couples to marry, compared with 15 per cent who believed that only civil partnerships should be possible (as now). Thirteen per cent did not want gay relationships to have any form of legal recognition, while 13 per cent were unsure what to think. Moreover,
two-thirds of those in favour of gay marriage (or 40 per cent of the entire sample) wanted gay couples to be allowed to marry in a religious ceremony or in church, if they chose.” The Cranmer blog reads: “Apparently there have been a number of complaints about one of the advertisements His Grace carried on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage. He has been sent all manner of official papers, formal documentation and threatening notices which demand answers to sundry questions by a certain deadline. He is instructed by the ‘Investigations Executive’ of this inquisition to keep all this confidential. “Since His Grace does not dwell in Iran, North Korea, Soviet Russia, Communist China or Nazi Germany, but occupies a place in the cyber-ether suspended somewhere between purgatory and paradise, he
Moreover, to serve Christ as King is not just a matter of tweaking our personal morality (mostly in the area of family life and sexuality), but in bringing every aspect of our lives under his rule and in extending his rule as far as possible into every area of life over which we have any influence. Historically, we can find radical examples of English Christians doing just this in business life and in the political arena— unfortunately they are not usually the Anglicans! Nevertheless, there are surely lessons to be learned from how, for example, the Quakers who set up Boots the Chemists treated their workers. Some may ask how this differs from the way that evangelicals in the 1970s and ’80s moved into areas like politics and social action. The answer is that we must see and show that our actions in this regard flow directly and explicitly from our obedience to the Christ who calls everyone to acknowledge him as Lord. We must ensure that, in the words of the Sermon on the Mount, people see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. Our actions must be the natural basis for proclamation because they are themselves the fruits of obedience to the gospel. Regarding the Church, therefore, we must not allow evangelism to be reduced to a ‘part’ of mission. It is sad to see as distinguished a theologian as Moltmann quoted saying that mission is “not merely evangelization” — as if there were anything ‘mere’ about the proclamation that Christ is Lord and the calling on people to obey his kingship. In the Church of England today as whole, however, that is often how evangelism is seen, and it is not long before it is reduced from being a part of mission to being an optional extra in mission. But equally, we must not allow evangelism to be reduced to a personal call to change our views as to whether or not we believe in God and what we believe about ourselves and about Jesus dying for our sins. We cannot have Christ as Saviour if we will not have Christ as Lord. And his lordship must extend into every area of the lives of those whom he saves. There is a challenge here for the more conservative evangelical. But the conservative evangelical is also entitled to ask what has happened, institutionally, to the call to personal conversion. Once again, nothing less than an institutional transformation is required, which needs a deliberate and conscious strategy. And therein lies our problem. Evangelicals will generally go on evangelizing, whatever happens in the wider institution. But this will not lead to a programme suitable to the conversion of England. That needs a bolder and more ambitious approach, yet at present there is no sign of that coming from the official, hierarchical, leadership. Given where we are today, then, how can we address the need for the transformation of the Church? John Richardson is Associate Minister at Henham and Elsenham w Ugley and a Church Society Council member.
is minded to ignore that request. Who do these people think they are?” The Heresy Corner blog comments: “In treating Cranmer as a publisher, and not specifying clearly why it was contacting him personally and what it actually expects him to provide, the ASA has blundered into a wholly unnecessary row about free speech. Its approach is clearly not appropriate to the world of blogging and social media. The tone of the email, formal and bureaucratic as it was, is almost certain to come across as threatening and/or presumptuous to an independent blogger who’s in no position to supply the information apparently being demanded. The ASA should have realised that its communication might have such an effect. It should certainly take note of the backlash its email has generated and revise their procedures.” In the Guardian, Lois Lee blogs: “This month the door closes on a path-breaking research initiative investigating contemporary religion. With £12m and the clout of two research councils behind it, the Religion & Society research programme marks
a sea change in how we think about religion: in short, for the first time in a long time lots of us think that religion matters. And not as a vestige of societies gone by or as a marker of societies less modern and far away, but as a vital and significant aspect of our own society, affecting all of us, religious or otherwise. “I think one of its greatest achievements will be if researching religion and only religion never occurs again. The reason is simple: the study of religion is exclusive. This should be obvious, but is rarely highlighted. Every day, we talk about religion as though it were a demographic category equivalent to other commonplace categories: gender, race, age, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality. The problem is that it isn’t. Age, gender, nationality – these are all universal categories, inclusive of everyone. Despite being talked about in the same breath – and increasingly turning up on the same equalities monitoring forms – religion is different. Everyone has an age, a gender, a national status; not everyone has a religion.”
May 20, 2012
Why the ‘Southwar Trust’ is not the sol By Stephen Kuhrt
t is often much easier for evangelicals to agree upon problems within the church than their solutions. This is because our understanding of such problems is usually based upon the relative consensus that evangelicals broadly possess over doctrine and ethics. Proposed solutions to these problems, on the other hand, often reveal the diversity amongst evangelicals when it comes to one particular area of doctrine: our ecclesiology or theology of the church. Within Southwark Diocese, most of us describing ourselves as evangelicals are agreed that we are facing a major problem. A diocese of considerable diversity that has for several years maintained a balance between its different traditions has very suddenly appeared to lurch in one direction. This has come about through seven successive senior posts within the diocese all being given to liberal-Catholics. Hopefully for evangelicals in Southwark, this imbalance is temporary rather than indicating something more permanent. But it is definitely serious and has created a good deal of damage to the perception of how evangelicals are viewed and valued. At an extremely delicate time, these appointments have also created a very specific anxiety about so many of the leadership positions within the diocese now being held by those committed to a revisionist position on homosexuality. It is for these reasons that I have been among those who have criticised the imbalance within the Southwark appointments and strongly communicated this upset and dissatisfaction to our Bishop, Christopher Chessun. At the basis of this response has been a commitment to what I see as the ‘principled comprehensiveness’ of being part of the Church of England. Part of what the ‘principled’ aspect of this involves is being prepared to make strong protest when decisions are taken that are seen as wrong or misguided and being committed to patient and ongoing pressure to reverse them. Part of what the ‘comprehensiveness’ side of this involves,
however, is an equal commitment to remaining fully embedded within a diverse church partly because of the conviction that evangelicals equally need those of other traditions to tell us (just as strongly) when we go wrong as well. This approach forms a large part of what I understand to be the ongoing ‘spirit of Keele’. The First National Evangelical Anglican Congress (NEAC1) held at Keele in 1967 was when evangelical Anglicans decisively committed themselves to ‘getting stuck in’ to the Church of England. Led by John Stott, there was a strong spirit of ‘for better, for worse’ about this commitment and the context in which it was made is very significant. Homosexuality was clearly not the major issue it is now. But in almost every other way the Church of England was far more liberal with creedal orthodoxy amongst its bishops being, for instance, far weaker than it is today. The understanding of the evangelicals who gathered at Keele, however, was that this situation would only change through their being fully committed to involvement in the church’s structures and accepting the frustrations and disappointments, as well as the successes and opportunities, that would result from this. One of the heroes of this period was Colin Buchanan (later an evangelical bishop in Southwark) who for many years was a lone evangelical voice on the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission. Whilst doubtless a frustrating and somewhat lonely place to be, Colin’s feisty character (and formidable intellect) combined with an ecclesiological commitment to being fully involved. The result of his patient and ongoing pressure and, when needed, firm protest, was the orthodoxy of much of the liturgy with which we worship today. Another example of this was John Smallwood, an evangelical layman who worked for the Bank of England and took early retirement to apply the Keele vision, in his case primarily through deep involvement in the finance of both Southwark Diocese and the Church of England. Something similar is true of the large number of evangelicals currently serving within Southwark as Area
Giving up on the ecclesiological commitment to full involvement is never an option
Deans. The positive results of this have been considerable and have sprung from the determination to stay and ‘fight another day’ when battles have been lost and the recognition that giving up on that ecclesiological commitment to full involvement is never an option. Continuing to be fully involved ensures that the opportunities remain for the diocese (and not just its evangelical churches) to be renewed through the ongoing influence of its evangelical members. Just as crucially, it also keeps the channels open for evangelicals to be changed by what our brothers and sisters of other traditions get more right than us. It is for these reasons that I regard the recently established ‘Southwark Trust Fund’ as a mistake and urge my fellow evangelicals within the diocese not to join it. The Trust involves churches paying the diocese for their clergy and some other costs but committing their excess money to a fund that will only be used for supporting those other churches and ministries regarded as ‘orthodox’. There are several problems with this. Whose evaluation of this ‘orthodoxy’ will such decisions rest upon? Will, for instance, poorer churches supporting the full ministry of women and who see social justice as intrinsic to gospel ministry be regarded by those making these decisions as orthodox? The stipulation that the Trust will provide for all those who can ‘genuinely’ sign the Jerusalem Declaration suggests further interpretation will be involved here. But the major problem with the Trust is ecclesiological rather than practical. Its organisers strenuously claim that it is not ‘separatist’ because they will officially remain within the Church of England and Southwark Diocese. But the reason many do regard this as a separatist development is because the Trust forms a clear retreat from the Keele commitment to both ‘principled Southwark Cathedral comprehensiveness’ and ‘full involvement’. If widely supported, it
If I Were Archbi By Gary Streeter MP What would I do if I were Archbishop of Canterbury? On day one I would hold a press conference at a homeless shelter in Camberwell and announce that the Lambeth Palace site was to be sold for redevelopment. I would relocate Church HQ to a modern office unit south of the river and use the remainder of the proceeds of sale of the Palace site to fund a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. I reckon this would cause quite a splash and I would accept every invitation
to appear on the media for the following three months and simply talk about the fact that God is real and wants to redeem our broken world. I would do this because the greatest challenge facing the church is that we live in an age of unbelief and we need to show that God is real. I would smile a lot on TV and use modern, everyday language. I would never wear clerical garb even for state occasions but would wear a suit and sometimes a decent tie. I think Her Majesty, whose faith is very real and whose grandchildren are leading the way in how to connect to people in the twenty-first century, would be quite comfortable with this. I would also restrict discussion on sexuality in the church to the same proportion of time as Jesus spent dealing with this topic
in his three years of ministry, i.e. not at all. I would find good people in the top team and delegate to them the running of the real estate and the administrative duties that no doubt burden incumbents of this high office. I would dedicate myself entirely to the spiritual well-being of the church and the nation. I would meet regularly with other denominational leaders and seek to bury our differences and work together. I would meet regularly with Christians battling away in politics, business, science and the media and encourage them in their journey and I would never lambast them from the pulpit even though they might sometimes get things wrong. I would meet regularly with other faith leaders and gently point out that although we could not pretend to worship the same God, nonetheless we should respect one another and find
common cause in serving our communities. I would offer Her Majesty and the Government the voluntary disestablishment of the Church of England in exchange for tweaking of the law to guarantee equal freedom in the public square for all people of faith including Christians. I would encourage Christians from all backgrounds to engage in the public arena including politics, to bring their faith into public service at all levels. I would encourage the church of all denominations to seize the opportunity to serve their communities, building on much of the excellent work currently going on all over the country – pinpricks of light. I would call the nation to pray when we faced particular crises. I would welcome women bishops and make sure that the Speaker’s chaplain was the very first one.
May 20, 2012
rk Ministry lution
will damage not only what evangelical Anglicans have to both give but what they have to receive from being full members of the Church of England. My perspective on this is that of a vicar whose parish is being asked to pay around £300,000 for two stipendiary clergy (only one of whom is also housed by the diocese) each running a church. I have major issues with the ‘subsidy culture’ that asks for such a crippling amount and is so discouraging to church growth. Due to the recession and other factors we are actually going to find it impossible to pay this amount this year. There are other aspects of being part of Southwark Diocese that I also find immensely frustrating, not least the events that have happened recently. But, like many other evangelicals I am convinced that the answer is to remain fully committed to both ‘principled comprehensiveness’ and ‘full involvement’. The problems are very real but evangelicals must remain fully embedded within Southwark Diocese, hold our nerve and battle for the changes that are needed. The ‘Southwark Ministry Trust’ will fail to do these things and is therefore not the right solution to the problems we currently face. The Rev Stephen Kuhrt is Vicar of Christ Church, New Malden in Southwark Diocese and Chair of Fulcrum
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shop Finally, once the initial media splurge of these announcements had settled down I would embark upon a listening and praying tour of the United Kingdom in an old VW van. My team would organise public meetings in town and village halls every weeknight and I would offer to preach in the nearest church every Sunday. On the journey I would drop in upon any group that wanted to see me and listen to them. I would pray for anybody that wanted me to, including praying for healing if asked – knowing that sometimes God would answer and sometimes he would not, all part of the mystery. The message at each meeting would be the same: that God is real and wants to redeem our broken lives and broken community. That the bible is the inspired word of God and that Jesus is who it says he is. I would make full use of
the local media in every region to publicise the trip and the message. Saturdays I would spend with my wife. My time in office would not last long because holy knives would be out for me from day one, from both the Liberals and the Conservatives. We politicians can learn so much from the church about ugly manoeuvring. Theologians would be produced to argue that although Jesus of the bible was clearly counter-intuitive and radical, this is no longer applicable to the modern age. Verses of scripture would be found to demonstrate that when Jesus spoke of meekness and sacrifice he did so in a cultural context only. Subtle messages from pious men, apparently supportive but riddled with nuance and menace, would be whispered to the press. The militant secularists who aim to drive faith from the public square would research my entire life and find out that when I was 14 I was cruel to a kitten and a massive campaign to blacken my name would be launched. The media would lap it up and anybody sticking up for me would be hounded on twitter, face book and worldwide blogs. And that, my friends, is why I will never be Archbishop of Canterbury!
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May 20, 2012
A touching story of teachers initial horror at having to do dictation to Balzac, get improved grades. Not all parents share the enthusiasm, with some thinking he’s overstepped the mark into raising their children and not just teaching them, and there are undercurrents about “appropriate touching” that eventually get to the heart of the tragedy. Bachir is constrained too by his wanting to help the children “post trauma” but finding that role usurped by the psychologist (Nico Lagarde) brought in to handle it “professionally” (her character’s name translates as Julie Tenderness). Gaston and the janitor (Louis Champagne), as the only other men in the school, provide Bachir with a bit of male bonding, and a bit of humour. There’s also a nice little joke in Claire’s drama class sketch about Stanley looking for Livingstone (in a context of colo-
onsieur Lazhar (cert. 12A) is an “inspirational teacher” story, adapted by French-Canadian writer-director Philippe Falardeau from Évelyne de la Chenelière’s stage play. Algerian refugee Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) goes into a Montreal junior classroom after a teacher’s suicide, and —- with his own experiences as a backdrop — brings a measure of catharsis to traumatised children, parents and staff. Deservedly one of the nominees for this year’s Oscar® foreign language film, it is almost
perfect in its mix of grit and emotion. The child actors are very persuasive in a film that seeks authenticity (Falardeau cites Ken Loach and Mike Leigh as influences) and Fellag, himself once under a fatwa after exile from Algeria during the civil war, brings still more of a sense of reality to his role. There’s able support from those playing his new colleagues, notably Danielle Proulx as head teacher Mrs Vaillancourt, managing grief and anxious parents, and Brigitte Poupart as Claire, providing Bachir with a bit more than
nial sensitivity where Canada’s aboriginal peoples are known as the “first nations”). The best line may be when Alice Googles for Algiers, and tells Bachir it’s all blue and white. When he says Algiers is known as “The White”, she responds that wintry Montreal is “Le Slush”. Two emotional moments are stunning. Alice writes about the events – and Mrs Vaillancourt refuses Bachir’s request to circulate it to the whole school – while Simon’s sense of guilt comes crashing out in a tearful outburst. Bachir’s immigration status moves from side story to central, and the film closes in a way that the stage play (with one character, Bachir telling the story) could not. It ends with a depiction of one human being touching another and, inappropriate or not, it’s a simple but glorious ending. Steve Parish
just professional support. Even Gaston (Jules Philip), seemingly a stereotype with his whistle, gets a chance to fill out his character. Of the children, the leads are Simon (Émilien Néron) and Alice (Sophie Nélisse), natural friends, but also with the burden of knowing more about the events that led to tragedy. At first resistant to some of his old-fashioned teaching – “let’s get these desks in straight rows” – Bachir’s pupils grow in confidence, and, despite their
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May 20, 2012 How do you get a church to become a community of people who help each other live out their whole lives as followers of Jesus in his mission to the world? Neil Hudson tackles this question in Imagine Church (IVP). Hudson, who spent 25 years with one church in Salford, has taught at Regents Theological College and now works on the Imagine Project at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Graham Cray writes a Foreword. Melvin Tinker is chaplain of Keele University and is well known as a speaker and writer. Intended for God (IVP) is his latest book. It examines the doctrine of providence, what the Puritans called ‘the last refuge of the saints’. Tinker believes that this doctrine should be a real source of strength to Christians. His book is commended by Gerald Bray, Paul Helm and DC Carson, who contributes a Foreword. While faith in God may be in decline, belief in angels and life after death is on the rise. In The Devil: A Ver y Short Introduction (OUP) Darren Oldridge shows that the devil is a more important figure in western history than is often appreciated. This is one of the popular ‘Very Short Introduction’ series. Oldridge assumes belief in the devil is in decline but argues that the idea of the abstract force of evil is still strong. He looks at Satanic ritual abuse and the ongoing war on terror. In Leading God’s People (Eerdmans) an Anglican theologian who teaches at Yale, Christopher A Beeley, presents key principles of church leadership as they were taught by great pastor-theologians of the early church, including Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom, and Gregory the Great. As Rowan Williams notes in his commendation, it is good to have a book on leadership that does not rely on secular management theory but looks at what we can learn from the Christian tradition. Highly recommended. Matt Chandler is the lead pastor at The Village, Dallas, Texas. His sermons are chart-topping podcasts on iTunes and he has been widely praised as a very good preacher. In The Explicit Gospel (IVP), which is commended by Rick Warren, he aims to present the gospel message clearly and directly – explicitly, to use the term he favours. In All Times and In All Places is a festivals service book to commemorate the Book of Common Prayer, It has been devised by Roger Moger, Precentor of York Minster and contains much of the familiar language of services such as Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Holy Communion. There are settings of the Jubilee by Benjamin Britten and John Ireland and of the Magnificat by Philip Moore and Peter Aston. It is published by the Royal School of Church Music and follows a successful similar book, ‘The Word Revealed’ they published last year to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
The Politically Incorrect Lexicon Dr Peter Mullen with foreword by Quentin Letts Bretwalda Books Ltd, pb, £9.99, ISBN 978-1-907791-42-0 There are a good few people amongst us who are slightly bored with politically correct jargon and the furtive analysis of what is or is not PC, which brings me to quote further along in this review some of the interpretations of everyday words and descriptions that Dr Peter Mullen, its writer, has made and compiled into this book. Dr Mullen, born in 1942, has had a colourful and varied career both ministering in the church and writing books as well as articles for The Wall Street Journal, and The Telegraph, and is also a regular contributor to The Church of England Newspaper. This latest book by him is refreshing in the sense that he tackles, as identified in its title, politically correct modern jargon and “corrupts” it to some extent, back into what is really meant, in his opinion, by all these well known sayings, and stereotypical slogans and terms. Even so, in the blurb that accompanies this fairly slim volume, the reader is warned that this tome has a “devastating judgement on the harmful effects of the semantic trickery that now pervades the public realm” (James Le Fanu).
Examining the Church’s mission A Sociology of Spirituality Kieran Flanagan and Peter Jupp Ashgate, hb, £19.99
irst published in hardback in 2007 this book contains papers delivered at a conference held in Bristol in 2004. But although there are some comments that sound dated (like the reference to ‘Borders’ in the introduction) the papers deal with issues that are still very much of interest not just to students of the sociology of religion but to anyone concerned about the mission of the church. One big debate highlighted by this book is between those like Linda Woodhead and Paul Heelas who stress the importance of the growth of new forms of spirituality and those like Steve Bruce who think the phenomenon has been overestimated in terms of the people involved and that in any case it is best interpreted as yet another sign of the growth of secularization. In the words of the title of an essay in this collection, the spiritual revolution represents ‘a false dawn for the sacred’. Part of the problem is that sociologists are unable to agree by what they mean by spirituality. In this collection Ivan Varga tells us that it means “a belief that there are forces or there is a God or there are gods beyond the experienced reality of the individual”. In other words it is ‘a diffuse sentiment or belief in transcendent forces’.
Matthew Guest, however, is less concerned to emphasis the transcendent. He argues that the “spiritual is associated with the personal, the intimate, the interior and the experimental contrasted with ‘religion’ which is associated with the hierarchical and patriarchal along the way”. Guest quotes Heelas in his support and the kind of definition we adopt is crucial to estimating the numbers of people involved in the spirituality revolution. Emphasise the transcendent and all those ladies doing yoga in Kendal who are judged to be part of the spiritual revolution by Heelas and Woodhead will fail to make the grade. On the other hand, if you take away belief in the transcendent as a qualification for being spiritual and apply the term to anyone on a journey to find their real self you do seem to be left with a rather secular phenomenon. Spirituality is often contrasted with institutional religion. Curiously sociologists rarely reflect on the damage they have done to organised religion by fostering an assumption that all too often religious beliefs are designed to enhance the prestige and status of a religious institution. It is not difficult, for example, to apply a ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ to the teaching of the Catholic Church on intercommunion and conclude the hierarchy is intent on preserving control over the laity. Such arguments rule out theology as a factor shaping both church policy and the actual beliefs of church members. An interesting essay from Holland
In his foreword, Quentin Letts reminds us: “Jesus urged us to speak our minds. Peter Mullen does just that. He grabs us by the windpipe and forces us to see the truth behind dishonest phrases – ‘lies’ as we used to call them”. He alludes to Mullen’s “peppery pugnacity” and so here are some examples of the down to earth wit you will find between the book’s pages: Christian Fellowship: “A congregation of mawkish literalists, arms raised, repeating tirelessly in chorus words that weren’t worth singing once”. Literacy: Technical expression of educational experts as in Megan’s standard of literacy is very high: it’s just that she can’t read. Young Conser vatives: Marriage bureau for right wing toffs. Table tennis players: Extinct c. 1998. Awesome: Of anything that produces a spurious sense of excitement. Anyone who can actually do what is expect-
shows how spirituality can flourish as a movement of dissent within the institutional church. This is more a Catholic phenomenon than a Protestant one. Catholics who dissent from the teaching of the hierarchy on a range of issues gather in convents and religious houses to explore spirituality. In America Richard Flory and Donald Miller describe the ‘embodied spirituality of the post-boomer generation’. The children of baby boomers are interested not so much in ‘expressive individualism’ as in ‘expressive communalism’. They are seeking both community and spiritual experience embodied in outward forms. The authors see this movement taking two forms: there are the ‘reclaimers’ who are seeking to rediscover the liturgical and symbolic richness of the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches; and the ‘innovators’ using the digital media to create new symbols and icons of the spiritual. What are the lessons for the churches? One important lesson, implied but not spelt out in this collection, is to be aware of the ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’. People are distrustful of institutions and suspect self-interest dictates what they do and say. The spiritual revolution is a call to reform in the churches so that they really live by the gospel. A second lesson is that churches can become centres for the spiritual revolution and that they have resources in liturgy, art, music, and spiritual disciplines to offer a new generation of seekers. Paul Richardson
ed of him. eg Pietersen’s batting is awesome. cf Pietersen can bat. Highly respected, influential: A person with left of centre views appearing on BBC news programmes. The book could perhaps have done with being a little longer, but its good points include the fact that Dr Peter Mullen’s humour will very likely lift up all but the most stalwart pedant and make them smile or laugh or both. Perhaps there will be a follow-up. It is an ideal book to tuck away to read on a train or plane journey, or simply leave on a coffee table for people to leaf through. It could also make a good gift for someone who you think would appreciate its laconic gentle mockery of the hidden meanings behind descriptions in our ‘flowery’ English language. Furthermore, if you like this book, you will find that this is one of many which the prolific writer Dr Peter Mullen has written, so do take some time to research his others! Penny Nair Price
A novel view of the week
Teaching terror I
May 20, 2012
was talking to a science professor recently, who had helped supervise the PhD of a young Indian woman. They had never spoken in person, their contact having been — as is increasingly common — via the Internet. When they finally met at conference in the UK, the professor was astonished and alarmed when his tutee prostrated herself before him in public and reverently touched his feet. When, in understandable confusion, he remonstrated with her and asked her to get up, she protested, ‘Oh, but I must do this: you are my teacher!’ Contrast this with the experience of a secondary school teacher in the UK I spoke with recently. He and his fellow teachers were informed by the head of the school in a staff meeting that they basically needed to accept that they would be on the receiving end of verbal abuse from their pupils. It was a given. This teacher refused to accept this, took legal advice, and confronted the head with his findings that this instruction was a contravention of basic human rights legislation, before they even got on to employment law. He swiftly found himself unpopular with the school management and with the city council for rocking
the boat. I find it difficult to imagine another professional setting where the chief exec of an organisation might advise staff that they should simply accept verbal abuse as the norm, and not complain about it. Everywhere I go, from the local station to A & E departments, I seem to catch sight of posters warning me that staff have a right to carry out their duties without being intimidated, abused or assaulted. So what is it about a school that made it possible for such a situation to arise? Last Sunday’s Observer put forward some possible explanations. ‘Government meddling’, dilapidated and under-funded schools and ‘challenging circumstances’ are cited as reasons why nearly half the members of the largest teachers’ union have considered quitting in the last year. I don’t suppose UK teachers are hankering after the sight of pupils prostrating themselves in gratitude, but a bit of appreciation goes a long way. Here’s what former Ofsted head Christine Gilbert has to say: “Surveys show terrible morale, so that is at rock bottom, but when I go into schools you do get real commitment, enthusiasm and so on. I certainly think there is more room to celebrate
what schools do and the really excellent work going in so many of them nowadays.” If we fail to celebrate good teachers, we will only find out retrospectively just how good they were — when they’ve all taken early retirement.
Trinity and Hosanna After careful consultation with a panel of experts (ie Twitter) I’ve decided that once again we need to address the thorny topic of clergy and fashion. So this section of my column is called ‘Trinity and Hosanna’, an idea I stole from a rather glamorous vicar and am passing off as my own. With the brisk no-nonsense kindness of a traditional nanny, I will pounce upon scruffy clergy, give them a good shake, knock their heads together, and scold them into sartorial elegance. It’s time to smarten up. Or, as we sometimes put it, ‘Pimp your Vicar’. By the way, this is Youth Speke. A young man might, for example, ‘pimp’ his car by adding dark glass and spoilers. Thus ‘pimping your vicar’ in no way implies hiring your vicar out for nefarious purposes, so you may relax. If you are a vicar and you want to pre-empt the attentions of Trinity and Hosanna, here’s a checklist. Are your trousers the right length? Something odd happens in the trouser hem department after the age of 50. From then on, unless you are vigilant, your trousers will always try to be two inches too short. This, I believe, is the work of the evil one. Whom resist! Next check your eyebrows. Are they bushy? If so, trim them. According to my hair stylist, long straggly eyebrows are the most ageing thing; worse even than grey hair or a paunch. Be aware, however, that eyebrow trimming may impair your chances of promotion to high office in the Church of England; as will possession of two X chromosomes. Trinity and Hosanna by no means wish clergy to become slaves to sartorial trends, blown about by every wind of fashion. Instead they warmly encourage clergy to identify and embrace style. To be stylish, with a certain understated glamour — this is the note to strike. Effortless style, and how to achieve it. Hard work, I know. But here’s a good way to start: go through your wardrobe and chuck out anything that doesn’t fit you. Next go through and chuck out anything you don’t actually like. Then go on eBay and look out for nice Italian suits in your size. That’s what I’d do if I were ordained. Then find someone in your congregation handy with a sewing machine and get them to tailor your hopelessly baggy clerical shirts. Many of you will have wondered why clerical shirts are cut this way. Apparently, it’s in case one day fridges are admitted to the ordained ministry.
Close Encounters — Moving House
Well, it hardly seems a moment since the removal van trundled into the Close and delivered us to our new life in Lichfield. And now here we are inviting them to come and quote. As always, they failed to break into a recitation of Shakespeare or Browning; although the phrase ‘You have a lot of books!’ is beginning to have the familiar ring of a much-loved quotation. We also have a lot of coloured glass and crockery. Or we had. I’ve culled my collection. ‘Look,’ I said to my younger son, pointing to the kitchen table. ‘All this is going to the charity shop.’ ‘Back where it came from,’ he replied.
Janey Lee Grace Live Healthy! Live Happy!
Water of Life T
here are at least 722 references to water in the Bible, and without doubt it’s a national obsession. You may be old enough to remember the days when drinking a glass of water meant going to the tap and gulping it down. The idea of going to a café, bar or shop to buy bottled water was frankly ridiculous. How things have changed! As a nation we spend fortunes on expensive bottled water and add to the plastic bottle mountain in the process. But water is important for optimum health and most of us don’t drink enough. It plays a huge part in the elimination of toxins from our bodies, so it can help with weight loss too. I’m not one of the ‘you must have 8 litres a day’ brigade, but I do believe we should drink clean water regu-
larly, and it’s a good idea to drink it at room temperature as icy cold water can be a shock to the system. Is bottled mineral water always better? Well no is the simple answer, in fact aside from the cost there can be issues with the water’s natural content, some bottled waters have high sodium levels, some have high calcium levels which, if the drinker is low in magnesium, could mean the calcium may not be properly absorbed, which could eventually affect bone density. Nitrates are a particular problem too as high nitrate levels can be very dangerous, especially for babies, so the trend of giving babies bottled water is worrying. An even bigger concern for me is the problem with plastics, most contain Xeoestrogen, a chemical substance that can affect hormonal balance. Phthalates are also often in plastics, which again can be hormone disrupting. Both of these chemicals are also in cleaning products, some skincare products as well as garden fertilizers so it is hard to avoid them but we can choose what we drink! Of course once opened a plastic bottle of water can become a breeding ground for bacteria and then what we do? Leave it in the car in direct sunlight. If you’re going to buy mineral water the best advice is to buy it in glass bottles or check out Aquapax which is a high quality but low nitrate level mineral water (from an unspoilt area in Germany) that is suitable for infants and is packed in 500ml reusable paper cartons, the strong paper is made from wood sourced from sustainable forests. www.aquapaxwater.com Filtered tap water is back in fashion and there are several options available, the reverse osmosis ‘under sink’ system is the most complex but does remove chlorine, chemicals et al. www.drydenaqua.com The more ‘alkaline’ we are the better, excess acidity in the blood and tissues is a major result or cause of degenerative disease and good healthy alkaline antioxidant water is the most important nutrient people can take to help reduce excess acidity. The easiest way is to buy a Jug filter which has a special mineral cartridge that also alkalises the water, such as the Biocera jug from www.water-for-health.com
I do believe we should drink clean water regularly, and it’s a good idea to drink it at room temperature