Who's this then?

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Stebbing, Great Dunmow, Essex, United Kingdom
The occasional blog of an Anglican priest in rural Essex

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you

Incredible day today weatherwise. Sunshine and frost, then snowstorm, (while driving over the yorkshire moors) then storm at sea at Sands End near Whitby. all accentuated by large number of in laws and cousins and wet dogs.
This is why I love half term!
When I get home for all souls I will think about Jody's post about new wine.

Friday, 24 October 2008

It takes every kind of people ... to make the world go round

Blimey, just got added to the General Synod Blogroll! (as long as they don't use it as bog roll - I remember only too well what the toilet paper is like at York!)

Fully admit to writing this to put a better title post on the roll there than the previous post to this.

Now what kind of lyric will get a synod member's attention?


Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha (yes that is a lyric)

They say you should laugh 17 times a day for good health

Watch this 17 times then!

Sometimes it's hard she said ...

This is my response to something that appeared on the Ugley Vicar blog recently. Post title relates to opening greeting ...

Dear John,

My invitation to join CDEA arrived today. If Stand Firm were the committee I don't think they'd let me in!
Nevertheless your thoughts on OE's have set me thinking again, as I prepare to go to All Souls for the NEAC day, about how we define ourselves within Anglicanism and within Evangelicalism.
I fully agree with you about Greenbelt, although we need to acknowledge that if the leaders shifted in theology in the mid 80's then the crowds are taking (or took) a little longer to shift. People were still experiencing conventional evangelical conversions there up to at least '85.
Stuff like Soul Survivor of course provided an alternative for charismatics from the early 90’s, which may have led to a drain of evangelicals going to GB.

But actually, only a very shallow approach to Evangelical identity would be based on "which festival do you go to?" so the whole New Wine/Spring Harvest/Word Alive thing just doesn't cut it for me because the people on the ground are not all making their choice on theological grounds - sometimes it's just when they are free!

Thinking about the atonement, a moment in my training comes to mind when Alister McGrath, lecturing on reformation theology, said that PSA was not a Biblical doctrine. The cat was definitely among the pigeons at college then.

I feel that conservatives frequently attract criticism for insisting that PSA is THE ONLY model that gives us a way to understand the cross, and that other approaches such as Christus Victor or moral example or “Cur Deus Homo” are in some way secondary or not worth including at all. In this I also feel there is not a little arrogance, as the thing about the atonement surely is that it is the most amazing gift that humanity has ever received from God, but our minds are not capable of fully comprehending its mechanics, so theologians down the ages, from Augustine to Anselm to Luther to NTW have written countless pages to help us grasp the enormity of its significance, and we still don’t fully get it.

To the person on the street or in the pew (especially those newly arrived in the pews), surely the most important thing is that there is an atonement – that we can be at one with God because of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. How it works is (for me as an OE anyway) secondary in importance to the (wonderful) fact that it does work. THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS.

Perhaps I can draw a comparison with the creation/evolution debate. Theologians across the spectrum refer to “theories of the atonement”, in the same way that Darwin formulated a “theory of evolution”. However, when one of these theories is taught as fact, you are bound to get conflict, in the same way that the presentation of Darwinism as fully factual and not just a theory creates conflicts with advocates of other approaches, whether Christian Creationists or advocates of intelligent design.

It is my impression, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, that CE theology treats PSA in the same way as Dawkins treats Darwinism – the only way to do it. So if that is either rejected or put alongside other theories to help understand the cross, then that is not (Conservative) evangelicalism.

However, OE’s in my experience tend to be eclectic in their theology, looking at different schools or traditions to enrich understanding of doctrine and tradition. That eclecticism for me means that it is OK to interact with any of the mainstream atonement theories.

We should not try to define ourselves either, I feel, on the issue of women’s ordination, because it is impossible to draw a neat line through evangelicalism on this basis. You just can’t consistently predict who will be in favour and who will not. Many of us (who are in favour) made decisions early on and only latterly came to see the Biblical argument; others changed their minds post-Toronto, and still others accept women in orders but not in authority (Richard Turnbull, it would appear, is in that place).

Surely the way forward is to concentrate on what we do agree on; to emphasize the importance of mission to the unchurched, as being primary. The renewal of the church can only be done by co-operating with the Spirit within the church. This is why the institution is important to OE’s; not necessarily that we accept its behaviour unconditionally - you are perhaps accurate in your assertion that OE’s question everything – but (a bit like a wayward teenager) that we love it and want to see it come to its full potential as the vehicle for God’s work in this country and the world.
This has been a long post, so just to finish, when it comes to your comments about OE’s and Rome, yes there are a lot of differences, especially when it comes to gender roles, but there are more than enough things that we can be together on to make me assert that I am only a Protestant because that is the designation of my church. I protest more about the C of E than I do about Rome! Belligerance is a bit of a scary word!

Hope the CRB thing resolves itself for your wife


Saturday, 18 October 2008

99% of Gargoyles look like Bob Todd

As Mike Yarwood used to say, "And this is me ..."
This is the kind of thing that makes me glad to be Church of England. I thought it was just me who remembered stuff like :-

"If you ever wondered how you get triangles from a cow, you need butter milk and cheese and an equilateral chainsaw"!

And today's alpha awayday makes me glad and privileged to be a minister in God's Church!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Hands across the water ...?

Got even crosser today when interacting with posters on the Stand Firm site which is based in America. How can they say that Tear Fund is not a Christian agency? OK, Desmond Tutu isn't exactly mainstream when it comes to matters of sexuality, but does that warrant calling him a heretic? Grrrrrrr!

At least they put "love your neighbour" under the comments box, to remind us to keep it friendly.

I suppose the climate in the US is rather rarefied, with all the depositions and secessions going on. Reform want to do that here, but I can't see how it'll work out - the ownership of church buildings is a lot more complex here than it is over there, for a start. Also, there are lots of team ministries and large benefices of a variety of traditions; what happens if one parish in such a team wants to opt out but not the others?

Makes you squirm and with you could just get on with the job!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Oh when will you ever learn, oh when will you ever learn?

Got very cross today about some stuff on Anglican Mainstream encouraging people to withdraw from association with Tear Fund because they invited Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at arecent conference, and of course he does not have a very conservative position on gays.
Below is most of a post I put on Fulcrum in response to this

William Booth of Salvation Army fame was once challenged about accepting donations from parties trying to attach strings, in an "I'll scratch your back ... " type thing, but he replied,

"I'll take every penny and wash it clean with the tears of widows and orphans".

While we are not actually talking about money here, I feel that quotation might help the discussion, as I guess AM & reform (CT quoted someone from them saying he would be writing to Matthew Frost on this issue, straight after the conference) are wanting to imply that ++Tutu may be seeking to gain some kind of foothold in British Evangelicalism through association with TF. TF on their part have not to my knowledge said anything to indicate a shift in policy, they just want to work with anyone who shares their vision.
Presumably TF has signed the EA mission statement (or whatever) which is the same document that led to calls for Joel Edwards to stand down from the Equality commission on grounds of discrimination against gays. As the Americans say, go figure!

I think it is more likely that ++Tutu has seen the effect of TF's ministry on the ground and so responded to their invitation in good heart, because he shares their vision.

It's just modern day Donatism - not wanting to be "tainted" by association. I'm not an expert but I do recall some rather key reformers had somewhat dubious opinions of the Jews, but you don't hear about that so much. These are the same people I guess who have decided to stop reading anything at all by Steve Chalke or Roy Clements because on one issue they have divergent opinions.

If this now happens to ++Tutu it would be very sad. At New Wine last summer every toilet had a flyer put up in it inviting people to apply to go on a home-building project sponsored by ++Tutu - no one tore them down so I conclude that TF's opinion of the man is at least the prevalent one in charismatic evangelicalism.

People I have known who worked for Tear Fund on the ground were usually more concerned with avoiding getting shot or abducted than with what Bishops (or anyone else) happen to think about gays.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

No song title could possibly do this post justice!

Quite simply the funniest, most successful satire you'll see for many a year. I haven't laughed as much since the Young Ones
check out
Britain's got the pop factor and possibly a new Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice

and if you missed it for goodness sake find someone with Sky plus or get the DVD for Christmas

Saturday, 11 October 2008

It takes two ...

Cracking do the other night at the Bishop's house, for clergy married to clergy. Quite apart from anything else it was good to meet some more people from this diocese socially, on top of which the food and wine were very good and in large quantities.

We are setting up a network by email, and will be getting together again soon. I'm sure I'll be letting you know how it goes, with other songs with the word two in the title.

5 [not so] easy pieces

From Sam,
five people who have influenced my spiritual path:

Graham Cray: He was the vicar of the church I first went to as a believer, and at various points since then, most significantly,. as I have mentioned before, at the New Wine leaders conference in 2005, he has popped up to inspire and encourage me again. Like me he is also half of a clergy couple which kind of makes us kin.

Henry Pearson: Now the vicar of Trent near Sherborne, he was Rector of Marlborough when I arrived there in 92; he was my mentor, friend, and his wife introduced me to the person I married. Most significantly though Henry showed me how to be evangelical and catholic in the same breath.

Duncan Dyason: The founder of Toybox, a man with a real heart for the street children of Latin America. It was a privilege to work alongside him in rather more suburban settings, but also to see God wake him up to the discomfort of comfortable english life; his obedience to the call changed many lives on both sides of the Atlantic. Driven, but gentle; convinced of the truth but willing to work with anyone who can help.

Sister Helen Julian: A former spiritual director of mine; not the only Franciscan, but the only martial arts expert I've ever spent time with. She was another person who re-inforced in me the strength in breadth of Anglican spirituality. A great listener, an a good writer too.

Ken Reynolds: Gave up his job working for Rolls Royce to sit on park benches with heroin addicts and tell them about the love of God in Christ. A truly inspirational man who's evangelical faith has never prevented him from doing what it takes to reach out to the unloved and unlovely. When I worked alongside him I really felt I was making a difference.

Just missed the cut but in no particular order: Alister McGrath, Christine Allsopp, Barry Lomax, St Francis, John Wyclif, Robert Grossteste, Gladys Aylward, Vera Sinton, my brothers Steve and Guy, and my wife. Google 'em yourself.

I tag Jody Steve and Clare G and Andy G

Thursday, 9 October 2008

There's a little black spot on the sun today

Remember this, well I went back on Monday for phase 2, which did at least involve anaesthesia, but was still very painful - more blood involved but Lizzie (my new friend the periodontal specialist) was very good with the angle of her hands so most of the time I couldn't see the flecks on her latex gloves.

There is definitely a skill involved in bringing people through pain and making them feel good about it. Lizzie has got it. There was even Ray Lamontagne on the stereo - mostly audible over the drill though sometimes I had to concentrate really hard. Probably relaxed and distracted me at the same time.

My dentist simile last time was for the church; this time its for the economists. Somehow in the next few weeks and months they are going to have to get us to tighten our belts, and we're not going to enjoy it.

The Prime minister has got some serious root canal surgery to do on our wallets, and it'll cause almost endless column inches before it's done, but when it is, we will not even remember that it hurt and (whoever the PM is by then) we will just be glad its over.

By the way, if you hadn't guessed, that tag line is from "King of Pain" by the Police