A strange document dropped on to the 30 Days desk this month. It was a report of a ‘global survey’ conducted by Durex, the contraceptive leisurewear manufacturer, on the frequency of sex per annum per person in each nation. Britain, you will be relieved to know, came a respectable 11th with a score of 135 times – well ahead of our American cousins (118) and the notorious Swedes (102)! Even so, as one of our editorial board remarked, some folk must be doing little else to make up for the relative inactivity of the rest of us.
Why print this in New Directions? Well, two reasons…
1) The ‘winners’ ( the top four with scores of 150+ !) were all Eastern European nations making it a remarkable stand for orthodoxy.
2) The document was forwarded to New Directions by a press source in the Prayer Book Society (the original recipient) with the cryptic note, ‘This is more likely to appeal to your readers than ours’! Do they know something about our members that we don't?
(N)EVERY LITTLE HELPS
The 'flagship Diocese of Brechin' (Commanding Officer 'Admiral' Nev the Rev Chamberlain) is back in the news. As a last resort to salvage his floundering flotilla (last count = 8 stipendiary clergy, 13 non-stipendiary and communicants still into three figures!) ‘Nev’ is clearly going for any port in a storm.
‘Admiral’ Chamberlain, survivor of the 'mad cow mural fiasco' and the 'divisive Dean of Dundee debacle', is pinning his hopes on retired shopkeeper, Philip Rettie. Rettie famously sold off most of the retail outlets of Scotland's family grocers, William Low, before flogging the remnant to Tesco's Jack Cohen. Can we look forward to loyalty cards for regular attendance or on-line communions for the busy worshipper?
Rettie clearly knows how to turn a profit from historic assets. The problem is that he won't be allowed to sack the risible management.
After the Reading affair and the Robinson affair, the Church of England has finally produced its weighty tome of reflections on human sexuality. The original 1991 paper, adopted by Carey and Co, has long been regarded as a bad joke by conservative and liberal alike. Its basic tenet that homosexual practice is OK for laity but not for clergy is unsustainable. Now, twelve years later, the 358 page commentary on this nonsense takes us no further forward. The only light relief is a small companion booklet to help parishes ‘reflect on the issues’. It encourages groups to take turns ‘to walk in the moccasins’ of those they disagree with. Role play, so familiar to graduates of Anglican seminaries, is back!
The prospect of elderly church treasurers camping it up for an evening at the PCC while aesthetic clergy don tweed jackets and impersonate Nicky Gumbel should make the long winter evenings fly by.
Back in the real world of course the Anglican Church takes no notice of its own teaching. A celibate homosexual is denied a bishopric while a divorced man living in sin is given one. Plus ça change.
From the Internet – with thanks to our correspondents William Tighe and Fr Roald Flemestad.
‘The actions taken by the New Hampshire Episcopalians are an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church's founder Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon and his wife Anne Boleyn and his wife Jane Seymour and his wife Anne of Cleves and his wife Katherine Howard and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to witness this assault on traditional Christian marriage.'
As our own sovereign-in-waiting must have noted, if Henry had been a Muslim none of this need ever have happened.
PETE AND DUD
David Walker, Bishop of Dudley, is jolly cross. Here he is in full flow on his website for ‘thinking Anglicans’.
‘We have here not an analysis but a parody of the beliefs and integrity of the great majority of those clergy it is my privilege as a bishop to work with’ etc. ‘A distortion beyond recognition’, a ‘manipulated and twisted version’, enough ‘to make even the most hardened government spin doctor blush’, an organization whose ‘conscience went west some time ago’ and so on and so on. The target of his wrath is the invaluable little Cost of Conscience booklet, Believe it or Not, sent to all our readers recently. A summary of the milestone Christian Research investigation of clergy beliefs in 2002, it reveals what we have all known for a long time – two churches in the Church of England.
Unfortunately for Bishop ‘Dud’, fulmination cannot undo the facts. Dr Peter Brierley's independent and expert formulation of the questions were standard – not a concession to Cost of Conscience. Second, the answers revealed what many other surveys have also revealed – a huge deficit of credal conviction among the clergy. Third, and here one suspects is the pain for ‘Dud’ and his pals, the survey uniquely reveals the centres of that unbelief. The governing liberal oligarchy and their support groups were pitifully weak on christology. Correspondingly, the less they believed about Jesus the more they supported feminism, divorce, euthanasia, homosexual practice and abortion. All facts that ‘Dud’ curiously omitted from his own magisterial survey.
Worship in the Church of England is ‘dire’, ‘incompetent’ and ‘frequently confused with entertainment’ and often led by those who ‘apparently have no idea what they are doing’. Who says so? None other than the Bishop of Salisbury, ‘Bubbles’ Stancliffe, long-time Chairperson of the Liturgical Commission whose triumphs include the Abolished Service Book and Comic Worship. As 'Dire'ctor of this long-running liturgical tragedy ‘Bubbles’ is, naturally, not responsible and no resignations can be expected. It would be heartening to look back on his own liturgical example as incumbent of a parish. Sadly his meteoric rise did not leave time for such mundane experiences.
KING OF THE JUNGLE
A leading Darwinian scientist was approached by the Dean of a leading Cambridge college with a surprising invitation. Would the Professor come and preach in his glorious chapel? Modestly the eminent academic suggested that, being a convinced non-believer, others would be better qualified to occupy the prestigious pulpit.
‘Don’t worry about that,’ the Dean replied, ‘we’re all atheists here!’
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