LETTERS

 

Feather-brained

From Miss J. Jole

Thank you to Margaret Laird for her article and analysis of the modern state of women (ND April). The notion that the sexes are identical, however, is only one face of feminist orthodoxy. It is the androgynous model, according to which any apparent differences between men and women are culturally conditioned and must be suppressed.

The other model (which could be called the sugar and spice school of feminism) implies the superiority of women, by crying up the feminine and wanting everything to be feminized. According to this model, ‘male’ becomes synonymous with ‘nasty’.

A feature of the female ordination debate was that both models were employed simultaneously, it being argued that women should be priests (a) because there is no difference between men and women and no rational grounds for making a distinction, and (b) because women are totally different and will bring feminine qualities to the ministry, and express the ‘feminine side of God’.

Many feminists have no difficulty in taking up and dropping each of these views as convenient. Some must have noticed that this is inconsistent and contradictory. How ironic that feminists should thus come to personify the very stereotype of feather-brained changeableness that once made them so angry. I for one am not grateful.

Juliet Hole

4 The Leasowes, Bayton, Kidderminster, Worcs DY14 9NA

Mission-shaped churches

From Mr C. Hepplethwaite

I recently the attended a service in a redundant church in rural Gloucestershire. The church which is used only twice a year was packed full of worshippers for the service of Choral Evensong. There are many redundant churches up and down the country that are never used at all. Whilst the work of the organizations that preserve them is to be applauded, it would be wrong to view them simply as museum pieces. Might Forward in Faith Area Deans, diocesan committees and parish priests not consider using this valuable outreach?

It seems to me that holding services in these churches would offer several benefits. They might provide a respite from inner city living as well as an opportunity to try something different liturgically. They might be used as a way in which to celebrate the harvest festival actually in the countryside. For those devoted to the Book of Common Prayer (and there are many of us) it would be a way to introduce people to the beauty of the BCP.

In a countryside often so lacking in religious presence might Anglo-Catholics not find once again that they need to become missionaries as they did in the inner cities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? There would be no better way to show the Church of England that we are serious about our faith and mission. It is time to make sure that Jesus is once again proclaimed in England’s Green and Pleasant Land.

Cuthbert Hepplethwaite

Oxford

Cleaver Ordination

Candidates Fund

From the Clerk

Many clerical readers of New Directions will have on their bookshelves volumes purchased with the help of this fund. They will remember the enjoyable annual exercise at theological college of constructing a booklist sufficiently academic to win the Principal’s endorsement, interesting enough to be of service once the grind of examinations was over, and meticulously priced to match exactly the sum available from the Trustees..

The fund’s main work from its foundation in 1916 has been to make grants to ordinands ‘within the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism’. Although its work is primarily directed towards those preparing for ordination, in recent years the Trustees have been able to diversify the fund’s work.

The fund now wishes to offer to clergy the opportunity to apply for a one-off grant of up to £250, for the purchase of books or the payment of a subscription to an academic library. The Trustees envisage candidates being clergy at least ten years from ordination, who have an interest in pursuing theological reading in some particular field, and who fulfil the criteria of Catholic churchmanship required to qualify for a grant from the fund. It is hoped that the scheme will encourage clergy who wish to undertake serious theological study, especially those engaged in parochial ministry.

Candidates should apply in the first instance by detailed letter (including, for example, details of volumes which would be purchased if successful) addressed to the Clerk, and ask someone to write on their behalf vouching for their standing as to churchmanship. Only when there has been an opportunity to analyse and evaluate the take-up response might there be a need to establish a more formal ‘system’.

The present Clerk works from home, and he would be delighted to hear from you, and to (attempt to) answer any questions.

The Revd Dr Peter Lynn

119 Stanford Ave, Brighton BN1 6FA

01273 553361 palproof@hotmail.com

Harder-line than you!

From the Revd J. Frais

The article Comfortless Covenant (G. Kirk, ND April) wondered if Gene Robinson ‘may yet repent of his folly and return to his wife. Or, like the Dean of St Alban’s, embrace a life of blameless celibacy.’ But even if our prayers for such were answered, such men are now disqualified from ordained ministry as no longer ‘above reproach’ (1 Tim. 3: 2). Or do we, as children hope, forget a matter when ‘sorry’ is said? No: actions have consequences.

Those who offend morally place themselves outside fellowship, and repentance restores them to fellowship, but not leadership. When the track record of keeping in step with the Spirit is no longer exemplary, then ‘blameless’ is a misleading word to use.

Jonathan Frais

Anglican Chaplaincy, Kiev, Ukraine

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