letters to the editor

Roger Bellamy 1

From The Revd D Anderson

In your June issue, Mr Bellamy (Changing ethics...) quotes the hymn verse, "The rich man... ", attributes it to Mrs Alexander, then immediately leaves facts for phantasy. He gets off to a cracking start. Never have I seen his particular ideology so neatly and so immediately stated. "Needless to say (ie Of course), we no longer sing those words...we are now very clear on the many issues" our forefathers got so wrong.

On punishment, slavery, sexual matters (S.Paul) womenís rights, extended suffrage (almost all church writers until the nineteenth century), contraception (the encyclicals of the church) and homosexuality -and by implication heterosexual practice outside marriage (all the churches).We have changed our ethics because we know better; better than the authors of Old and New Testaments, better than the saints, martyrs, bishops of the churches of Rome, England and Orthodoxy. "Our" understanding of these things is "better". Of course it is Mr Bellamy, so much so and so surely so that it is "needless to say."

Fr Digby Anderson digbyanderson@aol.com

Roger Bellamy 2

From Mr Lionel Atherton

Many moons ago, an interpretation of the third verse of Mrs Alexanderís, "All things B & B" was suggested to me. You know the one, beginning, "The rich man in his castle." The interpretation suggested to me an understanding which Roger Bellamy (ND June 2012) and others might care to consider as being nearer to Biblical truth than is first apparent. After all, she may not be another Mrs Proudie! In support of that verse of Mrs Alexanderís being thoroughly Biblical, are for example Mark 14: 7a, - "For you will always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them"; and Luke 16: 20 - 31, - the parable of Dives and Lazarus. Our Lord, according to His words recorded by S.

Mark, clearly accepts that in this world there is inequality of income, social position, etc., while Mrs Alexander tells the rich people of her own generation what they should do that Divesí did not. She knows her Bible, to remind one and all that whatever oneís wealth and social standing, "God made both the rich and the poor," each having obligations to one another, vide Ephesians 6: 5 - 9, "Slaves obey your earthly masters," etc. So leave out line 4, and we have: "The rich man in his castle/The poor man at his gate/God made them, high or lowly." Note the comma. In line 4 we see implied order, God ordered. Where else do we have the word, ĎOrderí?

Where else, significantly, but in Holy Order: Bishops, Priests and Deacons to minister in a mutuality of service for the good order of the whole church. Surely it is this sense that Mrs Alexander intends: an ordered relationship so that the rich man in his castle has an obligation to care for the poor man at his gate for the good order of society. Thatís the order brought by

God the Holy Spirit. That is Ďcaritasí. Similar order should exist between the ordained and the lay, husband and wife, child and parent: itís all of a piece. Were we to say, of priest and laity, "God ordered their estate", would there be an objection? Nobody Ďordersí anybody else around in Godís order.

Simply put, life is ordered, or orderly, when mutual obligation is acknowledged as Galatians 3: 28 has it: "...you are all one in Christ Jesus." Perhaps, to bring Mrs Alexander up-to-date and keeping faithful to her words, we might re-write as:

The fat cat in his board room
The homeless just outside
God made them both as humans

And both are at Christís side.

Lionel Atherton lionel.atherton@sky.com

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