July 1998 Thirty Days

BROADCASTER AND POLLUX

Recipients of the recent Westcott House Chronicle were delighted to discover that 25% of it was dedicated to a biography of Revd. Angela Tilby.

"Angie", regular broadcaster and former BBC religious affairs producer, is referred to as one half of the "Heavenly Twins" who job share the Spirituality Tutor post. The other half is the radical feminist nun Sister Lavinia Byrne whose modernism extends to a preference for tweeds over the dreary old habit. Those who have wondered just what convent this apparently peripatetic sister inhabits will be reassured by the Chronicle which informs us, "Fortunately Angela and Lavinia get on well together as they have to share the tutor’s house in Park Street."

Lavinia, with her nun’s training is a domestic paragon; Angela, by her own admission, rather less so! The courses they teach also overlap in various ways - something that means that the lucky ordinands are receiving two for the price of one."

Lucky everybody really.

 

BRECHIN WIND III

Articles about the small but beautiful diocese of Brechin (average Sunday attendance 943) have prompted many correspondents memories of the elderly but dynamic bishop, Neville Chamberlain. It was Nev the Rev who commissioned the great Easter mural outside St John's, Princes Street, Edinburgh in 1996.

Many will remember the national headlines and condemnation from stick-in-the-mud R.C. and Church of Scotland spokesmen when Nev’s glorious crucified cow replaced the traditional outdated image.

Richard Holloway was so udderly amazed by this that he mooved our Nev into the episcopate before you could say John Spongiform encephalitis.

COMPROMISING POSITION

Those fearing a hermeneutical bloodbath at Lambeth over homosexuality can relax. South African Bishop, Peter Lee and U.S.A.’s John Spong have worked out a compromise. They are in favour of marriage, against predatory sex and for justice for homosexuals. Only three areas of disagreement remain - blessing same sex unions, ordaining practising homosexuals and ...the authority of the bible.

As our American cousins are wont to remark, "No problem".

 

MAJORITY SORORITY RULE THULE

In a recent meeting with the Archbishop of Uppsala, the Bishop of Grimsby raised, as promised, Fr Kirk’s question in General Synod about the treatment of opponents of women’s ordination in Sweden. The Arch. replied that when the number of women priests in a diocese is over 50% it is virtually impossible to ordain any opponents.

The question of how you get to this 50% threshold was not raised. Presumably by not ordaining opponents.

 

ADDITIONAL CONFUSION

So let’s go over this one more time shall we? The C of E lost 800m in ill-advised speculation. With over a quarter of the assets gone the Church Commissioners could no longer be expected to subsidise diocesan clergy stipends. Therefore quotas had to rise year on year. Quite so.

The remaining assets were ring fenced to pay for pensions. Logical, sensible.

But wait....asset values have substantially recovered, we are told, and interest rates rise. Strangely quotas still have to rise! Pensions must now be funded by parishes!

Hold on though, this decade will see a dramatic drop in stipendiary clergy anyway i.e. less people to pay.

Obviously you need to be an accountant to understand these apparent contradictions or perhaps you need the long avoided public enquiry into the no fault divorce between the ordinary parishes and their historic assets and hard earned cash.

 

NORWAY TO BEHAVE

Shortly after the Archbishop of York’s fraternal visit to our Porvoo Partners in the former Viking territory it was back to business as usual for the persecutory Norwegian church. The about to retire Bishop of Oslo, set about destroying the capital's leading orthodox parish Gamelakin. Having moved the priest, installed his own man and personally reordered the worship, he can only have been thrilled to discover that a congregation of nearly 300 was reduced to 35. So bizarre was his behaviour that it made headlines in the national press and caused the Minister for Religious Affairs, by no means a conservative, to speculate on TV about the disestablishment of the church.

 

BRECHIN WIND IV

Being a monthly publication it is, tragically, impossible to keep up with the electrifying pace of change in the self proclaimed Anglican communions "Flagship" diocese....BRECHIN. No sooner had we reported Bishop Neville (B.S.E) Chamberlain’s radical promises than he was delivering results.

"Neither gender nor sexual orientation nor breakdown of marriage will be a barrier to ordination in this diocese nor, I would hope, to the episcopate."

Well informed porridge fanciers thought this was retrospective attack on the diocese for previously rejecting a senior male divorcee for Nev’s own throne. Be that as it may Nev’s real bombshell really dropped a few weeks later.

Worshippers at Dundee Cathedral were bravely trying to recover from the scandal of their previous Provost’s unorthodox accounting procedures. (The appropriately named Fr. Bunce was, unlike the C of E, subject to a rigorous public enquiry in the courts over the trifling sum of 44,000). To reward them and encourage them Bishop Nev has appointed the lovely Miriam Byrne (any relation?), 51.

Miriam started as a nun (strange co-incidence), ran off with a monk and married him. Eighteen years and three children later she left him and went to train for the priesthood at Westcott House (stranger still!). Luckily she met the librarian of Strathclyde University and followed him to Scotland. He has two children by his first marriage.

Miriam, in her pinstripe open neck shirt, boyish haircut, earrings and "Ted" jacket reassured doctrinal conservatives, "I’m not in favour of numerous remarriages. If it doesn’t work a second time I think you should give up." Amen.

CONSECRATION STREET

Fans of the Granadaland soap opera, the diocese of Manchester, will be intrigued by the latest offering of its bishop "Christa"pher Mayfield. He is looking for a new suffragan bishop and a new Archdeacon of Manchester. For the bishopric Mayfield states that the "personal gifts" required are: Central or evangelical tradition, sympathetic to the ordination of women and a confidence in their own gifts and interests. He need look no further than the bathroom mirror. But no....the other "personal gift" listed is to live outside the Diocese of Manchester (one can quite understand why this may be seen as a gift). Coincidentally the new Archdeacon must also be in favour of women’s ordination.

"Christa"pher, the first English bishop to sit in his cathedral and worship the female Christa on the cross, has clearly forgotten that he signed a famous document in Manchester....Bonds of Peace.

 

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