Thirty Days

 

WHOSE ALMIGHTY WORD?

Always on the lookout for punchy, cutting edge liturgy, 30 Days was delighted to receive the following example from St Mark’s, Broom Hill, Sheffield.

Under the section, ‘Unfolding of the Word’, the reader no longer affirms the tired old cliché, ‘This is the word of the Lord’. In keeping with the new interactive fashion of world media, she uses the gritty and provocative challenge, ‘How is this the word of the Lord for us today?’ As there is no section labelled ‘discuss’, we can only assume that the vicar will try to give some clues in his ‘reflection’.

PURPLE FOR HEATHER?

The rapidly shrinking Scottish Episcopal Church is, once again, leading the churches of these islands. Last month it voted overwhelmingly to consecrate women to the episcopate.

What, at first, looked like a bold step is, apparently, not intended as such by the bevy of bishops who led the Gadarene rush. One of them, in an unguarded conversation with one of our correspondents, let slip the episcopal thinking on this matter. ‘Of course,’ he confided, ‘there won’t actually be any women bishops for years. There just aren’t any women of the right calibre!’

As the women will, no doubt, gratefully appreciate, ‘calibre’ is the very first word that springs to mind when reflecting on the spiritual giants currently occupying the bench.

PHONE A FRIEND

PCC giving you the pip? Brassed off with the bishop? Organist refused to run off with you? Want to let it all hang out? Now you can – if you are in Derby diocese. Bishop Jonathan Bailey, in an occasional paper on pastoral support, advises us of a special service.

If we have our ‘credit card’, we can telephone ‘Ann, our anonymous and confidential listening ear’!

30 Days’ pastoral advice is a little more direct. Ring ‘Jonners’ himself on (01322) 346744 and give him a chance to do his job. His wife has enough to do!

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, has been in fighting form recently, rubbishing his critics on the BBC and haranguing his diocesan synod on the virtues of Dr Jeffrey John, the homosexual campaigner and Bishop-designate of Reading. Challenged by fellow members of the ‘purple socks and hankies’ club, Harries has objected to their interference thus:

It (homosexual practice) is ‘an open question’ in the Church and, as such, should not debar a good chap from preferment.

There was a time in the Church of England when the same could have been said of that other curious clerical hobby, orthodoxy!

TIME OUT OF MIND

Close your eyes and it will go away. This seems to be the mutually reassuring advice being given to each other by large numbers of senior bishops.

But the consecration of women to the episcopate, while devoutly to be desired as a matter of justice, must be delayed at all costs as a matter of pragmatism and personal comfort. A majority of the ‘Purple people eaters’ do not want Civil War, Round II, in their episcopal life-times. They reckon they can spin it out until 2011 by pulling every procedural stunt possible. By which time, for many of them, it will be someone else’s problem.

30 Days is with Pears Cyclopedia, Christina Rees and the girls. 2008 or bust!

JOCKS AWAY

More exciting news from north of the border. In addition to the demise of their remaining theological college, the ‘Piskies’ are planning to get rid of their library too. Some fuddy-duddy members of the Scottish Episcopal Church have protested about this, arguing that theological education still has a vital part to play in the formation and sustenance of Christian ministry. But since recent history has revealed that you can become Primus of Scotland without being a believer, what need of religious books?

SOUTH COAST RELIGION

That haven of ecclesiastical tranquillity, the Diocese of Chichester, is experiencing a twinge of institutional tension. The Dean has invited a really inspiring speaker to assist the faithful in their quest for the eternal verities. It is our very old friend, Jack Spong, former Bishop of New Jersey and heresiarch of the Americas.

Spong has a charming and beguiling way of denying pretty nearly every item of the creed while, quite literally, holding on to his hat at the same time as talking through it. A truly ecumenical achievement.

Next term perhaps the Dean could arrange for a solemn procession of the relics of Arius, behind an empty monstrance, while we celebrate the Real Absence.

CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS?

The Communications Training and Development Department at Church House is running a special day on July 9. The subject is ‘Crisis Simulation’!

Ged Clapson, a PR and consultancy guru, will help participants, in teams, ‘manage real-time handling and reflections on simulated crises’.

Suggested attendees include ‘press officers’, ‘senior diocesan decision-makers’ (presumably bishops’ wives), and ‘anyone involved when the crisis breaks’.

For a mere £125 per head the Church of England’s key players will, doubtless at your expense, be queuing up to deal with simulated crises. After all, one more day would not make much difference to the real crises.

SOUTH BONK RELIGION

That shrine of sexual conservatism, Southwark Cathedral, is embroiled in an unholy row with its neighbour, ‘Club Wicked’. The club proprietor ‘General’ Sheridan, and his wife ‘Lady’ Caroline, want to expand their fetish evenings to wholesale public displays of rumpty-tumpty, participants welcomed.

In a very uninclusive gesture, the cathedral has complained to the local council that the club is into ‘bondage and sado-masochism’ – activities that, apparently, ‘cause outrage to clergy and cathedral by reason of our Christian faith’. Experienced Southwark watchers have suggested a joint event – an indoor beating the bound.

‘General’ Sheridan accuses Dean Slee (for it is he) of sending ‘spies’ to his rubber fetish masked ball disguised as ‘The Two Musketeers’ (sic). What happened to the menage à trois is unclear – as is the identity of the two lucky Canons. No doubt they took the party by storm with their battle cry of, ‘All for one and one for all!’ Gripping stuff!

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