Category : Pastoral Theology

(Christian Today) Leading evangelical bishop apologises for role in gender transition liturgy guidance – and now opposes it

A leading evangelical bishop who oversaw the production of controversial Church of England guidance about gender transitioning has apologised – and confirmed that he now doesn’t back it.

The Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, was chair of the House of Bishops’ Delegation Committee, the body which oversaw the publication of guidance last month on how to use the existing Affirmation of Baptismal Faith to enable transgender adults to mark their transition.

When the guidance was published, the official Church of England website quoted Bishop Henderson as saying: ‘This new guidance provides an opportunity, rooted in scripture, to enable trans people who have “come to Christ as the way, the truth and the life”, to mark their transition in the presence of their Church family which is the body of Christ. We commend it for wider use.’

But just a few days later, the Bishop was the lead signatory on a statement from the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), of which he is president. The CEEC statement described the guidance as ‘highly divisive and theologically and pastorally questionable’. The statement said the guidance ‘also risks raising serious concerns both within the wider Anglican Communion and ecumenically’.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(NY Times Magazine) How American Cities Make Money by Fining the Poor

[Jamie] Tillman told me that she thought she had no choice but to plead guilty — it was unlikely, she believed, that the judge would take her word over that of the arresting officers. “I admit, your honor,” she said. “I just want to get me out of here as soon as possible.” Under Mississippi state law, public intoxication is punishable by a $100 fine or up to 30 days in jail. Ross opted for the maximum fine. Tillman began to cry.

The Federal Reserve Board has estimated that 40 percent of Americans don’t have enough money in their bank accounts to cover an emergency expense of $400. Tillman didn’t even have $10. She couldn’t call her family for help. She was estranged from her father and from her mother, who had custody of Tillman’s two young daughters from a previous relationship.

“I can’t — ” Tillman stammered to Ross. “I can’t — ”

Ross explained the system in his court: For every day a defendant stayed in the Alcorn County jail, $25 was knocked off his or her fine. Tillman had been locked up for five days as she awaited her hearing, meaning she had accumulated a credit of $125 toward the overall fine of $255. (The extra $155 was a processing fee.) Her balance on the fine was now $130. Was Tillman able to produce that or call someone who could?

“I can’t,” Tillman responded, so softly that the court recorder entered her response as “inaudible.” She tried to summon something more coherent, but it was too late: The bailiff was tugging at her sleeve. She would be returned to the jail until Oct. 14, she was informed, at which point Ross would consider the fine paid and the matter settled.

That night, Tillman says, she conducted an informal poll of the 20 or so women in her pod at the Alcorn County jail. A majority, she says, were incarcerated for the same reason she was: an inability to pay a fine. Some had been languishing in jail for weeks. The inmates even had a phrase for it: “sitting it out.” Tillman’s face crumpled. “I thought, Because we’re poor, because we’re of a lower class, we aren’t allowed real freedom,” she recalled. “And it was the worst feeling in the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

The TEC Presiding Bishop’s response to Bishop William Love’s November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Directive

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) More than 100 Oxford clergy criticise bishops’ LGBTI guidance

Their main concern, they write, is with the “direction of travel” of the diocese. “In its desire for new expressions of ‘inclusion’, it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of scripture, and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction.

“We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible’s teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit.”

The signatories disavow any sense of being “morally superior” and acknowledge that they have “much to learn from others, including those with whom we disagree”; but they conclude that “the issue concerns the teaching of Christ’s Church, however lacking we may be as disciples of Christ. . .

“We would love our bishops to articulate clearly God’s love for us in helping us see both the attractiveness of deep friendships, but also the appropriate setting for sexual intimacy — namely in marriage between a man and a woman. However, if they are unwilling to do this, we would ask them to recognise the seriousness of the difference between us: advocacy of same-sex sexual intimacy is either an expression of the love of God or it creates an obstacle to people entering the kingdom of God. It cannot be both.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Christian Today) Oxford diocese in meltdown as clergy reject bishops’ view on sexuality

The letter to the bishops was sent before Christmas, and in turn the bishops have responded to the signatories with a statement of their own. Christian Today understands both letters are to be circulated to all clergy in the Oxford diocesan email news today, Wednesday. They are now also in the public domain on the website of the Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship.

Clergy signatories include conservative evangelical Canon Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s Oxford, who has openly spoken of his celibacy despite same-sex attraction, and the leading charismatic churchman Canon Charlie Cleverly, Rector of St Aldate’s, Oxford. Their two congregations are among the largest in the diocese. There are also signatories who are lay people and retired clergy, including the distinguished author, evangelist and lecturer Dr Michael Green.

The letter says: ‘Our overriding concern is with the direction of travel which the Diocese is taking as revealed by this letter. In its desire for new expressions of “inclusion”, it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of Scripture and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction. We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible’s teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit.’

They continue: ‘As Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany in the Episcopal Church of the USA said last month in relation to the introduction of “blessings” for same-sex couples, it ‘does a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Jeff Haanen: God of the Second Shift–The theology of work conversation is thriving. Why are most workers missing from it?

Years ago, I started Denver Institute after reading Studs Terkel’s 1971 classic Working, an oral history of working-class Americans. Work, Terkel says, “is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

Of course! I thought. This fit well with my graduate school angst (and growing boredom with my assignments). I liked the quote so much that I put it in my email signature.

But somewhere along the way, I forgot that Terkel also believed work was centrally about “violence—to the spirit as well as the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around. It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations.”

This didn’t sound like the workplaces I was used to. But the tension between Terkel’s two statements has started to resonate with me. In the past five years, we in Denver have hosted thousands of doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and other young professionals at our events. But there’s been a conspicuous absence of home care workers, retail sales clerks, landscapers, janitors, or cooks.

Calvin College philosopher James K. A. Smith—who once pulled 10-hour graveyard shifts on an air filter assembly line—observes, “The bias of the [faith and work] conversation toward professional, ‘creative,’ largely white-collar work means that many people who undertake manual or menial labor simply don’t see themselves as having a voice in this conversation.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

An RNS profile Article of Jamie Aten, a disaster psychologist who founded the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College

At the turn of a new year, people often anticipate weddings, births, reunions, a promotion or other joys. Few greeted 2019 this week by counting on a flooded home or a dreaded cancer diagnosis.

Even Jamie Aten, a disaster psychologist who founded the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, wasn’t prepared for the news he received in 2013, when his doctor told him he had Stage IV colon cancer. Only 35, he had a wife and three young daughters. His academic career had just begun.

But as his oncologist told him, “You’re in for your own personal kind of disaster.”

Indeed, Aten would come to see his encounter with cancer through his field of study, which concerns resilience on the community level (he studied Hurricane Katrina) as well as the individual level.

Now 41, Aten has written about his journey in “A Walking Disaster: What Surviving Katrina and Cancer Taught Me About Faith and Resilience,” which will be published Jan. 14.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Kevin Robertson marries his same-sex partner at St James Cathedral in Toronto

From there:

The Diocese of Toronto congratulates Bishop Kevin Robertson and Mr. Mohan Sharma, who were married today at St. James Cathedral in the presence of their two children, their families and many friends, including Archbishop Colin Johnson and Bishop Andrew Asbil.

(Bishop Kevin and Mohan, who have been a couple since 2009, had their relationship blessed in 2016 according to the Pastoral Guidelines of the Diocese of Toronto and are now married under the marriage provision of the same guidelines.)

We wish them much joy in their marriage.

Update:Terry Mattingly has some further comments on this there.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Canada, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell–Church of England Safeguarding Guidelines: progress, regression or PR spin?

Such lack of liaison with legitimately interested parties mirrors the church’s approach to compiling the terms of reference for inquiries into its other failings. If you talk to the campaigners for Bishop George Bell, for example, they report a similar refusal in our leadership to publish, let alone offer for advanced discussion, the terms of reference and timetable for the investigation. Plainly a prolonged discussion of such detail cannot be expected and would lengthen an already tortuous process in such matters. Nevertheless, a confident institution would surely be happy to set out in advance its modus operandi across the board. An unwillingness to listen to the views and experiences of others who might contribute to good process suggests insecurity rather than strength, and in the case of the survivor community it adds to their sense of being seen as a nuisance rather than a resource to be utilised and valued.

The new requirement for reporting Safeguarding matters to the Charity Commission was initially welcomed; and sharing data with the Church Commissioners sounds like an interim step towards external oversight. But the more it was discussed, the more questions arose.

What exactly constitutes a “serious safeguarding concern”? If a Parochial Church Council thinks a matter is serious but the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor disagrees, will it be reported? Who will audit the statistics? How many staff will the Charity Commissioners have working on the data? Will that be sufficient? Given that the Church of England made dreadful errors over the Past Cases Review and that the figure supplied last year to General Synod concerning the number of live cases had to be quickly revised, such questions are not unreasonable.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(1st Things) Matthew Lee Anderson: The C of E’s recently released “pastoral” guidelines…Baptizing the spirit of the Age

At the heart of the guidance is a prioritization of the “pastoral,” which effectively cordons the ceremony off from meaningful theological reflection. This leaves the guidance grossly underdetermined, reducing priests to cheerleaders for those on their way to a new sex. The document opens, for instance, by announcing that the Church of England “welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ….” It goes on to insinuate that transitions from one sex and “identity” to another may sometimes be licit—and that affirming these transitions is always the appropriate “pastoral” response. In conducting such ceremonies priests should be “guided by the wishes of the candidate.” The church, it now seems, must give unconditional welcome to trans individuals, but those individuals are apparently free to impose conditions upon the church.

This triumph of the “pastoral” happens when the church abdicates its responsibility to respond to such moments theologically. As the document notes, the “giving or adoption of a new name has a long history” within the tradition, as at confirmations or upon taking holy orders. Yet the text does not attempt to connect such a practice to the taking of a different gender. This simple derivation from past to present circumvents the very theological thinking required to keep such a practice from sliding into a warmed-over celebration of therapeutic individualism. This is a baptism-type ceremony, to be sure, but it is the spirit of the age that is being consecrated.

Of course, developing the theological architecture necessary to provide real pastoral guidance to gender dysphoric Christians and their priests would make explicit the deep revolution that is at work in the church’s teaching about the nature of sex and the person. It would also open up the possibility that pastors and priests might have the responsibility to say “no” to requests for consecrating new names for transgender individuals.

It is ironic that such an individualistic and therapeutic atmosphere would infect the church’s understanding of baptism through a service reaffirming baptismal vows. It is in baptism, as the document notes, “where we find our true identity in Christ.” Yet any “Affirmation of Baptismal Faith” founded upon transitioning into a new sex risks conveying that the source of alienation within one’s former life was one’s physical body—introducing a latent Gnosticism into the theology of baptism.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Church Times) Archbishop Ntahoturi to leave Rome after sexual misconduct allegation

The director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, has resigned. It has emerged that he was suspended last week over an allegation of sexual misconduct.

A statement from the Centre’s governors, published on its website on Friday, said:

”The Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome have accepted the resignation of its Director Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi following his suspension last week over an allegation of sexual misconduct. The Governors are now taking urgent steps to appoint an interim director, who will also act as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Burundi, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

(WSJ) The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone

Danny Miner, a 66-year-old retired chemical plant supervisor, spends most days alone in his Tooele, Utah, apartment, with “Gunsmoke” reruns to keep him company and a phone that rarely rings.

Old age wasn’t supposed to feel this lonely. Mr. Miner married five times, each bride bringing the promise of lifelong companionship. Three unions ended in divorce. Two wives died. Now his legs ache and his balance is faulty, and he’s stopped going to church or meeting friends at the Marine Corps League, a group for former Marines. “I get a little depressed from time to time,” he says.

Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history, and the resulting loneliness is a looming public health threat. About one in 11 Americans age 50 and older lacks a spouse, partner or living child, census figures and other research show. That amounts to about eight million people in the U.S. without close kin, the main source of companionship in old age, and their share of the population is projected to grow.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

A CEEC response to the C of E House of Bishops’ “Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition”

The Church of England holds to the principle that our prayers express what we believe (lex orandi, lexcredendi). As this new guidance will be included in Common Worship, its support for services liturgically
recognising a person’s gender transition, and the theological views contained in the guidance for such services,are of both liturgical and doctrinal significance.

Although the bishops have declined the request to issue a new formal liturgy they have encouraged a newliturgical act. They seem to have proposed a hybrid liturgy for such services. They do so by commending a
properly approved rite which should express our baptismal unity to be used to do something else and something new liturgically. This innovative use is both highly divisive and theologically and pastorally
questionable. It also risks raising serious concerns both within the wider Anglican Communion and ecumenically.

Although the bishops have not issued a new formal teaching, they have issued pastoral guidance which makes theological judgments. They have done so through what appears to be a flawed process; a process which
lacked theological scrutiny and bypassed the existing structures for such theological discernment. These judgments develop and narrow previous teaching. They do so in ways that many Anglicans view as reversing that teaching to establish a position which is incompatible with biblical revelation and the Church’s traditional understanding of what it means to be human.

We recognise that some in the church will share our understanding of the nature and significance of this step and welcome it. Others may think our interpretation of the guidance flawed. We believe, however, that our
interpretation is widely and legitimately held. We, and we believe many others, are concerned as to the consequences of this development.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Uncategorized

Must-not-Miss Story from NPR’s Only a Game–Shirley Wang: My Dad’s Friendship With Charles Barkley

When Charles Barkley’s mother, Charcey Glenn, passed away in June 2015, Barkley’s hometown of Leeds, Alabama, came to the funeral to pay respects. But there was also an unexpected guest.

Barkley’s friends couldn’t quite place him. He wasn’t a basketball player, he wasn’t a sports figure and he wasn’t from Barkley’s hometown. Here’s what I can tell you about him: he wore striped, red polo shirts tucked into khaki shorts and got really excited about two-for-one deals. He was a commuter. He worked as a cat litter scientist in Muscatine, Iowa. In short, he was everyone’s suburban dad. More specifically, he was my dad.

“You know, it was obviously a very difficult time,” Barkley told me recently. “And the next thing I know, he shows up. Everybody’s, like, ‘Who’s the Asian dude over there?’ I just started laughing. I said, ‘That’s my boy, Lin.’ They’re, like, ‘How do you know him?’ I said, ‘It’s a long story.’ ”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Sports

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Wisdom and folly: the bishops’ guidance on transgender welcome

Why the collapse of Christian language of initiation into cultural memes? The problems with the guidance begin with its opening line:

The Church of England welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ

Since when was the gospel of ‘repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is at hand’ (Mark 1.15) reduced to ‘unconditional affirmation’? If the point is that trans people shouldn’t be treated as a different class of humanity, then that would be hard to disagree with—so why not simply say that? All the debates around sexuality become mired in impossible ambiguity because of different construals of what it means to ‘affirm’ people. Jesus welcomed the marginalised, and called them to repent along with everyone else (Luke 5.32) and so should we.

Why the misuse of biblical texts? In reading Scripture, context is everything, and the listing of passages where God’s redemptive action leads to a change of name, in the context of a service which appears to be celebrating the transition of name and identity, has strong echoes of Tina Beardsley’s proposed trans liturgy, misreads these texts badly, and overlays on the scriptural narrative a particular ideology of sex identity.

Why the complete absence of reference to biological reality? One of the heated debates around trans ideology and advocacy relates to biological reality—what is actually going on in the transition process? The medical journal The Lancet just this week made an impassioned appeal for proper engagement with biological reality:

Sex has a biological basis, whereas gender is fundamentally a social expression. Thus, sex is not assigned—chromosomal sex is determined at conception and immutable. A newborn’s phenotypic sex, established in utero, merely becomes apparent after birth, with intersex being a rare exception.

Distress about gender identity must be taken seriously and support should be put in place for these children and young people, but the impacts of powerful, innovative interventions should be rigorously assessed….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AM) Andrew Symes–Transgender liturgies and the secular, postmodern re-shaping of church and society

I was alerted to a major new development in the Church of England: the publication of liturgies to mark ‘gender transition’. (Press release, and my comment here.) Well that wasn’t such a surprise, as this was accepted by General Synod last year, and then agreed again in February 2018. What is alarming is that the new services, which have been developed by clergy who are transgender activists, have been commended for use by a leading evangelical Bishop. No doubt he will argue that while he believes that God created us male and female, this is a way of offering welcome to those who don’t feel they fit into the traditional gender categories. But in speaking about ‘trans people’ and supporting the liturgies in this way, this Bishop has inevitably accepted the validity of the new ideology of gender, which is incompatible with Christian anthropology, colluding with a fiction which cannot ultimately be pastorally helpful, and based on propaganda and fake science rather than evidence.

Should faithful Christians just accept the decisions of their leaders in these matters, and keep quiet, perhaps focusing on evangelistic courses and foodbanks? Or can we counter this trend? If so, perhaps our challenge is to tell a “better story”. We know that heterosexual marriage and sexually abstinent singleness, living within the physical sex God gave us, are the most effective ways of living a flourishing life as individuals and communities, and for our future. Numerous studies prove that stable marriage and family life, and sexual self-control are beneficial for individuals and society; likewise it is clear that family breakdown is linked to crime and mental health issues, and immorality to sexually transmitted disease. The Judaeo-Christian ethic is commanded and explained in Scripture and has been taught by Christians and Jews for millennia. It makes sense. It is the truth. Surely, if the church demonstrates an attitude of love, and tells a positive and exciting counter-story, society will be convinced of the truth of the gospel and how we are supposed to live our lives?

In this paradigm, ‘truth’ is contained in God’s word, backed up by scientific research based on observation of an ordered world. Truth must be communicated clearly, imaginatively, winsomely with love, but it exists as an entity in itself, like a Platonic ideal, or indeed God himself. God exists and his word is true whether or not we communicate it effectively with love. One plus one equals two, regardless of how effectively and relationally it is taught, or how I feel about it and about myself.

But in the secular postmodern paradigm, things have changed. God, and truth, do not exist outside of the reality which is the interweaved matrix made up of millions of human beings’ individual consciousness and experience. The personal story, and the emotions it evokes, is not just a method of communicating truth. It is truth. If feelings of same sex attraction or gender dysphoria lead someone to embrace a gay or trans identity, this is a discovery of truth, and the church’s job is to affirm it through liturgies. To suggest that someone with these feelings might be able to explore a different direction is seen as hurtful, even abusive, and should be suppressed by law. 

Because of this tendency in us to be drawn to personal constructions of reality and reject Reality, the biblical writers insist that it’s not enough to simply repeat God’s true message, and to find better ways of communicating it, including demonstrating God’s nature through acts of love and mercy. It’s also necessary to enable the faithful community to reject the false messages they are being fed constantly in the world around them.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church of England) Guidance for gender transition services published

New guidance for parishes planning services to help transgender people mark their transition has been published by the Church of England.

The pastoral guidance, which will be incorporated into Common Worship*, encourages clergy to be “creative and sensitive” in using liturgy to enable people to mark a major transition in their lives.

It formally commends the incorporation of the existing rite for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith into services which mark gender transition.

It details how elements including water and oil can be incorporated into the service and, crucially, makes clear that trans people should be addressed publicly by their chosen name.

As part of the service they could also be presented with gifts, such as a Bible inscribed in their chosen name, or a certificate.

It is important, the guidance adds, that the occasion should have a distinct “celebratory character”.

Read it all and make sure to follow the link and read the full text of the guidance itself.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(1st Things) Helen Andrews-Shame Storm

After a lifetime of impeccably correct opinions, Ian Buruma found himself on the wrong side of the liberal consensus in September 2018, when he was forced to resign as editor of the New York Review of Books for having commissioned a piece called “Reflections from a Hashtag” from the disgraced Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi. One does not get to be editor of the NYRB without having filament-like sensitivity to the boundaries of acceptable opinion. Buruma’s virtuosic handling in 2007 of the controversy over his New York Times Magazine profile of Tariq Ramadan, in which he wrote indulgently of his subject’s radical Islamic views—and scathingly of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s secularist opposition to them—was a model of politically correct equipoise. If Buruma was caught flat-footed this time, it must be the times that have changed.

Unlike Leon Wieseltier, Lorin Stein, ­Garrison Keillor, John Hockenberry, Ryan Lizza, Glenn Thrush, or any of the other editors and journalists who have lost their jobs in the last twelve months due to the movement known as #MeToo, Buruma was not accused of any sexual misconduct. His crime was to give space in his magazine to a man who had been accused (but not, in any of four court cases, convicted) of sexual harassment and non-consensual roughness during sex. Buruma told Slate in an interview five days before his resignation, “I think nobody has quite figured out what should happen in cases like his, where you have been legally acquitted but you are still judged as undesirable in public opinion, and how far that should go, how long that should last.”

Too true, as Buruma found out to his cost. No one has yet figured out what rules should govern the new frontiers of public shaming that the Internet has opened. New rules are obviously required. Shame is now both global and permanent, to a degree ­unprecedented in human history. No more moving to the next town to escape your bad name. However far you go and however long you wait, your disgrace is only ever a Google search away. Getting a humiliating story into the papers used to require convincing an editor to run it, which meant passing their standards of newsworthiness and corroborating evidence. Those gatekeepers are now gone. Most attempts so far to devise new rules have taken ideology as their starting point: Shaming is okay as long as it’s directed at men by women, the powerless against the powerful. But that doesn’t address what to do afterward, if someone is found to have been wrongfully shamed, or when someone rightfully shamed wants to put his life back together.

In the essay that got Buruma fired, Ghomeshi claims to have been a pioneer in online shaming. “There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy everyone hated first.” Actually, a better candidate for original victim is Justine Sacco, the PR executive who tweeted to her 170 Twitter followers before getting on a plane to Cape Town, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” It was during the Christmas holidays when news is always slow, so a Gawker post about the tweet quickly went viral. People around the world were soon enjoying the suspense of knowing Sacco was on a plane with no Internet access and no way to know that she had become an object of global ridicule. That was in December 2013, almost a year before the Ghomeshi story broke.

And before that, in the Precambrian era of online shaming, there was me….

The more online shame cycles you observe, the more obvious the pattern becomes: Everyone comes up with a principled-sounding pretext that serves as a barrier against admitting to themselves that, in fact, all they have really done is joined a mob. Once that barrier is erected, all rules of decency go out the window, but the pretext is almost always a lie.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Channel 4 News) Church of England gags abuse victim with NDA

A woman who claims she was abused by a vicar has told Channel 4 News she was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) – before she was allowed to read an official review accusing the Church of England of mismanaging her complaints.

Channel 4 News has seen a copy of the report, which makes a series of damning criticisms of the way a serving bishop handled her allegations.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell–Church in Wonderland: the Clergy Discipline Measure shoves victims down a rabbit hole

What is missing in all this is the option of an ‘Admonishment’. By that, I mean that the Church of England does not currently accompany a ‘no action’ outcome with a plain unequivocal finding that ‘this was wrong’. Vindicating the victims complaint is immensely important to them, regardless of the sequelae.

Surely we need such an option in a revised system, preferably published and accompanied by a victim impact statement, and perhaps even an agreed statement of reconciliation in which the wrongdoer can offer an acknowledgement of error and a proper apology and, if possible an (entirely voluntary) acceptance. Closure on such a basis might be attainable with all parties able to move forward.

As it is, the Bishop is untouched, the Deputy President emerges as a humane judge constrained by an insufficient legal structure, and the role of the Chaplain has slipped under the radar. The Archbishop has been affirmed in his procedural propriety and judgment, and does not have the embarrassment of having to find against his fellow Bishop. Everyone within the church wins.

The only one… the only one for whom the whole prolonged process has offered nothing whatsoever is the poor victim, who has received no justice, no closure, and no apology whatsoever from anyone involved. On what basis do we in the Church suggest that this kind of outcome is anything other than a disgrace?

Talk to victims and they speak of an Alice in Wonderland world where injustice is justice, and due process means just what the church says it means: episcopal clothing is metaphorically rent, yet no apology escapes their lips. No wonder that victims increasingly advise each other not to disappear down this particular rabbit hole.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Yorkshire Post) The Archbishop of York: I voted Remain, but now I’ll be backing the Brexit deal and here’s why

The “Brexit deal”, negotiated by Her Majesty’s Government and agreed by the Cabinet, is a government deal and not Theresa May’s deal. She may have secured it, but it is now a deal the Government is putting before Parliament and the people of our four nations. Having read the document and gone through it with a fine-tooth comb, I have come to the conclusion after much thought and prayer, I will walk in the content lobby in the House of Lords. One of the enduring British characteristics, nurtured and honed by the Christian ethic in its application to human responsibility, accountability and the ever changing challenges, is that of tenacity. Like a Yorkshire terrier never letting go and doing so only in order to get a firmer grip, we should stick to the rule book when we disagree with others’ decisions and interpretations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Must-not-Miss TV Recommendation–A PBS Nova program on Addiction

Hear firsthand from individuals struggling with addiction and follow the cutting-edge work of doctors and scientists as they investigate why addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition. Easy access to drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and even prescription medications like OxyContin has fueled an epidemic of addiction—the deadliest in U.S. history.

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Arda) David Briggs–Faithful man walking: Science finds multiple benefits of religion for justice system

Several studies of religion and mental health have shown religious beliefs and practices and positive relationships with a divine being can be powerful resources helping people cope with major challenges such as illness and unemployment.

More recent research also suggests faith may help individuals deal with intense, lasting anger.

Scholars in the developing field of religion and criminal justice are finding evidence that suggests practical ways faith may turn lives around even in the depths of prison.

One of those new findings: Organized religion matters.

A study of 571 prisoners in Oregon found those who identified as religious and spiritual were less likely to reoffend in the 13 years after an initial 2004 survey than spiritual but not religious inmates. More frequent service attendance and the greater likelihood of spending time in private thought and prayer partially explained the differences.

The results highlight the importance of ensuring support for persons in prison in the process of making meaning, in addition to supporting the work of prisonchaplains and religious volunteers,” researchers reported in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(TLC Covenant) Eugene Schlesinger–Things Fall Apart: Musings on TEC and Eucharistic Hospitality

There is a movement afoot in the Episcopal Church to remove our restriction that only the baptized receive Communion. In my new location, it seems to be diocesan policy not only to allow the unbaptized to commune, but to invite them explicitly to do so. Every parish my family has visited in the diocese has made it very clear that absolutely everyone is invited to the altar for Communion. I have found this grating, theologically. It disregards the proper sequence of initiation. It undercuts the long-standing historical practice of Christian churches. It renders incoherent any sort of claim to have a baptismal ecclesiology. Most important, it downgrades the central role of commitment to Jesus Christ and a life of discipleship to something optional. I’d heard of such things from afar, and now my eyes have seen them.

Recently, our family ventured a bit further north, into the Diocese of California, to a parish where the logic of Communion without baptism is being carried to its logical conclusion, which is also a reductio ad absurdum. The parish we visited did much well: the hymnody and chant were excellent; the liturgy, while using expansive language, remained fairly grounded in traditional forms. Then we reached the fraction anthem.

After a verse about Christ giving himself to his beloved in the bread, we turned a corner in which claims about breaking this bread with Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims were articulated. While I am confident that the intention behind these words was to be open and inclusive, to express solidarity among people of faith, its effect was to undo any sort of claims about Christ’s uniqueness or the necessity for salvation, as well as to colonize these other religious traditions, rather than respecting them in their diversity.[1]

The canons of the Episcopal Church are clear: no unbaptized person is eligible to receive Holy Communion at our altars (I.17.7). This creates a rather interesting contrast in the current church.

Having updated our canons (but not our doctrine, as set forth in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer) to make marriage gender-neutral, there is a movement afoot to bring Communion Partner bishops into line, so that the trial rites for marriage are celebrated in all jurisdictions. At General Convention, Resolution 2018-B012 provided a means for doing this while also respecting the consciences, teaching office, and liturgical presidency of bishops within their dioceses. William Love, the Bishop of Albany, has caused a furorwith his refusal to comply with the provisions of B012, prompting suggestions that Title IV charges be brought against him.[2] Leaving to the side the question of the precise canonical force of a resolution passed by General Convention, and, hence, the applicability of disciplinary charges, we must acknowledge that this outcry is in some tension with other realities in our church….

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons

(NR) Patrick Brown–Falling Life Expectancy and a Politics of Meaning

Does more robust funding of, say, worker-training programs seem to be the ticket to address the kind of existential angst evidenced by the slide into opioid abuse? Should we expect the induced labor-supply growth from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to counteract the emptiness met by a bottle or pill jar? Is moralizing about civic society sufficient to rebuild a frayed social fabric that leaves too many isolated and alone?

Alone, none of these is sufficient, but the conversation Cass and others have started seems like a step toward responding to the challenge. Broadening our lens beyond economic growth to encourage caring for family, volunteering, or other non-remunerative but socially beneficial activities creates space for small spheres of being needed that can serve as the antidote to anomic suicide.

The worst-case scenario looks something like the human devastation wrought in mid-1990s Russia, and we’re not there yet. But this crisis will continue to, as the cliché goes, get worse until it gets better. Yes, we need to stanch the immediate bleeding, but we need to focus on saving the patient over the long term.

COMMENTS
Doing so requires more creativity and less economic determinism, more willingness to question orthodoxies and less attention paid to the Twitter contretemps of the day, in favor of a politics that places creating space for small spheres of meaning at the forefront of any social agenda.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Atlantic) American Exorcism–Priests are fielding more requests than ever for help with demonic possession

…far from being confined to a past of Demiurges and evil eyes, belief in demonic possession is widespread in the United States today. Polls conducted in recent decades by Gallup and the data firm YouGov suggest that roughly half of Americans believe demonic possession is real. The percentage who believe in the devil is even higher, and in fact has been growing: Gallup polls show that the number rose from 55 percent in 1990 to 70 percent in 2007.

Perhaps as a result, demand for exorcisms—the Catholic Church’s antidote to demonic possession—seems to be growing as well. Though the Church does not keep official statistics, the exorcists I interviewed for this article attest to fielding more pleas for help every year.

Father Vincent Lampert, the official exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, told me in early October that he’d received 1,700 phone or email requests for exorcisms in 2018, by far the most he’s ever gotten in one year. Father Gary Thomas—a priest whose training as an exorcist in Rome was documented in The Rite, a book published in 2009 and made into a movie in 2011—said that he gets at least a dozen requests a week. Several other priests reported that without support from church staff and volunteers, their exorcism ministries would quickly swallow up their entire weekly schedules.

The Church has been training new exorcists in Chicago, Rome, and Manila. Thomas told me that in 2011 the U.S. had fewer than 15 known Catholic exorcists. Today, he said, there are well over 100. Other exorcists I spoke with put the number between 70 and 100. (Again, no official statistics exist, and most dioceses conceal the identity of their appointed exorcist, to avoid unwanted attention.)

In October of last year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had Exorcisms and Related Supplications—a handbook containing the rite of exorcism—translated into English.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy

Latest Developments in the TEC Diocese of Albany (III)–TLC finds a priest in the diocese told the publication he “intends not to abide by” Bishop Love’s directive

One priest in the diocese told TLC he “intends not to abide by” Love’s directive and will celebrate a same-sex marriage if the opportunity arises.

The Rev. Glen Michaels is an assistant attorney general for New York State. He serves as priest in charge of All Souls Memorial Chapel in St. Hubert’s in the Adirondacks, about 100 miles north of Albany. All Souls is open only in the summer, and Michaels said it frequently serves as a wedding venue.

Michaels said that as he reads the canons, Love’s prohibition of same-sex marriage is “not enforceable” because of the action of the General Convention.

“For better or worse I see myself as a good person to challenge this,” he said, because his livelihood does not depend on his work as a priest.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Latest Developments in the TEC Diocese of Albany (I)–A. S Haley offers an Analysis: Bishop Love’s Last Stand

In his letter, Bishop Love details seven grounds for his opposition to the directive in that 8th Resolve. For purposes of this post, I summarize them in point-form here, but be sure to read the whole thing:

  • First: B012 contradicts God’s intent for the sacrament of marriage as revealed through Holy Scripture;
  • Second: B012 is contrary to the 2000-year-old understanding of Christian marriage as still reflected in the rubrics of the BCP, and in the Canons of the Diocese of Albany;
  • Third: B012 “is doing a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman”;
  • Fourth: B012 encourages Episcopalians to engage in sexual behavior which is expressly forbidden in both the Old and New Testaments;
  • Fifth: By its false teaching and encouragement to sinful behavior, B012 is leading same-sex couples, as well as ECUSA itself, to come under God’s judgment (resulting in the precipitous decline in membership throughout the Church);
  • Sixth: B012 attempts to force Bishop Love to violate his ordination vows, as stated above, and would lead to schism and departures in his Diocese; and
  • Seventh: Succumbing to B012’s directive would render it impossible for Bishop Love to represent his diocese before the wider Anglican Communion and the whole world.

There is much more in the letter, including assurances to same-sex couples that scripture does not forbid close friendships or living together, only sexual intimacy (citing this article; see also the other resources linked on this page). As a consequence of the seven factors he identifies, Bishop Love closes his letter with this Pastoral Directive:

Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.

Thus the lines are drawn, and the conflict caused by the actions of General Convention now invades the hitherto peaceful diocese of Albany. For instance, could Presiding Bishop Michael Curry now try to exercise his supposed authority to issue a “Pastoral Directive” to Bishop Love, requiring that he make the trial rites available to any in his diocese that request them? (Note that Resolution B012’s mandate does not take effect Churchwide until December 1.)
As I pointed out in this earlier post, it is extremely doubtful that the enactment of the provision in Title IV that purports to confer upon the Presiding Bishop metropolitan authority over his episcopal colleagues can be squared with the grant of all ecclesiastical authority, by Article II.3 of ECUSA’s Constitution, to a bishop within his own diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Anglican Taonga) The New Zealand Anglican General Synod Standing Committee responds to Archbishop Davies proposal

…the GSSC says that Anglicans in this church have wrestled with the question of the blessing of same-gender relations for more than 40 years.

“In May this year our General Synod chose a way forward which has held a wide range of views together.

“In adopting that way forward, enormous care has been taken to honour and protect the integrity of people who hold irreconcilable views – while at the same time staying faithful to the foundational formularies of our Church, and not making any doctrinal change.”

The GSSC letter goes on to say that the General Synod resolution on the blessing of same-sex civil marriages “cannot be divorced” from the history between Maori and Pakeha Anglicans.

“It was,” the letter says, “a cross-tikanga resolution, decades in the making.

“Indeed, had it not been for the extraordinary generosity and patience extended by Tikanga Maori (and Tikanga Polynesia) on this very matter, this province would be in a far less healthy state than it is today.”

The letter goes on to say that that being bound together in constitutional and Treaty-based relationships is essential to being Anglican in Aotearoa in New Zealand.

“If those disaffiliating want to be committed to that fundamental consequence of being Anglican in Aotearoa New Zealand, then they must stay in these constitutional and Treaty-based relationships.

“We cannot recognise a Church as Anglican which does not encapsulate this 200 years of relationship and history.”

Read it alland follow the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(WSJ) Mene Ukueberuwa–The Vatican prevents American prelates from addressing clergy sexual abuse

Ahead of the conference, the bishops coalesced around two proposals to impose accountability. The first is a simple code of conduct extending to bishops the zero-tolerance policy for sex abuse enacted for priests in 2002. The second is an independent review board to investigate claims against bishops and refer credible cases directly to the Vatican. “Each bishop would have to agree to allow himself to be investigated by the committee,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told me last week. He described the bishops’ shedding of immunity as “a covenantal sort of relationship” that would allow them to police each other better.

Yet the Vatican’s surprise announcement means the new covenant will have to wait. The Holy See barred the conference from voting on new sex-abuse protocols until after a summit in Rome this February. Naturally, the bishops were shocked when they received the news Monday morning. Instead of returning to their dioceses with a concrete agreement, they’ll bring nothing but assurances of future reforms. More than 15 years after the sex-abuse crisis first surfaced in the U.S., such promises do little to quell public anger or ease prosecutorial pressure.

The delay shows that the Vatican simply doesn’t place the same value on speed and openness with the public that the U.S. episcopate does. American bishops are closer to the schools and parishes where abuse actually takes place. When one leader fails to respond appropriately to abuse, they all take on the stench of corruption. And unlike the pope, local bishops generally are seen as dispensable by their followers—shepherds to be discarded if they fail to protect the flock.

Despite the imprudent delay, U.S. bishops can continue cleaning their own pastures ahead of the Rome summit.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Violence