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Why does religion lag behind culture?

It’s probably not surprising in my current situation that I’ve been thinking a lot about why religion in general, and the CofE in particular, seems to be so slow to react to shifts in wider culture. Of course, there’s the obvious problem of how to reconcile modern ethics and ancient religious tradition, but there are plenty of individual liberals and progressives in even the most conservative groups, and possibly even a majority overall. So why do religions tend to rigidly enforce one interpretation and insist that everyone should fall in line?

The church is generally happier with this sort of change

A few months ago, the Church of England once again started the process of examining issues around human sexuality in time-honoured fashion, forming a committee to help in producing a new consultation document, which will then in all likelihood lead to further discussion, examination of the issues, horse trading and compromise deals, at the end of which it’s possible that the church might – eventually – change its policy. A bit. Read More…

Becoming the greatest – Matthew 20:25-27

Take your pick

The church is a strange institution. It seems to be caught between viewing its clergy as having a special calling, and just people pursuing a career much the same as anyone else. There’s a structure with a hierarchy, and a sort of natural path of progression (dare I say career path), but it’s not the done thing to aspire to promotion, let alone campaign for it. This is never clearer than when there’s a vacancy in Canterbury – virtually every Diocesan in the country will be hoping he (of course, they’re all men) gets the job, often working hard to subtly improve his chances, but will be trying equally hard to avoid admitting that fact. Read More…

Rage Against The CofE

I’m fuming. Absolutely fuming.

I grew up in the Church of England and I remain a member of the church – well, as much as I’m a member of any church. I know there are plenty of strange and extreme views in the CofE, as a natural consequence of being a very broad church, but despite some high-profile missteps, I always believed that it was a basically sane, reasonable institution. After today’s press release opposing every aspect of the proposals for same-sex marriage, it looks like I’m going to have to revise that view. Read More…

Liar, liar, mitre on fire!

No sooner had I posted my latest satirical comment on gay marriage than John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, issued another statement on why he opposed same-sex marriage. That statement was full of specious reasoning and special pleading, but I’ve done enough on that subject for the time being. However, he also called attention to a previous interview with the Daily Telegraph, in which he made the following claim (text from transcript on his website):

We supported Civil Partnerships (the bishops in the House of Lords), because we believe that friendships are good for everybody.

Archbishop of York

Archbishop John Sentamu (Photo credit: York Minster)

It’s insulting and grossly misleading to describe a Civil Partnership as “friendship”, but it’s a powerful response to criticism that he (and the church in general) is simply prejudiced and unwilling to give any ground at all. It gives weight to his argument that this isn’t about rights, but about a particular feature of marriage that he doesn’t think should be changed. You may disagree with him, but his position’s clearly more nuanced than simple knee-jerk opposition. Or at least it would be if it were true. Read More…

So Long, and Thanks For All The Bish

(Sorry about that!)

Rowan Williams has announced that he is to step down from his position as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of the year. So it seems an appropriate time to consider his legacy as an Archbishop. I’ve found his quiet, thoughtful approach a breath of fresh air, especially when compared to his predecessor, but his academic leanings, while contributing to that thoughtfulness, have also been a hindrance in other aspects of the job. Read More…

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