Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Radical dishonesty

After a spectacular display - of I suppose we could call it radical dishonesty - on the BBC's Big Questions  T.V. programme [here] by mesdames Rees and Hudson-Wilkin (we've also become very used to the obligatory incredulous presenter also less than subtly taking the 'reformist' position) comes this article from Australia with another take on the term 'radical' 
The Revd Dr Bruce Kaye, in an article for ABC entitled 'The triumph of the radicals: Women bishops and the Church of England,' attempts to portray traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and Conservative Evangelicals as somehow the 'radical fringe'  in the struggle now taking place for the 'soul' of the Anglican Communion.
Of course the real target of the article isn't the so-called radicals in the Church of England but the conservative evangelicals of the Diocese of Sydney - a considerable road block standing in the way of revisionist hegemony in the Anglican Church of Australia.

Yet those with any grasp of history and theology, not only of Anglicanism but of the whole Church, will see the sleight of hand being attempted here. It's never a good sign in terms of the intellectual coherence of any argument when its promoters, the modern snake oil salesmen,  have to reverse the meaning of language and, in the process, attempt to alter the past, in order to make what they say persuasive.

The references to Anglo-Catholicism in the article are an illustration of the technique now being employed. We are described as opposing women bishops "on the basis of a particular reading of the historic tradition of male priests and bishops and an understanding of the sacraments as connected to that tradition." What is not said is that that "particular reading of the historic tradition..." is, in fact, far from 'a particular reading' but the historic tradition itself, universally maintained by Roman Catholics and the Orthodox and consistently held by Anglicans themselves until the latter part of the twentieth century.

'The particular reading of the historic tradition' is that of  those who are now in the process of reinterpreting the ancient tradition of the apostolic ministry in order to accommodate a new understanding of the enhanced position of women in society. Ironically, in the attempt to attain their goal through what has become a highly politicised and divisive process, they are in real danger of reinterpreting the nature of that ministry purely in secular terms of power and status, those very elements which, whatever the abuses of past and present, have no justifiable place in any authentic following of Christ. 

On the other hand, if we have indeed become the new counter-cultural 'radicals,' perhaps we should embrace the concept of counter-culturalism wholeheartedly, including our smallness and lack of institutional influence and truly begin to return to the sources in the way we teach, preach and live the Catholic faith - we need, of course, the space and the necessary provision within which to do this ; but it would be in a way, after all, only a return to the modern beginnings of Anglo-Catholicism in the parishes of the nineteenth century. 

As for the 'new orthodoxy,'  that of the real radical revisionists of the Anglican world, let the novelist and essayist George Orwell have the last word:
"...By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness......."  [George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four.]       


  1. It used to be 'lies, damned lies, & statistics' ... now it's 'spin, more spin, & radical reinterpretation of the truth.'

  2. Apart from his biased conduct the presenter showed his ignorance in welcoming 'Rev Rose' after her late arrival, an incorrect form of address that has become commonplace in journalism. Rather than explore the facts a culture has developed which simply pushes the popular view to reinforce the bias of their readership. In that respect the performance of the Rev George Pitcher playing to the gallery was an utter disgrace coming from a priest turned journalist and former public affairs advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I fear the Church of England may be in her death throes.


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