Friday, 30 November 2012

Exultet caelum laudibus

for the Feast of St Andrew, apostle

More comment on WBs etc

More reaction reported in The Guardian yesterday  [here] to the Archbishops' Council statement earlier in the week, with some lobbyists arguing predictably for 'simpler' legislation (in other words: a measure with no provision.) 
Affirming Catholicism has also weighed in with their recommendations [here] - no surprises there, even down to their suggestion of 'proper training in gender awareness' - that is, indoctrination classes at all levels to root out 'thought crime'  in the Church of England.
But it is an indication of the anti-ecumenical, insular fantasy world occupied by many Anglican revisionists these days when AffCath can make this statement in all seriousness: "Affirming Catholicism will continue to bring to those discussions not only strong support for the consecration of women to the episcopate, but also a deep concern to maintain the Catholic ecclesiology of the Church of England. "
One might think, after the innovations they have consistently supported, it's a little late for that...


In the light of the BBC's recent coverage of religious matters, it's almost unbelievable how much the culture has changed in Britain in just thirty to forty years.
Does anyone (now middle-aged and older, I'm afraid) remember BBC Radio 4 broadcasting each week, late on a Sunday night, a service of Compline, sung, if my memory serves me right, by the Eric Barnes Singers? This was well into the 1970s and '80s; it's all pre-internet, so it's not possible to 'google' this or find recordings.
Earlier, as a young teenager, I seem to remember a radio programme broadcast on significant feast days called 'In Praise of God,'  a half hour long  meditation in words and music on the theme of the season. Today, both these broadcasts would be quite inconceivable. 
It's interesting,isn't it, living (in David Jones' phrase) "at the turn of a civilisation".  

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Toxic? Yes - to Christian unity

Traditionalist Christians have no reason to love the broadcasting media or the press (although there are notable journalistic exceptions.) Having said that, one wonders on the day of the publication of the Leveson Report whether even the undoubted and 'outrageous' injustices sometimes meted out to the 'little people' who find themselves in the headlines can justify press regulation by statutory quango. Sir Brian Leveson has been quick to distance himself from any claims that he is  recommending political or parliamentary oversight of the British press; one wonders whether any body, even a supposedly 'independent' committee, composed of the 'great and the good' (in this society or any other throughout history) and imposed by parliament to enforce penalties on a free press can be trusted with such an onerous and risky responsibility.
We seem as a culture, as previous concepts of what constitutes responsible behaviour disappear along with the faith that underpinned them, to have developed a fetish for an increasing central control over all aspects of life. Society can only become less open and less free as a result.  

In the midst of all the unrighteous indignation both reported in and manufactured by the news media over the fact that the Church of England last week failed to live up to its appointed role as chaplain to the culture, nothing has been said about the effect that the liberal theological agenda (now almost daily taking on a more and more 'credal' role in western Anglicanism) has had on a previous generation's bright hopes for Christian unity, and the fact that our Anglican apostasy (I'm sorry, there isn't another word for what is going on) is directly responsible for setting the cause of unity back by, according to the late Professor Henry Chadwick, hundreds of years  - if it hasn't destroyed it altogether.
Amid all the torrent of abuse being heaped upon traditionalists in the Church of England [see Ancient Briton's recent take on that here] what is being completely and deliberately ignored by most archbishops, bishops and theologians in the Anglican world is that, as a result of women's ordination and the related departures from Christian orthodoxy which have (or will soon) come about in ethics and moral theology, all prospects of meaningful dialogue with Rome and Orthodoxy - that is, discussions which could lead to full communion - have now completely disappeared. 
Unlike our own leaders, some outside observers of the current direction of Anglicanism [here and here and, more significantly, here] are at least prepared to be honest about the price that has been paid as a result of our following of the world's agenda. To go back to a previous post, it's a Faustian compact indeed.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them that they may be one even as we are one.” (St John 17:11-22)

Some interesting recent posts

Not, Deo gratias, about the ordination of women to the Anglican episcopate!

Fr Anthony Chadwick has been running a series of thoughtful posts on the subject of romantic utopianism and the contemporary fascination in some quarters for all things retro - not primarily regarding the life of the Church, but clearly applicable to it. I suppose post-modern man ceases to be authentic when he starts to be over-concerned about authenticity... worrying [see here]

"...It seems safe to say that most of us are probably ill at ease with the kind of ultra-modernism that makes us think of dystopian literature and cinema like Orwell’s 1984. Like the generations before us, we begin to fear the future as something we cannot control. We begin to wish the future would be like an idealised vision of the past. It has happened before with the Renaissance and medievalism in the nineteenth century. I can’t remember the quote, but it said something like – first time, great, but second time it is a farce. A Victorian revival in the twenty-first century, when the Victorian era was a romantic revival of the middle-ages combined with modernity? A revival of a revival? In art and music, we are afraid of pastiche, and young composers are only beginning to return to traditional harmony and counterpoint and still come up with something original.
It seems a game not to play in religion, though many of the tendencies will remain with us even if we do not exteriorise them. What should we revive next? Should we continue with ultra-modernism if you want to call it that? Already half a century ago, you had composers making random noises and calling them “music” and so-called artists throwing paint onto a canvas and calling it a masterpiece. The deception can only go on for so long. What we are looking for are not the particular expressions of particular eras but eternal values. I don’t give a damn about a computer keyboard make to look like a Victorian object or a CD player in what looks like a 1930′s wireless set.
What I do care about is grammar and proper use of words in a language, harmony and counterpoint in music, form and colour in painting and sculpture, doctrine and liturgical form in religion. There are eternal laws better observed in some historical periods rather than others. Bringing back these eternal laws and constants would be the greatest contribution to post-modernism...."


Of concern to everyone who sees the necessity for 're-enchantment,' Fr Ray Blake [here]  worries about the loss of the sense of the supernatural and the numinous in the Catholic Church - a problem for Anglicans and a source of division and conflict from the very beginnings of our separated existence:
"...To be honest it is what I love about the Mass of Ages, it emphasises the supernatural. To counteract the various Protestant heresies the Counter Reformation emphasised its more Catholic elements: that human beings could approach God in prayer, that God did come and change our lives in the regular use of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. Devotions like the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts took the place of Christ the Terrible Judge, which dominated pre-Reformation Catholic church decor, I find it fascinating that that disappeared almost over night despite being the major western iconography for almost 500 hundred years...."
 "...If one reads publications such as The Tablet or listens to their Rome Correspondent or reads the demands of various "Priests Initiatives" from Austria, Ireland or even this country, Catholics like me are left wondering whether there is any sense of the supernatural behind their thought. Do these people really believe that God has been made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and that Christ rose on the third day in the flesh and that we too will rise again and be judged by God and go to Heaven or Hell? Do they really believe God rests in the hands of a priest under the form of bread at Mass? Are they left in open mouthed wonder at the sight of the Lord in a monstrance?..."

The British media needs no encouragement to portray churchmen as goofily irrelevant figures of fun. And George Conger [here] advises the soon-to-be new Archbishop of Canterbury to be very wary indeed of 'hats' - and all that comes with them - for good reason:
"...Justin Welby’s first press conference following the announcement of his appointment leaves me hopeful we won’t see the mistakes of the past continued.  I do hope he is able to bring in his own staff and clean the Lambeth stables.
But there are signs that he may not be ready for prime time.  This photo leaves me worried.  True, it is not on the order of Rowan Williams’ druidical * wimple, but I would ask what he was thinking..."
* Actually 'bardic,' (It's Welsh & he's a poet - most of the past wearers of the costume would have been protestant 'nonconformists', hence the rather careless symbolism)  but who cares? A wimple's a wimple. [Ed]

Women bishops vote - at least a constructive proposal

Today's letter to The Times [here if you wish to pay to read it] is interesting and may offer a way forward. It remains to be be seen whether the synodical lobbyists in favour of the innovation (WATCH and the 'senior women' quoted in the letter et al) are now prepared to accept a reasonable measure of compromise which gives a degree of adequate provision for the not insubstantial minority who are opposed,  or whether they wish to be portrayed (so far correctly) as wanting all or nothing and, in effect,  as desiring a theological 'cleansing' of traditionalists from the Church of England. Holding on to a self-perceived victim status is easy..... and something we must all work to avoid, particularly those who wish to be considered for high office in the Church...

Report form Anglican Mainstream [here]:

Letter to the Times from laity who unreservedly support the consecration of women yet voted against the Women Bishops' Measure

Eight lay members of the General Synod have written to the Times because “the uncomprehending fury and frustration that greeted the failure of the Measure and the one-sided reporting on the issue make it helpful for those of us who voted out of a sense of over-riding concern for the Church of England’s minorities, and for the promises made to those minorities, to explain why we acted as we did.”
They dispute the suggestion that doubters about the Measure in the Laity are unrepresentative of the people in the pews, and had been elected through sleight of hand or dubious electoral manipulation, is equally false. They note that they had stated clearly in their election addresses in 2010 that they would vote against the Measure if it did not provide oversight in the way that the minorities needed, or honour promises made to them only 20 years ago.
They say they were prepared to vote for the July 2010 version of the Measure with a clause referring to “theological convictions” of those requiring alternative oversight, had the Bishops not lost their nerve and decided under pressure from “senior women” to reconsider their proposed “helpful” clause.
“Our vote against stemmed from the Measure’s failure to honour the inclusiveness which we believe fundamental to the future of Anglicanism. The Church of England needs all the voices it currently has, and to hear them all. Unity has never been unanimity.”
They suggest that a new briefer Measure could incorporate the 1993 Act of Synod governing alternative oversight with the experience it has provided of living together with fellow Anglicans who cannot accept women priests and bishops. It should provide for alternative oversight on a churchwide basis to those unable to recognise their woman diocesan bishop and also to those parishes that accept or have women clergy which are unsuitably served by a traditional orthodox male diocesan bishop in a predominantly conservative diocese. It will minimally amend but not repeal the 1993 Measure which has served us all well. The Church must be concerned for, and provide for, all its members.
Tom Sutcliffe, Mary Judkins, Phillip Rice, John Davies, Anne Bloor, Priscilla Hungerford, Keith Malcouronne, Christopher Corbet London SW16

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

New statement from The Catholic Group and Reform

Joint Press Statement From The Chairmen Of The Catholic Group And Reform In General Synod. November 28th, 2012

Women Bishops - The Way Ahead

The Chairmen of the Catholic Group in General Synod and the conservative Evangelical group Reform, who called for talks to break the deadlock over legislation to enable the consecration of women as bishops, have received acknowledgement of their request from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Canon Simon Killwick (Catholic Group) and Prebendary Rod Thomas (Reform) have today further pledged themselves to do everything they can to ensure the speedy and safe passage of fresh legislation through the General Synod.

They said, "If agreement can be reached at round-table talks on fresh legislation which provides clearly and fairly for all members of the Church of England, there is no reason why fresh legislation should not be fast-tracked through the Synod before the next elections in 2015."

The Synod's Standing Orders only prevent the reconsideration of the same legislation during this period.

"It has never been our intention to prevent the consecration of women as bishops; our concern has always been for legislation which also made clear and fair provision for the substantial minority," the Chairmen concluded.

The legislation which failed last week in the Synod would have had devastating consequences for the diversity and mission of the Church of England, had it been passed.  We want the Church of England to continue to be a broad and comprehensive national Church.

Canon Simon Killwick

Prebendary Rod Thomas

(Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod) (Chairman of Reform)

28th November 2012 

Today's Statement from the Archbishops' Council

Thanks to Forward in Faith 

More on Women Bishops
Nov 28, 2012

Statement on the Conclusion of the Meeting of the Archbishops’ Council [here]

The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England met on November 27-28th to consider a wide ranging agenda. A substantial amount of time was given over to the discussion of the recent vote by General Synod on Women in the Episcopate. 

As part of their reflections, many council members commented on the deep degree of sadness and shock that they had felt as a result of the vote and also of the need to affirm all women serving the church – both lay and ordained – in their ministries.

In its discussions the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013. There was agreement that the Church of England had to resolve this matter through its own processes as a matter of urgency. The Council therefore recommended that the House of Bishops, during its meeting in a fortnight’s time, put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July.

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.]       

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


from the Gloucester Service by Herbert Howells 

The times they are a changin'

And so are Parliamentary opinions (and the views and concerns of sometimes the same parliamentarians)  along with them; another reason for the Church to be very wary of too closely embracing a transient culture. Many of us fear that in terms of the future, the reaction to the Synod vote of the Church of England's leaders, past, present and to come, has written the zeitgeist a blank cheque...
Thanks to Anglican Mainstream for posting this link
Given the involvement of a certain Mr Frank Field M. P. both then and now, we can legitimately ask how exactly has the situation changed so that the traditionalist minority actually needs less protection now than in 1993?
1993 "...In his powerful speech Frank Field pointed out that most of the Committee’s time had been spent ‘considering how the Measure will affect some of Her Majesty’s subjects, especially those who disagree with the Measure … They are not people with different views who joined the Church; they are people who, at one time, found themselves in the majority and now find themselves in the minority. The Ecclesiastical Committee therefore, quite rightly, spent most of its time considering how that group should be protected’. Speaking of the Act of Synod he went on, ‘That Act of Synod was not offered; the information that Synod could pass such a Measure had to be extracted from Synod witnesses and it was almost like getting blood out of a stone … I hope the House will consider carefully what further Measures may be necessary at some later date to protect the right of the minority who disagree with the Measure’...."
2012  "In response to the vote Frank Field MP, a former member of the Synod, today tabled a Presentation Bill in Parliament which seeks to remove from the statute book the exemptions from the Equality legislation that the Church of England enjoys. If passed, the Bill would make it illegal for the Church of England to discriminate against women when appointing bishops, as they currently do. Frank Field said: “This is a terribly disappointing result, which goes against the firm wishes of the vast majority of Church of England members. Parliament has a role in agreeing to or rejecting the Synod’s decisions, and I believe that MPs should now use this role, in a helpful way, to ensure those firm wishes are complied with.”  The Bill is supported by Diana Johnson, Natascha Engel, Elfyn Llwyd, Andrew George, Nicholas Soames, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Eleanor Laing and Helen Goodman. The second reading of the Bill will take place on January 18th 2013. 

Different views on the will of the majority

"...Being principled shouldn't consist in imposing your will on everyone else, but in having the humility to accept what the majority believes to be right - even if they're not. You can campaign to get them to change their minds, but you can't bind them forever with your own purity of conscience..."

Opines Linda Woodhead [here] in a provocative but somewhat philosophically and semantically confused article at Modern Church (formerly The Modern Churchpeople's Union) There is a perceptive critique of her arguments [here] at Catholicity and Covenant.

One would like to think that the above maxim is one which can only be held, if at all,  with certain, and very clear, reservations. It seems not to recognise the very real possibility of a tyranny of the majority, not just in the more clear-cut historical situation of a totalitarian state but even within the context of a modern, western 'liberal' democracy. The ultimate benchmark for our thought and our behaviour, as the prophets and saints bear witness,  has to lie outside any considerations of the majority will.

We can - by no means whatsoever - equate the situation of Christians in our present secular society with, to take these two extreme and historically separated examples,  that of the remnant of faithful Jews under the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. , or that of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany in the 1930s , even in the early days of that regime, yet the comparisons no longer seem quite as fantastic as they once would have done, particularly given the developing political discourse on both sides of the Atlantic which begins now to speak (in promotion of an activist ideology of equality) not of 'freedom of religion,' but 'freedom of worship,' and in a culture which increasingly goes out of its way not only to denigrate and ridicule traditional expressions of faith and morality but which actively attempts to exclude them, not just from the public square but from the education system and the determination of the ethics of the public health service.

Majority opinion doesn't always come about, as we like to imagine, by a free exchange of views amongst the members of an informed, active and interested citizenry (for one thing there is never equal access to the means of communication) but is formed and moulded by society's largely self-perpetuating elites. In the West we have not so much a democracy but a 'liberal' secular oligarchy which controls not the philosophical and 'political' (in a broad sense) content of much of what is broadcast to the population but its 'mood music' and its tone and general direction.  Of course, the 'democratic' outcome is  unavoidably but largely determined by the editing of information; in the current ecclesiastical debates, lay opinion cannot help but be largely influenced and directed by the comment and information which comes filtered from almost entirely secularised media sources.  This situation is a self-perpetuating one, as we know well, as the secular Weltanschauung becomes deeply embedded in the life of the Christian community itself.
No doubt, if either the Maccabees or the members of the Confessing Church had regarded majority opinion (even that held in the religious circles of the time,) 'contestation, debate and democracy' or 'the settled and conscientious views of state and society,' as 'a good recipe for testing views and arriving at the truth,' and had accepted that view, even when believing it to be wrong, history would look very different. Time after time throughout Judeao-Christian history, truth is seen to be revealed not from controversy and debate, nor from the weight of settled opinion, but only from the gentle and persuasive witness of the blood of the martyrs.

This alternative view is given below...

"...The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on out traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil. The "reasonable" people's failure is obvious. With the best intentions and a naive lack of realism, they think that with a little reason they can bend back into position the framework that has got out of joint. In their lack of vision they want to do justice to all sides, and so the conflicting forces wear them down with nothing achieved. Disappointed by the world's unreasonableness, they see themselves condemned to ineffectiveness; they step aside in resignation or collapse before the stronger party..."
"...Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God — the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God. Where are these responsible people?..."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Letters and Papers from Prison.

"German Christians" in the 1930s - the logical conclusion of Erastianism?

Monday, 26 November 2012

Some good sense from Ed West today at The Telegraph [here]
"The Church of England is facing a “major constitutional crisis”, The Times reports today, unless it votes in women bishops by July next year. The memo, written for leading archbishops, says that failure to do so would risk Parliament taking control of the situation.I was at home last week, and had Radio 4 on almost all day every day, an interesting experiment in seeing just how much the BBC drives the news agenda.The Beeb seemed to be obsessed with women bishops, treating the Synod’s decision with thinly veiled hostility, and returning to the subject over and over again, a subject that for most people is probably about as important as the result of this season’s Belgian second division. It was especially odd because most of the people concerned didn’t appear to be Anglicans, and so their objection was purely on the grounds that an organisation in which they had no interest was discriminating on the grounds of sex (but in a bad way).The strangest comment was from a man who pointed out that, as a state institution, the Church of England had a responsibility to represent the views and morals of the British public at large. Just like the BBC does, presumably.But as a taxpayer and citizen the Church of England has a fairly minute impact on my life; it takes minimal amounts of my money and its moral influence is fairly small. No one is going to be shunned from society, hassled by the police or banned from adopting children for breaking any of mainstream Christianity’s moral codes.I’ve argued before that the only way to free the Church of England is to separate it from the state, since a state-run Church will inevitably end up preaching the official morality of the state, of which “thou shalt not discriminate” is one of the most important commandments (a good example of this creed is the ordeal that is Thought for the Day, an almost unrelentingly tedious affair precisely because its remit is to not challenge Left-liberal orthodoxy).The problem is that believers in this orthodoxy are not much more likely to see their worldview as just one of many than once-mighty Christians were in the past. The adoption scandal in Rotherham has roused public anger, but it’s of a mindset that is not uncommon: prospective adopters are routinely assessed for their compliance to political orthodoxy. Also bear in mind that as well as calling Ukip supporters “closet racists” in the past David Cameron also voted to force Catholic adoption agencies to help same-sex couples adopt or severe their links with the Church.Whether you agree with Catholics over same-sex adoptions or traditionalist Anglicans over women bishops should not be the point; the issue is whether breaking the codes of Equality and Diversity should be a matter for the state, because such things are so fundamentally evil, or whether different worldviews can be allowed to coexist. One could argue that those adoption agencies might have been taking public money, but so are countless organisations which teach things many believe to be wrong, and we don’t try to close them down. And the most powerful is the BBC, a national institution that, unlike the poor Church of England, really does affect our everyday lives whether we subscribe to its beliefs or not."

More from Peter Hitchens on the new radical bigots

"...The Church is a very odd institution. Judged by purely worldly standards, it is absurd and pointless, and its rules and concerns necessarily barmy. But it shouldn’t be judged by those standards, or subjected to worldly rules. You might as well try to introduce equality and diversity into the editing of the Oxford Book of English Verse (what have I said?), or issue decrees on where bluebells and forget-me-nots should grow. 
The Sermon on the Mount is a pretty unfashionable doctrine, important because those who try to abide by it think (to the horror  and scorn of  materialists)  it came from the mouth of God himself, and many similar Christian beliefs, from the Virgin Birth upwards, are derided or greeted with sighs and groans by the majority of fashionable society.  I would argue that unless people were prepared to believe these odd things, there’d be no Church and much good would be left undone, which is currently being done.
But for many loyal sons and daughters of the Church these beliefs come in inconvenient, but internally logical packages. And among them are the passionately convinced opponents of women bishops, both Catholics and Bible Protestants. Note that these people no longer seek to prevent female ordination or women bishops. They simply ask for an accommodation, so that believers in absolute Biblical authority, and believers in apostolic tradition, can be given a small space in which to stay in the Church of their birth, baptism, upbringing, the church where they were married and expect to be buried.
But rather than approve that accommodation, the other side irritably deride their scheme as ‘discrimination’ against ‘equality’, which is near enough to a thought crime.
So instead of getting women bishops through compromise, the militants deliberately postponed the vote in July, and agreed instead to spend £210,000 of scarce church money on holding a special meeting in November – at which they expected to win.  
And then they lost, narrowly, but they lost - because their opponents have picked up a  trick or two about organisation and rule books.
They lost entirely according to rules they would have accepted, had they won.  The radicals would have been quite happy if their proposal had triumphed under the same constitution with the same narrow majority.  Those who complain about rules that they would willingly have benefited from, when others benefit from them instead, are surely inviting suspicion about their respect for the rule of law.
The original vote to allow women to be ordained was won by quite a narrow margin, and the Synod system is designed to protect minorities from majority tyranny. 
What’s more, Parliament, 40 long years ago, gave up interfering in Church government. Parliament used to have the right to vote on measures put forward by the Synod’s forerunner, the Church assembly. But this led to a great crisis in 1928, when the Commons refused to approve a new Prayer Book. It was the memory of this crisis, among other things, which led to the creation of a more independent Synod. As one of the participants in The Big Questions’ said,  it’s all a bit like Devolution. Once you hand over such powers, you cannot complain when they are used.
In any case, I look forward to Parliament legislating for total non-discrimination between men and women in the appointment of religious leaders.  The Roman Catholic Church in England might be resistant, and the spectacle of the British state insisting on the appointment of female Imams , and female Rabbis in Orthodox Jewish congregations, fills me with a strange satirical delight.
But that’s only a small part of the point I seek to make.  There have long been branches of the Christian church which accepted female leadership.  If this is a matter of overwhelming importance to you, might you not consider changing churches? If not, then what should you do? Well, you might seek to persuade your own church to change its mind.
But a church is not just a club or society , or a political party, where you can thump and shout your way to success by winning votes, briefing the media and forming factions to drive your opponents out. If you deliberately (or also in my view unintentionally) hurt people by winning, you have broken the fundamental rules of the whole institution.
For the Church is a mighty force for good, consisting of people who believe (or say they believe) above all things In unselfishness, forbearance, forgiveness and kindness.  I might add that it is a place in which the last shall be first and the first shall be last, where high office is deep service (the word ‘minister’ means ‘servant’). ‘Who sweeps a room as for thy laws, makes that and the action fine’, as one of the greatest of all Anglicans, George Herbert, wrote.
The pursuit of high position for its own sake is axiomatically disallowed. Any victory must be mitigated by magnanimity , generosity and consideration.  Those who become Bishops should really be those who least wish to become bishops, and when they do attain the mitre, they should be the servants, not the overlords, of those in their flock. Likewise, the winning faction in a struggle for change must show great consideration to the defeated.
Those who set out to change the church were surely the ones who needed to show such consideration to the other members of that church,. But when you watch the radicals, in the debate on ‘The Big Questions’, do you see any sign of magnanimity, generosity or consideration? Or do you see dogmatic campaigners seeking the unconditional surrender of their cornered and outnumbered opponents? I know what I see,  a contest between the ancient dogmas of unworldly Christianity, and the modern dogma of worldly power.  And while I still couldn’t care less what sex the bishop is, and I am not *for* the opponents of women bishops, I am certainly *against* their militant supporters. They remind me of some other people I don’t like, I can’t just now remember who..."
Read it all [here]

Rumours of gerrymandering?

An article [here] by Lizzie Davies at The Guardian suggests that worries about a new gerrymandered vote by the Church of England's General Synod - with, scandalously and indefensibly,  no provision made for opponents - are far from groundless:
"The Church of England faces a "major constitutional crisis" over female bishops and must embrace an "urgent and radical" new strategy in order to see women in the episcopate by 2015, according to an internal memo written for the archbishops in the wake of last week's vote.The memo by William Fittall, secretary general of the church's governing body, written soon after the General Synod failed to pass long-awaited legislation due to a minority of voters in the house of laity, says the blow dealt to morale in the church – particularly among female clergy – is "severe" and that steps need to be taken in July to pass new legislation."We have to do so because time is not on our side," says the memo, seen by the Times. "Parliament is impatient. Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it's capable of sorting itself out, we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in church-state relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence."The archbishops' council, the church's executive leadership body, is due to discuss the crisis when it meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. But an initial decision on how to solve the increasingly pressing problem is not expected to be taken until the house of bishops meets in December.Fittall's memo, titled Women in the Episcopate – Where Next?, urges church leaders to take into account the tide of anger and incredulity in parliament that met last week's failed vote. He suggests ploughing ahead with simpler legislation that would have no provision for opponents and could, he says, be put to the vote when synod meets in York in July..."
Father Trevor Jones [here] wryly seeks to cast 'doubt' on the rumours:
 " It is for this reason that I do not believe these reports, they must be the subversive work of some form of ecclesiastical black ops intelligence group designed to create rumour, counter rumour and confusion. Why do I not believe them? Archbishop Williams has, time again, indicated his actual and real support for an ongoing place, with dignity, for traditionalists. He would never be so cheap and shallow as to renege on his conviction; might he be afraid of the Prime Minister and the force of the State to interfere with the Church? Not he, this is a man who was arrested for his protest against the states policy on armaments. Further he was a member of the Jubilee Group with strong convictions on the nature of the Church and its relationship with state power structures; he  would, I conjecture, suffer martyrdom before he let the state dictate to the Church on a matter of doctrine. What then of the Archbishop elect, who would , one would think, be included in any high level discussion? The Bishop of Durham was presented to the nation on his appointment as a man for whom Moral Theology mattered. Further, the Bishop has himself made very public statements on the ongoing place of traditionalists in the Church of England. These elements together indicate that he could and would not be involved with any plan that was less than morally absolute and fulfilled the Churches historic commitment and his own stated view on the ongoing place of traditionalists..."
"...I apologise to the leading national newspaper whom I do not believe, I'm sure they thought their sources were good, but Christians do not gerrymander they seek the path of integrity and peace, wait and see, I'm bound to be right, am I not?"

There is a useful analysis [here] by Dr Bob Morris of the constitutional issues involved in any Parliamentary 'interference' in the life of the Church - from Anglican Ink
A women cleric, the Red Lynda Rose, gets the implications [here] in a letter to the Evening Standard

With all the current talk about party political deals, it would be tragic if the Church of England were to seek a Faustian electoral pact of its own

Sunday, 25 November 2012

General Synod vote - C of E lawyers to meet?

Normally reliable sources in the Church of England have indicated that senior legal officers and advisors are to meet in the next week or so to discuss the implications and possible courses of action to be taken in the wake of the General Synod vote. 
What could that mean...?

Wales - female Dean of Llandaff - stealing a march?

The announcement has been made today that the next Dean of Llandaff is to be the Ven. Janet Henderson, currently Archdeacon of Richmond in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds and originally hailing from Neath in South Wales.
Given the clearly stated aims of the Archbishop of Wales, this appointment comes as no surprise.
Unfortunately, that post on the Archdeacon's blog [here] which gave her opinion on the General Synod's vote last week is sadly now unavailable. 
So as a sample of the sophistication of her 'theological' views, and an indication of her likely attitude in any future discussions about women bishops in the Church in Wales, this will have to do - from a post of February this year:
"....It must also be asked whether the often-used defence that objections to women bishops are on 'theological grounds' holds water. There were theological arguments for slavery and apartheid but I think few would argue, today, that they are worthy of serious support, never mind special protection for those who support such arguments. I couldn't help thinking what an odd impasse we have got ourselves into when I recently saw a photo of the Queen (the Governor of the Church of England) with four female Commonwealth Prime Ministers!"
Thanks to Ancient Briton for the news [here]

What, if any, were the concessions to traditionalists? How can progress now be made?

Given the constant barrage of comments - there were several this morning on the BBC's Sunday programme - about the majority in the Church of England having made numerous concessions to satisfy the needs of traditionalists, John Richardson [here] asks what those concessions actually were...
"One of the things I have heard and read frequently in the wake of the failure of the women bishops Measure is that supporters, as one Tweet put it, ‘bent over backwards’ to accommodate Traditionalists.
On this blog, one person wrote “we compromised, we put aside our own desires, our own theological convictions, our very sense of identity in Christ to accommodate those opposed in a spirit of love”.
Now my problem is this. From where I am sitting, it simply didn’t look like that. Sorry, but that is the case. I remember too well the public tears of the Bishop of Dover (who was also ‘ashamed’ then to be part of the Church of England) at the Synod in July 2008.
This was the same occasion on which the Bishop of Durham reportedly called for the debate to be abandoned — a debate during which thirteen proposals, most of them intended to strengthen provision for Traditionalists, were voted down.
Sadly, I remember it all too well, and my feeling that the writing was very clearly on the wall. At that point I was personally convinced that nothing except a bare minimum of provision would be offered. The ‘train crash’ of last Tuesday started, as far as I am concerned, with the ‘derailment’ four years ago.
So here is my question, and I ask respondents PLEASE to keep their replies brief and to the point.
I am looking for specific examples where what Traditionalists requested was either approved or strengthened through the decision-making processes of the General Synod. For example, you could say, “The House of Bishop’s Clause 5(1)c amendment was not completely removed and a form of words to satisfy Traditionalists was attempted.” (Only don’t, because I’ve got that one down.I would genuinely welcome contributions as I feel progress can only be made in an atmosphere of honesty, which includes correcting the historical record..."
On the same radio programme this morning Bishop Pete Broadbent, although not wholly unsympathetic to the traditionalists' predicament, threw out the comment that the Church of England was being asked to accommodate theologies of sacramental certainty and biblical headship which are not recognised by the Church of England - since when and in what way are they not recognised? I think we should be told. It would be worrying indeed (no trace of irony here, of course) to learn that, either explicitly or implicitly, the C of E has repudiated the authority of Holy Scripture and elevated to the level of dogma the necessity of sacramental dubiety.

On a constructive note, there have been several suggestions - one in the combox of this blog - that it is time to revisit the idea of the 'Society' model, rejected by the C of E's Synod along with so many other attempts at a way forward.  Perhaps more on that later - and its possibilities of satisfying those who like to speak of female bishops as second-class,  by extending this provision to all dioceses (and U.K. provinces?) regardless of the sex of the ordinary.  Now from the perspective of a 'catholic' ecclesiology it is clearly flawed (as, frankly,  are all 'solutions' to the theological mess we are in - that's been the case since the 1990s) and clearly insufficient. That's a compromise from traditionalists to begin with; when will those in favour of women bishops begin to reciprocate? 

Following on from the comments of Archbishops and others about the credibility of the Church being undermined by Tuesday's decision, what could give a clearer signal in an increasingly intolerant and monochrome society (see here) than for the Church to be seen to be bending over backwards, even if the majority will is temporarily frustrated, in order to protect the rights of its own minorities? 
'Credibility' is clearly in the eye of the beholder, and I suspect the bien-pensant elite, in Church and State alike, is shamefully unconcerned about what happens to those who don't subscribe to its own historically narrow vision for the future.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Christ the King - ! Viva Christo Rey!

Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King: 
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, 
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; 
who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. AMEN 

One of the better modern hymns, Michael Saward's Christ Triumphant (sung here to John Barnard's tune 'Guiting Power')  - appropriate for the last Sunday of the liturgical year: 

An excellent post on the Mulier Fortis blog [here] about one of the many twentieth century martyrs of the Church, Blessed Miguel Pro, who died for the faith in Mexico on November 23rd 1927 at the hands of a bitterly anti-clerical and secularist government [also see here
As she comments, it's not an episode in recent world history we tend to hear much about. 
I was going to say 'I wonder why,' but the irony is wasted - we know the answer .....

The last words of Bl Miguel Pro in front of  the firing squad
'! Viva Christo Rey!'

Where can we go, sisters & brothers?

Again, in today's Guardian Zoe Williams asks the (alas, unnecessary) question [here]  as to where feminist Anglicans could defect, now that their intransigence has lost them, temporarily, the vote on women bishops. 
She makes all kinds of suggestions from the Quakers to the Lutherans. However, the article ends with this quotation from a feminist Christian:
"If you won't stay and fight, you're not in the wrong church, you're in the wrong bloody religion. Whatever Christianity offers, it is not a place of safety, where you remain unchallenged."
I couldn't agree more - it sums up the thinking of many of us - and that, as they say, is our problem: what to do when our Communion contains so many incompatible theologies, all of which believe (with some historical justification)  they have a perfect right to belong there?

Perhaps there should be an exception : the logical destination for revisionist liberals (of either sex) is pictured below - because, ineluctably, step by step, this is the direction their theology is taking us:

  Richard Dawkins & a Christmas tree 

"...For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. ... the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are a matter of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentimemt and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. ... As to Religion, it is a private luxury which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not intrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance..."
"... it must be borne in mind, that there is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true; for example, not to say more, the precepts of justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence, which, as I have already noted, are among its avowed principles, and the natural laws of society. It is not till we find that this array of principles is intended to supersede, to block out, religion, that we pronounce it to be evil. There never was a device of the Enemy so cleverly framed and with such promise of success...." 
Bl John Henry Newman: Biglietto Speech of 1879 [in full here]

O Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem:

This is appropriate in more ways than one: Herbert Howells' anthem, sung here by the Sheffield Chamber Choir directed by Robert Webb, organist: Jem Stephenson


That prayers for the peace of the Church are needed urgently is nowhere more evident than in this morning's op-ed piece in The Guardian by Canon Giles Fraser [here] If there is a peaceful solution to Anglicanism's current problems this is certainly not the way to bring it about.
What he writes is a sour piece of poisonous invective against conservative evangelicals. It's disturbing for all kinds of reasons, perhaps mostly for the indications it gives about the likely spiritual state of its author. 
Having read his column, frankly it makes me feel in need of a shower. If he can bring himself to believe in such outmoded sacramental remedies, he should most certainly book some time in the confessional. 
Clearly, for uber-liberal, Canon Fraser, evangelicals are just the wrong kind of 'puritan' - those who haven't 'updated' their list of prohibitions in the way he has done so successfully.
He also plays the card of authoritarians the world over, but particularly that form of leftist, neo-Marxist, authoritarian whose world view was formed by someone else's experiences on the barricades of '68: if the rules don't produce the 'right' result, then change them in order to engineer the desired outcome: simple.

The problem with playing to the gallery in the way he does, is that those in the gallery - in this particular case most Guardian readers - don't care whether the church of which he is a member lives or dies - No, I'll correct that: they would much prefer its extinction, but only after the ordination of women bishops, of course - how's that for 'reaching out to reality?.' 

Yet by far the most illuminating passage in his article comes near the beginning, when, after offering us a picture of a Christian Union type he knew at school, says, "Actually I have made this person up..."
Yes, Giles; but that's the whole problem, isn't it?
The reason Anglo-Catholics have got together with the evangelicals you despise so much, is that we think you - and those like you - are in grave danger of making up a gross caricature of another Person, too, and trying to pass it off as the real thing.

Friday, 23 November 2012

For the end of a difficult week

Master Tallis's Testament by Herbert Howells - played here on the organ of  Washington National Cathedral by Robert Costin

Some sense from 'The Tablet'

on the subject preoccupying us all.
I never imagined I would find myself in (almost) full agreement with a Tablet editorial, but I suppose it had to happen some time ...
"The media has depicted the Church of England as being on the verge of collapse because of the rejection of a General Synod Measure permitting the appointment of women as bishops. It was seen as a triumph of obscur­antism over progress, a refusal to recognise the right of women to equal treatment with men. But there is more to it than that.
Strong feelings militate against compromise, but a willingness to compromise could have produced a better outcome. It still could, once tempers cool. No one’s interests are served by the Church of England inflicting damage on itself over this issue. Nor is it simply true to say that the Church has turned its back on women bishops. It has turned its back on one way of achieving them, because the proposed route did not go far enough towards safeguarding the rights of the opposing minority.
The rejected measure has had a long and tortuous history. It began as part of the unfinished business of 1992, when the synod approved the ordination of women as priests. From within a Catholic theology of priesthood, the decision applied logic­ally to women bishops as much as to women priests. It was inevitable that the issue of women bishops would have to be faced, particularly as there are now more women coming forward for ordination than men. Throughout, the key questions have been about how to deal with those priests and parishes who were adamantly opposed to female ordination. Space was made for them – the so-called “flying bishops” solution – though not enough for some.
Both conservative Anglo-Catholics and conservative Evangelicals were opposed to anything that would make them look like second-class Anglicans. They wanted statutory guarantees that they could continue to conduct themselves as if women bishops did not exist. Instead they were offered the protection of a non-legally binding code of practice, of so far unspecified content. But it was not enough, which is why the Measure was defeated in the House of Laity on Tuesday. The reason they were not given the legal protection they wanted was because proponents of women bishops complained that that might undermine their equality of status. Just a little more movement on that point – which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had earlier argued for – might have been sufficient to close the deal.
The advocates of women bishops rejected the archbishop’s compromise. They saw that the battle for female equality had been won in secular society and they believed the Church of England had to bow to the same logic or appear irrelevant. That may be true, but both the Anglo-Catholics and the Evangelicals anchor their doctrine elsewhere than in the shifting sands of public opinion or the secular equality agenda: in Catholic tradition in one case and Scripture in the other. Neither group minds being thought out of touch. But even if they have good arguments, it was a mistake for the more liberal sections of church opinion to forget that the very basis of the Anglican Settlement is a tacit agreement that no one part of it should ever push its case so far as to drive another part out into the cold. If the Measure could be revised in that spirit, a more acceptable and consensual solution might yet be found."    [here]


Some very brief questions : how 'relevant' (to be anachronistic for a moment)  was the early Church in terms of the prevailing philosophies and ethics, the trends and priorities of society in the Roman Empire? 
How much was the Church then concerned about its "credibility in wider society?"

In what is, by common admission, a post-Christian society, one which like the Roman considers itself to be morally superior to the primitive revelations of a intellectually backward offshoot of Judaism, how concerned should we be?
Or do we think a post-Christian society calls for a post-Christian Established Church to preach to it only the message it wants to hear? Perhaps this will do?

Happy St Clement's Day!

The Martyrdom of St Clement by Bernadino Fungai (1460-1516)

" Therefore it is right and proper, brethren, that we should be obedient unto God, rather than follow those who in arrogance and unruliness have set themselves up as leaders in abominable jealousy.
 For we shall bring upon us no common harm, but rather great peril, if we surrender ourselves recklessly to the purposes of men who launch out into strife and seditions, so as to estrange us from that which is right.
Let us be good one towards another according to the compassion and sweetness of Him that made us. For it is written:
The good shall be dwellers in the land, and the innocent shall be left on it but they that transgress shall be destroyed utterly from it.
And again He saith I saw the ungodly lifted up on high and exalted as the cedars of Lebanon. And I passed by, and behold he was not; and sought out his place, and I found it not. Keep innocence and behold uprightness; for there is a remnant for the peaceful man. "

[I Clement 14 - from J.B. Lightfoot's translation]

Attempting to square the circle?

Perhaps now the dust is beginning to settle after Tuesday's vote in the Church of England's General Synod, and thoughts are now turning to some kind of constructive engagement on the part of those who disagree so strongly - not only about women's ordination, but about the entire future direction of Anglicanism. 

There have been those who have covered themselves with, well, not glory, in the way they have reacted to the lost vote. Some have stoked up a much worse crisis than would have been the case if there had been an admission that the measure had been flawed all along and now needed serious revision in order to achieve progress.
It has to be said that the naked displays of anger on the part of those who clearly view this entire process as just another means for the advancement of women in society (for them it's all about visible 'power' in the Church) have been equalled if not surpassed in their destructive force by the motley collection of atheists, agnostics and those of other traditions - and those whose sexual orientation means they have another 'equality' agenda to promote - who have by their lack of judgement and restraint and sheer constitutional impropriety once again brought the contemporary House of Commons into the kind of intellectual disrepute to which we are now becoming very accustomed. As to the sound of senior Welsh ecclesiastics desperately trying to clamber aboard the one-upmanship bandwagon, the least said the better. 
By contrast, the reactions of those who were against the measure before the General Synod have been diplomatically restrained to a high degree, to say the very least. There hasn't been the slightest whiff of triumph or celebration - in contrast to the behaviour of the victors in 1992. To accuse those who voted 'no' of somehow being responsible for bringing this crisis of 'Erastianism' down upon their own heads, as some are doing,  is a little like chastising the Poles for their lack of flexibility in attempting to resist the overwhelming force of the German invader in 1939. [An extreme analogy, no doubt, but the consequences to ecclesial life are just as fatal] This is not a crisis of our own making; we have simply 'dared' to follow where conscience and theology alike have dictated: this not a matter of a choice between two competing 'political' calculations. There is absolutely no point in standing for the rights of the Church against the state, if to do so we are left without priesthood or sacraments - which is , to put it bluntly, what we believe the advent of women bishops will bring about. We stand where we do, because, as someone said, we can do no other.

Clearly there has to be a way forward apart from the disastrous 'winner takes all' policy of the extreme pro-women's ordination lobby. I call them 'extreme,' yet these are the very people who have been heeded by the bishops at the expense of those who only wish to be able to live the Christian faith with a degree of sacramental certainty entirely consonant with Anglicanism's own traditions. 
This now powerful lobby group consists of those who would once have undoubtedly have been classed as extremists (with an a priori secular ideology curiously coupled with an exalted theology of monarchical episcopacy - hence their talk of 'second class women bishops') are clearly in the driving seat and now control the agenda. 
Those opposed in principle to an ecclesiology which accepts and even demands the existence of women bishops have been far more willing to find a way forward, even to the point of accepting in practice a principle with which they deeply disagree. It is the intransigent refusal of the feminist lobby (I don't know what else to call them) to accept even the slightest diminution of the power and authority accorded to a woman bishop, which has led to the present crisis.

Of course, at root the real issue has nothing whatsoever to do with matters of sex, male and female, but about what  normative authority should be accorded to Scripture and the tradition of the ages in the life of the Church - as the late Mgr Graham Leonard, when an Anglican bishop, never tired of stating, this is a division about the very nature of revealed religion itself, ultimately about the nature of the God in whom we believe. 
Ranged against one another here are two completely irreconcilable positions. How do we square the circle? Is it theologically - even humanly - dishonest even to try?
We all know that, without a separate province (the original aim of traditionalists), any deal brokered now will only constitute a very temporary truce in an ongoing ideological war.

A gradual return to sanity by the commentariat

Melanie McDonagh [here] in a particularly telling article in The Spectator - recommended
A change of heart by Frank Field M.P. live on BBC 2's Newsnight  [here from Anglican Mainstream]  - just belatedly catching up with the rest of us and even recognising that the outrageous political bullying of the Church may have gone too far...?
A Daily Telegraph editorial [here]

It's a start ... 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Fr Z on top form

Talking about the wider lessons to be drawn from the Church of England's synodical melt-down and the disastrous quasi-democratic system we have lumbered ourselves with [here]
"...This is the point you need to take away.
Catholic liberals want us to have synodic government.   We are supposed to vote on things, doctrines are just “policies”, polled majority opinion reveals the sensus fidelium.  That’s more “just”!
However, the C of E vote on women bishops shows that the synodic government just produced what liberals think is an “unjust” result.
When the vote goes your liberal way, it is sensus fidelium. When it goes against you, it is dirty politics!
Remember: If there is democracy and voting, then conservatives get to vote too… unless you suppress them with purely political tactics.
The Fishwrap‘s dream of governance by societal trend and voting and majority rule is totally bankrupt.
They might respond that human beings are flawed and some problems will creep in blah blah blah but synodic rule really is better, more just, than hierarchical rule in the long run.
We then have to ask: What possible evidence can you produce for that claim? The way the C of E works? The way the Orthodox do things? The “peaceful” councils of the early Church?
The piece in The Guardian, and the way the Fishwrap and The Tablet want things to be, reminds me of how just and peaceful liberals were in the seminary hell-hole I was in in these United States. If you were faithful to Church doctrine and didn’t dissemble or kept your head low to the ground, they made your life hell or threw you out. If you were against homosexual behavior and against women’s ordination, you were in danger of getting forced to go to a psychologist before getting thrown out or sent off for a “pastoral year”.
Liberals are soooo enlightened."
How many Anglo-Catholic traditionalists (sssh, don't tell anyone) currently in Anglican theological colleges (if their DDOs allow them to get that far)  - with one, or possibly two, institutional exceptions I can think of both in England and the U.S. - would recognise that last scenario, I wonder?
A message to our [Roman] Catholic brothers and sisters? Don't go there - not that there is a cat's chance in hell that you will, & we are (or will be) eternally grateful for that! 

It's only God's will when the votes go our way ...

Fr Tim Finigan [here] exposes the flagrant hypocrisy of those who are protesting so loudly about last Monday's vote in the General Synod:

Anglicans fell just two votes short of getting what they wanted

"No, Father, you got that wrong - it was six votes" I hear you say.

In fact I am referring to the vote of 1992 in favour of women priests. Back then, those who opposed women priests lost by just two votes.

But of course that was a great triumph of democracy and there was no need for the Prime Minister to say in the House of Commons how sad he was, or for a team of lawyers to start investigating ways of getting round the vote.

Peter Mullen's View

Peter Mullen's view of the crisis in the C of E and what has led up to it [here]
National Apostasy 

I know what will happen following the Synod’s voting down of the appointment of women as bishops. Indeed it has begun to happen already. Immediately after the result was declared the Archbishop of Canterbury, expressing his “deep personal sadness,” said “This issue must be resolved in the shortest possible time.” But, Archbishop, that is what the vote was for. If it had gone in favour of the motion, you can be sure there would have been no call for further discussion. We know what will happen because it happened in the Synod all through the 1980s votes which rejected women priests: the innovators adopted the time-honoured technique of Trotskyists, Entryists and EU politicians and kept on calling for further votes until they had achieved the result they desired. And there is nothing democratic about that.

What we are now hearing is the death rattle of the English Church, and it is dying of a malady far more serious than women in the episcopate. Last Monday’s vote was only the culmination of a political process which goes back at least as far as the 1840s when, while still an Anglican, John Henry Newman warned that the choice facing the nation is between Christianity and liberalism. By liberalism, he meant secularisation by government edict. And that precisely has been the historical record ever since Newman’s day.

The control of national life, and the determination of the character of this life, has been increasingly dictated by the secular state in accordance with values which have nothing to do with the Christian faith. Back in the 19th century this was exemplified by the government’s abolition of ten bishoprics in Ireland. In 1928 the state again intervened to block the modest and appropriate revision of the Book of Common Prayer. But these suppressions were nothing compared with the state takeover we have experienced in our times.

This is not some paranoid fantasy on my part, the grumbles and sulks of a disaffected traditionalist. Listen instead to the dire warning issued to the Church of England by Frank Field MP.

Last year Frank Field used a parliamentary device to deny justice to traditional Anglicans who oppose the plan to consecrate women as bishops. He put down an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons which would overrule the Synod vote against women bishops. Field said:

“I expect the Women Bishops Measure will be overwhelmingly supported by the dioceses and two thirds of each of the three Houses of Synod. If this measure is then held back from Parliament by some ‘clever’ procedural wrangle in Synod by a disgruntled minority, then some MPs will lobby the government to lift the dispensation that parliament has given to the Church of England to discriminate against women, as the majority of Anglicans will have made known their wish that such discrimination should cease.”

Dire penalties were hinted at, such as Disestablishment by which bishops would no longer sit in the House of Lords and the church would lose all its historic privileges. Now that the Synod vote has been cast against the ambition of the modernisers to appoint women bishops, we can expect these threats to be carried out imminently. And henceforth religious and theological issues will be settled by the secular state according to so called secular values. The scandal, the apostasy, lies in the fact that this is being achieved with the connivance of the church’s hierarchy.

The word “secular” is a euphemism for “atheistic.” The nostrums and shibboleths by which we are now governed owe nothing to our thousand years old Christian history and tradition, but to the Enlightenment  rhetoric whose political and practical results became apparent in the French Revolution: principally the cry for Liberty and Equality. There was never much Fraternity – not when Madame Guillotine began to roam the land

All this goes far beyond a piddling little issue of ecclesiastical niceties about which ordinary people care nothing, a bit of churchy crinoline and old lace. For these last two hundred years and more we have been living through a period of revolutionary historical and social upheaval. Our banners now are not led by the cross of Christ - which is the cross of St George – but they are emblazoned by slogans which owe their origin not to the counsels of God but to an increasingly overbearing and dictatorial atheistic state. These slogans have replaced the Ten Commandments as the rules by which we are now expected to live.

What are they? Thou shalt not be racist, or sexist, or judgemental. At all times thou shalt obey the new laws of diversity, inclusivity and non-discrimination. For be ye well-assured that, if thou obeyest not these new commandments, thou shalt be reprimanded by the commissar for political correctness, which is the thought police. And behold, the thought police shall deliver thee unto the real police and thou shalt be taken to the court. And thy punishment shall be great in the land.

The revolutionary change from a Christian society to an overbearing secular authority is profound and it will not be reversed – and certainly not by some supposed natural process such as “the swing of the pendulum.” When we look to discover how this catastrophe has come about, we should turn to the philosopher and poet T.E. Hulme. At the beginning of the 20th century, Hulme wrote:

“We have been beaten because our enemies’ theories have conquered us. We have played with those to our own undoing. Not until we are hardened again by conviction are we likely to do any good. In accepting the theories of the other side, we are merely repeating a well-known historical phenomenon. The Revolution in France came about not so much because the forces which should have resisted were half-hearted in their resistance. They themselves had been conquered intellectually by the theories of the revolutionary side. An institution or a civilisation is beaten only when it has lost faith in itself, when it has been penetrated by the ideas that are working against it.”

Our English Christian nation and society has been penetrated to the heart. It is not a flesh wound, but fatal.