Monday, 30 January 2012

Church Mouse squeaks again!

 I was thrilled beyond words this evening to discover that Church Mouse has emerged from his mouse hole and delivered quite a lengthy squeak on the important subject of the Archbishops' new  proposals on Women Bishops about to be suggested to Synod. As usual, Mouse squeaks a great deal of sense and when he predicts (and I quote) a cock up, the Church should  bloody well sit up and listen! The wisdom from the skirting boards continues,
It has been the clearly expressed will of General Synod and Diocesan Synods that women be admitted to the episcopate on the same terms as men, with graceful provision for those who cannot accept this. Those who are being offered graceful provision should accept it gracefully.

For the good of the gospel in this country, Synod members must vote against the proposal to reintroduce the Archbishops' amendment for "co-ordinate jurisdiction".

Oh, Mousey, we love you , we love you! We adore you from the ends of your whiskers to the tip of your mousey tail. Let's forget changing the Church (which is doomed anyway) and just see if  we can tempt this cute little beastie out more often. Anyone got some cheese?

Falling Upward

It has been an eventful two weeks during which we have seen a steady stream of news items about the various issues and conflicts that beset the Church of England. First came the news that Jeffrey John had written a letter threatening legal action against the Church, with all the opening of old wounds that entailed and with all the questions about exactly who leaked this - since Jeffrey John clearly did not intend to go public. Then there was the defeat of the Government in the Lords, promptly followed by Lord Carey's criticism of his fellow bishops and also by his further involvement in legal disputes on behalf of Christian Concern. Meanwhile John Sentamu advised the Government that they should not change the definition of marriage, something which (although I disagree with him) I think he is perfectly entitled to do, but which threw  into relief  just how little real power and influence the Church now has in the workings of the State.  Then we heard that General Synod next month looks to bring further debate and conflict over the legislation on women bishops, with the Archbishops looking set to try to introduce what seems to be wider concessions to those who wish to discriminate against women in the Church. Finally, the news that Wallace Benn had somehow-by-mistake ended up endorsing a book, Britain in Sin, which advocates legalising maritial rape , along with a host of other nasties, just put the final touch to the whole sorry spectacle.
I suppose I shouldn't really let this kind of news affect me, in fact I hardly do anymore. Sometimes it  is so predictable and wearies me so much that I can't even be bothered with it, but weariness, although preferable to bitterness, is not an emotion which enhances the soul or makes our spirit dance. I've been glad, therefore, that I've also spent this last fortnight reading Richard Rohr's Falling Upward, a book described as "A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life." I can find Christian books -  the type you used to  find prominently displayed on the bookshelves of Wesley Owen - utterly unreadable, but after reading Rohr's Advent Meditations this year, I immediately ordered some more, realising I'd found something which struck a chord.
        In Falling Upward, Rohr describes the way that our approach to life and faith almost inevitably shifts and changes as we grow older, or at least it does if we are people who tend to think and to seek and not to be satisfied with easy answers or with over simplification. Rohr says that, as we learn a different approach, our thinking shifts from being "first half of life thinking" which is "dualistic" (black/white, either/or, good/ bad) to "second half of life thinking" which is non-dualistic and deals more comfortably with paradox, uncertainity and holding opposed ideas in creative tension. I am not saying that I agreed with every word I read, but there was a lot of food for thought, after reading certain paragraphs I stopped and read slowly again - always an auspicious sign!
Rohr has a lot to say in this book, but Chapter 12 deals with the problem of institution, and, Rohr claims, institution belongs almost of necessity to first half of life, to dualistic structures and thinking. I can't cover all his points here, but this paragraph did stand out:
 When I say that almost all groups and institutions are first-half-of- life structures, I say that not to discourage you but in fact just the opposite.I say it first of all because it is true, but also to keep you from being depressed or losing all hope by having false expectations. Do not expect or demand from groups what they cannot give. Doing so will make you needlessly angry and reactionary. They must and will be concerned with identity, boundaries, self-maintenance, self-perpetuation and self- congratulation. This is their nature and pupose. The most you can hope for is a few enlightened leaders and policies now and then from among those "two or three gathered in my name."
I have a feeling that I shall be reading more Richard Rohr.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Chivalry or sexism?

My son has run into some problems with his boxing; his trainer says that when he puts him in the ring to spar with girls, he just lets himself be pummelled and won't fight back. He does his best to dodge the blows and fends them off but he never really punches back other than a few ineffectual and half hearted jabs when the trainer bellows, "HIT HER."  After being questioned he has said it is because it, "doesn't feel right to hit girls and that he was taught not to." (We got something right then...)
I am not sure whether to be proud of said son for this attitude or whether it is a sort of inverse sexism. My personal view is that we shouldn't hit boys or girls, but IF you are going to do boxing or any competitive sport then it is a mark of respect to your opponent to engage fully and give them a fair game or match. My son says it doesn't work this way; the sexes do not compete in actual boxing matches and the sparring is just practice (I don't know much about boxing) and on that basis, he would rather get pummelled! He says it is not sexism because some of the girls are fantastic boxers and much better than him. It just doesn't feel right to him personally.
Overall, I am not really worried that my son is going to turn into some sort of complementarian and I don't think his  quaint/ old fashioned/ chivalrous/ sexist/ stupid (delete according to your lights) attitudes will hold him back in his pursuit of competitive success, but I have to say that he did look rather the worse for wear when I picked him up from boxing last night.
"Been sparring have you?", I enquired casually.
"Yup", he said.
"Who with?", I asked.
He mentioned the name of one of the girls who is apparently a pretty tough cookie.
I didn't say a word.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

On a related note, Rowan Williams address on Holocaust Memorial Day - which was yesterday. This year's slogan urges us to Speak Up, Speak Out.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Do dogs have souls? ( Part Seventeen)

I was in two minds whether or not to post the above video which shows dogs saying grace before meals! I am not sure it is evidence that dogs have souls, more evidence of how easy it is to train dogs and possibly quite a few members of the human species to adopt all the signs of  religiosity with very little but their own ulterior motives under that pious exterior...
 I am sure that all the admittedly gorgeous dogs in this clip are very close to God, I think their owners, who are clearly either deranged or have strange ideas of what it is appropriate to train their animals to do, may be in need of our prayers.