Recent Blogs

More Wisdom from Howard Thurman - Matthew Fox

More Wisdom from Howard Thurman - Matthew Fox

Resurrection Logic: How Jesus; First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead

Resurrection Logic: How Jesus; First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead

Among the many lessons I learned from dialoging with Bruce Chilton on his seminal book, Resurrection Logic: How Jesus; First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead, is respect for diversity. It is so clear that many people who experienced the risen Christ did so in very diverse ways.

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Death penalty, pandemic: celebrating the scandalous relevance of 2021's Holy Week: Fr Daniel Horan

Death penalty, pandemic: celebrating the scandalous relevance of 2021's Holy Week: Fr Daniel Horan

those with attentive eyes, ears, minds and hearts can see how the scandal of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ

Understandably, the primary focus of the celebration of the Lord's Supper is on the establishment of the Eucharist as Christ's gift of his sacramental presence to the church. But this did not happen in a vacuum, and we would do well to remember what Scripture recounts about the context of what unfolded in that upper room. "The Last Supper," drawing by Bartolomeo Schedoni, 1578-1615 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

What we inaugurate tomorrow evening with the Sign of the Cross at the opening of the Holy Thursday liturgy is not just the beginning of the Mass of the Lord's Supper, but the opening of a three-day-long celebration of Christianity's most sacred solemnity: the Easter triduum.

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Vatican Promoting the Mortal Sin of Homophobia (still) - Matthew Fox

Vatican Promoting the Mortal Sin of Homophobia (still) - Matthew Fox

An 85-year-old Irish (once Catholic) woman from the Boston area sent me this headlined article last night: "Vatican excludes gay union blessings because God ‘can’t bless sin.’"

The woman’s response? Very succinct and to the point: "Who gives a damn WHAT they say—or bless—or don’t bless?"

How many (more) gay or trans youth will commit suicide over this "religious" pronouncement?

How many more will go into deep depression?

Continue Reading on dailymeditationswithmatthewfox.org »

When conversion is abusive

When conversion is abusive

We all want others to change — but at what cost? BY GILES FRASER

Some sermons fall to their death on the church floor. Others stay on in the memory for a long time afterwards. This one, from decades ago, remains with me, as emotionally vivid as the day it was preached. The priest was gay, but had long struggled to reconcile his sexual desire with the church’s historic teaching on homosexuality. So, as a young man, he sought out conversion therapy in the form of electrical aversion therapy. And understandably frightened at the prospect of being held down and given electric shocks he would down several G&Ts prior to treatment. “I’m still gay,” he explained “but I now hate the taste of gin”.

The practice of conversion therapy was overwhelmingly renounced by The Church of England in the summer of 2017. Leading the debate in the General Synod, Jayne Ozanne, described the breakdowns she had suffered as a result of it, of the periods she would spend in hospital. Conversion therapy, she said, is “abuse from which vulnerable adults need protecting”. The Church agreed.

Four years on and the Government says it is going to bring forward plans to ban conversion therapy “shortly” — though last week three members of the Government’s LGBT+ advisors panel resigned because it wasn’t happening soon enough. But notwithstanding this slowness, and despite objections from the Evangelical Alliance, a ban is coming. And a good thing too. Conversion therapy combines quack science with homophobic bullying — and the sooner it goes, the better.

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Episcopal oversight is crucial in Church of England

Episcopal oversight is crucial in Church of England

It is dangerous to hand power, instead, to deaneries, argues Thomas Carpenter in the Church Times

A. J. P. TAYLOR began his English History 1914-1945 with the assertion that “Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman.”

Until recently, a sensible, law-abiding parish priest could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the deanery. In some dioceses, however, no longer do we say “Where the bishop is, there is the Church,” but “Where the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee meets, there is our resourcing ministry strategy for the next five years.”

In some dioceses, it is no longer the bishop, but the deanery, that decides whether a parish may have a priest, or how much it must pay for one. Having received these new powers from above, in such dioceses the deanery is now seeking to wrestle more from below. Previously, meetings of the deanery chapter were attended by clergy voluntarily for prayer and study; now, priests are compelled to go. Once, a parish’s evangelism of its people was a matter for the vicar and the church council; now, it must conform to a Deanery Mission Plan. In Wigan, the zenith has been reached: there are no parishes any longer, only the deanery.

In the diocese of Manchester, there will soon be seven full-time area deans, appointed by the Bishop to “share in the Bishop’s leadership of mission and pastoral care”, with the authority to appraise the work of parish priests in their deanery (News, 29 May 2020). No longer will incumbents in Manchester be accountable directly to the bishop who has shared with them the cure of souls, or able to regard themselves as the local representation of the bishop’s leadership.

Continue Reading on churchtimes.co.uk »

The Church of England's bureaucracy is out of control. Emma Thompson28 February 2021

The Church of England's bureaucracy is out of control. Emma Thompson28 February 2021

The General Synod (the Church of England’s elected governing body) met by Zoom webinar on Saturday. The meeting was on YouTube, open to public viewing. The Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, presented an update on his ‘Vision and Strategy, outlining a ‘mixed ecology’ Church in which every member matters and resources should go to the first line of the ministry, with only necessary costs on central and diocesan structure and services.

Yet Chelmsford Diocese (the district where Stephen Cottrell was previously Bishop) has already announced a morale-sapping plan to reduce its parish vicars by an eyewatering 61 this year, potentially more – while continuing to recruit for new diocesan managerial posts.

Although the Church is not a profit-making business, it is critical that it be financially viable. However, its approach to expenditure is incoherent. Since it is overwhelmingly financed by its parishes, reducing parish vicars (who are central to attracting financial support) sits oddly with recruiting more diocesan staff and new ordinands, spending £270 million in a 10-year programme of ‘Strategic Development Funding’ for new initiatives such as church plants, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion that dioceses could sell Church-owned land at an undervalue for affordable housing.


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Be   Pro Palestinian, Pro Israeli, Pro Human, Pro Peace

Be Pro Palestinian, Pro Israeli, Pro Human, Pro Peace

This was the strong message from the webinar hosted by the Friends of the Bereaved families forum www.familiesforum.co.uk last week

This was the strong message from the webinar hosted by the Friends of the Bereaved families forum www.familiesforum.co.uk last week and to which there is now a link on our Website. The webinar was chaired by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg who introduced Arab Aramin, a Palestinian, and Yigal Elhanan an Israeli Jew who each lost a sister because of the conflict. They are both members of the Parents circle-family forum that brings together bereaved family members from Palestinian and Israeli communities to share their stories and work together for Justice and Peace and prevent further death from vengeance and retaliation. They jointly are active in sharing this message and running educational events bringing together young people from both sides to overcome the segregation built into the society which leaves people fearful and ignorant of each others’ lives. They say they are part of a ‘club’ that no one wants to join. I feel everyone concerned about the region should hear their story as they speak with authority into the situation.

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‘Poems, Piety and Psyche’

‘Poems, Piety and Psyche’

In October 2020 I was fortunate in having my anthology of post-modern, progressive Christian poems, ‘Poems, Piety and Psyche’, published in the US, Although completed during the Covid19 pandemic, this collection of 130 poems has been a long time in writing and is my attempt to try and stem the decline in congregations which I have seen at first hand during my nearly forty years as a country parson.

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The Primacy of the Parish

The Primacy of the Parish

The Bishop of Burnley responds to recent claims that the Parish system is up for wide scale review

The Bishop of Burnley responds to recent claims that the Parish system is up for wide scale review, and strengthens the case for its place at the heart of the identity and mission of the Church of England. He suggests we need to trust the local to make good decisions, resolutely address failure where it occurs, and invest in priests who can renew Parish communities.

At St Peter’s in Fleetwood the parish priest has pulled together a consortium which has bought the hospital in the town centre and has developed it as a facility for vulnerable adults with a food pantry and wide range of other services. At St James Haslingden they have formed a community of 30 people who meet online each day for Morning Prayer and who now cook and deliver hot lunches to around 100 people in the community. At Preston Minister they have provided meals to tens of thousands of students and families and are offering genuine excellence in the live-streaming of worship. I could go on … and on! All this, of course, on top of the routine of sustaining a life of prayer and worship.

https://allthingslawfulandhonest.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/the-primacy-of-the-parish/ »

Brian McLaren on faith after doubt - Christian Today  12 February 2021

Brian McLaren on faith after doubt - Christian Today 12 February 2021

In both the UK and US, church attendance is steadily declining and yet many people still describe themselves as spiritual or say they pray or believe in God.

Popular Christian writer, speaker and activist Brian D McLaren has written his latest book, Faith After Doubt, for the Christians out there who feel that their faith is falling apart or who no longer feel at home in church.

McLaren speaks to Christian Today about what he thinks is putting so many people - especially the young - off church and what can be done about it.

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/brian.mclaren.on.faith.after.doubt/136353.htm »

When You are Not Invited to the Table - Augustine Tanner-Ihm

When You are Not Invited to the Table - Augustine Tanner-Ihm

The Church must be a people that walk with the crucified people of the earth

by Augustine Tanner-Ihm is an African-American activist, writer, speaker who recently trained for the Anglican ministry at Cranmer Hall, St. John’s College, Durham, and now a Doctoral Student in Leadership, Culture, and Practical Theology at Bakke Graduate University.

In many American Christian homes, families throughout the 50 states and territories traditionally leave an extra chair and plate at the dinner table. Strangely these extra knife, fork and spoon were rarely, if ever, used as this extra place at the table was designed for Jesus, himself. This is culturally designed to show honour while also being human-led by the privilege of having daily bread.

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Middle Management Malaise

Middle Management Malaise

Charlotte Gauthier speaks from her experience of middle management in the secular world – how it works well, and where it works badly. The Church of England is replicating all the worst management patterns of a failing company heading for collapse. How can we stop this malaise and restore an efficient and energising vision of what the Church of England could be?

Much has been made recently of the increasing bureaucratisation of the Church of England, with a seemingly endless proliferation of middle-management-style posts at diocesan and central level. Commentators have decried the rise of Associate Archdeacons, Directors of Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation, and other such conjurations of overzealous HR departments, whose ministries seem entirely disconnected from the worship of Almighty God amongst our friends and neighbours in the village church.

Continue Reading on allthingslawfulandhonest.wordpress.com »

Call to Prayer or to Clap or ……?

Call to Prayer or to Clap or ……?

Hang on, I thought. If I was not a person of faith, would this make any sense?

When the terrible death toll from Covid 19 reached 100,000 in the UK, it was understandable that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York were asked to speak on various media platforms as leaders of the national church. Indeed Justin Welby has had much to say during this pandemic, calling for co-operation amongst the nations of the world to ensure that all countries receive vaccine supplies. The archbishop has spoken up for poorly paid care staff, he himself has been a volunteer chaplain at a London hospital.

Continue Reading on churchtimes.co.uk »

Faith and Doubt Are Not Opposites - Richard Rohr

Faith and Doubt Are Not Opposites - Richard Rohr

I worry about “true believers” who cannot carry any doubt or anxiety at all, as Thomas the Apostle and Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997) learned to do. Doubt and faith are actually correlative terms.

The imagination should be allowed a certain freedom to browse around. —Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action

Basic religious faith is a vote for some coherence, purpose, benevolence, and direction in the universe. Unfortunately, the notion of faith that emerged in the West was much more a rational assent to the truth of certain mental beliefs rather than a calm and hopeful trust that God is inherent in all things, and that this whole thing is going somewhere good.

I worry about “true believers” who cannot carry any doubt or anxiety at all, as Thomas the Apostle and Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997) learned to do. Doubt and faith are actually correlative terms.

https://cac.org/faith-and-doubt-are-not-opposites-2021-02-03/ »

Placed In The Here And There, Struggling To See Them Both

Placed In The Here And There, Struggling To See Them Both

Why The 'Dim Vision' of 1 Corinthians 13 Could Just Be A Side-Effect Of Seeing Two Layers Of Human Existence


'When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.’ (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)

I have always treasured these words from Paul's letters to the Corinthians, although probably more so because of his use of the mirror metaphor – the mysterious idea of seeing things dimly at present or as a fragmented reflection of reality – and not so much because of his stress on the process of 'manly' maturation, allegedly required for personal spiritual development…

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The church has to get out of its head and get into its heart

The church has to get out of its head and get into its heart

A churchwarden's thoughts on a deanery plan - the Christian Church must rediscover its mystic, contemplative heart

What follows is the response of a rural churchwarden to a deanery plan about ministry and the push, yet again, for more giving for the “quota” (MMF / Parish Share or whatever it is named). These thoughts were sent not only to deanery members but to the diocesan bishop.

First the Plan. We are invited to discover what is the ‘unique selling point’ of our church. There is much about how to attract more people into church and there is, unhappily I feel, a conflation between ‘rejoicing in the generosity of God’ and canvassing the congregation to put more into the collection plate. This is a marketing plan really, overlaid by biblical quotes employed as straplines. The bishop is quoted as saying ‘’ business as usual could well be the death of us’’. He is quite right and yet this is business as usual, the same preoccupation with targets, fundraising and congregational footfall!

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Christian fight for Tax Justice

Christian fight for Tax Justice

We should really be asking ourselves is whether pre-COVID life was ever really normal at all? asks Bryn Lauder of the ECCR https://www.eccr.org.uk/

On the 28th of August 2020, the BBC’s medical editor Fergus Walsh published an article asking the public whether it was “time to move on and get back to normal life?” Now, as I write this blog on the 19th of January 2021, having not left the house for more than an essential shopping trip for a number of weeks, I think it’s safe to say the answer was no.

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