Recent Blogs

Progressive Christians need to speak out about the Welfare of our fellow citizens!

Progressive Christians need to speak out about the Welfare of our fellow citizens!

Like many PCN members I have lived through the inflationary years of the 70’s, through various financial crises, through strikes and Thatcherism but never have I felt that our society was so grossly unequal as now; never a government so incompetent and a Prime Minister so devoid of a moral compass.. I am a comfortable pensioner – a secure church pension, free bus travel, a mortgage paid, children grown up and long since left the nest. And yet the government seeks to give me a 10% increase in my welfare through a triple lock pension whilst I see young friends and family members struggle with daily costs of living.

PCN is a supporter of the Equality Trust. We follow a Jesus who inspires up to act with compassion, to seek justice and to work for a kingdom of righteousness. So are we not angry with how our society is ordered? Are we not dismayed by the sight of foodbanks and alarmed at the rising number of children going hungry? Do we not need to enter into a political debate about all this , to raise questions with our MP, to provoke discussion in the same ways as are doing over climate change?

I have just read a newly published book about Welfare, which is reviewed below. The author is very keen to discuss his book and his passion for a truly just Welfare State with us. Will you let me know if you would like such a discussion on Zoom?

In the meantime below is the book review and I commend such a meeting with Joseph Forde.

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So many kinds of wrong: a theological response to the Rwanda asylum initiative

So many kinds of wrong: a theological response to the Rwanda asylum initiative

The scheme fails on ethical and theological grounds, argues Samuel Wells.

Perhaps like many others, when I heard of the British Government’s Rwanda asylum initiative, announced on 14 April, I initially thought it was a line from the BBC Radio 4 show The News Quiz. It seemed so obviously to be a spoof of the Government’s attempts to distract from Partygate.

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“Why Was Jesus Tortured to Death?” Or, Death to Our Toxic Ideas of Why Jesus Lived and Died

Have you ever wondered what Jesus did to deserve being tortured and crucified to death? How could someone so good be treated so inhumanely? Some answer this in purely theological terms, but do you not wonder the real reasons why people so despised him that they did this to him? Too often we haven’t thought about this latter question, and it actually gives insight to the theological answer as well.

Jesus died, if we look closely at the gospel accounts, because he was perceived as a threat to the value system of the Roman Empire and the Jewish religious hierarchy of his day. They considered him to be an insurrectionist, one who wanted to overthrow the system as it was, and had always been from one domination culture to the next.

And honestly, they were right about him. This is what the gospel writers seem to agree was his mission in life: to overturn all the earthly rulers and powers of this world, and to create an egalitarian world that lived in accordance with the values of God. Jesus believed that living by God’s values, not Caesar’s, would transform the entire world.

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Stolen lives - Telling the stories that need to be told

Four talks presented by Root and Branch and the Scottish Laity Network

We are deeply grateful to MACSAS (Ministry and Clerical Sexual Abuse Survivors) and Catholic Survivors for supporting us and guiding our planning. It is immensely humbling that survivors of abuse have put their trust in Root and Branch and Scottish Laity Network.

“Our Church is a place of serious crimes, of frightening attacks on the lives and integrity of children and adults. We must recognize and confess it: we have allowed an ecclesial system to develop which—far from bearing life and opening up to spiritual liberty - damages, crushes, tramples on human beings and their most basic rights.”

Archbishop De Moulins-Beaufort’s second response to the Sauvé report, (The Independent

Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (CIASE) 2021.

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MARTYN PERCY - TURBULENT PRIEST

THE REVD JONATHAN AITKEN SERMON, 6TH MARCH 2022

Read by Very Revd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons on Sunday 6 March 2022

at Pusey House, St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LZ for Lent 1

The first Sunday in Lent is a solemn occasion in the Church Calendar. One of its traditions is the singing or reading of a Penitential Psalm. That’s why we our reading today is one of the greatest Penitential Psalms, Psalm 130, often known as the De Profundis or “Out of the Depths” Psalm. Looking across the world from the War in Ukraine to academic and clerical scandals here in Oxford there does seem to be rather a lot to be gloomy about. But before we sink into too much despondency at the start of lugubrious Lent let me try to lighten our darkness with a humorous story, which perhaps illustrates the hope and the scope of Psalm 130.

This story dates back to a time when I was in the depths, coming to the end of serving an 18-month prison sentence for perjury. Unexpectedly my prison chaplain said to me: “As it’s your last Sunday in here, would you like to give the sermon at our evening service?” Unaccustomed though I had become to public speaking, the old trooper in me made me reply:

“All right, I’ll give it a go – but what should I preach about?”

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Holding the Tension of Opposites

Holding the Tension of Opposites

An Alternative Orthodoxy helps us discern which stories to include and which to transcend.

What happens when the stories of our early lives no longer resonate with what we’re experiencing now? The death of a someone close, condemnation from a once-loving church, an uphill battle for peace and justice — when dogma no longer feels right, when belief no longer aligns with life, it’s time to seek new understanding. The path through this kind of disorder is one Fr. Richard Rohr often calls holding the tension of opposites.

When Debbie Burkholder felt her theology crumble, she felt the call to transcend. But it was not easy. She also experienced anger, disappointment, shame, and loneliness.

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The Church’s war on the clergy

The Church’s war on the clergy

Bishops have been captured by management - BY GILES FRASER, 10th Feb 2022

No one in their right mind should want to be a bishop. It’s a terrible, terrible job. You spend half of your life in pointless meetings reading screeds of minutes covered in ghastly acronyms, and the other half going round the Diocese doing confirmations and ordinations, again and again on some kind of continual liturgical merry-go-round. While vicars have a base, and they can get to know their people over time, Bishops see new people every day, and their relationships can often be little more than meet and greet.

Spiritually it is extremely bad for you; people are either too nice or too horrible. Expectations are unrealistic: you are a fantasy of projection and a lightning-rod for disappointment. And every day having to put up with jokes about actresses and only being able to move diagonally… The golden rule is: if you really want to be a bishop, you almost certainly shouldn’t be one.

Things are about to get a whole lot worse. Bishops are the latest part of the church now slated for reinvention — part of the twaddle-riven Welby-era revolution that is totally transforming church structures.

Continue Reading on unherd.com »

Truro plan for 30 second theology….

I was recently sent a plan in embryo for the reorganisation of a deanery in Truro diocese. As I read, gape mouthed, at the plan to close 50% of the churches, radically reduce clergy, and remove swathes of parochial church councils one item staggered me even more. It was then I became further depressed as one further aim was outlined – members of the congregations would be changed from volunteers to disciples and taught how to answer the question “why are you a Christian” in 30 seconds!

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Can We Be "Friends" with God? - Diana Butler Bass

Can We Be "Friends" with God? - Diana Butler Bass

Author and scholar Diana Butler Bass describes friendship with Jesus as something that—contrary to some popular opinion—is the mark of a mature faith. Friendship with God is at the heart of the biblical story:

The Bible tells a different story about friendship with God, especially in the Hebrew scriptures. Friendship is anything but immaturity; it is a gift of wisdom: “In every generation [wisdom] passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets” (Wisdom of Solomon 7:27). Two of Israel’s greatest heroes, Abraham, the father of faith, and Moses, the liberating prophet, are specifically called friends of God. In Isaiah 41:8, God refers to Abraham as “my friend,” a tradition that carries into the New Testament (James 2:23). Of Moses, Exodus says: “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (33:11), a very rare intimacy, for such close proximity to the divine usually meant death (33:20). . . .

The point is that friendship with God establishes the covenant—and that Israel is freed from bondage into a new family forged by friendship through the law given by Moses. Friendship with God is not a biblical side story; rather, it is central to the promises and faithfulness of being a called people, in which all are friends, companions, intimates, siblings, and beloved.

Early Christians, most of whom were Jews, knew all of this and extended the idea of divine friendship to Jesus. The New Testament vividly recounts the closeness of Jesus’s circle of friends, women and men transformed through their relationship with him. . . .

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A Revelation of Heaven on Earth

A Revelation of Heaven on Earth

We return today to CAC teacher Brian McLaren, who illustrates how one of the Bible’s most challenging books—Revelation—can be a source of wisdom and hope for us today:
There’s a beautiful visionary scene at the end of the Book of Revelation that is as relevant today as it was in the first century. It doesn’t picture us being evacuated from Earth to heaven as many assume. It pictures a New Jerusalem descending from heaven to Earth [see Revelation, chapter 21]. This new city doesn’t need a temple because God’s presence is felt everywhere. It doesn’t need sun or moon because the light of Christ illuminates it from within. Its gates are never shut, and it welcomes people from around the world to receive the treasures it offers and bring the treasures they can offer. From the center of the city, from God’s own throne, a river flows—a river of life or aliveness. Along its banks grows the Tree of Life. All of this, of course, evokes the original creation story and echoes God’s own words in Revelation: “Behold! I’m making all things new!”

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