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Justin Welby can’t read the room We shepherds are sick of ten years of managerialism

Welby put me on the naughty list Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Welby put me on the naughty list Hollie Adams/Getty Images


March 21, 2023   6 mins

Who’d be Archbishop of Canterbury? Not me. You have surprisingly little executive power and get blamed for pretty much everything: from earthquakes (you are God’s representative, after all), politics (too involved, not involved enough), and the petty disputes of your fractious disputatious clergy — of which I am one.

If vicars are often an object of projection, so much more the Archbishop. Any assessment of Justin Welby’s 10 years of office, therefore, will say more about me than him. The Archbishop is a living, breathing Rorschach test. Still: here goes.

Welby is hard to read because he is seemingly open and yet emotionally closed at the same time. Even before he landed the top job in the worldwide Anglican Communion, he was adept at not granting access to his inner world. The social polish you learn at Eton, with its arsenal of confident self-deprecation, is precisely the sort of self-protecting buffer zone that you need to survive being the nation’s punch bag.

There has been great pain in his life: dysfunctional alcoholic parents, the loss of a seven-month-year-old baby daughter in a car accident. Understandably, he has suffered periods of crippling darkness and has admitted to taking anti-depressants. He is brave in talking about his bruises, and yet also strangely hidden, both open and emotionally distant. And since he is not a natural people person, his openness can come across as scripted.

Welby smiles to reassure, but in repose his face crackles with all the scary intensity of an officer on the Death Star; yes, a bit like a born-again Director Krennic. People say he has a thunderous temper when things don’t go his own way, which I can quite believe. Sometimes you can’t keep it all bottled up. I like Welby, but I am frightened of him.

Back in 2012, I interviewed him for The Guardian when he was still Bishop of Durham. Paddy Power had him at 6/1 to be the next vicar to the nation. We discussed woman bishops, still seen as a long way off. How would he reconcile the competing demands of those who see it as a theological necessity and those who deem it a theological impossibility? How would he square the circle, I asked? “Well, you just look at the circle and say it’s a circle with sharp bits on it,” he laughed. Anglicanism has always involved a certain amount of shape-shifting from its leadership. The phrase “all things to all men” is from the Bible, after all. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good thing. Ideologically, Welby can be what you want him to be.

Here’s an example. A few days after that Guardian interview, the Rev Rod Thomas — an evangelical conservative — and I discussed who should get the top job on Channel 4 news. Thomas was against women bishops and believes homosexuality is a sin. I thought the opposite. Yet we both agreed that Welby was the right man for the job. That’s the power of a circle with pointy bits. Some see a circle, others see a square.

Women bishops were approved within a few years, and the Church has now agreed on prayers for blessing same-sex marriages. Rod Thomas was made a bishop in 2015 and kept on board. But he is far from happy. “We should not mislead people into believing that we can ask God to bless those things that He has revealed are contrary to His will,” said Bishop Rod recently. I think he may have been more deceived than I about that circle.

Welby’s church, his circle with pointy bits, turned out to be this: a collection of morally-progressive, liturgically-charismatic evangelicals with a hint of woke. Damaged public schoolboys who find it hard to express their feelings in everyday life are often attracted to forms of worship that let it all hang out. Welby talks in tongues. The whole thing is so achingly sincere. This is surely what Prince Harry would be like if he got God. It’s the sort of religion that some of us watch through our fingers with embarrassment — like dad dancing.

With Welby, open evangelicalism has become the new centre of gravity in the Church of England. More Radio 2 than Radio 4, undemanding and depressingly easy listening. “Let’s be clear, I’m one of the thicker bishops in the Church of England”, he told me back in 2012. There remains stiff competition for this title, I can tell you. And Welby is not even close. He has a keen and lively intelligence and a steely will. But Welby’s Church of England, it might be said, no longer feels the need for academic-minded bishops. Better some B-school MBA or a Certificate in Church Planting than a proper PhD in Patristics for the modern cleric on the make.

And here is my real beef with Welby’s Church: managerialism. The backdrop to Welby’s appointment was the banking crisis and the subsequent Occupy camp at St Paul’s Cathedral. The Church needed to get a bit more this worldly, many thought. It needed to understand finance and business. When it came to capitalism, Welby was a grown-up, having worked for Elf Aquitaine in a previous life. And 11 years in the oil industry clearly shaped his thinking about organisational structures. The old, slightly bumbling high-table, soft-power understanding of Lambeth Palace was not for him. Welby wanted to change things and have access to levers of real executive power.

But the Church of England is not set up like this. It never has been. The parish system is the very model of subsidiarity. If anything, the Church is a bottom-up institution rather than top-down. You bow to your bishop, but you don’t necessarily do everything he asks. Under Welby, however, the centre has grown ever stronger, the parishes increasingly weaker. Max Weber famously divided power into the charismatic, the traditional and the legal/rational. Welby is the first archbishop who has tried to govern through the latter.

The “Save the Parish” movement was established as a fightback. Too many bishops became middle managers, hidden behind their laptops. Directives and new initiatives came down from head office, which many of the clergy, myself included, received with an inner groan. In the face of declining attendance, we all had to learn that evangelical up-speak, and get on with the paperwork. Morale has plummeted.

The Church’s reaction to Covid was the depressing conclusion of Welby’s legal/rational approach to power. Buffeted by abuse scandals — including that of a previous friend and mentor, John Smyth, who beat and sexually harassed young boys on Christian summer camps — Welby read the Covid situation in the light of his safeguarding nightmares. Safeguarding was the one area where rules could be imposed on the clergy. Churches were to be closed to protect the faithful from infection. Clergy were allowed into their churches to check them over for insurance purposes, but not to celebrate the holy mysteries, even on their own. The shepherds abandoned their sheep.

It was a terrible directive and a lot of us — myself included — ignored it and were put on the Lambeth Palace naughty list. The gap grew wider between the clergy and the powers that be. “If I had my time again, I would be more cautious about closing the churches,” Welby later admitted. But the damage was done. For many people, a pattern of churchgoing had been broken never to be taken up again. Sunday schools were abandoned, the vulnerable left to fend for themselves. Parish treasurers pulled their hair out as finances went into a death spiral. Zoom was never a realistic alternative for a religion that is inherently physical, all about the body and the blood.

In a couple of months, Welby will preside over the coronation of King Charles III, and the Church of England has never felt weaker. It’s not his fault. Secularisation is a feature of the Western world, not of any specifically failed leadership. But nonetheless, Welby has failed to speak the right words for our time.

In a moment of crisis, Welby’s answer seems to be organisational restructuring — redirecting more and more resources into big, successful, glitzy, mostly-evangelical churches, while letting smaller ones wither on the vine, run by the unpaid or the retired, all exhausted. This feels like what a CEO archbishop would do. Not a pastor or an evangelist. And, most depressing of all, the whole thing seems to be an exercise in bureaucratic navel-gazing.

Welby is a well-intentioned man, but he is unable to read the room — or, rather the nation. When in 2020, he abandoned his fine 13th-century chapel to take the Easter service online from his kitchen, I imagine he thought he was expressing solidarity with those who were stuck at home. But most people didn’t see it like that. It felt like a silly gesture, a gimmick. And a kick in the teeth to those of us struggling to keep the Church show on the road.

Some say Welby will go after the coronation. I don’t know about that. But what I would want from the new man or woman is someone who could help revive the morale of the clergy. “It’s just not so much fun anymore,” said one senior cleric to me recently. On the front line, in the parishes, it feels like the Archbishop doesn’t much care about us. Or if he does, he has been refusing to show it.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

“Ideologically, Welby can be what you want him to be.” Says the author.

So by that description Welby is weak, insincere, and has no conviction. And from his insecure dictates and his wokery, it certainly seems so. So how can Giles possibly then say this?

“…the Church of England has never felt weaker. It’s not his fault…”

Oh really? Well, if not the archbishop of Canterbury then who might be regarded as responsible for the well-being of the church of England?

I am not one of your “flock” “Shepherd Giles”. But let me tell you this. You lot are going to need to get a pair of balls between your legs, some fire in your belly, and some conviction in your minds, if you want the Anglican church to even exist in 10 years time.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

It is certainly true that the churches whose numbers are increasing are evangelical and hold to rather “old fashioned” doctrines whereas the traditional churches that seek to move with the times and take on board fashionable secular ideas are in continuous decline.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well, Jeremy, if declining churches are so “traditional,” what are they doing with “fashionable secular ideas”?
Those two things don’t go together. Why would anyone bother going to church, after all, if fashionable ideas are promoted everywhere, by definition, and often far more effectively (whether for the good or not) than in church? Every religious tradition has a sine qua non, a distinctive way of thinking about and experiencing the world. If it fails to propagate that tradition from one generation to another, then it has lost its raison d’etre.
Like so many other officially religious institutions (including Jewish and other non-Christian ones), the Church of England has tried to translate religion into secular terms–or, to be more specific, reduce religion to some phenomenon that’s more acceptable to scientists or social scientists. Academic theologians notwithstanding, this cannot be done. Even the early Christian “apologists” recognized that there were limits to how far they could go in making Christianity compatible with the alien worldviews of Greeks and Romans. The conflict between particularism and universalism, resulting in some measure of adaptation, continued as Christianity spread from one cultural matrix to another. But the secular matrix is very different from that of any foreign religion.
In my opinion, the main problem is not that so many people now reject the “idea” of God but that so many people today lack the experience of holiness--in many cases, even when they do go to church. Secularized churches preserve a few remnants of tradition (such as its rituals, symbols, art, architecture, costumes, music, choreography, even some portions or versions of scripture), sure, but they replace what had once given meaning to them with more “rational” substitutes (such as moral instruction, group psychotherapy, emotional catharsis, political consciousness-raising or some other form of “community building”). It doesn’t work. It’s fraudulent. And no managerial skill can change that. After well over a century, this much should be clear to everyone. When it comes to religion, people want either the real thing or nothing.
You could argue that “charismatic” churches are not reductive and therefore “traditional.” I’m not so sure. Maybe they’re less reductive or less obviously reductive. But I’ve learned enough about them to suspect that they rely heavily (though not openly or even consciously) on the mechanisms of group psychology, some of which are very manipulative. Its high levels of emotionalism and anti-intellectualism, at any rate, link this movement with the emotionalism and anti-intellectualism that became fashionable in one form of another in the 1960s and 1970s but now pervade all levels of society.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Good post. I largely agree with you, but I remain optimistic about the church. When times are good, people ignore or go against it. When times are bad they flock back to the pews. Christianity is a desert flower that doesn’t do well in lush environments.

james elliott
james elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Your optimism, then, must surely flow from the belief that times are bad and will be getting much worse.

I think you may be right….

For that reason, I think the Church *must* hold itself pure from the pervasive cancer of Woke Utopianism – people will not flock to the churches to escape it if the churches are ideologically captured by the same garbage.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  james elliott

While I’m optimistic about Christianity, I am less so about the future. I predict a time when Christianity will be purposefully conflated with hatred and bigotry in order to push through a progressive agenda.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

already happening in Canada. 60 churches burned – not a murmur. Imagine if a single Mosque was burned down; or a queer resource centre

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Mosques are not immune to firebomb attacks from the far right either unfortunately and Modi’s India and Xi’s China restricts Muslim free worship

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

But if that happened once in Canada, there would be a national day of mourning and repentance in perpetuity

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

But if that happened once in Canada, there would be a national day of mourning and repentance in perpetuity

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Unfortunately some mosques are attacked by the far right and in India under Modi and Xi’s China Moslems are restricted from freely worshipping

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Mosques are not immune to firebomb attacks from the far right either unfortunately and Modi’s India and Xi’s China restricts Muslim free worship

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Unfortunately some mosques are attacked by the far right and in India under Modi and Xi’s China Moslems are restricted from freely worshipping

Stephen Quilley
SG
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

already happening in Canada. 60 churches burned – not a murmur. Imagine if a single Mosque was burned down; or a queer resource centre

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  james elliott

While I’m optimistic about Christianity, I am less so about the future. I predict a time when Christianity will be purposefully conflated with hatred and bigotry in order to push through a progressive agenda.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

What’s Christianity got to do with the Church of England? They abandoned that connection decades ago.

james elliott
JE
james elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Your optimism, then, must surely flow from the belief that times are bad and will be getting much worse.

I think you may be right….

For that reason, I think the Church *must* hold itself pure from the pervasive cancer of Woke Utopianism – people will not flock to the churches to escape it if the churches are ideologically captured by the same garbage.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

What’s Christianity got to do with the Church of England? They abandoned that connection decades ago.

Jeremy Bray
JB
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

It would indeed be more impressive if Welby could say like Luther “ Here I stand I can do no other, so help me God”. Instead he slips and slides to be up to date – to be a good bureaucrat and seek compromise.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Good post. I largely agree with you, but I remain optimistic about the church. When times are good, people ignore or go against it. When times are bad they flock back to the pews. Christianity is a desert flower that doesn’t do well in lush environments.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

It would indeed be more impressive if Welby could say like Luther “ Here I stand I can do no other, so help me God”. Instead he slips and slides to be up to date – to be a good bureaucrat and seek compromise.

Peter Watson
Peter Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

That’s because Jesus is building His Church and the Church of England is not His Church – unlike the Church IN England. And if the Author doesn’t think homosexuality is a sin then he should be in the Wolf Pit.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watson

Good grief.

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watson

The vast majority of people in England now back homosexual marriage, so there is no problem at all with the Church of England allowing blessings for homosexual couples married in civil ceremonies in its churches. What it does need to do however is respect its traditions, the sacred choral music, magnificent cathedrals, weddings in country parishes, Midnight Mass at Christmas, which large numbers in this country can relate too. Especially small c Christians. Full on hardline evangelical churches can attract new followers yes but they will also always be more disconnected from the mainstream in this country

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

The vast majority of Romans backed slavery and torture. I’m not sure what popular approval has to do with anything

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
1 year ago

Popular approval is irrelevant. Presuming the ideas taught by the church are taken from the bible, I am unsure how they make decisions when they play pick and mix.

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Jesus Christ himself never said anything against blessing homosexual couples. The Church of England has correctly allowed that in its churches while reserving holy matrimony for heterosexual couples in lifelong unions

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Jesus never said anything against homosexual unions

Oliver Elphick
Oliver Elphick
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

Jesus did not talk about homosexuality because it was not an issue in Israel. The Law of Moses condemned it absolutely and no one argued with that.
Paul had to talk about it because it was common in the pagan world.

Oliver Elphick
Oliver Elphick
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

Jesus did not talk about homosexuality because it was not an issue in Israel. The Law of Moses condemned it absolutely and no one argued with that.
Paul had to talk about it because it was common in the pagan world.

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Jesus Christ himself never said anything against blessing homosexual couples. The Church of England has correctly allowed that in its churches while reserving holy matrimony for heterosexual couples in lifelong unions

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Jesus never said anything against homosexual unions

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Unions of consenting homosexual adults in love with each other are nothing comparable with slavery and torture, so don’t make such a repulsive comparison!

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Comparison of loving homosexual couples in lifelong unions being blessed to slavery and torture is ludicrous

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

That wasn’t the comparison. You were arguing that popular approval makes something right. It doesn’t Clearly

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

That wasn’t the comparison. You were arguing that popular approval makes something right. It doesn’t Clearly

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
1 year ago

Popular approval is irrelevant. Presuming the ideas taught by the church are taken from the bible, I am unsure how they make decisions when they play pick and mix.

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Unions of consenting homosexual adults in love with each other are nothing comparable with slavery and torture, so don’t make such a repulsive comparison!

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago

Comparison of loving homosexual couples in lifelong unions being blessed to slavery and torture is ludicrous

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

The reason for the church is not to provide a connection to mainstream society!

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

The Church of England as the established church IS obliged to have a connection to mainstream English society

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

The Church of England as the established church IS obliged to have a connection to mainstream English society

Stephen Quilley
SG
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

The vast majority of Romans backed slavery and torture. I’m not sure what popular approval has to do with anything

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

The reason for the church is not to provide a connection to mainstream society!

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watson

Good grief.

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Watson

The vast majority of people in England now back homosexual marriage, so there is no problem at all with the Church of England allowing blessings for homosexual couples married in civil ceremonies in its churches. What it does need to do however is respect its traditions, the sacred choral music, magnificent cathedrals, weddings in country parishes, Midnight Mass at Christmas, which large numbers in this country can relate too. Especially small c Christians. Full on hardline evangelical churches can attract new followers yes but they will also always be more disconnected from the mainstream in this country

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I agree. I think part of the reason is that when people are looking for a new perspective and look to see if the church can provide it, the Anglican church is not sufficiently different from the life from which they want a change/something more.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well, Jeremy, if declining churches are so “traditional,” what are they doing with “fashionable secular ideas”?
Those two things don’t go together. Why would anyone bother going to church, after all, if fashionable ideas are promoted everywhere, by definition, and often far more effectively (whether for the good or not) than in church? Every religious tradition has a sine qua non, a distinctive way of thinking about and experiencing the world. If it fails to propagate that tradition from one generation to another, then it has lost its raison d’etre.
Like so many other officially religious institutions (including Jewish and other non-Christian ones), the Church of England has tried to translate religion into secular terms–or, to be more specific, reduce religion to some phenomenon that’s more acceptable to scientists or social scientists. Academic theologians notwithstanding, this cannot be done. Even the early Christian “apologists” recognized that there were limits to how far they could go in making Christianity compatible with the alien worldviews of Greeks and Romans. The conflict between particularism and universalism, resulting in some measure of adaptation, continued as Christianity spread from one cultural matrix to another. But the secular matrix is very different from that of any foreign religion.
In my opinion, the main problem is not that so many people now reject the “idea” of God but that so many people today lack the experience of holiness--in many cases, even when they do go to church. Secularized churches preserve a few remnants of tradition (such as its rituals, symbols, art, architecture, costumes, music, choreography, even some portions or versions of scripture), sure, but they replace what had once given meaning to them with more “rational” substitutes (such as moral instruction, group psychotherapy, emotional catharsis, political consciousness-raising or some other form of “community building”). It doesn’t work. It’s fraudulent. And no managerial skill can change that. After well over a century, this much should be clear to everyone. When it comes to religion, people want either the real thing or nothing.
You could argue that “charismatic” churches are not reductive and therefore “traditional.” I’m not so sure. Maybe they’re less reductive or less obviously reductive. But I’ve learned enough about them to suspect that they rely heavily (though not openly or even consciously) on the mechanisms of group psychology, some of which are very manipulative. Its high levels of emotionalism and anti-intellectualism, at any rate, link this movement with the emotionalism and anti-intellectualism that became fashionable in one form of another in the 1960s and 1970s but now pervade all levels of society.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Peter Watson
Peter Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

That’s because Jesus is building His Church and the Church of England is not His Church – unlike the Church IN England. And if the Author doesn’t think homosexuality is a sin then he should be in the Wolf Pit.

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I agree. I think part of the reason is that when people are looking for a new perspective and look to see if the church can provide it, the Anglican church is not sufficiently different from the life from which they want a change/something more.

David Walker
David Walker
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Welby is the epitome of whited sepulchres.
His utter abandonment of his flock when he could have made his Church a greater force for good than at practically any time since the Second World War was not the action of a priest but a Godless bureaucrat through and through.
Our cat is a better Christian than Marcus Welby.

mike otter
mike otter
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Agreed but like a 30 year old horse the CofE should be allowed to die. Cromwell had it right and what’s Oil Wellby but a low rent politico: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  mike otter

Rubbish, the Church of England is still the Church most people in England feel closest to, not least as it offers weddings and funerals to all who live in its Parishes

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

The fact that most people who want to feel close to a church choose the CofE simply shows that it is the most popular; that has nothing to do with the extent to which it does or does not reflect Christianity. It could be that it simply projects what people want Christianity to be.

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Jesus Christ himself never opposed homosexual unions

Oliver Elphick
Oliver Elphick
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

You already said that.
Jesus did not talk about homosexuality because it was not an issue in Israel. The Law of Moses condemned it absolutely and no one argued with that.
Paul had to talk about it because it was common in the pagan world

Oliver Elphick
Oliver Elphick
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

You already said that.
Jesus did not talk about homosexuality because it was not an issue in Israel. The Law of Moses condemned it absolutely and no one argued with that.
Paul had to talk about it because it was common in the pagan world

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Jesus Christ himself never opposed homosexual unions

mike otter
mike otter
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

I am guessing the funeral/marriage thing is a legacy system as its not the same as worshipping.Round here ( Urban London suburb) the Church Of Christ is way the busiest and seems to mainly have African origin worshippers, then the two Mosques, the CofE and local RC are about tied for 4th place. I suppose its different in the countryside.

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  mike otter

I live in a rural area that maybe why yes. The nearest Evangelical church is in a town 15 minutes away by car and that only gets a small congregation. Worship in villages and market towns is still dominated by the Church of England and the historic Church of England Parish church, it is different in big cities where there are more choices of church and indeed more mosques, temples etc too. Although Church of England cathedrals in cities still get good attendance for worship

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  mike otter

I live in a rural area that maybe why yes. The nearest Evangelical church is in a town 15 minutes away by car and that only gets a small congregation. Worship in villages and market towns is still dominated by the Church of England and the historic Church of England Parish church, it is different in big cities where there are more choices of church and indeed more mosques, temples etc too. Although Church of England cathedrals in cities still get good attendance for worship

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

The fact that most people who want to feel close to a church choose the CofE simply shows that it is the most popular; that has nothing to do with the extent to which it does or does not reflect Christianity. It could be that it simply projects what people want Christianity to be.

mike otter
mike otter
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

I am guessing the funeral/marriage thing is a legacy system as its not the same as worshipping.Round here ( Urban London suburb) the Church Of Christ is way the busiest and seems to mainly have African origin worshippers, then the two Mosques, the CofE and local RC are about tied for 4th place. I suppose its different in the countryside.

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  mike otter

Rubbish, the Church of England is still the Church most people in England feel closest to, not least as it offers weddings and funerals to all who live in its Parishes

James B
James B
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Whilst agreeing with every word in the article, mine is a positive comment.
I was directed a few years back to St Paul’s Knightsbridge in London as a place where the clergy and liturgy was entirely inspirational and I have yet to be disappointed.

Jeremy Bray
JB
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

It is certainly true that the churches whose numbers are increasing are evangelical and hold to rather “old fashioned” doctrines whereas the traditional churches that seek to move with the times and take on board fashionable secular ideas are in continuous decline.

David Walker
David Walker
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Welby is the epitome of whited sepulchres.
His utter abandonment of his flock when he could have made his Church a greater force for good than at practically any time since the Second World War was not the action of a priest but a Godless bureaucrat through and through.
Our cat is a better Christian than Marcus Welby.

mike otter
mike otter
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Agreed but like a 30 year old horse the CofE should be allowed to die. Cromwell had it right and what’s Oil Wellby but a low rent politico: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

James B
James B
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Whilst agreeing with every word in the article, mine is a positive comment.
I was directed a few years back to St Paul’s Knightsbridge in London as a place where the clergy and liturgy was entirely inspirational and I have yet to be disappointed.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

“Ideologically, Welby can be what you want him to be.” Says the author.

So by that description Welby is weak, insincere, and has no conviction. And from his insecure dictates and his wokery, it certainly seems so. So how can Giles possibly then say this?

“…the Church of England has never felt weaker. It’s not his fault…”

Oh really? Well, if not the archbishop of Canterbury then who might be regarded as responsible for the well-being of the church of England?

I am not one of your “flock” “Shepherd Giles”. But let me tell you this. You lot are going to need to get a pair of balls between your legs, some fire in your belly, and some conviction in your minds, if you want the Anglican church to even exist in 10 years time.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

“And 11 years in the oil industry clearly shaped his thinking about organisational structures. ”
From Wikipedia, Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals that the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
“On the front line, in the parishes, it feels like the Archbishop doesn’t much care about us.”
QED

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Heh

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I have heard this very true observation before but did not realise it had acquired the status of Pournelle’s Law.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Never heard this before but it explains a lot of what is happening right now and not just in the church.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Heh

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I have heard this very true observation before but did not realise it had acquired the status of Pournelle’s Law.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Never heard this before but it explains a lot of what is happening right now and not just in the church.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

“And 11 years in the oil industry clearly shaped his thinking about organisational structures. ”
From Wikipedia, Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals that the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
“On the front line, in the parishes, it feels like the Archbishop doesn’t much care about us.”
QED

Christopher Barclay
CB
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

Closing the church doors when the congregation were in their hour of need so that the clergy could hide behind the Church’s wealth was disgraceful.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

COVID killed the Church?

Rob Mcneill-wilson
Rob Mcneill-wilson
1 year ago

The Covid Tyranny was satanic.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Funny.

Rob Mcneill-wilson
Rob Mcneill-wilson
1 year ago

The Covid Tyranny was satanic.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Funny.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

COVID killed the Church?

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

Closing the church doors when the congregation were in their hour of need so that the clergy could hide behind the Church’s wealth was disgraceful.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

So, “he’s not a people person”, “he’s too managerial”, he laughs but is only pretending. How did he get through the first interview, let alone get the job?
The Church is riddled with confusion. Our local Church has a Bishop who spits nasty words against the the Tories whenever she is speaking to groups – she has been sent home for a few months on sick leave. This Archbishop in the article seems to have gone astray.
This supports my view that the local churches have become completely separated from the idea of religion. In my experience, local churches have a group of mainly 60-80 years-old people who help in the community. These people do great things ranging from visiting the sick to distributing food parcels to making a cup of tea in the hall for lonely (and cold) people. You don’t have to think too hard to see why older people are more involved.
Meanwhile, instructions come from HQ to concentrate on young people. The vicars now play guitars and the churches have screens instead of hymn books. Of course, the regulars can’t see the screens properly so, having wasted the money, hymn books are still used. This concentration on young people is like the BBC. The customers are mainly old people but the management initiative concentrates on the young. Why would young people want to go to church or sit indoors watching television?

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes, the congregation at my church (myself included ) is largely made up of people aged between 60 and 80 – and we try to do the great things you have indicated. But fortunately we have traditionalist clergy and a loyal choir – so no screens or guitars are inflicted on us. And in Chichester we have a sound Bishop.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes, the congregation at my church (myself included ) is largely made up of people aged between 60 and 80 – and we try to do the great things you have indicated. But fortunately we have traditionalist clergy and a loyal choir – so no screens or guitars are inflicted on us. And in Chichester we have a sound Bishop.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

So, “he’s not a people person”, “he’s too managerial”, he laughs but is only pretending. How did he get through the first interview, let alone get the job?
The Church is riddled with confusion. Our local Church has a Bishop who spits nasty words against the the Tories whenever she is speaking to groups – she has been sent home for a few months on sick leave. This Archbishop in the article seems to have gone astray.
This supports my view that the local churches have become completely separated from the idea of religion. In my experience, local churches have a group of mainly 60-80 years-old people who help in the community. These people do great things ranging from visiting the sick to distributing food parcels to making a cup of tea in the hall for lonely (and cold) people. You don’t have to think too hard to see why older people are more involved.
Meanwhile, instructions come from HQ to concentrate on young people. The vicars now play guitars and the churches have screens instead of hymn books. Of course, the regulars can’t see the screens properly so, having wasted the money, hymn books are still used. This concentration on young people is like the BBC. The customers are mainly old people but the management initiative concentrates on the young. Why would young people want to go to church or sit indoors watching television?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

What kind of archbishop forbade clergy to pray, alone, in their own churches? One whose brain has too many pointy bits.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

What kind of archbishop forbade clergy to pray, alone, in their own churches? One whose brain has too many pointy bits.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago

But what has God got to do with any of this? Sounds like a flippant question but early on in the Covid ‘pandemic’ it struck me – someone who hasn’t stepped inside a church for years – that the only thing standing between me, Hendrik Mentz, and a totalising dystopian future ruled by the algorithm, is community founded on the sacred, embodied in the mystery of Christ. I’m more convinced today than ever. But this essay and the earlier by Thompson (Ten terrible years of Pope Francis) have shattered that illusion. (The only gleanable hope was you kept your church open.) It’s now or never (returning to the original question) otherwise I fear it’s tickets for humanity.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I have to disagree with your conclusion. It’s my very considered view that only once humanity has weaned itself away from belief in a divinity will we ever start to get to grips with our true nature. Concepts of ‘sin’ and suchlike are beyond useless to deal with the reality, and only serve to hinder a proper and full exploration of what it truly means to be part of an animal species that developed consciousness.

This also requires the kind of examination of ourselves that today’s article on child abuse demands. Giles mentions that one of the mentors of the Archbishop (or was it his mentor?) was found to have abused young boys. You also refer to the recent article on the Pope, which primarily involved the amount of corruption and abuse within the Church of Rome. Clearly, ‘holiness’ is another hollow concept which needs to be shown for what it is.

Belief in a god has created the current condition, whereby loss of that belief isn’t the problem, but rather the realisation that we humans are very good at fooling ourselves, and that this gets developed into systems and hierarchies. Enough is enough.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Hi Steve. I do not speak of belief or anything ‘out there’ separate from me. I speak of totality, as in God. I speak of relationship, of community, the sacred and of mystery embodied in the Christ who for me symbolises the suffering of every man, woman and child – also sacrifice, the unfathomable, and whatever flows therefrom. Any epistemology that doesn’t account for and embrace the foregoing, falls short, for me. As for your reference to ‘sin’, that for me requires acknowledging, living, and integrating the darkness within me; and you doing very much the same yourself.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I think you make some very
good points about the need for community; however in the faux multi cultural paradise that is the UK there is no ‘community’, just disparate groups whose views are frequently opposed to one another.
I also do not think it is possible to ‘reverse engineer’ Christian community via a return to the fold, so to speak.
The brutal truth is that most of the nation couldn’t give a damn what the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks. I would be surprised if more than half the country even knows who he is.

Hendrik Mentz
HM
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Jeff, I also don’t believe reverse-engineering an existing Christian flock would work, as it seems (judging by the two essays in question) there’s little there apart from a significant number of shallow, frightened, petty or evil members of a clergy or priesthood pursuing their own ends. And because the church is not about God or Christ it has nothing to offer humanity at grave irreversible risk. So to repeat: it’s now or never. The church must get its act together and I believe community will be born.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Yes exactly this – community is something that emerges, that’s what I meant to say.
I often feel we are at the end of one thing and the beginning of another and can’t go back , but I don’t trust my instincts, largely because I’m older and grouchier than I once was but also because I think that people have always felt like this.
That said I mourn the emptiness and disuse of English country churches – many of them are precious beyond measure even if, like me, you find it hard to have faith.
They also remain one of the few places left in our noisy world you can find some peace.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Jeff, your lamentation goes to the heart of the issue as I understand it, namely, that Christian clergy and the priesthood failed to understand, cherish and preserve that which manifests as stone, carvings, glassware, art, silence and presence in churches bequeathed us. For me this speaks of betrayal. It speaks of sin. It’s tragedy. So instead of feeling grouchy we (the potential or, by now, lost laity) should feel and express our rage.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Deleted, as this repeats the above reply.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Jeff, your lamentation goes to the heart of the issue as I understand it, namely, that Christian clergy and the priesthood failed to understand, cherish and preserve that which manifests as stone, carvings, glassware, art, silence and presence in churches bequeathed us. For me this speaks of betrayal. It speaks of sin. It’s tragedy. So instead of feeling grouchy we (the potential or, by now, lost laity) should feel and express our rage.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Deleted, as this repeats the above reply.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Yes exactly this – community is something that emerges, that’s what I meant to say.
I often feel we are at the end of one thing and the beginning of another and can’t go back , but I don’t trust my instincts, largely because I’m older and grouchier than I once was but also because I think that people have always felt like this.
That said I mourn the emptiness and disuse of English country churches – many of them are precious beyond measure even if, like me, you find it hard to have faith.
They also remain one of the few places left in our noisy world you can find some peace.

Hendrik Mentz
HM
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Jeff, I also don’t believe reverse-engineering an existing Christian flock would work, as it seems (judging by the two essays in question) there’s little there apart from a significant number of shallow, frightened, petty or evil members of a clergy or priesthood pursuing their own ends. And because the church is not about God or Christ it has nothing to offer humanity at grave irreversible risk. So to repeat: it’s now or never. The church must get its act together and I believe community will be born.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I speak of epistemology too, and the human tendency to try to grab hold of something – anything – rather than face up to our natures. I’ve no issue with the historical teachings of Jesus, but that’s all they are. There’s no divinity, and if there were it wouldn’t make any difference.

If a god could be proven to exist, i’d not want to worship. Quite simply, any god that required worshipping wouldn’t be worthy of being a god.

Our humanity is all we have. We’re conscious animals. When words such as “unfathomable” are used, i say, try harder. That’s not to confuse with spirituality. I’m immersed in it, as a human being. That’s what we should be embracing, not some invented externality. The universe has more beauty than we can yet see, but we can only try, and take our place within it.

No god, just humanity. Let’s find out who we really are. There doesn’t have to be a “why”. It’s an unnecessary question which prevents understanding.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

We all have something that is our highest good. It may be family, friends, nation, a philosophy, or the divine. If our highest good is of human origin, we are giving our ‘worship’ to a flawed thing; only if the divine is worshipped are we setting our highest good on something that is flawless.

Paul K
PK
Paul K
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“I speak of epistemology too, and the human tendency to try to grab hold of something – anything – rather than face up to our natures.”

That’s interesting, because in your former comment you described the notion of sin as being ‘worse than useless.’ Yet that notion is precisely an attempt to ‘face up to our natures.’ If you investiagted the meaning of it, you might understand it better.

“If a god could be proven to exist, i’d not want to worship. Quite simply, any god that required worshipping wouldn’t be worthy of being a god.”

Undoubtedly true, but no Christian would content that God ‘requires worshipping.’ There are a lot of different conceptions of ‘god.’ Generalisations don’t help much in this area.

“Our humanity is all we have.”

You seem very sure about that. I do often find that atheists are much less questioning, and much more certain, in a kind of aggressive, left-brainy way, than religious people.

“We’re conscious animals. When words such as “unfathomable” are used, i say, try harder.”

You don’t think anything is unfathomable? You think human reason can work everything out? That science is a method capable of dissecting all of reality? Good luck!
In all seriousness: given that 87% of the world’s people are religious, and virtually 100% of our ancestors have been forevere, do you not think there is a chance they’re seeing something you’re not? Or were/are they all just deluded fools?

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul K
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

“If a god could be proven to exist, I’d not want to worship. Quite simply, any god that required worshipping wouldn’t be worthy of being a god.”
I didn’t bite the first time, but I will now from a Jewish point of view. In that context, the problem is not an intellectual one of belief or disbelief in God. Rather, it’s a moral one of fidelity or infidelity to the covenant between God and Israel.
In The Trial of God, Elie Wiesel tells the story of Jewish inmates in a Nazi death camp. One night, they decide to set up a traditional rabbinical court (beth din) and put God on trial for abandoning the covenant–that is, for not rescuing the victims of evil. The deliberate through the night. After many hours of hearing arguments on both sides of the case, they reach a decision. They declare that God is guilty as charged. At dawn, nonetheless, someone rises and says, “And now, let us pray.”
This is a traditional rabbinical tale, a midrash, not a liberal or secular one. In fact, Wiesel drew on his own Hasidic roots in writing it. I’ll try to sum up the commentaries that I’ve read about it and centuries of similar tales.
For traditional Jews, God is not necessarily an almighty being who lives in some other world but occasionally breaks into our own world and intervenes in history to save the good and punish the evil. That’s one strand of the biblical tradition, to be sure, but not the only one and probably not the earliest.
As for the divine covenant, it binds both parties. Just as we can prove ourselves unworthy or unreliable, so can God. But the relationship itself is both intimate and reciprocal. We need God, but God needs us (to complete the work of creation). We can suffer, but so can God.
The story offers no cognitive answer to the problem of suffering. Why do the rabbis call for morning prayer after finding God guilty of abandoning the covenant? Because how else could they go on living in a world that includes death camps? At the heart of this tale is God’s presence in the midst of suffering just as it is in the midst of joy. God is with us and even suffers with us. That idea brought no consolation to most victims of the sho’ah, but it worked for the Hassidim, who by now have the only Jewish communities with no need to worry about “continuity.”
This kind of God is–or should be–familiar to Christians, of course, but it originated centuries earlier than Christianity. Consider the biblical Job. Like the rabbis, he discovers that there is no such thing as a rational or moral answer to the problem of undeserved suffering. His “friends,” who insist that Job must have done something very wrong to have been punished so severely are, as God says, a bunch of fools and pious hypocrites. But Job receives another kind of answer, a non-cognitive one, in the context of a theophany (that is, the direct experience of holiness).

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Thank you.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Thank you.

Paul Nathanson
PN
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

“If a god could be proven to exist, I’d not want to worship. Quite simply, any god that required worshipping wouldn’t be worthy of being a god.”
I didn’t bite the first time, but I will now from a Jewish point of view. In that context, the problem is not an intellectual one of belief or disbelief in God. Rather, it’s a moral one of fidelity or infidelity to the covenant between God and Israel.
In The Trial of God, Elie Wiesel tells the story of Jewish inmates in a Nazi death camp. One night, they decide to set up a traditional rabbinical court (beth din) and put God on trial for abandoning the covenant–that is, for not rescuing the victims of evil. The deliberate through the night. After many hours of hearing arguments on both sides of the case, they reach a decision. They declare that God is guilty as charged. At dawn, nonetheless, someone rises and says, “And now, let us pray.”
This is a traditional rabbinical tale, a midrash, not a liberal or secular one. In fact, Wiesel drew on his own Hasidic roots in writing it. I’ll try to sum up the commentaries that I’ve read about it and centuries of similar tales.
For traditional Jews, God is not necessarily an almighty being who lives in some other world but occasionally breaks into our own world and intervenes in history to save the good and punish the evil. That’s one strand of the biblical tradition, to be sure, but not the only one and probably not the earliest.
As for the divine covenant, it binds both parties. Just as we can prove ourselves unworthy or unreliable, so can God. But the relationship itself is both intimate and reciprocal. We need God, but God needs us (to complete the work of creation). We can suffer, but so can God.
The story offers no cognitive answer to the problem of suffering. Why do the rabbis call for morning prayer after finding God guilty of abandoning the covenant? Because how else could they go on living in a world that includes death camps? At the heart of this tale is God’s presence in the midst of suffering just as it is in the midst of joy. God is with us and even suffers with us. That idea brought no consolation to most victims of the sho’ah, but it worked for the Hassidim, who by now have the only Jewish communities with no need to worry about “continuity.”
This kind of God is–or should be–familiar to Christians, of course, but it originated centuries earlier than Christianity. Consider the biblical Job. Like the rabbis, he discovers that there is no such thing as a rational or moral answer to the problem of undeserved suffering. His “friends,” who insist that Job must have done something very wrong to have been punished so severely are, as God says, a bunch of fools and pious hypocrites. But Job receives another kind of answer, a non-cognitive one, in the context of a theophany (that is, the direct experience of holiness).

Hendrik Mentz
HM
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Steve, you cover much ground, so out of deference, here goes: not sure where you get the idea I’m ‘grabbing on to anything’ or ‘not facing my nature’. You would need to explain to your readers what ‘spirituality’ stripped of the divine means to you. Nowhere do I speak of a ‘god’ or even God requiring worship. Instead, if you read for meaning you will understand my sense is of God (as earlier defined) manifesting. I embrace totally (my understanding of) your sense of ‘humanity’ and ‘consciousness’ but am puzzled how to ‘try harder’ when faced with the ‘unfathomable’. Why would anyone want to? For me far rather sense awe; as you most likely do experiencing in a ‘universe (which) has more beauty than we can yet see, but we can only try, and take our place within it’. Your closing statement (‘No god, just humanity’) is palpably false given the immensity of the universe. Finally, I’m not asking ‘why’; only pointing out my sense of ‘that’. Hope I covered all your points.
Post script:

Hamlet: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy | I(v)

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Hendrik, i wasn’t referring specifically to yourself in my comment about “grabbing onto anything”, rather about a human tendency which is obvious in most organised religions. It’s that tendency that in my view also encourages some (specifically males) to take advantage of others by preaching to that tendency. It’s a power dynamic, and within such, abuse can not only take place but prosper. Or the apparent need to take the lives of others in ‘the cause’ of one’s god.
When will we stop doing this? All the quotes in the world are just that – thoughts of others on the matter. They’re interesting (i’ve read them all before, and more) and some are beautiful, but where have they taken us? It’s time to unblock the dam that religious belief imposes between us and our understanding of ourselves. I fully understand where the concept of ‘sin’ comes from, thanks, and i’m seeking to move the debate beyond its limitations. Nothing original there, by the way.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Jane McCarthy
Jane McCarthy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“It’s time to unblock the dam that religious belief imposes between us and our understanding of ourselves.”
What if, in your earnest investigations, you find that ourselves can only really be understood through the medium of faith in something divine that transcends our individual temporal selves?
Please come back and tell us what you find.

Jane McCarthy
JM
Jane McCarthy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“It’s time to unblock the dam that religious belief imposes between us and our understanding of ourselves.”
What if, in your earnest investigations, you find that ourselves can only really be understood through the medium of faith in something divine that transcends our individual temporal selves?
Please come back and tell us what you find.

Richard Maslen
Richard Maslen
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Exactly so, Horatio. Trouble is, you dream of nothing. I dream of the Kingdom of God, and try to work for it. It is good to know we do not know everything in heaven or on earth.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Hendrik, i wasn’t referring specifically to yourself in my comment about “grabbing onto anything”, rather about a human tendency which is obvious in most organised religions. It’s that tendency that in my view also encourages some (specifically males) to take advantage of others by preaching to that tendency. It’s a power dynamic, and within such, abuse can not only take place but prosper. Or the apparent need to take the lives of others in ‘the cause’ of one’s god.
When will we stop doing this? All the quotes in the world are just that – thoughts of others on the matter. They’re interesting (i’ve read them all before, and more) and some are beautiful, but where have they taken us? It’s time to unblock the dam that religious belief imposes between us and our understanding of ourselves. I fully understand where the concept of ‘sin’ comes from, thanks, and i’m seeking to move the debate beyond its limitations. Nothing original there, by the way.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Richard Maslen
Richard Maslen
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Exactly so, Horatio. Trouble is, you dream of nothing. I dream of the Kingdom of God, and try to work for it. It is good to know we do not know everything in heaven or on earth.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

We’re selfish mobile blobs of blood, and gore who are very prone to greed, fear, and sloth. We’ve had a world without G*d before. Back then people worshipped rocks and animals or practiced human sacrifice, the rich kept slaves, primitives mutilated themselves, and nations precipitated genocide against each other. That’s who we are, I’m afraid: selfish organisms who have enough intelligence to rationalize evil behaviors. No amount of education or technology will ever change that.
The ancient Jews knew this in their own fashion which is why much of the Old Testament is filled with stories of biblical Israel’s rise and fall. Out of all the ancient gods in existence the G*d of Adam and Eve was the only one who made Man in his image, instead of a mere slave or plaything. When living according to G*d’s laws the ancient Israelis became great. When they became too comfortable and enlightened to need G*d they fell back into ancient and primitive ways. Eventually their vices overcame then and they proved too weak and decadent to resist hostile takeover by neighboring nations.
Maybe this is the point we are at in the West today, especially where freedom is perceived as the ability to fulfill every sexual urge and whim.

But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt,

And by thir vices brought to servitude,

Then to love Bondage more then Liberty,

Bondage with ease then strenuous liberty;

And to despise, or envy, or suspect

Whom God hath of his special Favour rais’d

As thir Deliverer; if he aught begin,

How frequent to desert him, and at last

To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds?

-Samson Agonistes by John Milton

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I don’t think people worship god because he requires it; if there is any requirement it is that people require to worship which is why most people worship something whether it is a pop idol, their wealth, car, status, partner or things they envy.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

We all have something that is our highest good. It may be family, friends, nation, a philosophy, or the divine. If our highest good is of human origin, we are giving our ‘worship’ to a flawed thing; only if the divine is worshipped are we setting our highest good on something that is flawless.

Paul K
Paul K
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“I speak of epistemology too, and the human tendency to try to grab hold of something – anything – rather than face up to our natures.”

That’s interesting, because in your former comment you described the notion of sin as being ‘worse than useless.’ Yet that notion is precisely an attempt to ‘face up to our natures.’ If you investiagted the meaning of it, you might understand it better.

“If a god could be proven to exist, i’d not want to worship. Quite simply, any god that required worshipping wouldn’t be worthy of being a god.”

Undoubtedly true, but no Christian would content that God ‘requires worshipping.’ There are a lot of different conceptions of ‘god.’ Generalisations don’t help much in this area.

“Our humanity is all we have.”

You seem very sure about that. I do often find that atheists are much less questioning, and much more certain, in a kind of aggressive, left-brainy way, than religious people.

“We’re conscious animals. When words such as “unfathomable” are used, i say, try harder.”

You don’t think anything is unfathomable? You think human reason can work everything out? That science is a method capable of dissecting all of reality? Good luck!
In all seriousness: given that 87% of the world’s people are religious, and virtually 100% of our ancestors have been forevere, do you not think there is a chance they’re seeing something you’re not? Or were/are they all just deluded fools?

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul K
Hendrik Mentz
HM
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Steve, you cover much ground, so out of deference, here goes: not sure where you get the idea I’m ‘grabbing on to anything’ or ‘not facing my nature’. You would need to explain to your readers what ‘spirituality’ stripped of the divine means to you. Nowhere do I speak of a ‘god’ or even God requiring worship. Instead, if you read for meaning you will understand my sense is of God (as earlier defined) manifesting. I embrace totally (my understanding of) your sense of ‘humanity’ and ‘consciousness’ but am puzzled how to ‘try harder’ when faced with the ‘unfathomable’. Why would anyone want to? For me far rather sense awe; as you most likely do experiencing in a ‘universe (which) has more beauty than we can yet see, but we can only try, and take our place within it’. Your closing statement (‘No god, just humanity’) is palpably false given the immensity of the universe. Finally, I’m not asking ‘why’; only pointing out my sense of ‘that’. Hope I covered all your points.
Post script:

Hamlet: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy | I(v)

Last edited 1 year ago by Hendrik Mentz
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

We’re selfish mobile blobs of blood, and gore who are very prone to greed, fear, and sloth. We’ve had a world without G*d before. Back then people worshipped rocks and animals or practiced human sacrifice, the rich kept slaves, primitives mutilated themselves, and nations precipitated genocide against each other. That’s who we are, I’m afraid: selfish organisms who have enough intelligence to rationalize evil behaviors. No amount of education or technology will ever change that.
The ancient Jews knew this in their own fashion which is why much of the Old Testament is filled with stories of biblical Israel’s rise and fall. Out of all the ancient gods in existence the G*d of Adam and Eve was the only one who made Man in his image, instead of a mere slave or plaything. When living according to G*d’s laws the ancient Israelis became great. When they became too comfortable and enlightened to need G*d they fell back into ancient and primitive ways. Eventually their vices overcame then and they proved too weak and decadent to resist hostile takeover by neighboring nations.
Maybe this is the point we are at in the West today, especially where freedom is perceived as the ability to fulfill every sexual urge and whim.

But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt,

And by thir vices brought to servitude,

Then to love Bondage more then Liberty,

Bondage with ease then strenuous liberty;

And to despise, or envy, or suspect

Whom God hath of his special Favour rais’d

As thir Deliverer; if he aught begin,

How frequent to desert him, and at last

To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds?

-Samson Agonistes by John Milton

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I don’t think people worship god because he requires it; if there is any requirement it is that people require to worship which is why most people worship something whether it is a pop idol, their wealth, car, status, partner or things they envy.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I think you make some very
good points about the need for community; however in the faux multi cultural paradise that is the UK there is no ‘community’, just disparate groups whose views are frequently opposed to one another.
I also do not think it is possible to ‘reverse engineer’ Christian community via a return to the fold, so to speak.
The brutal truth is that most of the nation couldn’t give a damn what the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks. I would be surprised if more than half the country even knows who he is.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I speak of epistemology too, and the human tendency to try to grab hold of something – anything – rather than face up to our natures. I’ve no issue with the historical teachings of Jesus, but that’s all they are. There’s no divinity, and if there were it wouldn’t make any difference.

If a god could be proven to exist, i’d not want to worship. Quite simply, any god that required worshipping wouldn’t be worthy of being a god.

Our humanity is all we have. We’re conscious animals. When words such as “unfathomable” are used, i say, try harder. That’s not to confuse with spirituality. I’m immersed in it, as a human being. That’s what we should be embracing, not some invented externality. The universe has more beauty than we can yet see, but we can only try, and take our place within it.

No god, just humanity. Let’s find out who we really are. There doesn’t have to be a “why”. It’s an unnecessary question which prevents understanding.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I would like to stress that Thomson’s article on the Pope is from someone who has a rather large chip on his shoulder. He may be right, but it is difficult to find people as dismissing of Francis as he is.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Fsir point, but there’s more than enough evidence for the jury (as it were) to still be out.

My main point isn’t about individuals though, but rather beliefs among humans, whereby such systems arise.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Because George Pell upped and died?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Fsir point, but there’s more than enough evidence for the jury (as it were) to still be out.

My main point isn’t about individuals though, but rather beliefs among humans, whereby such systems arise.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Because George Pell upped and died?

Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

We shouldn’t blame God for the sins of the world. They are (natural disasters apart) largely the fault of human beings. The point of a deity is to have an objective set of values against which one measures one’s own conduct. Mankind will always follow the path of least resistance and then attempt to justify it. We ignore God’s guiding star at our peril.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben P

My point is precisely that ‘sins’ are part of the human condition, but that we shouldn’t ascribe that concept to them, since it’s primarily based upon a religious interpretation of the world which just isn’t helpful.
It’s time for humanity to move on beyond these old concepts, and only by doing so will we finally be able to recognise ourselves and stop using concepts such a god to hide behind, under the guise of “an objective set of values” which are anything but.
Just as all the bad things that happen are human, so are all the good things, and there’s plenty of those of course. So we should credit ourselves where due, look more closely and honestly about what we’re doing wrong, and continue to strive to improve our lot. No need for a concept of god in any of this.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben P

My point is precisely that ‘sins’ are part of the human condition, but that we shouldn’t ascribe that concept to them, since it’s primarily based upon a religious interpretation of the world which just isn’t helpful.
It’s time for humanity to move on beyond these old concepts, and only by doing so will we finally be able to recognise ourselves and stop using concepts such a god to hide behind, under the guise of “an objective set of values” which are anything but.
Just as all the bad things that happen are human, so are all the good things, and there’s plenty of those of course. So we should credit ourselves where due, look more closely and honestly about what we’re doing wrong, and continue to strive to improve our lot. No need for a concept of god in any of this.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Holiness is not a “concept,” Steve, but an experience. But I’ve discussed some of this in another comment.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well said, Steve. I do not understand your downvotes.

Peter Watson
PW
Peter Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Boy you really are lost. Repent before you disappear into eternity.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What is our true nature and what is the evidence for your answer?

Hendrik Mentz
HM
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Hi Steve. I do not speak of belief or anything ‘out there’ separate from me. I speak of totality, as in God. I speak of relationship, of community, the sacred and of mystery embodied in the Christ who for me symbolises the suffering of every man, woman and child – also sacrifice, the unfathomable, and whatever flows therefrom. Any epistemology that doesn’t account for and embrace the foregoing, falls short, for me. As for your reference to ‘sin’, that for me requires acknowledging, living, and integrating the darkness within me; and you doing very much the same yourself.

Arkadian X
AA
Arkadian X
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I would like to stress that Thomson’s article on the Pope is from someone who has a rather large chip on his shoulder. He may be right, but it is difficult to find people as dismissing of Francis as he is.

Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

We shouldn’t blame God for the sins of the world. They are (natural disasters apart) largely the fault of human beings. The point of a deity is to have an objective set of values against which one measures one’s own conduct. Mankind will always follow the path of least resistance and then attempt to justify it. We ignore God’s guiding star at our peril.

Paul Nathanson
PN
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Holiness is not a “concept,” Steve, but an experience. But I’ve discussed some of this in another comment.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Rick Lawrence
RL
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well said, Steve. I do not understand your downvotes.

Peter Watson
Peter Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Boy you really are lost. Repent before you disappear into eternity.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What is our true nature and what is the evidence for your answer?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

I have to disagree with your conclusion. It’s my very considered view that only once humanity has weaned itself away from belief in a divinity will we ever start to get to grips with our true nature. Concepts of ‘sin’ and suchlike are beyond useless to deal with the reality, and only serve to hinder a proper and full exploration of what it truly means to be part of an animal species that developed consciousness.

This also requires the kind of examination of ourselves that today’s article on child abuse demands. Giles mentions that one of the mentors of the Archbishop (or was it his mentor?) was found to have abused young boys. You also refer to the recent article on the Pope, which primarily involved the amount of corruption and abuse within the Church of Rome. Clearly, ‘holiness’ is another hollow concept which needs to be shown for what it is.

Belief in a god has created the current condition, whereby loss of that belief isn’t the problem, but rather the realisation that we humans are very good at fooling ourselves, and that this gets developed into systems and hierarchies. Enough is enough.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago

But what has God got to do with any of this? Sounds like a flippant question but early on in the Covid ‘pandemic’ it struck me – someone who hasn’t stepped inside a church for years – that the only thing standing between me, Hendrik Mentz, and a totalising dystopian future ruled by the algorithm, is community founded on the sacred, embodied in the mystery of Christ. I’m more convinced today than ever. But this essay and the earlier by Thompson (Ten terrible years of Pope Francis) have shattered that illusion. (The only gleanable hope was you kept your church open.) It’s now or never (returning to the original question) otherwise I fear it’s tickets for humanity.

Catherine Berman
Catherine Berman
1 year ago

If the Church of England has never felt weaker, perhaps it is because it is abandoning its fundamental teachings.

Catherine Berman
Catherine Berman
1 year ago

If the Church of England has never felt weaker, perhaps it is because it is abandoning its fundamental teachings.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago

There is a certain amount of ‘shop talk’ you expect among professional clergy, as their worldly calling and their spiritual calling intermingle in uncomfortable ways.
That said, it tells you all you really need to know about the current state of the Church of England that its participants think this kind of article is the right way to analyze it. This article has the same tone and approach as dozens of similar articles written every month about the leaders of major secular institutions, a university or charity or business or museum or govt dept. It is asking about personality, ‘management style,’ organizational questions, environmental headwinds, etc.
For any religious institution – from jihadists to the Holy See to shop-front churches in rural America or Africa – the first point of analysis must always be a religious one. What do these people believe and why? And how does their belief distinguish how they live from others in their societies? And do those distinctives enrich their lives or impoverish them?
What does the Church of England believe now? Anglicanism is dying precisely because religion is not and can never be a “big tent” affair. It is the essential relationship between man and eternity, between being and not-being, between shame and redemption, etc. etc. It can only transmute from a singular experience to “organized religion” under two conditions: political force, or collective agreement. Neither of those conditions obtain for the C of E today.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

The Church of England has always been big tent, offering weddings, blessings, baptisms and funerals to all who live in its Parishes

Kirk Susong
KS
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

Of course – and once there was the politico-cultural will to sustain such a social presence without getting too bothered about who believed what. There were plenty of non-religious purposes served by this ubiquitous religious institution. But that hasn’t been the case for a long time, and without them, the big tent will inevitably fold.
Unless, of course, there’s a revival of belief. Who’s game?

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Wrong, plenty still get married or buried in my local Parish Church, including those who aren’t regular church goers. At Mothers’ Day on Sunday it was packed as it is for Christmas and Easter

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Baker
Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Yes it is, our local church is regularly holding weddings and funerals and was full last Mother’s Day

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Not true at all, my local Parish church is regularly full for weddings, funerals and baptisms and was full last Sunday for Mothering Sunday too

Kirk Susong
KS
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

Anecdotal evidence? So, based on your local parish church, you believe the C of E is a healthy and robust institution? <<shrug>>

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

In rural areas and market towns like where I live yes, worship is still centred around the historic Church of England Parish Church, as are weddings, funerals etc. In big cities apart from cathedrals there is more competition as more Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic churches and mosques and temples too

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

He asked if you thought it was robust….and shrugged. The consensus of pretty well every single person here, even Giles Fraser, is that the CoE is buggered. This is a postmortem. God can raise the dead. But I wonder why he would bother…which is a shame because as a cradle Quaker turned atheist turned pagan turned Catholic….I still love Anglican hymns best. But unless people like Giles Fraser show a little courage and understand that the church is there to form people not the other way around….it is buggered

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

He asked if you thought it was robust….and shrugged. The consensus of pretty well every single person here, even Giles Fraser, is that the CoE is buggered. This is a postmortem. God can raise the dead. But I wonder why he would bother…which is a shame because as a cradle Quaker turned atheist turned pagan turned Catholic….I still love Anglican hymns best. But unless people like Giles Fraser show a little courage and understand that the church is there to form people not the other way around….it is buggered

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

In rural areas and market towns like where I live yes, worship is still centred around the historic Church of England Parish Church, as are weddings, funerals etc. In big cities apart from cathedrals there is more competition as more Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic churches and mosques and temples too

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

Anecdotal evidence? So, based on your local parish church, you believe the C of E is a healthy and robust institution? <<shrug>>

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Wrong, plenty still get married or buried in my local Parish Church, including those who aren’t regular church goers. At Mothers’ Day on Sunday it was packed as it is for Christmas and Easter

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Baker
Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Yes it is, our local church is regularly holding weddings and funerals and was full last Mother’s Day

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Not true at all, my local Parish church is regularly full for weddings, funerals and baptisms and was full last Sunday for Mothering Sunday too

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Baker

Of course – and once there was the politico-cultural will to sustain such a social presence without getting too bothered about who believed what. There were plenty of non-religious purposes served by this ubiquitous religious institution. But that hasn’t been the case for a long time, and without them, the big tent will inevitably fold.
Unless, of course, there’s a revival of belief. Who’s game?

Simon Baker
SB
Simon Baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

The Church of England has always been big tent, offering weddings, blessings, baptisms and funerals to all who live in its Parishes

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago

There is a certain amount of ‘shop talk’ you expect among professional clergy, as their worldly calling and their spiritual calling intermingle in uncomfortable ways.
That said, it tells you all you really need to know about the current state of the Church of England that its participants think this kind of article is the right way to analyze it. This article has the same tone and approach as dozens of similar articles written every month about the leaders of major secular institutions, a university or charity or business or museum or govt dept. It is asking about personality, ‘management style,’ organizational questions, environmental headwinds, etc.
For any religious institution – from jihadists to the Holy See to shop-front churches in rural America or Africa – the first point of analysis must always be a religious one. What do these people believe and why? And how does their belief distinguish how they live from others in their societies? And do those distinctives enrich their lives or impoverish them?
What does the Church of England believe now? Anglicanism is dying precisely because religion is not and can never be a “big tent” affair. It is the essential relationship between man and eternity, between being and not-being, between shame and redemption, etc. etc. It can only transmute from a singular experience to “organized religion” under two conditions: political force, or collective agreement. Neither of those conditions obtain for the C of E today.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago

Floreat Britannia, floreat Etona. As late as 2016 the heir-but-one to the throne, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister had all been educated at the same school.
We are led by hang-wringing liberals distraught by their privilege and unable to make tough and unpopular decisions. The country (including the Church of England) is now paying a terrible price. We lost our way in the 1950s for the same reason.
Energy, drive and a renewed focus are desperately needed to arrest this alarming decline.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ben P
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben P

Both Eden and Macmillan were Etonians.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben P

Both Eden and Macmillan were Etonians.

Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago

Floreat Britannia, floreat Etona. As late as 2016 the heir-but-one to the throne, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister had all been educated at the same school.
We are led by hang-wringing liberals distraught by their privilege and unable to make tough and unpopular decisions. The country (including the Church of England) is now paying a terrible price. We lost our way in the 1950s for the same reason.
Energy, drive and a renewed focus are desperately needed to arrest this alarming decline.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ben P
james elliott
james elliott
1 year ago

“Ideologically, Welby can be what you want him to be.”

It is a tremendous advantage when scaling the greasy pole of promotion, to have no principles whatsoever.

Which explains Welby’s rise.

Can we please get rid and get an actual sincere Christian in the role?

‘Woke’ is anti-Christian, since it is the ideological heir of Marxism – a 19th Century religion in which Man and the State *replace* God. One cannot be Woke and Christian, since that would be a contradiction in terms.

Last edited 1 year ago by james elliott
Peter Lee
Peter Lee
1 year ago
Reply to  james elliott

1

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Lee
Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  james elliott

Woke is the successor ideology. We either want it to succeed, or we are Christians. There is no middle ground.

Peter Lee
PL
Peter Lee
1 year ago
Reply to  james elliott

1

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Lee
Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  james elliott

Woke is the successor ideology. We either want it to succeed, or we are Christians. There is no middle ground.

james elliott
james elliott
1 year ago

“Ideologically, Welby can be what you want him to be.”

It is a tremendous advantage when scaling the greasy pole of promotion, to have no principles whatsoever.

Which explains Welby’s rise.

Can we please get rid and get an actual sincere Christian in the role?

‘Woke’ is anti-Christian, since it is the ideological heir of Marxism – a 19th Century religion in which Man and the State *replace* God. One cannot be Woke and Christian, since that would be a contradiction in terms.

Last edited 1 year ago by james elliott
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

My eldest son was confirmed by Welby, then Bishop of Durham,in a rather splendid ceremony in Durham Cathedral involving blazing bonfires and the first light filtering through the stained glass of the East window and the liberal application of holy oil. He was a very affable and approachable man but I can understand Giles’s assessment.

Managerialism has taken over not just Anglicanism but Methodism that I have been involved in through my wife. The Methodist church is desperate to close churches on economic grounds, although it inevitably sheds much of their congregations. During covid the ministers confined themselves to zooming like Welby. Absurdly they refused to furlough the ministers so a financial hole was blown in church funding and in the aftermath one minister was able to persuade the three churches she covered to close by consulting only those who could be persuaded. Many will say: “so what if they were struggling”. But the closure affected many of the non religious community organisations that used the church premises and weakened further community ties.

The value of the church is as a physical centre to foster the interconnectedness of communities that are not reliant on some specific mutual interest. The idea Methodism can return to its origin in biblical study groups and those eager to hear a sermon unconnected to a physical church simply will not fly.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The Church of England did furlough those staff whom it could. Most Clergy are not employees but are office holders. As such we could not be furloughed.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

Could office holders not be furloughed? Did furlough only apply to employees only? An odd distinction if that was the case.

Mike Doyle
MD
Mike Doyle
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Who could be furloughed was up to the Government and, as far as I know, didn’t apply to any officeholders.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Who could be furloughed was up to the Government and, as far as I know, didn’t apply to any officeholders.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

Could office holders not be furloughed? Did furlough only apply to employees only? An odd distinction if that was the case.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes, the value of churches is community.

Mike Doyle
MD
Mike Doyle
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The Church of England did furlough those staff whom it could. Most Clergy are not employees but are office holders. As such we could not be furloughed.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes, the value of churches is community.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

My eldest son was confirmed by Welby, then Bishop of Durham,in a rather splendid ceremony in Durham Cathedral involving blazing bonfires and the first light filtering through the stained glass of the East window and the liberal application of holy oil. He was a very affable and approachable man but I can understand Giles’s assessment.

Managerialism has taken over not just Anglicanism but Methodism that I have been involved in through my wife. The Methodist church is desperate to close churches on economic grounds, although it inevitably sheds much of their congregations. During covid the ministers confined themselves to zooming like Welby. Absurdly they refused to furlough the ministers so a financial hole was blown in church funding and in the aftermath one minister was able to persuade the three churches she covered to close by consulting only those who could be persuaded. Many will say: “so what if they were struggling”. But the closure affected many of the non religious community organisations that used the church premises and weakened further community ties.

The value of the church is as a physical centre to foster the interconnectedness of communities that are not reliant on some specific mutual interest. The idea Methodism can return to its origin in biblical study groups and those eager to hear a sermon unconnected to a physical church simply will not fly.

Andrew D
AD
Andrew D
1 year ago

The picture is absurd. You should never smile broadly while wearing a mitre – it makes you look slightly mad, or like the cat who got the cream, or both. Prelates should cultivate an air of gravitas and solemnity. Take a lesson from the Orthodox clergy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew D
CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

What beards crawling with microscopic vermin, as seen on Mt Athos for example?

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago

Even better!

Paul K
Paul K
1 year ago

Perhaps you need a holiday. Athos would be a good retreat.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

I think I would probably fail the entrance requirement test, assuming there still is one.

geoffrey cox
geoffrey cox
1 year ago

I think you would pass the basic one, given that your name is Charles – unless, of course, it’s a nom de folie and you’re really Charlotte.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  geoffrey cox

It would have to be Karlos I think.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  geoffrey cox

It would have to be Karlos I think.

geoffrey cox
geoffrey cox
1 year ago

I think you would pass the basic one, given that your name is Charles – unless, of course, it’s a nom de folie and you’re really Charlotte.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul K

I think I would probably fail the entrance requirement test, assuming there still is one.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago

Even better!

Paul K
Paul K
1 year ago

Perhaps you need a holiday. Athos would be a good retreat.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Hilarious. “while wearing a mitre and carrying an umbrella” no less.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

What beards crawling with microscopic vermin, as seen on Mt Athos for example?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Hilarious. “while wearing a mitre and carrying an umbrella” no less.

Andrew D
AD
Andrew D
1 year ago

The picture is absurd. You should never smile broadly while wearing a mitre – it makes you look slightly mad, or like the cat who got the cream, or both. Prelates should cultivate an air of gravitas and solemnity. Take a lesson from the Orthodox clergy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew D
ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

I didn’t actually realised that Welby was an OE but I’m hardly surprised; it answers a number of questions.

Facing the greatest challenge of recent times, this Blairite beaurocrat abandoned his flock and withdrew into empty posturing.

I’m not a devout man by any standards but I always derived a certain comfort from the forms of the religion of my upbringing. Deprived of that in a moment of general crisis left me wondering what, if anything the CofE was FOR. This isn’t new; two generations of war veterans made similar comments about the uselessness of CofE chaplains, compared to the RC sort. It’s instructive that the figures of moral authority who emerged from the hellish Japanese camps were as often as not, military rather than religious; Col Toohey and Major Fagan come to mind.

geoffrey cox
GC
geoffrey cox
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

Noel Duckworth was an outstanding exception to your last observation.

ben arnulfssen
BA
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago
Reply to  geoffrey cox

True. I had the honour of encountering (I can’t say “meeting” because it was a school occasion) “Padre Noel” and was much impressed. However I can’t help observing that he seems to have been a man of firm principles and highly competitive as well.

So I’ll see your Noel Duckworth and raise you the “Chaplain of Colditz” as unflattering portrayed by Pat Reid and others.

ben arnulfssen
BA
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago
Reply to  geoffrey cox

True. I had the honour of encountering (I can’t say “meeting” because it was a school occasion) “Padre Noel” and was much impressed. However I can’t help observing that he seems to have been a man of firm principles and highly competitive as well.

So I’ll see your Noel Duckworth and raise you the “Chaplain of Colditz” as unflattering portrayed by Pat Reid and others.

geoffrey cox
geoffrey cox
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

Noel Duckworth was an outstanding exception to your last observation.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

I didn’t actually realised that Welby was an OE but I’m hardly surprised; it answers a number of questions.

Facing the greatest challenge of recent times, this Blairite beaurocrat abandoned his flock and withdrew into empty posturing.

I’m not a devout man by any standards but I always derived a certain comfort from the forms of the religion of my upbringing. Deprived of that in a moment of general crisis left me wondering what, if anything the CofE was FOR. This isn’t new; two generations of war veterans made similar comments about the uselessness of CofE chaplains, compared to the RC sort. It’s instructive that the figures of moral authority who emerged from the hellish Japanese camps were as often as not, military rather than religious; Col Toohey and Major Fagan come to mind.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

He certainly cannot read the African, Caribbean and Asian room…..

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

He certainly cannot read the African, Caribbean and Asian room…..

geoffrey cox
GC
geoffrey cox
1 year ago

Welby made it clear from the beginning that he was attracted to Christianity and to ordained ministry because he saw it primarily as a means of ‘making the world a better place’. You don’t have to be Thomas Aquinas to see that this is the wrong end of the stick, you simply have to read the Gospels.But it does explain why he and many of his colleagues choose to talk and behave as though the first and great commandment is to love one’s neighbour. This, of course, allows them to represent their various ideologies, preoccupations and fashionable mantras as the fulfilment of this precept. But on the actual great commandment, when was the last time you heard any of them even attempt to give guidance to the general public on the perplexing concept of loving God? Productions of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark have rarely been a success.

geoffrey cox
GC
geoffrey cox
1 year ago

Welby made it clear from the beginning that he was attracted to Christianity and to ordained ministry because he saw it primarily as a means of ‘making the world a better place’. You don’t have to be Thomas Aquinas to see that this is the wrong end of the stick, you simply have to read the Gospels.But it does explain why he and many of his colleagues choose to talk and behave as though the first and great commandment is to love one’s neighbour. This, of course, allows them to represent their various ideologies, preoccupations and fashionable mantras as the fulfilment of this precept. But on the actual great commandment, when was the last time you heard any of them even attempt to give guidance to the general public on the perplexing concept of loving God? Productions of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark have rarely been a success.

Margaret TC
Margaret TC
1 year ago

Fussing as he has done before over the takeover of the CofE by mangement speak Giles completely fails to address the crisis that threatens actually to split it. This was triggered by the recent ‘agreement’ he mentions in passing (‘and the Church has now agreed on prayers for blessing same-sex marriages’). I foresaw this split in a piece I offered to Unherd a year ago, which they chose not to publish, though it has since been read with interest by theologians and bishops. Why will neither Unherd nor Giles bite this bullet?