Thursday, 17 November 2011

Confessions of an online porn junkie

[...] I’m part of the first generation of men to grow up with internet pornography as part and parcel of everyday life. I’ve never had to pay for pornography; I’ve never faced the embarrassment of asking for it and, when I tire of one image, there’s always another . . . and another . . . and another.

Type the words ‘free porn’ into an internet search engine and you’ll get more than 25 million hits, with most sites containing hundreds, if not thousands, of pornographic images.

Internet porn was part of my life throughout my late teens and into early adulthood. But now, at 23, I’m increasingly aware that I have a problem. I’m not yet ready to describe myself as an addict, but there’s no denying that internet porn has become a deeply ingrained daily habit. Indeed, I struggle to get through a day without at least one visit to one of my favourite sites.

Now, I’m sure many of you will be mouthing a quiet ‘Yuk’ as you read this and I entirely understand your reaction. But what you need to know is that I’m certainly not alone — I’m convinced that virtually every man of my age will access internet porn sites on a reasonably regular basis, as will many men twice or even three times my age.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Shrinking Jesus and Betraying the Faith

The following article was submitted by the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, XII Bishop of South Carolina, Retired

What caused the crisis now being faced not only by the Diocese of South Carolina but by the entire western Christian Church? It’s more than an issue of sexuality. It’s one of pandering to the secular culture, of shrinking Jesus and betraying the faith.

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan are two remarkably popular theologians who teach a version of Christianity that reduces the Christian faith to contemporary secular assumptions. For Crossan, Jesus was an illiterate Jewish cynic. No Incarnation no Resurrection. The Easter story is “fictional mythology” (p. 161, Jesus a Revolutionary Biography). Borg claims that Jesus was only divine in the sense that Martin Luther King and Gandhi were divine.  Borg dismisses the creeds (p.10, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time) Jesus was a “spirit person,” “a mediator of the sacred,” “a shaman,” one of those persons like Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, et al. (p. 32)

Recently Borg and Crossan have collaborated on a book, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Final Days in Jerusalem.  Their Jesus is a semi-revolutionary leader of peasants and outcasts against the priestly elite and those who accommodate to the dominant system of Roman coercive authority. It was not our sinful condition that demanded his crucifixion but this elite.  Borg and Crossan’s Jesus does not come from God to take away sin but arose from among the innocent to teach us how not to be a part of the dominant systems. They fail to understand the depth of sin in all of us at all times, including peasants, as well as the elite. More importantly they lose the assurance of ultimate mercy and forgiveness. Read more

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bishop of Chelmsford sets out 15-year transformation plan

The Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford has set out his strategy for how the Essex diocese should look by 2025.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell unveiled his 'Transforming Presence' paper at a meeting of the diocesan synod.

He said the church had to face the prospect of fewer paid clergy, and parishioners needed be more evangelical and more open about their faith.

The church, he stated, would "simply carry on managing our decline" if it did not change over the next 15 years.

Bishop Cottrell said: "What we've done is set the compass. We need to work out what is the best route. "This consultation will bring 1,000 people from right across the diocese saying 'we know where we want to go to - how are we going to get there?'"

The Chelmsford Diocesan Synod passed a resolution supporting the paper on Saturday and will discuss it further in January. Read more

Church rift widens as aide attacks bishop over handling of St Paul's protest

A senior aide to the Archbishop of Canterbury has ridiculed the Bishop of London over his handling of the St Paul's protest.

An email sent from an official close to Rowan Williams expressed dismay over Dr Richard Chartres's role in the crisis and accused him of presiding over a public relations disaster.

The message, seen by the Evening Standard, is further evidence of a growing rift at the top of the Church of England over the Occupy London protest camp on St Paul's doorstep.

Initially, the Bishop of London called for the anti-capitalist "tent city" to leave and encouraged the cathedral to take legal action against the protesters.

However, St Paul's, led by Dr Chartres, performed a U-turn last Tuesday and dropped plans to seek a High Court injunction against the 250-tent camp. It is understood the decision followed a phone call last Monday between the Bishop and Dr Williams, who is said to have been deeply unhappy at the cathedral's initial decision. Later that day the Archbishop released a statement backing the protesters and said he sympathised with the "urgent larger issues" they raised.

The row emerged today as St Paul's published a report that argued the development of technology had caused the City to lose its morals. Read more

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cautionary thoughts on AMiE from the 'Churchman' editorial

[...] That the supporters of AMiE are enthusiastic and well-meaning we have no doubt. That their fears about the general drift of the Church are real must also be recognised. Nobody should criticise this new initiative without taking these things into consideration and committing themselves to the same goals as AMiE – Gospel-based evangelism for the conversion of our nation. Those who cannot join with AMiE for other reasons must not lose sight of what ought to be the aims of every committed member of the Church of England. It is understandable that bishops do not want to be cornered by clergy demanding that they adhere to resolutions of past Lambeth Conferences as if they were the sole test of whether one should be in communion with them.

At the same time, the Church should not appoint men to senior positions if there is reason to doubt their loyalty to its official teaching and should not tolerate bishops who try to discipline their clergy for nothing more than their determination to defend orthodoxy. Church leaders who castigate the antics of conservative clergy but do nothing to remedy the defects that have caused their protests must realise that they are the ones who have done more than anyone else to bring AMiE into being. Just as the Archbishop of Canterbury is the true founder of GAFCON by virtue of his own prevarications, so these leaders of the establishment have created a market for the likes of AMiE.

Having said that, England is not the USA and there are serious difficulties about adopting a tactic that has been developed and employed in a very different ecclesiastical context. For a start, it appears that AMiE has ignored the legal status of the Church of England, something that puts it in a very different position from that of TEC. There are legal constraints in England that make it much more difficult to operate the kind of parallel system that the supporters of AMiE seem to want. Those ordained outside the official framework of the Church cannot minister in it without a licence, which can be hard to obtain if the circumstances of the ordination are irregular. This may not matter to the enthusiasts, but it is bound to be a consideration for many
who lack the support base that some of the larger churches can command. Could an AMiE church function outside the suburbs of our big cities? It is a safe bet that hardly any rural parishes or clergy will be attracted to it, nor will those engaged in non-parochial ministries find it attractive. The grassroots of the Church of England are averse to disrupting the system and those who try to do so are liable to be left high and dry.

Another factor we must consider is the growing weight of conservative voices inside the existing Church establishment. The recent General Synod elections have shown this, and there are signs that more orthodox men will be appointed to senior positions in the future. Perfection is unlikely to be achieved, but it
may well be possible to vote down unwelcome liberal initiatives in Synod and make it clear where the limits of tolerance for episcopal eccentricities lie. Read more (*.pdf download)

Does Britain really hate its children?

Anne Marie Carrie, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, unveiled a survey last week that seemed to indicate that Britons, as a whole, don’t like children very much, or at least the general concept of children. Almost half of respondents believed that they are becoming “feral” and “like animals”, and view them as violent, angry and abusive. A rather worrying 38 per cent don’t believe that children who get into trouble need to be helped. “What hope is there for childhood in the UK today if this is how adults think?” she said.

Broadly speaking, she is right. Of course, the majority of parents in Britain are inclined to think the best of their own children. But even then, there is often the stubborn notion that their encroachment on our time must be strictly regulated, and hours spent with them dutifully ticked off in a mental box.

In spectacularly dysfunctional families, of the kind that came to light during the heartbreaking case of Shannon Matthews, the children’s needs scarcely figure at all. Shannon and her siblings scrabbled in the margins of the parents’ existence for crumbs of attention and hit-and-miss meals.
At the other end of the spectrum, children are togged out in the cutest gear, their little lives progressing from the Gina Ford regime to a hectic whirl of “improving” activities. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as they enjoy it – but sometimes it feels as if the manic middle-class schedule is powered not by the child’s own desires, but the parental terror of “downtime”, the icy fear of what dark chaos might unfurl if you all just loafed around, bickering, chatting or examining the anatomical construction of snails in the back yard. Read more

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fallen dictators and notions of hell

[...] Preachers in most churches today have long since stopped preaching about hell, but it doesn’t seem to stop people resurrecting the idea for those who are the target of all the Western world’s venom, hatred and desire for revenge. What the church has become embarrassed to even refer to does still resonate in many non-Christian minds as a just recompense for the high ranked perpetrators of global evil and wickedness. I guess it’s just generally thought that it’s only people who are deemed to be in that category who go there. The possibility of ordinary mortals – society’s “Joe Average” – ending up there is not generally contemplated! Read more