Church Regeneration
Church of England

The Church of England is not dying – it is regenerating

 

It’s been well publicised this week that there are one or two Church of England congregations that aren’t exactly bursting at the seams. If you go to a Church of England church and find that you can count more of your own fingers and toes than people attending all of its services on a Sunday, don’t be surprised; you’re in good company. This is the case in a quarter of all C of E churches and for rural churches it’s half. With 16,000 buildings and not a lot of people filling many of them, the Church of England is in a bit of a pickle.

What do you do when a church congregation is in single figures but their Grade I listed village church is costing over £11,000 a year just to keep it useable? If it was any sensible business running the show, it would be time for lights out and instructions to the attendees to go and find somewhere else. But of course the Church of England is not a sensible business so those sorts of rules don’t apply.

As we know church attendance has been declining for over a century, but there’s only really been one plan for the C of E during much of this time and that’s to carry on regardless. This is not even a survival strategy; it’s a hopeless attitude of sitting on a long slide into oblivion and pretending you’ll never get there.

Well believe it or not large parts of the Church of England are just about there and as you might expect, it’s not a great place to be. The parish system has been on its last legs for years. Individual clergy have been taking responsibility for more and more churches meaning their limited time and resources are spread increasingly thinly. Multi-parish benefices are finding it more and more difficult to make appointments as most clergy have understandably limited interest in running around madly looking after a bunch of churches with hardly anyone going to them.

Take my diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich. It has 134 clergy, 478 church buildings and being a very rural area of has a population of 1,379 per church. Despite rural Church of England attendance being much better than the national average, these figures are increasingly failing to add up. Apart from the C of E’s past inability to take much notice of its mounting problems, additional factors have compounded the situation. Over the last few centuries we’ve had rural populations decline significantly in proportion to urban dwellers and with the advent of car ownership, those who do make the effort to go to church are not automatically going to attend their local church. If you have young children, but the least elderly member of your village church’s congregation is in their 50s, is that going to be your first choice, or will it be a church in the town 10 miles down the road that has a thriving children’s ministry? Even St Paul would have had trouble building up a village congregation given these circumstances.

With 57 per cent of C of E buildings in rural areas, the solution, according to Giles Fraser at least, is simply to blow them up. I have to agree with him that large parts of the Church of England are mired in nostalgia and obsessed with its buildings. This week’s Church Buildings report, which is the first to be produced in years by the C of E, says a great deal about how all of these church buildings bear witness to the Christian faith and the history and memories that are contained within them. The truth though, is that many are saying that Christianity is firmly rooted in the past and that we were once a Christian nation. Buildings speak of what has been, but the people who frequent them are the ones who reveal the present and the future (or the lack of it).

Blowing up a few thousand churches is rather extreme and won’t go down well with local councils’ planning departments, but the choice is stark. Either these buildings will have to see their use adapted considerably for the benefit of local people or they need to become ‘festival churches’ – only open for festivals and special events – or effectively closed for good.

The mistake that is made regularly when we see this state of affairs is to think that the Christian faith is dying. There’s far too much evidence to the contrary for that to be true, but it demonstrates what happens when society moves on and the Church gets left behind. It also is a reminder that if churches spend more of their time concerning themselves with the upkeep of their buildings rather than in mission to their local communities then their buildings are in danger of becoming expensive museum pieces. On this topic, the respected Christian missiologist, Alan Hirsch wrote this yesterday:

In the midst of the rapid change and hyper-growth of almost everything around us, we as the Church have lost our voice to impact the culture. Now more than ever, what is “new and improved” becomes “old and worn out” in just a fraction of the time. This dramatically impacts the mission of the church. As leaders responsible for our generation, we simply cannot expect significantly different outcomes using outmoded understandings of church and culture. If churches are not prepared for what is here today, how will they respond to what lies ahead?

The good news is that we can become the church as it was always meant to be––a rapidly spreading, high impact, movement. We need not settle merely for striving in this rapidly changing world; Jesus’ people can actually thrive in it, and God willing, even redirect it. But if we are to do so, we will have to change. Jesus has given us everything we need to get the job done. Our greatest opportunity is to recover the forgotten ways of church-as-missional-movement

The good news is also that all types of churches up and down the country are creatively adapting their ministries and the use of their buildings in order to share the unchanging message of the gospel. We are rediscovering what was taken for granted in mediaeval times; that church buildings can be a resource and a blessing to a local community whilst still being a place of reverent prayer and worship.

We may be seeing church buildings close for many years to come, but at the same time we are also seeing new ones being born like the multi-million pound C3 Church in Cambridge which opened this month, or the renovation of a derelict gasworks in Birmingham, which as the Times reported at great length on Saturday, ‘is about to become a beacon to attract young people into an encounter with Jesus.’ The Diocese of Birmingham is investing £1 million and has recruited the well-known songwriter and worship leader, (the now Rev) Tim Hughes to head up a new church in the city’s clubbing heartland. Even though the building work is still underway and the first service only took place on Sunday, Hughes is already talking about putting on events and courses, training leaders and planting groups from its community into struggling churches to revivify them. These are anything but the words of a church in retreat.

The Church of England is not in terminal decline despite its past and current failures. The dead wood is being pruned and the new shoots that are growing up in its place will bear plenty of fruit if they are watered well and allowed to flourish. As we have seen time and again, God refuses to let his church slip away. The Church of England is not dying – it is regenerating.

  • len

    Perhaps there was much in the Church of England that needed to die so that God could breath His Life into the dying embers and so revive it……
    God can use what others intend for evil and turn it into good, and many have tried to destroy the Church of England (from without and from within) so I hope and pray the Church of England is regenerating in a form that God will be able to work through…..

    • sarky

      You can try and be optomistic, but when 16000 churches are under threat and the article can only talk about two or three doing well, then you really are in trouble.

      • CliveM

        Don’t misrepresent. It talks about 2 or 3, it no where says its only 2 or 3.

        • sarky

          2 or 3, 20 or 30, 200 or 300 it doesn’t matter, the facts speak for themselves.

  • sarky

    All the above is very well but if your congregation is aged 50+, how on earth are they going to understand modern culture let alone relate to younger people?
    I hear all the time from christians ‘we are in the world but not of the world’ and there is your problem. This self enforced separation means that the modern world has passed you by. You cannot relate becsuse you don’t understand. I am able to speak and relate to my kids because I make the effort to understand the world they live. I am social media savvy and I know all the latest youtubers.
    You have missed a trick and now you are flailing around madly trying to catch up, the problem is that by the time you have caught up the world will have moved on again.
    I have no answers. I think the problem is the stable door is still open and the horses are long gone.

  • How does Islam attract young people of non-Islamic faith to their religion?
    The Church should be out there trying to attract people, not sitting back waiting for them to come.
    Where are its missionaries?

    • sarky

      Simple. Christianity is not offering an attractive alternative.

      • Busy Mum

        There is nothing attractive about Christianity, except the fruit, and you will not see fruit without the root.

        • sarky

          Part of the problem is that you all talk in riddles. All that ‘church speak’ means nothing to the man on the street.

          • Busy Mum

            John 15, Galatians 5….
            This is the problem with the C21st man on the street. He is far less Biblically literate than the C19th man on the street.

          • sarky

            Thats what I’m trying to say. You need to assume no bible knowledge in the public (which is pretty much how it is). If you assume prior knowledge then your words mean nothing.

          • This is actually a very valid point. Jack maybe wrong but sometimes he forms the impression that some believe there is a certain ‘magic’ in the words of scripture that once spoken will convert. One has to evangelise according to the situation of one audience.

          • len

            Certain ‘Power’ in the Gospel to those that’ have ears to hear’.

            ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.’ ( Romans 1:6)

          • Quoting scripture serves no real purpose if the minds of those are unable to understand it. That’s the point being made. Haranguing folk with accusatory language and threats of damnation is not evangelising.

          • len

            Are you saying God has got it wrong?

          • Not at all … just folk like you.

          • The Explorer

            Ever listened to a bunch of postmodernists? Or tried to read Lacan?

      • Albert

        This is interesting. The original question was How does Islam attract young people of non-Islamic faith to their religion? Your answer does not address that question. So I take it you think that Islam is more attractive to young people than Christianity. What is it about Islam that is more attractive than Christianity?

        • sarky

          Strength and belonging.

          • Albert

            That’s helpful. I would have thought you would have both of those things in Catholicism, though. So I think there are other cultural things that prevent people even giving Christianity a chance.

          • sarky

            If you are a disaffected youth who is a nothing in his own community, joining a community that (wrongly) is feared gives you a feeling of strength.
            For example, which would you have more concern over. A bunch of christian protesters? Or a bunch of muslim protesters?

          • The Explorer

            I query the ‘wrongly’. A religion that can burn a pilot alive and celebrate beheadings on the internet, that can inspire Boko Haram on one side of Africa and Al Shebab at the other has some reason for being feared. (Or, at best, treated with wariness.) But the rest is spot on.

          • God help the West if Turkey joins the EU after the latest moves from that organisation concerning the refugees from Syria. Study their recent record concerning Christianity.

          • CliveM

            I thought you keep telling us that we have nothing to worry about Islam, now you appear to be suggesting it’s the violence that attractive?

          • The Explorer

            He’s arguing it isn’t really violent, but it is perceived to be violent. Quite why it’s perceived to be violent is a mystery.

          • CliveM

            You’d think all these people who are attracted by the perceived violence would feel a little cheated if it’s not there? Is that why so many of them plot acts of violence, because they feel cheated?

          • The Explorer

            Deep. That may be why so many in so many times and so many places have felt driven to violence: to turn the religion into what they feel it ought to have been; although it isn’t. It goes right back to the early beginnings. I believe that of the first four rightly-guided caliphs, three were assassinated. Two of them in the mosque while at prayer. People were misunderstanding the peaceful message even then.

          • CliveM

            Where they?

          • The Explorer

            Well, maybe not. Muhammad is recorded as saying on his deathbed, “I have been made victorious with terror.” If you want to carry on the established tradition and stay victorious, what do you do? More of the same. Especially when Muhammad also ordered on his deathbed that all polytheists, pagans, idolaters (non-Muslims, in short) should be turned out of Arabia. As a prelude to turning them out of the world. Islam has still got its work cut out, but the methodology has been provided by its Founder.

          • CliveM

            It would be wrong of me to suggest that violence is endemic amongst Muslims. There are plenty of peaceful ones.

            It is however endemic in Islam and those who look for violence have plent of justification in the life of the ‘Perfect Man.’

          • The Explorer

            As I understand it, every Muslim is committed to jihad: that is, furthering the cause of Islam. But there are lots of peaceful forms of jihad; hence, lots of peaceful Muslims. But violent jihad is the only certain entry to Paradise. In a religion of works, some works count for more than others: and none more than dying in battle.

          • CliveM

            You have to say from Mohammed’s pov, murder, violence and slaughter seemed to work. It got results. Maybe this was the proof he needed to show he was ‘doing Allahs will”.

          • sarky

            Thats probably why they go to Syria.

          • CliveM

            Phew, that’s a relief. All the violent ones go to Syria. Let’s hope they don’t come back then.

          • sarky

            Well they seem to be doing a pretty good job of being drone fodder.

          • sarky

            The same reason christisnity is percieved to be bigoted. The moderate voices are never given a stage.

          • sarky

            No, it’s the perception.

          • CliveM

            So isn’t it likely that it will be those who have an inclination to violence that will be attracted to this perception of violence? And if so wouldn’t the perception change to real violence?

            Come to think of it, where would this perception come from? Are they imagining the violence? Or are the Muslims pretending a violence?

            Or is the violence there?

          • Albert

            Yes, I agree. But that means that Christians should become more militant in order to attract people. I’m not sure that we should do that…!

      • Roger Sponge

        What do you mean by attractive?

        And alternative to what, exactly?

      • Perhaps they should be offering the chance to go on Crusades in competition with ISIS!

        • sarky

          Would hope that even the c of e could come up with something a little bit more intelligent.

        • Dreadnaught

          How bloody insensitive – are you really so stupid to be unmoved by the reality of what is happening in this world?

          • I am unmoved by Muslims killing Muslims. I am very concerned by their belief that they should kill all non-Muslims that won’t convert. I am moved by their killing all of the Christian community in Syria. I am not the slightest bit moved by all those trying to get from a safe country, Turkey, to the EU and have no concern if they drown themselves en-route. I am concerned that the inter-sect Muslim war is being brought to Europe where they are already trying to kill each other in Germany, and have used hand-grenades in Stockholm. I am moved by the plight of the German people who are having to suffer the stupidity of Merkel.
            I am moved by what is happening to my country of birth and concerned about my children and grandchildren.
            You are just concerned about something that was intended as a joke.
            Happy?

          • sarky

            Nice to see the Christian concept of love thy neighbour is alive and well.

          • I love my family first.
            And I am frightened for their future.
            My love doesn’t extend to people who subscribe to a religion that wants to kill me.

          • sarky

            I see love your enemy has gone out of the window aswell.

          • I’ve never pretended to be a good Christian. But at least I’m not a hypocrite pretending otherwise like so many.

          • sarky

            But can’t you see that by taking that attitude you are a hypocrite?

    • CliveM

      When a Muslim converts to Christianity, we don’t hear about it because typically they don’t end up somewhere hacking someone’s head off.

      • There are quite a few locally, if any have converted they don’t attend the parish church.

    • The Explorer

      Michael Adebolajo, killer of Lee Rigby, converted to Islam because it offered him violence. And he wasn’t wrong, was he? Christianity doesn’t give you its blessing if you wade into someone with a meat cleaver.

      • As I commented below, perhaps the CofE should offer the chance of going on a Crusade!

    • scottspeig

      Perhaps we should just do as Spurgeon did and preach the gospel? Then let the Spirit lead the people to us rather than chasing society. Preach the Word of God, Pray, and Worship God. Then love our neighbours and serve them.

      • The Church seems embarrassed by the Bible these days, particularly the Old Testament. And its a long while since I met a real CofE preacher of the traditional mould.

  • CliveM

    Well let’s pray its true that the CofE is regenerating. Let’s hope it’s also true more broadly for the Churches in England.

  • Albert

    We have to challenge this constant narrative of church decline, because it often isn’t true. Moreover, comparisons need to be made. The numerical decline of the churches (some are growing) is nothing like as bad as the decline of the Conservative Party – but they are still in power. Yesterday it was reported that membership of the Scottish National Party is above 100 000. If the weekly attendance numbers for the Archdiocese of Westminster alone, ever get as low as that, I would start to worry.

  • Busy Mum

    The pastor of the C3 church in Cambridge is reported as saying it is a successful venture because his church is seeking to serve the city.

    He is probably correct.

    If the CofE had its priorities right, it would have invested those millions of pounds in the old church buildings wherein the ministers and congregations, however tiny, are seeking to serve God.

    “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.”

    It’s not about numbers, it’s not even about the buildings….

    • sarky

      Except that it is.

      • Busy Mum

        If you think Christianity is about numbers and buildings, you really are on a different wavelength to me:)

        • sarky

          Thats not what I mean. But if you dont have buildings or people to fill them then you will become an insignificant minority.

          • The Explorer

            Aren’t we that already?

      • alternative_perspective

        It is… and its isn’t.
        Obviously we want as many people to come to know the Lord and enter into a saving relationship that brings joy of life and peace (that’s what we all want for you)… so obviously it IS about numbers.
        But large numbers of cold hearted, undiscipled parishoners is of no value to anyone… so in that way its certainly NOT about number but quality.

  • Tutanekai

    It seems to me that rumours of the Church’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

    Religion is like Japanese knotweed. If you cut back the visible growth, it goes underground and will sprout again when conditions permit. The effort needed to eradicate it completely is disproportionate to the benefit of the result.

    If the Soviets with their totalitarian regime couldn’t suppress Christian (or Muslim) belief, what chance is there in a Western democracy? People believe what they believe, and even if decreasing numbers of them believe in Christianity, those who still do, still do. So the Church will live on, even if it shrinks to the tiniest number imaginable.

    I see no problem with this. While many Churches preach doctrines that I personally find offensive, basic democratic freedom of speech requires this. I can see no justification for a right not to be offended.

    Common sense dictates that one should offend others as little as possible in order to avoid creating enemies. But if going through life alienating people and causing them to do their best to sideline and undermine you is what you feel you have to do in order to abide by the rules of your faith, then go right ahead.

    As long as Christians take the consequences of their actions on the chin, as their own holy book instructs them to do, I can see no issue with letting them upset and offend whoever they want to. Sometimes my response to their behaviour will be to upset and offend them in turn, and then laugh at their melodramatic posturing when they cry persecution and martyrdom. At other times I’ll just roll my eyes and shrug my shoulders. But at no point will I claim that Christianity is being exterminated. It clearly won’t be. It may be reduced to the sort of marginal ridiculousness that characterises faiths like Wicca or veganism. But as long as humans remain the contrary beings we are, it will never disappear entirely. It just provides too much scope for hating, disagreeing, judging and ridiculing others.

    • The Explorer

      You could dispense with Christianity, and still have marvellous opportunity for hating, disagreeing judging and ridiculing others. Just look at rival football fans. Or a group of British youth on holiday in a European sunspot.

      • Tutanekai

        Yes, but the cases you cite are examples of naked aggression. The power of Christianity lies in its ability to dress up hatred and rejection as love and concern. That’s how you get past people’s initial defences, the more effectively to stick the knife in and wound as deeply as possible.

        • The Explorer

          Agreed, if one adds hypocrisy to the list of requirements, that does change the parameters somewhat. Whatever football hooligans may be accused of, it generally isn’t hypocrisy. So it looks like bad old Christianity will just have to hang around.

          • Tutanekai

            In my experience, religion and hypocrisy are inseparable bedfellows. One can’t exist without the other, although the hypocrisy is often well concealed. Even from the self.

            The position of the believer who cheerfully condemns others to privations he would never support himself is by its very definition hypocritical.

            The believer probably doesn’t recognise himself as hypocritical and truly thinks he’s allowed to do what others are not and still get to heaven. But the rest of us see him for what he really is.

          • The Explorer

            Right. I’m a Christian so I hate everybody: but especially women, gays, foreigners and immigrants. There are lots of women, gays and foreigners for me to despise, but I wish there were more immigrants so that I could hate more of them. Fortunately, thanks to enlightened EU policies, their numbers are growing exponentially.

            The problem with this sort of satire is that the likes of Tuti will take it seriously. Tuti claims expertise in the hidden thoughts of Christians; why, he knows them better than the Christians do themselves.

          • Tutanekai

            If the cap fits…

          • The Explorer

            The problem is when the cap doesn’t fit, and the ill-intentioned nevertheless try to force it on one’s head.

          • William Lewis

            chapeau!

          • Tutanekai

            When the fit is snug and clearly apparent to all, yet the wearer claims it doesn’t fit at all, perhaps the wearer just isn’t seeing himself clearly.

            Call it a kind of spiritual dysmorphic order if you will. But when you spend your time complaining about everyone who doesn’t fit the paradigm of the perfect heterosexual couple, or the compliant maiden aunt and bachelor uncle who know their place and never ever answer back or have any needs or wants other than those you’ve decided they’re allowed, don’t be surprised when the image others see of you isn’t quite as handsome as your own idea of yourself!!!

          • The Explorer

            What a strange post. Four points occur to me.
            1. Apparent to all. Is there really that degree of unanimity about anything?
            2. Apparent to all. How do you know? How did you canvass opinion?
            3. Not aware of ever mentioning the perfect heterosexual couple; certainly not the uncle and aunt.
            4. How do you know what my self-image is?

            To sum up: guesswork masquerading as insight.

          • Tutanekai

            If you want to know about guesswork masquerading as insight, I can recommend some of Happy Jack’s posts. But when it comes to mine, while the medium of the Internet blog necessarily means one can’t really know much about the person one’s talking to, there are certain assumptions it’s always reasonable to make.

            The topic of discussion was a trans character in a popular soap. Your response to that was to leap from transgenderism to bestiality as if to imply that one is of the same ilk as the other.

            If it’s improper for the BBC to feature a trans or a sheep shagging character, one has to wonder against which standard you judge the impropriety. As a Christian, it’s reasonable to assume that your standard is heterosexual marriage. Thus anything that falls short of this can be held up to criticism and ridicule. So trans people and sheep shaggers, gays and fornicators, can and should be mocked and derided.

            I’d welcome you to the wonderful world of Christian value judgment, but you’re already there, so no welcome is necessary…

          • CliveM

            You know Linus in a bizarre way I was sad when you left, but I should have known you would miss the attention.

            Welcome back and I’ve upvoted you, just to give you encouragement.

          • The Explorer

            We’ve been over this twice already. Your point was that the media responds to the tastes of its audience. Mine was that the media also seeks to create the tastes of its audience, and I cited the introduction of a transgender character into ‘Eastenders’: driven, in my view, more by the BBC’s desire to educate than by popular demand. The motive for the introduction was the issue; the propriety was not.

          • Andre´Kristian

            Please pardon a humble inquiry, emanated from a vexatious ignorance, but what the devil is a sheep shagger? It appears to be some sort of a mentally deranged person, abusing animals? Am I correct? Deeds such as those should be punished with a death sentence. Now, what is the proper term, zoophilia? Any person addicted to a sexual digression of that calibre, has lost his raison d’être and ought to be separated from his misery as soon as possible. Chop chop, dear fellow! Ears off first, needless to add 😉
            Kind regards from Andre´Christian, a jolly, homosexual bachelor and an ardent admirer of a certain A. Pierrepoint.

          • Hey, Andre, long time no see. Welcome.
            Correct sentiments about “sheep shaggers”, although your suggested remedy is perhaps a tad extreme.

          • Andre´Kristian

            Venerable, versed and very valued vanquisher of villainous violence and virulent vileness! Vivat!
            I was unable to stay away and forsake his lordship… Please, condone this benevolent intruder, sir!
            Popping by Your dignified threshold with a blithe but humble smile.
            Yours obediently, Andreas.

          • Always good to hear from you, you Scandinavian scallywag.

          • Tutanekai

            Sheep shaggers exist largely in the fevered imaginations of religious bigots.

            In the real world, there probably are some few unfortunate individuals afflicted with zoophilic inclinations, but they’re few and far between, and generally don’t pose much of a public order problem. Punishing them with death seems like a bit of an overreaction, although in order to protect innocent sheep from the stress and worry of molestation, some kind of custodial sentence for repeat offenders may be appropriate. Preferably accompanied by therapy.

            I don’t know whether zoophilia can be considered as an orientation, or whether it’s got more to do with obsessive/compulsive tendencies or some other form of behavioural problem. Can zoophilics be “cured”? Who knows? Given the low success rates of most behavioural therapies, eliminating the desire seems unlikely. But it may be possible to teach them to modify their behaviour, in the same way that paedophiles can be taught to restrain themselves, or alcoholics can be taught to abstain from strong drink.

            You can’t have sex with an animal (or a child) without committing an act of rape, because animals (and children) are incapable of giving informed consent. As a society we should help those afflicted by such desires to restrain themselves for the common good. Maiming them won’t gain us anything, except to satisfy some kind of primitive desire for revenge. Murdering them will certainly get rid of known offenders, but at the same time it will drive unidentified zoophiles underground and make them harder to unmask.

            Livestock all over Wales, Scotland and the North might tremble at the thought of a death penalty for sheep shaggers. The sparsely populated wide open spaces and the inability of the victims to denounce their aggressors would make detection almost impossible. Their best protection would be to foster a sense of openness around the problem and encourage sheep shaggers to come forward of their own volition so they can be helped. They won’t do that with the threat of decapitation hanging over their heads, so to speak.

          • The Explorer

            Andre admires the Inspector: a thought to gladden your heart.

          • Andre´Kristian

            Good gentleman of fair and gracious gallantry!
            Permit me to forward my sincere thanks for Your versed and polite reply and humbly exhibit my frank opinion.
            The question of the intrinsic value and advantage of a capital punishment beheld from a commonweal aspect, is turbulent and controversial. The theory of the death penalty as an exclusively deterrent example has heretofore never been especially striking and effective. Nevertheless, I regard it as our duty to uphold a constant battle against the fiendish foe in order to gradually reduce his number. One must make an honest effort to maintain some sort of proper dignity, common sense and decency within a civilized society. All for the pursuit of a stalwart, ideal propriety.
            Filthy orgies or any kind of obvious disorderly conduct, should be strictly prohibited and made punishable by imprisonment.
            Never before (?) has a moral rearmament been more imperative. The appalling growth of mentally disorientated criminals is most alarming. The idea of therapy, which unquestionably involves considerable expenditures, is not seldom an impracticable misconception, since so many criminals are completely incurable.
            With solemnity from a practical and rational Swedish chap. Thank You, sir! 😉

          • Tutanekai

            So who gets to decide what constitutes propriety? The Church? Public opinion? You?

            Personally I will never vote for any political party that advocates theocratic control of any aspect of society. I don’t want to end up living in a Christian version of Saudi Arabia.

            I’m also against mob rule and the kind of society where public shaming leads to the crushing of all individuals into an acceptable and conformist mould.

            My morality is fine for me and I have the right to live by it. But I do not seek to impose it on others. I have no issue with those who live by moral codes that are different to my own, as long as they don’t interfere with me and seek to impose their beliefs on me.

            But then “lev og lad leve” is more of a Danish concept than a Swedish one, isn’t it? Bishop Vergérus from “Fanny och Alexander” sounds as though he’s more up your “gata”…

          • The Explorer

            Andre old chap,
            Cordial greetings.

          • Do you mean Church teaching on acts of sodomy and fornication?

          • Tutanekai

            I had no particular acts in mind. Clearly you do.

          • So what did you have in mind when you wrote this?

            “But when you spend your time complaining about everyone who doesn’t fit the paradigm of the perfect heterosexual couple, or the compliant maiden aunt and bachelor uncle who know their place and never ever answer back or have any needs or wants other than those you’ve decided they’re allowed … “

            You are clearly referring to sexual practices (same sex acts) and irregular relationships (i.e. sex outside of a permanent marriage) to satisfy desires in ways condemned by the Church.

          • Tutanekai

            You may have sex on the brain. I do not.

            Maiden aunts and bachelor uncles can transgress against Christian morality in many ways that have nothing to do with same sex marriage or fornication.

            Loneliness can embitter them and make them terrible sharp-tongued gossips. It can render them jealous. It can make them so self-obsessed that charity becomes impossible for them. So they could remain as pure as the driven snow and still forfeit their salvation.

            But Christians just have to bring it all back to sex, don’t they? Nothing else seems to matter to them.

          • Tuti doth protest too much.

            What could you have possibly meant by the comment about “the perfect heterosexual couple” After all the term ‘heterosexual’ is just a social construction, as is gender theory. Both want to justify same sex acts. They have no science backing them, just humanistic sociological and psychological ‘theories’.

            Quite apart from scripture, common sense, and reason, nature tells us we are made male and female as complementary sexes. Anything outside of this is an aberration (in the medical sense of the term) and any sexual act or desire contrary to this is intrinsically disordered (in the theological sense).

          • Tutanekai

            Common sense, reason and nature tell us that sometimes men love women, and sometimes men love men. Neither is an aberration. Both are naturally occurring and morally neutral variants of human sexuality.

            Where common sense, reason and nature leave the picture and stupidity, ignorance and bigotry enter, is when religious zealots claim that what they want (or have been brainwashed into wanting, even when they don’t actually desire it) is archetypal for the entire human race, and that anyone who wants something else is evil and must be punished for it.

            This is the kind of perversion that leads to attitudes like Happy Jack’s. Internet blogs like this one have become their favourite soap box because of the anonymity provided. They can rant to their heart’s content without ever having to fear the consequences of insulting and offending real people.

            We’re all free to insult and offend whomever we like, of course. But with Internet blogs, technology has created a means to detach consequences from acts. What someone may have chosen not to say in the past in order to avoid a punch on the nose can now be posted on the Internet with no fear of reprisal. The bravery of Christ’s new digital warriors knows no bounds. Why should it when they risk nothing?

          • Umm … well you would say all that wouldn’t you? It’s what drives you to post here. And it doesn’t ring true to Jack. In his experience, self deception is very unhealthy.

            “Common sense, reason and nature tell us that sometimes men love women, and sometimes men love men.”

            Well of course men and women love one another across the different sexes. You need to define “love” though. Man’s body is not designed for same sex acts and this is a clue to there being something more transcendent.

            “Neither is an aberration. Both are naturally occurring and morally neutral variants of human sexuality.”

            There is no contradiction between the word aberration and naturally occurring as nature makes mistakes from time to time. However, this is a rarity and something else is at play. As for moral neutrality, there is no such thing. All human behaviour is subject to morality and ethics. What you mean is that you view same sex acts as permissible and acceptable according to your self constructed, humanist and relativist moral code based on whether your hormones are triggered or not.

            Jack would happily say these things to you face to face and if you threatened him with the use of violence he would use all reasonable means to defend himself.

          • The Explorer

            In the absence of that possibility, I’d say you’re headed for an MHBT award.

          • MHBT award?

          • The Explorer

            Most Hated By Tutanekai. Prestigious. I think you were just pipped to the MHBL award by the Inspector.

          • Lol …. Jack will wear such an award as a badge of honour.

          • Tutanekai

            Men’s bodies aren’t designed for having babies, so we can’t have babies. They’re not designed for breast-feeding, so we can’t breast-feed. But we can have sex with each other. So clearly we’re designed to.

            In order for us to be capable of engaging in homosexual acts, they have to be physically possible. They are, and they’re not just possible, they’re every bit as possible, and simple, and productive of pleasure, as any heterosexual act.

            Clearly the capacity for men to have sex with each other was designed into us. If there really is a God, and he has a design, gay men are part of it. If they aren’t, gay sex quite simply wouldn’t be possible.

          • magnolia

            Men cannot mate. Only men can mate with women. Full stop. It is quite an insult to the cleanliness of female anatomy to have the brass nerve to compare a clean female area with a dirty male area, frankly. I think it is a sacrament of female despisal to do so, and almost a religion in its own right therefore. If you really respected women, as you like us to think you do when writing of female ordination you would not so disrespect their biology as to suggest that male male coupling in any way equates with the naturalness of male female coupling. It is grossly ungentlemanly and misogynistic.

          • Tutanekai

            Men and women can have anal sex, so gay men aren’t doing anything that heterosexuals don’t already do. In fact anal sex between men and women is not prohibited by any biblical text. Your husband can do what he likes up your back passage and God won’t bat an eyelid. So why do you think he gets so upset about a man doing the same thing to another man?

            Because it’s “dirty”? More so than anal sex with women? Why is that? Do women excrete honey and rose petals when they go to the loo then? You might like us to think so, but the expression on the face of the next person who staggers out of the loo after you’ve been in there should tell you that you’re fooling nobody.

          • “In fact anal sex between men and women is not prohibited by any biblical text.”

            Now you’re going all “sola scriptura” are you? And you raised a Catholic.

            Anal penetration is sinful, i.e. intrinsically disordered, in marriage as it goes against God’s Will, known through scripture, reason and natural law, that the gift of sexuality be used for loving intimacy and also procreation.

          • Tutanekai

            So prove to me that this God you talk about actually exists, and if you can, that the Bible is a fair description of his will.

            Reason provides no argument against anal sex in that anal sex is possible, many people derive pleasure from it and it causes no more harm than vaginal sex.

            And “natural law” is Catholic pseudoscience dreamed up by desperate priests and theologians looking to express arbitrary and confused religious ideas in language comprehensible to rational beings. The result is so ludicrous that laughter is the only response – in fact, one wonders if that’s not what was actually intended in the first place. Playing for time by making your enemy collapse in a fit of the giggles while you desperately cast about for some rational means of countering his arguments.

          • Albert is already engaged in this very discussion with you. Jack notices you have failed to address his points. Besides, we’ve already had this discussion. Do continue it with Albert.
            We both know the solid philosophical proofs for the existence of God without repeating them endlessly. As someone who was raised a Catholic, with a private boarding school education, you will also know natural law is not so easily dismissed.

          • Tutanekai

            Natural law dismisses itself by its very nature. Any theory that takes predetermined dogma as absolute truth and then seeks to confirm it can only be described as pseudoscience.

            Albert’s “points” are irrelevant to the topic under discussion and seek only to divert attention from his denial of the most basic concept of human justice.

            According to Albert, women are guilty of not being capable of priesthood because the Church says so and no evidence needs to be presented in order to establish that guilt. On the contrary, women must present evidence that proves their innocence.

            He stance confirms the doctrinaire intransigeance of a Church that demands we take it seriously without offering any serious evidence for its eye-popping claims.

            And what on earth is all this nonsense about how I was raised and educated? How can you possibly know? I realise that as a Christian you’re used to lettîng your imagination run away with you, but if you fill every gap in your knowledge with fantastic and exotic stories, you just confirm yourself as the least effective apologist for religion there can possibly be.

          • Take these points up with Albert. And do try reading what he’s written.
            The all male priesthood is understood by the Catholic Church to be God’s will and this is based on the choice of Jesus Christ of an all male Apostleship, scripture and Catholic theology concerning its sacramental liturgy. It has nothing to do with human, secular concepts of “equal opportunity”.

          • Tutanekai

            And there you have it.

            An all male priesthood exists because of an arbitrary and unsupported fideist decision issued by the self-appointed guardians of a debatable text that by another arbitrary and unsupported fideist decision has been named the Word of a god whose existence has been determined by yet another arbitrary and unsupported fideist decision.

            There isn’t one shred of evidence to support any of these fantastic claims. And yet you believe them implicitly because you’ve made the arbitrary fideist decision so to do.

            Suppose I make an arbitrary fideist decision to start believing that C.S. Lewis was the prophet of a god called the Emperor-over-Sea and his son Aslan, and that the Narnia Chronicles are the real word of God, and that only prepubescent children can be priests because they’re the only ones to whom Aslan reveals himself in the stories?

            If all I have to do to conjure something into reality is to believe in it, a magical lion sounds like a much more attractive saviour than a beardy Jew.

            So shall I found the Church of Aslan and pray rosaries to the virtuous Queen Lucy and beseech the valiant High King Peter to protect me from the wicked White Witch and her fallen disciple the wanton make-up wearing and boy mad Queen Susan?

            Doing so would make about as much sense as praying to Christ.

          • What a nonsensical set of statements. Jack has no more time to waste on you. You are like a petulant child stamping his feet.

          • Tutanekai

            Jack has run out of arguments so he feigns irritation and refuses to discuss the matter further, you mean.

            Nice to know I’ve carried my point.

          • No, Linus Tuti, it is just that Jack has no more time to waste on petulance and childishness.

          • Albert

            According to Albert, women are guilty of not being capable of priesthood because the Church says so and no evidence needs to be presented in order to establish that guilt.

            I’ve just noticed this. Where have I said that?

          • Tutanekai

            You toe an orthodox Catholic line in everything else you write. Why would you deviate from Catholic dogma on this one point?

            Of course that’s just an assumption on my part. It isn’t even a belief. It certainly isn’t knowledge. Assumptions based on known patterns can’t be classed as knowledge, especially when dealing with the notoriously illogical and contradictory behaviour of the religious.

            I’ve known dyed-in-the-wool Real Presence Virgin Venerating Catholics with decidedly unCatholic views on the all-male priesthood, or communion for the remarried. But in general they have a drop of the milk of human kindness in their hearts and don’t advocate cold and frostbitten caritas as the solution to all human suffering like a disciple of Benedict XVI would.

            And I take you for the latter rather than the former. I have no incontrovertible evidence that proves you belong to that camp, but I suspect the balance of probabilities tips that way.

            You see, I can infer with the best of them. But my inferences do not take become Gospel truth for me. I could be wrong. I don’t have anything like enough solid data about who you are and what you believe to claim that I know you.

          • Albert

            You seem to be using the same argument against us both here. This is odd because I cannot see any point where either of us has defended anal sex in heterosexuals. On the contrary, it seems to me that both our positions would entail a condemnation of such behaviour. So, unless magnolia is now going to tell us that she thinks anal sex is only wrong when homosexuals do it, it seems your argument fails.

            Perhaps if you respond to what people actually say, rather than what you would like them to say, it would help to keep your arguments on target.

          • magnolia

            That is quite simply revolting. Are you anally fixated? According to Freud most people get over that stage of development around the toddler age. Yuck! Or is Freud completely to be thrown out too, not because discovered to be wrong on human psychological illness (not wellness) but because some people do not wish to know that in some respects he was bang on, because it doesn’t suit them?

            It is best to use the human body for what it is designed for. And the anal passage, either male or female is not designed to be like the birth passage. In fact in terms of both hygiene and in terms of stretching it is totally utterly completely rubbish, by comparison, as you very well know. Hence the one does not tear, fissure, bleed, contract diseases by the score, and so on. Anyone who says otherwise is speaking complete and utter newspeak.. I think truthfulness counts for something, and am fed up with lies and spin and propaganda. Misogynists for some entirely weird reason seem to have free rein to insult women and belittle their unique biological input: quite how that could have anything to do with equality is nonsense; it quite simply and clearly doesn’t.

          • Tutanekai

            Telling a woman her crap smells as bad as any man’s is misogynistic, is it?

            In my experience, women who turn any objection to their self-glorification into accusations of misogyny tend to be pretty insecure in their femininity.

            A woman’s “unique biological input” is no more unique or appreciable than any man’s. Nor is it somehow sacrosanct and above comment and criticism. It is what it is, and what it is can be just as malodorous and unsanitary as any part of any man.

          • magnolia

            I was ignoring the crudity, but it appears you are unwilling to, so that is your problem.

            Men have a unique biological input; of course. Women have a unique biological input; of course. Both need valuing- equally. Neither needs to be told they equal very very low quality attempts to copy the other. Only that way will people be as happy as possible.

          • Tutanekai

            What a poor delicate flower you must be if the mere mention of digestive waste products sends you into such a tizz. Are sour-faced outrage and Victorian uptightness naturally ocurring aspects of your unique biological input as a woman, or are they just culturally acquired gender stereotypes?

            The kind of self-satisfied and contemptuous pride that believes gay men are copying women when they have sex is beyond the reach of reasoned argument. It can’t be discussed, merely laughed at and pitied.

            I shake my head in wonder at the ignorance and venom on display in your comments, and withdraw from any further contact with you. Stew in your own juice as you fantasize about all those gay men insulting your femininity by having sex with each other. Your husband didn’t run off with another man did he? Hell hath no fury…

          • magnolia

            You are wearying those poor overburdened adjectival clauses, much like Linus.

            I see my arguments are unanswerable, and you know they are right really, which I can tell from the recourse to emotion.

            You have been outed here as a man with a wife of four years who is dabbling in being gay. That would explain a lot. You work it out. I am relieved to be out of further contact.

          • Tutanekai

            You cannot know whether I’m married or not, or whether I’m straight or gay. I have not revealed this information to anyone here. So your response is to make up a story to suit yourself and proclaim it to be true as if by divine right.

            What a joke! Does that unique biological input you’re so proud of function as both as a vagina AND a lie detector? Or are your female hormones just provoking a menopausal hot flush that you mistake for the heat of righteousness?

            I suppose it’s a statistical inevitability that the stereotype of the hysterical woman who lets her hormones run away with her has to be true at least some of the time. And it’s hardly surprising that a site like this would attract such a one.

            Are there more Christian women like you out there wielding their multi-function lie detecting vaginas in the service of the Lord? Do they often unmask fallen married men succumbing to the demon of homosexuality? Or is this a talent unique to you?

            If I were you, I’d be careful who I pointed it at. You may uncover secrets you’d rather not know.

          • magnolia

            I might read that melodramatic mishmash later if I suffer from insomnia, For now I have more interesting matters, like dusting and tax forms and watching paint dry.

          • Tutanekai

            Obsessive/compulsive behaviour can be indicative of deeper underlying psychological issues. I recommend you seek professional advice.

          • magnolia

            I do not wish to take place in pretended debate that has descended to the drivel of melodramatic ad hominem posturing, Mr Ad Hominem.

            It is about as impressive as the film “The Mummy Returns”.
            One wishes the mummy hadn’t returned.

          • Tutanekai

            Typical Christian hypocrisy. You accuse me of psychological immaturity and hurl all sorts of insults at me and then huff and puff like some kind of outraged empress about ad hominem attacks when ad hominem is all you’re capable to contributing to a conversation.

            It’s the smallness of it all I find the most pitiable. If this is what religion reduces you to, Marx was right to compare it to a brain-rotting drug.

          • CliveM

            Still attempting to bully the ladies on line I see Linus. You really have reverted to type.

          • magnolia

            Snore..

          • Tutanekai

            Sleep apnoea on top of all your other issues?

            My, some of us just aren’t lucky…

          • Albert

            As I understand it, penetrative sex between men is potentially very physically harmful. You are confusing “physically possible” with “designed into us”.

          • Tutanekai

            Penetrative sex between men and women is just as dangerous as anal sex.

            Women can and do die during childbirth. They also develop cervical cancer and up to a third of them will experience vaginal prolapse. Also, if they choose to engage in anal sex, which is not prohibited between men and women by any biblical text, they expose themselves to exactly the same risks as gay men.

            Straight sex in all its forms is far more dangerous than gay sex.

          • Albert

            What you mean is that pregnancy is far more dangerous that gay sex. That may be – obviously it depends on how much gay sex is engaged in and with whom. But this is obviously not comparing like with like. Pregnancy is necessary for the continuance of the human race. It also takes much longer than gay sex, and results in much greater changes to the female body. You also have to factor in lower rates of certain types of cancer among women who have babies.

            None of these things can be said of gay sex. Gay sex, as sex, is spectacularly dangerous, assuming it is penetrative, even when we assume the relationship is life-long and entirely faithful. Moreover, one only has to look at the harm it does to see that the male body is not “designed” (the word was yours, I think) to be used in that way. In contrast, the female body clearly is so “designed”.

            Anal sex for heterosexuals is not perhaps directly prohibited by the Bible, but it clearly is indirectly. But that’s irrelevant really. The physical damage done by such sex makes it immoral in itself. Moreover, given your own harm principle, it ought to be illegal, for men and woman.

          • Tutanekai

            Quote me the passage in the Bible that indirectly bans anal sex between men and women.

            “Do unto others” perhaps? If so, you’ll have to ban all heterosexual sex too. Why? Because heterosexual sex causes pregnancy, and pregnancy kills and maims women.

            Would you put yourself through what your wife has to suffer when you impregnate her?

            No man can follow Christ’s commandment to refrain from causing harm to others and father children at the same time. Paul admitted as much when he said that it was better to remain unmarried.

            Banning anal sex because it causes harm is unjustifiable unless you ban vaginal sex too.

          • Albert

            This argument is very poor. You might as well say eating is terribly dangerous as say heterosexual sex is dangerous. Think of all the terrible risks we take when we eat: food poisoning, diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc. I bet there is no single activity that causes more deaths in this country than eating. But no one seriously thinks eating in itself is bad. Why? Because we need to do it, in order to survive, and because the act of eating is not in itself harmful. In that respect, it is like heterosexual sex, and entirely unlike homosexual sex.

            Now as for indirect passages of the Bible, there are a variety of words in the Bible that speak of sexual immorality, it’s not clear what they include, but as the Bible only commends married heterosexual acts which are open to procreation, and condemns all acts that are not open to procreation, it is reasonable to assume that the Bible is indirectly condemning anal sex.

            Would you put yourself through what your wife has to suffer when you impregnate her? No man can follow Christ’s commandment to refrain from causing harm to others and father children at the same time.

            You really must allow the other half of the human race to introduce herself to you.

            Paul admitted as much when he said that it was better to remain unmarried

            That is probably the worst piece of biblical exegesis I have ever seen.

          • Tutanekai

            Ah, so you understand that negative outcomes provide us with no information about the morality of an act, do you?

            Eating isn’t immoral even though it can kill. Straight sex isn’t immoral even though it too can kill, and often results in considerable physical harm.

            So why do you condemn gay sex for those very same reasons? And why do you condemn lesbian sex when no harm is caused by it at all?

            There is no logic in your argument. You seek to condemn one behaviour by citing its possible negative outcomes, while praising another behaviour with possible outcomes just as negative, if not worse.

          • Albert

            First of all, let us recall that you have given no non-self-refuting reasoning or evidence for your own moral position – which appears to be nothing more than a stick with which to beat other people with.

            Secondly, I set out a clear distinction between straight sex and gay sex with regards to harm. You have not answered this, and yet you cannot proceed as if they are the same, with regards to harm. So your point is moot.

            Thirdly, regarding lesbianism, that has not come up in this discussion because I am responding to your original claim about the equivalence of male same sex with heterosexual sex. Now the fact that your argument fails on male same sex does not exonerate lesbianism.

          • “Clearly the capacity for men to have sex with each other was designed into us.”

            Don’t be so silly Tuti. One can insert a screwdriver into a live electric socket but it would be ill advised to do so because neither are designed or intended for this purpose.

            Without going into detail, (the Inspector is far more knowledgeable) we both know the physical dangers associated with same sex acts between men and the serious medical complications that follow.

          • Tutanekai

            The physical dangers associated with same sex acts between men are no worse than the dangers associated with opposite sex acts between men and women.

            HIV can be transmitted in both cases. Anal prolapse and cancer occur at far, far lower rates in gay men than vaginal prolapse and cervical cancer do in staight women. In fact if you’re a woman, having sex with a man is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

            It’s far safer for women to have sex with other women. Lesbian sex carries few physical risks, and balances out what dangers there are in gay male sex to make homosexual sex on average far safer than the heterosexual variety.

          • “Anal prolapse and cancer occur at far, far lower rates in gay men than vaginal prolapse and cervical cancer do in staight women.

            For goodness sake, that’s because there are far more people engaged in complementary sexual activity than male same sex acts.

            “Lesbian sex carries few physical risks, and balances out what dangers there are in gay male sex to make homosexual sex on average far safer than the heterosexual variety.”

            What sort of skewed logic it that?!

            Sex outside of faithful, lifelong marriages is dangerous and potentially fatal. On that there’s no argument from Jack. However, Jack’s point, to put it bluntly, is that male and female genitalia are a natural and safe physical fit. Sexual transmitted diseases caused by promiscuity is a different topic.

          • Tutanekai

            I made no mention of numbers. I was talking about rates. Do you know what the difference is? Clearly not.

            And if your argument for saying gay sex is bad is that it can cause physical harm, then by your own reckoning straight sex must also be bad because it too can cause physical harm, whereas lesbian sex must be good because it does not cause physical harm.

            So there you go, Happy Jack as the Catholic Church’s official mouthpiece and spokesman has just proclaimed lesbian sex to be the most perfect kind.

            See how crazy these Christian contradictions can get?

          • Going back to the beginning, my argument was that men’s bodies are not designed by nature for anal penetration; nor are women’s. All this talk about what is possible really is just a distraction.

            The most common causes of vaginal prolapse are childbirth and menopause. It’s not attributable to normal, healthy vaginal penetration by a male penis. As for the risks to health from anal sex, the information is out there in abundance. Our bodies are just not designed for same sex activities. Same sex acts are really acts of mutual masturbation. They are fruitless and merely focussed on satisfying desire.

            Jack stands by his initial point:

            “Quite apart from scripture, common sense, reason and nature tells us we are made male and female as complementary sexes. Anything outside of this is an aberration (in the medical sense of the term) and any sexual act or desire contrary to this is intrinsically disordered (in the theological sense).”

            Sexual desire serves a purpose i.e. intimacy and self-giving between a man and woman, directed at procreation. Same sex acts are mere “genital sneezes” in comparison.

          • Tutanekai

            Vaginal prolapse is a direct result of the vaginal penetration of a woman by a man. Without vaginal penetration there would be no pregnancy, without pregnancy no childbirth, and without childbirth no vaginal prolapse.

            To argue differently is a direct denial of established fact.

            This is not surprising coming from a religionist, who will routinely ignore or deny any fact that threatens his dogmatic certainties. But for those of us who believe the evidence of our eyes rather than the unsubstantiated claims of religion, it does highlight the necessity of keeping these people away from positions of power and influence where their weak grasp on reality can cause them to do real harm.

          • Jack repeats: vaginal prolapse is not caused by a man penetrating a woman with his penis. It is most common during the menopause because of hormonal changes. It is also associated with child-birth, especially large babies. The anus is a delicate body part, designed for one thing and damaged if used for another – to say nothing of the increased risks of life threatening diseases due to the thinness of its lining.
            You keep changing the subject. Why is that? All you do on this weblog, and you one you frequented before, is bemoan well reasoned religious views opposed to same sex claiming they are homophobic and bigoted because there is no material proof God exists.
            Change the record.

          • Tutanekai

            In effect you’re refusing to admit that vaginal penetration results in vaginal prolapse because if you were to admit it did, your whole “gay sex is evil because it can cause injury” argument comes crashing down around your ears. You prefer to deny reality rather than risk that. Talk about pride going before a fall.

            I’m not surprised. Christian belief is all about denial, invention and making things up as you go along.

            For those of us who choose to accept reality, vaginal prolapse is a possible consequence of heterosexual intercourse. This doesn’t make heterosexual intercourse evil and an abomination in the eyes of God, but it does make it a risky business to engage in. Same thing with homosexual intercourse.

            Only a Christian can claim that one is evil because of its possible negative consequences, whereas the other is holy when the health risks associated with it are just as great, if not greater.

            Can’t wriggle your way out of that one, Happy Jack. If you condemn gay sex because of the possible health risks, you have to condemn straight sex too. Indeed in a consequences-based sexual morality, the best and safest sex, and therefore the most holy, happens between lesbians.

            Time to rewrite the Bible to reflect God’s will as clearly expressed by the risk free sex women have among themselves.

          • “Only a Christian can claim that one is evil because of its possible negative consequences, whereas the other is holy when the health risks associated with it are just as great, if not greater.”

            The health risks of male and female sexual activity, within a permanent marriage, are not on a par with same sex activities. Go research your facts. Despite your wriggling , acts of sodomy and other same sex acts are dangerous. Besides, where has it been claimed that because an activity is dangerous it is wrong? This would rule out all sorts of normal, healthy and good activities.

            Anyways, that isn’t Jack’s substantive point. Homosexual acts are inherently disordered and wrong because they go against nature i.e. God’s will and intended purpose for sex. Jack’s main point is that male and female bodies are designed to achieve this by complementing one another for the purposes of natural sex and for procreation.
            What you want to do is justify an action as acceptable for the sole sake of pleasure and satisfying desire.

          • Tutanekai

            And what you want to do is prohibit an action because it goes against what you imagine God wants, even though you have no convincing proof that he exists, let alone that your bible is an expression of his will, or that the shape of the human body tells us anything about his idea of morality.

            In other words, your imaginings and fantasies are more important to you than other people’s freedom to act as seems right to them.

            I needn’t tell you that neither you nor your Church have the power to compel others to adhere to your morality. You already know this. Neither can you influence the State to do your compelling for you. It’s every narcissistic autocrat’s worst nightmare: pure unmitigated impotence. How you must suffer!

            This being the case, there’s no worse fate I can wish upon you. Justice has already been done.

          • Goodbye, Linus.

          • magnolia

            You write “sometimes men love women and sometimes men love men….both are naturally occurring and morally neutral variants of human sexuality.” It is in the last three words that your argument completely falls apart. Love has of necessity nothing whatsoever to do with sexuality.

            As C.S. Lewis wrote so coherently, there are FOUR types of love. ( Someone has recently I think posited 5 and you could say 6 if you include human-tame animal love which you could argue as a disparate entity). Only ONE of these is eros, that is erotic love, yet you write as if it were the whole darned caboodle.

            Thank God (and especially for agape!) that it is not, for that is what keeps us all sane, well sane-ish at any rate.

          • Surely your perspective is deeply coloured by your Catholic upbringing and formation and then the discovery you have a particular struggle in life and a cross to bear.

          • Tutanekai

            Is it? I spoke in general terms only and wasn’t commenting on my own life. You can jump to any conclusions you like about me. They’ll just be suppositions on your part.

    • Albert

      While many Churches preach doctrines that I personally find offensive,

      Like what?

      • Tutanekai

        Like the notion that stories and legends can ever be substituted for concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge.

        And the exclusion of women from the priesthood.

        And the life sentence of enforced celibacy meted out to the divorced, the single and gays.

        And the notion that we’re miserable creatures who must limp through life apologizing for pretty much everything we do to some invisible and omnipotent entity who can’t even be bothered to give us reasonable proofs of his existence.

        By all means try to justify these doctrines, but realize that I’ve heard all the justifications many times before and quite simply do not agree with them.

        You’re free to believe what you believe. You’re even free to try to persuade me that what you believe is real. But I’m free to reject your arguments as incoherent, superstitious and fallacious nonsense. I’m also free to be offended by the way Christians pressure others to conform to their conscience.

        There you sit in smug and condemnatory judgment, never having to deal with the consequences of the prohibitions you so happily place on others, but gleefully doling them out, and then watching your victims squirm under their burdens with beatific smiles on your faces. The readiness with which Christians condemn their fellow man to hell makes my blood run cold. It’s one of the worst aspects of religious belief and probably contributes more than anything else to my rejection of faith. You’re just not very nice people, are you? The mask of this perfect love you claim to feel for everyone can’t conceal the cold and callous reality of your arbitrary and punitive belief system.

        • Albert

          Like the notion that stories and legends can ever be substituted for concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge.

          That’s rather an odd move. Surely, anyone can see that Shakespeare absolutely can, in the relevant parts of life, be far more useful than, what you describe as concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge?

          And the exclusion of women from the priesthood. And the life sentence of enforced celibacy meted out to the divorced, the single and gays.

          You think that these things are wrong. But by what form of concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge are they wrong?

          • Tutanekai

            Shakespeare’s work was grounded in concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge. We know, for example, that jealousy can wreck lives. We’ve all seen it happen. Shakespeare provided a fictional example of how this can play out in Othello. It was fiction based on observation. It wasn’t pulled out of his rear end and then proposed as an explanation for the creation of the world, or the existence of the universe, with absolutely no supporting data whatsoever.

            Excluding anyone from doing anything is an infringement of personal freedom. Sometimes this is justifiable because the exercise of one person’s individual freedom may result in harm for another. But if no harm is caused by a person’s actions, there is no justification for prohibiting them.

            For example, we ban children from driving cars, which might be considered as an infringement of their freedom until you realize that children have neither the physical coordination nor the maturity of judgment to be able to control a dangerous moving vehicle without putting lives at risk. Grown women on the other hand possess all the faculties necessary to drive, therefore banning them from doing so just because they’re women is unjustifiable.

            So where are the clear, cogent and verifiable reasons for banning women from ministry? Do Christians ministered to by women all go straight to hell? Do they all become blasphemers, or adulterers? Does a woman’s touch chemically alter the host and render it incapable of transubstantiating into God’s flesh? Show me some concrete, measurable and verifiable proof of the harm caused by female ministry rather than merely stating your unsupported belief that it’s wrong. As things stand, I class those who say women can’t be priests in the same category as Saudi men who say women can’t drive. Both beliefs are examples of arbitrary and doctrinaire prejudice.

            So where’s your proof to the contrary? Can’t produce any? Then kindly stop dictating to others until you can demonstrate that what they want to do causes harm.

          • Albert

            It wasn’t pulled out of his rear end and then proposed as an explanation for the creation of the world, or the existence of the universe, with absolutely no supporting data whatsoever.

            If you mean, do I think Genesis is meant as a scientific explanation for the creation of the world or the existence of the universe, then, no I don’t. But I would also point out that that sort of question is a metaphysical question, and therefore not one that supporting data can really help with. What are the processes by which the universe reached the state it is in now? I think science answers that. But if I ask “Why is there any universe at all?” then this is not a question we are going to be able answer with data.

            Excluding anyone from doing anything is an infringement of personal freedom. Sometimes this is justifiable because the exercise of one person’s individual freedom may result in harm for another. But if no harm is caused by a person’s actions, there is no justification for prohibiting them.

            This is a moral claim (and not a moral claim I have much difficulty with as you’ve currently expressed it, BTW). But again, as a moral claim how do you get it from concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge. And it’s that that’s my question. What I asked was But by what form of concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge are they [the things you condemned] wrong? So in this case, what is your concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge that defends your claim if no harm is caused by a person’s actions, there is no justification for prohibiting them? While you’re about it, what is your concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge is that the only standard by which we should judge this particular case is concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge?

            Nevertheless, you continue:

            So where are the clear, cogent and verifiable reasons for banning women from ministry? Do Christians ministered to by women all go straight to hell? Do they all become blasphemers, or adulterers? Does a woman’s touch chemically alter the host and render it incapable of transubstantiating into God’s flesh? Show me some concrete, measurable and verifiable proof of the harm caused by female ministry rather than merely stating your unsupported belief that it’s wrong. As things stand, I class those who say women can’t be priests in the same category as Saudi men who say women can’t drive. Both beliefs are examples of arbitrary and doctrinaire prejudice.

            I asked for the reason for thinking such things as women’s ordination are right. You haven’t given an answer to that, you have simply expected me to explain why they are not right. But that’s hardly an argument for them, and the standard which I am supposed to prove them is all this verification stuff. But again, you haven’t verified why verification is the standard to decide what you clearly regard as a moral matter. Moreover, at the moment, not ordaining women does not violate your harm principle. So your position at the moment seems to be that I have to show these things are wrong, even though it was your claim that they were right.

            So I’m really puzzled by your epistemology. At the moment it seems self-refuting and muddled with question-begging.

            So where’s your proof to the contrary? Can’t produce any?

            It seems a little harsh to expect me to provide proof (you’ve introduced that word, where before, only “evidence” was required), when the claims are yours (so the burden is on you), and you have provided no evidence to defend them. And then, rather bizarrely, you say.

            Then kindly stop dictating to others until you can demonstrate that what they want to do causes harm.

            But the only person dictating in this conversation is you. Which you’re entirely entitled to do, BTW, because nothing you have said cogently prevents dictating.

          • Tutanekai

            You agreed with the basic premise that personal freedom should not be interfered with unless it can be shown to cause harm.

            On that basis, unless you can demonstrate that women priests cause harm by the exercise of their ministry, you have no excuse for banning them.

            Women priests are under no obligation to prove that their ministry is harmless. You’re the one arguing that it is, therefore the onus is on you to prove your allegations.

            In a court of law a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. Yet you accuse women of causing harm by exercising ministry, and claim that the responsibility for disproving your claim lies with those you accuse!

            You clearly don’t understand the most basic concept of justice. A person is innocent until proven guilty. So go on, prove to me that women cannot exercise Christian ministry. As they stand accused, the burden of proving their guilt lies with you.

            Can’t do it? Then why not be honest and admit that the continuing ban on women priests is an example of arbitrary paternalistic totalitarianism. The men hold the power, so they make the rules, and to hell with what anyone else wants. To hell with personal freedom and justice. What you want, you take.

            Perhaps the time is coming when that power will no longer be yours.

          • Albert

            I don’t you’re in a position to take the moral high ground, just yet. You set up your standards of judgement, and I asked you questions about that. Strangely, you haven’t attempted to meet those standards. I ask them again.

            1. You seem to think that the appropriate rule of judgement in this is concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge. So what is your concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge in defence of that? Unless you can defend that, you have no position, since a contradiction conveys no information whatsoever.

            2. What is your concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge, for your moral position that personal freedom should not be interfered with unless it can be shown to cause harm? I don’t have to defend the proposition by that standard as I do not have your commitment to concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge in this field.

            In the absence of this kind of information, your position cannot stand, since you do not even meet your own conditions and cannot therefore expect me to do so. Furthermore, you now say

            You agreed with the basic premise that personal freedom should not be interfered with unless it can be shown to cause harm.

            Yes, as you’ve put it. As you have not stated who is not allowed to do the interfering here, I assumed, that, following the usual provenance of this statement (people like JS Mill), you meant the government should not interfere with personal freedom unless it can be shown to cause harm. If you are going now to expect that to be a universal, then, again, I must ask what concrete, measurable and verifiable knowledge provides you with the basis, on your own terms, for that claim. Until you provide that, I don’t think you’ve got an argument.

            Moreover, if that principle applies not only to the state but also to individuals, then you seem to have created a situation in which people cannot freely enter into clubs and societies and even many jobs, since these, of their very nature include rules which prevent certain actions which do not cause harm. Thus your position seems to entail that no one may enter into a club or society or create one. But such clubs and societies do not do harm to others, and so are simultaneously protected on your claim. And so, as it stands, your position seems to me both to require and to prevent people from being free to enter into such clubs and societies. But that’s just absurd.

            Accordingly, the rest of your post is moot at the moment.

          • Tutanekai

            Waffle all you like in your attempt to defend the indefensible.

            What you’re saying is that your church’s dogmatic refusal to admit women to the priesthood is not subject to basic principles of human justice. You don’t have to provide clear and compelling evidence that women’s ministry causes harm, or is in some way inferior to men’s ministry. All you have to do is pronounce women guilty of being unfit to be priests and we must all accept it.

            This is exactly the kind of high handed and autocratic nonsense that has brought the Church to its current state of virtual irrelevance in modern society. Truth can no longer be dictated. It must be justified.

          • Albert

            I have no difficulty defending Church teaching on women’s ordination. When you set up a non-self-refuting argument in defence of your position and epistemology, I might be bothered to answer it.

          • Tutanekai

            You haven’t even tried to defend the Church’s position on the ordination of women. You can’t without resorting to unilateral and unsupported statements about women’s unsuitability for ministry.

            Your entire argument is built on arbitrary dogma, which cannot stand in any rational discussion. So the best tactic is to avoid the discussion.

            Another example of why the Church has lost so much ground in modern society. “We’re right so shut up and believe” just doesn’t cut it in the modern world.

          • Albert

            I haven’t bothered to defend the Church’s position because you have not set up a coherent and relevant standard by which I should defend it.

            Your entire argument is built on arbitrary dogma, which cannot stand in any rational discussion. So the best tactic is to avoid the discussion.

            You set up the standards of the debate, not me. You then failed to defend your own positions by that standard. You keep avoiding that discussion.

            In contrast, obviously I can defend my position by my own standards, but you will not accept my standards, because they don’t meet yours. But you can’t defend your standard by your standards, so they dissolve in their acid, so why should, indeed, how can defend my position by your standards, when your standards logically do not exist?

          • Tutanekai

            My standards are very simple and easy to understand. I know you understand them, and I also know that you cannot provide any concrete, verifiable and measurable evidence to prove your beliefs against those criteria.

            Attempting to undermine the criteria is the only way you can avoid admitting that your arguments make no sense when judged by them.

            So what are the concrete, verifiable and measurable criteria that let me demand concrete, verifiable and measurable justifications for your beliefs?

            Firstly, we live in a physical world where matter and energy behave according to specific measurable and verifiable rules. We can work out what these rules are by conducting experiments. When the experiments consistently return the same results and no other result is ever detected, we can say with a very high confidence level that we’ve discovered a natural law (a real one rather than the pseudoscientific nonsense the Church so embarrassingly makes constant reference to).

            For example, water boils at 100 degrees Celsius when heated in an atmospheric pressure equivalent to that of the Earth at sea level. Heat a quantity of water again and again under those conditions and it will always boil at 100 degrees. That is a natural law. It’s also concrete, i.e. the result is observable – we can all see water boil. It is measurable, i.e. we measure the thermal energy of the water as it boils. And it is verifiable, i.e. we can repeat the experiment millions of times and we’ll always get the same result.

            This being the case, the fact that water boils at 100 degrees under the specific conditions described is supported by firm evidence. It is knowledge rather than belief.

            I now know that conducting experiments and studying their results brings me knowledge.

            So what are the experiments that give you knowledge of God? Specifically, what experiments can you conduct that prove women to be unfit for the priesthood?

          • Albert

            This is just really poor:

            Attempting to undermine the criteria is the only way you can avoid admitting that your arguments make no sense when judged by them.

            Given that you cannot come up with evidence to judge your own criteria, it is hardly reasonable for you to foist them on me. But don’t you understand the issue here? The reason you cannot defend these criteria by their own standard is that they are the wrong criteria in the field we are discussing. Now failing to provide a defence of something by the wrong criteria is not a failing. The failure is in trying!

            But if you think your position is coherent and correct, defend your criteria by their own standard. I find it actually quite hard to believe you can’t see the problem with your position – it is elementary, i.e. school level, philosophy. Your position is monumentally epidemically confused.

          • Tutanekai

            There is not a single scrap of real information in your pretentious and evasive reply.

            The tactics you employ to avoid conversation touching on areas where your belief system cannot justify itself smack of desperation.

            No wonder you and your ilk have been so comprehensively sidelined. All you can do is sit on the sidelines of a society you once controlled, sniping at those who now rule it, and when they call you out, running off like a spoiled child who refuses to play by any rules but his own, even though they make so little sense that he’s incapable of giving any coherent account of them.

            Poor? Quite so. A poorer excuse for a Christian apologist would be hard to find.

          • Albert

            From the very beginning, I asked you to defend your claims. From then on, you haven’t been evasive, you have simply ignore the flat contradiction in your own position and yet proceeded as if your position was rational.

            If you want me to give a defence of any of my positions, I will happily do so, but on my own grounds, not on grounds which are so irrational that you can’t defend them yourself. Get rid of your evidentialism, and become rational.

          • Tutanekai

            You talk about defending your claims, but you don’t actually make any attempt to do so. You can’t defend your religion from an evidential point of view, so your tactic is to discredit evidentialism, thereby hoping to avoid a confrontation on ground where your fideist beliefs cannot stand.

            It’s rational enough to avoid a fight that you know you can’t win, but that’s the extent of your rationality.

            From the point at which you start making fantastical claims about magic sky fairies that MUST exist because you just KNOW they do, rationality deserts you.

            The epistemological solipsism you labour under is not a rational form of belief. Irrational fideist fantasies that invent magical beings to fill in the gaps in their knowledge are a child’s way of approaching the world.

          • Albert

            Okay, now I really am clear that you really don’t understand how fatally incoherent your position is. Let me spell it out. This is what I think you are saying (or something like it):

            1. A position is rational, if and only if there is concrete, measurable and verifiable evidence in defence of it.

            2. There is no concrete, measurable and verifiable evidence to defend not ordaining women.

            3. Therefore, it is irrational to oppose women’s ordination.

            But this argument has multiple flaws. Let me give just one and express it this way:

            1. A position is rational, if and only if there is concrete, measurable and verifiable evidence in defence of it.

            2. There is no concrete, measurable and verifiable evidence in defence of premise 1.

            3. Therefore, it is irrational to believe premise 1.

            How simple do I have make this? Your argument defeats itself, and as such conveys no information whatsoever. Therefore, I would be as almost as irrational as you if I tried to defend my position by your standard. But that does not commit me to fideism.

            How much elementary epistemology have you actually read?

          • Tutanekai

            I could ask you the very same question.

            Your argument falls down at the second premise. There IS concrete, measurable and verifiable evidence to support the first premise.

            The existence of evidence supports not only the premise it confirms, but also the rationality of evidence as an effective criterion for judging rationality.

            If I have evidence that water boils at 100 degrees, not only do I confirm my position about the boiling point of water, I also confirm the rationality of using evidence as the criterion for judging this.

            Water does boil at 100 degrees. I can witness it doing so, and, crucially, so can everyone else.

            When we compare our evidence, we find it to be consistent, measurable and repeatable. Whenever we heat water (on the Earth at sea level) it always boils at 100 degrees. The consistency and repeatability of the evidence determines its rationality.

            It’s such a simple concept that I’m not surprised a religionist doesn’t understand it. When you’re longing for magic and wonder, mundane logic just doesn’t satisfy, does it?

          • Albert

            I’m sorry, you just don’t understand the distinction between induction and deduction. You seem to think that I am arguing against the use of evidence. I am not. I am arguing against your idea that

            1. A position is rational, if and only if there is concrete, measurable and verifiable evidence in defence of it.

            You are confusing the true premise:

            1′.It is rational to believe things on the basis of evidence.

            With the false premise

            1”. It is only rational to believe things on the basis of evidence.

            Thus, your boiling water example, provides evidence in support of 1′. But it fails to provide evidence in support of 1”. But that means 1 fails by its own standard and you cannot believe it without contradicting yourself.

            Moreover, you can’t even show, on the basis of your evidence, that it would be irrational to believe water boils at 100 degrees Celsius other without evidence. That would be very faulty reasoning, committing the fallacy of denying the antecedent. And in fact, that belief (that it would be irrational to believe water boils at 100 degrees Celsius without evidence) would be false. For I know that, by definition water boils at 100 degrees Celsius, because Celsius set up his measure so that 100 degrees Celsius is the boiling point of water. Thus the proposition “Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius” is tautological, and can be reasonably believed (deduced) without evidence.

          • Tutanekai

            Tie yourself up in as many knots as you like, but the fact remains that only evidential proof can reveal truth.

            Without evidence, I can know nothing. I cannot know that water boils if I’ve never seen water boiling. If someone who has seen it boiling tells me it boils, and I believe him, I still will not KNOW that water boils. I’ll merely believe it.

            This unsubstantiated belief might turn out to be true, but until I have the evidence to prove this, I cannot know for sure.

            Beliefs stand or fall by evidence. Only evidence can confirm or deny a belief. Lack of evidence merely puts the question in abeyance.

            A belief for which no evidence exists is not necessarily false. Neither is it necessarily true. It is unsubstantiated and therefore cannot be judged according to criteria of truth and falsehood.

            This is the position in which religion finds itself. A position made all the more uncomfortable by the fact that the type of evidence that could confirm its claims has never been dectected in any experiment ever carried out. No experiment has ever succeeded in resurrecting a dead multi-cellular organism with a complex neurological system. No experiment has ever detected the presence of anything resembling a spirit.

            Until you have evidence, you do not have knowledge. All you have is unsubstantiated belief. And if you deny the efficacity of evidence in confirming knowledge, and claim that only what you believe can be considered as true, you have epistemological solipsism. You become your own ultimate arbiter of truth. You elevate yourself to the status of this God you pretend to believe in, when what you really believe in is your own divinity.

            And we all know you’re not divine. At least I hope we do.

          • Albert

            This is still the same confusion. Of course it is true that I can gain truth from evidence. It may even be true that without any evidence, I would know nothing. But it does not follow that evidence is the only way we that we can know things. And it is that last proposition that you must defend (and therefore, you must defend it evidentially). You must defend it evidentially, and you must defend your moral claims, like the one you made about justice, evidentially too. And this you have not done and so your position is self-refuting.

          • Tutanekai

            If it’s true that without evidence we can know nothing then it does follow that we cannot know things without evidence.

            And there you have all the evidence needed to support my position. The evidence I have that proves it’s necessary to have evidence to know something is that the only things I know are things for which I have evidence. Everything else is merely a belief, a supposition, or a question. Some of these things may be true, but I cannot know this. I can only believe or reject the thing, or remain neutral and neither believe nor reject it.

            The problem with a non-evidential system is that in the absence of an objective means of determining truth, ie evidence, truth becomes subjective and therefore unreliable. In a non-evidential system, all you can have is belief. There are no criteria for validating beliefs and establishing knowledge.

            For example, you believe in God and a Muslim believes in Allah. By what criteria can you demonstrate that your belief is true and the Muslim’s false, or that either is superior to my position that we don’t know if there’s a deity, and that in the absence of this knowledge, religion is nonsensical and even demonstrably harmful?

          • Albert

            If it’s true that without evidence we can know nothing then it does follow that we cannot know things without evidence.

            Obviously, without evidence I would know nothing. But it does not follow from that that I therefore need specific evidence for every thing that I know. That conclusion again requires some invalid reasoning.

            Some things are inferred from other things (universals are inferred from particulars) and other things are learned from experience (like moral truths). What do I mean by this? I could not know that torturing small children purely for fun is wrong, if I knew nothing at all and therefore did not know what a child is. But if I know what a child is, then, unless there is something wrong with me, I know torturing a small child purely for fun is wrong. I don’t need to be an agnostic on the rightness of torturing the small child until someone brings me some evidence that it is wrong. I know it, just by knowing what a child is.

            Thus you cannot move from “Without evidence I would know nothing” to “Therefore I need evidence for everything I believe.” So you haven’t in fact defending your position and it remains self-refuting and I don’t have to give an answer even if I have one.

            Then there’s one more logical fallacy in your post:

            that either is superior to my position that we don’t know if there’s a deity, and that in the absence of this knowledge, religion is nonsensical and even demonstrably harmful?

            Absence of evidence for God (which I do not for moment concede) is not evidence that religion is “nonsensical and demonstrably harmful”. But I’m interested in your claim that it is nonsensical. What do you mean by that? Do you mean that religious propositions (e.g. “God exists”) are meaningless?

          • Tutanekai

            The torture of small children for any reason is a hypothetical dilemma until it actually happens.

            If it does and you witness the suffering of those unfortunate small children who have been tortured, you then have the evidence you need to know that it’s wrong.

            If you speak to someone who has witnessed the torture and find his account of it to be convincing, then you’ll probably believe that the torture of small children is wrong.

            But if you just talk about the hypothetical torture of small children for the purposes of an Internet conversation where you’re trying to prove that evidence isn’t necessary for the acquisition of knowledge, all you do is provide your opponent with evidence that you don’t actually know what knowledge is. You’re confusing it with belief.

            I have never witnessed the torture of small children and I hope you haven’t either. My opinion of the morality of such actions is therefore nothing more than a belief, which requires experience (which I hope I never have) to be confirmed.

            I don’t like to venture into the realm of belief because it’s just my imagination talking, but if I were to witness a small child in some Third World country who, having sustained a land mine injury, was being restrained as shrapnel was removed from his body without anaesthetic, the spectacle of his suffering would, I believe, horrify me. The doctors would be torturing him. But they would also be saving his life. Would that be wrong? What if one of his doctors was a sadist and was enjoying the child’s pain? Would he be wrong to continue saving the child’s life?

            Of course I can embroider that situation as much as I like as long as it’s confined to my imagination. I can imagine all sorts of potential twists and turns and new dilemmas. But none of them would be real, so none of them would provide me with any knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience. Knowledge requires evidence.

            This is why religious propositions are nonsensical. As they lack any kind of evidential basis, they are mere expressions of unsubstantiated belief. Or make-believe, if you prefer. And when people are persecuted and tortured and even killed because of those beliefs, religion becomes demonstrably harmful.

            The possibility that one man’s religious fantasy may turn out to be true can’t be dismissed, but until it is confirmed as the truth by solid and convincing evidence, it remains an unsubstantiated belief.

            You can’t prove something to be true in your imagination, because your imagination isn’t capable of encompassing the millions, billions or even trillions of independent variables that make up any given situation, from the position and spin of each electron, to the elementary forces working on the matter in the vicinity of the situation, to the environmental conditions that influence the reactions and decisions of each individual participating in the situation. All you can do is conjure up two dimensional cartoon characters in your mind’s eye and move them about a stage of your own creation, animating them with your own will and your own motivations. It’s play-acting, it isn’t real. So it can provide you with no real knowledge.

          • Tutanekai

            The logical fallacy is in the statement “Obviously, without evidence I would know nothing. But it does not follow from that that I therefore need specific evidence for everything I know.”

            Nothing is nothing. No thing. If you know nothing, you don’t know anything. Moral knowledge is something, which you have already admitted you cannot know without evidence, because without evidence you would know nothing.

            You can infer a belief, but you cannot infer knowledge. Knowledge requires evidence. And what is experience if it is not evidence?

            You can and must move from “without evidence I would know nothing” to “therefore I need evidence for everything I know”. Your problem is that you don’t know how to differentiate between knowledge and belief. Conflating the two is a problem common to the religious mind.

          • Albert

            This is still logically fallacious – in fact I think it commits the fallacy of division. I would know nothing without evidence – in other words, the set of propositions which we may call “knowledge” would be empty. But it does not follow that, having some knowledge, I would need evidence for each bit of knowledge within that set. Hence my statement is true:

            Obviously, without evidence I would know nothing. But it does not follow from that that I therefore need specific evidence for everything I know

            You fail to see the possibility of induction and inference – moves which are fundamental to science.
            Now you’re making some kind of point here about knowledge and belief. It appears from your other post (which I haven’t time to read properly, sorry) that moral beliefs are not knowledge. But if that is the case, my question has to be, am I rational in holding the moral belief that it is wrong to torture small children purely for fun, is true?

          • Tutanekai

            You agree that you would know nothing without evidence. But you disagree that evidence is a necessary element of knowledge. You claim that induction and inference can take the place of evidence. In other words, if A is true, B must be true because, and only because, A is true.

            Unless the truth of B can be borne out by evidence, your inference is nothing more than a belief. So we’re back to what seems to be a constitutional incapacity on your part to differentiate between knowledge and belief. As I said earlier, it’s the mark of the religionist. You know God exists in the same way that you know it’s wrong to torture small children purely for fun. Only you don’t know these things, you merely believe them.

            Belief may not necessarily be false. Belief can be true. But unless you have the data to back up your belief and transform it into knowledge, it must always by definition contain an element of doubt.

          • Albert

            You agree that you would know nothing without evidence. But you disagree that evidence is a necessary element of knowledge.

            No I didn’t say that. You’ve inferred that – it didn’t follow. Which is ironic because you’ve then launched an attack on inference. You also don’t seem to understand that inductive thinking is in fact the way science works. This is one of the many reasons you kind of evidentialism fails. Philosophers can see perfectly well that your position does not only undermine religious claims, but even science!

            Now you’ve also got this bee in your bonnet about belief and knowledge. But that’s confusing because the patron saint of evidentialism, CK Clifford, enunciates your position as it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. Now you can hardly critique me for using the word “belief” and say that is religious confusing, when the evidence shows it is a confusion (if such it is) that I have gained from evidentialists.

            Belief may not necessarily be false. Belief can be true. But unless you have the data to back up your belief and transform it into knowledge, it must always by definition contain an element of doubt.

            Fine, let me then re-ask the question that you have failed to answer: am I rational in holding the moral belief that it is wrong to torture small children purely for fun, is true?

          • Tutanekai

            You’ve already stated on more than one occasion that you would know nothing without evidence. And then you say that evidence isn’t necessary to know something. I did not infer this. You wrote it in black and white.

            The logical fallacy is yours. On the one hand you say that evidence is necessary. On the other that it is not. You can’t have it both ways.

            I’m unsurprised of course. The Christian faith is built around mutually exclusive and logically incoherent ideas and Christians are forever attempting to square circles and turn black into white.

            What does surprise me however are the lengths you’re willing to go to in order to discredit an opponent. This blatant attempt to entrap me into making a statement that would mark me as an apologist for child torture is the sort of tactic that even the most rabidly zealous Catholics have largely left behind.

            Trying to manipulate your opponent into smearing himself in a way that would label him as irredeemably evil in the minds of most who post here without regard to either truth or honour is the modus operandi of a moral coward.

            You and your faith both stand condemned by ypur own words. If your religion is truth, it should be possible to defend it without recourse to the methods of populist demagoguery and emotional manipulation. If these are the only weapons you have left in your armoury, you’ve already conceded defeat.

          • Albert

            I’m sorry, but I have on several occasions set out where your fallacies lie and even named them. You have on at least one occasion given a demonstrably illogical conclusion from the premises. I can even set it out to prove to you if you like. The fact that you keep making the same fallacy does not mean you are answering it. It just shows, in this case, that you don’t get set theory, and therefore keep making whole/part confusions.

            You show you do not understand about deduction and induction. Here’s the truth: if I know some things, I can infer others. Therefore, I do not need concrete evidence for each individual thing, provided I can reasonably infer from others.

            You’ve already stated on more than one occasion that you would know nothing without evidence. And then you say that evidence isn’t necessary to know something.

            You keep missing the key word in what I say “specific”. That is to say, if I have some knowledge, I do not need to have specific knowledge for each truth claim I make. At least, that is the way science works. In other words, your position is defeated by the rationality of science (or else your position shows science to be irrational). Moreover, you have only provided evidence that it is rational to believe things on the basis of evidence. You have provided no evidence, despite my repeated requests, to show that it is only rational to believe things on the basis of evidence. This failure on your part makes your position self-refuting.

            There’s nothing particularly Christian about the position I am defending – look at how the Logical Positivists ended up having to admit they had defeated themselves. Philosophers of science, like Popper know this also. Even David Hume seems to be aware of the problem!

            Secondly, although moral beliefs will not exist without some prior knowledge, the rightness or wrongness of an act is not something we can learn from science. Science tells us how the world works, not how we should behave (although if we have some moral beliefs, science may help us to apply those beliefs well, in some cases). In other words, although evidence will tell us what a child is and what torture is, can you really not see that evidence will not, in this sense, tell us whether torturing a child is wrong? I mean how are you going to measure that?

            If you go back to your original claims, you have a whole range of moral claims for which you have provided no evidence. So again, your own claims are irrational by your own standards. I do not claim to be an evidentialist and yet you critique me for failing to provide evidence (which I’m only not doing because you have not set up a coherent evidentialist position for me to meet). You do claim to be an evidentialist and yet you provide no evidence for your claims. You’ve also attributed to me, without evidence, religious beliefs I do not hold, beliefs which, had you any evidence at all about religion you would recognize it would be hardly likely that I would hold. And yet, you go on about evidence!

            Thirdly, you’ve made some claims about justice, but you have provided no evidence for these.

            All you’ve done is to show that some beliefs are rational if we evidence for them. Well so what? Obviously, I believe that. Your claim is that no belief is rational without specific evidence for that belief. Now you’ve moved to making some kind of claim about belief versus knowledge. Again, in the face of evidence to the contrary, you alleged a religious fallacy here – but you’ve not noticed that the language is embedded in the ramblings of existentialists themselves.

            This is exactly the kind of irrationality that I expect from an atheist (if that is what you are). You guys so often learn science and not philosophy, and don’t realise that, when you slip over into philosophy, you do it badly. As Einstein said: the man of science makes a poor philosopher.

  • John Hillman

    Good article Gillian.
    The age and state of the historic buildings is real problem and real
    burden for the Church of England. I struggle to reconcile a love of history and
    what I think (feel?) those buildings mean as monuments to our past and heritage,
    and what they should stand for in the communities they are in. Then as you say
    culture has moved in and they are now largely
    museum pieces not to mention the are many similarly rather empty buildings that
    only date back decades that aren’t so noticeable , This is not just the for the
    C of E either we just have the lion’s share of the obvious ancient edifices.

    However the Church is active
    and relevant in so many ways we shouldn’t just focus on the age of the people
    who attend those buildings on a Sunday morning. These same congregations are
    involved job clubs, food banks, winter night shelters, Street Pastoring etc not
    to mention the vast involvement that goes on in schools along.

    HTBS church plant at St Peter’s
    in Brighton is another great example to add to your 2 to 3 and I know there are
    plenty of examples of church growth in smaller communities of no interest to
    anyone but those they seek to serve.

    • Gillan … it means “Servant of Saint John”.

  • The Explorer

    Gillan
    Have you considered a name change?

    • Too?
      Gillan is a fine name for an evangelist.

      • The Explorer

        See John’s post below.

        • Inspector General

          Aloysius. Now, there’s a real man’s name Gillian might like to adopt for the purposes of Cranmer…

          • Gillan is the name, Al. Do pay attention and show some respect.

          • Thank you Jack. My life has been blighted by confusion surrounding my name, but it’s what I have been given and I live with it. These days I’m mostly amused by people’s inability to read!

          • Chin up Gillan – it’s a fine name and presents a good opportunity to explain its meaning.

        • Ah …

  • David

    Gillan Scott has hit the nail on its head here. The C of E puts too much resource into infrastructure, old buildings, instead of concentrating on preaching the gospel and reaching out to everyone in the many ways available to us.
    I can relate to his examples and statistics as I am in the same diocese as him. Indeed I recently had a robust “discussion” with our incumbent who disagreed strongly with my somewhat bold statement that little attended rural churches should close, be sold off, or whatever it takes, in order to focus on growth of The Church. The body of Christ, The Church, is not its church buildings. Don’t misunderstand me, I love our history and deeply appreciate ancient architecture. Part of my professional role involved respecting our built historical heritage. As a natural conservative I deeply appreciate the continuity that old church buildings represent. Often they act as a visual central point of a village. But first things first ! We must establish our priorities, and making new disciples must be the top priority. If the country or the local communities want to maintain interesting examples of local history, that’s great ! But it is not the primary mission of the C of E. For the first time ever, I find myself in agreement with Giles Fraser – that is worrying !

  • Dreadnaught

    Where’s Cranny?

    • sarky

      Is that an ecclesiastical version of ‘where’s wally’?
      There is someone in a stripey top in the photo at the top of article. Could be cranny?

      • Dreadnaught

        Indeed it is Sarx 🙂

      • IanCad

        Having never had the privilege of meeting HG, curiosity compelled me to enlarge the screen to 300%.
        The ample bust, amplified by horizontal stripes, leads me to believe that, if indeed it is Cranny, we’ve been well and truly conned.

        • Dreadnaught

          You mean you didn’t know he was a Tranny? – Cranny the Tr…. oh never mind, I miss the young codger.

          • IanCad

            Very quick DN; and very funny.
            Jesting aside – I do hope all is well with our host.

    • Inspector General

      One suggests the man is sick and tired of you, Dredders…

      • Dreadnaught

        Bit harsh old bean.

        • Inspector General

          Only tweaking your thing, dear chap…

          • Dreadnaught

            Of course you are you little tinker!

  • Dreadnaught

    THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IS NOT DYING – IT IS REGENERATING
    If this is so why is it not possible to get through an evenings TV without seeing some woman or child in a f..k..g hijab? What next The Great British Bake-off in a soddin Burka?
    Christianity is dying because Christians are dying and other Christians think there’s nothing they can do about it but pray for them – talk about a death wish!

  • IanCad

    Churches ebb and fall. And, after travails, often rise again.

    The CofE is in a shaking time. Neither fish nor fowl, not leading but following. Adapting the creed to suit the times. It is in a bad way.
    Its legacy lies in the beauty that is England. Churches cannot be permitted to crumble into dust. They are our heritage.

    Renovation of these testimonies to the faith should be a national imperative. Hang denominations! What an opportunity to train construction workers. Not as old-fashioned one-trick-ponies. but as well rounded generalists. Health and Safety would have to back off; the treasury must cough up, overseas aid to Muslim countries stopped. Should be plenty of funds to go round.

    It is October 16th. On this day in 1555 Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned for their faith. The candle lit by them is flickering.

    • chiefofsinners

      The CoE is indeed being shaken. As Hebrews 12:27 says, so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

  • The Explorer

    The big question I have about the C of E is whether the part that is regenerating needs to break away in order to survive.

    • Mike Stallard

      Why not join the Catholics/Baptists/Pentecostalists instead?

      • The Explorer

        Me personally, or the regenerating bit of the C of E?

        • Mike Stallard

          Both…and…?

  • Thomas Renz

    A minor point: “than people attending all of its services” – do you mean “than people attending any of its services”? At our church, apart from me, there would be only one other person attending all four services but this says nothing about the numerical strength or weakness of the local church.

  • DanJ0

    One of my local CofE churches was sold to a joint venture which includes an Elim church. They’re made a superb job of restoring the core building whilst adding a modern glass façade and lots of maple wood. I was worried it would end up as a mosque, or some luxury apartments.

    • Inspector General

      Or a gay sauna, God forbid. Worse than a damn mosque, that would be…

      • Dreadnaught

        Nah…

      • DanJ0

        That’d be one church you’d be happy to attend regularly.

        • Inspector General

          Definitely not. Anyway, with Islam so entrenched in Leicester, anybody trying to open said establishment may well be thrown off the thing’s roof…

          • DanJ0

            Where I live, there’s a sex shop with attached ‘massage parlour’ bang in the middle of the Muslim area. It’s not a gay one though, as far as know. A few of the Muslim ‘elders’ tried to have it closed a few years ago but they never succeeded. Must be plenty of custom down there as it’s been open for years.

          • Dreadnaught

            ‘Well Blow me’, if that aint a regular conundrum – a regular conundrum’s whats I’d calls it – what about you Mr ‘omes?

          • Inspector General

            Closing said establishment is no doubt on some Islamic local wish list. It’s only a matter of time before the elders who would presumably have been born overseas and still hold some form of gratitude for being allowed to get away from their ancestral stink hole are replaced by the rabid home grown crowd who have no such consideration…

        • sarky

          Sorry, too many bishop bashing jokes.

  • The C of E is dying because people are letting it die. There’s no parking outside the Church or passion inside the Church! People seem to be going to an Abbey or a Cathedral where they are able to get more of the sense they are part of something greater. And of course political correctness has and is killing off Christianity. I feel sorry for those who give sermons these days because they can’t tell it like it was and is for fear of being misunderstood and reported by some offended ‘do gooder’. So the Church has turned to sin to try and revive itself.

    • Andrew Price

      We say it like it is in the independent churches

    • “People seem to be going to an Abbey or a Cathedral where they are able to get more of the sense they are part of something greater.”

      Interesting insight, Marie. Our faith embraces all the senses – mind, heart and soul – and worship needs to reflect this.

  • Inspector General

    The cats and dogs and donkey and horse charities in the UK are awash with money. That’s thanks to the propaganda they put out in periodicals like the Radio Times. “Who will look after ME when you’re gone” wails cat model used. It makes a fellow wretch, so it does.

    Perhaps the CoE might want to advertise similarly. Especially in the lucrative will side of things. Plenty of single lonely elderly who are disgusted to see their relatives only when they are on their way out. Leaving everything to their local church is the best way to stick two fingers up to the ghouls, and of course, you get to buy your way into heaven…

    • CliveM

      “you get to buy your way into heaven…”

      A statement that is a hostage to fortune.

      • Professional trolling ….

        • Inspector General

          Plenary Indulgence built the great churches of Christendom. So what if it gave the benefactors a leg up…

          • Doubtful if it helped anyone to avoid or shorten their time in purgatory if the proper disposition was absent, Al. Of course, if this was approached sincerely and with faith, that would be a different matter.
            It has to be admitted indulgences were, on occasions, used a scam by some very sinful men in the Church hierarchy. Trent sorted this all out, thank God.

          • Inspector General

            If a thief, hanging from a cross gets to heaven, club class, it’s all up for grabs as far as we mortals can fathom…

          • A thief who, by the grace of God, showed compassion to Jesus and asked Him to remember him when He entered paradise.

          • Inspector General

            The saved thief’s fortune is one of the mysteries. Why do you feel you should explain everything…

          • Clearly you paid no attention at your Catholic religious education classes, Al.

          • CliveM

            Still happens today. You should see some of what the TV Evangelists get up to.

        • CliveM

          Eh?

          • Inspector General

            Kapo Jack having a go, don’t you know…

          • In Christian love, Al.

          • Well, let’s just say trolling with an intent to clarify positions. A sort of weird ecumenical troll.

          • Inspector General

            : – <

          • CliveM

            Oh it’s just the Inspector!! We wouldn’t have him any other way.

            Well perhaps he could be a bit more orthodox!

    • After seeing a local church waste a substantial legacy on re-vamping the inside of the church, by removing the ancient pews and replacing them with noisy plastic chairs, so that it could be used as a multi-purpose venue in spite of having a good church hall, I’d be very reluctant to leave them anything.

      • Inspector General

        Sounds like the devilish work of a vicaress…

        • No, a trendy, possibly gay, rector.
          The crazy thing is that the church in the next village is busily replacing chairs with modern pews, because people moved the chairs into groups and made a lot of noise.
          They could have done a swap!

          • Inspector General

            Too much ‘out with the old and in with the plastic new’ in the CoE, sadly. Always feel an old church is a living embodiment of continuity with a more devout past…

          • Agreed. The old churches and cathedrals in England are splendid statements of faith in God; those that survived the ravages of the reformation and Cromwell, anyway.

          • I see no evidence that God is interested in architecture. (Matthew 24:1-2). I would sooner be in a church based in a disused cinema or stripclub where the Gospel was preached than in the beautiful old church in my village where the vicar wouldn’t know the Gospel if it bit her on the leg.
            .
            Cromwell stabled his horses in Ely cathedral, I seem to recall. Good for him! If the word of God wasn’t being preached there, that was all it was good for.

          • Well, as you know, Jack is Roman Catholic and so believes in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the need for Altars and suitable surroundings to perform the great liturgical miracle of the Real Presence and the re-presenting of Christ’s death at Calvary through the priest acting in Persona Christi.

            If particular worshipping communities do not subscribe to this theological perspective then your words are applicable to them. Buildings and their design and lay-out have no intrinsic worth or meaning. However, not all Anglicans subscribe to this view point.

            The pre-reformation Churches and Cathedrals are splendid statements of faith and what Jack considers to be the true worship of God as practiced for centuries by the universal Christian world. Our faith is a matter of mind, heart and soul and this is reflected in scripture.

          • len

            The Mass is an abomination…..
            Christ died once for all eternity not at the beck and call of a priest..

          • Well, yes Jack is aware Christ died once, Len. Again, you have misrepresented the Sacrifice of the Mass which is not a recrucifixion of Christ but a mystical re-presentation of Calvary and those celebrating it join Mary and John at the foot of the Cross. One wishes those who dispute Catholicism would at least learn about it first.

          • len

            The Roman religion is un biblical but that is Catholicism…I seem to know more about the Roman religion that you appear to Jack

          • Away with you. Jack has not time for your trolling.

          • The Explorer

            On the other hand God was interested in the Tabernacle , and gave instructions for how it was to look.

          • I certainly feel more comfortable in an old church, particularly when you realise that people have been going there on Sundays for getting on for a thousand years.

          • Inspector General

            Yes. It was a pre conquest AofC who decreed that churches stop being built of wood, and to go onto stone…

  • Philip Little

    I would strongly recommend Alan Hirsch’s seminal work (‘The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church’). In it, he describes how the dying Christendom paradigm of ‘church’ no longer has relevance, and he goes on to describe the radical change of mindset required to bring forth a more relevant (and more biblical) paradigm. I note your valid observation – “God refuses to let his church slip away” – BUT you seem to be referring to the C. of E. (maybe along with other denominational institutions). When Jesus declared: “I will build my ecclesia and the gates of hades will not prevail against it”, he was referring to a divine creation with a very different nature … to which Paul later refers as the ‘Body of Christ’. This most certainly is not to be identified with the Church of England or indeed any man-made religious institution. The sooner western Christians get free of their religious paradigms and begin to grasp the true spiritual/biblical nature of Jesus’ ‘ecclesia’, the sooner the process of regeneration and renewal will begin.

  • Royinsouthwest

    We have got lots of castles in Britain. Many of them are ruins. Is that because defence is no longer important? Of course not! (OK, some politicians don’t think it is important. That is why we buy aircraft carriers without planes to fly from them).

    I would be sad to see any church fall into ruin and sad to see them taken over by other religions or converted to undesirable secular purposes, not that all secular purposes are undesirable. However some churches seem to be no more relevant to Christianity than castles are to national defence.

    • Mike Stallard

      I wrote a letter to our vicar suggesting other ways to use our mediaeval building. Guess what?
      No reply!

  • David

    The C of E has always collected statistics on the numbers of worshippers per service. These are collated to display the trends and published. So it is exceedingly easy for the media to see what is happening, which has been generally decline, although some argue that has now ceased.
    However in the meanwhile, ignored by the media, the free Churches are often growing. The vibrancy of these churches, is totally ignored by the media, for two reasons. Firstly they, as far as I am aware, do not publish statistics of their growth, collectively anyway. Secondly a Christian church that is growing does not fit the left-liberal anti-Christian media narrative of “Christianity is useless and doomed” that the media love to trot out whenever they can. So the green shoots are ignored whilst the dying parts of the plant are held in the spotlight.
    Moreover we must not forget that the C of E is a very diverse animal. Some parts are growing, strong with new growth. These are the evangelical sections. However the liberal-led and broad church sections are undoubtedly shrinking. But the Church Universal, which cuts across man-made institutional denominations, is always moving on, growing – led by The Spirit. It will never, ever, falter or die. It is just that this is not happening allover, generally in the UK at present. But it is happening in some places where Truth is still held as being a singular, not a plural thing, and where the Word of God is faithfully explained and expounded.

  • preacher

    Many here have the right idea. The Church generally should get back collectively to the job given to it – Preach the gospel !. In many instances the different ‘branches’ struggle like football teams to be top of the league & here I include many of the ‘new’ fellowships that claim to operate in the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit, but look & operate more like fairgrounds with “Barkers” to match.

    If the Church members realised that the eternal destination of friends & relatives rested with them, rather than a professional minister, the Church would be growing faster than any other body on the planet.

    No one knows when their time will come! Look at the poor souls driving along the Shoreham bypass a short time ago, who would have thought that many would never arrive at their destinations, & the reason why it should have happened as it did, I would like to think that any Christian friends or relatives would have shared the gospel with them before the tragedy. But did they?.

    We the Church need to challenge the lethargic aimless attitude of the World, starting in our own localities. But first the Church itself needs to be challenged to get itself in order, We Are the Church! the living body of Christ on Earth today!. Not some ancient order of a dead religious body. Our God is alive, Now – Today!! Tomorrow will be too late for many of our fellow men & loved ones.

    • sarky

      You have a point. I have many christian family and friends and they never speak to me about it. Then again I never speak about my atheism with them, kind of a stalemate situation.

      • chiefofsinners

        Sometimes it’s easier to speak to people you don’t know in ways like this. I expect your relatives are reluctant to upset or annoy you, whereas I am more than happy to do so.

        • When Jack heads South and visits his friends and family in Essex he always discusses his Christianity with them. It is his greatest wish that his two brothers, their children and grandchildren, return home to faith in Christ. He is also Godfather to the one of the children of his sister who died when they were very young and who’s father remarried. He is having limited impact here and this is a big regret.

          We all must talk about our faith in natural and common sense ways and not allow the tide of secular humanism to engulf those we love. We then have to trust in the Holy Spirit.

        • sarky

          Why would they upset or annoy me?

          • chiefofsinners

            It will be in their perception of you. They know what you believe, you know what they believe, strong opinions on both sides, no desire to cause a rift. I have relatives who will quickly say ‘oh don’t sour the atmosphere by bringing that up again’.
            People often reject the faith of their family because of personality clashes rather than the actual arguments. Faith becomes a proxy argument for entirely different issues. They’ve had the discussion before, they all know how it ended, but we’re still family so we’ll live with it and pray about it.
            What Jack says below is very true, but someone else might have a greater impact than he can with the people he’s closest to.

          • sarky

            But that’s not really the case. My parents have taken my kids to church events but have never asked me. There is no personality clash, it’s just never Spoken about.

          • chiefofsinners

            Luke, I am your father.

          • sarky

            Noooooooooooooooo!

      • preacher

        Well brother, with so much potentially at stake, I feel sad to hear that. Stalemates are always a lose, lose situation.

        • Inspector General

          In chess circles, stalemate is a draw…

          • sarky

            Mexican standoff?

          • preacher

            yep old friend – no one wins

  • Mike Stallard

    Women priests: how can they visit round a parish without proper security – especially at night? How can they remain alone in a church building with the doors unlocked? What happens to the church buildings if they are left unlocked? Who carries the can then? Clerks – whether or not in Holy Orders – don’t like being put in the spotlight for misdemeanours so better keep it coked to be on the safe side! Women run our church: men – yup, one over eighty. Offer to help? You need vetting very carefully – what if you are a crook?
    That is why our village is bursting at the seams with brand new houses springing up everywhere and absolutely no response from our local church whatsoever – oh sorry – it is open for two hours a month for a Bright Hour, kiddies welcome!

    • magnolia

      Some good questions, but not without answers. “Women priests: how can they visit round a parish without proper security- especially at night?”

      Well this morning’s reading included ” I send you out as lambs amongst the wolves.” To what extent does that not sound like a suicide mission for both women and men? How do lambs survive amongst the wolves against all the laws of nature?

      • Mike Stallard

        This is rather like my son in law in Australia. When I asked him what happened in mixed cricket games at his school (he is a teacher) if a boy threw a cricket ball and knocked a girl out? He said, “Our girls are made of sterner stuff than that.”
        Yup.
        But in real time, women priests do not often go out visiting. Yes, there are exceptions of course, but cold calling? In the evening when people are at home? The curate at our local market town church was nearly raped after she had said evensong (alone) in church.
        Our local Vicar never is seen except for funerals and the Bright Hour (kiddies welcome) last Friday in the month. Services twice monthly in what was once half of the South Aisle.
        But – hey – she is a busy woman!

        • magnolia

          Yes but men can be raped and murdered too, so I still don’t get it! Some women priests are probably bolder than others. Some women are.

          Some have tactics others have not thought of. I assume it would be more possible to visit a house where you could park right up by the door than one where you couldn’t. Equally a brightly lit hospital would be easier than a house where there was no access and you had to park a car and walk down a poorly lit lane. It really should be possible to organise a diary effectively to make the most of daylight hours and safely accessible sites without a lot of difficulty!

          I cannot comment on the busyness or otherwise of whoever your local Vicar, known to you but not me, might be. Some are busier than others, but almost all are doing more than people imagine, some of which cannot be spoken of due to confidentiality!

          • Mike Stallard

            I have been a Rector.
            It is damned dangerous to go out visiting.
            It is embarrassing to listen to people telling you what an idiot you are in the street.
            You come home all full of pain, ready to unload it all on God. It is so easy to sit in your nice warm study away from the madding crowd and pretend to be doing your sermon/or filling all those ghastly forms.
            Which is why you never seem to see any clergy around the palace any more…

          • magnolia

            I do understand. And the people in the street were wrong. Yes, it can be dangerous. We have seen the news items where innocents were murdered by psycopaths and so on. I do not laugh at nor ridicule stories of pentagrams scrawled on churches or vicars in occult soaked areas who are told they are not welcome there.

            I am wondering about that passage about lambs and wolves. You have clearly inhabited the image.

  • Rasher Bacon

    Evening all. All the best to the Anglicans.

    • Inspector General

      Good grief, where have YOU been for the last few years?

      • Rasher Bacon

        Going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it…

        • Anton

          That’s quite a Job.

          • Rasher Bacon

            Sorry – I just got that..

  • Rasher Bacon

    By the way, Giles Fraser – what a one-man think tank he is. Wittgenstein would be proud.

    • carl jacobs

      Wittgenstein would be proud.

      Is that a compliment?

      • Rasher Bacon

        Not as such…

        • carl jacobs

          OK, good. A favorable comparison with Wittgenstein should never be considered a compliment.

          • Lol …. one notes you still struggle with British humour and after nigh on 5 years too. Or were you being ironic?

          • carl jacobs

            Just being careful. And it was an opportunity to take a shot at Wittgenstein. One should never pass up the opportunity…

          • Indeed, but you could have joined in the spirit of the post with something along the lines that Wittgenstein, a cultural Catholic, helped free modern Christians from fidelity to scripture and doctrine and did so most lucidly.

          • carl jacobs

            helped free modern Christians from fidelity to scripture and doctrine

            And I notice that Pope Katherine Jefferts Bergoglio is busy trying to advance that process.

          • Please ….

            Jack is seriously considering the possibility that “Bergogolism” is a serious heresy threatening the Catholic Church. It’s been brewing since the rebellion against “Humanae Vitae” There have been heretical popes in the past who’s departures from the deposit of faith have been defeated by bishops and faithful lay Catholics. Today, such is the power and popularity at all levels within the Church of emotionalism, humanism and the assertion of private conscience, one wonders where all this might lead.

          • carl jacobs

            Mundabor seems optimistic.

          • So does Rorate Caeti – sort of – (very good site btw). However, what all this is revealing is the deep rooted heresies in growing numbers of Catholic cardinals and bishops … and now, quite possibly, a Pope. And the cause? It isn’t the divorce/remarried and access to Communion. Jack is becoming more certain of that.

          • carl jacobs

            I check Rorate Caeli at times like this as well.

            The religion of the Modern Age is everywhere, Jack. It’s a parasite that can take any form, and it’s very appealing to western man.

          • It’s recent growth in the West makes Jack sick to the very pit of his stomach. Jack sees it as a cancerous inducing virus lingering in the Body of Christ that is triggered during times of weakness in the Church.

          • ceige

            Happy Jack have you ever listened to or read the works of Father Cantamalessa the preacher to the Pope. Such a delightful man.

          • Jack has a link to a website with texts of his sermons. To be truthful, Jack is unsure about him at this time and keeps meaning to devote more time to reading his works.

          • ceige

            Fair enough, some of his sermons take a bit of digesting. Here is a link to a talk he gave which is really an abbreviated biography of his spiritual walk, quite inspiring:
            https://lc17.alpha.org/node/125

          • Thank you, Jack will read later on today. God Bless.

          • grutchyngfysch

            “…one wonders where all this might lead”

            I have the “Welcome to Protestantism” banner ready for when you take the plunge 🙂

          • carl jacobs

            Gently, Grutch. Gently. We need to gently lead him along this path.

          • God forbid …. and He will prevent it.

          • magnolia

            Is he Petrus Romanus then? And if so, what does it signify? Would it be desirable or not? I have never worked that one out, but you, being so immersed in the doings of the RC church, will surely know….(?)

          • Magnolia, you should know by now that Jack really doesn’t go in for predictions or trying to fathom prophecies. If he is a heretic, all it signifies is that Cardinals when they vote don’t always listen to the Holy Spirit and some put their own agenda first.

          • magnolia

            I am agnostic on this prophecy, and wasn’t suggesting that if the prophecy is genuine, which it probably is, that Petrus Romanus was necessarily a rotter, as it is vague enough to suggest he might be virtuous. The interesting bit is he is not ascribed as a bona fide full Pope, which considering the manner of the last guy’s resignation is interesting….

            Of course some group might be using the prophecy. It is all decidedly odd, whatever is happening.

  • The Explorer

    I can remember when one spoke of Christian name and surname. It may even have been that way on application forms; I can’t remember.

    Imagination the level of regeneration needed for that again to be a reality. It couldn’t happen, anyway, in a multi-faith society.

    • Inspector General

      Anyone who is rather sick of living in a multifaith society, just don’t vote Labour…

      • sarky

        Or the lib dems or the conservatives etc etc

      • IrishNeanderthal

        The conservatives have a lot to answer for, antagonizing those with more melanin in their skin and driving them lock stock and barrel towards Lab & Lib. Remember the slogan “if you want a coloured neighbor, vote Labour”? Back in the 60s (I think) there was a couple near to us where the lady of the house was French. Mr was out when a conservative lady canvasser called.

        “You don’t want the neighbourhood taken over by natives, do you?”

        “Oh, these natives can be quite horrible – I find the black people so much nicer!”

        So there you have it, a French lady explaining to the canvasser the proper meaning of “natives” in English.

        • Inspector General

          The BBC on line news produced a bit of (probably unintentional) humour last week. The subject was that hate crime will not be tolerated. The image shown was a defaced holocaust memorial poster in the street. The headline was Cameron saying he will crack down on Islamophobia…

  • There is quite a lot of good stuff going on within the C of E. But it needs to leave (2 Cor. 6:14-18). The glorious butterfly of evangelical truth needs to break out from the wretched caterpillar of unbelief and leave it to rot as it surely will.

  • magnolia

    I applaud this article with the one caveat that those who are in their later years, or indeed dying, need tending. They may not look like a good investment if they may have only a few years left on earth, but it is likely that those years will be ones where they really need God’s love, and the ministry of a faithful church, and we are about a lot more than merely growing numbers, and we want quality not just quantity, people whose roots go down and down and down, like a tree planted by the water.

    Too often the elderly feel that when people talk about “dead wood being pruned” that that translates into that they are no longer young or trendy enough for the church to want them, though I know that that is not what was meant here. Nevertheless it happens and is a terrible shame. We need to minister for eternity, for great grand parents, grand parents, parents and children of all ages. That is quite some balancing act.

  • Dennis Lessenis

    See: http://www.alisonmorgan.co.uk/Goodhew%202012.pdf for a more balanced assessment than the Daily Mail.

    That said, growth appears to be mainly among immigrant churches – and if you have had first hand experience of some of these – esp. African churches, I don’t necessarily think this is a good thing!!

  • The Explorer

    Thank you, Andre.