David Holgate 2
Church of England

Would the Dean and Chapter of Manchester Cathedral host and pray for Ukip?

 

When the Dean of Manchester Cathedral agreed to facilitate the march of the people against austerity during this year’s Conservative Party conference, a simple matter of Christian hospitality to the Communication Workers Union became an acute question of political mission. The juxtaposition of the Conservative Party in corporate conference and the Church of England in socialist fellowship was a potent symbol of the gulf between the millions and the millionaires, to use Dave Ward’s mismatch of the proceeds of economic growth. When the CWU General Secretary preached oppression from the pulpit of the Established Church, and when that homily was bathed in the vicarious prayers and blessings of a diocesan bishop, the Church of England became associated if not collusive with “the struggle to build a positive alternative to austerity, cuts and the so-called ‘free market'”.

“We don’t want Tories! We don’t want cuts!” proclaimed the brothers and sisters in the cloisters. The People’s Post campaign gives a brief account:

..as the final chorus of the classic 1970s Strawbs hit “I’m a union man” ebbed away, David Holgate, Manchester Cathedral’s Canon for Theology and Mission, opened the meeting with a warm welcome to everyone.

Canon Holgate reminded the assembly that “this cathedral is yours, not ours” and then led a short prayer in which he appealed to “God the communicator” asking Him to “please inspire all who speak and all who listen. Help us to communicate well, Amen.”

They don’t recount the prayer (for some reason), but Canon Holgate has graciously emailed a copy over and consented to its publication. He writes that he had planned to use a good harvest prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book, but after chatting to the organisers an hour before the gathering, he thought that something simpler, more focused and bespoke was needed, rather than generic incantations of “God of seed and growth and harvest..”.

The Dean, the Very Rev’d Rogers Govender, was actually not present for the evening (he was attending the event at which George Osborne was speaking on the Northern Powerhouse..), so it fell to Canon Holgate to say the welcome on behalf of the Chapter, “as we do to all booked events without exception”, the Canon explained. The CWU organiser also asked for a prayer to be said. “I was touched and gladly agreed,” Canon Holgate says. And this was his prayer:

God the communicator, we pray for our gathering tonight, called and organised by the Communication Workers Union, and we pray for the issues underlying the People’s Post campaign. Please inspire all who speak and all who listen: help us to listen actively, with hearts as well as minds, and give us the will to act on our insights; that we may work for justice in housing, unemployment and public service. Help us to communicate well. Amen.

And many people replied, “Amen.”

“God the communicator..” Okay, ‘In the beginning was the Word..’: God is manifestly desirous to speak to us in the vernacular and to know that we understand. He desires to commune with us, and for that communion to be complete. It’s neat when your union’s name expresses an attribute of anthropomorphic divinity, as opposed to, say, “God the rail, maritime and transport worker” or “God the prison officer”. And to offer a prayer “for the issues underlying the People’s Post campaign” is justifiably missional and incarnational: if God cares for dead sparrows, He surely cares about the terms and conditions of our employment and matters of ownership (cf. 1Kgs 21).

Whether He cares about Royal Mail being owned by the millions or the millionaires, however, is another matter. But Canon Holgate offered up the “issues underlying” the campaign, exhorting listening hearts and minds: he was careful neither to condemn the millionaires nor give succour to the millions (though a plea for “justice in housing, unemployment and public service” may certainly be interpreted as a shot against home ownership, free trade and private enterprise. And the fact that he didn’t just bid the group welcome, but sat among them and applauded the speeches might convey a degree of moral assent).

We ought to commend the Dean and Chapter of Manchester Cathedral for their commitment to political hospitality: the Church ought to be supportive of every spiritual-temporal / political-religious initiative it can muster. The pursuit of politics is intrinsically missional, for nothing is secular to God. The more the Church engages with the world, the better, especially if your cathedral is a stone’s throw from where the party of government is holding its annual conference .

But if “this cathedral is yours, not ours”, what are the limits of ecclesial hospitality? Would the Dean and Chapter of Manchester Cathedral have hosted a meeting organised by Ukip? Would Canon Holgate (or Dean Govender) have prayed:

God the sovereigntist, we pray for our gathering tonight, called and organised by the United Kingdom Independence Party, and we pray for the issues underlying the Vote Leave campaign. Please inspire all who speak and all who listen: help us to listen actively, with hearts as well as minds, and give us the will to act on our insights; that we may work for justice in immigration, taxation, and on our national borders. Help us toward righteous government. Amen.

In response to a direct question, the Dean has confirmed: “The groups I would not invite to the Cathedral would primarily be groups that are far-right racist groups or homophobic groups.”

Note the primary associational slur of the political right with all manner of moral nastiness. What about far-left racist groups? What about those ‘homophobes’ who simply seek to uphold orthodox sexual morality? The reality, of course, is that so many political objections are now couched in allegations of ‘racism’ and ‘homophobia’ (or ‘Islamophobia’) that it becomes a convenient catch-all assertion of moral deficiency by which the proponents of any objectionable political programme may be excluded. Would they host (and pray for) an Anglo-Catholic group which sought to debate “the issues underlying” (ie opposed to) women’s ordination? Or is that too sexist? Would they host (and pray for) a Jewish group which sought to debate “the issues underlying” (ie opposed to) a sovereign state of Palestine? Or is that too ‘far-right’ and Zionist?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way of testing this without throwing money at it. Perhaps it’s time to start fundraising for an annual Cranmer Conference?

  • Gawain Towler

    It’d be fun

    • sarky

      Except the inspector would be booted out by the dean under his no homophobic/racist rule.

      • Pubcrawler

        I think he’d be too busy imparting wisdom to the habitués of Canal Street to attend.

        • The Inspector General

          60 bodies dragged from that canal in about 8 years. They think there’s a phantom around, catching these fellows with their trousers around their ankles and pushing them in. Unable to swim, death comes quickly. The police don’t want to know, though. Of course, it has nothing to do with the boys in blue being obliged to drive around in a gayed up squad car during Manchester Gay Pride. Certainly not!

          • Pubcrawler

            Perish the thought!

      • The Inspector General

        Hmmm.

        ‘Homophobic’. “To stand in the way of never ending LGBT demands. To rebut the idea that to aspire to the ideals and aims of organised homosexuality is the subliminal and only worthwhile achievement the human race is capable of. To dispel the notion that homosexuals, invariably of the male activist kind, are the new high priests of a post religious secular world whose every word, thought and deed are deserving of veneration”.

        ‘Racist’. “To acknowledge that the races in general as distinct groups, differ in nature, outlook, achievement, humanity, compassion, understanding, tolerance. To appreciate that the different peoples of the world are better suited to that area of the world where they originate from, and whose fortune does not lie six to a room in some dilapidated one bedroom flat in London, or for that matter leaving us with nothing to eat but halal meat in England. And that’s not to mention their well-above-average tendency to break the law. The same law that has enabled the white race to succeed and thrive.”

        Now, snarky thing, perhaps you might treat us to your fly weight intellect and give us your own definitions of these dreadful words that so blaspheme the air today that they cause the great and good Anglican clergy of this land to resemble the subject of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

        • sarky

          Racism consists of ideologies and practices that seek to justify, or cause, the unequal distribution of privileges or rights among different racial groups. Modern variants are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. It may also hold that members of different races should be treated differently.[1][2][3]

          Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings towardhomosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual ortransgender (LGBT).[1][2][3] It can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, orhatred, may be based on irrational fear, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs.[4]

          • The Inspector General

            Oh well, cut and paste of someone else’s work it is then.

            But in relying on someone else’s definition, you missed out a large part of the story. And that is the preference to be among one’s own kind in one’s own country. If immigration is allowed to get out of hand, and it has in England, that is what you are going to get. Now, this preference, it’s a doubled edged sword. Both the immigrant and the indigenous feel this need. It is not confined to any race but all. Hence you have enclaves in cities of muslims, blacks, even Chinese. Because people wish to be among their own. It is a perfectly natural state of affairs.

            As for “Racism consists of ideologies and practices that seek to justify, or cause, the unequal distribution of privileges or rights among different racial groups” then yes, it is happening. But not in the way the author of your piece is considering. It was on the news today that more black footballers must become managers, so they whine. Now that is invert racism, and the indigenous are put at a disadvantage because of it. To think that Martin Luther King was wanting a day when you could see beyond the colour of a man’s skin. Some hope!

            And now we come to ‘homophobia’. Same author it looks like. Shame he’s missed out phrases like ‘repellent behaviour’ and ‘gross indecency in public’ and ‘substantial paedophilia risk’. And ‘cost to the public purse for diseases so transmitted’ and ‘corruption of the youth of this country’ and ‘depraved perversity’ and well as ‘high incidents of self-harm and suicide among the afflicted’ with ‘reliance on drugs and vile pornography’. One always says that the biggest homophobe of the lot is Mother Nature. She’s come up with untreatable gonorrhoea of the throat of late. Now there she’s being vindictive, just vindictive…

  • Anton

    Deans and Bishops would do well to remember that the church is about right vs wrong, not Right vs Left.

    • The Explorer

      Guideline for Leftist clergy. Left is right, and Right is wrong. That way, you can have your right and wrong, and still keep your politics. Simples.

    • David

      Nicely put !

      • Anton

        Thanks, but borrowed from George Orwell who wrote an essay during the war, “My country right or left.”

  • john in cheshire

    If anyone was ever in doubt that the CofE and the RC churches have been taken over by communists, the behaviour of the senior clerics over the past several years must surely dispel those doubts. If you want to know Jesus, stay away from Church and seek out real Christians.

  • Dreadnaught

    I think these certain officiates of the CoE have, like many of the ‘great unwashed’ been swayed by an over-riding propensity of the forces that hold much sway over public opinion i.e. TV news reporting and the Luvvie entertainment elite, who vociferously proclaim that the moral high-ground can only belong to the Left.
    The same Left that in less than a lifetime have come to demonise the progeny of the Kibutzniks they were once only too willing to support in building a democratic Israel now trying desperately to maintain the existence their country.
    Can anyone name any right-wing Cleric of note prepared to be so self-identiyingly English patriotic? or a news reporter, actor or ‘Comedian’ who is not falling over their halos to be seen as anti-Tory, anti-white skin, pro-open all hours immigration access, lets have “coffee coloured people” especially the heroines of the nation, the ‘single mums’ as the new British norm – I can’t.

    Blessed are The Meek – My Arse!
    … rant over … I’ll fetch me coat

    • Anton

      Pat Condell (category: Comedian). See him on YouTube.

      In Canada, the magnificent Ezra Levant tells it like it is on his dissident media channel, and rfers to the “Media Party” to denote the liberal/Left consensus.

      • Pubcrawler

        “See him on YouTube.” Because you’re not likely to be seeing him on HIGNFY or Question Time, more’s the pity.

      • Dreadnaught

        Never seen the non-PC , PC on mainstream TV – far too honest and accurate to be seen and heard for the Luvvies.

    • The Explorer

      Peter Hitchens.

    • Coniston

      The two men whose articles I have found always well worth reading are:
      Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester who resigned his post, realising that he could do far more worthwhile work outside the hierarchy of the Church.
      The former Chief Rabbi, (Lord) Jonathan Sacks.
      One a Pakistani by birth, with far more knowledge of British history and culture than nearly anyone else in the country, the other a Jew who understands the present predicament of the Western (Christian???) world far more clearly than most of our political and Church leaders – and what we should be doing about it.

      • Dreadnaught

        Let’s hear it for the Few!

      • David

        Well said. I totally agree.
        Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is the best Archbishop of Canterbury we never had, due to political correctness.

  • Pubcrawler

    “this cathedral is yours, not ours”

    And here’s me thinking it was God’s. That’s me told.

    • The Inspector General

      That’s it! That’s it exactly. Anglicanism is heading to deliver God to the people. Not the other way round…

      • Anton

        When I was in the CoE our parish adopted, to my regret, a “mission statement” which was “to serve the community”. I thought it should have been “to serve God in the community”.

        • CliveM

          I think churches are the only organisation still doing ‘mission statements”. All very 1980’s.

      • magnolia

        It should be two way traffic not just one anyway! But it helps if you believe in the incarnation and the Holy Trinity to see that!

  • Manfarang

    A DISSENTING Christian denomination struck a ‘positive note’ in its general assembly in Chester after being banned from the cathedral.

    The Unitarian Church has held its anniversary service there three times since 2001 for the University of Chester’s annual gathering.

    But the Dean and Chapter turned down a booking for 400-500 members following a complaint about Unitarians unorthodox beliefs received by the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster.

    • The Explorer

      I agree about the Unitarians being dissenting, but I have a problem about calling anything Christian if it denies the divinity of Christ.

      • The Inspector General

        Christ is divine. But there are those of us who don’t want to nail anything at all to church doors who cannot accept Jesus as anything other than angelic.

        • The Explorer

          Christianity says God is a trinity, with Christ as the second person of that trinity. Unitarians, like Muslims, say God isn’t; that’s why they’re called Unitarian. JW’s say Christ used to be the archangel Michael. He was thus a created being, and so is not the equal of the Father. JW’s also deny the Trinity. Those who see Christ simply as angelic sound JW or Arian, rather than Unitarian or Muslim.

          As to nailing stuff to church doors, Luther was not at odds with the Catholic Church because the Catholic Church reduced the Trinity. (If anything, the complaint was about more than three.) What was at issue was the nature of salvation.

          • The Inspector General

            Our Christ had plenipotentiary powers. God’s agent on this earth. Christ called out from the cross. Something had gone wrong. No doubt, he was as surprised as the rest of us when he returned to human life after 3 days. You see, the fellow knew not what he really was, angelic. Not God material at all then, but the next rank down…

          • The Explorer

            Your position sounds like Arianism: Jesus was a created being with attributes of divinity, but without divinity in and of Himself. It was to answer these points that the Athanasian Creed was composed.

            Christ surprised at returning to life. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The temple he was speaking of was his body. John 2:19. “And on the third day he will be raised to life again.” Matthew 20:19. Both these are represented as things Christ said before his death: suggesting a degree of foreknowledge that He would rise again.

            “Why hast thou forsaken me” is, of course, a quotation from Psalm 22. As Christ took human sin upon Himself, He experienced what it feels like to be estranged from God. Remember that after that He said, “It is finished (accomplished).”

          • The Inspector General

            It was long after Christ’s leaving that the concept of the Trinity was established. It is nonsensical. One deals in logic – there is nothing else….

          • Ivan M

            If you cannot accept the Trinity you cannot call yourself a Christian. Nothing wrong with that, but get off the fence man.

          • The Inspector General

            It is not in your remit to decide a man who believes in Christ is not a Christian. But don’t let that stop you. Perhaps if you’d been around at the time, you would have joined in the condemnation of Galileo…

          • Ivan M

            Don’t go off on the deep end Inspector. You are not a Christian by definition if you do not accept the Nicene Creed. That is how it is.

          • Old Nick

            Oh yes there is something else: the relation between the three Persons of the Holy Trinity apparent at Jesus’s baptism and represented on many Orthodox icons of that event.

          • Ivan M

            Further the Trinity though is not a matter of belief but a matter of fact. You can see this in the tricameral division of the most stable form of governments in the world. The judiciary, executive and legislative division of responsibility. It is taken to a refined form in the American system, where we saw its inner workings during the Nixon years. It’s a wonder to behold. The final truth of the West itself is the Holy Trinity. It is the basis of the Western way of life which you can see by looking at the Muslims whose most stable form of government is the rule by an apex Sultan. The Potter’s mark is there wherever you look.

          • Manfarang

            As in Hinduism- the Trimūrti.

          • Ivan M

            Precisely the Hindu sages too come up with a Trinity. Brahma, Vishnu, Siva. Not identical to the Christian Trinity but one which points to the fundamental reality, fully revealed in the Christian religion.

          • The Explorer

            The components of the Trinity were revealed early, but reconciling those components into the final doctrine took a while. That does not make the Trinity illogical.

            The Trinity is so theologically unusual one cannot see anyone wanting to go to the bother of inventing it unless it happened to be the only explanation that fitted the revealed data. Polytheism, and the Islamic version of monotheism, are both so much simpler.

          • IanCad

            Although not a salvific controversy, the identification of Michael as Christ may not be so cut and dried as you think.
            Wesley, Spurgeon, and many other Protestant thinkers have suggested that, indeed, the two are one.

          • The Explorer

            Hebrews 1: 5-8 draws a clear distinction between Jesus and the Angels.

          • IanCad

            Perfectly true.
            But that does not preclude Christ from leading the angels.

            “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” (Rev. 12:7, 8)

          • The Explorer

            True. But in ‘Matthew’ 4:10 Christ has the authority to rebuke Satan. In ‘Jude’ 1:4, Michael does not. He says, “May the Lord rebuke you.” Why say that if he is himself the Lord?

          • IanCad

            Explorer,

            The two texts cited would tend to suggest that Michael is but a being.

            However there are a couple of other passages where Christ refers to Himself in a similar manner.

            Zechariah 3:2

            Luke 18:8

            Thus giving weight to the understanding of Michael being, in fact, Christ.

          • The Explorer

            I grant you the strange wording of both those examples. Taken at face value they suggest to me, not that Christ is Michael, but that Christ is not God.

            We’re in the territory of ‘John’ 14:28 – “The Father is greater than I.” That creates real problems if one ignores the context of the incarnation, and Christ temporarily made “lower than the angels.” ‘Hebrews’ 2:9.

            I suspect we’re not going to agree on this issue, but thank you for the interesting discussion and the valid points made.

          • IanCad

            One day, One day; perhaps we will know for sure.
            What a privilege it is to debate such things in respect and brotherhood.

      • Manfarang

        We all have the Divine Spark within us.

        • Old Nick

          Said the Manichees

          • Manfarang

            And the Valentinians.

        • The Explorer

          And if we have the divine spark then we all ought to dies as soon as possible so that all the bits of divine spark can be reunited with their origins and the corrupt world can come to an end. That’s the rest of that particular belief.

          • Manfarang

            We all die soon enough.

          • The Explorer

            Not fast enough for the Gnostics. That’s why they wanted a ban on procreation: so that the human race could come to an end quickly.

          • Manfarang

            “Vegetarian demon worshipers” have a lot of staying power!

    • WimsThePhoenix

      Does Foster know that Islam is a unitarian religion?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_view_of_the_Trinity

      Check your privilege, Foster!

      • Manfarang

        Does he know that Judaism is a unitarian religion?

  • carl jacobs

    Cranmer’s weblog is far too diverse to be a good test.

  • jsampson45

    What does it mean, ‘missional’? How does it differ from “missionary”? Jesus Christ began his mission with “Repent!”.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    I do worry a bit about Mr Farage, though. He is on record as saying he’d to a deal with the Devil if it would get us out of Europe.

    • Phil R

      That was not his Grace’s point.

      I doubt if Farage should be taken literally on this!

    • David

      Mr Farage is the only UK party political leader that emphatically urges us to uphold our “Judaeo-Christian heritage.” Acknowledgement of the roots of much of our country’s cultural origins, and until recently its laws, is an important attribute for a political leader I suggest.
      The only other, self-identifying Christian party leader, is Cameron, and I’ll say no more about that.

      • Manfarang

        Maybe Mr Farage should become a Druid.

        • David

          He’d like the alcohol, and a former Archbishop of Canterbury has been one !

    • WimsThePhoenix

      Yess…. this is what we students of English call a “turn of phrase”

  • Mike Stallard

    If you support just one political party, you automatically alienate all the others.
    Mr Corbyn, for example, is a confirmed Republican. So he alienates all monarchists. Like the Head of the Church in England.

  • WimsThePhoenix

    The hierarchy of all Christian churches appears to have been infiltrated with Marxist atheists.