Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

26 November, 2012

Priesthood of Almost All Believers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Last week, the General Synod of the Church of England failed to pass legislation that would have allowed women bishops.

You can read all about it in various news articles one the web, like this one, as well as several reports on the fallout. MPs and bishops alike calling for the Church of England to lose its exception to equality legislation, calls for Parliament to overrule the Church and throw the bishops out of the House of Lords, and bitter, bitter disappointment from those supporting the legislation that failed to pass.

You can understand their frustration. The vote failed by the tiniest margin. It needed two-thirds majority in each of the three Houses of the Synod. It passed easily in the House of Bishops, and by a good margin in the House of Clergy, but was six votes short in the House of Laity. In that last House, 132 voted for and 74 voted against, and so the against vote won.

Even though I do sympathise with the reasons for such a system – the Church should be mindful of significant minority views within itself, and should change slowly, not just at the whim of society – I am not at all sure the result actually reflected the views of the Church as a whole. I have seen several articles say that outside the Synod, the vast majority of the Church supports women bishops, and that a few hardline conservatives managed to get themselves elected and scoop the vote. On the other hand, they did manage to get themselves elected, so it’s hard to object to that after the fact.

I myself rooted for the legislation to pass. My own church, with which the Church of England is in full communion through the Porvoo agreement, has had women bishops since 1993. At present, four of the twelve bishops in the Church of Norway are women, among them the praeses. Other Anglican churches have also had women bishops for a while, and the Church of England itself has had women priests for 20 years, but now it failed to move further.

From what I understand, the Porvoo agreement states that members of one church is to be considered as if they were members of the other, and those ordained in one, are then fit for service in the other. I’m not sure what would happen if one of our women bishops wanted to move to England. It’s not something that’s likely to come up, really, but ordination to bishop isn’t really a temporary thing that disappears when you retire. I would imagine that the agreement had specific rules for bishops, since they’re their own thing any way, and that the exchange of ordained ministers referred mainly to priests.

I’m not going to talk much more about this – people far smarter than I have already said most of it¬†anyway, I think. Suffice it to say, I’m disappointed. I feel for those who have laboured for years to make this legislation happen. I hope it won’t really be seven years before it can be attempted again, and that the Church can move forwards in the way that the majority of its members actually want it to soon. It’s a dangerous thing, to claim that someone is on the right or wrong side of history, but I cannot help but believe that this was the wrong decision for a Church for which I have great affection and affinity. Ultimately, though, I guess I’ll have to take the difficult advise of a vicar friend of mine, and trust God.

20 February, 2012

Serious Business: Richard Dawkins’s Family Tree

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Someone twittered an article from the Telegraph, regarding Richard Dawkins.

My knowledge of Richard Dawkins is perfunctory at best. I haven’t read his books, nor the books arguing against him; I haven’t seen him speak, nor read many interviews with him; and I don’t really know what it is he does with his days. I think I have caught the gist of his opinions, from general cultural osmosis, but I am by no means educated enough on them to say anything useful about them. Luckily, this particular post requires me only to know that he is a controversial man and that he makes some people very angry.

Which brings us to the Telegraph article, which reveals, with an almost palpable glee, that Richard Dawkins’s ancestors owned slaves.

So what?

Seriously, so what? I mean, slavery is obviously a terrible thing and not something to tolerate, but how on Earth can Richard Dawkins help the fact that his ancestors did bad things? What is accomplished by throwing it in his face? How is it different from blaming Benedict XVI for the actions of Lucuis III? (An example, I should hasten to add, I just made up, which has no relation to anything Dawkins has said, since I don’t really know what Dawkins has said. See the second paragraph.)

The excuse for the article seems to be that Dawkins’s family is still rich from that past exploitation, a claim Dawkins refutes in his response to the article. In lieu of actual numbers, my instinct is to take his word for it. So what’s the point of it all?

I suspect I disagree with many of Dr Dawkins’s views, and should I ever find the time to educate myself on the finer points of them, maybe I’ll even write about my disagreement, but there has to be better ways of expressing disagreement than this. Especially if you’re an actual, real press newspaper. It just seems so childish, it’s hard to understand how it got published at all. Even if it turns out Dawkins still owns a giant estate somewhere where slaves are literally buried in the foundations, the article is more interested in embarrassing him than in revealing any real issue.

I don’t know much about the Telegraph either, really, or the British newspaper scene in general. Just from the apparent vendetta against Dawkins, I deduce that they’re on the conservative side of things, but this sort of article surely cannot be the norm? Either way, what a terrible first impression.

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