April 20, 2003

Any official from Tower Hamlets

Any official from Tower Hamlets Council would have felt most welcome at the meal after our Liturgy today. One of our parishioners brought hot cross buns, but having been made aware of the potential for trouble in race relations through the efforts of your faithful blogger, he marked through the words “Hot Cross” on the label and renamed them “Spring Festival” buns.

I also learned through another source today that neither Tower Hamlets nor Liberal-controlled councils have a monopoly on idiocy. Another faithful reader informed me of something that occurred that while he was teaching in a northwest London borough in the early 1980s. The council, controlled by that other party beginning with letter “L”, had decided to hold a series of afternoon tea dances, ostensibly for retired residents. To promote this initiative, flyers were posted all around the borough. The posters naturally featured photos of older couples dancing. Someone employed by this council in a position to enforce political correctness had all of the posters removed. Why? There were no pictures of same-sex couples.

And speaking of organizations that promote same-sex couples…

The Sunday Times today published a report on a survey it conducted of forty Church of England clergy regarding the Gospel accounts of the Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. I’d provide a link, but as The Times Online charges an annual subscription fee of £39.99 to overseas readers, I’d better just give you a synopsis. The Sunday Times was motivated to run this survey after an internal Church of England report last week criticised the standard of theological training for priests. To quote the article, “More than half the clergy contacted this weekend achieved a score of 50% or less in the quiz. Some were irritated to be stumped on details of the crucifixion and resurrection stories.”

A curate in West London didn’t know the name of Barabbas, but he was trying to remember the details of Monty Python’s Life of Brian to help him recall it. A curate in Derby took a break from getting a tan to take the quiz, but only got 4 out of 10 correct. One Anglican priestess missed 7 out of the 10. The lack of knowledge was not confined to the ranks of the lower clergy. The former bishop of Durham scored only 50%.

And speaking of Anglican bishops…

According to the Sunday Telegraph “The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has been forced to apologise to Britain's 330,000 Freemasons after he said that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had rejected them from senior posts in his diocese.”

Apparently, Dr Williams used to believe that certain elements of Freemasonry were “satanically inspired”. Now after a private letter was leaked, in which he said he "had real misgivings about the compatibility of Masonry and Christian profession," he has written to the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, trying to explain it all away. In his letter of apology he said, "I have been sorry to learn of the distress of a considerable number of Freemasons . . . In replying to private correspondence, I had no intention of starting a public debate nor of questioning the good faith and generosity of individual Freemasons and I regret the tone and content of the media coverage."

So maybe he still does believe that there are satanically inspired elements, because as the Sunday Telegraph notes, “Dr Williams does not, in his letter, deny that he has misgivings about the role of Freemasons within the Church.” But that’s not what is really important, obviously.

The Sunday Telegraph may have missed this but it is clear to me that given the state of Church of England finances, the Archbishop cannot afford to lose any members who may be disposed toward generosity.

And now for some good news…

A Presbyterian church of 400 members has escaped the ravages of war. Among the entire congregation, only the windows of a few homes have been broken. Pastor Ikram Ibrahim Mehanni said, "The bombs made the church shake like it was in the middle of an earthquake but it never fell down. We feared we would be attacked by Muslim extremists, but they never came. So far, we have been kept safe from the looters. It is a miracle that God has protected us and we are all alive."

Sometimes you have to be tough in Baghdad, even if you are Christian. The secretary of the parish council, Samir Aha said, "I hit a looter in the jaw and sent his spectacles flying, but I am not a bad man or an aggressive man. I hope Jesus will forgive me, because I was protecting this church. After that, I was firing my gun in the air every night.”

The Easter Sunday service was guarded by two US Marines, who also brought the church the gift of an AK47 and two boxes of ammunition. Pastor Mehanni said, "We will be praying for peace. Next Easter, I would rather our church be given chocolate, not guns." But there’s no report that he turned down this year’s gift.

Posted by david at April 20, 2003 10:21 PM