Features

What’s so dangerous about this book about the Church of England?

The publishers have asked for all review copies of That Was the Church That Was to be returned

6 February 2016

9:00 AM

6 February 2016

9:00 AM

The decline of the Church of England has been one of the most astonishing trends in modern Britain. The pews of churches in this country are emptying fast. Next week, a book was to be published about this collapse entitled That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People. But suddenly the publishers, Bloomsbury, decided to pull it. The book, it seemed, was a little too incendiary.

Those reviewing the book received a panicky message:Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.10.59 ‘Following the receipt of a legal complaint, Bloomsbury are recalling all review copies of this book and ask you to immediately return the copy received…’. Apparently there has been a legal action because of ‘a disputed passage about a Christian leader’. It sounded intriguing. But which leader? I have a finished copy of the book in front of me, and it’s hard to guess.

Is it the bishop who, we’re informed, ‘turned out to have had a conviction for cottaging hushed up’? Or the bishop who was the subject of an ‘entirely false’ rumour that he ‘attended gay orgies’? Or the bishop accused of faking his academic qualifications, also described as an ‘entirely false’ claim? It may be none of the above. We learn something extraordinary (and, perhaps, defamatory) about a member of the Church of England hierarchy on virtually every page. Ostensibly an account of the Church of England’s decline over the past 30 years, the book reads more like a compendium of its most malicious gossip.

I speak with some experience. In the early 1990s, as religious affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, I wrote some awfully spiteful stuff. I wince when I read it today. But even I could not reach the sadistic heights of That Was The Church That Was. The authors are Linda Woodhead, a socio-logist of religion, and Andrew Brown, who writes about religion for the Guardian. He lived in Sweden for some years, and parts of this book are as nasty as any Scandinavian thriller.

The best thing in the book is its portrait of Rowan Williams. The former Archbishop of Canterbury emerges as a high-church Welsh mystic who felt more at home in Narnia than in England, where village fetes were more sacred than Holy Communion. We read that he ‘had no glib answers to the problems of human tragedy and suffering’ — or to any problem, for that matter. He expected his bishops to ‘worry at the truth like patient followers of Wittgenstein’. Instead, they kicked him around because they knew he could be bullied.

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That became clear when, having encouraged his celibate gay friend Canon Jeffrey John to accept the post of Bishop of Reading, he then forced him to withdraw his acceptance in order to placate homophobic African bishops. The book quotes an anonymous bishop, who says the Primate of All England fell into a deep depression because he couldn’t reconcile this with his self-image as a saint and scholar: ‘He couldn’t be a shit — and yet he had been one.’

The mischievous treatment of Anglican politics in the style of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is surely the work of Brown rather than the plodding Woodhead. The problem is that, frequently, mischief turns into malice. We’re informed that the late Sir Derek Pattinson, for many years secretary general of the General Synod, ‘once took a woman journalist to a leather bar for an interview’. This may or may not be true. I won’t take the book’s word for it, because when it covers the one gay Anglican scandal I do know about, important details are wrong.

In 1989, my friend Canon Brian Brindley, the grandly eccentric vicar of Holy Trinity, Reading, was secretly tape-recorded fantasising about boys by the News of the World. The recordings were made in his vicarage — not the Athenaeum Club, as the book claims. Brindley inevitably lost his job. As a result of his harsh treatment by the authorities, we learn, the unnamed right-wing -Catholic -religious correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, ‘also gay’, came to ‘loathe’ the Church of England.

That’s news to me (and it is me they are talking about). I didn’t loathe the C of E and was touched by the support Brian received from senior clergy after his disgrace. As for the gay thing, it was Brown who casually ‘outed’ me many years ago.

But if you have a creepy obsession with closeted gays, you really need to get your facts right. A little example: Brian Brindley famously dropped dead in the middle of a dinner party to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2001. ‘All the guests were male and — Andrew was told by one of them — all gay,’ says the book. I was there and they weren’t.

The book blames many of the problems of the Church of England on the ‘managerial voodoo’ introduced by George Carey. ‘Like a cargo cult, [the Church] assumed that if you aped the jargon and waved some of the symbols, success and prestige must naturally follow,’ we’re told.

I don’t know which author came up with this silly analogy, but the more theoretical passages are the work of Linda Woodhead and, it must be said, embarrassingly incoherent. Her academic eminence has always been a bit of mystery. According to her Wikipedia entry, it has been acquired ‘without earning a postgraduate academic qualification’.

That Was The Church That Was tells us something important about English Christianity, but not what the authors imagine. It is the sort of scandal-obsessed diatribe that dying religious communities — one thinks of the Catholic Church in Italy or Ireland — are too weak and compromised to fend off. For the time being, the Church of England is being protected from this atrocious book by somebody’s lawyers. But for how long?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Church of England is in trouble, but its pews are not emptying at 10,000 a week an earlier version of this story said: this error was introduced at the editing stage. Damian Thompson would never have made such an error. Read his full account of the precise speed of Christian decline in England, here.

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Show comments
  • outlawState

    “That Was The Church That Was tells us something important about English Christianity.”

    It may tell us something important about what passes for English Christianity, in terms of the sundry forms of hypocrisy that make up what passes for it, but I very much doubt that it tells us much about true Christianity in Engliand, except for the long-suffering nature of the lowly few who are the real Christians.

    The Church of England hierarchy has expelled the prophets. It prefers the tutelage of Ba’al. The best statement that the hierarchy could make would be to resign en masse.

    • Grant Melville

      Absolutely. The name ‘Christian’ has really lost all meaning in the world, and the word ‘Church’ (misapplied and misappropriated more often than not) is prefixed with ‘broad’.

      I’ve followed your comments here with interest – I think you might appreciate the thoughts expressed here: https://thebowshot.wordpress.com/

      • Jacobi

        “Church” refers to the Catholic Church. Other Christian churches are that, churches

        • Grant Melville

          The scriptures teach that there’s one Church (or, as I feel it’s more accurate translated, ‘assembly’) composed of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ having the Holy Spirit. There’re a good many organisations and societies which men call ‘churches’ – the Roman Catholic Church among them – none of which are the Church, though some claim to be it. Any thought of the Church of God which doesn’t take in every believer in Christ is fundamentally sectarian. I won’t say any more than that – I don’t see any point in getting into a fruitless argument about a point on which I imagine our opposing views are quite fixed.

          • serge

            Well spoken.

    • pobjoy

      the long-suffering nature of the lowly few who are the real Christians

      Damian Thompson would last about five seconds in the job if he even suggested the possibility of their existence.

  • David

    I heard a rumour that the church was set up so a wealthy English king could get a divorce, quite the scandal

    • pobjoy

      Don’t listen to rumours. Another bloody monarch quashed all of that, killing over 200 people in the effort to restore the rule of a bloody Italian.

  • Mr Grumpy

    More than a touch of disingenuousness about the Jeffrey John affair.

  • trekker2002

    What a pity I had this on order with Amazon and was looking forward to reading it. I have read other of Linda Woodhead’s books whilst studying with the OU. The Church of England is in a unique position amongst Churches being the established Church and therefore must accept a higher degree of scrutiny that other Churches. Its Bishops, especially those who accept a seat in the House of Lords by virtue of their office, must expect their doings to be of interest to those of us who are not necessarily communicant members of the CofE but do have an interest in the Church and its hierarchy because of its constitutional role. If the Church wants to be accountable only to its members then it should seek disestablishment.

    • RuariJM

      The CofE is not unique in being an Established; the Danish Lutheran church is also Established, as is the Church of Scotland in Scotland, and I think there are others across the world.

      Or do you mean that the CofE is unique amongst churches In England?

      • trekker2002

        Yes, sorry I should have specified. I did mean that it is in a unique position in England.

      • Suriani

        Protestant churches are established in all Scandinavian states and Finland. They have attendance levels worse than than the CofE and the CofS and are more socially liberal.

        • RuariJM

          Thanks, Suriani.

  • jeremy Morfey

    How many of us are heartily sick of Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme giving the message week after week that all there is to Christianity is homosexuality?

    • Suriani

      A bad case of mediatic priapism.

  • Suriani

    Islam is the future Damian. No Prisoners!….

    • cmflynn

      Alas, yes, unless the Christian Church can get its act together again pretty fast.

  • john

    CofE is dead but is hanging on in the hope of a big dress up role at the funeral of Mrs W and the well earned promotion of her feckless son.

  • Germainecousin

    You wince at the cruelty you used to dish out Mr Thompson? Well, your cruelty does not sound past tense to me. You take a swipe at Ireland and Italy and bring the misfortune of many to the eyes of people who would never have read such a lousy book in the first place. You come across as one of those unfortunate people who sidle up and whisper ‘I hate to tell you this but so and so thinks you are a xxxx, all the while lapping up the drama.

  • Jacobi

    The decline has been going on for a long time. Some 500 years, so no one should be astonished.

    As for C of E clerics, they always were a joke amongst my pals as far back as my teens and
    National Service, when we kept well clear of their very occasional visits.

    More worrying is the decay of the Church in Italy and yes I suppose Ireland, although the Irish are a peculiar lot and I wouldn’t bother too much about their odd random fluctuations.

    • Todd Unctious

      Not 500 years. It was only founded in 1570. But it has been in decline since Wesley left the Moravians in 1738.

      • Jacobi

        It has been in decline. I shall leave it at that!

    • Sanctimony

      The Irish catholic Church has the Jesuits, the Magdalen Sisters, the Christian Brothers and James Joyce to thank for their exposure as the most criminal Christian organisations to be seen in the last couple of centuries…. and that’s before mentioning the Catholic clergy in Boston and Massachusetts ….

      It’s these people who are destroying the Catholic Church in their traditional heartlands…

      • Jacobi

        Not so. If you look at the statistics. I presume you refer to “child” abuse you will see that the Catholic Church has probably the lowest record of such with all other churches and religious organisations worse.
        But worst of all by far are the secular and atheist run institutions!
        No it is other things which are diminishing the Church

        • pobjoy

          I presume you refer to “child” abuse

          That’s not the issue. The issue is the apparent ‘farming’ of abusers and the perceived impossibility that the Vatican was unaware of it. It’s the unique hierarchy and efficient policing of Catholicism that makes it uniquely subject to criminal prosecution. But for its close association with secular governments, it would have been closed down decades ago, on this account, alone.

        • pobjoy

          That’s not the issue. The issue is the apparent ‘farming’ of abusers and the perceived impossibility that the Vatican was unaware of it. It’s the unique hierarchy and efficient policing of Catholicism that makes it uniquely subject to criminal prosecution. But for its close association with secular governments, it would have been closed down decades ago, on this account, alone.

        • Sanctimony

          Any evidence ?

    • wyclif

      The decay of the Church in Italy is not “more worrying” if you live in England.

      • pobjoy

        It is if you are a Catholic who lives in England. Perhaps English Catholics should move to Italy to alleviate the situation, especially as they think that the English monarch is the leader of jokes.

      • Jacobi

        I think it is wycliff. Remember that the Church survived in England because of Recusants and Irish immigrants. The Recusants will continue in whatever form. But they are peripheral.

        Italy is different. It is the target of the latest “Hijra” that is the latest, at least the third deliberate assault by Islam to Islamise Europe. Rome which they failed to take in their previous Hihjras is the prime target. (See article by Andrew Bieszad, Sept 11th 2015).

        No wherever Christians live, if Rome and Italy go, we are in very deep trouble.

  • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

    Apparently the lawyers insisted that they change
    “Half the bishops attend gay orgies”
    to
    “Half the bishops DON’T attend gay orgies.”

    • Philip

      “In the early 1990s, as religious affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, I wrote some awfully spiteful stuff. I wince when I read it today.”
      Hopefully, some duplicitous bloggers will feel the same when they read the spiteful nonsense they are writing today.

      • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam
        • Philip

          Still not wincing then. Full marks to Damian for acknowledging that he went too far. All credit to him and to the staff for blocking malicious bloggers.

          • Sanctimony

            Talking of ‘wincing’…. a true definition of wincing to which Damian might like to refer is this from the Spectator’s article on the memories of the Chelsea Hotel in New York:

            On yet another (occasion), plastered, the novelists Jack Kerouac and Gore Vidal decided that they ‘owed it to literary history’ (the phrase was Vidal’s) to go to bed together. They checked into the Chelsea, declared to the night porter that they had rendered the register valuable by signing it, and then staggered upstairs to perform the laborious deed.

            Kerouac winced the next morning at the memory of his Goring.

          • Philip

            Which is Damian’s most wince-worthy article?

          • Sanctimony

            Take your pick… to mince or not to wince… that is the question….

        • EmpressJadis

          Woeful

          • Philip

            J: Roll on the blogger’s Lenten fast from social media at least from that blogspot. Time to reflect on the difference between healthy satire and destructive malicious gossip.

            The proof of a good blog is the number of genuine comments. The one in question fails on that score. Hits from the curious mean nothing.

          • EmpressJadis

            Woe Woe and thrice woeful. Put a sock in it (if you haven’t run out of them )

        • Philip

          Why does that kind of blogging make me think of Tertullian with his offensive comment: “Woman is a temple built over a sewer”. –Tertullian.

          • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

            Because my blog is as holy as a temple, and the troll mentioned in that article belongs in a sewer?

          • Philip

            Ah, yes, woman is a temple, sugar and spice and all that’s nice, and her blogging reflects her finer feelings of empathy, tolerance, honesty and compassion. She tells it like it is.

    • EmpressJadis

      Episcopi flagrantes, presumably

    • Jacobi

      Now I am disnumerate. But I presume that implies that the other half of the bishops do attend do attend gay orgies? These lawyers do make life difficult for us disnumerates!

      • GUBU

        Indeed.

        Bishops may well attend, but in accordance with the agreed position of the Anglican communion, they should not participate.

        We can console ourselves with the thought that, if this injunction is not always observed, those who, despite their best efforts, find themselves joining in at least have the decency to participate without any visible sign of enthusiasm.

      • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

        I never thought of that.

        • EmpressJadis

          Surely one could construe it strictly – half the bishops don’t attend gay orgies, and the other half are of indeterminate status in the matter.

        • Philip

          Satire requires thought. If it is malicious gossip, it fails and condemns the satirist.

  • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

    There’s a simple response to this article: The Church of England has abandoned Christianity. I know there are many good people in it, but that is the essential truth. There are enormously more Christians outside the Church of England than in it. I’ve noticed the mainstream press doesn’t want to admit to this last fact, as it does not fit their agenda.

    • Herman_U_Tick

      The RC Church also abandoned Christianity at Vatican 2.
      It has fallen further faster in 50 yrs than the CoE in 450 odd yrs.
      And again the more concessions made in the hope of expansion, the fewer the followers.
      Hence my label: hermeneutic (qv.).

    • David

      The independent evangelical churches, which follow traditional Biblical Christianity, are generally thriving I’ve found.

    • Jacobi

      The “many good people” now have he option of the Ordinariate!

    • Coniston

      Not true. There are still a good many thoroughly orthodox clergy and congregations (both Evangelical and Catholic); it is the self-perpetuating hierarchy, apart from a few orthodox bishops, who are steadily moving away from the Faith handed down, and are trying to conform to the world and secular values.

      • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

        That’s what I meant – senior leaders have abandoned the basic teachings of Christianity, not that all CofE persons have.

  • Sanctimony

    To quote from Mr Thompson’s own article in the Daily Telegraph in 2011:

    There were 14 of us in the intimate North Library of the club; Brian was
    worried that a guest might drop out, leaving us an unlucky 13, so he
    persuaded a friend to sit by the phone, ready to don a dinner jacket if
    the need arose. As it happened, however, we were destined to be 13 after
    all. For, between the drest crab and the boeuf en daube, poor Brian
    died.

    What an exquisitely High Church / High Camp tribute to the flamboyant Canon Brian Brindley… it’s as though he scripted his own dramatic shaking off of his mortal coil…. a succulent extra detail has been omitted; … that he died with his foot resting on a gout stool… whatever that might have been…

    It is a death that most of us would certainly envy !

  • Philip

    Anglicans will have to face up to the changes consequent on the secularisation of the West and a post-Christian society.
    Linda Woodhead is a respected sociologist of religion which is, of course, the discipline of Damian Thompson. Catholics have to reluctantly accept her work on their own tradition at the time of the Vatican questionnaires:

    “As the Vatican surveys the opinions of Catholics in dioceses and parishes around the world, three large polls I carried out this year with YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates reveal a profile of British Catholics adrift from Vatican-style Catholicism, and significant disparities between older and younger believers.
    If we measure “faithful Catholics” by the criteria of weekly churchgoing, certain belief in God, taking authority from religious sources, and opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia, only 5% of Catholics fit the mould, and only 2% of those under 30.
    Only 36% of Catholics surveyed say that they view the Catholic Church as a positive force in society. When those who take a negative view of the Church are asked their reasons, the most popular answers are that it discriminates against women and gay people, because of the child abuse scandals, because it is hypocritical, and because it is too morally conservative”.
    Professor Linda Woodhead.

    • FredBaxtor

      But if Linda Woodhead is right, then why aren’t English Catholics joining the Church Of England?
      Indeed, I wonder why if 64% of English Catholics think the Catholic Church is not a positive force, then why do they still call themselves Roman Catholics?

      • pobjoy

        But if Linda Woodhead is right, then why aren’t English Catholics joining the Church Of England?

        Perhaps ‘taking authority from religious sources’ is the root objection, and the underlying reason for leaving the RCC is lack of faith in priest-led religion, as it may be with the CoE.

        why do they still call themselves Roman Catholics?

        Perhaps they don’t. The Vatican’s criterion of membership is baptismal records, not what people say they believe.

        • FredBaxtor

          But surely in the UK the number of Catholics is defined as the number of people who fill out Catholic on the census, not what the Vatican says.

          • pobjoy

            I would be very surprised indeed if the Vatican took the least notice of the UK Govt. census.

          • FredBaxtor

            That’s what I mean. Vice versa: I’d be surprised if anyone in the UK gov took the least notice of what the Vatican says about the numbers too.

          • cmflynn

            Well, the Catholics in the UK would.

          • pobjoy

            But the implication is that the methodology of Westminster Faith Debates is that of the Vatican, that ‘surveys the opinions of Catholics in dioceses and parishes’. That may not be so, of course, and you may be right that practising Catholics take a negative view of their own organisation. Which takes some believing, if true.

          • cmflynn

            No, A very great number of practicing Catholics while believing in the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church recognise that within the Church organisation are many bad and corrupt individuals Look up the parable of the wheat and the cockles.

          • pobjoy

            Don’t argue with me, take your complaint to Protessor Woodhead, who reported that ‘only 36% of Catholics surveyed say that they view the Catholic Church as a positive force in society’. Not individuals within it.

            The parable of the wheat and the tares is about the world, not the church. But then Catholics would be taught otherwise, wouldn’t they, as the history of their leaders is infamous.

          • cmflynn

            OH dear, pobjoy, how do you think the Catholic Church survived for 2000 years if it was so bad.

          • pobjoy

            1700 years. Because the world loves darkness rather than light.

          • ardenjm

            But thank the Lord, pobjoy, because you are part of the Elect.
            Who’d have thought Heaven would be a mobile home big enough for the three people you let in through your pearly gates.

            I tell you what, pobjoy, perhaps you’d be kind enough to suggest the names of Christians you do admire – other than yourself, of course.

          • pobjoy

            Why would a member of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church be interested in any competitor?

          • ardenjm

            Humour me – or show me charity – I’m interested:
            They don’t need to be contemporaries – but Christians in the past if you prefer.
            Who has inspired you?

          • pobjoy

            Humour me

            People you burned.

          • ardenjm

            Well, unfortunately, that would include a lot of people who also did their fair share of burning and torturing, too.

            But let’s start with St Joan of Arc.
            Do you admire her, then? Was she a real Christian?

          • pobjoy

            There was no such person.

          • ardenjm

            Well there was certainly the woman who was burnt at the stake and who has come to be known as St Joan of Arc. You can call her Joan, though, if you prefer.

          • pobjoy

            who has come to be known as St Joan of Arc.

            Not so.

          • ardenjm

            Well perhaps if you helped me with the names of the people who were burned who you do admire and consider ‘real Christians’ we could resolve this quite quickly.
            I suggested St Joan because she was burned. That’s all you gave me to go on.
            There was also Giordano Bruno. But whilst he suffered terribly at the hands of the men of the Church I don’t suppose you subscribe to some of his zanier theosophical ideas…
            So help me out – who amongst the burned are you thinking of? A Jan Hus? A John Wycliffe (although it was his body that was burned)?

          • pobjoy

            A Jan Hus?

            ? How many of those were there?

          • cmflynn

            So you think the Catholic Church did not exist before the edict of Milan in 313? That’s an interesting point of view. Do any historians agree with you?

          • pobjoy

            Some think that the cult that described itself as catholic began with Theodosius in 380:

            ‘We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians’

            from Edict of Thessalonica.

            That state of ‘catholicity’ lasted until 1054, when there were disagreements, and schism. So Theodosius’ definition ceased to apply from then on, and ‘the Catholic Church’ can be said to have been a spurious cult that survived 674 years in a condition of general ignorance and superstition, and would not have even begun in a healthy social environment.

            The more apt title for the religion based in the Vatican today would be Papist Cult, as many Greeks and Russians would describe it, with feeling, or perhaps Church of Mary, Queen of Heaven, Redemptrix, as many independent observers in southern Europe and S America would call it, with sadness.

          • cmflynn

            An interesting and unusual point of view but you still haven’t named any historians who agree with it. Only ‘many Greeks and Russians’ and ‘many independent observers in southern Europe.’ A bit vague.

          • pobjoy

            you still haven’t named any historians who agree with it

            Historians everywhere are very welcome to answer this question. How could Theodosius authorise Catholicism if it already existed?

          • cmflynn

            Theodosius’s decree was aimed at stopping the many heretical churches of the time calling themselves Catholic. It stated that only those in agreement doctrinally with the bishop of Rome (the Pope) could be called part of the Catholic Church.

          • pobjoy

            So Theodosius’s decree was aimed at stopping people who did not suit his rule, within the reach of his soldiers, from calling themselves Catholic. So the term ‘Catholic Church’, as used by the Vatican, dates from Theodosius in 380, about 350 years after Pentecost.

            Which other organisation has taken that long to get itself together? Is it even intelligent to suggest that a cult born out of and supported by violence ought to exist in the world today? Or even legal to suggest it?

          • cmflynn

            Any other ‘dark’ institutions last so long or any length?

      • Todd Unctious

        There is a Greek Catholic Church too. But many of its adherents have been forced out of Syria as migrants.

      • cmflynn

        In spite of having an erroneous or muddled idea of what they must believe as Catholics, (mostly because they have never been taught their religion properly), they still have the idea that the Catholic Church is the One True Church that teaches true Christianity even if they are hazy about what that is.

    • cmflynn

      There is no ‘Vatican-style Catholicism’ as opposed to some other style of Catholicism. Linda Woodhead as a ‘respected sociologist of religion’ (respected by whom) should know this. There is only Catholicism as opposed to heresy. If the majority of ‘Catholics’ have fallen into a state of heresy since Vatican II, as she seems to have proved it is the fault primarily of the Catholic bishops who have failed to teach and pass on the faith.

      • pobjoy

        The Vatican has bent over backwards to keep pews filled, and watered down its dogmas so that the typical Western Catholic can believe almost anything.

        • cmflynn

          Not strictly true. The Vatican has stopped emphasising doctrines in many cases, which conflict with the modern secular agenda but has not dropped them or watered them down, just refrained from talking much about them. A big and cowardly mistake.

          • pobjoy

            Not strictly true.

            True. I did not mean that they have literally changed Tridentine Canon. They hope for times when people are so brainless they will believe it again.

            What a typical Catholic you are. No wonder decent people leave.

          • cmflynn

            And where do ‘decent’ people, like no doubt yourself, go?

          • pobjoy

            Decent people associate with people who do not make big and cowardly mistakes, surely. But one may make one’s own choice.

          • ardenjm

            Just out of interest, pobjoy, where do you stand on a woman’s ‘right to choose’?

          • pobjoy

            If you mean a woman’s right to choose abortion, I don’t agree with it, except on medical grounds. Not that one has to be even religious to believe that. No Christians of my aquaintance think otherwise, and they make the running for the fakes to keep up with, as they always have, for two millennia. It was my comment to this same effect some months ago that brought your own leaders into jealous comment about it. The Vatican is full of outward morality, in lieu of inward spirituality, that it fears above anything.

          • ardenjm

            Can you give me a few examples of the ‘medical grounds’ you’d accept abortion on.

          • pobjoy

            When you’ve explained why it was once right for people who read the Bible to be burned, but it’s wrong now.

          • ardenjm

            The Christian tradition, as you know, has been against medically assisted abortion ever since Christ preached the Good News 2000 years ago.
            It’s only in the last 100 years that those claiming to be Christians have admitted exceptions to that teaching.
            Many Christians – like yourself, no doubt – are sincere that it is Christian to permit abortion in certain circumstances but that is a relatively recent development in the history of Christianity.
            I’d like to know what kinds of things you consider are grounds to allow an abortion.

          • pobjoy

            The Christian tradition, as you know, has been against medically
            assisted abortion ever since Christ preached the Good News 2000 years
            ago.

            I didn’t know that. Perhaps you will cite the earliest written reference thereto.

          • ardenjm

            The early Christians are the first on record as having pronounced abortion to be the murder of human beings. Athenagoras c. 133 – c. 190AD for the Greek speakers, Tertullian, and Minutius Felix (Eschbach, “Disp. Phys.”, Disp. iii) for the Latin – both in the early 3rd century.
            The Fathers of the Church unanimously maintained the same doctrine. In the fourth century the Council of Eliberis decreed that Holy Communion should be refused all the rest of her life, even on her deathbed, to an adulteress who had procured the abortion of her child. The Sixth Ecumenical Council determined for the whole Church that anyone who procured abortion should bear all the punishments inflicted on murderers….
            And so it goes on down the centuries.

          • pobjoy

            How do you know that they were Christians?

          • ardenjm

            How do you know there are any ‘real Christians’ at all, then?

          • pobjoy

            Paul said that he didn’t know, but he made the assumption on the basis of personal knowledge of actions rather than words. How you can know the spiritual state of people dead for 1800 years is beyond my imagination, unless you are 1800 years old.

          • ardenjm

            Ah, so this explains your constant evasiveness – at least about any person CLAIMING to be a Christian that you have no personal experience of.
            But you also know that EVEN IF you have personal experience of them they might be pretending, or you might misunderstand so even then you can’t even say with absolute certainty about anyone at all.

            But I appreciate the vestiges of Catholic Theology that informs your thinking here: we CAN’T KNOW with absolute speculative certitude the state of grace of any individual – not even ourselves. Nevertheless, we can have a moral certitude of a number of things: Christ IS Lord, He DOES give saving grace, we CAN call on Him to save us, we can even know we strive to love Him with all our soul with all our mind with all our strength etc.

            With that distinction in hand – that ultimately God alone judges – and with the conviction that Christ wasn’t lying when He promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles of the Church to, “lead them in to all truth” – there are some things the Church can teach with the authority Christ wants her to teach with, “if they kept My word, they will keep yours as well.”

            But like I’ve said to you before – your anti-Incarnational understanding of the Church of Christ has entirely spiritualised away the fact that as He became flesh and dwelt amongst us, so too He left behind His body the Church – “incarnated” in time and place until His glorious return. For you the Church is utterly dis-incarnated: she is invisible and known to God alone.

            What a lonely, solitary Church the Protestant heresy has ended up bequeathing you.

          • pobjoy

            we CAN’T KNOW with absolute speculative certitude the state of grace of any individual

            True. So you can’t cite anyone’s views as church tradition. You must either canonise works, or treat them as potentially carnal.

            You talk about ‘Saint’ Joan, and won’t consider any lesser description. :-)

            But you also know that EVEN IF you have personal experience of them they might be pretending, or you might misunderstand so even then you can’t even say with absolute certainty about anyone at all.

            Perfectly true. But if a person by his/her behaviour brings Christ into disrepute, they are excluded from the church. That’s the important factor. Eternal judgment is left to God.

            Whereas there is no crime that a Catholic can commit that a cardinal bishop has not already comitted, with impunity. God won’t spare punishment for any who associate with that, if there is apostolic truth.

          • ardenjm

            “You must either canonise works”
            Which the Church has the authority to do.
            Which is why there is the Canon of Scripture: the Church, guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit as Scripture tells us – and indeed Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit will reveal the “truths to come” – RECOGNISES through the guidance of the Holy Spirit those works that the Holy Spirit has inspired.
            Pre-eminently in Scripture itself.

            But, subsequently, the “inspired” – though obviously not scripturally authoritative – works of those people the Holy Spirit has sanctified. Thus, the Church can also canonise saints and recognise in them that (Martin Luther was wrong) God can make sinners holy – that justification is not extrinsic but intrinsic grace leads to progressive sanctification. The Church RECOGNISES how God crowns His graces in the life of those He has called.

            Thus Saint Joan. (Since you have accepted heresy you fail to see this. I showed compassion for your weakness by allowing you to address her as Joan if you felt more comfortable with that. I don’t see any Christian charity in snuffing out the smouldering wick of the vestiges of authentic Christian Faith that you might have.)

            “The exclusion from the Church” you speak of has been pre-empted by another unfortunate consequence of your Protestant heresy: you have promoted yourself to the position of Infallible Magisterium. Thus YOU get to decide who is excluded from the Church, even as you leave eternal judgement to God. This is hubris. The reason you take such exception to the Popes, pope joy, is because you see in them the living rebuke to the role you want for yourself. All of your anti-Catholic rants are predicated around one kernal of diabolical non serviam spiritual pride: I am Pope.

            As for ‘associating’ with sinners – publicans and tax collectors amongst them – I can agree with you that God will be unsparing with those who scandalise the Church. But I don’t leave the Church to such men! The very thought! The more there are sinful wicked people dragging the Church through the mud the more I want to ‘associate’ with the Church in order to return her to what Christ has done for her.
            You would have me abandon my Mother because one of my brothers mistreats her?

          • Jacobi

            And where do you stand on the un-born’s right to life?

        • Jacobi

          hence the rapidly emptying pews

        • andyrwebman

          The Western Catholic always did believe a lot of barmy things. For a religion where God says “thou shall have no other God but me” there was certainly a huge amount of praying to saints.

          • pobjoy

            :-) One can now be a Hindu Catholic, so the choice is wider still.

    • Jacobi

      What the Prof., respected or otherwise, has demonstrated there is that in a poll you can get whatever answer you want by how you design the question(s), not to mention who you pick for the poll.
      But then us sensible people have always known that !

      • andyrwebman

        Still, though, when the percentages are that huge in favour of a drifting away from religion – which is pretty much the observed state of things – you’d have to come up with an incredibly cleverly loaded question to get those results if there weren’t a good deal of truth behind the.

  • wyclif

    If it’s written by that practicioner of yellow journalism known as Andrew Brown, you can safely ignore it completely. The man is a coward as well. John Stott was a holy man, but he’s sadly no longer with us. Brown knows that the dead cannot defend themselves from libel. Despicable in every way.

  • David

    Those particular C of E churches that loyally maintain the ancient faith in The Scriptures, and its traditional interpretation, are doing just fine, either holding steady or slowly expanding. There is usually at least one of these in each town of any size.
    However the bulk of the Church, in England, is still wooly liberal, and it is this section that is rapidly losing worshippers, as the old ones die. Eventually at this trajectory,, two decades from now, the C of E will be far more evangelical and conservative, because all the liberals will be dead. But the liberal-left media don’t want to draw attention to that.
    Faithful, traditional and conservative Christianity, including those within the C of E, is standing strong, even in England. Globally conservative Christianity, including the Anglican variety, is burgeoning in Africa, South America and of course China. The global future is more religious. Only Europe is becoming less religious. Eat your heart out secularists. Your time is very limited now.

    • outlawState

      “Faithful, traditional and conservative Christianity, including those within the C of E, is standing strong.”

      I’m not sure of that. Where do I find the CofE church where women are required to cover their heads?

      • David

        You are a card !

        • outlawState

          1 Cor 11;16 “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom (of allowing women to go uncovered), neither the CHURCHES OF GOD).

          I go with the apostles.

          • David

            You are a literalist then, which is your choice.

          • pobjoy

            Beware, ‘David’ again shows himself unfit to post, if to breathe. He knows that there is no figurative meaning to covering of heads. One has no option but to be a literalist in this case, as in many others. One has the option to disobey Paul, or not. Anglican conservative evangelicals of sixty years ago would not recognise those parading as their successors today.

        • pobjoy

          He’s an ace, then. How many ‘faithful, traditional and conservative’ local Anglican outposts will stop a woman from preaching to men?

  • Social Justice Warrior

    I’d be happy if the church disbands for good. Christianity has brought nothing but misery for 2000 years

    • ardenjm

      You go for it Warrior!
      And whilst they’re at it, they should take their stained glass, frescoes, fan-vaulting, Bach Passions, illuminated manuscripts, cloisters, gregorian chant, lead pencils, beer, libraries, hospices, Barts and Thomas, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Notre Dame de Paris, la Sagrada Famiglia, Dante, Chaucer, John Donne, 1/3 of all dispensaries in the developing world, NGOs like The Red Cross, Mary’s Meals and Cafod with them.
      Nothing but misery to billions…

    • pobjoy

      That’s unfair. The Catholic fake church brought pleasure to, well, several fat slobs. At the expense of the misery of millions, yes, but fat people have to stay fat, y’know.

      In any case, real Christians attract others for the very reason that they treat others with justice and with mercy. No decent person can object to that, surely.

      • ardenjm

        Which is why I asked you for the names of ‘real Christians’ who attracted you.
        You only give me, well, ‘you’ to go on.
        And whilst the fact that I find you vituperative, spiteful and mendacious merely confirms to you that my Catholicism has perverted my understanding so totally that I can’t see that you are a genuinely attractive follower of Christ (whilst, oddly, I DO see in the pages of the Gospel the attractiveness of Christ, and I also see my own failure to be like him in many, many ways) I wonder whether you could give me a third party – that YOU have been attracted to – so that I might see if my spiritual blindness in relation to you extends to all those others that you deem ‘real Christians’.

        • pobjoy

          People who attract me are people who don’t tell lies.

          • ardenjm

            Oh come off it pobjoy – surely there is more than the person you see in the mirror who you think, “they followed Christ in a way I admire.”
            I’d like to know the names of some of the people you’ve respected for their Christian witness.

          • pobjoy

            People you burned must have had something good about them.

          • ardenjm

            Who are you thinking of in particular?

          • pobjoy

            No-one in particular.

          • ardenjm

            So there are no named Christians – present or past – no named group of people – other than, ‘those burnt under the aegis of the Catholic Church – or the secular authority who looked to the Church for guidance’ who you admire? No people in particular?
            Why be so reticent about sharing that information?
            I’m genuinely interested in finding out who these ‘real Christians’ you speak of are. Are you saying that you simply cannot say ‘positively’? By that I mean you can say ‘negatively’: they’ll not be Catholics, Orthodox or whatever but you leave the discernment of the Elect to God alone.
            If that explains your reticence why not just say it and be done with it?
            All the same, there are SURELY those you THINK or at least HOPE are ‘real Christians’ who have helped you on your way. The Body of Christ, is, after all, made up of many members who are exhorted to pray for one another. Who are the ‘real Christians’ you’ve encountered, for example? I hardly need indiscretions: My sick but patient sister, for example, or, my Maths teacher, or one of my colleagues….

          • pobjoy

            I’m genuinely interested in finding out who these ‘real Christians’ you speak of are.

            When you’ve explained why it was once right for people who read the Bible to be burned, but it’s wrong now.

          • ardenjm

            How can I explain that to you when you don’t understand that what Luther says, mistakenly, of the individual soul – that it is simul justus et peccator – a dung heap of sin covered with the extrinisic grace of Christ like snow – is, in fact, more apt as a description of the whole body of the Church: there are saints and sinners within the Church. Just as there were Judases amongst the first Apostles, so too in the Church at all times. There will be holy men and women in the Church, there will be wicked men and women within the Church. And sometimes that wickedness will extend to the very top. Because the Head of the Church is Christ and she is His bride, He ‘covers the nakedness of her shame’ with His grace and ‘loves her’. But that does not mean that her wicked members will not be judged. They most certainly will. And that includes those successors of the Apostles – and especially those successors of St Peter, who have failed in their task of “feeding Christ’s sheep.”
            “To those whom much has been given, much will be asked.”

            This is a broken record of a conversation that you and I have quite regularly: for you the sins of the members of the Catholic Church disqualify it from any claim on being legitimately ‘of Christ’. For me, as much as I deplore this wickedness, the Church is still Christ’s.

            Now, you know that this is my answer, because I’ve given it before.
            But you choose to remain evasive on what is, after all, a simple question:
            Who ARE these ‘real Christians’ you admire?

          • pobjoy

            Now, you know that this is my answer, because I’ve given it before.

            I’ve never read that before.

            I deplore this wickedness

            But if Bergoglio was to burn people, you would stay a Catholic.

          • ardenjm

            Of course!
            And Judas, a Catholic Bishop (in my way of looking at him) betrayed My Lord!
            And STILL I stay Catholic.
            And Peter, the first Catholic Pope (in my way of looking at him) denied My Lord three times!
            And STILL I stay Catholic.

            This is because the Catholic Church is the Church Christ established. She is his Bride and like the brides in the Old Testament – images of Israel – that are unfaithful harlts – so too the Church is both Celestial Bride, Immaculate and Holy AND the Wh*re in the wilderness that John sees. It is the fulfillment of the tares and the wheat.
            Your trouble, pobjoy, is that you anticipate the work that only the angels are allowed to carry out: the separation of the two. Worse than that, you think that in separating yourself off from that sinful whorish Church you are somehow immune from the sins that you see in her. Not so! The dividing line traverses every human heart! Our prayer must be for Mercy: that God give us His saving grace to be welcomed to the marriage feast of the Lamb. THAT’S why I stay Catholic.

          • pobjoy

            Of course!

            That’s why you may be subject to citizen’s arrest and kept in prison until you die. Be grateful that you live when there is no capital punishment.

          • ardenjm

            But why on earth do you think that I would give my approval to such wickedness?

            Are you in a Church of one, pobjoy – with just yourself as a member – because only you are pure, and everyone else has disqualified themselves with their compromises with sin and wickedness?

            But what happens when you yourself sin, pobjoy? Where will you go then?

          • pobjoy

            You give your approval to murder already. You say that your deity can kill for disagreement. That is against the law in every country except that pitiful gift of a fascist. If you were arrested tonight, and imprisoned until you die, no court could find you not guilty, and you could have no legal redress whatsoever. And it could happen.

          • ardenjm

            Don’t be daft. I was asked: would you remain a member of the Catholic Church if the Pope did something wicked. I answered that I would – not because I’d support the Pope in his wickedness – but because the Church is Christ’s. The wickedness done by members of the Church damages and harms the Church even as it damages and harms their victims. They should be prosecuted by temporal judgement for their actions – and we both know what Christ says will happen to members of the Church who cause scandal.

            From this you extrapolate that I endorse murder.

            What utter piffle and confusion.

            My country invaded Iraq. Wicked things happened as a consequence.
            Would you have me held responsible for the actions of Tony Blair?
            Perhaps you would have me renounce my British nationality – or else be held liable for War Crimes myself. I mean, what on earth?

          • pobjoy

            You endorse murder.

          • ardenjm

            Nope. But two can play at this ridiculous game:
            You endorse spiritual assasination – which as Our Lord says – you will have to answer for before the Just Judge.

          • pobjoy

            You endorse murder.

          • ardenjm

            And you are in the process of carrying out spiritual murder.
            Shame on you.
            Look to your the log in your own eye, neighbour.

            You can have the last word – I’ve got work tomorrow.

          • pobjoy

            I’ve got work tomorrow.

            The coward runs, having added to his crimes..

          • ardenjm

            “The coward” went to bed at gone 2am as he said he would.
            As did you! Hypocrite!
            Which explains why your reply came eight hours after my post!
            So don’t be a wally.
            “Having added to his crimes.” Strewth.

            Pobjoy, your creed boils down to this:
            “I hate the Catholic Church and I am right to hate it because God commands me to hate it.”

            You combine your near Cartesian scepticism about knowing anything at all with your religious conviction and have shrunken everything down to one tight little knot of “No!”
            Fine.
            But remember:
            “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silas and Timothy–was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.”

            So, tell me, pobjoy – what do you say ‘yes’ to? (Apart from abortion under some circumstances and the negative reaction of not associating with sinners.) What do you strive to follow in your life? What, indeed, do you even love about Christ? Please, for once, say something akin to the Good News of Our Lord.

          • pobjoy

            what do you say ‘yes’ to?

            Those who endorse murder should be executed.

          • ardenjm

            Is that it?
            Is that your version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

            Wow…

          • andyrwebman

            By “remain a member” I assume you mean that they’ll still get your contribution at the collection plate. It means you’re a source of funding for them, and must bear some sense of responsibility for any wrongdoing by them.

          • ardenjm

            And, likewise, share in the good done by them, too.
            And thus aim to promote the good and put an end to the evil.

            I assume you pay your taxes? I assume you pay your TV licence fee?
            Do you agree with all the actions of your government? Of the BBC? Of Jimmy Savile?
            You could come back to me and say: you opt into the Church, you could opt out. But I opt into the Church because I think her teachings are TRUE not because her members are GOOD. Her members clearly aren’t good. And neither am I. But that’s one of the truths the Church tells me about herself and about human nature. So, no, opting out of the Church, as if she is a sports club I joined isn’t an option.

            You’ll find, if you have the time to spare to scroll through older posts of mine, that I am as unsparing of hypocrites within the Church as anyone who is not a member of her.

            If that doesn’t satisfy you – if that somehow makes me complicit with the evil done by some of her members then I am guilty as approved. I’m afraid, though, that both you and pobjoy must live in such a rarefied world of moral unimpeachableness that I’d never be able to live up to your exacting standards. Puritans always worry me, though.

          • andyrwebman

            Surely if an organisation is massively corrupt it might be better to separate from them, even if you do recognise the faults in your own heart.

            Otherwise you’re effectively saying “it doesn’t matter who I hang out with, I’m equally likely to be evil”. If that’s the case, I’m for the pub and the fleshpots! If you’re gonna fail, fail in style!

          • ardenjm

            That’s your choice. I’d rather hang out with Jesus.
            And you only see the corruption.
            I see that, too, but not only that.
            Far from it.

          • andyrwebman

            The idea of “there are saints and sinners within the Church.” is an extremely generic argument used in all sorts of contexts today – for one thing, when criticising Islam.

            It’s an argument that hides deeper issues.

            Of course there are good and bad people within any group – I would term this “random evil”. If, for example, a Christian or a Muslim doesn’t pay his tax, I recognise that this is his own foible.

            On the other hand, there can be Systematic issues that clearly arise as a result of the tenets of a given faith. For example, it might be demonstrably true that whenever a given faith becomes socially dominant, the level of intolerance of dissent rises rapidly. Or it may be inimical to scientific progress.

            Therefore we need to separate out Random Evil and Systematic Evil (and good too) to clearly see whether or not a religion is beneficial. The “some good some bad” cliche does not tell the full story.

          • ardenjm

            “The “some good some bad” cliche does not tell the full story.”
            Indeed it doesn’t.
            So let me cut to the essence – even though it comes from a position of Faith so might sound unintelligible or groundless to you:
            The pre-eminent member of the Church of Christ is the Blessed Virgin Mary – by whom God takes human flesh and ‘dwelt amongst us.’ This is the light in which I assess all other aspects of the Church – especially those parts of it that so spectacularly fail to reflect any of Christ’s truth or His Mother’s fidelity.
            However, because of Christ who is the Head of the Church, and because of Mary who is faithful at the foot of The Cross from which the Church is born from His pierced side, I can no sooner “leave the Church” than leave my family.
            Christ is my Lord.
            Mary is my Mother.
            The rest flows from there and is seen in that light.

          • SparklingMoon,

            it is not the function of religion to change the natural faculties of man or to turn wolves into lambs; its purpose is to guide man in the proper use of his natural faculties in keeping with the demands of time and place. It would be wrong to think that a whole nation or people are by nature good or evil.The Divine law of nature allows every people to claim that, just as there are innately corrupt, immoral and evil people among them, there are also those who are by nature meek, noble and virtuous.Just as people belonging to every nation of the world have been blessed with physical features such as eyes, noses, mouths, hands and feet, so have they been blessed with inner faculties, and among every nation there are people, good and evil, depending on their moderate or immoderate use of those faculties.

            Neither the Hindus nor Jews nor Sikhs nor Buddhists are outside this law, As a people grow in civility and courtesy and gain knowledge and prestige as a nation,to the same degree,the righteous among them also gain renown for their virtuous lives, character and exemplary conduct. A nation becomes virtuous under the influence of a religion,or the basis of its followers’ decency,if some of its devoted followers are found to possess spiritual excellencies: they show miracles, God hears their prayers, speaks to them, communicates to them the tidings of the unseen and helps them. (Ruhanikhazain)

          • Marian Hunter

            You are a troll with selective amnesia and should be burned.
            I think if you can manage to pick up a book you will find that more people were burned under the reign of Protestant Henry and his daughter Queen Elizabeth than were burned under Mary Tudor.
            But to lighten your spiteful spirit I think you should burn because I am a Catholic of the Roman variety. Now bog off.

          • pobjoy

            You are a troll with selective amnesia and should be burned.

            A miracle, to be sure! A true, consistent Catholic!

            Protestant Henry

            I know a Protestant Henry, but he’s never reigned, and certainly never burned anyone. Wouldn’t hurt a flea, actually. Quite a challenge, for Catholics.

            But there were eight Kings Henry, and not one of them was a Protestant. Indeed, the last of them was more afraid of Protestantism than he was afraid of death. Like all who have picked up a book and still call themselves Catholics. Decent, law-abiding folk leave the RC cult once they are acquainted with the truth.

            Queen Elizabeth

            Who speaks ill of good Queen Bess? Only traitors and the vile. Her Majesty reigned while criminals were executed, for crimes knowingly committed against the realm. Not for heresy. That was the work of Bloody Mary.

            And Bloody Henry, who hanged a man for eating meat on a Friday. Now if Bergoglio was to insist on that divine consistency, how many followers would he have left?

          • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

            You’re very confused, Brother Pob. All the Tudors, without exception, were bloodthirsty maniacs, and Bloody Bess (Queen Elizabeth) was certainly one of the worst.

          • pobjoy

            You’re

            Note the oldest papist tradition, personal threat. But then brainless, avaricious, sexually abusive thugs have no better recourse.

            Bloody Bess

            You see? Catholics can’t even think without the assistance of those they would destroy. See Jude 10.

            (Queen Elizabeth) was certainly one of the worst.

            Then ‘ecclesiam’ will be able to produce a list of named persons who were killed by Crown authorities for holding religious opinions rather than for actions of a political nature.

            Not that it would do any good, even if found, because Protestantism has never been, and is not represented, theologically or spiritually, by any government. Catholics are utterly brainless, and crooked to the core.

          • http://josephsoleary.typepad.com Joseph

            Sadly true that people were executed for “heresy” up to 250 years ago.

        • Grant Melville

          An important question for you and I (and every other believer) is, do we see the attractiveness of Christ, not only on the pages of the Gospels, but in Him now, where He is, an exalted Man in heaven? Christianity has no reality unless we have a living link with our living Lord. We won’t be maintained, displaying features of Christ in our own lives unless we have our gaze firmly fixed on Him where He is.

          • SparklingMoon,

            Jesus (as) also had invited to God Almighty
            God alone is immortal: the blessed and only potentate, King of Kings, and Lo rd of Lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach, whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. (1 Tim. 6:15-16)

    • Young Graeme

      Nothing but misery? If you cannot see any positive effects from Christianity – yes, the church has sometimes got it wrong – then you are guilty of moral ( and historical ) blindness. Perhaps you should rebadge yourself the Social Justice Vandal.

    • Phil R

      Think Stalin Mao etc

      Remember the 250 million murdered by Atheism

      • Mary Ann

        They were not murdered by atheism atheism is a belief that their is no god, beliefs do not kill, people kill. The only thing an atheist government can do against religion is to close churches, but you cannot stop people believing and the church is not necessary to the teachings of Jesus.

    • Jacobi

      Not so. Atheism, Secularism and Islam have brought so much more misery!

      • andyrwebman

        If by “Atheism” you mean the Stalinists and the Maoists, I would point out to you that these people – like the religious – were followers of absolute ideologies which seek to prevent dissent and questioning, and indoctrinate their followers at an early age.

        Surely the one philosophy that stands out from the others is that of free thinking rationalism informed by Scientific discovery – of all of them, it’s the only one that can admit it was wrong in the past and correct it.

        • ardenjm

          I’m sure Dr Mengele’s victims are consoled by the repudiation all decent doctors would make of the monster who sought knowledge in such morally bankrupt ways…
          And there we have the point – that even Dawkins acknowledges:
          What, exactly, does science have to say about moral goodness, justice and truth that isn’t ultimately reductive: explaining away rather than explaining.

          Karl Popper, on the other hand, was much wiser:
          Popper held that rationality is not restricted to the realm of empirical or scientific theories, but that it is merely a special case of the general method of criticism, the method of finding and eliminating contradictions in knowledge without ad-hoc-measures. According to this view, rational discussion about metaphysical ideas, about moral values and even about purposes is possible.

          • trekker2002

            Of course we should have rational discussion about moral values. The problem is that religions such as Christianity and Islam based on revelations of ‘truth’, have a tendency to dismiss discussion out of hand in favour of pronouncing that the ‘word of God’ is the sole authority. The most pressing problem is that they don’t just content themselves with pronouncing it, but they frequently then proceed to try to enforce it on everyone and if they can achieve the power to do so, kill dissenters.

          • ardenjm

            Wikipedia Natural Law and you’ll see that the Catholic Church makes no appeal to revelation for the foundation of moral values: they are part and parcel of human nature – open, therefore, to scrutiny and examination by all. Yes, the Church would say that, ultimately, that nature has its origin in a Creator, but by the same token the Church would not conclude that someone who doesn’t know God doesn’t know morality and act ethically. They can do so, without knowing about God.
            And this has been the constant teaching of the Church forever – ever since St Paul said much the same thing in Romans chapter 2.
            But you are right about other things you say:
            The Church has had periods where her members have sought to impose on dissenters. Likewise, in Christianity in general, there have been voices that have appealed to revelation alone, not shared human nature, as a source of moral values – but from a Catholic standpoint these voices have emerged mostly from a Protestant milieu.

          • SparklingMoon,

            According to the teachings of Islam the most precious freedom of man, which is vital for the purpose of enabling him to achieve the object of his life on earth, is the freedom of conscience, which includes freedom to profess, practise, propagate and, should his conscience so impel him, to change his religion. Islam is the one religion whose scripture guarantees freedom of conscience and belief in express and emphatic terms. This freedom is so repeatedly affirmed in the Holy Quran, with such a wealth of illustration and exposition,that it does not leave the slightest room for any doubt on the matter. Unfortunately, a section of the so-called Orthodox Muslim divines have progressively adopted the position that though Islam does not permit any kind of pressure or coercion in its propagation, and that no one can under any circumstances be forced or compelled to profess Islam, yet a professing Muslim, should he cease to have faith in Islam, would not be free to affirm that he no longer believes in Islam. Should he do so, he would forfeit his life. This is a notion which is utterly abhorrent to Islam, and indeed to human conscience. Also it renders altogether nugatory the freedom of conscience and belief that is so emphatically guaranteed by Islam, and is contradictory of it.

          • Jacobi

            Be clear that the remote pagan god of Islam, or any other pagan god, and there are many, is not the Christian God of Love. So don’t even begin to compare them.
            Christianity had disagreements, but no wars no wars until the Islamic heresy reared its head and became the core of an Arab imperial expansion. The 16th century reformation was a tragedy for all of us. Fallen Human Nature, something we are stuck with. But that is not and certainly now is not typical of Christianity.
            But talking about unconstrained atheistic rejection of Christianity and the resulting evil, well now don’t get me started!

        • Jacobi

          By Stalinist and National Socialist atheists I refer to those who reject the love of Christianity, and therefore choose evil. That is a choice, not imposed. No one has to be a Christian after all.
          Scientific discovery, and I am myself a retired science/businessman, has produced some good things, such as antibiotics which means we live a bit longer but still end up like the Dodo, and aeroplanes, which I love and still fly, but aeroplanes have their downside producing vast quantities of pollutants in ever greater quantities, and of course lets not forget foetocides and abortion methods resulting in the massacre of countless numbers of the innocent.
          The mistake you make is twofold. There is no clash between Christianity and science since both are based ultimately on logic and therefore Truth. But the absence of the Love of Christianity means that Fallen Man will inevitably misuse that scientific logic to evil purposes.

      • Mary Ann

        Much misery has been caused by all the religions of Abraham they all advocate violence against the non believer,

        • Yorkieeye

          Er, examples of Jesus’ rabble rousing please.

        • alfredo

          religions of abraham = judaism and christianity, neither of which advocate violence against unbelievers. you same to be enjoying a first-rate education at wherever it is.

        • Yorkieeye

          As did/do fascism, Maoism, Stalinism etc etc. there’s always something to hang your hat on if you’re a totalitarian. Religion is a convenient scape goat. It has brought much comfort to so many down the years unlike fascism, Maoism …………

        • Jacobi

          They do not. Christianity does not advocate violence. Get your facts right!

          • Richard Baranov

            I always use the criteria: “By their fruits shall ye know them.” Sound familiar? But using that as a starting point your assertion, Jacobi, is blatantly untrue.

          • Jacobi

            Not so. You forget the doctrine of Original Sin and Fallen Human Nature. That is what produces the bad fruit. It would be a lot worse without the constraining love of Christianity as we will no doubt find out in the next few years with Christianity so reduced by Secularism and atheism.

          • Richard Baranov

            I do not believe in “Original Sin”, it is metaphysical nonsense and not worth paying attention to.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Religions either they are Abrahamic or of India or china, had their foundation on the teachings of God Almighty. All human beings are creation of God Almighty and He loves them equally. It would be mistake to relate violent activities of latter coming people of any religion to the revelation their prophet. Those who perpetuate brutality in religion’s name are either anti-religious or people whose religion has been corrupted. There are also religious leaders who have no warmth, compassion, mercy or piety. To be honest, they are hypocrites with a lust for power cruelty is their ruling passion. It would be a great mistake to associate religion with the misdeeds of such men. The real truth is that God—the Fountainhead of Mercy—does not allow the followers of any religion to oppress His people.

          The history of religious persecution clearly shows that followers of true religion are the victims of violence.The example of Abraham, who called the people to God by using love, sympathy and humility. He had no sword, not a single weapon. But the elders of his people did exactly what the anti-religious opponents of Noah had done. Abraham ’s father, Azar, said: ‘If you do not desist from your belief I shall stone you.’ The words used by Azar were virtually identical to those used by Noah’s enemies.Both Noah and Abraham were insulted and humiliated, both were beaten and tortured, yet both accepted it all with patience and fortitude. Having lit the fire of oppression and mischief, the tormentors of Abraham astried to burn him alive. As was the case with all other prophets who had been persecuted by their opponents but they never promoted in reverse any teachings of revenge.

    • pobjoy

      I’d be happy if the church disbands for good.

      It’s not a question of disbanding. It’s a question of you and you like doing your duty. Arrest all the people who endorse murder, and have them placed in prison camps until they die. The Vatican and its edifices will be emptied, as will all mosques. That will be social justice, and the world will be a safer place.

  • John P Hughes

    If the much-missed journalist and pundit Anthony Howard were still with us he would have enjoyed this row tremendously, and would have talked on the radio entertainingly about the C of E. Hee was the son of a senior clergyman and grew up with C of E politics around him.
    In Howard’s place we have, from time to time, Ian Hislop the editor of ‘Private Eye’, who made a good series on BBC2 about the C of E some years ago. It would seem to be time that Hislop returned to the subject. He can both write and broadcast in a fluent way about the Church and its position in English society.

  • evad666

    Surely the Happy Clappy Services with Pop Music Hymns have done much to drive people away?
    The general wishy washy liberalism of its politics have also not helped.

    • Mary Ann

      But happy clappy Christianity is on the up.

      • Old Nick

        Including in country parishes I could lead you to

        • serge

          Places like Dibley …

    • Yorkieeye

      That isn’t happening in every church and is usually reserved for large city parishes where a variety of styles is possible rather than in the only parish church in a village or suburb

  • Yorkieeye

    The socialist authors of this book will have missed the obvious point of the argument; that the decline of the church coincided with the shift to socialism in the clergy. If I go to church now I hear about how dreadful it is to be rich and food banks. This need for ‘relevance’ has side lined the beauty and spiritualism of the faith.

    • Germainecousin

      Beg, steal or borrow a copy of The Rural Gentleman by Delia Maguire. I have posted many times about this book because it inspired me back to my faith just when I was losing it. It isn’t traditionalist or liberal, just a really good uplifting story about a man who whilst employing dubious techniques, takes people to the place they want to be. And no, I have nothing to gain by the promotion of this book, just the satisfaction of knowing that others might find the reassurance I found.

    • Mary Ann

      Sounds as if your church is spreading the teachings of Jesus, such as feeding the 5,000 and the camel passing through the eye of a needle. Jesus was a leftie, it you want a right wing religion you could try Islam, same god.

      • jbat001

        Lefty good, and righty bad – it’s not that simple. Jesus was explicitly not political – he stated that his kingdom was not of this world, and refused to fulfil the Jewish peoples ambitions for an overthrow of their Roman masters.
        The idea that only left wingers care about other people, particularly poor people, is a very old and tired trope – it is not true and never was.

      • Yorkieeye

        In fact Jesus had little to say about wealth, other than the inappropriateness (?) of dealing in the temple. The camel/needle stuff is often quoted but can also be interpreted to mean that one cannot buy ones way into heaven (and implicitly behave badly but be absolved by wealth) and quite right too. But Jesus also hung out with rich people, vis Joseph of Aramathea, a wealthy benefactor who oversaw and paid for the burial of the Lord.
        By reviling people with a bit of extra brass to spare the modern church is reduced to fighting it out for lottery funds. Most of which is reaped from the poorer in society gambling at ridiculous odds, rather than tapping up the Aramatheas to mend the roof.

        • Mary Ann

          The lottery does take advantage of the poor. Mind you, I dream of winning the lottery the first time I buy a ticket, the dream has cost me nothing so far.

          • Yorkieeye

            Then presumably you can well afford your stake money.

        • http://josephsoleary.typepad.com Joseph

          I gave a course on money in Luke, using Christopher M Hays’ learned study “Luke’s Wealth Ethics” — at least in Luke money is at the very center of Jesus’s message.

          • Yorkieeye

            That sounds interesting. Have you published on the Internet? If so, would you send me a link?

          • http://josephsoleary.typepad.com Joseph

            I’m writing a piece on it now, but it will be copyright unfortunately.

      • 2fishypoliticians

        Another oversimplified fallacy. The Christian God is Trinitarian, with Jesus being one of the 3 people who are the one God. Muslims deny that Jesus is God. A basic Christian teaching is that God calls us to a loving relationship with Him, this is certainly not basic Islamic teaching. These are just two basic differences for starters.
        Jesus was not a leftie – he may have been merciful to the less fortunate and sinners but he did not promote leftie causes. Some modern leftie causes go against basic Christian teaching.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Muslims deny that Jesus is God.
          —————————————————–
          Jesus(as) also had called his followers to the same God Almighty towards religion Islam has guided. Jesus(as)had not the slightest hesitation in affirming the Unity of God. For instance: ”One of the scribes came..and asked him, which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first Of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, is One Lord: and thou shall love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandment.. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is One God; and there is none other but He. (Mark12:29-30, 32)

          Jesus had no conception of Trinity as he, according to his sayings, not only lacked equality with God he also lacked equality with the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Ghost, as he said: ”Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoso ever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”(Matt. 12:31-32)

          God Almighty also has confirmed the teachings of Jesus in the Quran: ”People Of the Book! exceed not the bounds in the matter of your religion, and say not of God anything but the truth. Indeed, the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was but a Messenger Of God and the fulfi lment of glad tidings which he conveyed to Mary and a mercy for Him. So believe in God and His Messengers and say not: There are three gods. Desist, it will be the better for you. Indeed, God is only One God. His Holiness brooks not that He should have a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Sufficient is God as a Guardian. Surely, the Messiah would never disdain to be accounted a servant of God, nor would the angels who are close to God. Those who disdain to worship Him and consider themselves above it will He gather all together berore Himself. (4:172-173)

          • 2fishypoliticians

            I know that you are speaking as a muslim, and that you are speaking from a preaching point of view to convert people to islam. I am afraid that you have distorted many parts of Biblical quotes and Christian understanding to justify your stance. Jesus himself has pointed to the Trinitarian aspect of God in his mission statement to his disciples – “Go and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. (Mt 28:18).” The force of this passage is decisive. That “the Father” and “the Son” are distinct Persons follows from the terms themselves, which are mutually exclusive.
            Christian teaching understanding points to Jesus showing the Trinity – he taught his disciples to recognise in him the Eternal Son of God. When His ministry was drawing to a close, He promised that the Father would send another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, in His
            place. The God of Christianity and the one in islam may both have
            their roots in the Abrahamic faith of Judaism, but the understandings of who God is is very different in Christianity and islam.

      • Germainecousin

        You just have to get islam in don’t you Miriam? If you think the God of the Christians, the one whose son preached turn the other cheek, and drop those stones, is the same one isis and their mates proclaim, then you really should open your eyes and your ears.

  • Stephen Milroy

    Hey, Church of England. You’re a Church. Act it! (from a church going Christian).

  • Erika Baker

    Funny that Damian Thompson dismisses a book we’re not allowed to judge for ourselves as malicious gossip.. In a column that spreads malicious gossip about Linda Woodhead and Andrew Brown…

  • Suriani

    The Catholic church in the western world is not just in decline, but morphing into a hideous cult. Its public liturgies are becoming unrecognizable as even Christian, let alone in continuity with recognisable tradition. Neo-masonic ‘universalist’, quasi-eucharistic happenings, events, ‘liturgies’, they are not often referred to as ‘masses’, are normative across Europe and the western world with bishops and priests in garish, clownish new church garb ‘officiating’ at pagan themed altars surrounded by prancing, usually female, co-celebrants in churches stripped of anything remotely numinous. In modern times the priesthood has never been more spiritually demoralised. Benedict could do little to stop this virus but he did, at least, give encouragement to those Catholics, clerical and lay, who were not infected and to those Anglicans seeking return. That continues despite the flouncing disapproval of national hierarchies. Canterbury, compared to high-fevered Rome, looks the picture of health.

  • andyrwebman

    Please do not legitimise the entire left wing concept that people who disagree with them have “phobias” by using the ridiculous word “homophobic” to describe African Bishops.

    The Bishops are simply religious literalists – they don’t have a phobia, they have an ideology they have refused to dilute with sophistry.

    By all means, raise the issue that it’s unfair to treat gay people badly because of some old texts – but recognise that the problem is due to their unquestioning obedience to these texts. Therefore, it is the morality of the texts that is at fault, not a pathological phobia that requires psychological treatment.

    Whenever we regurgitate the words that the left have so cleverly crafted – to make it seem like any alternative viewpoint is a mental illness – we normalise a subtle form of propaganda.

  • Michael990

    “high-church Welsh mystic who felt more at home in Narnia”
    Clearly he should have been a catholic.

    • ConofChi

      ??????????????????

    • Richard Baranov

      Good one!

  • Mary Ann

    ‘had no glib answers to the problems of human tragedy and suffering’

    You cannot have an almighty and benevolent god when there is so much suffering in the world, it’s an oxymoron.

    • tjamesjones

      well that was easy, there’s a glib answer, so why was it so hard for Rowan?

      • Mary Ann

        It was and it is. Why Rowan? Are you referring to Sorbus, or does it have some deeper meaning. Real Rowan jelly made at home is lovely with cold meats.

    • Tamerlane

      You can if this is h£ll.

    • Zanderz

      Why so angry at *nothing* then?

    • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

      Apparently, theologians throughout the ages never noticed this before, and it took a mega-brained commentator on a blog to point it out to them.

  • tjamesjones

    ” Sir Derek Pattinson, for many years secretary general of the General Synod”.

    Ah the mighty secretary general of the General Synod! Funny, I’ve been going to church (c of e) in this country for many years and never heard of the role, or cared that such a role might exist. You really don’t get a picture of the church by looking at the odd figures who end up in the largely ceremonial roles at the top of the (imagined) hierarchy. Because there isn’t really a hierarchy, a church is a body of people who meet regularly, and probably spend about 0 minutes a year thinking about who their local bishop is, and what he thinks about g** s** (the only topic of course).

  • umechan

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a malicious, deliberately mischief-making “review.” This is score-settling at its worst.

  • Watt

    That Was The Church That Was. That Was The country That Was. The former merely reflects the latter. Cultural Marxism prevails for now. But Islam will increasingly have something to say about it.

  • Muttley

    I don’t think for a moment people turned away from the CofE because of a few scandalous old bishops or even bumbling archbishops. For an institution which used to be dubbed the “Conservative party at prayer,” it has obviously alienated its largest constituency by becoming the religious wing of the Labour party instead.

  • simmary

    If it’s scandalous behaviour you’re after you can’t do better than the Catholics. Of course Henry VIII was a Catholic. Anyway, it would be interesting to read it.

  • Tamerlane

    C’mon clerics have been caught with their trousers down and their hands in the cookie jar since the middle ages. This isn’t the sign of a declining church, it’s the church doing what the church has always done best and having the worst offenders do the preaching. The church may well be in decline but it has nothing to do with the bedroom habits of its priests, they’ve been doing that for centuries.

  • hyena

    Anglican Church is worshipping satan. But Satan has a better, more efficient pet – Islam. Satan is not showering Anglicans with attention anymore and so Anglicanism is dying.

  • alfredo

    ‘it turned out that a bishop had had a cottaging conviction hushed up’. i remember the case, and it throws an interesting light on the concept of hushing up or a ‘cover up’ so topical at the moment. there was no cover-up. the case was reported at the time with the same degree of emphasis as a similar case would have been. the man was allowed to live down the incident, continued his career, and became a bishop. which is what some might think was the right thing to happen in a christian context, and is what does in fact happen with other clergy misbehaviour – including adultery.
    what a cover-up appears to mean nowadays, particularly in the mouths of professional complainants and their saintly lawyers, is one about which there wasn’t enough satisfactory fuss and the punishment wasn’t severe enough – and no compensation! so let’s have a re-run.

  • Terence Hale

    Why did God give Catweazle the sack?

    • Philip

      Terence: The choice of photograph is rather more flattering and true to life than others used to mock the Archbishop on the author’s Telegraph webpage in earlier times.

  • Michael North

    “The decline of the Church of England has been one of the most astonishing trends in modern Britain” says Thompson.
    I have never been able to take the CofE seriously. What astonishes me is how it keeps going at all.
    It is founded on fudge, as Newman came to see.

    • Hippograd

      What happened to the CofE has now happened to the Catholic church. We have a Social Justice Pope.

  • Philip

    “gentlemen, you are flogging a dead horse. Suggest you try another one.”
    Linda Woodhead.

    • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

      So which sockpuppet are you using on Twitter, Phil?

      Speak later.

      • Philip

        Never had a Twitter account.
        Roll on the Lenten fast some bloggers take from social media. Time to reflect
        on the difference between healthy satire and destructive malicious gossip.

        The proof of a good blog is the number of genuine comments. The one in question fails on that score. Hits from the curious mean nothing. Nothing of value in the relentless mockery.

        • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

          But you still keep reading, eh?

          • EmpressJadis

            He’s about to have even more time on his hands to do so.

  • Hippograd

    Spite, b*tch*n*ss and gays? What an unusual combination. And in the Church of England too.

  • salt_peter

    “The decline of the Church of England has been one of the most astonishing trends in modern Britain”

    Far from it. Once the educationalists found a way to avoid inculcating children into Anglicanism in school, well over a generation ago, and the bishops were too weak-kneed to challenge it, the church was ultimately doomed.

    Unless there is a local CofE faith school that can blackmail parents into attending church as a means of escaping state sector education (which is an indictment of state sector education rather than a recommendation for faith schools) it is unusual to see anyone under sixty years of age attending church.

    Most are seventy or over. It is becoming hard to find people fit enough to climb stairs and wind an 18th century clock. In a decade or so these congregations will literally die out.

    The bishops have finally recognised the threat to their positions, but it is far too late. The stable door fell off its hinges decades ago and is rotting under a briar patch.

    The book is mis-titled. It should read: That Was The Church That Was: How the English People Lost the Church of England.

  • Roger Hudson

    I always assumed that the CoE had married clergy so it could have a heterosexual clergy with experience of family life, i now read that it as gay as a catholic semenary ( get the spelling).
    The really sad thing about British Christianity is the loss of all the nonconformist chapels, a simple faith for normal people.

  • johnhenry

    The *facts* of Damian Thompson’s private life are of no interest to me. All that I know about it is that he keeps it private, unlike Brian Sewell (whose writings I’ve only recently had the good fortune to stumble upon) who was a spiky old queen if there ever was one; and that is something I respect.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    The pews in the Church of England are emptying because the standard interpretation of the Gospels and Acts makes no sense, such as:

    (1) Jesus comes and goes from Galilee to Judea for three years and Pilate does nothing, when Pilate is supposed to immediately execute Jesus under Roman insurrectionist laws;

    (2) after Jesus is brought to Pilate by the religious authorities in Jerusalem (the significance of Jesus having to be brought to Pilate by non-Roman agents has eluded the ‘informed’ the last 2,000 years), the next nine Roman governors of Judea are following Pilate’s stand down policy towards Jesus’ apostles, who are still attracting large crowds and performing miracles; and

    (3) When Paul heads for Damascus Jesus confronts the new Rabbi asking why Paul is persecuting His followers, when Jesus is supposed to be asking this question of Rome (who aren’t) and the Jewish religious leaders in Judea, who only commenced their persecution of Jesus’ followers after Paul was minted a Rabbi and goaded the religious authorities to follow along (hence why the authorities in Jerusalem sent Paul off to far away Damascus; to get Paul out of Jerusalem, where Paul was causing ‘havoc’)

    I can go on with more imbecilic events from the Gospels and that when analyzed under a literal microscope, paying attention to only the spoken word, prove to be unsupportable. But when one analyzes the Gospels’s characters’ behaviors, not merely words, the Gospels and Acts magically open themselves up to a coherent and historically true narrative…

    https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/the-deft-political-maneuverings-of-jesus-and-jewish-officials-under-a-precarious-roman-shadow

    …and…

    https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/the-empire-halfheartedly-strikes-back

    • Zanderz

      Your interpretation is much better, thank you. Blessings x

      • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

        “Your interpretation is much better, thank you.”

        With greater education and leisure time the West has bestowed on its citizens the last one-hundred years, there’s greater time for introspection, hence we shouldn’t be surprised when established but errant narratives take a toll on institutions such as the Church of England that clings to certain traditional errant teachings. The Church of England will recover, however, since that would be God’s will!

        • ardenjm

          I guess I’d have more time for your contrarian theses if your extensively paranoid website didn’t contain glaring errors.
          On the Rigby photos you say blood was added by security forces after they arrived – and are nowhere to be seen on photos prior to their arrival. That’s just piffle. Three rivulets of blood are quite clearly visible on the ground in the shots taken before the police arrive that you include on your website! The light is reflecting on them so they are not as clear as in the overhead shot but they are the same shape and clearly in three ‘strands’ – no different from what the the later overhead shot merely confirms.

          Whatever your agenda is, you mix up truthful observation, warranted scepticism and interesting insight with utterly fantastical conspiracy theory and ocd levels of fixation on details – investing them with a significance that is no doubt absolutely sure and certain in your thinking but borders on monomania and an invincible conviction in your own rectitude.

          Jackson contra mundum.

          I don’t buy it.
          Sorry.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Three rivulets of blood are quite clearly visible on the ground in the shots taken before the police arrive that you include on your website!”

            Added later, as the following photo you glossed over illustrates (click picture to enlarge)…

            http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/5/24/1369391311502/Scenes-from-Woolwich-011.jpg

            Here are the three “rivulets of blood”, added later…

            https://theageofvolcanoes.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/bs-4.jpg

            And closeup views of “rivulets of blood”…

            http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/beheading8.jpg

            …and here…

            https://www.metabunk.org/attachments/original-blood-jpg.3346/

          • ardenjm

            I did click on the first picture – and then enlarged it some more on the ipad – and, guess what? the blood is already there. In fact, I can even see it in the image above – looks like pale pink marks on the flagstone next to the signpost and fallen hub-cap.
            No blood was added later.

            The Communists may well be plotting to take over the world.
            But they didn’t do this. Islamic ideology poisoned the minds of wicked men. They did it.
            Sorry if that doesn’t fit in with your personal mission of unique insightfulness into the New World Order.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “I did click on the first picture – and then enlarged it some more on the ipad – and, guess what? the blood is already there.”

            As I suspected, a Marxist operative performing the usual abysmal attempt at ‘damage control’!

          • ardenjm

            Hmm, yes. That’d be it. If you can’t see the pink patches above, about a metre to the side of the killer then you’ve got a problem with your eyesight. But by the sounds of things, that’s not your major problem.
            All of my comments are open to scrutiny – there are LOTS of them.
            If you can find a single one that is ‘pro-Communist’ I’ll eat my hat.
            In fact you’ll find many that are resolutely anti-Communist.
            But, thing is Dean, unless we agree that you are absolutely right on this – you accuse us (just as a Communist would!) of ‘false consciousness’ and ‘bad faith’.

            Seems to me, in your tactics at least – to say nothing of your ideological zeal and puritanical intolerance that YOU are more of a Marxist operative than I am.

            Anyway, just for the record – some of my most recent posts critical of Marxist ideology. Not that you’ll believe them. YOU’VE decided what I am (because I dare question you – in the way, ironically, that YOU “dare” question the received opinion of MSM) and YOU are just right. G.K. Chesterton’s lunatic comes to mind…

            1:
            “…it distinguishes you from the philosophically illiterate ‘scientific atheists’ that sound nearly as dogmatic and stupid as your average Communist, Islamist, Jehovah Witness or member of the North Korean Kim Sect….”
            2:
            “And, frankly, it’s also astonishing that the otherwise sage Charles Moore is more depressed by this particular bit of cultural marxist vandalism (undertaken as much by dons and students within the institution as by mendacious bureaucrats like Cameron outside of it) than being depressed by EUROPEAN LEADERS SELLING THEIR OWN PEOPLES DOWN THE RIVER IN A GADARENE RUSH OF VIRTUE-SIGNALLING NARCISSISM.”
            3:
            “Yes. As Houellebecq’s latest novel -Soumission – so realistically predicts:
            There is a (soft) war being waged between reactionary European nationals on the one hand and the unholy alliance of liberal elites with varying strands of Islam on the other. Nick Cohen saw this at work in the Left over a decade ago – and rightly, and courageously, called it out…”
            4:
            “…Oh for pity’s sake. I’m not going to take lessons from someone who names himself after Hegel and who cites Voltaire and Marx as somehow saviours of European peace. Let me spell it out for you real simple: You don’t like Jesus’s followers and you don’t much like Jesus. I don’t like Marx’s followers and I certainly don’t like Marx….”

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Hmm, yes. That’d be it. If you can’t see the pink patches above, about a metre to the side of the killer then you’ve got a problem with your eyesight.”

            Oh now you’ve switched to patches, forgetting about the three “rivulets of blood” that weren’t there before the police arrive on the scene! Well, if you had read my blog carefully, those are the dirty patches on the sidewalk clearly visible here…

            https://www.metabunk.org/attachments/original-blood-jpg.3346/

            …and those dirty patches bare no resemblance to the blood pool that was added.

            Anyway, thanks for the magnification thought. I’m going to add it to my blog!

          • ardenjm

            Strewth! The angle of the photos changes the perspective.
            So let me say this clearly: the blood was there. The photos show it from different angles, in different lights, from different perspectives.
            And you, sir, discredit all intelligent criticism of vested interests and manipulative government with your monomania.
            I stand by my conclusion: you’re the operative, not me.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Strewth! The angle of the photos changes the perspective. So let me say this clearly: the blood was there. The photos show it from different angles, in different lights, from different perspectives.”

            You’re embarrassing!

  • davidshort10

    I wish the Spectator would not publish such stuff. The CofE deserves better.

    • I killed Madeleine Mccann

      Why?

      • davidshort10

        With that pseudonym, you are one very sick and sad puppy.

        • I killed Madeleine Mccann

          You go girl.

        • I killed Madeleine Mccann

          Please – discard the ad hominem attacks and tell me why the CofE deserves better?

    • rationalobservations?

      Why?

  • I killed Madeleine Mccann

    Maybe people are just sick of child molesters in silly clothes. Think about it.

    • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

      “Maybe people are just sick of child molesters in silly clothes. Think about it.”

      The Vatican (and other Christian denominations) were long ago co-opted by Marxists, since Christian denominational officers would never implement policies that encourage the molestation of children (as if!), but Marxists surely would to destroy the moral foundation of Christian denominations…

      With the election of Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti as Pope in 1846 (taking the name Pope Pius IX), the Vatican was co-opted at the top position by what would soon become known as Marxists…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Pius_IX

      …hence the embarrassing edicts on the (1) Immaculate Conception (1854)…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception

      …and (2) Papal Infallibility (1870)…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility

      …both edicts placing their respective subjects on an even level with God’s omniscience! In fact in 1858, just four-years after Pope Pius IX declared Mary to be without sin, Mary took time out from her busy schedule and came down to Earth, informing Bernadette Soubirous…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernadette_Soubirous

      …that she, Mary, was indeed the Immaculate Conception, born without sin! What marvelous timing, huh!

      Then in 1917 the Marxist government in Portugal, in co-operation with the Vatican, gave us the next fake Marian apparition where Mary tells ten-year-old Lúcia Santos that if everyone prays to her, Mary, then there won’t be an even more terrible war in the future…

      “The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_F%C3%A1tima

      Anyone catch it? God isn’t omniscient in this Marxist drama, because Mary says there might be another war! That’s what happens when you leave it up to Marxists to write these scripts, they naturally get it all wrong due to their ignorance of theology, and in this instance God’s omniscience!*

      Mary continues, “To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

      See where Mary says, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted…”

      In other words, Mary is telling us there’s no need to wage war against the USSR because the Marxists who control the USSR will magically convert to Russian Orthodoxy! Cleaver, huh? And what happened on December 26, 1991? Marxist Mary was right! Bolshevism collapsed, and Marxists magically became Christians!

      The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 taught Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions…

      https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/now-you-see-me-now-you-don-t

      The Vatican’s co-option took place two years earlier. That’s why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the ‘alternative’ media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

      The fraudulent ‘collapse’ of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

      It gets worse–the ‘freed’ Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of ‘Perestroika’ (1986-1991)!

      There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

      Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

      The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

      The above means that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

      The following is a discovery I made in April 2015 regarding the fake collapse of the USSR, and what that fraudulent collapse proves about the institutions of the West…

      When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist-atheist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the ‘collapse’ of the USSR is a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists, otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

      ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…

      http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2011/12/20-years-since-the-fall-of-the-soviet-union/100214/

      Notice, however, the Kremlin staged anti-government demonstrations that took place in Russia (and other Soviet republics) in the years immediately preceding the ‘collapse’, yet ZERO celebrations after the ‘collapse’!

      For more on this discovery see my blog…

      https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/

      Schism within the Catholic Church…

      Marxists have planned schism for the Catholic Church. When schism does arrive for the Catholic Church, Marxists will naturally control both opposing entities. Marxists call this tactic of using false opposites the “scissors strategy”, in which the blades represent the two falsely opposed sides that converge on the confused victims, neutralizing true opposition. Now you also know what the pedophilia scandal within the Catholic Church is all about–a Marxist operation to weaken the moral foundation of the Catholic Church, thereby lessening its numbers and inevitably its influence.

      By the way, when did the Vatican alert the world that the ‘collapse’ of the USSR (and East Bloc nations) is a fraud?! And when did the ‘liberated’ Russians throw out the KGB agent Quislings placed within the Russian Orthodox Church before the ‘collapse’ of the USSR! In fact, all religious denominations behind the Iron Curtain were so co-opted by Marxists, but those Marxist agents still control those religious denominations…

      http://sofiaecho.com/2012/01/17/1747052_eleven-out-of-15-members-of-bulgarian-orthodox-churchs-holy-synod-worked-for-communist-state-security

      http://www.novinite.com/articles/135799/Bulgaria%27s+High+Clergy+Infected+with+Ex-Communist+Spies

      For more on the general subject of Marxist co-option, see my blog…

      https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home

      ————————————

      * Since 1981 there’s been an ongoing Marxist Marian apparition taking place in Međugorje, Yugoslavia (yes, I meant Yugoslavia). The scam is quite a money-maker for the Communists, it being estimated that 30 million pilgrims have come to Medjugorje since the reputed apparitions began in 1981…

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2252122/Virgin-Mary-sightings-Are-Bosnians-hoaxers-living-saints.html

      I love the fake photo of the six “visionaries” posing as thought they’re looking up at Mary(!)

      http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/12/22/article-2252122-169F56BF000005DC-511_634x423.jpg

      The small boy, however, doesn’t seem to be interested with what Mary is telling them!

      • ardenjm

        You forgot to mention Pope John Paul II – clearly a Communist Agent.
        In fact he was so much of a Communist Agent that his constant and effective campaign against the communists in Poland which led to its collapse there was all part of a plan to spread it everywhere.

        Enough already.
        I’d say – you can have the last word – but clearly, that means we’ll get more loggorhea for dozens more pages: your website in other words.

  • marvin

    Even the church is not above using Publicity!

  • Kenny

    Damian I always enjoy your pieces. During his years as Archbishop I vehemently disliked Rowan Williams; partly I must say influenced by your colleague Mr Liddle’s legendary takedown a decade ago, partly due to a generalised mistrust of his type – literary, multiculturalist etc. Perhaps he was not so bad.

  • victimmentality

    What’s so dangerous to the Church of Rome about the BBC Panorama programme next week on Pope John Paul II?

  • rationalobservations?

    Church attendance has fallen off a cliff recently. Down to under 18% of the US population and under 6% when active participation in all “faith groups” are added together in the UK.

    It looks like the free, secular developed world will soon be a rational and religion free zone while the CofE follows the covert action of the RCC in being a transparent cover for an obscenely wealthy global investment banking corporation.

    Surely the next step must be to separate all links between religions and the secular state and remove the tax exempt status from all these extremely profitable $£Euro-multi-mega-billion politico-corporate businesses of religion?

    • http://ecclesandbosco.blogspot.com/ ecclesiam

      No, the next step is to bring back the Inquisition and burn all people who don’t attend church regularly.

      • EmpressJadis

        I’ll get my cloak

      • rationalobservations?

        Thank goodness that religiot fundamentalists are such a small and rapidly dwindling minority and we have secular police to curtail the bloodlust of would be crusaders and inquisitors, eccles.

  • Natalie

    Author Damian Thompson begins with a CofE-centric grandiosity:
    ‘The decline of the Church of England has been one of the most astonishing trends in modern Britain.’

    Really? If asked, what percentage of Britain’s population will answer ‘The decline of the Church of England’ to the question, ‘What has been the most astonishing trend in modern Britain?’?

    Damian Thompson should take a look at modern Britain. The correlation between ‘decline’ and ‘modern’ are far from ‘astonishing’. He should have begun:
    ‘The decline of The Church of England in modern Britain is unsurprising. Brown & Woodhead’s book helps to explain why.’

    Modern ideas such as accountability, transparency, safeguarding and plain old common sense still have no place in an old church that continues to shun the Spotlight and instead protects its own with defamation lawyers, and then deflects blame for its loss of popularity on the RCC and the ‘secular’ world. These disastrous bishops continue to let a lot of good people down.

    Publish the book!

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