GAFCON the Golden

The Dean of Southwark, our old friend the Very Revd Colin Slee, has offended countless readers of the Daily Telegraph – to say nothing of the Prime Minister, who included it in his selection for Desert Island Discs – by banning William Blake’s popular hymn Jerusalem ‘because the words do not praise God and are too nationalistic’, according to senior clergy’ at Southwark Cathedral (whoever they might be). 30Days is not convinced; much more likely, surely, that it was a cunning subliminal attack on GAFCON – the Global Anglican Future event taking place in Jerusalem in June. We confidently predict that Jerusalem the Golden, Jerusalem my happy home, Jerusalem! high tower thy glorious walls, Jerusalem that place divine and Jerusalem, Jerusalem, enthroned once on high will all shortly suffer the same ignominious fate.

Unmoving news

Mind you, perhaps Dean Slee was just feeling particularly grumpy. The Guardian reports that he was recently defeated in the election of the next Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand. Quite why he would want to swap life on the South Bank for life on the South Island is something of a mystery, unless of course the excitement of working with Tom Butler has finally taken its toll.

Moving news

Being the Dean of a Cathedral is nice work if you can get it, though, and especially if your name is Robert Taylor, until recently Dean of St Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle. Taylor, the first openly gay Dean of an Episcopal cathedral, said in a letter to the congregation that he was resigning because he and the vestry diverged in their visions for the future of St Mark’s and because there was a loss of trust between them – although he declined to say what the differing visions were. His resignation came after more than a year of turmoil at the cathedral and after an outside consultant issued a report outlining problems with church leadership both on the part of the dean and the vestry. After eight years in office, moving on must have come as something of a blow to the erstwhile Dean, but no doubt his golden handshake of $313,333 (that’s just over £150,000 in real money) helped him swallow the bad news.

Queer formation

Now that Robert Taylor has time on his hands, perhaps he’d like to indulge himself in a little further education. The Episcopal Divinity School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is offering the following course from June:

T3150 Queer Incarnation: The incarnation is sometimes presented as an arithmetic problem: What do you get when you add some divinity to a human body? But thinking about incarnation has to start much further back, in the realization that accounts of Jesus show us how little we understand about either divinity or bodies, much less about how bodies can show, act, and become divine. Just here and theology of the incarnation can learn from works of queer theory and the writings of queer thinkers. The body of Jesus – despised, de-sexed, and yet miraculously distributed – invites us to an exchange of bodies along the margins of human power and its certainties. We will think about the queerness of Jesus’ body with the help of some traditional texts on incarnation and passion (Athanasius, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Julian) and much more recent work on gender performance, bodily transition or transformation, and the rituals of camp.

EDS describes itself as A seminary for the Episcopal Church, USA…grounded in the Anglican tradition. And you wonder why they elected that woman as Presiding Bishop?

Panic over!

Talking of woman bishops, we ought not to let the announcement of Australia’s first woman bishop pass without expressing our appreciation to the lucky lady, Archdeacon Kay Goldsworthy, for clearing something up for us once and for all. Interviewed shortly after her appointment, Mrs Goldsworthy opined ‘Women were first made bishops over 20 years ago in the Anglican Communion and the communion has continued to work’. And there were we, and, at a guess, the Archbishop of Canterbury, thinking that the whole edifice was crumbling around us!

Sob story

Many thanks to an eagle-eyed reader of the Western Mail for drawing our attention to the real reason the women bishops bill was defeated in Wales. Canon Mary Stallard, chaplain to the Bishop of St Asaph and ‘a leading supporter of women bishops’, revealed the opponents’

secret weapon in last month’s Governing Body debate: Miss Stallard said she thought speeches in which male clergy described their fears for the future may have been crucial in stopping the plans being approved. She said, T think people respond very differently to men expressing unhappiness at doubts and upsets than women. Men have much greater access to playing on people’s heartstrings and I think we saw a really good example of that today! Now, if only the Catholic Group can be persuaded to do a Hillary Clinton and turn on the waterworks, a new province for England will be in the bag!

You couldn’t make it up

Once they’ve bagged up the new province, Frs Killwick, Houlding, Baker and the rest will need to look their best for the television cameras and, let’s face it, none of us looks our best after a good long weep. Luckily, help is at hand at – ‘Because you’re in the public eye, and God knows you need to look good’. The work of a smiley lady calling herself PeaceBang, the site sets out its stall in terms that are clear, concise and, well, risible:

PeaceBang thinks of herself as the stage mother to the American clergy, and she wants ALL her babies to be stars! This is the gospel of Beauty Tips Tor Ministers: ifcler-gypeople believe that religious life is vital, relevant and beautiful, they should look the part. PeaceBang is fond of saying that if we do not project an image intentionally, we will project one unconsciously. She believes that God has made a good gift in you, and you don’t bring an unwrapped gift to God’s party. This blog is for the encouragement of self-care, the sharing of tips, and the celebration of shoes, lip gloss, fragranced shaving cream, and all of the other accoutrements of vanity which have hitherto been considered wholly unholy, and therefore generally discussed only in hushed whispers among the servants of the LORD. In this space, we are free to remember that although we work from our hearts and our souls, we are also incarnate beings, and that our appearance does matter. It is also written with the intention of bringing a little bit of joy and laughter into your life. A kiss of peace to you, and thanks for being here.

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