Sunday 4 November 2012

My Twitter dialogue with Yes2WomenBishop

In response to the invitation to do so, I hopped over to the Yes2WomenBishops blog yesterday for a look. This is basically a campaign (about which I've already blogged) to persuade General Synod members to vote 'Yes' to the proposed Measure later this month.

Five reasons are given for this, combining appeals to fairness, democracy and pragmatism:
1. The measure is fair admitting women to the episcopate without limitations on their authority, whilst also providing statutory provision for those who cannot accept women bishops for theological reasons.

2. The measure is supported by the vast majority of the Church of England, with surveys consistently showing 70-80% support across the whole church for women bishops, with adequate provision for those who cannot accept women bishops for theological reasons.

3. The measure has been overwhelmingly passed by the Dioceses, with 42 of the 44 dioceses voting YES to women bishops. Since then only minor amendments having been made to the legislation, meaning to reject the measure now would make a mockery of the long legislative process to date and the clear will of the Dioceses.

4. We must avoid five wasted years that would be caused if we reject the measure now.  To kill the legislation and start again would  divert us from our mission and ministry as we go over the same arguments that we have debated for the past 20 years.  There are no other offers on the table, and no prospect of one which has a chance of succeeding. This is the best deal possible.

5. To reject the measure would lead to "missional suicide" as the CEO of the Church Army, Mark Russell, described it.  Throwing out the legislation which the rest of the world thinks is basic common sense at this late stage would make us a laughing stock and further alienate those we are seeking to reach.

Judge for yourself whether you think these reasons are good enough. However, the website at that stage had been left open for comments. So I commented.

Basically, what I said was that the issue was not simply whether to say 'Yes', but whether this way of saying 'Yes' was the right way. Despite a Thatcherite assertion on the blog that "In short, there is no alternative to this measure", actually I'm sure there is. In fact several have been proposed, they've just been voted down by the majority in Synod. Some will, of course, say, "Ah hah! You see, it is all above board!" And so it is, but that is an appeal to democracy and the Kingdom of God isn't one. So whilst voting may help, it is not, in the last resort, a proof of anything being true or helpful.

Anyway, I suggested in my comment that Synod members ought to be aware of this and of the fact that those who will be most affected by the Measure are the people who really don't feel it is adequate. On the contrary, their feeling is that "even what they have will be taken away".

Well, the comment didn't stay up there, but I did have a subsequent relay of Twitter messages from the blog administrator, which I print below.  You have to read them from bottom to top. (There is, of course, no breach of confidence here since the administrator is anonymous):

To be honest, my own grasp of Twitter is still pretty basic. I did attempt a reply, but I'm not sure it got through. What I wrote was this: " do you, brother? I wonder, what has been your experience of how the current, stronger, provision works for parishes". My point was, it is one thing to be saying, as a supporter, "This will work fine. 'Respect' is enough." It is another thing to have been through the process of passing 'Resolution C' and felt the deep suspicion of the institution (voiced by one person, albeit not directly involved in the process, as, "You're leaving us.")

Anyway, I didn't get a reply (but like I said, maybe it didn't even get through). Meanwhile, I posted another Tweet (I think!): " campaign is not asking seriously enough why there is still opposition and why haven't we won over opponents. It should"

That 'we' might have made more sense if it were a 'they', but I meant they should be asking themselves why what seems so 'right' to them doesn't persuade the people it is going to be 'right for'. And that I think is the key issue. The blog's position is "I think this is good enough for you." My own position is, "I don't think so." And its me that's going to have to live with the real consequences if the provision is indeed not enough.

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  1. Absent a clear scriptural mandate or an honest theology, they result to raw political power.

  2. There is a fundamental dishonesty to the campaigning. Key to the argument to just get on with it is, "Most of the Church want it". But when most of the church DIDN'T want it, when ordination of women was voted down, the issue was raised again and again, until it went through. So why wasn't it decided then? Why are things only decided in a revisionist direction? Also, it's not a very catholic (little 'c') understanding of Church (capital 'c'), as a large part of the Church are in Heaven, & so haven't been consulted (although we can read what they thought on the issue).

    There is just an assumption that all progress = good. John's right, that the right question hasn't been asked. Why does this significant minority (along with the majority of conservative denominations) remain unconvinced, rather than just bland caricatures of them being a bit backwards.

    Darren Moore

    1. Darren,

      All progress is good, by definition. I think you meant all change is not good. Some things are cyclical such as the length of hair, or skirts. There is a good passage in Screwtape on this. So let us advance or make progress in religion but the direction is the thing.

      West Yorkshire

  3. Yes - that's just what I meant David.

    Or better still, people assume that their change = progress, but it could be regress.