by Jonathan Clatworthy
from Signs of the Times No. 25 - Apr 2007

The Primates' Meeting in Dar es Salaam published a communiqué on 19th February. It noted that the Windsor Report had identified two threats to Anglican unity.

The first was 'certain developments' in Canada and the USA - that is, the same sex blessing services and the consecration of a gay bishop. The second was 'interventions [by opponents of the gay bishop] in the life of those Provinces which arose as reactions to the urgent pastoral needs that certain primates perceived.'

It treats these two threats differently. The main fault lies with the American churches. The interventions, it says,

however well-intentioned, have exacerbated this situation. Furthermore, those Primates who have undertaken interventions do not feel that it is right to end those interventions until it becomes clear that sufficient provision has been made for the life of those persons.

by John MacDonald Smith
from Signs of the Times No. 25 - Apr 2007
[See also John Quenby: Science and religion - avoiding the conflict, in Signs of the Times No. 26 - July 2007]

I do not think Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, 2006) fully understands what he is really doing when he does the science which he teaches with such elegance.

For this reason it is worth going more deeply into the underlying nature of scientific activity than is allowed simply by noting that a good theory has strong experimental justification and is elegant. Start with this idea: while there is no logical reason why there may not be uncaused events, suppose that every event does have a cause and that if you understand the cause you can explain the event. That is the foundational idea at the basis of science, and it is a fundamental apprehension about the nature of the universe we inhabit. We have a bad feeling about the idea of uncaused events.

by Patrick Lewin
from Signs of the Times No. 25 - Apr 2007
[Other parts: • part 1part 2part 4part 5part 6]

Part II's introduction to 'character, talent, chance and destiny' ended with Bernard Levin's reflections on Shakespeare in Enthusiasms, 1983. The final chapter of this, his most enduring work, 'An irresistible celebration of the joys of life', is a lyrical summation of his experience of life's wonders and his own convictions.

Levin felt his disposition to wonder - wondering 'may be the most important element in the universe' - began with art. 'I am not talking about revelation; I have never had such an experience, and...  I am not sure I want one.' But listening to Mozart or a performance of the last three Schubert piano sonatas, standing before a Rembrandt painting or a statue by Rodin, reading a fine poem (he gave notable examples of each), 'the work of art, the artist and I are all three bound together...  - we are part of something that is vastly greater than ourselves, and which makes sense .'

by Richard Martin
from Signs of the Times No. 25 - Apr 2007

Jesus and authority

Jesus became famous in Galilee through his miracles of healing. But did he appeal to those miracles to give authority to what he claimed? Personally, I would say "no" - there were many occasions when Jesus healed somebody and then said "say nothing to any man." eg. Mark 1:44, 3:12, Matthew 9:30, 12:16. This is surprising: one would have thought that Jesus would welcome the publicity of people "gossiping the gospel". We conclude that the reason for Jesus' words in these verses is that he wanted his words to be taken seriously not because they had the authority of miracles behind them, but simply because they had their own innate, convincing authority. Also when Jesus was asked for a sign to substantiate his bold claims, he simply sighed and said (according to Mark 8:12) "Why does this generation seek a sign? No sign shall be given it." He wanted the weight and force of his words to speak for themselves.

by John Mackrell
from Signs of the Times No. 25 - Apr 2007

The Minuet between state and Catholic Church is fascinating to watch. At this point in the dance they have just changed sides.

The formerly pragmatic state embraces principle and the once principled church opts for pragmatism. The state has been advancing, if ever so slowly, towards civil equality. Legislation has already banned discrimination on grounds of race and gender. More recently, those in same sex relationships have received similar legal protection. That last push towards civil equality has naturally angered those who believe, in the Pope's words, homosexuality to be an 'intrinsically disordered state'.