Mental health and the value of life

Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche

People with mental health problems and learning difficulties are the subject of two articles in this week’s Church Times.

The two articles were printed alongside each other, and between them they told both a negative and a positive story.

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‘Burnley bishops’ will be different

Fresco of TheclaWidespread horror has greeted the news of the bizarre arrangements for consecrating the new bishop of Burnley.

On Wednesday I put up a post describing the arrangements agreed between the candidate, Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women, and the Archbishop of York. Normal procedure is to be abandoned so that the key actions, laying hands on the candidate and presiding at the Communion Service, will only be performed by bishops who also reject the ordination of women.

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A woman’s touch and spiritual danger

MitreIt gets more and more bizarre. Now that women can be bishops in the Church of England, opponents of women priests – who have existed for 20 years – are finding new hurdles to throw in their way.

The Revd Philip North, a member of Forward in Faith, is to be the next Bishop of Burnley. In principle this is not unexpected, as the negotiations included assurances that senior positions should still be available to opponents.

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Rock or sand, economy or people

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

Boom! Even before it is published, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu’s new book On Rock or Sand? is causing a stir.

According to the Independent it says

the Christian values of solidarity and selflessness have been discarded in favour of “every person for themselves” with “rampant consumerism and individualism” dominating politics since the 1980s.

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Evolution as a moral guide


Chimpanzee. Photo: Frans de Waal

Where do we get our morals from? Should we get them from evolution?

Many sociobiologists believe our moral beliefs come from our genes making us maximise our fertile offspring.

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Political debate needs an alternative voice

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party

What a turnaround – Prime Minister David Cameron supporting the Green Party!

Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, has recommended that the Green Party should not qualify for ‘major party’ status. This means it should be omitted from the pre-election debates and get less television coverage. David Cameron, on the other hand, says he will not take part in the debates unless the Greens are included. Why?

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Selfish genes and the contradictions of sociobiology

Image of DNAAre all our moral beliefs misleading products of evolution? Do all our judgements of right and wrong really come from genes busy making us maximise our offspring?

The idea has become part of the culture that tells us we are all selfish so there is no point in aspiring to do any better. Cultures which accept this are bound to degenerate. In this post I argue that even its main exponents do not accept its disastrous implications. Nevertheless it remains influential and is a major hindrance to a revived social morality.

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Can Greece save Europe?

Alex Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA

Alex Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA

The European establishment are desperate to avoid the election of an austerity-defying left-wing government in Greece, currently ahead in the polls. This could happen soon, depending on the result of Greece’s Presidential Election, being held tomorrow.

Anxiety is not just confined to the usual right wing suspects like the Daily Telegraph . It is also to be found in the Observer and most Greek newspapers, like Ekatherimini .

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The Green Report and the shepherds at the manger

Shepherds and an office workerOn 16th December I put up a blog post about the Green Report on church leaders, and found I was one of many unhappy with it.

Having thought about it a bit longer what disturbs me most is the managementspeke: the appeal to a culture diametrically opposed to Luke’s story of Christmas.

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Should bishops and deans be managers?

graphThe new Green Report, on training bishops and deans in the Church of England, has generated widespread interest. Friday’s Church Times described it, along with a critical appraisal by Martyn Percy,. Thinking Anglicans has already listed eight more responses, all critical though sympathetic to the basic idea of improving the system.

Here is another! This is a personal comment from a retired priest who was never considered for a bishoprick – which shows that the present system does get some things right.

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