Post-Easter break

We’re off to Cellardyke for a couple of days, so will be offline for the duration.

In fact, not only do we not have a landline telephone connection — as it probably says elsewhere on this blog — we can’t even get a mobile phone signal in the house or garden (other than a very, very weak signal (1/6) if the phone is rested against the left-hand upper pane of the main bedroom right-hand-side window!!). While we’re there I suspect we’ll also see if we can get someone in about the terrible tv signal we get there.

I was hoping to upgrade the Taking the Episcopalian website to WordPress 1.5 today before we went. Instead I conquered the galaxy on the side of the CIS in Star Wars Battlefront.

Better go and pack.

AQA in the press

With all the news about the the ordination of gay clergy in the SEC just now my appearance in The Herald and the Edinburgh Evening News came and went without comment.

Priest texts for divine inspiration

A PRIEST has turned to a mobile phone text information service for inspiration for his sermons.

Father Gareth Saunders, who serves two parishes in Edinburgh, was converted to the question-and-answer service after it correctly predicted the identity of a new bishop.

The 33-year-old cleric now makes many of his church decisions based on the recommendations of the Any Question Answered service.

Father Saunders, who serves St Salvador’s in Stenhouse and the Church of the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield, said the service helped him to prepare his sermons by asking it for the location of biblical passages.

“It’s an alternative form of divine inspiration, ” he said.

He was converted to the idea when he and other clergymen asked the service who was the most likely candidate for new bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane. “A few months later, we found it had got the answer absolutely right.”

The Herald

and

Texting is divine says mobile-mad minister

A CITY minister has turned to a new text information service for inspiration.

The Rev Gareth Saunders, who serves two parishes in Edinburgh, was converted to the question-and-answer service after it correctly predicted the identity of a new bishop.

The 33-year-old cleric now makes many of his church decisions based on the Any Question Answered (AQA) recommendations. The service, launched almost a year ago, is used by mobile phone owners across the UK and has already answered more than 200,000 questions.

Mr Saunders, who serves St Salvador’s in Stenhouse and The Church of the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield, said the service helped him prepare his sermons.

“It’s an alternative form of divine inspiration,” he said. “Often when I’m trying to find factual information to use in my sermons, I will text AQA to ask them the answer.

“My knowledge of where things are in the Bible isn’t totally spot on so I’ll often ask AQA where the passage is located. So far, it has always comes back with the right answer.”

AQA marketing director Steve Bradley said the service was “like Google on a mobile”.

Edinburgh Evening News

I have to say that I wasn’t entirely pleased with the line “The 33-year-old cleric now makes many of his church decisions based on the Any Question Answered (AQA) recommendations.” No I don’t! What kind of integrity would I have if I simply texted all my queries about the church to AQA?! Honestly! the media sometimes.

You’ll also notice that they didn’t print the number (63336) or that it costs £1.00 per question. Also, Steve Bradley isn’t the AQA marketing director. Steve is the Senior Associate Director, Sports Marketing and Sponsorship at Hill & Knowlton (UK) Ltd. The AQA marketing director is Paul Cockerton (who, trivia fans, used to be involved with Psion).

I feel sad

I feel really sad just now about the state of the Episcopal Church. I’ve just been reading the BBC News, the Scottish Anglican Network, and the Changing Attitudes Scotland websites about the current goings on. I also watched the Reporting Scotland article streamed in RealMedia from their website too. And I just feel sad that there is such upset at the moment, at a time when we should be rejoicing about the fantastic news about Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

On one side of the argument the evangelicals are claiming that they have the truth, that they are right and the liberals are destroying the orthodoxy of the Church, by teaching something that is not biblical. It feels at times as though the evangelicals are trying to maintain the purity of the faith and protect God from these evil human beings who might defile and spoil God.

On the other hand the liberals are saying, hey! what’s all the fuss about? The ordination of gay clergy in long-term, loving relationship isn’t tearing apart the church, surely it’s affirming something that is good (love). Surely it is good to open up God’s love to all his people, wasn’t Jesus about breaking down barriers?

You know, I really think that neither party holds the whole truth. (Three sides to every story, and all that.) The truth will only come through lovingly listening to one another and holding one another, not with the attitude “I’m right! I have the answer”, but with an attitude of prayer and respect that the Holy Spirit does move and inspire us, and open to being surprised and challenged by God.

I liked what Rowan Williams said in the “Leader” article in this month’s Third Way magazine (which I suspect was taken from a speech he made elsewhere):

… there are no clean breaks in the Body of Christ. What is it for the Church to be a truly counter-cultural community? It may be for the Church to take a firm stand against the erosion of objective morality and biblical truth, indeed I believe that this is part of it. It may be for the Church to act courageously on behalf of those who are oppressed or marginalised. Again I believe that is so. But isn’t it the ultimate distinctive counter-cultural fact about the Church our capacity to live sacrificially for the sake of each other? How we do that, Windsor doesn’t tell us. Only the Holy Spirit does.

You know what else upsets me? With all this media attention the Scottish Episcopal website has been listed on a number of third-party sites, such as the BBC News one. I’m so embarrassed that we have such a terrible site, and that hundreds of other people will be looking at it, having clicked there from the BBC.

I know, I know … in the midst of all this upset being worried about how the website looks is a bit like standing on the Titanic as it is hurtling towards the iceberg and thinking “Oh, blast! I didn’t polish my shoes!” But I take pride in well-written websites. (Those that know me will know that I’ve been trying to work to get the site updated / rewritten).

If it is your practice, please pray for us in the Scottish Episcopal Church. It’s a small church, and I have good friends on both sides of the potential divide. Over many years I have worshipped in both evangelical and liberal congregations and have recognised a great deal that one can teach the other. I pray most fervently that we may be able to live together and continue the dialogue.

Anyway, I’m on post-Easter holiday … I should be in bed (it’s 1 am), and not thinking or writing about work, and reading my current book “Gay Christians: A Moral Dilemma” by Peter Coleman (1989). (Which I got back recently from a friend: I was visiting his house and saw it on his bookshelf. Oh! I had that book … Oh! it IS my book! Do you mind if I have that back?)