Showing posts with label Giles Fraser. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Giles Fraser. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Giles Fraser on General Synod of the Church of England:
Picture the scene. The summer meeting at the University of York is focused on a large modernist theatre surrounded by a lake. The lake is full of geese who cover the whole place in distinctive pellets of poo. The theatre is often baking hot, encouraging the gathered Anglicans to dress informally, which is often an excuse for shorts, milky white legs and sandals. Body odour can be a bit of an issue too.
Where I live in south Louisiana, the weather in the summer is so often hot that folks here dress informally in their shorts more often, so, while the legs may not be more shapely, they are not so white.
Then there is all the code language. You have to use the word "mission" a lot (a word so general it has come to be all but meaningless)
That Giles mentions the all-but-meaninglessness of the word "mission" makes me feel not quite so crazy for tuning out whenever I hear the word used by people in reference to church plans and policies. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Fraser: "It is an insult to Christians in genuine persecution."

Yes! To say that Christians in England, or the US are persecuted is nonsense. Let those who think so go live in certain countries in the Middle East, such as Iran or Pakistan, for a while, and they'd know what it is to fear for their lives in the practice of their Christian faith. I'm thoroughly sick and tired of the whining. Good for Giles.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy tried to pull the same persecution stunt over rules that require health insurance companies to provide coverage for contraceptives for their employees.  You'd think the bishops themselves were being forced to hand out condoms and birth control pills.

What Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, in England and the RC hierarchy here in the US want is for everyone in the respective countries to live according to their rules.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I HAVE written this column for nine years. It is time for me to hang up my hat. It has been a huge privilege to write in these pages, and I want publicly to thank the work of the editorial team, who have been so supportive of my column.

Partly, this decision has to do with the arrival of a new Archbishop. Justin Welby is a good man, and will, I expect, make a fine leader of the Church. But his moral opposition to homosexuality remains a massive problem for me - as was that of his predecessor. I do not want to spend my time getting angry with him, or continually being ashamed at the Church of which I am, and will always try to remain, a part.

But the C of E is travelling in a different direction now. And there is something spiritually deadening about being in a state of permanent opposition to all of this. In my sermon on Sunday, I preached about the loyalty of Simeon and Anna, arguing that it is more important to say what you are for than what you are against. I need to take my own advice, and find a different space where I feel more comfortable saying what I am for.
I expect we'll continue to hear from Giles in other forums, and for that I'm grateful.  The words in the column that struck me are:
"In my sermon on Sunday, I preached about the loyalty of Simeon and Anna, arguing that it is more important to say what you are for than what you are against.  I need to take my own advice, and find a different space where I feel more comfortable saying what I am for."  
As I think about what I write here on my blog, it seems to me that I write or link to more stories about what I am against than what I'm for, and, like Giles, I don't see  it's a particularly good thing.  What would I write about that I am for, that is positive?  I'm thinking...

In the meantime, I could not resist publishing once again the wonderful cartoon by Susan Russell, which is surely worthy of more than one use.


Click on the cartoon for the larger view.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I have an irritated, streaming eye, so I played hookey from church today.  In addition, it was raining, so altogether too much to overcome, though I was sorry to miss on the feast of the Epiphany.  Never fear.  I shall say my prayers here at home.  

I read Bishop Alan Wilson's excellent blog post on the Church of England as Kafka land, which I urge you to read. I am mystified by the latest anonymous press release from the powers in the Church of England, which basically changes nothing, except that now if a gay candidate for the episcopacy promises not to have sex and to repent of ever "practicing" gay sex, he can be a bishop. Do I have that right? What really has changed?
All that has changed is a grudging recognition of civil partnerships for celibates. The headlines have, however, stimulated vigorous kicking and screaming by people. Lynette Burrows on yesterdays PM programme (18 minutes in) shared with the nation her “instinct that people like me have which is revulsion” about gay people. The role of the Church, she implies, is to validate her instinctive disgust, which she imagines is shared by everybody.
Giles Fraser's response on BBC Saturday PM was very good.  You can hear the shock and outrage in his voice.  Lynette Burrows commentary was truly ugly.  If you wish to listen, the program is available for six days only.

Part of Giles' response on the BBC program is incorporated into his opinion column in the Guardian.
"So, bishop, are you having sex with your partner?" I can't imagine anyone asking that question with a straight face. And what constitutes sex anyway? Snogging? Toe-sucking? (Is there a Church of England position on this?) Yet the new line from the C of E – ludicrously, that gay men in civil partnerships can be bishops as long as they refrain from sex (or to put it another way, we'll have gay bishops as long as they are not really gay) raises the question: how on earth will the authorities ever find out? A CCTV in every bedroom? Chastity belts in fetching liturgical colours? No, the only way the bedroom police could ever really know is if they ask and play a moral guilt trip about honesty on those being interrogated. So do sexually active gay priests or bishops have a moral responsibility to tell the truth? Actually, I think not. I'd go further: in this situation, they have a moral responsibility to lie.
Well, the lying is certainly being done now, and I understand that clergy and bishops lie for their own self-protection.  Still I'd hope for something like a plan for a grand coming-out party where all, or at least a majority, of gay and lesbian clergy and bishops come out of the closet, while, at the same time, a large majority of straight clergy stand in public support of their brothers and sisters.  What would be the response of the leadership in the church?

Of course, it's easy for me to make such a suggestion, because I risk nothing, and perhaps it's pure fantasy, but what will it take for the leaders in the Church of England to realize how foolish they appear with their decisions to pry into the intimate lives of their bishops and clergy in a discriminatory way in order to prolong the practice of inequality?

As is obvious in the broadcast, the discrimination does not appease the people who oppose the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy and the consecration of gay bishops.  Even Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of Kenya and the leader of  FoCA, weighed in, and he is not amused.

IT's graphic of CofE bishops coming out of the closet at The Friends of Jake.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


"Reputational risk" was a phrase often used at St Paul'sCathedral, and in the City generally, and one that a number of us especially disliked. What would the man who was attacked for hanging out with prostitutes and tax-collectors have made of "reputational risk"?

Surely he would have had no place for it. Indeed, he was the stone that the builders rejected, and yet became the cornerstone. So how is it that the Church built in his name has become so concerned with its own reputation? In a sense, if the Church does not have a bad reputation - or, perhaps better still, if it were indifferent to the fact that it might - it would not be doing its job properly.
The thought that the church is too respectable has crossed my mind more than once.  Jesus seemed unconcerned about risking his reputation, as he did not hesitate to speak and act in ways that outraged the respectable people of his day.  A good many of the saints cared nothing for their reputations.  In fact, a number of the saints would likely be labeled mentally ill today.  I remember reading the first biography of St Francis of Assisi as an adult in Butler's Lives of the Saints, and I thought, "Francis was insane!"  (Butler's version of the saint's life would not be my first recommendation.  I liked Julian Green's God's Fool.)

 Giles recently visited the US to give a speech, and he says:
I was invited to preach in the United States recently, and I suddenly realised how difficult it must be to be a Christian in a culture that continually applauds you for being one. I guess it might be a bit like Pavlov's dog: soon you might begin to think that the applause and the Christianity were connected.
Giles didn't stay long enough to know what it's like for the "heretics" amongst us, who seldom hear applause from unbelievers, nor from certain of our Christian brothers and sisters, some of whom declare us not to be Christians at all.

Anyway, I urge you to read Giles' entire column in the Church Times.  It's not long, and it's good.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012


Jack and George
Giles Fraser in the Guardian on the prosperity Gospel:
This is a big idea for many of the little shopfront Pentecostal churches that share space with the nail bars and pawnbrokers all the way along the roads that spread out from the Elephant and Castle. The Old Kent Road may be the cheapest brown on the Monopoly board, but in its theological imagination it dreams of being Mayfair and Park Lane.

This is a theology that hums to itself "O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?" and is widely – and rightly – dismissed by the more liberal mainstream as being highly exploitative. For it often turns out that the best way to express belief is by giving to the church and often specifically to the pastor. The more you give, the more you will receive.

For while I wholeheartedly agree that prosperity theology is deeply mistaken – I feel the need to say this several times – , there are many for whom it represents the dream of a world radically transformed for themselves and their family. Is this not a legitimate aspiration? Would you too not dream of this as a loo attendant at the Elephant and Castle? I don't much care that the abundant life ministry brings out liberals in hives. When so much of our political culture has become little more than the management of an existing order, an order that does precious little for the poor, who else is giving voice to the order of change that would be necessary in order to bring prosperity to all?
And I'd add that all too often church culture "has become little more than the management of an existing order."

The Village Voice reports that Occupy protestors who were forcibly evicted by the police from Duarte Square, the barren plot of land owned by Trinity Church Wall Street, are scheduled to go on trial on Monday, June 11.  Occupy has asked Trinity to drop the charges against those who were arrested, but the church responded as follows:
Trinity does not have the legal ability to drop charges. Those cases are being prosecuted by the District Attorney's office. However, Trinity has contacted the District Attorney's office and has been advised that the District Attorney has offered non-criminal dispositions without fines or incarceration to all those defendants who were arrested and charged with trespassing for simply being present at Duarte Square.
On the other hand:
Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyers Guild says this statement is misleading on several counts. For one thing, while many of those arrested were offered and have declined Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal, not all of them have. For another, its disingenuous for Trinity to claim it has no control over the outcome in these cases. Sure, the District Attorney is in charge of the prosecution, but without the testimony of the church's lawyer, Amy Jedlicka, prosecutors would have no case.  (My emphasis)
See?  It's not that hard.
Press accounts make [rector of Trinity, James] Cooper, sound like the modern Episcopal version of a Borgia pope. He received compensation of $1.3 million in 2010, awarded himself the supplementary title of CEO, and picked out a $5.5 million SoHo townhouse for himself, paid for by the church. And his Scroogely actions extend well beyond stiff-arming Occupy Wall Street: he shuttered Trinity's homeless drop-in center in 2009, then announced plans to borrow church money to build luxury condos on top of a palatial renovation of the church's offices.
What's wrong with this picture?  And yes, I know that churches across the country and the world showed hospitality to the Occupiers, but the church of Wall Street, the street which symbolizes so much of what's wrong about the inequities in our country, surely failed in the Gospel imperative to welcome the stranger.

Another piece of the picture from Occupied Bishop George Packard:
Recently there has been commotion about the wisdom of Jack Boyle’s decision “to choose” a hunger strike and refuse to take his AIDS medication as a witness against Trinity Church’s prosecution of the December 17th protesters. Jack says, “Drop the charges and I will eat and take my meds.” At first I thought my friend was a little batty, worse, showing signs of PTSD from that violent early morning roust on November 15th at Zuccotti. He wouldn’t be the first to exhibit signs of that trauma’s aftermath. But after spending two hours with him at his home last Sunday I’m not so sure.

But during that long talk at his apartment I realized I didn’t really know him at all and the dignity of the man who had the right to make such an existential choice. I didn’t know his fears of being HIV positive since 2003, his sense of his own finitude and what “it was good for” or of his dual Irish citizenship, or, most tellingly the minute-by-minute recall he had of that violent sweep of Zuccotti on November 15th and how a cop had disfigured his hand.
God knows, I want Jack to eat and take his medications, but God also knows, I want Trinity to drop the charges.  My wish is to see Trinity turn its part of the world upside down in this small way, heeding the words of Mary in her song of praise to God, the Magnificat:
His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
 George ends his post with these words:
And herein is the ultimate blasphemy for God’s church to defer to the law at hand rather than the justice on which it stands. But that would meant Trinity Church would have “chosen” to act as the Body of Christ instead of the soulless corporation it has  become.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


St Mary's, Newington
Giles Fraser in the Guardian:
The first impression of my new parish is of feeling loved and wanted by a whole group of people and for what seems like no reason whatsoever. On a stormy Tuesday night they came to my putting-in service, having prepared mountains of Jambalaya rice and patties, all togged up in their Sunday best and ready to sing their hearts out. Bottles of champagne appeared on the doorstep. Afterwards, the party in the church lasted until midnight. Wonderful.
I didn't invite anyone to my induction service at St Mary's, Newington. I've had my fill of polite rejections since resigning from St Paul's – too many unconvincing smiles in the street by former friends and colleagues who suddenly wouldn't break step to say hello. It is a miserable thing to have to face but, as I went through the long list of people I invited to my induction at St Paul's in 2009, I just couldn't work out who among them were still my friends. And I didn't have the emotional strength to decode all those nicely written excuses that middle-class people would come up with for not attending.
Grandpère and I had a similar experience in the groves of academe when he was a somewhat unwilling whistle-blower for telling the truth upon being asked. Some folks wouldn't even look at us. Others gave us a cold greeting and made it clear that no conversation would follow.   The shunning hurt, but, since I never thought of any of those people as friends anyway, it was not as painful as if friends suddenly stopped speaking to us.  GP suffered more than I, because he worked at the university and was demoted.  Had he not been tenured, he probably would have been fired.  Two of his co-workers without tenure were terminated.

I laughed at Giles' references to 'the pathologies of the English boarding school system', Philip Larkin's poem 'This Be the Verse' on 'mum and dad', and the establishment.  One way or another, 'they' get us all.

Read Giles' entire column.  It is excellent.

Giles' series on his life in the new parish is titled Loose Canon.  And why not?

UPDATE: From it's margaret in the comments - Psalm 55 ( a portion thereof)
For had it been an adversary who taunted me,
then I could have borne it; *
or had it been an enemy who vaunted himself against me,
then I could have hidden from him.
But it was you, a man after my own heart, *
my companion, my own familiar friend.
We took sweet counsel together, *
and walked with the throng in the house of God.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


From the Church Times:
THE reader will, I hope, excuse me if I do not address the complicated issues that currently beset St Paul’s Cathedral. Suffice to say, when you sit in the middle of a storm, and a great deal of misinformation is flying about, you are thrown back on the fundamentals of your faith.

No one ever said that following Jesus would be easy. In fact, as Christians, we are given fair warn­ing that the opposite is likely to be the case. And so it turns out.

But one of the most interesting things about these challenging times is how scripture comes alive. Indeed, I do not remember the Bible ever speaking to me as vividly as it does today. As the saying goes, I don’t read scripture: scripture reads me.

St Paul’s Cathedral takes its name from a man of faith who knew a thing or two about being caught up in an extraordinary whirlwind. May I ask you all to pray for all those who live and work in — and indeed those who are now camped around — this wonderful place? May we all be a beacon of God’s love and mercy in a complicated world.

Having written that sentence, I realise that I have never used a column to ask for prayer. Perhaps, after all, this column is not a clever exercise in issue avoidance. Perhaps for all my years of being a column­ist, it has taken a crisis to show me what I have always wanted to say.
Drawing by Adrian Worsfold who writes at Pluralist Speaks.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: Alan Rusbridger at the Guardian has a wonderful interview with Giles Fraser. No quotes. Just read it all.


From the BBC:
The canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral has resigned from his post.

Dr Giles Fraser has been sympathetic to the Occupy anti-capitalist protest camp outside, which has led to the cathedral's closure.

Dr Fraser said on Twitter: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul's Cathedral."

The Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said he was "sorry to see him go".

St Paul's, which closed last week, could reopen to the public on Friday. A decision will be made later.
Good for Dr Fraser. It's sad that he is no longer in the inner circle of decision-making at St Paul's, but the others probably were not listening to him anyway.

Drawing of Giles Fraser by Adrian Worsfold who writes at Pluralist Speaks and says of Giles Fraser, "His view of the Church was of peace, of bias to the poor and the right to protest." Amen.

Do read Mark Harris' post on Giles Fraser titled 'Canon Giles Fraser, The best of what we can be'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


According to Ann Fontaine at The Lead, the Times in London is reporting that Canon Giles Fraser will resign if the Occupy the Stock Exchange protestors are evicted.
...Dr Giles Fraser, who is responsible for the cathedral’s relations with the financial institutions of the City of London, is understood to be prepared to quit should it take legal action against the 200 tents forming an increasingly permanent-looking settlement on its land.
A resignation from Dr Fraser would make him a martyr for the anti-capitalist cause and prove hugely embarrassing to the cathedral and the Church. If the cathedral does not try to oust the protesters, however, it will be forced into the humiliating position of reopening with the tents still in place, or remaining closed for months — putting events such as the Remembrance Day services at risk and losing the cathedral about £16,000 a day in tourist revenue.
Only subscribers can read the article online.

We'll wait and see how the story develops.

The Guardian editorial titled 'City and cathedral: The whited sepulchre' blasts the dean and chapter of St Paul's Cathedral for threatening an injunction to remove the protestors.
If the dean and chapter continue their steps towards evicting they will be playing the villains in a national pantomime. There will be legal battles and, eventually, physical force. At every step, the cathedral authorities will be acting in the service of absurdity and injustice. Yet this is where the logic of their position is leading them. They must see this, and stop. Jesus denounced his Pharisaic enemies as whited sepulchres, or shining tombs; and that is what the steam-cleaned marble frontage of St Paul's will become if the protesters are evicted to make room for empty pomp: a whited sepulchre, where morality and truth count for nothing against the convenience of the heritage industry.
Ouch! Read it all. I can't say I disagree with the editorial.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: I have to wonder why the members of the staff of the cathedral don't talk to the protestors. It's all open letters and press releases. Good heavens! Go amongst them and talk to them.

UPDATE 2: In the comments, themethatisme, who writes at Conscientisation, but not very often, provides the link to the supporters of St Paul's Cathedral. Verrry interesting. I couldn't find my name or theme's name.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Those of you who follow the story probably know by now that on the very day that General Synod of the Church of England voted in favor of the Anglican Covenant, GAFCON, a group whom the covenant was designed to placate and keep within the fold of the Anglican Communion, announced their rejection of the document.
"While we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate," the council said in a statement.

No Anglican Covenant Coalition put out a statement:
"We believe that this covenant is ill-conceived. In response to the reputed 'crisis' in the Communion, drafters of the covenant have favoured coercion over the hard work of reconciliation. The covenant seeks to narrow the range of acceptable belief within Anglicanism and to prevent further development of Anglican thought. Rather than bringing peace to the Communion, we predict that the covenant text itself could become the cause of future bickering and that its centralised dispute-resolution mechanisms could beget interminable quarrels and resentments."

If you would like to join the effort against the adoption of the Anglican Covenant, check out the website of NACC. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the "JOIN US" button. You can also visit the Facebook and Twitter sites of the coalition.

On GAFCON's announcement, Ekklesia quotes Giles Fraser:
"This just proves how ineffectual it is going to be ... it won't keep us together," Giles Fraser, Canon at London's St Paul's Cathedral, and president of Inclusive Church which opposes the Covenant, told Reuters. "All the archbishop's hard work in getting it through and using up one of his lives, seems rather pointless."
Ekklesia offers further background information on the covenant and details of the voting in General Synod.

UPDATE: From the Church Times:
AT LEAST ten Primates from the Global South are now expected to boycott the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin in January.

In a statement released on Wednesday, five African Primates, members of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, confirmed that they would not attend the two-yearly meeting. In addition, it is understood that the Primate of South-East Asia, Dr John Chew; the Primate in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Dr Mouneer Anis; and the Primate of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, will not go to Dublin.

Furthermore it is expected that two new Primates, Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala, Primate of the Southern Cone, and the Most Revd Onesphore Rwage, Primate of Rwanda, will also boycott the meeting.
What's the point of the Anglican Covenant if the Anglican Communion is already breaking up?

H/T to Nicholas Knisely at The Lead.

And you really should read Paul Bagshaw at Not the Same Stream.
Given that GAFCON have turned their backs on the Covenant, why pursue it further?

Why that would be because, as the Windsor Report stated,

...a common Anglican Covenant which would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion.

Read the rest. Paul's post is excellent.

Friday, November 12, 2010


From the Church Times:

I THINK I have partly resigned my self to the fact that this Anglican Covenant thing is going to happen. Published in its final form last week, it reminds me of that awful state ment of belief that Christian Unions force their speakers to sign before they are allowed to say a word to their stu dents.

In both cases, it is not so much the content that I object to. I object to the Covenant’s very existence. I’d object to it even if I agreed with every word.

Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with the expression of mutual commitment, and for this mutuality to have a formal aspect. The marriage service, for instance, is precisely that. But the Anglican Covenant isn’t at all like the commitments of a marriage service. It is more like the anxious and untrust ing legalism of that thoroughly distasteful feature of modern life, the pre-nuptial agreement.

And no amount of Lambeth Palace spin is going to persuade me that, like the pre-nuptial agree­ment, this Covenant isn’t a way of arranging, in advance, the terms of some future divorce. The only people who are going to love this document are the lawyers.
(My emphasis)

The column is not really that old, only as old as January of this year, but Giles' words are more pertinent than ever as the vote on the Covenant approaches in the Church of England General Synod this month.

Giles' final words:

There must be no down hearted fatalism about the inevitability of the Covenant. We must fight it on the beaches. . . (My emphasis)

And they all said, "Amen!"


Please read Giles' entire column.