Parish Connections, August/September 2017


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Newsletter of St James' Anglican Church, King Street, Sydney, Australia

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CPAORNISNHECTIONS august/september 2017 mission and modernity The Very Rev’d Professor Martyn Percy These days, there is a great deal of talk about how to engage the church with the world and the gospel with culture. And much of this talk is driven by a perception, mostly correct, that the post-war years have seen the evolution of a markedly different attitude to religion evolving. No church has been exempt from such cultural trends. We live in an era where many cherish spirituality, but are less sure about organised religion; where people assemble their own bespoke collation of beliefs, rather than accepting the set menu. They may belong to organisations— including the church—as a matter of choice; but not so much of duty. We live in an age of great spiritual hunger and enquiry, where we must be both rooted and mobile, so the churches may need to be more thoughtful and adventurous about how they communicate faith. This may be the fruit of postmodernism - what Lyotard defined as ‘incredulity at metanarratives’. There is no over-arching Grand Narrative to hold society together anymore. Religions and ideologies have been replaced by fragmentary spiritualties and posturing political opinions. One could write at length about the reason why now is so different continued overleaf Christ Church Oxford, Alison Pullen, used with permission


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mission and modernity continued from the 1950s. Communities are more mobile. Consumerism and entertainment have expanded to fill time that used to be taken up with civic or voluntary activities. The inexorable rise of the weekend as a ‘social’ space means that choices compete with duties – and choices are normally the winner. In 1953, according the American sociologist Robert Putnam, the average number of TVs per household was less than one. Now it is more than three. In 1953, British people only watched TV for about four hours per week. That figure is now a staggering twenty-seven —and we apparently only spend about four hours per week talking to our partners. And when we do talk, we often only talk about the TV we just watched. But this is not a rant about ‘modern times’. Far from it. It is, rather, a call to wake up to the reality of the world in which we live, and ask ourselves about the shape of the church in relation to its context—one where fewer and fewer are driven by a sense of duty, and more and more by a sense of choice. This is a world which increasingly demands a high level of service and flexibility, but does not necessarily reward that with commitment, or even belonging. Let me try and illustrate this with a more personal story. Time-keeping is not my strong point. So as I drove purposefully down the road one wet, April evening several years ago, I was already slightly late (as usual) to pick up my son from Cubs. But I mused that there was no need to panic, since the ever-enthusiastic Cub leader normally overran the meetings by at least 10–15 minutes. Sure enough, I arrived at the entrance to the church hall to discover a group of parents waiting somewhat tardily for their offspring to come out. But as I joined the small throng to show solidarity in patience, I realised I had walked into a reasonably terse and tense discussion. Each parent was clutching a letter from Akela, which reminded parents and Cubs that Sunday was St George’s Day, and that Cubs were expected (indeed, the letter stated that it was ‘compulsory’) to attend church parade. Smart kit and clean shoes were also recommended. The parents stood around, discussing the word ‘compulsory’. One looked bewildered, and cast around for empathy as he explained that his son played soccer on Sunday, so attendance was doubtful. Another mused that the family were all due to be away for the weekend, and that changing plans for a church parade was neither possible nor desirable. As the gospel parable has it, each had a good reason for declining what they saw as an invitation—they did not see it as an expectation. The parents were clearly perplexed by any appeal to duty. Another parent put her finger on the pulse of our zeitgeist rather more precisely. She looked less than pleased that a ‘voluntary’ organisation such as the Cubs, which she added her son went to by choice, should now be using words like ‘compulsory’. There was no question of obligation; attendance and belonging were a matter of preference. (Presumably the oaths her son had taken were simply part of a traditional and quaint ceremony that had little actual meaning). At the beginning of the 21st century, a vignette such as this would not be unusual in Western Europe. Increasingly, churches find themselves with worshippers who come less out of duty and more out of choice. (As my son said to me the other day, “Dad, can you guess what my second favourite religion is?”). There is, arguably, nothing wrong with that. But under these new cultural conditions, churches have discovered that they need to be much more savvy about how they shape and ‘market’ themselves in the public sphere. There is no escaping the reality: the churches are in competition for people’s time, energy, attention, money and commitment. It is no longer a case, as the Prayer Book eloquently puts it, that it is ‘our duty and our joy at all times and in all places to give thanks to God’. Our situation is now one where choice, time and other commitments play an important role in the practice of belief. There are three things to say then, by way of conclusion. And then I have one question that I want to end with. First, it is no good cursing the darkness. So why not strike a match instead? If that is right, then the question for the churches is, how to operate in a climate where people accept the message but don’t necessarily respond with commitment? Of course, insisting on commitment is one way forward, but it is unlikely to be enough. Increasingly, churches will have to accommodate a society that expects and demands a reflexivity in its patterns of belonging. Moreover, it is likely that churches will have to provide several different kinds of associational opportunities for a society that is marked by diversity and mobility. This will demand more creativity, tenacity and flexibility in local mission, and less stress on the apparent ‘givenness’ of a community. Religion is no longer (only) a utility. It is a commodity, too. So it must be tailored for some, yet still remain free and available for all. PAGE 2 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS august/september 2017


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mission and modernity continued Second, whilst a number of churches have enjoyed considerable success with ‘family worship’, there may also be room for specific services and meetings that target particular ages. There is nothing new here: pram services, Sunday Schools and the like have been practised for more than a century. But churches may need to put more energy into considering how they appeal to individuals in their teens, 20s and 30s who may not have families; pensioners and those who have retired from work; and other niche groups. They may also need to think much harder about valuing and engaging with older people who, in the developed world, are now more than half our population. In England, more than a third of women over the age of 65 live alone. But looking at the Church of England’s priorities for mission, this huge group—one of great promise and potential—never pings on the radar. As a church we are obsessed with youth and young families. But older people matter just as much, and have a lot to give to the church, and to wider mission. Third, Jesus, who was no slouch in the gardening department, reminds us that it is the vines that bear fruit which are the ones that are pruned—so they may bear more fruit (John 15). The ones that don’t bear fruit are the ones that are thrown away and burned. The wisdom of the world at this point would say: consolidate, play to your strengths; build on good foundations; move on. That is quite right, to some extent. But the gospel also says: prune. It never says: ‘let it be’. The old branches that still bear fruit need nourishing, not burning. It is by continually husbanding the vine that growth and fruitfulness continues, and this of course means change and development, as much as it affirms stability. The fruitful vine is rooted in Christ. But the fruits of the church are for the world; and to grow, it needs pruning. We need to develop our mission—to move with the times. There is a lovely old joke about the Church of England. How many Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is four. One to put in the new one, and three to admire the old one. True, we have a past to admire. But the future only lies in adapting the mission and witness of the church to engage with those who do not yet know Jesus. And that mission is increasingly in seeking and finding, not in waiting and hoping. We need to become a church that actively seeks out those who seek; learns to travel with those who travel; converses with those who quest. This encompasses people of all ages—teenagers, tweenagers, older people, new families, young adults and more besides. Sometimes we can do this simply by being here, and being who we are: an open, welcoming, caring, spiritual, stimulating and challenging church. But increasingly, that will not be enough. Just as we are rooted, we must also move with the Spirit: travelling and meeting those who have questions and a hunger, but have yet to discover where we are. Lastly, my question: are there grounds for hope? Actually, yes. There is every sign of spiritual hunger in our age—even spiritual resurgence. Belief in God remains strong, even if church attendance wanes. Faith is professed by many young people, even if it does not translate into church membership. Believing is stronger than belonging. And, I would add, our upcoming generation (i.e., those under 30) suggests an emerging society that is more sensitive, moral and self-aware. Young people are anti-ageist, against homophobia, racism, sexism and classism. Arguably, they have a greater sense of moral character. They are, in the words of one American sociologist, ‘nicer’ than previous generations. Nicer? Maybe. Yet the complexity of our culture is that all of this is calibrated not through explicit religious beliefs, as such. But rather, it comes more through a more general spirituality, and a nascent commitment to respect for all, and some real dedication to fairness and equality. For some, this may not be enough. Perhaps it isn’t. But grounds for hope it certainly is. Just so long as the church has the right variety of seeds—and plants in the right kinds of soil. The Very Rev’d Professor Martyn Percy is Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. He will be the guest of the St James’ Institute on Friday afternoon, 25 August at 3:00pm, and will preach at St James’ on Sunday, 27 August. august/september 2017 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 3


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The Many Faces ofrev’d andrew sempell You are All Hypocrites! Jesus said, “…woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23: 13–15) These are not friendly words and are clearly intended to be confronting. The gospels often present Jesus challenging his listeners to look at their motivations and, as a result, seek to change so that they may lead lives of greater integrity and honesty. Indeed, he sometimes overstates what might be a considered a virtue to the point that it becomes an impossible goal. Thus, in the Sermon on the Mount, adultery is equated with lustful thoughts and murder with anger (Matthew 5). Hypocrisy, or behaving as though one has high moral standards when it is not true, is a recurrent human failing. Nevertheless, most people normally want to consider themselves moral people and desire others to think the same, yet we can also be aware of our failings and sometimes acknowledge them. At best, we aspire to behaviour that may be better than what we really are and commend this behaviour as a virtue to be pursued. We deal with hypocrisy through a process of recognition of failure, and an intention to change one’s behaviour for the better. Theologically, it is the process of repentance and reconciliation. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ teachings disrupt the traditional understanding of Jewish ethics. Virtue becomes no longer just a matter of prescriptive behaviour and ‘keeping the rules’, but instead a matter of the heart and motivation. At this point we realise that all have failed to reach the virtue to which they aspire. Moreover, if we are arrogant enough to think we have kept what is required under the law, then there is the story of the rich young man who could not let go of his possessions to become a follower of Jesus (Matthew 19: 16–26). Wealth and power will keep us out of the Kingdom of God! Photo: Christopher Shain Jesus challenged the Scribes and Pharisees because they did not practise what they taught, and so the term ‘Pharisee’ entered the language and culture as an example of a religious person who is false and self-serving. Likewise, today as in the past, social institutions such as the church are often charged with the vice of ‘hypocrisy’ and are described as ‘Pharisaic’ in their engagement with the wider community. This is a fair criticism when there is intentional ignorance, falsity, defensiveness and a refusal to consider the possibility of being wrong or the need to change. Religious Culture and Decline We are aware that both our personal and corporate lives are lived in a context governed by accepted knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, and experiences that are maintained and shaped by social institutions, geography, and power relationships. These elements create what is termed the culture of a society and serve to provide a collected memory of what it is to be a member of community. A culture is maintained through narratives, hierarchy, symbols and rituals that extend down through time and across the space in which social groupings exist. Within the culture there may be sub-sets made up of smaller social constructs such as tribes, clubs and voluntary associations. In the light of this, we need to recognise that religious groups also have a culture that informs their relationship with the wider society. Does religion shape society or does society shape the religion? The answer is that the relationship is not so much a dichotomy as a conversation; indeed, a mutual engagement in which one transforms the other. On occasions, religion transcends national culture and at other times it is subject to it. Recent experience may suggest, however, that the conversation between religion and the wider Australian culture has become somewhat strained, and that the interlocutors are speaking ‘past each other’ with megaphones rather than with respectful engagement. There are reasons for this: such as a disconnect between the ways of religious and secular thinking, PAGE 4 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS august/september 2017


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Church and Society or the moral failures associated with the institutional handling of matters such as child abuse and domestic violence, and the poor handling of contentious matters such as euthanasia, same-sex marriage and religious education in schools. Of course, the church, as the body of Christian believers, does not have a single view on most of these matters. Church institutions may devise viewpoints on various matters and can make dogmatic statements concerning what is understood to be right within that institution, but such statements do not speak for all. It is a bit like the Labor or Liberal parties (the membership of each being around 0.002% of the Australian population) making a statement of policy that is binding on all their voters! Interestingly, the membership of such institutions is now so tiny and disconnected from the wider community that they can no longer speak for the Australian people, and the political process is in crisis as a result. It is a similar problem in the church institutions. With declining membership of political parties, churches and other voluntary societies, it is worth asking who remains in them. What might be the psycho-social profiling of a particular group and what motivates people to join or remain in that group? Moreover, what of the sub-sets, factions and tribes that exist within these groups and their contribution to the whole? There are four nineteenth century terms (two of them religious and two political) used to describe some of the major tribal groupings in the Anglican Church. I refer to ‘catholic’ and ‘evangelical’ on the religious side and ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ on the political. They are often linked to create four factional groupings, which perhaps demonstrates the interconnection between religious, philosophical and political thought. The problem is, in the past 150 years, the semantic shift in these words has rendered some divergent meanings within different cultures today. Hence the word ‘evangelical’ in the United States tends mean something different in the United Kingdom, and different again in Australia. Moreover, simple labels tend to become stereotypical; hence, not all evangelicals are ‘Biblical literalists’, not all catholics believe in ‘transubstantiation’, not all liberals are welcoming of ‘divergent opinions’, not all conservatives cherish what is ‘tried and proven in the past’. Stereotypical designations are, more often than not, used as weapons against a perceived enemy, thereby de-humanising them and putting them beyond acceptability. Institutional narratives are used to sort out cultural changes and semantic shift over time. Hegemonies therefore spend considerable energy trying to control the language and the narratives in society. We are currently seeing this with the Liberal Party as it struggles to sort out whether it is a ‘liberal party’, a ‘conservative party’, or a ‘broad church party’, all out of a membership base of less than 50,000 people nationally! The Anglican Church in Australia faces similar problems as different factions position themselves to win the right to ‘define the faith’. A perennial problem for Anglicans is that our diocesanism and parochialism prevent us from creating a narrative that is inclusive and adaptable. For example, the Anglican Church in Sydney effectively controls its narrative through Moore College and other institutions such as the Katoomba Conventions, but it is not a narrative shared by all. It is a similar story in other dioceses. I was reminded of the exclusive element in Sydney Anglicanism when reading Canon Bruce Ballantine-Jones’ recent book Inside Sydney, where he told of the strong anti-Catholic position taken by the Diocese. In response, I pointed out that sectarianism became the single most powerful religious force in Australia’s history well into the twentieth century, and segued into national politics and a desire to control the social order. But it is not a happy story because it reveals a dysfunctional aspect of our society. Much of Australia’s sectarianism arose from the coalescing of politics and religion in Ireland that was subsequently transported to Australia. An Anglican example was manifest in the person of the mid-twentieth century Principal of Moore College, T. C. Hammond, who was also Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of NSW. This anti-Catholic prejudice likewise transferred itself to the resident Anglican-Catholics, of which the Memorialist Controversy of the late 1930s is an example. These old divisions, factions and tribal groupings do not serve us well, and people will continue to walk away from institutions that are ridden with self-interest, power struggles, and disconnection with the community around it. Admittedly, politics will always be about power, however an increasing number of people have decided that they can live without continued overleaf august/september 2017 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 5


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the many faces of church and society continued the power of the church. Which brings me back to the Pharisees, hypocrisy and their motivations. Is there another way of understanding ourselves and our differences that is not bound by faction, polemic and the abuse of power? Motivations Strengths and Weaknesses Around eighteen years ago, when I was on staff at the Royal Military College Duntroon, we used a personality survey in leadership training that had been developed by Dr Elias Porter of Ohio State University. It is called the Strength Deployment Inventory and is designed to help people identify their personal strengths in the context of relating to other people. The survey helps people to identify their optimum way of operating and interacting with others that is based on their motivations and values. Motivations lie at the heart of this theory, but they are benign ones that are reflected in our personal strengths. One of the premises of the theory is that weaknesses arise when we overdo our strengths, hence ‘assertiveness’ becomes ‘arrogance’ and ‘trust’ becomes ‘gullibility’ when overdone. The theory recognises three basic motivations being: 1. Altruistic-Nurturing: focussed on people, concerned with positive relationships, nurturing others, and being appreciated for being helpful; 2. Assertive-Directing: focussed on performance, outcome oriented, and are comfortable with the use of power, authority and status; 3. Analytic-Autonomising: focussed on process, self- reliance, the use logic and analysis to solve problems, and desire order and structure in the world. There are four further motivational types that are blends of the above three. People are normally a mixture of all three basic types, yet have a preferred way of operating. Given the selection process and training, it was unsurprising to discover that most staff cadets tended toward the AssertiveDirecting motivation, with a significant second group in the Analytic-Autonomising sector. It caused me to think that institutions, such as the Army, can take on a collective preferred motivation that is reflected in their culture through reward and preferment. Nevertheless, it needs to be remembered that nurturing others is a vital part of leadership and management, and therefore still needs to be present. What this model proposes is the need for balance between those who seek ‘harmonious relationships’, those who want to ‘institute change’, and those who seek to keep everyone ‘operating by the rules’. A healthy institution should therefore have people in all seven motivational styles operating within it to function effectively. Leadership needs to hold these in some sort of healthy tension without allowing any particular motivational group to dominate the others. Moreover, destructive problems arise in an organisation when the strengths of a dominant group are overdone and thereby develop into a cultural weakness. The Pharisees had become the dominant religious group in the time of Jesus. They had also become obsessed with correctness, control, and achieving their own agenda to the extent that they had become arrogant and exploitative. Jesus therefore challenged them to look at their motivations, because their activities were leading people astray rather than to God. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with seeking the truth, and trying to live a Godly life, but it becomes a problem when it is overdone with ends justifying the means. As history demonstrates, the motivation to have power over other people without due accountability inevitably leads to abuse, which needs to be exposed and addressed. Likewise, the dynamics of factionalism and party-spirit need to be brought into the open when they become destructive. In contrast, the motivations of love and respect for difference can lead to a more holistic life, which Christians might describe as Godly. When we understand our own and others’ motivations and how these contribute to the whole, we can reduce our fear of difference and the urge to denounce those with whom we disagree. Conflict will always arise and some motivations may be self-serving, but how we handle the conflict might change if we accept the need for each other’s skills and perspectives in the process of creating a healthy community. We therefore need the nurturers, the assertive, and the rule keepers to be in dialogue with each other – a creative tension that multiplies the effectiveness of our corporate life and achieved through good leadership. The Rev’d Andrew Sempell is the Rector of St James’. PAGE 6 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS august/september 2017


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Beyond Belief How we find meaning, with or without religion hugh mackay ao Globally, religion is on the rise. Almost three-quarters of the world’s population identify with one of the great world religions – Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism – and the graph is pointing upwards: by the middle of this century, 80 percent of the world’s population will be identified with one of those four religions. And Australia? In the last census, 61 percent ticked ‘Christian’, and it was a long way to the second on the list – Buddhism (2.5 percent), then Islam (2.2 percent). Our fastest-growing religion is Hinduism, currently below 2 percent but likely to overtake both Islam and Buddhism, as it already has in New Zealand. Two recent national surveys show that about 68 percent claim to believe in God or ‘some higher power’, so you’d have to say Australia is a generally theistic society, and strongly Christian, at least in its heritage. But when it comes to churchgoing, the picture is very different: only eight percent of Australians now attend church weekly, about 15 percent attend once a month or more often, and 25 percent at Christmas and Easter. So most never attend church – not even for a wedding (70 percent of our weddings are now conducted on non-church premises). Anyone looking at those figures and drawing the conclusion that religion is on the way out would be ignoring the lessons of history. Religious observance may wax and wane but, in every culture, every civilisation, in human history, religion has played an important – and often a central – role. (Even in contemporary Australia, enrolments at church schools have been skyrocketing.) That’s because of what religion offers people – and not just better health, though there is plenty of research that demonstrates the health benefits of religious faith and practice. Actually, the reported health benefits point to one of the three great attractions of religion – the power of belonging. We know that being part of a functioning community is one of the most important contributors to mental health, and the powerful sense of belonging engendered by membership of a faith community is a prime example of that. But there’s also the power of faith itself. “Faith can move mountains,” we’re told. Perhaps it can’t literally move mountains, but it can certainly inspire and motivate people to do all sorts of remarkable things. The prominent positive psychologist, Martin Seligman, has long argued that faith in something larger than ourselves is the one essential prerequisite for developing a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Then there’s the power of those grand narratives that are central to every religion – narratives that, like faith itself, have the power to inspire and move us. For Christians, there are all the Old Testament stories, plus the virgin birth, resurrection, and miracles that are central to the culture of Christianity. Some people choose to regard those stories as being literally, historically true; others respond to the metaphorical power of the stories – the truth in the stories, rather than the truth of the stories. Either way, such stories continue to be told, from generation to generation, precisely because they contain ‘inner meanings’ – beyond the literal – that carry the core messages of the Christian faith. Given all the benefits that flow from religious faith and practice, why has religion been in such sharp decline in countries like Australia? Three reasons: first, the culture has been bombarding us with propaganda that says we are all entitled to be rich and happy, so the messages of religion about the need for self-sacrifice, kindness and compassion have been rather swamped by the messages of materialism and individualism. Second, churches have not always behaved well – not only on an institutional scale, but at the local level, as well. Many people have continued overleaf august/september 2017 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 7


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beyond belief continued left because they felt insulted, bored, ignored, excluded or judged (or, for many women, because they were still being treated as secondclass citizens). Third, the church’s emphasis on dogmatic beliefs has created a barrier between a more educated and sceptical society and the imaginative possibilities of faith. Many people have been turned off by the prescriptive, institutionalised nature of so many beliefs promoted by the church as essential to faith. But the search for meaning goes on. Inside the church, many Christians are rethinking their attitude to religious dogma and, indeed, their understanding of God, often moving away from the supernatural and external, towards a more internal and spiritual idea of God as the spirit of lovingkindness within and among us. Beyond the church, we are seeing the rise of the SBNR movement – ‘spiritual but not religious’ – among people who, while rejecting institutional dogma, still wish to nurture their spiritual life. For them, the very essence of spirituality is that, because we are all part of a greater whole, we should therefore treat each other only with kindness and respect. Those journeys may be different, but their goals are the same. Beyond specific beliefs, we may discover that people of goodwill, whether on a religious or SBNR pathway, all want a better world, and have remarkably similar views about how to achieve it. Everyone is entitled to believe what they choose, but perhaps we should be focusing more on the common ground that unites us, rather than the dogma that divides us. Social researcher and author, Hugh Mackay AO will be presenting a seminar for the St James’ Institute on Sunday, 8 October from 2:00pm until 3:45pm in the St James’ Hall. Servicing RSL members & their families for 40 years Finding guidance during a difficult time is comforting. This proudly Australian owned family operated business offers 24 hour, 7 day service in all suburbs. Pre-paid funerals available. Phone for a free booklet on ‘What to do at the time of Bereavement’. Phone: Trevor, Bernadette (née O’Hare) Dareen or Debra Lee on 9746 2949 or 0411 743 334. Special discounts for RSL members and families 115 Wellbank St, North Strathfield 2137 We have no affiliation with any other Funeral Director. That’s why people turn to us MFF MAURER FAMILY FUNERALS Maurer&Bracks 9413 1377 Offices at Chatswood & Balgowlah Three generations of family values since 1941 PAGE 8 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS august/september 2017


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A HYMN FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING LOVE DIVINE ALL LOVES EXCELLING associate professor Michael Horsburgh am The origins of ‘Love divine’ Early June 1691 saw the first performance of a new semi-opera, King Arthur, at the Queen’s Theatre, Dorset Gardens, London. The libretto was by John Dryden and the music by Henry Purcell. A semi-opera combines spoken parts with masque-like sections involving singing. Although this is the King Arthur of the Round Table, the opera is not about the search for the Holy Grail or the dalliance of Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot, but the battles between the Britons under Arthur and the invading Saxons. The parts involving history are spoken. The masques introduce singing supernatural characters, including the goddess Venus, who decides to make Britain her dwelling place. In Act V, as she prepares for her journey, Venus sings an air called ‘Fairest Isle’: Fairest Isle, all isles excelling, Seat of pleasure and of love, Venus here will choose her dwelling And forsake her Cyprian grove. Cupid from his fav’rite nation Care and envy will remove, Jealousy that poisons passion, And despair that dies for love. ‘Fairest Isle’ survived better in the popular imagination than the opera itself, possibly because of its nationalist sentiment and its music. In 1747, Charles Wesley published Hymns for those that Seek, and those that Have Redemption. Number 9 of the 52 hymns was ‘Love divine, all loves excelling’, containing four eight line verses in 8.7 8.7 D time: Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven to earth come down, Fix in us thy humble dwelling, All thy faithful mercies crown; Jesu, thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love thou art, Visit us with thy salvation, Enter every trembling heart. Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit Into every troubled breast, Let us all in thee inherit, Let us find that second rest: Take away our power of sinning, Alpha and Omega be, End of faith as its beginning, Set our hearts at liberty. Come, Almighty to deliver, Let us all thy life receive, Suddenly return, and never, Never more thy temples leave. Thee we would be always blessing, Serve thee as thy hosts above, Pray, and praise thee without ceasing, Glory in thy perfect love. Finish then thy new creation, Pure and sinless let us be, Let us see thy great salvation, Perfectly restored in thee; Changed from glory into glory, Till in heaven we take our place, Till we cast our crowns before thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise! The first verse mirrors ‘Fairest Isle’ and is clearly intended to provide a Christian version of its sentiments. In addition to referencing Dryden, Wesley used Joseph Addison’s hymn ‘When all thy mercies, O my God’ (NEH 472) for the phrase, ‘wonder, love and praise’, and, in ‘Never more thy temples leave’, drew on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book VIII. The hymn appeared later in the Wesley brothers’ 1780 Collection of hymns for the use of the people called Methodists, but without verse 2, and in all Methodist hymn books since then. It is possibly the most loved of all Charles Wesley’s hymns. The tunes for ‘Love divine’ In line with its origin, ‘Love divine’ was intended to be sung to Purcell’s original tune in King Arthur, the opening of which is: In John Wesley’s Select hymns with tunes annext of 1770, a version of the Purcell tune appears under the name Westminster (not to be confused with Purcell’s Westminster Abbey, which we sing to ‘Christ is made the sure foundation’): continued overleaf august/september 2017 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 9


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a hymn for christian living continued Maddy Prior’s CD, Paradise Found, published for Charles Wesley’s tercentenary in 2007, has ‘Love divine’ sung to Westminster. An organ version can be found at http:// Hymn tunes are notoriously subject to contemporary fashion. I suspect that Westminster did not allow the kind of robust output we have come to expect when singing Wesley’s hymns. It was soon replaced by Bithynia, which lasted into the final Methodist hymnal used in Australia. The Methodists attributed this tune to Samuel Webbe (1740–1816) but it appears in The New English Hymnal, No. 195, as Tantum Ergo, taken from Webbe’s Motetts or Antiphons of 1792. In this version, it is 8.7 8.7 8.7, necessitating a repetition of the first line of music if it is to be set to ‘Love divine’, which was done in the Methodist hymnal. Some sources suggest that the tune, under the name Dulce Carmen, was originally by Michael Haydn, with Webbe as the arranger. Just to complete the mystery, this tune also goes by the name Corinth. Most recently, Welsh tunes have been favoured, principally Hyfrydol composed in 1831 by Rowland Hugh Pritchard (1811–1887), which the American Episcopal Hymnal (1982) uses. The Australian Hymn Book (1977) set Hyfrydol but also Love Divine, composed by John Stainer in 1889, specifically for this hymn. In American books, Beecher, composed by GermanAmerican John Zundel (1815–1882) in 1870, has been the preferred tune and remains popular. The latest British Methodist hymnal, Hymns and Psalms (1983), has, however, revived the original Westminster, bringing the tunes full circle. Hyfrydol has, however, now been supplanted by its compatriot, Blaenwern, by William Penfro Rowlands (1860–1937), first published in 1915, and now the common British and Australian preference. It is the chosen tune in The New English Hymnal (1986) along with Love Divine. For the first half of the 20th century, Blaenwern was used principally William Penfro Rowlands for hymns in Welsh. The earliest association with ‘Love divine’ that I can find comes from the USA in Old and New Welsh and English Hymns, published in Wisconsin in 1939. This collection was compiled by the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association of North America. A Gymanfa Ganu is a traditional Welsh hymn festival and the North American association dates from 1929. It still conducts such festivals annually. The online sources have an American bias, so I cannot rule out an earlier association in Wales itself. Its first appearance in an English hymn collection may date from about 1949, when words and tune were linked for an international Baptist convention. Strangely, the association was also made in The Hymnal of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1956. I can remember being introduced to Blaenwern in the late 1950s, when I sang in the Methodist Crusader Choir. As far as I can discover, The New English Hymnal was the earliest Anglican book to publish Blaenwern for ‘Love divine’. The inclusion of both hymn and tune in the wedding ceremony for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was a sure sign of Blaenwern’s now established position. Morriston Tabernacle, South Wales PAGE 10 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS august/september 2017


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a hymn for christian living continued Rowlands composed Blaenwern during the Welsh Revival of 1904–1905 and while he was choirmaster at the Morriston Tabernacle Congregational Church. Rowlands named his tune after Blaenwern Farm near Tufton, Pembrokeshire, which is next to Warren Trevelyan-Jones’ birthplace. Rowlands sent his son, Tom, to stay there with friends of the family, the Perkins, who, I understand, still own the farm, when he was recovering from pneumonia.  Blaenwern Farm What does the hymn mean? It seems to me that the attraction of ‘Love divine’ is in its opening verse, which speaks of God’s love incarnated in Jesus. But Charles Wesley’s hymns are biblically and theologically dense and commonly have more to them than meets the eye, even after very considerable periods of use. We do not usually spend a lot of time analysing them; we are too involved in the singing. It may come as a shock, therefore, to learn that the hymn is not principally about the incarnation, or about love, but about a controversial part of the Wesley brothers’ theology: ‘Christian perfection’. In his Sermon 40, John Wesley said: In what sense, then, are Christians perfect? This is what I shall endeavour … to show. But it should be premised, that there are several stages in Christian life, as in natural; some of the children of God being but new-born babes; others having attained to more maturity. And accordingly St. John, in his first Epistle, (1 John 2:12, &c.) applies himself severally to those he terms little children, those he styles young men, and those whom he entitles fathers. … It is of these [fathers] chiefly I speak in the latter part of this discourse: For these only are properly Christians. But even babes in Christ are in such a sense perfect, or born of God, (an expression taken also in divers senses,) as, First, not to commit sin. … The very least which can be implied in these words, is, that the persons spoken of therein, namely, all real Christians, or believers in Christ, are made free from outward sin. In a sense, Wesley is speaking about developing such a manner of life that both the occasion of, and the tendency to, sin is avoided. That Charles intended his hymn to be about this subject can be seen by its second verse. John and many of his colleagues objected to the words, ‘Take away our power of sinning’ as being an overstatement. Fellow Methodist, John Fletcher, who was marked as John Wesley’s successor until his untimely death in 1785, said, Is not this expression too strong? … Can God take away from us our power of sinning without taking away our power of free obedience? He suggested that the line be changed to read, ‘Take away our love of sinning’. The solution was, however, to remove the verse altogether. The sentiment can still, however, be found in the hymn’s final verse, which suggests that we can gradually be changed until at last we arrive at our final destination ‘perfectly restored’. How does this affect our singing? Not at all. Regardless of this, we can still sing the hymn as we have always done. The author determines the meaning only in part. We, as singers, can give our own meaning. Associate Professor Michael Horsburgh AM is Diocesan Reader at St James’. advertising Have you ever considered advertising your business in Parish Connections? Please phone 8227 1301 or email for advertising design criteria, quotes and copy deadlines. next edition The next edition of Parish Connections will be published on Friday 6 October. Deadlines (advertising and editorial): Monday 18 September. Please phone 8227 1301 or email august/september 2017 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 11


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penelope burton Gawura’s 10-year celebrations School children, parents and visitors gathered in the St Andrew’s Cathedral Courtyard and were cleansed by the Smoking Ceremony, which began celebrations of the 10-year anniversary of Gawura School at St Andrew’s Cathedral School (SACS), Sydney. It was during that ceremony – when the young children drew the smoke towards them, accepting the cleansing, a few rubbing the smoke into their hair, all involved in the rite as their own – that I recognised how the school’s non-indigenous children were learning much from their indigenous school friends. A graduate of Gawura played the digeridoo, and the deep sonorous sound gave rhythm to the steps of those who moved in front of the gathering, carrying the wrapped bundle of smoking leaves. The air filled with the aroma of burning eucalyptus leaves and for those moments the spirit of The Bush filled a part the city, reminding urbanites of bushland. Words of welcome were proffered by Sharon Minniecon who, with her husband Pastor Ray Minniecon, were two of the visionaries who founded Gawura School ten years ago. Pupils, parents and visitors moved into the cathedral where the anniversary assembly was held. I delighted in seeing the children from Years 3 to 6, from their different cultures, present a play which embraced aboriginal animal stories which they had written together. Video clips were shown of former indigenous students who have completed or now attend university studying Sociology, Medical Science and other courses. Awards were presented to students by two former Gawura graduates, and students applauded with so much enthusiasm and excitement when the young man, Kade Dawson, received the award for being Best Student across SACS and Gawura in Year 12. I spoke with him afterwards to congratulate him and his modest charm was really impressive. Gawura is providing rich opportunities and the graduates and students from the school are the great fruits of the project. Wiradjuri, one of the languages spoken by the Eora people who live in the Sydney Basin, is taught at the school. All those in the cathedral joined with SACS Junior Choir and Gawura pupils and sang We Are Australian in Wiradjuri and then in English; sharing language gave me a sense of unity with them. The guest of honour, Professor Larissa, Ambassador of Gawura, addressed the assembly, expressing her delight in Gawura and the manner in which the school offers Sydney indigenous students academic and personal opportunities to achieve their scholastic best, whilst concurrently exploring and retaining their rich cultural values. She observed how children from all cultures were learning from each other, so we ought to speak of Gawura not in terms of benevolence but rather of reciprocity. Indeed, this is what is happening in the St Andrew’s Cathedral School Gawura school community. Children, visitors and guests later moved to a large room on the fifth floor for afternoon tea where a large 10-year Anniversary Cake sat in the centre of the room, eyed eagerly by the pupils. Dr Collier, the Headmaster, thanked donors, and the support of St James’ Church community was acknowledged with gratitude. The cake was cut and young smiles shone about. From the Smoking Ceremony to the end of the Gawura 10-Year Anniversary we all breathed the Spirit of the Land. Penelope Burton is a Parishioner at St James’ Church. Keep up to date with what’s happening at Gawura College by viewing their Facebook page at PAGE 12 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS august/september 2017


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Absolute Truths, Alternative Facts rev’d dr steven ogden What is truth? It is a big question. It is not just an academic exercise. On the contrary, it is an existential imperative. Yes, for all the right reasons, most of us want a degree of certainty in our daily lives. This includes everything from having a home, good health, a decent job, close friends, and grounds for our convictions. The problem, however, is that the world has changed, and truth itself is contested. To illustrate the complexities, I am going to make a comparison between Christian fundamentalism and the postmodern era. In short, this is a comparison between an absolute understanding of truth, and a more nuanced, multivalent conception of truth. The upshot is the emergence of new grounds for truth, which ring true with Christianity, emphasising discovery, engagement, and mutuality. So, let’s start with fundamentalism, where truth has some dangerous implications. Religious fundamentalists, according to philosopher Charles Taylor, are prone to violence, because they feel compelled to protect the moral purity of God, which is encapsulated by their conception of truth. So, what about Christian fundamentalism? Historically, there are two broad streams of Christian fundamentalism: American Protestant and traditionalist Catholic. Both streams are concerned about the threat posed by modernity. Arguably, Darwin’s theory of evolution is the classic example of this kind of threat. Under threat, fundamentalists feel called to defend the truth, at all costs. This entails a call to heroic service, which they accept in good faith, confident they possess the truth. Moreover, the choice of the word possess is well suited because truth, in this context, is treated like a thing or an object. In other words, fundamentalists have the truth, which is absolute, and nonnegotiable. As such, the iron-clad nature of their truth statements distinguishes fundamentalist from mainstream Christianity. In contrast, I am contending that the Christian understanding of truth has important existential dimensions. For instance, the Gospels are compelling because they disclose the truth of our lives. We identify personally, for example, with the lost son or the haemorrhaging woman. As we connect with these stories, they become our stories, our truths. And so, we come to see Jesus as personifying God’s truth. In Christianity then, truth is central. But it is a living truth, which takes root in our lives, in the ordinary, underlining what theologian Karl Rahner describes as ‘the mysticism of everyday life’. Unquestionably, we have the Scriptures and Tradition as leading sources of authority. The joy of Christianity, however, is realised in practice, which is illuminated by Scripture and Tradition. In other words, Christian principles like Jesus as saviour usually resonate with us personally, before we make sense of them intellectually. Of course, both aspects are important and inseparable. The point here is to emphasise the hands-on nature of Christianity, which we discover in the risen Christ, the life of the Spirit, and the gifts of Wisdom (Sophia) in prayer, in community, and in works of compassion. Clearly, this is a different understanding of truth from fundamentalism. So, with this in mind, let’s look at issues surrounding the changing grounds for truth, and the idea of postmodernity. For many reasons, the process of truth discernment is changing. It is becoming more complicated. What’s more, if we reject the absolutist versions of truth, does it come down to opinion? There are also different kinds of truths. For example, I have grey hair. This is a true, but trivial fact. It is not an important existential truth. So, in our postmodern era, the goal posts have moved. Such complexity has emerged unwittingly in American politics. Months ago, for example, President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer defended exaggerated claims about the attendance figures at Trump’s inauguration. In turn, Kellyanne Conway, who is an advisor to Trump, leapt to Spicer’s defence arguing that he was presenting “alternative facts”. At one level, this is amusing, as there are ways of assessing crowd numbers. At another level, Kellyanne unwittingly raises a philosophical issue about the challenge of determining reliable criteria for establishing facts, truth, or knowledge. Such determinations come under the heading of epistemology, which is a complex area dealing with the study of knowledge. Moreover, there are many epistemologies, ranging from social to philosophical, as well as scientific epistemologies. However, all this may seem remote, even esoteric. Nevertheless, would we cross a bridge if we knew the engineers had failed to get their facts right? In everyday life, the reliability of facts is presumed, and we accept they are true on the testimony of others (e.g. “the engineer said”). So, the quest for truth also involves a degree of trust. continued overleaf august/september 2017 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 13


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absolute truths, alternative facts continued In the present climate, we naturally want our clergy, and our theological students, to learn the practice of critical thinking, so they can provide us with reliable information, outlining the knowledge gaps, while carefully addressing the controversies. In fact, most of us learn these skills of discernment for ourselves. But this can be daunting. To explore this further, let’s divide history into three eras: premodern, modern, and postmodern. The premodern period extends into the 16th and 17th centuries, the modern begins in the 18th century, and the postmodern emerges in the 1960s. Of course, this schema is debatable. Some scholars, for example, consider postmodernity as late modernity. The point, however, is that the criterium for determining truth has changed. In premodern times, religion was regarded as the source of truth. With the rise of modernity, the epistemological authority of the Church was challenged (cf. Galileo). In due course, science became the source of epistemological authority. Its epistemological status was reinforced by the technological success of the 19th century (e.g. factories, steam trains). In postmodernity, there are diverse, even competing, epistemological authorities, or epistemological authority is simply rejected. Postmodernity itself is an umbrella term, which includes: ŪŪ recognition of diversity: religious, ethical, cultural, and sexual diversity; ŪŪ caution about trying to describe the complexities of life with one theory; ŪŪ recognition that without some concept of truth, we could barely function. Philosophers like Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Foucault are loosely categorised as postmodern. In Christian circles, however, these scholars have not been taken seriously. That is, they have not been read in-depth, and subsequently, they are often portrayed as caricatures. Ironically, Michel Foucault could not stand the term postmodern. Furthermore, he was committed to the quest for truth, and the unfinished work of the same Enlightenment that shaped Anglican theological thinking and practice. As such, Foucault’s commitment was to a critical, contextual, and historical approach to truth. As a result, he challenged systems of domination, affirming the importance of thinking, freedom, and working for the sake of others. In fact, Foucault’s practice reflects implicitly deep human universals, like human dignity and freedom (cf. his work in prison reform). In all, he reminds us that the process of discernment is not a theoretical exercise, but an existential experience, which offers the possibility of discovering new truths here and now. So, where does that leave Christianity? For Foucault, the study of the past has a role in discerning truth in, and for, the present. Likewise, theologians, Karl Rahner and Rosemary Radford Ruether, have encouraged us to take history seriously. History, for them, is where the truths of Christianity are discerned, embraced, and enacted. Truth then is more than a rarefied, abstract philosophical principle, let alone a crude, dogmatic religious assertion. Instead, truth is rooted in what philosopher Linda M. Alcoff describes as ‘lived reality’. And so, the discernment of truth is an ongoing context-related process, which is mediated through our language and our experience. As such, truth discernment is an open conversation, which relies on the Holy Spirit and mutual engagement in a faith community, where we cherish the old, as we discover the new. In this sense, it is intensely incarnational. Dr Steven Ogden is Rector at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. He is the author of The Church, Authority, and Foucault (Routledge, 2017). Counselling @ St James’ St James’ Church offers a socially inclusive and non-faith based professional counselling service as part of its outreach ministry to the city. Our professional counsellors/psychotherapists/coaches are available to assist individuals, couples and family members on a wide range of issues. Appointment flexibility is offered to accommodate work schedules. The service is provided in rooms in the lower level of St James’ Church, located in the heart of the city. To make an appointment, or for further details, please visit www. or telephone 8227 1300. PAGE 14 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS august/september 2017


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colin’s corner FROM S. JAMES’ MONTHLY CHURCH MESSENGER, september 1917 Continuing the theme: 100 YEARS AGO Parisb Notes. 1.  The men’s Club Rooms will, till further notice, be open on Saturday afternoons and evenings, as well as on Monday evenings. 2.  S. James’ Hostel has been closed owing to the fact that since Mr. Aitken’s retirement it was found to be no longer fulfilling the purpose for which it was established. 3.  A bronze tablet has been placed in the Church in memory of Mr. Thomas Nickson, for many years a faithful Churchwarden of S. James’. 4.  Miss Barbara Jones has kindly consented to give a course of instruction to the members of the Girls’ Guild, beginning on Monday, August 6th. 5.  It is hoped that Confirmation Classes will begin—for boys on Sunday, August 19th, for girls on Tuesday, August 21st. Names of candidates should be sent in without delay. 6.  The Rector received a cable on the eve of the Festival from the front as follows, “Greetings for the twenty-fifth, Hay and Culverwell.” 7.  A class of about 170 girls receives instruction from one of the clergy of the parish each week at the Girls’ High School, Elizabeth Street. 8.  The late Rector, the Bishop of Armidale, has accepted an invitation to a social gathering of parishioners on Monday, August 13th. It is hoped that all who can will be present. Thanksgivings and Intercessions. We thank Thee, O Lord — 1.  For the spiritual help which many received from the Quiet Afternoons. 2.  For the goodwill of all who worked for the adorning of the Church and provided for the needs of the Festival. 3.  For the Missionary message of those who came amongst us. 4.  For answer to many prayers. That it may please Thee— 1.  To enkindle our hearts with zeal for the furtherance of the Church’s Missionary task. 2.  To prosper the working of the new scheme of parochial finance now under consideration. 3.  To bless and further the revival of the Men’s Club. 4.  To make fruitful the teaching to be given to the Girls’ Guild, and to bless the weekly instruction to the Girls’ High School. 5.  To give a ready mind and will to all who offer themselves for Confirmation. 6.  To grant to the Servers a spirit of care and reverence in the ministrations which they discharge. 7.  To bless the labours of those who visit the sick in the Sydney Hospital. COMMENT No special activity or event. Here we have a glimpse of our Church at work in September, 1917 through the pages of the Messenger. JOKE SPOT The Sunday School teacher was telling the story of the prodigal son. ‘But in the midst of all this joy and excitement,’ she said, ‘there was one to whom the prodigal’s return brought no happiness; one who hated the thought of attending the feast. Who was that?’ A small voice said: ‘The fatted calf.’ From the St James’ Messenger September – October 1976 Colin Middleton is the Archives Assistant at St James’. keeping in touch with st james’ More information can be found on our website, and on our Parish, Music and Institute Facebook pages. august/september 2017 ST JAMES’ PARISH CONNECTIONS PAGE 15



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