Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Peter Jensen, the Jensenist heresy, and time for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholics?

(Above: thanks to the lord for squawking seagulls, and parrots that wear pants).

It's been awhile since we dipped into the Jensenist heresy, otherwise known as the Anglican church.

But the news that the church has lost somewhere around A$160 million - the figure has the rubbery hallmarks of a merchant bank during the GFC - while gambling on the stock exchange is slowly percolating through the ether, and left a number of unhappy punters in its wake.

And there were ironies in abundance, always pleasing to those who lurk on loon pond, including this piece in the SMH:

While the Anglican Church's Sydney diocese lost $160 million gambling on the stockmarket, it is far less tolerant of gambling by others. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, will today reveal the extent of cuts to be imposed on the faithful thanks to the financial bath taken by the church after it adopted a high-risk investment strategy to borrow money to punt on stocks. Less well known is the long-running condition the church has imposed on the owners of the only newsagency in Town Hall Square: a complete ban on the sale of lottery products. The church owns the property and is believed to have imposed the ban as a condition of the lease for more than 10 years. A spokesman, Russell Powell, said yesterday that the church imposes ''some ethical conditions on leases which preclude gambling products''. However, he said, ''the church sees a big difference between appropriate long-term investment in ethical companies and designated gambling products such as scratch lottery tickets''. (here).

Get thee gone vile scratchies - the best you can do is a 100k, while we look for blue sky, or pie in the sky, in the zillions.

Naturally in the capitalist way those in charge at the time can now be rewarded by an extended time in power.

Powerbrokers of the Sydney Anglican Church will consider setting a new fixed 10-year term for the position of archbishop and controversially extending the term of its current leader, Peter Jensen, by six months.

Dr Jensen secured leadership of the Sydney diocese until July 2013 after its synod voted in 2003 to lift the archbishop's retirement age from 65 to 70 years. (here).

Well it's only six months I guess, but in the process you see Jensen would then preside over the 2013 national synod, and thereby have a good deal of influence in the future direction of the church. Nice work if you can get it.

As for the lost moola? Never mind:

The synod was expected last night to offer Christian forgiveness to the financial leaders responsible for posting $160 million in losses, which have forced huge cuts to jobs and ministries.

The chairman of the diocese investment arm, Phil Shirriff, a former chief executive of Mercantile Mutual, apologised for the board's misjudgments ''despite our best efforts'' and acknowledged mistakes were made with risk management.

Meantime, controversy continues apace about the Jesus All About Life (JAAL) campaign that's been hanging around like a bad smelling squawking seagull with a rapacious lust for chips since September.

The Sydney Anglicans are mightily pleased at their work, and its rapturous reception by the media - here's Jeremy Halcrow with JAAL and the death of journalism battling it out with Steve Kryger on Four reasons I'm disappointed with the start of Jesus: All About Life campaign.

The campaign - go on, admit you've missed it, or caught only a dorky nerdy commercial or two - is in fact remarkable for its ineptness.

An image of someone feeding seagulls says "Thanks for hot chips. Amen", while another shows a little girl on a beach with the caption "Hey, thanks for the beach, Jesus".

Another shows a parrot with the caption: "Thank you, Jesus, for birds that look like they're wearing pants." (here).

Dear lord, they even sought redemption in James Valentine's reaction to the campaign in Branding is no match for the real thing:

In the past few weeks no less than Australia and Christianity has announced that they need to look at their branding. I'm not sure what to make of a faith that has branding issues. Of a Creator who's putting pressure on the marketing department. You want to bring the waverers in? I don't know — lightning bolt? Big voice from the sky? Some water into wine? I'd say branding issues dealt with.

But instead of upwardly referring the problem, this coalition of 20 Christian churches found through their market research that almost everything about themselves was on the nose; God, church, religion, holy, faith – all of them with less brand loyalty than Hyundai. The only one who was maintaining a strong market share was Jesus — up there with iphone, apparently.

So the churches have responded with a series of billboards. The billboards show a picture of a child at the seaside. Slogan, Thank You For the Beaches, Jesus. As powerful as a puppy with a roll of toilet paper.

If only they'd come to me. You want an impactful billboard? There's only one model. Get big red and yellow signs up along major roads, reading DO YOU WANT A LONGER AFTER LIFE? In three months replace it with PRAY LONGER. AND HARDER.

Valentine claimed his idea wold generate more coverage than a condom on the Pope, but it's a sure sign that a viral campaign has vanished into the ether when even the wags and mockers are in short supply.

Only the Daily Mail picked it up, as yet another example of how the antipodes is barking strange - even the most fertile mind could hardly see the header as positive - Thanks for the hot chips, Jesus! Australian churches launch bizarre ad campaign to bring the flock back to the fold.

This led one blogger to chortle:

Among the many blessings bestowed upon Calvinists in Sydney Diocese, they have singled out two, in an expensive advertising campaign. These are chips (or french fries), and parrots who wear underpants. These aspects of God's Creation are being promoted by Calvinists to enable all Australians to be grateful for french fries and exotic birds in pants. Why these two gifts from God are special to Jensenites remains a mystery to Anglicans. But everything about Mr Jensen's sect is rather incomprehensible. As bible-believers, they are obviously convinced that Jesus ate chips with His disciples. But if He was able to create such a culinary miracle, why didn't He conjure up Burger King at the same time? He could then have said: "Do you want fries with that?"

As persecuters of gays and subjugators of women, it is also strange that Sydney Calvinists also like parrots in pants. Since they are obsessed with sex, one would think they'd like gawping at birds' genitalia. Mr Jensen lost millions of dollars after gambling his Mission's money on the Stock Market. And yet he still has cash to spare to promote chips and modest parrots. His Diocesan website predicts that many cynics will mock this wonderful advertising campaign. But how can one mock what is beyond parody? (or parroty?) (here).

Well if you want to find out more about this bizarre campaign, and collect your free copy of the Gospel of Mark, and in the process see how the Jensenist heresy can lose money on the stock market and in aping free market promotional campaigns, you can always trot off to the All About Life site, here. A more bizarre aggregation of wet cloying images you couldn't hope to find, along with the TV commercial that's been haunting the late night cheap slots like a lost spirit or an aimless soul.

But back to that financial crisis. The official line is to play down the DFC, or the Diocese financial crisis, as it's known to aficionados:

Last year I began my synod blog with the words: ‘The Anglican Church seems to be very good at managing slow decline.’ They were the deliberately cheeky and provocative words of a friend, which continue to haunt me.

In the lead up to synod this year, it is shaping up to be a time of dealing and reflecting on the aftermath of the Diocese Financial Crisis. On the one hand this is necessary, for Diocese organizations are accountable to synod. But on the other hand my fear is these issues will once again take us away from the ‘main game’. (here).

Sure, what's a hundred and sixty million between chums, let alone cash dropped on a crappy series of commercials, when there's a main game, whatever supervising and managing the slow decline of the church might be.

But it wouldn't be a Jensenist heresy 'moment in time; if there hadn't been a contribution to world theology, and that comes with Losses may be God's will: Jensen.

On the question of what God had to do with it, he said: "It may be that he is chastising us for our sins. If so, it is only a further evidence of his fatherly love and care."

Those who follow God cannot expect that "we would never suffer loss".

In any case, Dr Jensen said he was not sure "that God is directly speaking to us through these large losses. When we ask what God may be teaching us, we can think of a number of reasons, and all of them may be quite wrong.

"It may not be our sins at all. Perhaps he is challenging our faith to rely on him more boldly for our finances."

But, Dr Jensen said, the financial crisis had forced the church to "invent a good idea" of dividing Sydney into about 20 mission areas to "gather in the harvest".

Hey, maybe it'd be better if the father handed over the money management to the mother, as my mother insisted as a way of avoiding the pay cheque and the family endowment all being blown on beer and cigarettes, or in this case gambling and television commercials.

... the losses, which total 60 per cent of the church's endowment, will mean that five bishops will become four; all five archdeacons will be sacked; church programs will get the chop; and renovations to Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral will be put on hold. In addition, the church will have to reorganise itself into a mission-style organisation with local leadership encouraged to more self-sufficiency.

In the old days, this would have led to a few sackings at the top, but not it seems within the Jensenist heresy if the team gets rewarded with a six month extension:

The archbishop said it was not until last November that he "got the inkling of the magnitude of what had happened to our investments as they became exposed to the global financial crisis.

"Each successive month seemed to bring worse news," he said.

"It has taken a long time to grasp, and begin to see the implications of it."

He had reacted, he said, with disbelief, because he believed the church had been "careful and professional in our handling of our endowment".

He felt responsible because it had "occurred on my watch and in part with funds in which I have a special interest".

He wondered, too, whether the church had engaged in "ethically dubious practices" by gearing the endowment. However, after an "argument with himself" he concluded it had not.

Sob, it seems even a schizophrenic argument isn't the cure.

But let's not get too depressed, because there comes good news via the New York Times under the header Pope Sets Plan for Disaffected Anglicans to Join Catholics:

In an extraordinary bid to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse, the Vatican on Tuesday announced that it would make it easier for Anglicans who are uncomfortable with their church’s acceptance of women priests and openly gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church.

A new canonical entity will allow groups of Anglicans “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” Cardinal William Levada, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said at a news conference here.

Seems the move was a bit of a Vatican fait accompli, and there's only one problem for Sydney siders - the local Catholic church is in the grip of the heresy and cult of Pellism, much to the relief of Melbourne Catholics when they waved Pell goodbye.

What is it about the town that encourages the most eccentric and erratic to be in charge of two of the main streams of Christianity?

Well the answer's clear. It's time for Christians to leave Sydney en masse and seek help from the theologically and fiscally sound ... Melbourne or Brisbane perhaps ...

(Below: Jesus has answers, except when it comes to financial advice and sound investments).


  1. I wonder if anyone did a ppc on the ad campaign - a price per convert. Surely clicks on a website aren't enough if you want bops - bums on pew.

  2. I must give thanks to the Jensens: after being an Anglican for most of my life, they were the ones who started me on the path to atheism.

    Oh, how they hated (and I'm sure still do) Christ St Laurence in Railway Square Sydney:

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