Frankly the Sydney Anglicans aren't what they once were.
The Jensenist heresy is in retreat, and the last heard from Phillip Jensen was back on the 24th October.
Sure, you can always head off to the Anglican Church League for reliable reports on barking mad fundamentalists, and you can reliably find links to gay bashing, as here, which leads to Rick Phillips explaining Homosexuals in the Church: Keep Reading in Ephesians.
First, believing in Jesus means believing in all of his Word, which speaks clearly and unavoidably about the sinfulness of homosexuality. I know that there are scholars who assert that it does not, but Bible-believing churches in general are not persuaded. This is the issue.
Given a couple of thousand years of demonising and hatred, it's not easy to roll back the rock.
But actually the issue has done a detour around the fundamentalists, as noted a few days ago by CNN in Evangelicals step back from gay marriage.
Now it's too early to gloat, and it's too easy to confuse gay rights with the right to get hitched and endure heterosexual monogamous hell (steady partner, that's just a rhetorical flourish, the pond was just thinking of the men Patricia Arquette ended up with in Richard Linklater's Boyhood).
But this handy interactive map shows just how much, and how quickly things have changed in a country once rife with hatred (as a viewing of that superficial but slick survey of the Sixties showed):
Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, offers some hope, though he has big shoes to fill, and thus far has shown no capacity to become the church's next internationally renowned climate scientist.
Archbishop Fisher said he wants to use the role to reach out to those who have felt alienated from the Catholic Church, including gay people and the divorced.
"I think the Catholic Church is and should be a church for the whole of humanity," he said.
"Our arms are wide open for everyone. So whatever the struggles in their life, whether that's with their sexuality or their marital history or any other issues, I want to say to them: 'Come to the Church. The Church loves you because God loves you’."
Archbishop Fisher said he had been moved by recent calls from Pope Francis for the Catholic Church to adopt a greater openness towards gay people and divorced Catholics who have remarried.
"I have a consciousness now of the struggles of people with same sex attraction", he said.
"Our concern should be there to help them rather than to be adding to their problems and I fully back the view that we should be compassionate to people with a same sex attraction or with other struggles in their life."
Struggles? Adding to their problems? Be compassionate? Struggles?
It's the sort of approach, the sort of verbiage, you'd expect from a man who had voluntarily and willingly renounced the opportunity to have a rip roaring fuck or three, and apparently construes enjoying a healthy romantic and sexual life with others must constitute "a struggle". Inside the church it's all too clear where that form of denial and struggle leads ...
The condescension embedded in the notion of "struggle" shows just how far the Church is from everyday life, living and loving, especially in the context of helping the many gay priests active in the church, though happily the gay priest in the pond's extended family no longer has to struggle ...
After the odious years of the Pell dynasty, it seems Fisher's been given the job of humanising the church, but on the evidence to date, he really doesn't have much of a clue, outside of pious hand-wringing.
It really shouldn't be too hard, if even bitter enemies can share their inner koalas ...
Meanwhile, the Pope is setting the pace, and you could have knocked the pond down with a feather when news came via NME that Pope Francis selects Patti Smith to perform at the Vatican Christmas concert:
Patti Smith is to play this year's Vatican Christmas Concert in Rome next month.
The punk singer will perform live at the Italian city's Auditorium Conciliazione on December 13 following a personal invitation from Pope Francis, according to The International Business Times. The entire event is set to be broadcast live on TV.
Smith's booking has evoked a mixed response from Christian groups, with Catholic organisation Portosalvo apparently describing the decision as "blasphemous", following the singer's 1975 song 'Gloria', which famously featured the lines: "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine".
The singer met Pope Francis at St. Peter's Square last April, where the pair shook hands.
Dear sweet long absent lord, can it be?
Of course there's balance in the programming:
The Vatican Christmas Concert will also feature a performance from "singing nun" Sister Christina Scuccia, who recently won Italy's version of The Voice and covered Madonna.
What, the Madonna that caused all the fuss with Like a Prayer (you'll have to endure an advertisement to get to that bit of heresy on YouTube) ...
Yep, there's still some weird cultural warrior shit going down, which erupted around the singing nun doing another Madonna song, Like A Virgin:
Asked whether Universal forced her to record the song, Sister Cristina said it was her own choice and that she is “happy” with the recording and with the music video.
“We wanted to convey serenity and poetry. I think we did.”
Nicolosi, however, was sceptical. She suggested that Madonna might “guffaw in dark wonder” at the nun’s cover of her song and ask, “are Catholics so dumb that they don't know what I was doing?” She suggested the music industry was exploiting the nun.
For Nicolosi, the nun’s effort to repurpose the Madonna song is “like a group of Israeli teenagers suddenly thinking it would be cool to put a swastika on their T-shirts.”
The original song specifically aimed at “mockery towards the Blessed Mother.”
“You don't resurrect it to put a good spin on it,” Nicolosi said.
That Nicolosi, quoted here, proves that Hollywood remains the home for the barking mad of all persuasions and beliefs:
Barbara Nicolosi, a Hollywood screenwriter and Catholic cultural commentator, suggested that Sister Cristina Scuccia’s choice of Madonna’s risqué song “reflects the lack of thought, seriousness and decorum that is predictable of so much of our societal and ecclesial life today.”
Oh go write a ninja turtle movie for Michael Bay,
But back to Patti. The pond admits - though it involves the heavy burden of confessing to being of a certain age - to being blown away by Smith's album Horses, and the song Gloria, which does indeed open with these lines:
Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine
Meltin' in a pot of thieves
Wild card up my sleeve
Thick heart of stone
My sins my own
They belong to me, me
People say "beware!"
But I don't care
The words are just
Rules and regulations to me, me
By golly, the Pope might just be catching up with the 1970s, which leaves Fisher and the evangelicals still wandering in the 1950s ...
For a moment, the pond thought that the Vatican might be changing its spots.
Then came Pope denounces euthanasia as 'sin against God and creation' which inter alia featured an attack on women's rights ...
Same old, same old, but now the pond has to live with Patti being a fellow traveller ...