Sunday, April 19, 2015

In which the pond marvels at the angry Sydney Anglican tower of babel and the way the Vatican facilitated Mussolini's rise to power ...

The pond has been remiss in its Sunday meditations in not paying attention to the angry Sydney Anglicans.

Yet that rough beast continues on its angry way - most days the pond wanders past the new construction site at Moore Theological college and marvels at the amount of money and the hubris that has been invested in what could pass as a tower of Babel:

Oh dear, right at the entrance way to hipster Newtown, and even worse when you look at other visions of the building here.

It was thanks to a pond correspondent that the pond paid attention to Muriel Porter's piece a few days ago, Jimmy Carter's message: the fight continues against male-sanctioned female submission.

If there was one beef with the way L'Age presented the piece, it was that it didn't provide a link to Carter's open letter, here:

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy. 
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views. 

And ironically that link provided a link back to L'Age and its publishing of the letter in 2009 here.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries. 
At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

Porter makes the point that the angry Sydney Anglicans are about as close to the Taliban in terms of thinking about women's rights as any fundamentalist group to be found down under, most clearly on view in its marriage ritual:

That is how marriage is portrayed by those who promote wifely submission in the 21st century – it is a totalitarian state where the wife offers complete, ongoing, unquestioning obedience. This wifely submission should be "voluntary, intelligent and willing" because "God's purposes for humanity include complementary relationships between the sexes", the Sydney lobby group Equal But Different maintains. 
This "complementarity" (read: "difference"), supposedly mandated by the Bible, is required not only in marriage but also in the church, meaning women cannot be priests or bishops. Only men can provide "authoritative teaching and pastoral oversight". Strange that it seems that God wants this pattern of submission only in marriage and the church. A woman can still apparently be the sovereign, the governor-general, the prime minister. But then, church marriage and church polity are the only two areas churches can still control.

Uh huh. But how weird is equal but different?

Well thanks to the wonders of the intertubes, patriarchs in training can wander off to the group's website here, and cop a hearty dose of claptrap of the fundamentalist kind.

Taliban, you can maintain your attitudes to women if you decide to convert to Christianity!

As is the way with many regressive backward-looking, Adam and Eve orientated bible bashers, the presentation is all lip gloss and Rinso-clean look:

Through it all you can discover the thread of the influence of Moore Theological College, here, and then in "what we believe". we cut to the nub of the claptrap:

8. that God’s purposes for humanity include complementary relationships between the sexes; 
9. that men are called to loving, self-denying, humble leadership, and women to voluntary, intelligent, willing submission within marriage; 
10. that within the church, this complementarity is expressed through suitably gifted and appointed men assuming responsibility for authoritative teaching and pastoral oversight; 

Yes, that's Taliban enough for the pond, and it produces a corollary:

and 11. that we unconditionally reject the use of God’s purposes for marriage as an excuse for violence against women, whether physical, psychological or spiritual.

Of course there'd be no need for that eleventh point if the preceding three points hadn't established that women needed to submit, while men are given the inside run, but then in the same way that Catholics have long argued that Jews are responsible for the murder of Christ, so Anglicans deep in their hearts blame the Eves of the world for making things go wrong for Adam.

Unfortunately, as demonstrated by Islamic fundamentalists, you can't have a meaningful conversation with true believers, intent on using their own interpretation of any given text to prop up their frequently repressive/oppressive world views ...

In many cases, the fundies are forced to speak in code, to hide the steel beneath the velvet, but for all that the steel remains.

Take a look at the code embedded in the angry Sydney Anglicans welcoming the next GAFCON in 2018 here. It might be couched in genteel terms, but the angry Anglicans play it hard:

“We are uniting faithful Anglicans, growing in momentum, structured for the future, and committed to the Anglican Communion.” the primates said. The statement referred to the growth of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) , which was established because the move by the Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC) away from orthodoxy and breaches of the 1998 resolution of the Lambeth conference on human sexuality. 
The TEC has been in numerical decline as congregations and in some cases whole dioceses have disaffiliated and joined ACNA.

Well we all know what that means. Out of the way gays, the fundies are on the march ... and in north Newtown of all places ...

Could it get any more bizarre than that the sourpuss angry Anglican tribes of Sydney get into bed with, and encourage the worst of, fundamentalist Christian outlooks in fundie Africa?

Possibly, but that's already bizarre enough for the pond ...

Meanwhile, the pond has also been remiss in its reporting on the fundies of the Catholic church, but truth to tell, the harrowing stories of child abuse are simply too harrowing to listen to, let alone include in a light-hearted blog. And something went astray when the Pellists shifted to Rome, thereby depriving Australia of one of the world's greatest climate scientists ...

But the pond would like to note and commend a review by Alexander Stille, The Pope Who Tried, even if, unhappily, it's inside the paywall here.

Stille is reviewing a book by David I. Kertzer, The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, and what a sad, fascinating, compelling and repulsive history it is ...

There's the Vatican's decision to dismantle its own Popular Party, its support for Mussolini and his Fascists in return for a mess of pottage, via the Lateran Treaty in February 1929, and the unremitting, shrill anti-semitism that lurked at the highest levels in the Vatican throughout the 1930s:

When he was papal nuncio to Poland (later Pius XI), he warned that much of the disorder that followed World War 1 was the result of the Poles falling
into the clutches of the evil influences that are laying a trap for them and threatening them ... One of the most evil and strongest influences that it felt here, perhaps the strongest and the most evil, is that of the Jews.
In 1928, Pius XI endorsed the decision of the Vatican's Holy Office (the successor to the Inquisition) to suppress the Catholic organization called the Friends of Israel. Although devoted to the eventual goal of converting the Jews, the group called for the Church to treat the Jews with greater respect and sympathy, Its members included thousands of priests, 278 bishops, and nineteen cardinals.
The group evidently went too far when it called on the Church to abandon the tradition of referring to Jews as Christ-killers and to give up the traditional Easter prayer referring to the "perfidious Jews." Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, the head of the Holy Office, a former Vatican secretary of state and one of the most powerful cardinals in Rome, insisted that the Friends of  Israel had been unwitting tools of the Jews' plan to "penetrate everywhere in modern society ... to reconstitute the reign of Israel in opposition to the Christ and his Church." After meeting with Pius XI, Merry del Val reported that the pope shared his view that "behind the Friends of Israel one finds the hand and the inspiration of the Jews themselves."

And so on. One of the tragedies for Pius XI and the church and Jews and the world at large was that towards the end of the 1930s, he began to have something of a change of heart about Mussolini, his good chum Hitler, and in his dying days prepared a speech criticising the regime. Per Kertzer:

Learning of Mussolini's concerns, Pacelli moved quickly. On February 15 he ordered the pope's secretary to gather up all written material the pope had produced in preparing his address.  He also told the Vatican printing office to destroy all copies of the speech it had printed, copies that Pius had intended to give the bishops. The vice director of the office gave his assurance that he would personally destroy them, so that "not a comma" remained.
Pacelli acted two days after learning of Ciano's worries that the text of the pope's speech might get out. Pacelli also took the material that Ledóchowski had sent the pope three weeks earlier - what has since come to be known as the "secret encycilical" against racism - eager to ensure that no one else would see it. The words the pope had so painstakingly prepared in the last days of his life would never be seen as long as Pacelli lived.

What has all this - angry Anglican bile, Catholic treachery - got to do with the words attributed to Christ in the new testament ...

Bugger all, but that's what happens when people take words and use them for their own nefarious purposes and beliefs ...

But let's not be downcast. There's clap happy speaking in tongues Scott Morrison feeling the need to close the religious exemption loophole in relation to vaccinations ...

Now all that's needed is for the taxation exemption loophole to be closed, so that every form of ratbaggery is on a level taxation playing field ...

(Below: dirty deeds done, but not so cheap).


  1. Don't get started on Pius XII.
    Anyway, Sunday *is* the day for earnest commitments. Like, Hockey's "deep concern" for transglobal profits shifting is a guarantee - an *absolute* guarantee - that something will be done. As they deploy the crackdown, I'm confident the fight against Evil will take a giant leap forward.

  2. Surely, you approve of the God given and legal right of religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and marital/parental status.

  3. Jimmy Carter, our greatest living Terrible President. Though consider the competition...


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