a reply to an article by +Martin on the ‘pandemic of racism’

Bishop Martin writes of the “sin of racism” and the “pandemic of racism”

https://www.suffolknews.co.uk/bury-st-edmunds/news/facing-up-to-the-sin-of-racism-9196788/

my reply:

4 May 2021

Dear Bishop Martin

You write in last Friday’s Bury Free Press regarding “the pandemic of racism” and the sin of racism.  May I express concern lest some in consequence feel excluded from the life of the church, who have no hatred or bigotry towards others but simply value difference. Did you hear David Goodhart on the challenge of difference in an egalitarian age, on last Sunday’s “thought for the day”? He would differ from you re the Sewell Report also

What of those with a love for God and other people(s) but whose vision would preferably be to conserve humanity as that has historically evolved and been God-created?  In addition there appears to be no explicit sin of racism as such in the Bible or tradition. Not that it makes ‘hate’ any better but for balance it has to be said white folks also have been victims: eg the assassination of Lee Rigby, the grooming of under aged white girls, the reported rape of a 40 year man this week in Middlesbrough by a black man, etc, – such instances are only mentioned to indicate perceived racism is a universal issue

It would be unfortunate if measures the Church of England is reportedly now taking to reassure Christians of other ethnic background of their inclusion were seen by some of the faithful as the church not being on their side or “for them”. Other peoples are seen and able to have their safe spaces, why are not the English faithful per se able to do likewise?

That everyone should be unreservedly welcome is not in doubt, but that’s not the same as purposefully imposing quotas to achieve diversity. No-one conceivably would protest the appointment of a godly pastor, from whatever origin

The Church of England has long been the national established church of the English.  Would it not be tragic if thought she were no longer fully loving and supporting the traditional members for who they are, also* The conversion of England has long been a prayer aim and for their salvation. (there’s also the matter of the possible withholding of giving by those disenchanted by what they understand as woke policies). Are such aspirations and goals of lesser importance than “diversity”?

You write race is a “gift”. What then of those who comment on the alteration of the demographic balance in the US, London, the UK and of all the European homelands? Is there not an aspect of racial justice in concerns by the indigenous, may this not be rightly – & justifiably – discussed?

Appreciation at increasing diversity in society by some may be seen by others not only as a loss of power but as a matter of concern for their own group’s eventual survival.   Are such thoughts and concerns illicit within the love of God?

___________________________________________________________________________

*Church of England Begins BLM-Style Review of Thousands of Monuments https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2021/05/09/church-england-begins-blm-style-review-thousands-monuments/ via @BreitbartNews

a chance encounter with robin goodfellow

searching for a familiar way into an enchanted thicket

on the Common, to see if the hawthorn

were yet in flower, finding that path blocked,

there is blossom but it’s not may


Happening upon a sprightly quintessential “Englishman”

fresh-faced ruddy-cheeked with mischievous smile

approaching, speaking of poetry

instructing “to write it down”


They’d come for the nightingales’ birdsong, being heard here

whose singing enchants, instantly “putting the world to rights”.

The last glimpse I had of him he was wearing his hat,

before he was gone and no longer there

Suffolk bishop says racism in the church must be ‘exposed and called out’ @MARTIN_SEELEY

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk-bishop-martin-seeley-racism-report-7920308

For the “ignorant layman” what is racism? Is “outing” an appropriate Christian activity? Is there a risk this call be interpreted as a disenfranchising of those who have always been where they still remain?


To quote Douglas Murray the church has become woke: The new religion of the Church of England https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-new-religion-of-the-church-of-england

and also Calvin Robinson The Church of England is institutionally woke: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/04/22/church-england-institutionally-woke/


The only ultimate concern is on whose side the church is on  and the answer has to be heard and understood as being “everyone’s”


The church I once knew and loved used to read the 10 Commandments at the Holy Communion Service. There was no “sin of racism” detailed, rather a command to respect one’s parents (and ancestors)


My understanding has been the CofE is uniquely the guardian of the spiritual life of the nation. There has also been the tradition of national churches: Coptic Armenian Greek Serbian – the Church in Wales – etc. It would be disingenuous to suggest ethnicity has played no part, rather as Christ’s Incarnation took place in a particular person of a particular ethnicity


The Church of England used to be called a broad church ie accommodating diverse views eg on remarriage ,on ordination of women on homosexuality.   The Red Dean seemed to symbolise such differences pacifism. There recently does appear to have developed an intolerance of other perspectives in the form of woke Christianity, that is paradoxically exclusive


What is this racism that is to be called out? If it is an irrational hatred and bigotry an absence of love it is one thing, but not if it is a love of one’s own people with the innate instinct for the survival of ones ethnicity and the desire to seek reasonable measures if possible that seek to ameliorate a feared decline/extinction. There is no obvious reason for diversity per se as something to be aspired to in itself


All that ought to matter is love and acceptance. To love God and to love respecting others and value their uniqueness


The risk of making an idol of diversity is to alienate those who perceive anti-racism as being essentially anti-white or in this case English, and who might conclude if God isn’t “on their side” or rather if his church isn’t (they might then argue) what’s the point of supporting it?


There is even the – very remote – possibility of being seen as an agent of “replacement migration”, seen as a form of treachery – and by the national established church


People generally feel more at home among their own kind. This isn’t wicked. Different groups naturally have their own services: in Welsh Polish Malayalam etc. Chinese have their own churches, so do messianic Jews etc etc


The Church is one diverse international Community, a human family, mirroring the holy Trinity, but even the English identity has its own value, also to be affirmed

@Martin_Seeley: “RACISm must be exposed And called out”

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk-bishop-martin-seeley-racism-report-7920308

For the “ignorant layman” what is racism? Is “outing” an appropriate Christian activity? Is there a risk this call be interpreted as a disenfranchising of those who have always been where they still remain?


To quote Douglas Murray the church has become woke: The new religion of the Church of England https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-new-religion-of-the-church-of-england

and also Calvin Robinson The Church of England is institutionally woke: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/04/22/church-england-institutionally-woke/


The only ultimate concern is on whose side the church is on  and the answer has to be heard and understood as being “everyone’s”


The church I once knew and loved used to read the 10 Commandments at the Holy Communion Service. There was no “sin of racism” detailed, rather a command to respect one’s parents (and ancestors)


My understanding has been the CofE is uniquely the guardian of the spiritual life of the nation. There has also been the tradition of national churches: Coptic Armenian Greek Serbian – the Church in Wales – etc. It would be disingenuous to suggest ethnicity has played no part, rather as Christ’s Incarnation took place in a particular person of a particular ethnicity


The Church of England used to be called a broad church ie accommodating diverse views eg on remarriage ,on ordination of women on homosexuality.   The Red Dean seemed to symbolise such differences pacifism. There recently does appear to have developed an intolerance of other perspectives in the form of woke Christianity, that is paradoxically exclusive


What is this racism that is to be called out? If it is an irrational hatred and bigotry an absence of love it is one thing, but not if it is a love of one’s own people with the innate instinct for the survival of ones ethnicity and the desire to seek reasonable measures if possible that seek to ameliorate a feared decline/extinction. There is no obvious reason for diversity per se as something to be aspired to in itself


All that ought to matter is love and acceptance. To love God and to love respecting others and value their uniqueness


The risk of making an idol of diversity is to alienate those who perceive anti-racism as being essentially anti-white or in this case English, and who might conclude if God isn’t “on their side” or rather if his church isn’t (they might then argue) what’s the point of supporting it?


There is even the – very remote – possibility of being seen as an agent of “replacement migration”, seen as a form of treachery – and by the national established church


People generally feel more at home among their own kind. This isn’t wicked. Different groups naturally have their own services: in Welsh Polish Malayalam etc. Chinese have their own churches, so do messianic Jews etc etc


The Church is one diverse international Community, a human family, mirroring the holy Trinity, but even the English identity has its own value, also to be affirmed

THE SCALE AND THE IMMENSITY OF THESE WAREHOUSES

Driving by these ginormous skeletal structures 

warehouses being erected

it seems the land is under assault:

Suffolk’s jurassic park





All soil is special

as is this the home of the South folk

who long time owned and farmed here

It has a unique value, and not only for wildlife





A limited amount a finite acreage

already much compromised 

land (lost to housing), but

be prepared to be amazed, and in awe:





This “park” no paradise garden

Global International HQs, no less

extravagantly occupying an expanding space

with vast enormous footprints





like ribs of dinosaurs such are

being replicated across the landscape

challenging but not dwarfed by

the immensity of Suffolk’s skies





House building happens on an industrial scale

Now warehousing is something else

“to let” “for sale”

It’s about the money to be made, on Suffolk’s soil

HOW CAN IT BE A GAIN?

How can it be a gain, for this reduction:

to witness these villages and towns

that once within living memory had their own Vicar or Rector 

with thriving church and congregation presently so diminished





So many parishes are now grouped together 

for a pastor to tend with ease, and with services curtailed

No longer is the church attender visited to enquire:

Why were you not at Evensong?





The riches of rural ministry and the involvement of the clergy

in ordinary living are lessened of necessity

though highly valued and most necessary

these may hardly compare with what went before





Women’s ministry may shore up numbers

but has been no panacea to have arrested a decline 

in the practice of the faith, does it remain cool to be a Christian?

some complain the message now is too woke





With house building gobbling up the countryside

Populations doubling as  estates are signed off

but this is hardly reflected in church membership

yet the church is there to foster and build community





Pretty churchyards no longer are tended and neatly mown

having become sanctuaries for wildlife

The people forget these places are for them also

For their souls’ health





to give full hearted vent to the worship of and joy in God the Almighty

Father, from whom all things take their origins

Yet in the deep sticks of the countryside perhaps

is where might be hoped for this recovery to begin?

The Scream

We are comfortable with the familiar:

the sights sounds and smells from our childhood,

places we have frequented, loved and become accustomed to





An accessibility of churches, pubs and village greens,

streets, paths and passageways

The character of a Lavenham, Aldeburgh, even a town centre in decline





But beware, what we gaze on is a facade;

this supported shell of a former Post Office *

remains all of what there once stood, not as is today





Incremental dissolution of countryside’s pastoral past,

denuded for agribusiness, replaced by mass housing.

leaving nature exhausted, in retreat, as uglification replaces and dominates 





Were we able to stand back from the hurly burly, and discern the reality

of these changes so rapidly transforming, the loss and finality,

we would scream





There have been those warnings we have chosen to ignore

we rather would embrace other siren voices that seek to placate, reassure, and control

But what will remain at the end of it all?





  • actually there is an imaginative scheme for the redeveloping of the Post Office site, but the photo is included to illustrate the superficial appearance may not represent the reality

Margaret

For Margaret what really matters is:

do you “know” the Lord?

She did, the love of her life,

source of her being, fount of inner joy and goodness





To visit her house-plants showed her green fingers,

a young midwife in Suffolk

helping many bring

their new arrivals into the world





unselfconsciously sharing an inner faith

and the new life, with friends

who entered the waters of baptism

of a Kedington swimming pool, as witness





A teacher of music, writer of poetry

who played the organ and

sang in choir, as the angels

A lifetime spent in doing good





She read, and re-read, David Adams of Lindisfarne,

whose saints became her soul-mates

rejoicing in the bright and beautiful,

the pure and the good





She applied her craft, raising funds for

Embrace the Middle East: her card sales and

knitted gifts, ducks containing Easter eggs,

a nativity set for the chef of a Sudbury care home





where, gaining entree – herself disabled,

she arranged to take services

travelling in her electric wheelchair

to the considerable appreciation of the elderly





Finding a church home at St Gregory’s,

accepting God’s will in all things,

praising through on-going suffering

in death receiving her “crown”





At her funeral so many as could assembled under lockdown

Cheryl the Rector was wearing a white stole

One tribute spoke of her promotion to glory

Then the hearse with her coffin drove off into the distance

A call for the English to return to their Church

May we link – measure – the fate of the English nation to that of their national Church, the Church of England?  eg there used to be the questioning of an individual’s religion when everyone was assumed to be “C of E” unless they stated they were something else. Times have changed since

It seems both the English folk and their faith community, which is expressed by the Church of England in particular have suffered decline, which is concerning  for the English and for church folks in particular

Since first writing this I was challenged about “decline” and do agree there are (always) encouraging signs of life and new churches, however in considering the longer term and how things were I reflect on the difference with when each parish had a resident priest, Vicarage or Rectory with regular Sunday worship Martins Evensong each Sunday, with choir MU Sunday School etc. Times have changed

How often does the fate of a people seem irrevocably linked to the practice of their religion, Israel par excellence, but many other examples: Tibetans Armenians Copts, native Americans etc

This is a call to pray for and rally round the churches of the people, as our national future quite literally depends on it, as it always has, on a return

No matter what the clergy are like, saints or sinners, wise or foolish. No matter how boring inaudible or culturally Marxist their sermons. We are there to worship the God of our forefathers.  On Him all else depends

These local churches are there in addition to build community and bring all classes of the one people together as one people before God. We are witnessing the kind of spiritual and cultural desert unfolding in a society without their presence

Does it not matter if/when there may be an eventual end to the pandemic crisis and with the opportunity for a return to something approaching normality – however we may think of that – if the national church the C of E is faced with a financial crisis and is forced to reduce full time clergy, even having to  start closing churches, making some redundant? : https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/church-to-cut-paid-clergy-as-a-fifth-of-flock-wanders-off-3l80qk2mb. The Sunday Times article I refer to speaks of people deserting post covid, and it is that crisis I am seeking to avoid

This belonging is an aspect of who we are, culturally and spiritually As a people we are irretrievably linked communally and individually. Gone are the days we could dismiss the Church as rich, it has progressively seen its privileges in society comprehensively withdrawn

There has been an understanding that to be English and a church person were two aspects of the same “coin” or phenomenon, ie facets of our identity.  Both in recent times have been near fatally undermined as society has become fractured.  As we have become accustomed no longer to have an Empire we have also been instructed to be apologetic for the achievements of our forbears, we are declining into nothingness

As a people having welcomed Commonwealth peoples who have gained their independence, to the motherland, we have also become accustomed to being apologetic for a past Empire colonialism and worse

Christianity also has increasingly come under scrutiny, as if it were essentially European (which it is not)  Including its seeming depiction of an Aryan Jesus seen as something misleading, in so denying a form of self identification/recognition under God has been undone

Its leaders have been taking a more relativistic approach to religion and theology , it has resulted in a less dogmatic approach and with attacks by such as Dawkins has felt increasingly beleaguered and irrelevant (when paradoxically it has a necessary and essential Gospel to proclaim)

Yet this is our God (even if He is not an Englishman) and that has served us well as a nation until now

Would that we might respond to a campaign to return and rebuild. Would that there were such a campaign

I reflect on a pattern of life and worship that is in danger of passing, the parish priest the local Vicar with his pastoral care living in the midst of the people, the church at the heart in the midst of the village/parish

The village – including also its village store pub village school etc The church caring for all, from births through marriages to death

Without recourse to God the people perish and other people’ cultures religions will supersede. All lives matter, but including our own

To what extent may we be able to summon up resources to rebuild ? Our future literally depends on it, Let us earnestly pray …