Well it’s that time of (the New) year again. A moment to look back at what you all thought were the most interesting (or, perhaps, exasperating) posts on davidould.net.
Which posts got the most reads over the last 12 months?
You know that this list is going to contain a number of these Anglican stories and it’s hard to find a better example of the step up in political activity by revisionists in the Anglican Church of Australia. June saw the beginning of Synod season and it soon became clear that activist liberals were going to push the envelope on sexual ethics. The Diocese of Grafton took the previously unprecedented step of rejecting the national position on “the authorised standard of worship and doctrine” and the Bishops’ Agreement on how to proceed on the question of sexual ethics.
So much for catholicity.
Bishop Peter Stuart wrote to his diocese to propose a “Newcastle Way” forward on the question that has divided us all over the past few years. Nobody was surprised that a few months later the Newcastle Synod considered and approved a “Wangaratta blessing”.
The launch of integrity.davidould.net.
A simple call on bishops in the Anglican Church of Australia to have some integrity and keep their consecration vows.
An activist priest from the Diocese of Perth (originally from TEC), who had just finished a position as chaplain at an Anglican School in that Diocese, performed a liturgical blessing of a same-sex wedding right in the middle of the Diocese of Sydney. At the time she no longer had a license to minister in Perth, and certainly didn’t ask for one for Sydney.
Having previously told his diocese (and this website) that a new “Faith and Order Commission” would be a key contributor in any debate on sexual ethics, the Bishop of Newcastle chaired a synod debate on marriage where it became very clear that the Commission had been effectively shelved.
…the Diocesan Faith and Order Commission will be [an] important part[s] of ensuring that the Synod and the Diocese continues to give prayerful, biblical and theological reflection to the life of the Diocese.
Bishop Peter Stuart, April 2019
Many Newcastle Synod members contacted davidould.net about this one.
Perth was one of several dioceses that revised their standards in “Faithfulness in Service” (the national protocol and guidelines for appropriate behaviour) to remove the requirement for chastity in marriage. The motion specifically removed any reference to marriage from the requirement to “be chaste”. Some have argued that the word “chaste” itself still refers to marriage but that understanding clearly didn’t seem to have been in the mind of the synod.
Another PR disaster of his own making for Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Following a number of scandals that the Anglican Centre in Rome, Welby appointed a man who has repeatedly denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus as his representative to the Vatican.
The disclosure, a bit of a davidould.net exclusive, was followed by some embarrassing attempts by Shepherd to pretend that he really does believe in the Resurrection – but he still couldn’t unfeignedly affirm that it was physical and bodily.
Pleasingly, none of the top 3 articles of the year are about Anglican politics. davidould.net will continue to report on those things (and 2020 may be the most interesting year yet) but we also try to write about wider Christian issues. These 3 posts reflect both that desire and our readers’ interest.
In April SBS aired a 2 episode “fly on the wall” documentary called “Christians like us” featuring a wide range of people who professed Christian faith. One of those was Dr Carol Portmann, an abortionist. She presented herself as a bit of a “mother hen” in the house that the participants were living in, but then disclosed that she was responsible for the death of many many babies in their mother’s womb.
Portmann used the publicity that the show gave her to write an opinion piece on the ABC News site, claiming, “I’m a Christian doctor and I help women have abortions. Here’s how I reconcile that.”
The post got (very) interesting when Portmann and other participants in the SBS show commented.
In February the actor Liam Neeson gave an interview to the Independent newspaper where he spoke of his desire, 30 years ago, to murder a black man after the rape of someone very close to him.
Neeson’s desire was that we see his initial emotional response for what it was – an entirely inappropriate and unhelpful way forward. He didn’t defend his behaviour; quite the contrary.
But for the wokerati this was all too much. Once a racist, always a racist and so another former hero was denounced in a spontaneous two-minute hate and his film premier cancelled.
The gospel, of course, shows us that Liam had it completely right. He made a full confession of his sin, not seeking to obscure what he had done. Thank God that Jesus is infinitely more forgiving that the Social Justice Warriors who hounded Neeson.
How could it not have been this one? By far and away the biggest story about religion in Australia in 2019 was the Israel Folau saga. Folau, a convert from Mormonism into what could best be described as Oneness Pentacostalism, was sacked by Rugby Australia for posting an image on Instagram that warned a smorgasbord of different “sinners” that they were in danger of hell. Of course, all that Rugby Australia, their sponsors Qantas, and the usual outrage brigade could see was the one word “homosexual”. Once you’ve uttered that shibboleth then it doesn’t matter what else you say. You’ve already committed contemporary blasphemy.
My post of April tops the list. Perhaps because I dared to have a crack at a number of sacred cows – both the wokerati’s inability to cope with anyone disagreeing with them on their hobby horses, but also the failure of some Christian commenters to recognise that very few of us are going to be able to explain the gospel quite as eloquently as they want us to. It shouldn’t stop us trying though. It’s hard not to be seen as offensive when it’s the message itself that people hate.
So that’s a wrap for 2019. What does 2020 have in store?
Anglican politics in Australia are bound to come to a head at the General Synod in June, if not before. There’s sure to be plenty to write about there.
What else would you like to see davidould.net cover?