The Editor, The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes in his Editorial post, Lent 2023: ‘Gerrymandering’ is the political manipulation of electoral boundaries with the intent of creating an undue advantage for a political party or faction. These days it might also be extended to describe generically other associated practices to the same end. ... Whilst currently busy assessing the recent decision published by the House of Bishops and welcomed by the General Synod to enable same-sex couples to come to church after a civil marriage or partnership to give thanks, dedicate their relationship to God and receive God’s blessing - even the Church of England, cannot be accused of gerrymandering. At least not in terms of its electoral process, which has long used a system of Proportional Representation for its elections – the precise form being STV (Single Transferable Vote). ... Not fraudulent, but certainly unfair, the system as used in the United Kingdom for parliamentary elections remains that of the so-called ‘first past the post’ (FPTP) where winner takes all regardless of how low a percentage actually voted for the candidate. This has produced some seriously skewed results. For example, the Johnson-led conservative victory at the 2020 general election produced a large parliamentary majority of 80 seats – hailed a great mandate and the will of the people on what was actually only 43.6% of the popular vote. Clearly, this system often effectively negates the wishes of a majority of voters. ... The use of voter ID is in itself no bad thing, if it ensures democracy rather than distorting it. Nevertheless, there is a legitimate concern even if the scheme may in practice backfire and in practice remove the vote from the very people it is meant to encourage . In short and in practice it looks like a subtle variation of gerrymandering. ...
That’s one small, timid step for the Church of England.
The Editor: The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes - The Church of England has almost concluded a long and at times tedious ‘Living in Love and Faith’ process of discernment and consultation regarding gay relationships and essentially about whether to allow these to be consummated in Christian marriage. Now the House of Bishops have effectively short-circuited the final decision, meant to be decided by the General Synod in February 2023, by pronouncing that they will not change the Church’s fundamental teaching “that holy matrimony is between one man and one woman for life.” Notwithstanding that part of that ‘fundamental teaching’ has long been bypassed in that remarriage in church after divorce is commonplace and permitted, the bishops apparently have felt unable to go further and allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same privilege. ...
… but will it snow this Christmas?
The Rev'd Dr.Nicholas Henderson - Editor writes: ... but will it snow this Christmas? This is … A perennial question, usually on the lips of children but also adults who long for the delight of a seasonal covering - as long as it keeps off the roads. These days it is more often the lack of weather conducive to snowfall that troubles us most. Melting glaciers, droughts, excessive rainfall, storms, heatwaves and slowing ocean currents, all associated indisputably with human induced climate change are more the problem that afflicts us. True there are some still left for whom this can be explained away as anything but our massive despoliation of the planet with excessive emissions largely down to the burning of fossil fuel. There are also those who argue enthusiastically, with great conviction that the earth is flat and for numerous other conspiracy theories, but it still doesn’t snow as often or as much as it used to. Beyond a wistful seasonal and festive Christmas card desire for snow, this winter will be extremely difficult for those suffering bombing and missile attacks in the European backyard of Ukraine. Pictures of families huddled in freezing makeshift shelters are stark evidence of an absence of the angels’ song ‘Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.’ ...
Be careful what you venerate
Editorial - Kingdom Season November 2022. The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson (Editor) writes: The arrival in Lichfield Cathedral, England, of a fragment of a bone of St Chad (died 672) will be marked by the recreation of a shrine in his name and the opportunity for pilgrims to donate a much-needed £10.00 by texting. After centuries following the original shrine’s destruction, more protestant precursors may be turning in their respective graves but this exercise is a sign of a human tendency to venerate and cherish worthies of bygone ages who may easily be recreated in the image of the pilgrims of the present. ...
Are we heading for World War III?
The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson (Editor: Anglicanism.org) writes: Amongst the many crises currently gripping the world a good number are linked directly or indirectly to the unprovoked disastrous invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. It is important to attribute the onslaught on Ukraine to one man as, despite the existence of ultra-nationalists of a fascist disposition in Russia, broadly speaking the invasion does not seem to have universal enthusiastic support on the part of the people. Moreover, in a country starved of non-state impartial media many seem simply to have accepted (but little more) the official line. Of course, it is difficult to ascertain exactly what is going on and the famous dictum of Churchill in 1939 that Russian is “a riddle, wrapped inside a mystery, inside an enigma” still stands.
Church and State – Church versus State?
Editorial June 2022 - The Editor, The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes: The British Prime Minister, apparently stung by the whole bench of Anglican Bishops in the House of Lords, has denied that it is his wish to expel them from the British second chamber. Rumblings amongst Boris Johnson’s ministers have followed the publication of a letter from 25 Bishops stating that the policy of sending some migrants who arrived from across the English Channel is ‘immoral’.
Will God or his Church intervene in Ukraine before it’s too late?
Editorial: The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes. Rowan Williams former Archbishop of Canterbury 2003-2012 appeared with an ash mark still on his forehead on Ash Wednesday, 2nd March urging senior Orthodox church leaders outside Russia to stand alongside archbishops, patriarchs and the Pope in calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine ...
Kiev or Kyiv? #KyivNotKiev
Editorial: Kiev or Kyiv? - A difference in spelling the name of the capital city has emerged since the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine was first mooted. The shift indicates an almost universal reluctance to use the former Kiev as it is a transliteration from the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. The new (to us in the West) Kyiv is the local Ukrainian usage. Thus, solidarity in a spelling bee can be shown with those of us who are horrified at the increasing terror of Russian imperialism and accompanying military violence towards a near neighbour.
Truth and Reconciliation for Today
The Rev'd Canon Richard Truss, Guest Editor, writes: Where is the church’s voice in public affairs? We do see occasional episcopal pronouncements, and occasional letters in the press. But most of the attention the past year, when any has surfaced at all, has not been on what the church and theology might have to say to the rest of society, but on what is seen as the dire state of the Church itself - the future of the parish, the financial crisis and even conjectures as to whether it can survive at all?