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Source: (consider it) Thread: Is there a future for any church in the UK?
Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I've long wondered if we oughtn't to hand the cathedral buildings (especially the big touristy ones) over to English Heritage, since that's exactly what they are - historical monuments - and get on with the business of living the gospel.

Probably idealistic. Most of my ideas to make the world a better place apparently are.

I suppose that if divesting the CoE of cathedral properties would mean that folk would get on with the "business of living the gospel" (whatever that might mean), it could be justified, but I see no link or causation. We do have a nearby example to see how that worked-- did the French church get on better with "business of living the gospel" after their buildings were secularized in 1906? Do we have any stats on this?
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Vade Mecum:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I've long wondered if we oughtn't to hand the cathedral buildings (especially the big touristy ones) over to English Heritage, since that's exactly what they are - historical monuments - and get on with the business of living the gospel.

Probably idealistic. Most of my ideas to make the world a better place apparently are.

And the countless centuries of devotion which have infused them? The innumerable acts of worship which have taken place in them? The hundreds, thousands of times the Holy Sacrifice has been offered at their altars? The relentless witness they bear to the hope and soaring grandeur of the history of the Faith?

You'd sunder them from all this, from the living Church and the work of the Gospel, for the sake of economy? Or for what's sake? How would the debasement of these places further the Gospel?

Their functions wouldn't change. The CofE would however be freed from the massive direct costs of maintaining them. They'd still be there; we'd still be using them just as we are now. You seem to think I said "turn them into museums."

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I've long wondered if we oughtn't to hand the cathedral buildings (especially the big touristy ones) over to English Heritage, since that's exactly what they are - historical monuments - and get on with the business of living the gospel.

Probably idealistic. Most of my ideas to make the world a better place apparently are.

I suppose that if divesting the CoE of cathedral properties would mean that folk would get on with the "business of living the gospel" (whatever that might mean), it could be justified, but I see no link or causation. We do have a nearby example to see how that worked-- did the French church get on better with "business of living the gospel" after their buildings were secularized in 1906? Do we have any stats on this?
Well, it's simple enough. A good definition of a Cathedral is "large gothic or mediaeval building with a large wooden thermometer outside saying 'only £3.4m to go!' outside."

Freeing the church from the constant focus on keeping the building going might at least remove excuse for not getting on with what I can't help feeling are more core issues.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Vade Mecum:
How would the debasement of these places further the Gospel?

You mean apart from allowing all the money that currently goes on their upkeep to go to the poor instead?

Durham Cathedral costs the church £60,000 a week. That's over THREE MILLION POUNDS a year. Or, if you prefer, enough to pay 250 poor families a weekly benefit of £240, every week of the year.

So which is more Christian - to spend that money on feeding and housing the poor, or to spend it on a big fancy building for the church? And if the church is allowed to choose the latter, how the hell can it preach at me if I choose to spend my cash on big fancy things for myself instead of giving it to the poor?

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Curiosity killed ...

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
One day the cathedrals may be the only significant physical reminder of the CofE on the national landscape, so it's unlikely that the church will let go of them for the kind of gesture that you suggest, although they might present opportunities for conversion to multi-use communitiy hubs.

You don't think that cathedrals are currently multi-use community hubs now? with art exhibitions, concerts, places for talks and education? In addition to worship this is

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Vade Mecum:
How would the debasement of these places further the Gospel?

You mean apart from allowing all the money that currently goes on their upkeep to go to the poor instead?

Durham Cathedral costs the church £60,000 a week. That's over THREE MILLION POUNDS a year. Or, if you prefer, enough to pay 250 poor families a weekly benefit of £240, every week of the year.

So which is more Christian - to spend that money on feeding and housing the poor, or to spend it on a big fancy building for the church? And if the church is allowed to choose the latter, how the hell can it preach at me if I choose to spend my cash on big fancy things for myself instead of giving it to the poor?

"Let this be sold, and the money given to the poor." Now, remind me again which of the Disciples said that?

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Vade Mecum
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Their functions wouldn't change. The CofE would however be freed from the massive direct costs of maintaining them. They'd still be there; we'd still be using them just as we are now. You seem to think I said "turn them into museums."

Why on earth would English Heritage, or indeed anyone else, agree to such a deal though? If that were a good proposition, the cathedral churches would cover their running costs already. "Handing over" the buildings would only be worthwhile if the recipient could "turn them into museums" or, more likely, hotels/housing developments

quote:
Originally posted by Marvin:
You mean apart from allowing all the money that currently goes on their upkeep to go to the poor instead?

And the fact that you give the poor some money means they'll be more receptive to a Gospel pruned of all beauty? But then, the only Christian imperative is to feed the poor, yes? Worship and holiness and praise of God can go screw themselves?

Ye have the poor always with you...

ETA: x-posted with Albertus, who says it much more succinctly.

[ 29. July 2013, 15:18: Message edited by: Vade Mecum ]

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I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
"Let this be sold, and the money given to the poor." Now, remind me again which of the Disciples said that?

"Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor." Who said that, again?

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Vade Mecum
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
"Let this be sold, and the money given to the poor." Now, remind me again which of the Disciples said that?

"Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor." Who said that, again?
And to whom did He say it? And why?

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I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

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iamchristianhearmeroar
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quote:
Originally posted by Vade Mecum:
And the countless centuries of devotion which have infused them? The innumerable acts of worship which have taken place in them? The hundreds, thousands of times the Holy Sacrifice has been offered at their altars? The relentless witness they bear to the hope and soaring grandeur of the history of the Faith?

You'd sunder them from all this, from the living Church and the work of the Gospel, for the sake of economy? Or for what's sake? How would the debasement of these places further the Gospel?

I think there is a question of priorities, though. A cathedral with a choice of spending X millions of pounds paying Harrison and Harrison to rebuild their organ and spending the same amount of money ensuring a local homeless shelter could stay open would be making a clear statement of its priorities by choosing to spend the money one way rather than another.

I suspect such stark choices rarely present themselves, but one can't help but wonder when one sees the cost of provision of music, new sets of cloth of gold vestments, gold leaf etc.

(says a chorister and organist, unpaid)

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Vade - how does Bolsover Castle or Clifford's Tower or Hadrian's Wall "support themselves"? They don't; EH supports them out of grants, fundraising, entrance fees, membership fees and so on.

I imagine that EH would expect to pay for the material upkeep of cathedrals in the same manner. To the extent that this turns them into museums, that has already happened; how many of the people wandering around York Minster on a given summer Saturday are there for reasons any different than why they might later go up to Clifford's Tower or the Castle Museum?

And that's all I'm talking about handing over; no-one's talking about flogging the buildings off as office accommodation.

[ 29. July 2013, 15:37: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Vade Mecum:
And to whom did He say it? And why?

And so the excuses begin. "Oh no, we don't have to sell everything, that was very specifically intended for one person and maybe the others who are like him, it doesn't apply to us". [Roll Eyes]

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Pomona
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Cathedral worship is one of the few areas of growth in the CoE so I can't see them changing anything yet.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Curiosity killed ...

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Interestingly, or not, there's a discussion in Eccles about cathedral worship and dv has said:
quote:
Sometimes people characterise Cathedral worship as something for individuals who don't wish to commit and to remain anonymous but I'd say that's wrong, from my experience: the congregation is largely stable, week by week, and there's lots of opportunity for people to deepen their engagement. I'd actually see the way forward for the CofE as having a mini-Cathedral in each large town and axeing a lot of Parish churches. They're often doing more harm than good.
And that post reminded me I hadn't added food banks to my list of community activities from cathedrals.

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Vade Mecum
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Vade Mecum:
And to whom did He say it? And why?

And so the excuses begin. "Oh no, we don't have to sell everything, that was very specifically intended for one person and maybe the others who are like him, it doesn't apply to us". [Roll Eyes]
Right, because your 2D Jesus is the real one, right?

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I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

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Vade Mecum
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Vade - how does Bolsover Castle or Clifford's Tower or Hadrian's Wall "support themselves"? They don't; EH supports them out of grants, fundraising, entrance fees, membership fees and so on.

I imagine that EH would expect to pay for the material upkeep of cathedrals in the same manner. To the extent that this turns them into museums, that has already happened; how many of the people wandering around York Minster on a given summer Saturday are there for reasons any different than why they might later go up to Clifford's Tower or the Castle Museum?

And that's all I'm talking about handing over; no-one's talking about flogging the buildings off as office accommodation.

But why would EH (or anyone else) do that? i.e. take on an huge liability for unknown future costs in return for no ability for development to increase revenue? EH doesn't just exist to support any and all old buildings which come their way, especially when said buildings currently belong to an organisation which can support them just as well as EH. Your dream is lodged thoroughly in a pipe, I fear.

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I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

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Bax
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To address the question posed at the beginning of this debate:

"Does the church, any church, not just the Church of England, have a future in Britain when anti-religious views are being expressed as mainstream?"

(1) Christianity itself may be said to be (in some ways) "anti-religious", so although Christianity has looked "religious" for a long time, the anti-religion may in fact be a sign that the gospel is changing and has changed things. (This of course depends on how you define the word "religion")

(2) If we believe the gospel to be true, the persecution should never dis-hearten us (if articles in the independent can be described as "persecution", but given that this is where the discussion started I won't enter into debate on this point)

As Gamaliel said in the book of Acts, if Jesus's message is true, then no action of humanity is ever going to be able to countermand this.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Vade Mecum:
Right, because your 2D Jesus is the real one, right?

Who knows? Maybe He would prefer to let people starve to death while the money that could buy them food goes to pay for the renovation of a couple of hanging buttresses or a new organ pipe. After all, having a really impressive building in the middle of every town so that you can show off how important you are is what Christianity is all about, right?

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SvitlanaV2
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If someone went public with this idea of selling off cathedrals I imagine there'd be a national outcry. It's not going to happen. Or rather, it'll only happen if the CofE runs clean out of money and has become so marginal that the country no longer pays any notice.
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que sais-je
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quote:
Originally posted by Bax:
To address the question posed at the beginning of this debate:

Than you Bax. I wish I'd never opened my silly mouth (keyboard).

Christianity itself may be said to be (in some ways) "anti-religious", so although Christianity has looked "religious" for a long time, the anti-religion may in fact be a sign that the gospel is changing and has changed things.

I had wondered if someone would pick up on that issue. I have no comment (I've learnt my lesson) except to point to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's letters.

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"controversies, disputes, and argumentations, both in philosophy and in divinity, if they meet with discreet and peaceable natures, do not infringe the laws of charity" (Thomas Browne)

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Bax:
To address the question posed at the beginning of this debate:

"Does the church, any church, not just the Church of England, have a future in Britain when anti-religious views are being expressed as mainstream?"

(1) Christianity itself may be said to be (in some ways) "anti-religious", so although Christianity has looked "religious" for a long time, the anti-religion may in fact be a sign that the gospel is changing and has changed things. (This of course depends on how you define the word "religion")

(2) If we believe the gospel to be true, the persecution should never dis-hearten us (if articles in the independent can be described as "persecution", but given that this is where the discussion started I won't enter into debate on this point)

I'm not sure that arguing the Church of England shouldn't have a role in government different than any other faith is anti-religious per se. If that were the case, the fact that no Muslim or Jewish clergy gets an automatic seat in the House of Lords could be considered "anti-Muslim/Jewish". An article arguing "you should abide by the same rules as everyone else" seems to be pretty weak tea as far as persecution goes. Heck, even having to abide by the same rule as everyone else doesn't really qualify as "persecution" in most cases.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Gamaliel
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A female Anglican priest once told me that most cathedrals are pretty 'loaded' and could spare a few bob for worthy causes ...

I think there's a balance here, as CK has said, cathedrals often function as arts/events/civic hubs of one form or other ... and they do act as the 'public face' of the CofE and Christianity more broadly for tourists and others. I don't have an issue with any of that.

I've been to a few cathedral services where I've felt a bit like I've been worshipping in a goldfish bowl - as people have been wandering past and watching what was going on. You could argue that some of these people wouldn't have many other opportunities to see 'live# Christian worship in any other context. I'm not saying that would necesarily be 'evangelistic' but I'm sure the cathedrals have a role ...

Part of that role might be scooping up people who would otherwise fall out of church life altogether ...

If what we're told is true, that the growth in attendance at cathedral worship is partly due to people fleeing the expectations put upon them at their local parish churches or to escape drum'n'bass and action-songs ...

Karl Liberal-Backslider of all people ought to have some sympathy for those who find some kind of conducive church setting ...

As ever, I think there's a both/and rather than either/or thing going on.

I suspect we're headed for some pretty dark days as far as Christian faith and witness is concerned, with enemies both within an without ... various duff forms of fundamentalism on the one hand, a kind of loosely 'whatever' form of liberalism on the other ... overseas, the worrying rise of nationalisms and xenophobia in some Orthodox circles and here at home the gradual erosion of choice so that one either has to hang out with the happy-clappy crowd or opt to worship in an unaffordable building with a dwindling handful of stalwarts ...

But there could equally be opportunities ...

Opportunities for the more 'get involved', serve the poor, the marginalised type activities that many of us would like to see ... even if we don't get involved ourselves as much as we ought.

Opportunities for neo-monastic networks, people working behind the scenes to be salt and light.

Opportunities for bold and imaginative ecumenical ventures.

I know one swallow doesn't make a summer, but at a sizeable town to the north of here, the town-centre manager observed in a meeting I attended to find out about how to organise arts festivals and so on, that that town's arts/cultural festivals only really took off once the churches became involved.

She was impressed at how they offered their buildings as venues - sometimes for some quite challenging material - at how they used their networks to drum up support and how, in supporting the town's arts festival they'd all began to 'find' each other and collaborate in various ways that they'd not been doing previously.

All this takes effort, though, and it's hard to see how we can avoid burn-out with dwindling numbers.

We no longer have the 'right' to be heard as perhaps we were back in full-on Christendom times. In a post-Christendom setting we have to earn that right.

We have to be seen as those who aren't pointing the finger and condemning everything, but for actually making a practical difference and helping build community and help where we can.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
One thing I find curious is how right-wing the UK has become, or is becoming. The Labour Party is pretty much a centre-right party, newspapers like the Independent and Guardian strike me as having moved to the right.

Pretty clearly true, and its been true for thirty years or more.

I think public discourse tends to be to the right of majority opinion (though not as far to the right of it as it is in the USA) but even then majority opinion has shifted rightwards on pretty much every issue - the only significant exceptions I think being a shift towards more liberal views on racism (which has been going on slowly for a century at least) and also towards more liberal views on homosexuality. We've got a conservative government pushing ahrd for gay marriage, which would have been unimaginable here even twenty years ago (and might still be unimaginable in lots of rich countries).

But on pretty much all the big political conflicts other than race there seems to have been a shift rightwards.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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quetzalcoatl
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Pretty much permanent Thatcherism, I suppose. Ah well, it's nice when I go to sleep.

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Chorister

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What I can't understand (serious question, this) is why do churches and cathedrals, which say they have no money left, go and do expensive projects on the building like putting in a glass door (c. £30,000) or take out pews and put in sturdily-built upholstered fabric chairs (similar amount, plus regular cleaning costs), toilets, serving hatches, etc.? Either they DO have money, or are using money which should be used for other purposes - repairing the roof, feeding the poor, or whatever your preference. I really struggle to see what the point is of a glass door, fancy chairs or a coffee bar, if the building itself is going to fall down in a generation's time. If it gets that far.

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SvitlanaV2
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Chorister

Some of those things may be covered by fundraising, or by grants from various bodies.

My experience of city churches, mostly Methodist, is that congregations and church leaders often think that making their churches more attractive will bring in new worshippers and/or new tenants. Removing pews, for example, isn't just about encouraging charismatic worship; it enables a church sanctuary to be let to various groups who need a more flexible space. And letting out your church building brings in the cash.

I do think the emphasis on the surroundings can sometimes overtake reflection on the spiritual life or the quality/style of worship of a particular congregation. But it can't be denied that some churches are a bit shabby. The regulars don't always notice, but as a visitor I notice the cast-off sofas, the custard-coloured, peeling paint, the dirty windows that don't close properly, etc.

Spending money to make money sounds rather capitalistic, but churches that are structured in the traditional way can't 'serve the community' very effectively unless they're generating enough income to do so. They do that by attracting new members or new tenants.

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que sais-je
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This may amuse SvitlanaV2. Wesley's Chapel in Bristol (1739) has some shabby old pews in it. In Wesley's time they weren't there but people nowadays expect a chapel to have pews so some old ones were bought and installed for the benefit of the tourists. Authenticity eh!

And before anyone gets cross with me, this has nothing to do with the thread, but it amuses me amidst all this talk of updating chaples.

[ 29. July 2013, 20:53: Message edited by: que sais-je ]

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"controversies, disputes, and argumentations, both in philosophy and in divinity, if they meet with discreet and peaceable natures, do not infringe the laws of charity" (Thomas Browne)

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Curiosity killed ...

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que sais-je - I found the Bonhoeffer quotes interesting and it's sort of what I was trying to get at.

Something that is somewhat linked to those ideas comes from this current discussion on Radio 4 - The Bishop and the Bankers - how can you persuade organisations to be moral?

edited to the name right

[ 29. July 2013, 21:02: Message edited by: Curiosity killed ... ]

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Yorick:
I don't see how the cult of Minerva should rightly claim a mandate for policy change in a modern democratic government, given its current demographic status in the electorate.

If the cult of Minerva were followed by 5% of the population it could claim a mandate commensurate with that. If it were able to build a coalition via issue raising, debate, or horse-trading, to support it the coalition would then have a mandate to implement that policy.
Now you might believe that no democratic majority has the right to overrule other people's human rights. That's a separate question. If it's wrong for a democracy to overrule human rights for religious reasons it's wrong for it to do so for any reason. The Independent is not objecting to Welby condemning child poverty on the grounds that human rights would be violated.

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que sais-je
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Something that is somewhat linked to those ideas comes from this current discussion on Radio 4 - The Bishop and the Bankers - how can you persuade organisations to be moral?

Thanks, I'll follow it up.

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Raptor Eye
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There will be a future for the Christian Church in the UK for as long as people there follow Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Where people are running 'their' churches as if they were businesses, putting money before Christ, they won't thrive as Christian Churches although they might become or remain as meeting places.

The Church buildings are our inheritance, to be maintained and passed on to the next generation, not to be sold or given away. Where people leave money in their wills to the Church so that buildings may be maintained, the money should not be used for any other purpose.

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:


Where people are running 'their' churches as if they were businesses, putting money before Christ, they won't thrive as Christian Churches although they might become or remain as meeting places.

The Church buildings are our inheritance, to be maintained and passed on to the next generation, not to be sold or given away. Where people leave money in their wills to the Church so that buildings may be maintained, the money should not be used for any other purpose.

Have we had this link already? [Big Grin]

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SvitlanaV2
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Raptor Eye

But unless churches have a business-like approach to maintaining and raising their income, or can encourage the wider to society to contribute, where is the money to look after these buildings - and to do all the community work and send money abroad - to come from?

This is what the National Trust says:
quote:

'The estimated cost of repairing all England's 14,500 listed places of worship is almost a billion pounds over the next decade [from 2007] - and that doesn't include thousands more unlisted ecclesiastical buildings. The bill is almost three times what the parishes, by the most optimistic calculations, could possibly raise. Over the same period the trickle of churches becoming redundant is becoming a torrent, and the statutory charity, the Churches Conservation Trust, will be able to save no more than a handful of the most important.'

Maybe among some congregations the power of prayer alone carries them forward. But that means so many more will have to end up closed.

[ 29. July 2013, 22:11: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I've long wondered if we oughtn't to hand the cathedral buildings (especially the big touristy ones) over to English Heritage, since that's exactly what they are - historical monuments - and get on with the business of living the gospel.

Probably idealistic. Most of my ideas to make the world a better place apparently are.

I suppose that if divesting the CoE of cathedral properties would mean that folk would get on with the "business of living the gospel" (whatever that might mean), it could be justified, but I see no link or causation. We do have a nearby example to see how that worked-- did the French church get on better with "business of living the gospel" after their buildings were secularized in 1906? Do we have any stats on this?
Well, it's simple enough. A good definition of a Cathedral is "large gothic or mediaeval building with a large wooden thermometer outside saying 'only £3.4m to go!' outside."

Freeing the church from the constant focus on keeping the building going might at least remove excuse for not getting on with what I can't help feeling are more core issues.

I was trying to make serious point. Folk in the UK have an example, just right next door and over the Channel, of a church which was freed of its building obligations a century ago. How did that go? Tell us how the core issues went in France. And tell us how that will be better, or worse, in the UK. We need a bit more than that this "might at least remove an excuse."

My limited work in this area suggested that some churches manage to obtain considerable sums from non-believers who like the building, or who think it is an important part of the heritage of the area. Perhaps the atheists may save the bells and the organ.

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SvitlanaV2
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Augustine the Aleut

There are several countries in Europe where the state pays for the upkeep of certain churches, usually RC or Lutheran, depending on which has the dominant historical presence in that country. But of course, the purpose of looking after these churches isn't to encourage churchgoing or to signal that the state approves of religion; The French state, for example, sees itself as resolutely secular. France and the UK have about the same rate of churchgoing.

It would be interesting to know how this state involvement works out financially. In northern Europe several countries have a church tax that most people pay even if they don't have any interest or stake in the denomination that receives this money. I can't see British people going for this, although they'll certainly start grumbling if and when church closures start to speed up in the future.

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Augustine the Aleut
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Indeed, Svitlana. At some point, people will likely decide that they do not want closed churches everywhere. That, perhaps, is the first time citizens will engage with how they are to be paid for. In the interim, I would like to see an examination as to how (e.g., the French, as they are close by and France is in many ways comparable to the UK) the church's losing the buildings has had an effect on religious life and the practice of mission.
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roybart
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quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
In the interim, I would like to see an examination as to how (e.g., the French, as they are close by and France is in many ways comparable to the UK) the church's losing the buildings has had an effect on religious life and the practice of mission.

Excellent question. Does anyone have the beginnings of an snswer to this?

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SusanDoris

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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
I do think religion should have a place. A return of Christian values to Government (helping the sick, poor, prisoner, immigrant) and banking would not be a bad thing.

But these are human values, and definitely not just the prerogative of Christians.
quote:
I am really asking what when this anti-religion commentary is mainstream and growing, what chance of those religious values keeping any foothold.
A secular society would be the best solution, really. Very interesting OP - I'm going to google the programme, as I'd certainly like to hear it.

[ 30. July 2013, 07:00: Message edited by: SusanDoris ]

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Curiosity killed ...

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<tangent>Susan Doris, you won't find this programme. It was a pilot; that means that it may never go out. If it does it will probably go out as part of a series, under a different title and after additional recording sessions.

I have seen four pilots, this one, another that was broadcast as a standalone programme and two that have disappeared, although a similar show to one of those has just finished on commercial radio many months later with a slightly different set up and different protagonists.</tangent>

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SusanDoris

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Curiosity Killed
Thank you for the tangent info.
Very interesting thread to read.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I've long wondered if we oughtn't to hand the cathedral buildings (especially the big touristy ones) over to English Heritage, since that's exactly what they are - historical monuments - and get on with the business of living the gospel.

Probably idealistic. Most of my ideas to make the world a better place apparently are.

I suppose that if divesting the CoE of cathedral properties would mean that folk would get on with the "business of living the gospel" (whatever that might mean), it could be justified, but I see no link or causation. We do have a nearby example to see how that worked-- did the French church get on better with "business of living the gospel" after their buildings were secularized in 1906? Do we have any stats on this?
Well, it's simple enough. A good definition of a Cathedral is "large gothic or mediaeval building with a large wooden thermometer outside saying 'only £3.4m to go!' outside."

Freeing the church from the constant focus on keeping the building going might at least remove excuse for not getting on with what I can't help feeling are more core issues.

I was trying to make serious point. Folk in the UK have an example, just right next door and over the Channel, of a church which was freed of its building obligations a century ago. How did that go? Tell us how the core issues went in France. And tell us how that will be better, or worse, in the UK. We need a bit more than that this "might at least remove an excuse."

My limited work in this area suggested that some churches manage to obtain considerable sums from non-believers who like the building, or who think it is an important part of the heritage of the area. Perhaps the atheists may save the bells and the organ.

It seems a bit ridiculous for you to expect me to have an expert knowledge of French religious and secular history in the early 20th century and imagine that by pointing to a situation I know nothing about you've somehow killed my idea stone dead. There's no point you pursuing this "what about France, eh, clever, what about France?" line because I freely admit I know absolutely nothing about France's particular situation wrt upkeep of ecclesiastical buildings.

I merely observe that the Cathedrals in particular are incredibly expensive, way larger than they actually need to be for their function, and a drain on resources. However, we do not (rightly) want to just get rid of them and have them converted into offices. I therefore think it's worth asking whether there's a case for seeking to free the church of the costs of their upkeep. I'm a bit narked that anyone puts scare quotes around "living the gospel" as if it isn't rather clear from what Jesus said - feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the prisoner, heal the sick. Not those things about which he said absolutely bugger all, such as patching up mediaeval buildings.

Those important things are made more difficult when the pressing issue is the crumbling mortar in the North Transept.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
There's no point you pursuing this "what about France, eh, clever, what about France?" line because I freely admit I know absolutely nothing about France's particular situation wrt upkeep of ecclesiastical buildings.

I merely observe that the Cathedrals in particular are incredibly expensive, way larger than they actually need to be for their function, and a drain on resources. However, we do not (rightly) want to just get rid of them and have them converted into offices. I therefore think it's worth asking whether there's a case for seeking to free the church of the costs of their upkeep.

In the distant future I think that turning some cathedrals and listed parish churches into offices will have to be one possibility on the table. There's no single organisation that has or will have the funds to take all care of all of these buildings. State involvement, charities, private donations, corporate sponsorship, etc. will all have to be encouraged.Ironically, disestablishment could make it easier for the CofE and the nation to wake up to new ways of dealing with the surplus of churches.

Re the various questions about France, Wiki has an article about how the French state's takeover of old RC churches in 1905 was and is perceived. There seems to be a certain ambiguity about it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1905_French_law_on_the_Separation_of_the_Churches_and_the_State


But it doesn't seem as though the RCC has been liberated to carry out more evangelism. Secularisation started quite early in France. Churchgoing among French Catholics has continued to decline, and many who label themselves as Catholics don't believe in God. But has the RCC done more for the poor because it doesn't have old buildings to look after? Possibly. I don't know.

Interestingly, Wiki states that old Protestant and Jewish buildings are also funded. But historical French Protestantism is tiny, and the gradual growth of evangelical Protestantism is occurring mostly in new (as well as some old) denominations, so there can't be much of an overall benefit from state funding for French Protestantism.

This is an interesting article about French Protestants today:
http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/10/59/22/PDF/Sociology_of_Religion_S.Fath.pdf

[ 30. July 2013, 11:39: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider: I merely observe that the Cathedrals in particular are incredibly expensive, way larger than they actually need to be for their function, and a drain on resources.
They'd be a drain on somebody's resources whoever looked after them. It might as well be the Church as anybody.
They are also some of the most beautiful buildings in the country.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider: I merely observe that the Cathedrals in particular are incredibly expensive, way larger than they actually need to be for their function, and a drain on resources.
They'd be a drain on somebody's resources whoever looked after them. It might as well be the Church as anybody.
They are also some of the most beautiful buildings in the country.

Exactly. Part of our heritage, Christian or otherwise. Hence my proposal that they be preserved as part of our heritage by the nation as a whole. I'm at a loss to understand why the church wants sole responsibility for these very expensive buildings.

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
[Cathedrals would] be a drain on somebody's resources whoever looked after them. It might as well be the Church as anybody.
They are also some of the most beautiful buildings in the country.

Why should the Church be devoting a significant chunk of its resources to maintaining under-used, unfit for purpose buildings? (Not that all cathedrals fall into either of these categories.) Where has God indicated that he wants his people on Earth to do this?

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quetzalcoatl
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But don't the cathedrals attract people who would not normally go near a church? OK, I guess they wander round as a tourist, but possibly the staff hope that a few get more interested.

I often go to Bath, and the Abbey (OK, not a cathedral), is an absolute magnet during the holiday season. But maybe it is treated just as another holiday attraction, like Avon Gorge.

They have very simple hourly services as well, and usually a number of people sit and listen.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
But don't the cathedrals attract people who would not normally go near a church? OK, I guess they wander round as a tourist, but possibly the staff hope that a few get more interested.

I often go to Bath, and the Abbey (OK, not a cathedral), is an absolute magnet during the holiday season. But maybe it is treated just as another holiday attraction, like Avon Gorge.

They have very simple hourly services as well, and usually a number of people sit and listen.

None of that changes one iota under my proposal. It isn't "Cathedrals are bad, let's sell them" - it's "Cathedrals are expensive; how do we avoid spending so much of our money on their upkeep as a church"

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
I do think religion should have a place. A return of Christian values to Government (helping the sick, poor, prisoner, immigrant) and banking would not be a bad thing.

But these are human values, and definitely not just the prerogative of Christians.
quote:
I am really asking what when this anti-religion commentary is mainstream and growing, what chance of those religious values keeping any foothold.
A secular society would be the best solution, really. Very interesting OP - I'm going to google the programme, as I'd certainly like to hear it.

But humans also hurt the poor, the prisoner and the immigrant - evil is clearly a human value too. I never get why humanists feel able to claim that good is not the prerogative of just the religious when it's clear that evil isn't either! As a Christian, it doesn't change the fact that all the prophets of the Bible are concerned by God raising up the humble and bringing down the mighty.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Augustine the Aleut
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Evidence-based decision-making is usually a better idea than non-evidence-based decision-making. If nothing else, a look at a similar situation give us ideas on how to go about it better. I pushed the comparison to move us from a concept to how it could work out in reality.

Svitlana has helpfully given us some of the information which I was looking for. If someone thinks that freeing churches of the responsibility for the buildings is a magic bullet for ministry -- perhaps an oversimplification of what KLB said -- we have a case study handy. My own experience of French churches is that they are energetic, mission-oriented and (largely due to the scarcity of priests and perhaps due to a lack of synodical government to suck up energy) with a high degree of lay participation. I think that part of this owes to being free of roof-worship and buttress-balancing, but that's anecdotology, and not evidence. It doesn't seem to result in more bums on seats.

I can understand the frustration of those responsible for the very expensive keeping of buildings- they did not go in for the job of being building curators but now find it is an all-consuming and expensive job, and there is a general public blithely thinking it's someone else's problem.

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Holy Smoke
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Surely the real luxury these days is having paid ministers - if it were just a matter of maintaining the buildings, then I think it would be easier to find the money, even from non-churchgoers who are keen to see a beautiful and historic building preserved. It's the constant worry of having to meet the parish share which is the real problem, especially if the vicar is better paid then most of the parishioners.
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