Anglican Samizdat

April 14, 2010

Anglican Diocese of Montreal supports the burka

Filed under: Diocese of Montreal — David Jenkins @ 11:15 pm
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A Canadian Muslim, Tarek Fatah, agrees with the banning of burkas in Quebec government offices, schools, and other publicly funded institutions. He cites numerous reasons; this is among them:

I have no reservation in stating categorically that the burka is not just a piece of clothing, but is a symbol of Islamofacism and a rejection of the West as well as our cherished value of gender equality. The cruel reality is the burka castigates women as a source of evil (A’wra), condemning them to a life of isolation away from the gaze of men. Once veiled, they are marginalized, denied equality and made subservient to men. This leads to economic dependency, intimidation, violence and emotional abuse. Under the veil, the woman has no civic or secular identity. Her rights to make civic and political decisions are controlled and usurped by men, and by extension the hierarchy of the organized groups.

None of this deters Anglican Bishop of Montreal Barry Clarke though, who, after plumbing the depths of his Islamic savoir-faire, announced support for the burka:

MONTREAL – A bill that would bar a woman wearing a face veil from receiving government services is an attack on women’s rights in the guise of defending equality of the sexes, say the Anglican diocese of Montreal and the Simone de Beauvoir Institute.

In a statement approved Monday night by local clergy and Bishop Barry Clarke, the diocese said the bill erodes freedom of religion guaranteed under the Quebec and Canadian human-rights charters.

The local church body added that Bill 94 also unfairly targets women, since there are no men who wear the niqab, a veil with slits for the eyes worn by a small minority of Muslim women in Quebec.

“Obliging women to choose between the free exercise of their Charter right to freedom of religion, and the exercise of their rights to participate in society is odious,” the diocese said.

Also undeterred was the Simone de Beauvoir institute which has as its mission:

The Institute strives to stimulate the investigation, understanding and communication of the historical and contemporary roles of women in society, and to encourage women to develop their full creative potential.

There’s nothing that develops a woman’s creative potential quite as effectively as wearing a burka.

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March 31, 2010

For a Lent study, a Quebec Anglican Church invites imam to speak about Islam

Filed under: Anglican Angst — David Jenkins @ 12:12 pm
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Just what every Anglican needs to meditate on during Lent: the basics of Islam:

Also, on three Tuesday evenings at 7:30, beginning Feb. 23, we welcome Dr. Ahmad Shafaat, the imam of the local mosque, who will teach us some basics about Islam. He will bring several members of his congregation to join us in conversation. Take the time for what interests you; everyone is welcome.

The series was called, “Understanding Islam” and:

Dr. Shafaat’s lectures dealt with the life of the prophet, the roots of Islam, and the prayer recited by the faithful five times daily. It begins, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, Master of the Day of Recompense.” Everything we have comes from God, Dr. Shafaat said, and our relationship to Creation is based on respect. The nature of God is indescribable but unmistakable, a transcendental reality.

As Anglicans we do need to remember, particularly during Lent, that Jesus died on the cross to help us understand Islam better.

January 30, 2010

A shake-up is coming to the Diocese of Montreal

Filed under: Diocese of Montreal — David Jenkins @ 12:52 am
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The Diocese of Montreal, having lost 45,000 members between 1981 and 2001, is dwindling in much the same way as the Diocese of BC.

A consultant has been hired to find out what can be done; her report says, among other things:

As is her wont, Myrlene Boken does not recommend the closing of any churches in the Diocese of Montreal, preferring to leave the final decision up to parishioners.

But she makes no bones about considering some churches more strategic than others. Her report divides the slightly under 100 churches in the diocese into five categories.

She considers 50 churches – a little more than half – to be in strategic locations and another dozen in “second-level locations” that “round out our coverage of the mission field” but, for example, would not be a priority for replacement if they burned down or needed major repairs.

Another eight are in “tertiary” locations, generally buried in residential neighbourhoods and often dating from the 1950s and 1960s. They often benefit from dedicated local members and leaders even today, so Ms. Boken’s suggestion that the diocese not devote important resources to them could be controversial.

There are 18 “final generation” churches, generally in rural areas and some of them almost “family chapels.” They have few prospects for the future but Ms. Boken thinks it would often cause unnecessary hard feelings to force them to close. (A few of these are already on the way to being wound up by local parishioners.) Finally, there are a half-dozen tourist sites in the Laurentians that she thinks can play a useful role with summer student placements.

Although Boken does not recommend the closing of any churches, she does seem to think that it would not be a bad thing if half of them burned down. And that, after all, is what you pay a consultant for: creative thinking.

As comic relief, in the same issue of the diocesan paper, Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. rambles on about “God’s mission in a changing world and church”, drawing on a Marxist political theorist for inspiration. His most profound insight is this:

In light of the new Pentecost, Christians in general, and Anglicans in particular, are beginning to ask ourselves: How much does the translatability of the Gospel and the missiological imperative of inculturation inform our worship and common life as Christians today?

Scarcely a day goes by without an Anglican acquaintance piously murmuring in my ear his concern about “missiological imperative of inculturation”.

With Professor Douglas helping to push them over the edge, I’m quite sure that the Diocese of Montreal will soon be following the example of the Diocese of BC and closing churches. Those that don’t burn down first.

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