Patum Peperium's critics have spoken : They are oh-so-tired of my Church of England bashing. Will the same critics feel disgust if I compliment the C of E, well, a small group within the C of E? As very few write better than Melanie Phillips and Mr. P just taught me how to cut an paste, I'll just let you read the report from her diary. Please read slowly to understand the full impact of it all:
Anglicans for truth and decency
On September 7 (see post below) I wrote about a heartening initiative by a decent member of the Church of England, Simon McIlwaine, to organise a group which would challenge Anglican animosity towards Israel. Today this group, 'Anglicans for Israel', has opened its own website, found here, which contains articles that approach the subject of Israel and the Middle East in a spirit of fairness, truth and historical memory.
This is an immensely welcome development for two main reasons. First, it demonstrates that there are Christians in Britain who are motivated by principled impulses, a spirit of generosity and absence of prejudice towards the Jews and a sound understanding of the wellsprings of evil in the world. As a result, they will give heart to others who think like them but who until now have lacked a voice to represent their viewpoint against the decadent prejudices within Anglicanism. Second, they will provide a vital public challenge to those prejudices for Anglicans who genuinely do not realise that the world-view they take for granted as the moral high ground is actually a repository of moral inversion, historical ignorance and the discourse of racial hatred.
I recently found myself confronting this world-view in a conversation with a senior cleric in the Church of England. We had both just heard an account of Israel's history and society which to me was a travesty of the truth, omitting altogether the half-century of exterminatory Arab attacks on Israel, the vilification of Jews in Arab and Muslim discourse and the five year campaign of mass murder against Israeli citizens in the Oslo intifada. Instead, Israel's Jews were presented as motivated by an otherwise inexplicable racial prejudice against the Arabs and a desire to discriminate against them and generally do them down.
When I protested, the cleric declared that he wanted to understand my pain. I replied that my pain was caused by having heard an account of Israel that was not based on the truth and which would further deepen the already toxic prejudice against the Jews. To which this cleric replied that there was no one truth, and that we all had to respect each other's truths. To which I inquired whether this meant that we had to respect each other's lies -- which elicited the reply that these were merely 'competing narratives'.
So to this cleric, it seems, the Arab lie that, for example, Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians -- a lie which has the direct result of inciting the mass murder of Israelis -- has to be respected. Not surprisingly, therefore, he told me that the person to whose narrative I had objected was, to him, 'a hero'. For good measure, dismissing the fusillade of rockets that Hamas had just launched from Gaza against the Israeli town of Sderot, he declared that it was wrong for Israel to attack Hamas in response and that it should be talking to it instead.
When I inquired what they might find to talk about, since Hamas has a non-negotiable postion which happens to be the extermination of Israel, and wondered whether he would have similarly urged negotiations with Hitler instead of declaring war in 1939, he acknowledged that he too had been pondering that very scenario! But attacking Hamas, he persisted, would not achieve anything - a prediction dashed within hours, when after Israel had pounded Hamas positions and thus showed it would not tolerate such aggression but would defend its citizens with tenacity, Hamas was moved suddenly to re-impose its ceasefire.
Maybe 'Anglicans for Israel' will now challenge the moral and intellectual muddle displayed by this cleric and many more like him, and help restore decency and sanity to the church.
Yes, we've talked endlessly in this space about the dangers of the moral relativism that is promoted within the Anglican Communion. Melanie's discussion with the senior cleric from the Church of England who strongly desired to "feel her pain" but said "there was no one truth and we all must respect each other's truths" causing her even greater pain, demonstrates the dangerous ground that kind of thinking lead us to. The senior cleric's mindset is exactly what we have so loudly railed here against here again and again. We protest it because it is real and, if it is left to its own devices it will take us somewhere we don't want to go.
Anglicans For Israel is a very promising development. Look on the sidebar to find the pleasant surprise : The Rev. Dr. Peter Mullen, of the Social Affairs Unit, who we've discussed here and linked to his pieces in the past, (although I disagree with him on Prince Chowderhead and his Duchess) is a patron. Let's hope with a little luck and a lot of God's grace this group, in time, will speak for the entire Anglican Communion.
Here is Melanie's report on another promising cultural development in England.
UPDATE: RealClearPolitics has the scoop on somewhat related and unbelievable story.