Friday, 2 April 2010

Yeah right, +Jensen.

Over the past fifteen years I’ve received unsolicited mail from two religious organisations: the Sydney Anglican Diocese and the Scientologists. In both cases this intrigues me, since during this time we’ve moved home quite often, and while there’s usually been a lag of about six months, eventually their databases have always - with no assistance from me – tracked us down.

The bottom line from both groups is always the same: they want money. Sure they’d like my participation/involvement/heart & soul/etc., but the closing paragraphs invariably include space for a credit card number and signature. Yet there’s also always something very different between their solicitations: one of the two never fails to begin by expressing concern for my well-being, both physical and spiritual, and warmly invites me to join them in their faith. The other only wants to make me aware of how crucial xyz project is, and how important it is I contribute financially. Despite having never made the slightest attempt to conceal my distain for their soul-destroying dogma, one group continues to profess – in their paraphernalia, at least – to offer a hand of friendship and welcome. The other appears to not care less about my personal circumstances: it’s their needs which are important, not anyone mine or my family's. And, for anyone who hasn’t already guessed, it’s the latter group of which Archbishop Jensen is the leader.

Given which I’ve found his Easter meassage bemusing. He’s quite right, Sydney, like any large city (and a great many smaller ones) can be an extremely lonely place. It is the role of the church to reach out to those who are lost and lonely, bringing them comfort and the love of God, and it’s wonderful Archbishop Jensen is professing a desire to reach those whom have been overlooked and forgotten by a world which measures popularity in terms of physical beauty and economic wealth.

It would be more wonderful, however, if the Archbishop was prepared to follow up his words with some sort of meaningful action, rather than just another distribution of Matthias Media’s “Essential Jesus”. The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the pressure being put upon “keep statistics favourable”, but the reality is that almost a decade of this pressure has produced nothing. Steady growth has occurred in those few parishes which could still be considered traditionally Anglican, but naturally no mention is ever made in diocesan propaganda of such an inconvenient truth. A cadre of politically and doctrinally acceptable parishes such as Christ Church St. Ives (which is located in one of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs, and at last count had a staff of 20) continue to be presented as Sydney Evangelical success stories, while parishes in less economically prestigious areas such as Sydney’s south west – a region encompassing over one million people – struggle with little support, no youth workers or outreach staff, and a succession of temporary clerical appointments. Archbishop Jensen may indeed care about the unemployed kids hanging around the main street of Lakemba, but none that I’ve ever spoken to know it. And I’ll guarantee he’s more familiar with London’s Heathrow Airport than he is with their world.

Nor will he be spending any time reaching out to them or anyone else in Sydney during the week following Easter – he’s off to Bermuda instead, where he’ll be planning to bring the same sort of “success” to churches in the rest of the world. With that sort of a role model it’s no wonder his faithful clergy aspire to do something more exciting with their time than minister to the lonely, the lost, the prickly and the unbelieving. Safer to just send them a letter asking for money, and leave the pastoral stuff to the Scientologists, eh guys?


lindy said...

Just clicking over to say Happy Easter (a little early)

As usual, I agree completely...


Anonymous said...

Yes it's interesting to watch Peter Jensen promote the Matthias Media 'Essential Jesus' Bible in the middle of his Easter message.
I actually thought he looked a bit ashamed when being encouraged to flash the publication. I suppose he has to do his bit seeing that the rest of the Matthias Media power brokers are heavy at work in England.

Didn't I see somewhere that The Good Book Co produced the English 'Passion for Life ' resources?

And what a lovely photo of Phillip Jensen and his wife. It shows how headship and submission go hand in hand to create marital bliss.

Are all these Sydney Calvinists meeting up with their overseas counterparts in Bermuda? Is the church paying?

Anonymous said...

And it is election time in England! It seems like right wing evangelists in Sydney, England and the US are doing their best to provide a crash course in right wing Christian salvation. I wonder if they are really seeking to convert the masses spiritually or is it more politically motivated?
I think Jesus displays a little more depth than what these guys expound (as Phillip Jensen puts it).
It's not about Jesus! It's about the personal benefits that their Jesus provides in maintaining the status quo!
If these guys hung out with the lonely, homeless, disenfranchised, poor and marginalised, then they might find another type of Jesus, who may actually save them from their narrow minded prejudical faith. However, I'm convinced that they are addicted to the adrenalin rush and influence they weild when preaching. Whose need is being fulfilled... when a preacher preaches 36 times in 3 weeks?

BooCat said...

I just came in from Good Friday services and thought I would check in on you and the Duck Noodle Gang. May you all have a Happy Easter season.

So +Jensen is going to be at the Tucker's Point Club gathering of Global South Primates, is he? I would accuse him of depleting the treasury even further than he already has, but that tab is being picked up by Emmanuel Kampouris, former CEO of the multi-national American Standard, Co. (As per The Lead) People who hate seem to always find other people who hate, don't they?

Fr Hugh Jass said...

I thought I'd enquire about your welfare and send Easter Greetings to your family. I hope you are all well. I would dearly love to spend two weeks in the Caribbean. Please send me a large amount of money to enable me to have an Easter break. There is no catch. You will be doing the Lord's work if you enable me to stay in a luxury hotel in Jesus' Name.

Doorman-Priest said...

Dear One,
How are you? We at the church of D.P. wish you a Happy Easter and hope you will be able to help us with a small donation of, say, £200,000 so that our lead Pastor can continue God's ministry amongst vulnerable young women in ight clubs.

Credit Card No:.................

Brian R said...

Happy Easter to all the duck noodles.
Am off to Choral Eucharist in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin where Calvinist Bishops are completely irrelevant.

Alcibiades said...

And a happy Easter to you, Brian, and Lindy, Anons 1 & 2, BooCat, Fr. Jass (If I had a spare $160 million laying around I certainly would send you for a nice holiday in Bermuda instead of gambling it away - but alas...), Doorman-Priest, and every one else who visits here - including the regulars who no longer leave comments now that moderation is back on ;-)

May the coming year bring us all closer to the resurrected Lord, whose love is greater than death.