What should bloggers do in the age of higher and higher paywalls at major newspapers?
Frankly, we can't pay to read everything. You know?
Yes, there are ways to take the URLs for stories and patch them into other programs and read the texts. But does that help the readers of this blog? We are committed -- as often as is possible -- to writing about news articles to which we can link, so that our readers have a chance to read the full texts for themselves (in part to see if our criticisms are valid).
The other day, I bumped into a pair of texts from The Times, as in London, that had been pulled out from behind that particular paywall. I was, of course, pulled in by the headline under which this mini-package ran: "The Times doesn't get religion."
The key text here was a piece about the meeting that the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided to hold in an attempt to deal with a host of doctrinal and discipline issues in his tense global Communion. Click here (and then here) to read some GetReligion pieces about coverage of this story. Can Archbishop Justin Welby save the Anglican Communion in any form that retains a true sense of Eucharistic Communion?
The Times weighed in on that. First, let's look at a chunk of the Times piece and then we'll look at a really, really interesting letter to the editor that it inspired.
For more than a decade the Church of England has been consumed by backbiting and threats of schism as it debated the contentious issues of women bishops, gay clergy and scriptural literalism. This has been a depressing and unedifying spectacle. It has severely weakened the authority of the church at a time when faith has become an ever more controversial political issue. In the process it has obscured the valuable work that the church still does in education, social care and pastoral support for millions.
The arguments have gone far beyond the seminaries and pulpits of Britain. They have wrought havoc throughout the Anglican Communion, the family of 38 churches in communion with each other and with Canterbury. Worse, church doctrine, especially on such divisive issues as human sexuality, has become entangled in growing resentment at the continued dominance of the Church of England. In African and other developing countries this dominance is seen as a quasi-imperial hangover from a bygone age. Seizing on an issue that appeals to widespread prejudice, some African churches have denounced the liberalism of western churches as flawed and decadent.
And the letter that openly questioned whether the Times "gets" religion? It came from a very, very interesting source.
Wait for it.
Your leader ("Church at Bay," ...) offers a flawed analysis of the crisis besetting Anglicanism. It is unhelpfully patronising to African Anglicans. Your assumption of post-colonial resentment and prejudice fails to account for why so many American, Australian and English Anglicans share their views.
A better analysis would be to take into account the tension between a faith that recognises the integrity of the Bible in a way that saves it from the colonialism of passing cultures (nothing to do with literalism), and a secularized faith which prefers so-called "progressive" values antithetic to the faith. The present ominious decline of progressive CofE Anglicans in relation to the flourishing of orthodox traditional Anglicans demonstrates the difference.
The archbishop is to be wished well in his attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable. But for as long as the Church of England chooses to prefer the Marxist meme of "egalitarianism" to the countercultural values of the gospels, it risks both the collapse it presently faces and the bringing into being in England of an alternative, renewed Anglican orthodoxy, which stands with the majority of Anglicans across the globe.
And the name at the end of this letter to the editor?
The Rev. Canon Dr. Gavin Ashenden
Chaplain to the Queen
In the context of British culture, it's safe to assume that not all letters to the editor are created equal. Might this be one of them?
That signature sure would have gotten my attention.