Friday 26 June 2009

disempowering patriarchy

disempowering patriarchy constantine york minster

Here is a cover waiting for a book if anyone is minded to write it.

As you see it is both a statement of fact - patriarchy is disempowering - and a vision for one way in which the  church might be remade in God's image - disempowering patriarchy.

I offer the image as my response to the funeral of my Aunt, which was yesterday.

The service took place in an Anglican parish church which does not welcome the priesthood of women and which is under what I believe is called 'alternative episcopal oversight'.

The priest who conducted the service was well meaning and very sincere.

As a Methodist presbyter, however, I found myself in a foreign land and could not separate the specific act of celebrating the life of a remarkable and much-loved woman from the surrounding context of an ideology of gender exclusion.

How can 'power patriarchy' be anything other than a blight upon both church and gospel? How can silencing women and excluding them from key roles in leadership be 'according to the mind of Christ'? Get a life.

The gospel I read tells me that Jesus empowered the powerless and included the excluded.

The picture of the statue of Emperor Constantine outside York Minster is not a criticism but a whopping question mark concerning power in the church, any church.

Does God weep or rejoice that women are excluded in this way?

I don't hear divine blokey-bloke laughter at this iniquity. And tears fall silently. But the hurt is real.


  1. Thank you so much for this post Dave. I have nothing to add, if I began to let it all out I would write a comment many pages long - perhaps even the book you suggest!

  2. "As a Methodist presbyter, however, I found myself in a foreign land....", interesting I found myself in that place this weekend attending the ordinations of some of contemporaries from ERMC.

    As for the rest of the post, I find myself echoing Micky's comment perhaps that book needs to be written.

  3. Agreed entirely. Micky, perhaps you need to let it out for the sake of those men who just don't get it, and to help give the arguments to the women who can't articulate it for themselves.

    My wife attended the funeral of a friend's dad, who was ordained. The parade of dog collars all said very nice things about his ministry, and virtually ignored the widow, daughters and grandchildren sat in the front row. Church can get so blinkered...

    Thanks, Dave.

  4. Thanks to Micky, Sally and Tony for your insightful and supportive comments. I think Tony is right Micky when he encourages you to express your voice, if that is possible. Gender injustice still continues to inflict damage and may be it is up to our generation, women and men, to nail it once and for all.