Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The christening without much Christianity: Church of England to offer 'baptism lite' to attract non-worshippers

Church of England baptism services may be re-written to remove some references to Christianity. The plan for a new ‘baptism lite’ service designed to make christenings more interesting to non-churchgoers will be considered next month by the Church’s parliament, the General Synod.

Supporters say the baptism service should be ‘expressed in culturally appropriate and accessible language’ that is readily understood by ‘non-theologically versed Britons’.
But traditionalist clergy said the idea amounted to ‘dumbing down’.

The new service would be used at 150,000 christenings each year. If the plan is accepted, it will be the third full re-write of the baptism ceremony in around 30 years – the version in the Church’s Book of Common Prayer went virtually unaltered for more than 400 years until 1980.

Complaints centre on three sections of the baptism service from the Church’s latest prayer book, Common Worship, authorised for use in 1997. In one, parents, godparents or an adult being baptised are asked to ‘reject the devil and all rebellion against God’ and to renounce ‘the deceit and corruption of evil’. They are asked to ‘submit to Christ as Lord’.

The Reverend Dr Tim Stratford, from Liverpool, who is putting the plans before the synod, said in a paper that ‘there remains some unhappiness about the language not being earthed enough’. He added: ‘The concern is one of the language not making strong enough connections to life choices in such a way that it can be heard.’

Dr Stratford and his supporters have also called for a new version of prayers that refer to the symbolic role of water in baptism. He said that among clergy from poor and inner city parishes ‘there was a strong plea for a shorter prayer in direct but poetic language that allows the Gospel to resonate better with people’s experience of life’. He added: ‘This was not a plea for a prayer in Scouse, but for a prayer that the majority of non-theologically versed Britons would understand.’

A third part of the service was condemned as too long and not ‘direct’.

Stephen Parkinson, of the Anglo-Catholic Forward in Faith organisation, said there were problems with the 1997 service, but added: ‘Simply dumbing it down is not the answer.’

Bishops indicated yesterday that if the Synod accepts the argument a committee will be instructed to begin writing a new baptism service, but they warned that such re-writing would raise arguments over faith and doctrine.

William Fittall, secretary general of the synod, said that bishops are ‘clear that now is not the time to embark on the long and complex process involved in such a revision or replacement’.


'It's a sledgehammer for British businesses': Ten month paternity leave for fathers savaged by city chiefs

Allowing fathers to take up to ten months of paternity leave would be a ‘sledgehammer to business’, it was claimed last night. Under plans outlined yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, couples could be allowed to divide up their joint parental leave into chunks of a few weeks at a time – increasing the disruption for employers. Fathers may also be offered an extra six weeks of ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ leave to encourage them to take time off.

The British Chambers of Commerce said the proposals were a ‘sledgehammer’ to business while employment lawyers said they could have a ‘chilling’ effect on recruitment.

The Institute of Directors warned that the policy would make it impossible for businesses to plan, adding: ‘If employees were given the opportunity to take leave in short blocks, the system would become virtually unmanageable.’

Employment law barrister Daniel Barnett warned the change could put firms off employing young people at all. He said: ‘It sounds noble, but is deeply impractical. It will have a chilling impact on recruitment practice.’

Embarrassingly, it emerged that David Cameron had spoken out against similar Labour proposals while in opposition. In 2006, he said: ‘The massive extension of paternity leave owes a bit more to political correctness than the realities of life. It could be very disruptive, particularly to small business.’

Mr Clegg said the Coalition would press ahead in April with Labour’s plans to allow new parents to share up to six months of paid maternity leave – with the intention of increasing that to ten months in due course.

But Downing Street yesterday stressed that the ten-month proposal would not be introduced until 2015.


Popular broadcasting personality lambasts BBC's red-tape and political corectness

Sir Terry Wogan has attacked the BBC, saying its obsession with red tape is tantamount to ‘lunatics taking over the asylum’. The veteran broadcaster warned that the corporation is in danger of censoring its talent in the wake of the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phone prank scandal.

He compared its approach with the public sector’s obsession with unnecessary and restrictive health and safety regulations.

The BBC tightened up procedures governing suitable broadcast content, known as ‘compliance’, after 54,000 people complained about Ross and Brand’s abusive messages to Andrew Sachs on a Radio 2 show.

‘Today, lunatics have taken over the asylum,’ Sir Terry, 72, told Radio Times. ‘Agents and publicists rule and the BBC even sends people to monitor interviews in the name of “compliance”. It is so restrictive.’

However, Sir Terry also criticised the next generation on screen, branding comedian Frankie Boyle as ‘too strong’ and warning that Ricky Gervais ‘walked a tightrope’.

He said of Piers Morgan’s U.S. role as CNN chat show host: ‘People confuse longevity with merit. Morgan is shameless and fearless enough to succeed.

‘There’s nothing to be gained from being an aggressive interviewer. Clive Anderson proved if you’re sharp, possibly nasty, you last six months as you won’t have any guests. People only appear on radio and TV if they’ve something to sell.’

He added that executives are more concerned about pay packets than the prestige of working for a world-renowned public service broadcaster.

Now one of the BBC’s highest-paid stars earning more than £800,000 for his Sunday Radio 2 show, he insisted money should not be the driving force for working at the BBC. Three years ago he accused bosses of lacking ‘old-fashioned thoroughness’.


TIME magazine savages Israel -- again

Faltering magazine seeks its salvation in antisemitism

It's not clear why Time magazine has championed anti-Israel zealotry, but it has now established quite a reputation for biased and inflammatory coverage of the Jewish state.

In a September 2010 article, "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace," Time reporter Karl Vick repeated the anti-Semitic trope that Jews only care about money. The article set off a firestorm of criticism and reportedly prompted some Time advertisers to express concern about the magazine's tilt.

In this week's issue, another article by Vick, "Israel's Rightward Lurch Scares Some Conservatives," heaps condemnation on the Jewish state for legislation that would require NGOs to reveal foreign funding (a similar requirement for foreign lobbyists in the U.S.) and employs noxious rhetoric.

This draws a rare rebuke from the Israeli government. An official authorized to speak only without attribution told me in measured tones that he was "surprised that Time would publish such a narrow and superficial piece on an important topic -- one that overlooked the full range and complexity of Israel's democracy. We would have expected Time to hold itself to a higher standard."

Andrea Levin, the head of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), e-mailed me this morning: "Apparently, Time Magazine has decided the way to save a waning magazine is to bash the Jewish state full tilt." She accused Vick of a "jaundiced and factually-challenged view of Israel."

Levin put the discussion of NGO funding in context: Israel's Knesset voted to establish a parliamentary committee to examine international sources of funding for Israeli organizations that "aid the de-legitimization of Israel through harming IDF soldiers."

As Ronen Shoval, head of the Im Tirtzu organization that has exposed linkages between extremist NGO's and the notorious Goldstone Report, writes in Ha'aretz: "During the past year, the vast majority of the public became convinced that the organizations that call themselves human rights groups actually belong to the extreme left and seek to force their radical values on others through foreign funding."

Much of the far left, which supports the extreme NGO's, has risen in fury at the prospect of parliamentary inquiries into funding. Karl Vick's story parrots the indignation of those who have previously dispensed biased, false attacks against Israel with impunity.

A Democratic pro-Israel activist, who is similarly beside himself, e-mails me: "Is Israel less entitled than the US or anyone else to know WHAT FOREIGN FUNDING is flowing into lobbying organizations in Israel? The people screaming are those on the fringes of Israeli society who pretend, but don't really, have the support inside Israel to fund their extremist anti-establishment, anti-Israel propaganda.

So where do they get their money? Often from foreign governments. In the U.S., when foreign governments spend money to influence our political system, they and those working for them are required to make that public. Who is afraid of transparency?

The Time piece also takes issue with Israel's Shin Bet security agency. Daniel Gordis, a senior vice president at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem counters: "Time calls the Shin Bet a 'shadowy' organization, as if the work of the CIA or NSA is carried out in broad daylight. Why on earth would a security organization not be shadowy, and why is that a crime? It's a source of suspicion, for Time, only if the country in question is Israel."

The single worst passage of the article may be this: "Ron Pundak, a historian who runs the Peres Center for Peace, sees the current atmosphere of Israeli politics as the ugliest in the nation's history. "It's totally abnormal," he says. "From my point of view, this is reminiscent of the dark ages of different places in the world in the 1930s. Maybe not Germany, but Italy, maybe Argentina later. I fear we are reaching a slippery slope, if we are not already there."

Levin said she is outraged by the fascism accusation: "His nasty rhetoric aside, Mr. Pundak is evidently aghast that many others think it's a move toward getting off the 'slippery slope' and onto solid ground to take a close look at the substance, sources and impact of certain NGO's."

But it is the entire premise of the article -- that the region's only democracy has become a sinister, authoritarian state -- that is the most disturbing. Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security advisor to George W. Bush and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign relations, tells me:

"Time's accounts of Israel resemble, but are now more extreme, than those in Saudi or Iranian publications. In a week when the police attack demonstrators in Egypt protesting the stolen November election there, and there are anti-government riots in Jordan, Tunisia and Algeria, what does Time do? It attacks Israel, the only democracy in the region, because provisions Time does not like are being debated in Israel's parliament.

No doubt Time is scared about what it sees as 'rightward lurches' in lots of places, beginning in the United States in last November's election, but the repeated assaults on Israel have long since crossed into biased and venomous reporting."

It is the lack of balance and perspective that Gordis finds objectionable. He observes, "The article is egregiously unbalanced, as we have sadly come to expect from Time. Examples abound. Israel is accused of lurching to the right for considering stripping citizens of citizenship for espionage, when the U.S. has executed people (Julius and Ethel Rosenberg) for that crime. By that standard, stripping a citizen who betrays his or her own country in the most horrific manner of their citizenship seems mild, not extreme." He adds, "One need not be a supporter of Israel to be disgusted with Time magazine. One need only remember the days when Time's journalism was a serious craft."

Just last month, Israel's ambassador, Michael Oren, told me he was deeply troubled "the insinuation into journalistic discourse of themes that would have been deemed unacceptable or racist only a few years ago." He has reason to be concerned, just as readers of Time have reason to be alarmed by a once respectable journal that has now championed the cause of Israel's most aggressive bashers.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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