Sunday, July 23, 2006

Flyin' is Virgin' On a Sin (And So's Driving an Audi)

Sometimes I really do despair of the Church of England. Its rituals now include sacrificing creed to convenience and conviction to political correctness. I could scarcely believe what I was reading on the front page of the Sunday Times today. IT'S A SIN TO FLY SAYS CHURCH. Now I think I've got a good grip on the definition of sinning (no comments please!), but I can't see where in the bible it mentions air travel, or driving an Audi (as I do), being in need of repentance. The Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres disagrees...

“Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin. Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions.”

Claire Foster, the church’s environment policy director, said: “Indiscriminate use of the earth’s resources must be seen as profoundly wrong, just as we now see slavery as wrong.”

So all those Anglican bishops attending the next big Anglican jamboree had better find alternative means of getting there. All this does is remind me why I rarely go to church anymore. And if I did, it would be to a Catholic one. At least I'd only be lectured on proper sins.

UPDATE: A correspondent reminds me that Richard Chartres spent two months this year on a luxury cruise, lecturing on theology. He was heavily criticised for being on a cruise ship over Easter rather than attending services at St Paul's Cathedral. I am absolutely positive cruise ships give off no carbon emissions at all. Of course not.

49 comments:

billy said...

The best service I've ever seen was at Notre Dame - colour, incense and a heavenly singer but the hymns are better in Mission Praise at the local C of E.
The Bishops do make life difficult for their ministers when they say things like this.

HM Stanley said...

I too despair for CofE, though it is not yet as bad as Episcopalian Church Stateside. Outgoing Presiding Bishop (Archbishop for you) mentions his greatest achievement as contributing towards UN's Millenium Goals. In-coming Lady Presiding Bishop commits to Ending Poverty as primary goal. Now, I thought the good Lord told us that the poor will always be with us, no?

BTW, didn't Chartres go away on a controversial cruise during Holy Week/Easter early this year? Less carbon emissions there?

Maggie Thatcher fan. said...

I'm off to Scotland soon to look at Whales and Dolphins, and visit a Falconry centre.
The only sensible way to get there from the South of England is to fly up there.
Its a dichotomy.
I am supporting the local tourist economy, supporting the whales and dolphins (I want to look at them, not eat them), but the Church says I'm a sinner by flying up there.
To that accusation, I say bullshit, on this matter alone , I shall meet my maker with a clean conscience.
Is it any wonder the churches are largely empty?

Rick said...

All this does is remind me why I rarely go to church anymore

My sentiments exactly Iain !


We need 95 Theses to be nailed to the door of Canterbury Cathedral..........this is nothing more than a secular aristocracy trying to create a humanist credo

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that the Archangel Gabriel, and all the other Angels and Archangels, are sinful too? I seem to recall that they fly.

Or are they only sinful if they burn fuel to do it rather than using enormous muscle-power?

If you take this seriously, then few people will be able to understand the unique combination of theological and aerodynamic issues raised by this assertion of the Bishop.

Chris Palmer said...

The thing is though, those people that read the Bible will believe whatever they want to believe from it because it's all about interpretation.

For example, there are numerous passages within the Bible that say sodomy is against Christian beliefs. So, what do homosexual Christians do - they ignore it, or refer to an extremely dubious passage in another section.

Another example would be the concept of sin (as you mention.) Different factions of the same Christian faith manage to conflicting evidence that suits their argument.

The problem with the Bible is that it is so full of contridictions that almost anything is possible - and that it's completely untrue (my opinion.)

Dee said...

Every time they open their mouths, a load of nonsense pours out.
"They" (The CofE) are currently deciding whether or not to consign the English flag to the distbin and replace it with one that looks like the Scottish flag.
The reason? They say muslims are offended by it.
I didn't know there were any muslims attending churches in England. I certainly didn't know that it was up to these idiots to decide that the English flag could abolished.

Realist said...

Where's Doctor Rowan Williams when there's real sin in the world, what is his considered opinion on corruption in Government (ours), various wars around the world (being fought for God apparently).
How is he providing moral leadership to a society in turmoil, with a church falling apart around his ears, because him and his bishops are so politically correct. Plus he doesn't want to upset anybody.

Oh, I forgot he's bloody well tied up, confronting Beelzebub in a petrol tanker outside Luton airport

Sir Bentley Pauncefoot said...

My own excellent confessor, Mgr. Bogus O'Hooligan, has always taught that it's not a Sin if one doesn't enjoy it.

Realist said...

Just a thought. How's he going to get to Rome if the Pope invites him. Presumably he'll walk there, possibly around the coast.

wrinkled weasel said...

Whereas driving an Audi is not strictly a sin, it is an act of desperation.

Tom said...

What absolute tosh, having just attended the annual synod in Cyprus I can assure you that of the dozen or so Bishops, etc in attendance, not one of them walked to the venue. I also had the verger of a southern cathedral city to luncheon today; apparently the sin is not with charter flights but with Chartres flights of fancy.

Adrian Yalland said...

Flying is no more a sin than wiping my bottom - which uses the earth's reesources and casues polution - but is still an essential part of life!

I run a 'voluntourism' travel company which combines tourism with working on development projects in the places we visit (mostly developing world locations). WE have a strict environmental and ethical tourism policy which we adhere to strictly. Air travel is essential, but it does knacker the environment. If you tax aircraft fuel, airlines will simply fly further to find cheaper non-taxed fuel - increasing pollution. If you put up ticket prices, travel becomes the reserve of the rich, and tourism dependent economies suffer. So, what to do? Simple - carbon sequestration. Every time I fly, I plant a tree or sponsor clean fuel technology for someone in the developing world.

Offsetting carbon is the future - not making stuipd comments like flying is a sin.

Cranmer said...

O dear.

The Bishop of London was talking generally about selfishness, extravagence, and greed. This is, of course, sin (a proper one), and thoughtless use of the earth's (finite) resources bequeathes our progeny an insecure future. The Bishop is therefore correct to point to the (trivial) example of flying; though it is simply an example. He is not, however, talking of a much-needed annual holiday, or a gathering of people for work purposes, or a bishops' mission conference. These are more of a 'need'. So please, put the words in context.

Curious, Mr Dale, that you would be a Catholic. It would be rather like the Archbishop of Westminster and his erstwhile director of public affairs, Austin Ivereigh, who resigned last week because it transpires he was a serial adulterer who had 'encouraged' a former girlfriend to have an abortion. This, of course, in contravention of the church's orthodox teaching. He was a hypocrite, and I feel sure that Pope Ratzinger would have one or two very difficult questions for you before you could be received into communion...

Joe Otten said...


Manual trackback.


...Here's the thing. I agree that flying and driving are not sins, and that it would be counterproductive if we really did treat them as sins. But for reasons that should be explained, not just because I don't want to know....

vikki said...

The Bible is very clear on what is sin and what is not.whatever anyone now chooses to do with such knowledge is between them and God.Its about time the church stopped chasing shadows! Issues like flying ,audi etc undermines the very message of the cross! The church should preach what in the Bible not what is not in the Bible and certainly not what people want to hear ! Do we still have Pharasees in the church....?

strapworld said...

False Prophets?

HM Stanley said...

Is not Chartres Prince Charles's favourite bish? This nonsense sounds like stuff that HRH would expectorate.

American Episcopalian church still has Cross of St. George on its flag. Would it not be ironic (in a George Bush--Syria--Hezbollah kind of way?) if CofE abjured the emblem while the sister church in the seceded colony retained same?

David said...

maggie thatcher fan: Well let me save you hassle and also enable you to keep Chatres happy. You send me the money you would have spent up here and I'll send some pictures of the dolphins I spotted last weekend in the Moray Firth and a bottle of whisky.

Could this be the way ahead for future tourism?

Picture people arriving at Heathrow - pay £1000 get issued a pack of photos, T shirts and DVD of tours around London etc, free samples of British food and beer and then told to buzz off back where they came from. Everyone wins - no carbon inside the country, no tourists in hire cars and motorhomes clogging up the A9 to Inverness and we get rid of all those tacky shops along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and Whitehall in London! Bonus is Chatres is happy and shuts up for a week!

Platform9 said...

Thank God religion is dying.

towcestarian said...

Cranmer, me old fruit. Selfishness, extravagence and greed are just soooo subjective concepts. For instance, coming back from the dead after 450ish years just to make comments on nice Mr Dale's blog will be using up who knows how much of the Earth's limited supply of ectoplasm. As I can't really see much point in having martyred clerics hanging around the 21st century, I reckon your presence here ticks at least 2 of the boxes.

WmByrd said...

Iain,

If you look in the OT you'll find that flying is not at all sinful:

Ps 55:6 (AV numbering)
"And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."

This is a clear anticipation and approval of the no-frills holiday charter flight.

Whereas fast cornering in an Audi chariot is openly criticised:

2 Kings 9:20
"It looks like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi; for he drives like a maniac."

Hope that helps.

Wm.

WmByrd said...

Cranmer
"Thoughtless use of the earth's (finite) resources bequeathes our progeny an insecure future."

Progeny, Archbish? But we Christians aren't having much of those these days, are we?
And - with apologies for touching on a sore demographic point - isn't that the problem, here and elsewhere? Maybe the traditional Christian idea of having large families and trusting God to provide was more culturally robust and wealth-creating than our current 'oh no I couldn't possibly it's so selfish to have children and there are too many in Africa already and anyway I want to go to the Setchelles this year' retirement into Dodo-status?
Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

I think our cloth eared bish should revisit a history primer or two - paying particular attention to chapters on the industrial revolution.

Our modern, wealthy first world (where the average citizen lives four score years, owns their own home stuffed full of labour saving devices and luxuries and their own personal transport etc etc) came about precisely because the old world (where the average citizen died before they reached 30, owned only the clothes on their back and had vast broods the majority of which would not survive to maturity) depleted its most precious natural resource - wood (the first primitive steam engines were designed to pump water out of old Roman coal and iron ore workings).

The bish's proposal would see us all stuck in an industrial age that currently benefits only about 15% of humanity (I don't need to tell him that the other 85% live in a pretty similar way to the 'old world' described above).

He forgets that tourism is one of the prinicpal ways that the third world is endeavouring to pull itself up by its bootstraps. Another way is cash crops which of course is the target of another batty eco campaign to eat locally grown produce.

It is fitting perhaps that the church is embracing environmentalism - an idelogy whose usefulness is very difficult to prove one way or the other.

A bit like religion really...

dizzy said...

driving an Audi surely is a sin unless its a Quattro.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Bible is that it is so full of contridictions that almost anything is possible - and that it's completely untrue (my opinion.)

Stick with Terry Sanderson Chris Palmer - it sounds as if he satisfies you much more on two levels

Maggie Thatcher fan said...

David said...
maggie thatcher fan: Well let me save you hassle and also enable you to keep Chatres happy. You send me the money you would have spent up here and I'll send some pictures of the dolphins I spotted last weekend in the Moray Firth and a bottle of whisky.

Could this be the way ahead for future tourism?

Picture people arriving at Heathrow - pay £1000 get issued a pack of photos, T shirts and DVD of tours around London etc, free samples of British food and beer and then told to buzz off back where they came from. Everyone wins - no carbon inside the country, no tourists in hire cars and motorhomes clogging up the A9 to Inverness and we get rid of all those tacky shops along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and Whitehall in London! Bonus is Chatres is happy and shuts up for a week!

11:19 PM

I tell you what David,
Next time you want to have sex, refrain, and I'll send you some photos of people having sex.... not quite the same is it???.
!

Cranmer said...

Mr Towcestarian,

Cranmer agrees that selfishness, extravagence and greed 'are just soooo subjective concepts'. It is for that reason that flying may be a sin for some. The point made elsewhere of bothering to consult one's conscience is well made.

And I didn't come back from the dead after 450ish years 'just to make comments on nice Mr Dale's blog'. As nice as Mr Dale is, I consider the message of my own blog rather more important.

By the way, ectoplasm is infinite.

Mr WmByrd,

Cranmer is more than happy to bless all of your efforts to rectify the unfortunate fact that Christians aren't having much progeny these days. Aspiring Catholics like Mr Dale are partly to blame. He would most certainly make an excellent father.

Hayek's Grandad said...

I guess my car is taking me straight to hell too, but look on the bright side Iain - at least we wont have to put up with all the religious whackos for eternity since they're all going to 'heaven'.

Indigo said...

I've come back here especially to challenge maggie thatcher fan (Is it any wonder the churches are largely empty) and platform9 (Thank God religion is dying.

You are both generalising in a way that is nonsense. Not so long ago, research showed that more people attend church each week than attend football matches. When was either of you last in church? My church is the parish church of Greenwich (in the liberal Anglican tradition), attended by upwards of 100 people every Sunday (not all the same individuals) from a wide cross-section of the local community; and at the major Christian festivals the church - a huge Baroque Grade I building - is packed to the rafters.

In the countryside, it is a different picture - but that has to do with the same reason that village pubs and post offices close.

Bishop Chartres is what, in my view, the C of E needs most: a thinker who knows and speaks what he is supposed to stand for, and a true leader, not someone desperate to be in the mode. So is Bishop Tom Butler.

Harry Basset said...

Chris palmer, I am creating odd images in my mind with your homosexual christians and dubious passages. But to be serious, are churches empty as people don't want to sin by using fossil fuel to get there?

The Remittance Man said...

The Remittance Man is seriously considering pledging his allegiance to the Old Gods of Albion.

In my opinion, ever since they made God give up the Old Testament fire and brimstone, Christianity has been much less fun. Bring back the good old fashioned rollicking religion I say. And if that means heroic gods of war and thunder and some rather voluptuous goddesses then so be it.

Besides I bet it'd pull the crowds in more than Rowan's touchy feely stuff.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - people in Bishop's Palaces really shouldn't throw stones. And he's done that cruise ship lecture thing more than once.

Steve-O said...

If, hypothetically, there was a road bridge to the USA, and everybody flying in a 747 drove their own cars there instead, the fuel consumption would be four times that of the plane. And of course, plane fuel is less harmful to the environment than petrol.

So it seems that what they're actually saying is that going on holiday is a sin...

beethoven writes said...

You don't need a Bishop to tell you that driving an Audi TT is a sin. Jeremy Clarkson could have told you that!

phone cam foolery said...

I think we have to ask ourselves
"What would Jesus have done? "

Would he have stuck wih the donkey or would he have gone for the new Audi s8 with v10 Lamborghini engine if availabe?
Maybe he would have turned the donkey Into an Audi?
Having said all that the man wore sandals so was probably more of a volvo type.
Cranmer, where does the church stand on wearing socks with sandals?

phone cam foolery said...

David
Believe it or not, there is a company in Russia offering the very thing you suggest, virtual holidays, right down to used airline ticket stubs.
They of course do it to allow skint russians to boast about having been on exotic holidays when in reality they were sat in their stalinist hovel eating beetroot for a fortnight.

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

Cor - remarks made on the same day that it was announced that St Tone's spending on overseas travel doubled last year. Is this coincidence or is the Bish bashing our sinning spinning, flying circus of a PM?

David said...

"I tell you what David,
Next time you want to have sex, refrain, and I'll send you some photos of people having sex.... not quite the same is it???.!"

OK that's three night's worth of pictures you owe me since Saturday.....! Can you make sure they are attractive people please !

WmByrd said...

About three years ago I visited a scripturally-themed flower fest in a small village church on the Isle of Wight. The displays were all very creatively themed by the bright, friendly local women - so I was rather taken aback to find in the chancel a display of answers by local primary schoolchildren to the question (set by teacher) 'What would St Paul tell us to do if he came back?' The answers were all phrased (obviously to a formula) along the lines of 'St Paul would tell us to look after the planet and do re-cycling and be good to animals and pets and not to waste water, and not drive more than necessary.'
I don't know what horrified me more, the secularisation of the Christian message, or the glib way these kids of obviously scripturally-aware mothers were being taught to dull their brains by parroting modish eco-platitudes.
And this was a 'church' school!

Maggie Thatcher fan said...

David said...
"I tell you what David,
Next time you want to have sex, refrain, and I'll send you some photos of people having sex.... not quite the same is it???.!"

OK that's three night's worth of pictures you owe me since Saturday.....! Can you make sure they are attractive people please !

I need wriiten evidence from your wife/girlfriend/partner, that you have made this supreme sacrifice, duly signed notarised by the crazy bishop who came up with the idea......
Pictiures will then follow....

Cranmer said...

Cranmer, where does the church stand on wearing socks with sandals?

This is most definitely a grievous sin. The instruction is to "Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals" (Acts 12:8).

There is absolutely no mention of socks being placed on one's feet before the sandals, so the wearing of them is surplus, and therefore a sin (if only of style).

Lady Finchley said...

As I've said before, the C of E are the Lib Dems of religion.

Professor D.C. Warmington said...

What is the stance of the Church concerning the needless combustion of candles? Or the equally reckless combustion of human remains at crematoria, which must add its own burden of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere? What, pray, also, is the stance of the Church on selfish people (for example, athletes) who breathe more deeply and often than others? Or those who keep functionless pets (I exclude shubunkins from this category) which exude CO2?

I shall take the matter up with the Vicar on Sunday. If a satisfactory explanation is not forthcoming, neither will my usual £20 note in the collection. He'll only spend it on communion wafers, after all, which must be baked.

Anonymous said...

Porsche in the driveway.. 60 odd flights a year.. Hmm.. I'm going down, baby..

Doctor Fegg said...

Thanks for this post, Iain.

The increasingly snidey, simplistic rants that you have posted here of late have been making me increasingly exasperated. With this particularly fatuous one, you've surpassed yourself.

But then, I'm a CofE LibDem, so you probably don't want me among your readership. Just keep preaching to the converted, eh? Thank goodness the church doesn't take such easy options.

*unsubscribes*

G Eagle said...

Dear Iain

Perhaps your problem is not with Jesus & Christianity, but with the fat cats of the Church of England who increasingly become Bishops & Vicars, while believing as little of Christianity as they damn well please, but without accountability for their mis-belief

These "liberal" Christians allow you to believe anything & everything, so long as it is not Christianity and so long as the real Christians are expected to pay for their inflated stipends and inflation-proof Pensions & for their Ecclesiastical Empires

Even Senor Blair will be called to account for his conduct ... but whoever heard of a Bishop or a Vicar who lost his job or his inflated pension because of his success (all too common in the Church of England) in reducing the number of Christians in his Diocese or Parish

If you think Politics is unpleasant, you perhaps need to experience the surprising nastiness of a Diocese if a Local Church (driven to insolvency) finds that it cannot pay its exorbitant demands

Your obedient servant etc

G Eagle

Anonymous said...

Iain, Seriously mate, keep off the church-bashing thing. You are on a hiding to nothing, as you don't seem especially 'Christian' to me.

There are ample examples in the Bible to support what the 'Rev' is saying, such as the one about the Camel and the Eye of the Needle. And there are probably ones which take an opposite view. Leave the theology alone - you really are on to a loser. As for you saying there is nothing in the Bible about flying or driving an Audi - well fair enough - but when did you last actually read the Bible ?

Anonymous said...

hm stanley - i find it totally depressing that your view of Christ saying that the 'poor will always be with you' was that you should do nothing to try and alleviate poverty. He also said we lived in a sinful world - are you seriously saying we should go out killing and stealing because there is nothing we can do about it.

There is nothing remotely Christian about your attitude, so cut the holier than thou crap.