Archbishop Jonathan Blake

The Most Reverend Jonathan Blake, Presiding Archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church B.A. (Hons), Dip. Pastoral Studies. Bishop's Haven, 105 Danson Crescent Welling DA16 2AS U.K. Mobile: 07767 687711 www.bishopjonathanblake.com bishopjonathanblake@ntlworld.com www.openepiscopalchurch.org www.twitter.com/bishopjonathan The Church is a member of The International Council of Community churches and the World Council of Churches. Married with 5 children.

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Location: London, Kent, United Kingdom

Tear gassed in Tehran, seized in Kabul, worked with Mother Teresa, escaped a murderer, raised £300,000, ordained 1981, 12 yrs an Anglican, slept on the streets, travelled to Auschwitz, Kenya and Pakistan to promote peace, opened the first inter-faith NHS chapel, wrote a biblical text on Parliament, arrested, relinquished his office within the CofE to pioneer independent ministry, baptised 1000's in homes, even on Mount Snowdon + in a circus ring, conducted a wedding underwater, published ‘For God’s Sake Don’t Go To Church’, nailed 95 Theses to Canterbury cathedral, arrested, co-founded the Society for Independent Ministry, was consecrated a bishop, co-founded the Open Episcopal Church, did the first gay wedding on prime time TV, sued Associated Newspapers for defamation, co-consecrated the first women bishops for England. Wales and Scotland, accommodated the homeless, took Mass to sex workers, posted it too, was elected Archbishop, arrested for taking his kids onto a roof, not charged - they were harnessed, founded ‘When No One’s Watching', became an ICV, conducted the wedding of the star Jade Goody, was invited to Downing Street, published 'That Old Devil Called God Again'.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Satire of Archbishop Welby's video on the christening of prince George

Water quenches thirst

Water brings life in dry places

Water cleans

In the baptism service water is a symbol of all these things.

A few days ago billions of people around the world were horrified at the plight of the babies and children drowning off the island of Lampedusa.

Now Archbishop Welby tells us he is celebrating the hugely important moment when the Church of England sprinkles a prince baby with water.

We celebrate first the joy of the parents who have managed to escape the Syrian conflict. This is a wonderful thing. Having a baby that you can protect from chemical attacks is a wonderful thing as all babies are unbelievably special.

Is it not only a royal baby for which the Archbishop of Canterbury has made a special video message but all of our babies? Is it just that they haven’t been broadcast yet?

As a nation are we celebrating the birth of someone who in due course may be gay? That would be extraordinary. It gives you the sense of forward looking to a better more inclusive society, where our Head of State would be  a symbol of a tolerant all embracing community.

But most of all we are told we are celebrating baptism, that at its heart is about God’s greatest gift of life, just ordinary physical life.

One we are lucky enough to enjoy but millions around the world can’t because they are poverty stricken or blighted by war, about which Christians continue to do so little and so ineffectively.

But Archbishop Welby says, its also about the offer of a spiritual life to all, all that is who buy into the Church of England’s message and become members of their club, to whom Archbishop Welby then says – it’s life forever.

All through Christian history, being baptised has meant joining the family of the church and what a family – paedophile clerics, sadistic nuns, dictators,  homophobic congregations, sexist, racist and reactionary devotees around the globe. That’s an extraordinary thing. It means that as a Christian you can go anywhere and you’ll find those who are as prejudiced as you.

With Prince George of course, it’s even more extraordinary. He may be the first gay head of state, visiting numerous countries that remain fiercely anti-gay, so much so that it is even punishable by death. He will visit countries too that oppress women, even behead women, torture detainees and practice slavery.

We’ll pay for him to visit more countries than most of us will ever be able afford and by ensuring that he makes his travel plans carefully, there will always be those like him who have been baptised.

The Archbishop will sign Prince George with the sign of the cross, because that is the sign by which he understands that he will have boosted his congregation by a royal with all the invitations to plush events that go with it and all the invidious perks and advantages his organisation can gain.

Also during the service the other really important bit is that he will splash water on the head of prince George. Is that to remember the babies that drowned off Lampedusa and the corpses of children floating earlier in the year in the Quig river, in Syria having been shot in the back of the head. I suspect not, it will be more reminiscent of a Mediterranean beach lapped by turquoise ripples.

I suppose one of the things that might happen when people are looking at what’s going on with prince George, is they might say, well is that something for a future king,  just for special people.

Of course the great good news is that God doesn’t care who we are, it’s only the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Church of England that broadcast special videos and offer preferential treatment to a prince.

Baptism is for all adults and children and there may be people wondering if they could be baptised. The Anglican Church gives a clear answer, not like the prince. It’s not as easy as that, the Anglican Church requires you to qualify for God’s love.  You have to be royalty, rich, famous or a celebrity.

You have to hold influence and be able to pull strings. If so, then it’s a doddle.

In fact then you can have a baptism at home in Buckingham Palace or your country estate or your private chapel, at the time of your choosing, at the location of your choosing and held in private.

But the rest of us have a mountain of obstacles to climb.

The Anglican Church expects parents to go through an onerous and intrusive baptism preparation course.

They try often to choose your godparents.

They require you to have the baptism in the parish church.

- And it must be in public

- And during the main morning service of worship on a Sunday

- And when  many other families bring their children for baptism too.

It’s that lovely family atmosphere to which the Archbishop of Canterbury refers – a chance to meet everyone – unless you are a royal because then you can just wave at them from a balcony later or have Scarlet Johannson’s photographer publish the baptismal photographs throughout the media. 

And let’s not forget the collection plate that will be pushed in front of everyone’s faces, including all your guests,  with an accompanying request for a healthy donation.

Oh yes, and if you are a member of the LGBT community, if you are a gay or lesbian couple bearing your baby into the church, holding hands, prepare for the frosty reception and a font with frozen water, making a baptism probably impossible.

If you are divorced or a single parent you may fare not much better.

But Archbishop Welby urges us not to be put off.

He bids us go along to your local church and speak to the priest and say you’ve been triggered, knowing about the baptism of a prince, to ask deep questions.

O.K.

Why is the church of Jesus is so profligate and rich? Why does it continue to discriminate against gays, woman and the disabled? What will happen if prince George wants to marry his gay partner?  Will the church baptise the children of their marriage?  How will they react if he is transgender?  What is being done to weed out paedophile clerics? Why is the church so sexist? How come the Church describes God as Father and not Mother? Why does the Church say God only had an incarnate son and not an incarnate daughter?  How come there are no woman bishops yet? There are really too many to list… Go along and ask. I’m sure you will get a warm reception, perhaps a door slammed in your face or a flushed and vexed vicar.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s message to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is “What a treat, what wonderful times you will have.”

 I’m sure that will be true, as some of the richest parents on the planet, able to indulge in the finest and the best – but please spare a thought for the majority of children who are hungry and hurting, homeless and desperate, because that, after all, is what the faith is about.

Through Christening, you’re bringing God into the middle of the palace. There he is, on stinking straw, – part of a homeless refugee family fleeing for their lives bearing a newborn in the arms, they may well not make it, spluttering off Lampedusa.

That is what is extraordinary.

Lots of things happen at Christenings. We all say things to the baby who doesn’t understand them. The most important thing the Archbishop of Canterbury says to any child, that he’ll say, in his mind to prince George, is a prayer. Unfortunately it  amounts to religious gobbledegook.

He admits he won’t understand it now.

I suspect he never will.

But let’s be clear.

Since 1994 I and since 2001 the Open Episcopal Church have been offering everyone in the general public the same privileges as have always been offered just to royalty and the rich as are being offered to Prince George alone now.

I and the clerics of our church will celebrate the birth and baptism of your child in your home or in your garden or in any location of your choosing, at any time and in any manner. Since 1994, we have celebrated thousands of such ceremonies across the country and in other parts of the world.

We are a different kind of church.

Unconditionally loving, inclusive, accessible, modern, open to all, offering our ministry to all, not looking to build our numbers, only to serve equally all people, working for a just, loving, equitable, respectful, peaceful world in which every person has their place and every life form is respected.

If you want your child baptised just like a prince or a princess, then get in touch.