Bad day for ecumenism as Moderator says no

The Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Harry Uprichard, has caused controversy by refusing to attend a service to celebrate the RUC’s George Cross Foundation- because of the involvement of catholic clergy.

Dr. Uprichard, who was on the receiving end of much criticism last summer when he appeared rather tardy in his condemnation of a loyalist campaign targeting catholic homes and properties in his native north Antrim, would undoubtedly have wished that the news would have been carried on any other day than Good Friday, given the significance of the day for all christians, regardless of denomination.

  • missfitz

    Mick
    This thread will need a silver bullet to finish it. It;s like that movie “They shoot horses dont they”

  • Occasional Commentator

    kensei: “merely being consistent with the moral code of your religion isn’t enough, as is trivial demonstrated. Suicide bombers?”

    Indeed. But the Moderator is only refusing to attend a particular religious ceremony. How can you compare that to suicide bombing?

    kensei again: “I’m a practicising Catholic …. My bottom line is simply least harm”

    That’s utilitarianism, and utilitarianism is definitely not supported by the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict himself attacks utilitarianism. If you’re going to insist on utilitarianism, please explain why not attending one ceremony can weigh so much on your scale of good and evil? Also, if there would have been more people offended by his attendance, then would you still call for him to attend? And, I’m offended that people are offended, will you include that in your deliberations of least harm? Are you offended that I’m offended that some people are taking offence?

  • kensei

    “That’s utilitarianism, and utilitarianism is definitely not supported by the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict himself attacks utilitarianism.”

    I’m not big on “ism”‘s. I am big on avoiding people getting hurt. I was taught to respect people and not to hurt them, and if that is against current Catholic teaching we’re screwed up.

    “If you’re going to insist on utilitarianism, please explain why not attending one ceremony can weigh so much on your scale of good and evil?”

    This is page 302. I may have already covered that. To recap:

    Position of leadership, terrible example, how it fits into a pattern of behaviour, wider concerns about the Westminister Confession and the Pope being the anti Christ excetera. Have a browse. It doesn’t “weigh so much” as “registers”, btw.

    “Also, if there would have been more people offended by his attendance, then would you still call for him to attend? And, I’m offended that people are offended, will you include that in your deliberations of least harm? Are you offended that I’m offended that some people are taking offence?”

    I honestly don’t know. Look, trying to rigorously apply this doesn’t work. I am not dogmatic. I am judgements based on the facts as I see them guided by morality and my political convictions.

    “Indeed. But the Moderator is only refusing to attend a particular religious ceremony. How can you compare that to suicide bombing?”

    I’m not. The point made that what he was doing was consistent and measurable with his religous code and that should be sufficient. I was performing a disproof by offering an example to show that it could not be the case. It clearly isn’t sufficient. I have no idea to where draw the line. People have been debating this for centuries, I’m not going to claim I have the answer.

    “What’s clear to me is that you think it’s your duty to judge this guy, but not the hierarchy of your own church, which has come out with broadly similar disagreements with the notion of ecumenism.
    If you are going to get into the judging business, the first thing you need to learn is that either you judge everyone equally, or you don’t judge at all.”

    Of course I’m judging him. It would be a bit har to take a position without making a judgement. And I am at a loss where my judgement is not equal, here. My stated position:

    1. I am not against lines or a certain amount of separatism.
    2. I am against complete sectarianism – ie having no form of joint worship acceptable to you.
    3. The Catholic Church does have acceptable joint forms. If it didn’t, it would be in exactly the same wrongness.
    4. The moderator apparently does not.
    5. If the moderator does and the organisers couldn’t fix it, they fucked up and it’s not his fault.

    Please point out the inconsistentcy. I can rip on the Catholic Church on a variety of subjects. It’s not perfect, but I don’t know of a Church that is.
    And don’t accuse me of that again unless you have something to back it up with, ta.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Kensai,

    Believe me, I did not mean to insult you. To my knowledge this is the first time you’ve stated your own position clearly. I was merely trying to piece together a probable position based on what you have argued on this thread.

    As for mine, I’m inclined to believe that freedom of conscience is crucial to the development of a free society – even when such defence may be personally uncomfortable. Beyond that words are probably more circumscribed by law than they need to be, but I’m also *near* believer in the absolute right to freedom of expression. And actions are rightly circumscribed by both criminal and civil law.

    In Peter Franklin’s terms I might be called a ‘spiritual pluralist’: ie I have no desire to become Presbyterian, but, on this occasion, I feel obliged to defend the moderator’s right to worship in the way he sees fit.

    It seems to me that an essential flaw in the argument contra the Moderator’s action thus far has been the assumption that a causal link exists between his personal action and other (notably uunmentioned) ‘bad actions’.

    Yet no one yet has been explicit as to what link is, never mind attempted to prove it.

  • TAFKABO

    Kensei.

    I stand by my comments, but to be honest, it’s three hundred posts now, we’re going round and round and I’m starting to get dizzy.I’m sure anything I could say I already have said.
    Now,if the admin will kindly slow the thread down a little and allow me to step off.

  • kensei

    “Kensai,

    Believe me, I did not mean to insult you. To my knowledge this is the first time you’ve stated your own position clearly. I was merely trying to piece together a probable position based on what you have argued on this thread.”

    It’s hard to tie down a precise position, nor am I entirely sure it is desiarable. A position is terribly rigid; I hold a set of ideas and beliefs and judge from there.

    “It seems to me that an essential flaw in the argument contra the Moderator’s action thus far has been the assumption that a causal link exists between his personal action and other (notably uunmentioned) ‘bad actions’.

    Yet no one yet has been explicit as to what link is, never mind attempted to prove it. ”

    But you are asking for the impossible. The ONLY way to prove a casual link is to run controlled experiments. Unless we have two parallel worlds, that is not possible. So we fall back on correlation and our judgement. The history of this place shows that bad words and bad actions have fuelled conflict. That is almost without doubt. The moderator’s action’s have probably provided people with some fuel and some cover they would not otherwise have had, and removed a more positive example. Whether or not people chose to use that cover is almost secondary. If it was unintentional, it could be excused, but he made a clear choice and knew the consequences. His personal conscience may say he is right, but mine tells me I have a moral duty to make my opposition clear. I accept his right to hold his opinions, but I in no way respect them.

  • kensei

    “I stand by my comments, but to be honest, it’s three hundred posts now, we’re going round and round and I’m starting to get dizzy.I’m sure anything I could say I already have said.
    Now,if the admin will kindly slow the thread down a little and allow me to step off.”

    So, you do not refute anything I said, and therefore you must accept my position is consistent. You could just admit that, and not be a dick.

    I have no problem with you disagreeing with my judgement, but don’t accuse me of variable standards. It makes me very cross.

  • Mick Fealty

    Kensai,

    Contrast this at the beginning of your post:

    “A position is terribly rigid; I hold a set of ideas and beliefs and judge from there”.

    With this at the end:

    “His personal conscience may say he is right, but mine tells me I have a moral duty to make my opposition clear”.

    But because you refuse to be explicit in your criticism, nothing that follows makes sense.

    You talk of correlation, yet you cannot point to anything (even in general terms) specific. It is only true because you say it is true. The rest of your post is riddled with the uncertainty of your opening statement:

    “probably provided…” “almost without doubt…”

    And this is completely meaningless:

    “Whether or not people chose to use that cover is almost secondary”.

    Cover for what?

    And yet after all that ambiguity, you finish with:

    “he made a clear choice and knew the consequences…”

    I ask again, what consequences?

  • kensei

    “A position is terribly rigid; I hold a set of ideas and beliefs and judge from there”.

    With this at the end:

    “His personal conscience may say he is right, but mine tells me I have a moral duty to make my opposition clear”.

    I am contrasting it and not seeing it. From the judgement I have made, which arises form the positions and beliefs I hold, I have a moral duty to give my opposition. Where is the contradiction?
    One is how I form a judgement, the other is a judgement I’ve made. I have a position on this issue, subject to the facts as I currently know them, rather than a unified world view.

    “But because you refuse to be explicit in your criticism, nothing that follows makes sense.”

    I think I have been fairly explicit in my criticism on several occassionals. Again, bad example, pattern of behaviour ….. do I need to repeat myself yet again?

    “You talk of correlation, yet you cannot point to anything (even in general terms) specific. It is only true because you say it is true. The rest of your post is riddled with the uncertainty of your opening statement:”

    This is a straw man. Can I point to a specific act that has happened because of this? No. What I can say with certainty that examples set or words used by leaders has incited or reinforced violence on both sides in the past. This is a weaker axiom. There is no reason to believe that will not be true in the future. Can I link a specific diatribe by Paisley to a loyalist murder? No, but they clearly had an effect.

    Care to argue with me on that point? Therefore “almost certain”. And as I said, I dislike absolutes.

    Now:

    1. People have used bad words and actions as an excuse for hatred.
    2. The moderator’s action (in my opinion) is a bad action.

    therefore from 1,2

    The moderator’s actions provide people with an excuse for hatred.

    Sometime sit is unintentional, but he must have known the reaction when he decided to pull out. So he bears some responsibility for that. In the grand scheme of things, lots of people have done lots lots worse, but we are arguing the detail here.

    “Cover for what?”

    Cover for whatever hatred or violence they choose. It is impossible to say that this act was directly caused by the moderator. You are asking for the impossible. But it gives an amount of reinforcement that may contribute, with other things, to an act. Viewing it isolation is a mistake, but rather as a pattern of cultral reinforcement. The only way to break this cultral reinforcement however, is by changing single acts. Perhaps that is flowery, but again I only have my judgement to go on.

    I simply oppose these types of action, however little they contribute to the overall. I read “The Tipping Point” recently. One of the arguments is that changing little things can have big effects, and that we are highly sensitive to our surrounding environment. I concur.

    “I ask again, what consequences? ”

    Of reinforcing certain attitudes. Must every bad action be linked to specific, directly attributable bad result? It’s impossible and pointless to try.

  • TAFKABO

    So, you do not refute anything I said, and therefore you must accept my position is consistent. You could just admit that, and not be a dick.

    Aye, if everyone just stopped being dicks and agreed with you….

    Urologist, heal thyself.

  • TAFKABO

    It’s hard to refute ambiguity, but I do disagree with it.
    Why?
    Well for many reasons that I have explained on this thread, but mostly because you don’t even believe your own argument when it applies to members of your own church, so why should I accept it when you use it against others?

    Like others here you spend so much time and effort in arguing why someone is wrong for doing something that you don’t even notice when it is catholic clergy involved.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    TAFKABO: “I stand by my comments, but to be honest, it’s three hundred posts now, we’re going round and round and I’m starting to get dizzy.I’m sure anything I could say I already have said.
    Now,if the admin will kindly slow the thread down a little and allow me to step off. ”

    Man, I’ll argue with rabbi over the number angels what can dance on the head of a pin, and this has gone too far by half…

    Last one out, turn off the Internet…

  • kensei

    “Well for many reasons that I have explained on this thread, but mostly because you don’t even believe your own argument when it applies to members of your own church, so why should I accept it when you use it against others?”

    Point out where I’ve been inconsistent in regards to the Catholic Church. I’ve made my position very clear.

    You can’t, obviously.

  • Mick Fealty

    Now we are getting somewhere.

    “What I can say with certainty that examples set or words used by leaders has incited or reinforced violence on both sides in the past”.

    That is certainly part of the folk wisdom of Northern Ireland. But it is not an axiom, even a weak one. It is, as you readily concede, unproven hearsay. Moreover, the moderator’s action was an act of religious principle, not an act of demogoguery.

    Secondly, you appear to making the Moderator responsible for the response of those who hear about his actions. This depends entirely on your proving a link – which you have signally failed to do.

    You say I am “asking for the impossible”. Indeed, you ask, “Must every bad action be linked to specific, directly attributable bad result?”

    The answer is, not always. But if you are making the kind of charges you are against the integrity of the Moderator, you must accept that the burden of proof is yours.

  • kensei

    “That is certainly part of the folk wisdom of Northern Ireland. But it is not an axiom, even a weak one. It is, as you readily concede, unproven hearsay. Moreover, the moderator’s action was an act of religious principle, not an act of demogoguery.”

    It most certainly is. “I wish I’d never listened to that Mr Paisley”. And why he did it is irrelevant. We’re back to “Is religious principle enough?”.

    “Secondly, you appear to making the Moderator responsible for the response of those who hear about his actions. This depends entirely on your proving a link – which you have signally failed to do.”

    I am making him responsible for his own actions. He knew the example he was setting. He knew how it would be interpretated. He knew that it would viewed as negative action. He did it anyway. He could have found an alternative.

    You have circular logic here. The action is bad if there is a link to bad response. Why is there a bad response, it was caused by bad action.

    I believe the moderator’s position is a bad action, because I think it sends wrong signals, I worry about his pattern of behaviour allluded to in the article above, and because of deep held beliefs about being totally unable to have some form of worship, however limited, with others as wrong. That is a judgement call. You may disagree with those reasons, and you are entitled to do so as that is your judgement. But the act is bad to me independent of the actions resulting.

    “You say I am “asking for the impossible”. Indeed, you ask, “Must every bad action be linked to specific, directly attributable bad result?”

    The answer is, not always. But if you are making the kind of charges you are against the integrity of the Moderator, you must accept that the burden of proof is yours.”

    That’s fine, if you view the act in isolation. It doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The moderator’s behaviour fits into a pattern of behaviour and cultural reinforcement that makes it easier for people to not engage with others, that makes it easier to commit bad deeds. I oppose that, and make no further claim past that. That flows naturally from my judgement what he did was wrong. And that is something I can neither prove or disprove.

  • David Michael

    With shepherds like Dr Uprichard can we blame the sheep when they stray into bigotry and intolerance?
    Posted by David Michael on Apr 14, 2006 @ 05:54 PM

    Me and my big fucking mouth. To all who had to endure this torture-fest, my apologies 🙁

  • Occasional Commenter

    kensei,
    I don’t care if his behaviour forms a pattern. Is it wrong to park a car if you have a previous record of parking tickets? Surely it depends on whether the latest incident was in accordance with the law?

    Similarly, nobody has explained how the (unproven as yet) allegations of turning a blind eye to violence is related in any way to the discussion of his declining this invitation.

    Put simply, even if you have video evidence of the Moderator explicitly urging his flock to murder all Taigs, I still won’t see any problem with his non-attendance on a technical point of theology at some minor religious ceremony – a ceremony that most of us wouldn’t have even heard of if it wasn’t for this fuss.

    The theology behind all of this is fascinating, and indeed important, and those who are more interested and knowledgable than me should get stuck in to a constructive debate. But lumping together a lot of half-baked unrelated accusations doesn’t really tell us about the Moderator.

  • darth rumsfeld

    kensai
    Engaging with others- i.e. witnessing our faith- is the obligation placed on every Christian. It does not require us to agree on a “one size fits all” theology. Rev Uprichard can- and should- keep proselytising to RCs,Presbyterians,Scientologists, and atheists.

    If he doesn’t, he’s failing his faith. If he doesn’t challenge, confront or indeed offend then his message is useless. And if that means crossing the boundaries of the law, then he should be prosecuted, and be glad to be take the consequences.

    There is absolutely no possible connection between the Moderator’s decision to express his principles and those who “commit bad deeds”. or are you seriously arguing that those non-Christian terrorists and criminals who commit such acts could justify their acts by clinging to this 0.0001% from his witness whilst ignoring the remaining 99.9999%?

  • kensei

    “But lumping together a lot of half-baked unrelated accusations doesn’t really tell us about the Moderator.”

    No, it is highly significant. How you see the moderator’s actions is largely dependent on what else he has done. Character Witnesses?

    “Engaging with others- i.e. witnessing our faith- is the obligation placed on every Christian. It does not require us to agree on a “one size fits all” theology. Rev Uprichard can- and should- keep proselytising to RCs,Presbyterians,Scientologists, and atheists.”

    Not asking for one. I am asking he finds some way to remember the dead with others of different faiths acceptable to him.

    “There is absolutely no possible connection between the Moderator’s decision to express his principles and those who “commit bad deeds”.”

    There is. It’s Broken Windows theory. The moderator’s action is a broken window that gives permission for worse things.

    “Or are you seriously arguing that those non-Christian terrorists and criminals who commit such acts could justify their acts by clinging to this 0.0001% from his witness whilst ignoring the remaining 99.9999%?”

    All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

  • TAFKABO

    Point out where I’ve been inconsistent in regards to the Catholic Church. I’ve made my position very clear.

    Indeed you have.

    You have argued that sins of omission be taken into account, and that an absence of comment is something from which we can make inferrence.
    Using your own logic I cite your willingness to participate in this thread against your non participation in the thread about Brady.
    You choose to expend youe energies in berating one man, but not another.
    Sure, when pressed you will say that you condemn all, but is’t that the same as Mr Uprichard who will condmen all violence when pressed?

  • Mick Fealty

    Can’t stop, but Ken:

    “It’s Broken Windows theory”.

    Except you cannot prove there is a broken window. Unless I’ve missed something crucial above? Your broken window refers to effects that you cannot prove are linked to the Moderators action. That makes your ‘broken window’ spurious, untrue and false.

    As Catholics, you (and I) are entitled to find his actions both insulting and personally unacceptable. But you (and I) are not entitled infer fictitious consquences on the basis either of hurt feelings and/or groundless gossip and hearsay.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “As Catholics, you (and I) are entitled to find his actions both insulting and personally unacceptable. But you (and I) are not entitled infer fictitious consquences on the basis either of hurt feelings and/or groundless gossip and hearsay.”

    And that, in a nutshell, is the whole point. If I tell an acquaintance who is an atheist that I believe he is going to Hell because of his lack of belief, I am undoubtedly upsetting him. [He may in turn mock my belief and offend me-and that’s fair enough]. But I’m not wanting anyone else to send him to Hell quicker than he’s expected there, and I’m earnestly hoping that he’ll be allowed to escape.

    Mick’s church tells me I’m a heretic. My church says his earthly leader is a man of Sin, and a son of perdition. Both of us can reasonably take umbrage at the language of the other’s theology. I hope Mick doesn’t want me to be eternally damned, and I certainly don’t want him to be. If we can’t worship together, our separate worship will still be judged by God.Presumably Jesus’ comment ” in my house there are many mansions” means there’s a great big Presbyterian frat house in heaven-as well as {obviously much smaller} ones for other demoninations.

    We may even find that we’re both wrong. Just as long as He’s not a Methodist… :0)

  • darth rumsfeld

    ooops
    “Mt Father’s house”!

  • kensei

    “Except you cannot prove there is a broken window. Unless I’ve missed something crucial above? Your broken window refers to effects that you cannot prove are linked to the Moderators action. That makes your ‘broken window’ spurious, untrue and false.”

    It is impossible to prove. In *my judgement*, the moderator’s action is wrong. That makes the window broken. I cannot prove or disprove that I am right or wrong. I can merely offer my reasons, which I have done, and you are free to agree or disagree. It is not a provable statement. It’s an opinion.

    You are still on bad action must have bad consequence. Bad consequence must stem form bad action. It’s circular.

    “As Catholics, you (and I) are entitled to find his actions both insulting and personally unacceptable. But you (and I) are not entitled infer fictitious consquences on the basis either of hurt feelings and/or groundless gossip and hearsay. ”

    I am not infering ficticious consequences. Are you claiming our cultral environment has no impact on us? Why then do we have role models? How can I make this more clear? A direct link is a red herring. His action plays a part when put in a wider sense. I acn only oppose indivdual actions as they come along.

    “You have argued that sins of omission be taken into account, and that an absence of comment is something from which we can make inferrence.”

    Good god, I can hardly manage two of these threads. I would have thought that the topic of that thread is largely covered here.

    “Using your own logic I cite your willingness to participate in this thread against your non participation in the thread about Brady.
    You choose to expend youe energies in berating one man, but not another.”

    I disagree with giving communion out in an ecumenical service, it has exceptional significance in the Catholic faith and they shouldn’t have done it. I berate the priests because they know the doctrine on the matter, knew there would be a row and are sending equally bad signals. I agree with the ecumenical service, only it should be conducted properly. My problem with the modeator is appears to have no acceptable form.

    “Sure, when pressed you will say that you condemn all, but is’t that the same as Mr Uprichard who will condmen all violence when pressed?”

    I only have so much energy, or time, bud.

  • Mick Fealty

    Kensei,

    Let’s call it a wrap. I’m afraid I find your argument is just smoke and mirrors. An expression of feeling doesn’t require detailed justification. But an argument does. Slan.

  • PaddyReilly

    This thread suffers from an endemic failing which inflicts so much of dialogue in NI.

    A Protolic commits some solecism. Anyone who ventures to comment on the matter is perceived as a Cathestant, (whether he is or not) and 300 posts are spent proving and disproving that the Cathestants are just as bad as and worse than the Protolics. As we’ve all heard it all before, it seems pointless.

    Perhaps in future when a Protolic does something wrong you could follow the convention that only Protolics are allowed to comment?

    Anyway, the Moderator was a Protestant and this is what one of his ain side says of him:-

    If the Presbyterian Moderator doesn’t wish to attend a service where Catholic clergy are present he has every right not to. I’m not going to advocate putting him in chains and dragging him there against his will. Likewise, I have every right to say that I believe him to be a braindead old bigot with a mindset that’s locked in the 16th Century.

    So now slug it out among yourselves.

  • kensei

    “Let’s call it a wrap. I’m afraid I find your argument is just smoke and mirrors. An expression of feeling doesn’t require detailed justification. But an argument does. Slan.”

    And I find you are not extending me the same priviledge that you are arguing for in the moderator – the right to make a judgement based on my beliefs. I have given detailed justification for that judgement.

    You are also confusing several separate issues, including the nature of the act and its consequences. Though if you don’t believe that the environment we live and the examples set by our leaders has an impact, you are quite divorced from reality.

  • English

    The thing I understand from this post is that many people do not budge an inch here, are very difficult to dissuade from their opinions, and can be quite rude, judgemental, and presumptious if you hold an opposing view. IT JUST ISN’T BRITISH!

  • TAFKABO

    many people do not budge an inch here, are very difficult to dissuade from their opinions, and can be quite rude, judgemental, and presumptious if you hold an opposing view.

    An excellent summation of the treatment the Moderator has recieved.
    Thank you.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    I’m sorry, but I simply don’t have an endless store of time. In the meantime, I’m delighted to extend you the privilege of wittering on as much as you want.

  • kensei

    “I’m sorry, but I simply don’t have an endless store of time. In the meantime, I’m delighted to extend you the privilege of wittering on as much as you want.”

    That sounds a little bit man not ball there, Mick.

    “The thing I understand from this post is that many people do not budge an inch here”

    Oh no. I accept Mick and others have several perfectly valid points, and in particular I’ll certainly try to be more aware of where the other side’s is coming from in future. It’ll take time to mull over it all, though. I still think the moderator is wrong though, but perhaps not quite to the degree I did when I started this thread.

  • How terrible that Dr. Uprichard is attacked for the one thing that he did right. The PCI is supposed to believe the Westminster Confession. Dr. Uprichard is a weak leader but on this point he is right. Just because he won’t worship with RC’s doesn’t mean he hates them. NI has a more complex problem than the churches. Ecumenism solves nothing. Read here for a comprehensive analysis of Dr. Uprichard’s leadership as Moderator (BTW… The PCI doesn’t have a “leader” as such) http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/uprichard.htm