Orwellian task

An Obadiah Slope column

In a famous essay, ‘Such such were the Joys’ about the terrible boarding school he was sent to as an eight-year-old, George Orwell makes this statement about two contrasting aims of the school. “Broadly you were bidden to be at once a Christian and a social success, which is impossible.”

By “social success” Orwell means more than being popular (which he wasn’t) but to achieve success in society.

“On the one side were low church bible christianity, sex puritanism, insistence on hard work, respect for academic distinction, disapproval of self indulgence: on the other, contempt for ‘braininess; and worship of games, contempt for foreigners and the working class, an almost neurotic dread of poverty, and, above all the assumption not only that money and privilege are the things that matter, but it is better to inherit them than to have to work for them.”

We still live with the impossibility that Orwell perceived of trying to have both Biblical Christianity and worldly success. Some of the opposites that Orwell perceived have shifted. “Braininess and academic distinction seem to be valued both in Christianity and the world. To that end, while wealth is not inherited, great effort goes into the independent school system, particularly church schools, to give offspring an advantage.


Man experiences irony, 1966- caption on a US History Uncovered post reposted by the wonderful facebooker Gordon Cheng.


History: from US Chrstian and poltical scientist Ryan Burge. “Mainline means the traditional middle and upper class churches in the US: Episcopal (Anglican), Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, American Baptist, United Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ.


A question: Now that the Queensland Baptists have agreed tghat women can be ordianed and lead churches, which deniminations do not allow women to lead churches. For those who might think reasonably, that this is the negative way to pose the question, please note Obadiah thinks it makes for a shorter list.

Here is Obadiah’s list of Christian denominations that don’t have women leading churches.

Anglicans: Sydney, Armidale and North West Australia dioceses, Church of the Torres Strait, Trinity Network in SA, City on a Hill (not officially Anglican in some places) 

Assyrian Church of the East.

Australian Fellowship of Bible Believing Churches.

Baptists: Bible Baptists.



FIEC (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches)

Lutherans: Australian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and other independents

Presbyterians: PCA, PCEA, Westminster Presbyterians, and some other reformed churches

Orthodox: Greek, Russian, Antiochian, Syrian

Revival Centre Church

Please comment on who Obadiah left out.


Bah, Humbug! The irascible Will Willimon, a progressive United Methodist bishop, tells a story against triumphalism in church meetings. Although the progressives (his ‘side’) stormed to victory at the latest United Methodist General Assembly a couple of weeks ago, he has this telling anecdote in Christian Century magazine.

“The theme of the United Methodist general conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, emblazoned on banners, tote bags, and name tags, was a snippet of Psalm 46: ‘Know that I am God.’ At the end of the second day, as I trudged back to my hotel from the convention centre, a man on the sidewalk asked for money. As I reached for my wallet, he peered at my nametag and smirked. “‘Know that I am God’? Think a lot of yourself, do ya?”