An Exercise in Stopping

ClosedIn a little over four weeks time, when the World Cup Competition has finished, I’ll be shutting down this website and pretty much withdrawing from any ministry outside of my parish in Canterbury.

I really don’t want to give a long essay on the reasons for this decision. Needless to say, I don’t have the time between a busy job and growing family to also spend time trying to input into the area of human sexuality and also into the life of the Church of England (for example the Twurch of England Twitter project which I have tried to nurture for half a decade and which I shut down on Thursday), things which should be a job in themselves. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it’s become too emotionally exhausting to try to give myself to an institution and a constituency leadership that doesn’t want to resource the ministry that it claims it so much admires. It’s not that I don’t want to do the things that I’ve been doing, it’s just that I am no longer capable of resourcing them to the degree that they deserve (and that, frankly, I deserve).

This is it then folks. We’ll do some death and see what God resurrects (if anything). But for now, without any of the above changing, in a month’s time I’ll be out of here.

36 Comments on “An Exercise in Stopping

  1. Thank you for all the stuff you’ve written that I’ve read. Its been thought provoking, enlightening and dare I say entertaining.

    God bless you, you will be missed.

  2. Very sad to see this, Peter, I’ve really appreciated this site and your take on things. I do understand that this is a big effort for you and your resources are not infinite (nor should they be).

    Maybe you could come back here or elsewhere from time to time for a guest spot?

    Anyway, God bless with your future work and ministry, whatever that may be :)

  3. Hi Peter,

    Sad to hear this – especially as your blog was a very helpful and authoritative look at issues I don’t know the first thing about.

    Before you go, would you please consider doing a round-up post with links to your best (or most instructive pieces). An easy way for people who do stumble across it to get the gist and answers quickly.


      • please don’t do that – it would deprive future visitors the value of the informative debate you’ve MC’ed so well.

        Stopping for family reasons is a good reason – or reducing the scope of the site would free up some time for family too – but just pressing the delete button wouldn’t be to anyones’ advantage would it?

        We love what you’ve been doing Peter here – for me the sexuality debate has been the most informative part of it – for me.

      • Please don’t do that – there’s so much good stuff on here to reference. If you have to close comments to reduce the maintenance burden, do that – but please don’t just throw it all away.

        I’m sure there’s a stewardship argument here; having put in all this time to create useful and thought-provoking words, is it good stewardship of that time spent to just delete it all?

  4. It would be a great shame if you took it down. There is nowhere else for people to get this kind of insight. You will be missed, but I understand it’s time to put yourself and your family first. Just close the comments and leave it up as a resource, please.

  5. Really really sorry – I enjoy this blog the most out of all the blogs I look at – manages to be informative and fun at the same time, with lots of variety in what you post………..but I absolutely think a person’s family and personal life has to come first before anything else.

    • By the way I want to say as well that you’ve influenced my thinking. I expect you’ve influenced other people as well. You’ve also introduced me to new ways of viewing things ….and of course it’s much easier to be influenced when something is as readable as your blog has been.

  6. Hi Peter… I have a site, tiny in reach compared. I once toyed with shutting down due to some real but temporary pressures. I didn’t in the end but instead post less frequently. Please don’t hit delete… you have a very decent resource bank for people. Life is such a journey and you could find yourself in a different place regarding your work here at any point. God is indeed a God of resurrection, good is still bound to come of your work here. That is my testimony to keeping my blog, anyway. It will always be a tough call but you have been given a distinctive voice. Increase God’s rest in your life but know his love and keep your content here as a contribution to the faith conversation. Every blessing on all you do in his service. Rachel Marszalek :-) Your voice will be missed but I have a feeling this could be a sabbatical instead??!! ;-)

  7. Quite understand that you need to focus on other things. Thanks for all you have done and contributed—much appreciated by many people.

    To delete the site would be like recalled all the books you had written and burning them. I think that would be odd

  8. I was very sorry to read this, Peter, but you have been a brave and unflinching warrior and the need to step aside is very understandable in view of your family and other circumstances. I am sure all your regular readers wish you well.

    I would add my voice to those urging you not to close down the site, though. A lot of your earlier material is still very relevant, and we have an upcoming generation who have been fed the ‘born gay/can’t change’ myth, which goes more or less unchallenged in the mainstream media.

    However, the mainstream media are no longer the kingmakers as the Internet becomes more and more part of people’s lives, and searches can uncover some truths that others would like to hide. Seekers after the truth would do well to read a lot of your material, and this applies more than ever now (and will continue to do so) than it did in the past, when many more people shared your views.

    • Yes, and that’s not all. We also have the ‘born straight/can’t change’ myth, which goes more or less unchallenged in the mainstream media.

  9. I stopped blogging some time ago – and the extra ‘space’ in your head and life is wonderful. But I too would add my voice to those who are asking you to leave the resource. I know there is something fluid about the ‘net and links get broken all the time, but some things are worth preserving – and what you have said on this blog is part of that.

  10. ‘Then a voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”’ (1 Kings 19:9)

    I’d echo the sentiment behind that voice of the Spirit in Elijah: ‘What are you doing here?…In this place of resignation?’

    My words might seem harsh compared to other more complimentary commenters here. Juggling a family, a secular livelihood and ministry is exhausting. Peter’s first duty is towards his family.

    So, by human standards, the Lord’s question to Elijah would also seem equally churlish. After all, wasn’t it Elijah had heroically defeated the prophets of Baal by invoking all-consuming fire from heaven upon his sacrifice. It was no less than a divine vindication of his cause and ministry. He had routed out the false teachers with an incontrovertible demonstration of divine sovereignty.

    (As an aside, there are obvious differences between our ministry and Elijah’s. In the New Testament era, we are not the ‘Sons of Thunder’ imploring God to smite those who oppose us, but we do still ‘wrestle against principalities, against powers’ bestowed by the Holy Spirit with invincible powers of deduction and divine intervention).

    ‘“Lord, I’ve had enough,” he said. “Take my life. I’m no better than my people of long ago.” His God-given mission of religious reform had completely foundered. Why continue further? It echoes the apparent despair of Peter’s blog post: without any of the above changing, in a month’s time I’ll be out of here.

    Let’s be clear that Elijah was justifiably upset. While the contest at Mount Carmel was an
    undisputed victory for God, Elijah’s prayers for lasting reform had not been answered as yet. He desired an end, on the one hand, to Ahab’s dithering inertia and, on the other, to Israel’s lack of love for the true and living God of their ancestors. The people only wanted to fall in line with values of their heathen neighbours. In contrast, Elijah yearned for Israel’s repentance, for their leaders to set an example and spur a lasting return to God.

    Elijah didn’t lack faith, but he lacked long-range insight into the counsels of God.

    Jezebel’s avowed enmity towards Elijah not only displayed a remorseless unvarnished hatred of God. It also revealed her damnation, as Paul describes final reprobation: ‘Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.’ (1 Thess. 2:16)

    Equally, when authentic Christian ministry languishes through lip-service and dismissive neglect (‘an institution and a constituency leadership that doesn’t want to resource the ministry that it claims it so much admires’), we must ask whether they have finally become an obstruction to the work of God.

    So what’s the remedy. Initially, God attended to the most fundamental rung of the prophet’s hierarchy of needs. The Lord knew that the exhausted and emotionally drained Elijah needed two things: sleep and sustenance.

    There was no further instruction as yet. Simply, a heaven-sent messenger ensuring adequate provision for the prophet to be restored in mind and body.

    It was only after these needs were met that the Lord’s probing question was repeated within the epiphany of a whisper: ‘“Elijah, what are you doing here?” (1 King 19:13)

    The question was never cross-examination, it was THERAPY. Elijah’s repeated response brings his grief over his abject treatment to the surface. He reverently maintains his own loyalty and Israel’s lethal contempt for the covenant of their ancestors: “Lord God who rules over all, I’ve been very committed to you. The people of Israel have turned their backs on your covenant. They have torn down your altars. They’ve put your prophets to death with their swords. I’m the only one left. And they are trying to kill me.”

    St.Paul returns to this incident as he alludes to Israel’s rejection of the Jesus’ messianic authority under the New Covenant.

    Yet, as the Lord did for Elijah, God gives assurance of the invincible election according to grace that ensures our efforts are not totally in vain: ‘”I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (Rom. 11:4) (Yes, i am a Calvinist)

    What is missing from St.Paul’s OT quote is the divine instruction: ‘The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came. Go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also anoint Jehu as king over Israel. He is the son of Nimshi. And anoint Elisha from Abel Meholah as the next prophet after you. He is the son of Shaphat. Jehu will put to death anyone who escapes Hazael’s sword. And Elisha will put to death anyone who escapes Jehu’s sword.’

    So these are the two insights:

    1. Take all the rest that you need. God knows and we all know that you need it. You’re under-resourced, but, as far as I’m aware, you’ve never approached any of your regular commenters for help (and I’m the second-most prolific) Like Elijah, take sustenance and sleep. Really enjoy and take care of your family. Identify the right work-life balance.

    2. If the blog has become too demanding from a resourcing standpoint, as Jethro admonished Moses (Ex. 18:17 – 23), I would implore you to make the blog collaborative effort under your mentorship.

    If you believe that you are unable to delegate or define a plan to broaden the reach of ministry through a mentoring succession plan, then I would suggest it’s become so woven into your personal attributes as to be incapable of existing apart from you.

    Put bluntly, a God-wrought ministry, (whether blog, credit union, or food bank) should never be hostage to the vagaries and limitations of specific individuals. It should combine the talents and efforts of the body of Christ.

    If it’s a cost issue, you can private message those like me who want it to continue. We can all give what we can.

    Of course, you may all ask why the hell my voice should even count. Three answers: scripture, tradition and reason. We ignore those at our own peril.

  11. Peter, I completely understand needing to step away from blogging. I did that as well (although I ended up created a different one later on a different topic). But, it would be quite unfortunate to delete the whole site. You can turn all comments off and delete any contact information so that there won’t be any traffic to worry about. You can also delete certain posts you might not want up anymore. Turn it into a static resource website instead. It would be quite a waste to delete the whole thing. Is there a particular reason why you would want to do that? If you are afraid you will be tempted to keep posting, you can get website blockers for your computer and block your own site.

  12. I echo the thanks, the amount of work you’ve put into this blog is Himalayan, as is its quality. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

    I totally get why you’d want to step back from it. Would be great if it can be left up as an archive, but regardless, I can but wish you and yours the very best with whatever the road ahead has in store!

  13. I rarely agree with the content of your blog but on this occasion I do. I would guess that leaving the site running would be a temptation to start blogging again – it would be for me but I mustn’t project! Where there is good work to be done I’m sure you will find an opportunity to do it. I wish you all the best in your future ministry.

    Laurence Cunnington

  14. You’ve sacrificed much to accumulate these resources. It would be a shame to see it disappear.

    It’s completely understandable why you want to step away.

  15. Dear Peter, I’m sorry to hear that you’re at the point of having to give up blogging on the Exercises of Orthodoxy.. It must be a difficult task given the antipathy to Gospel of holiness… and a miserable feeling to find that leaders don’t want to be seen to support you, and be exposed to the same scrutiny and derision. Too many senior leaders are, I think, fearful – unwilling to be hated or reviled for the Gospel…. not even willing to die of embarrassment for Him!

    This blog has been a real support to me – helpful articles and debates, a better understanding of issues surrounding sexuality and relationships, information that bypasses the usual media blackout on anything that doesn’t support the liberal propaganda, and encouragement to stand for Truth in world that doesn’t want to listen (to put it mildly).

    It’s a pity that you can’t find support to resource this blog to the degree that it (and you) deserve. I’ve no idea what you need? God
    will give life, or resurrection, and strength and health and blessing. We are the sheep of His pasture, and His are a thousand hills…

  16. I’ve very much benefited from the blog but understand the enormous amount of work it must have involved. My prayers and best wishes for your future ministry, whatever form it takes.

  17. I am sorry that you are unable to continue this most excellent of blogs, Peter. However I, like so many others here, understand why.
    But I would also add my voice to those asking that you leave it available as a resource for those who need it. It is an incredibly unique and powerful body of work that speaks into some vital areas of church life and to lose it would be a tragedy.

  18. Peter, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the excellent material and food for thought you have provided through this blog. It truly has been a blessing and a challenge to me and helped form my thinking on same sex issues. I hope that I’m a much more understanding and compassionate human being as a result – thank you. Now, may I add my voice to the many who have already asked that the site be left available as a resource. It is too good to lose.

  19. Hi Peter,

    Many many thanks for all that you have contributed over the years. I will greatly miss this blogsite and feel a touch despondent at its passing.

    I do entirely understand the need to focus on family life and ministry where you live and hope that both will be wonderful for you.

    Please please also don’t just throw all the excellent posts away. For many of us what you have written has brought so much light into such a foggy situation and I regularly come back to re-read and re-think. As with many posting here, please leave the posts as a resource.

  20. We probably disagree about almost absolutely everything, but I wish you all the very best for the future – every so often I too have what I call a ‘life spring-clean’ – it can be hard letting something go which has been important, but if my experience is anything to go by you will soon wonder where you found the time.
    Also, no-one is indispensible, and if anyone thinks they are, then its likely that what they are doing really should have been given up some time ago,,,,,

  21. Peter – thanks for your work and your impish enthusiasm (in a good sense!). It’s been valuable, and I’m certain that there’s a few Ordinands at least who will take what you’ve written and help it shape their ministry. Might you do the occasional speaking engagement at Theological colleges?

    Rest and go well.

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