The Church of England has appointed as Bishop of Sherborne a leading advocate of Christian nudism. On 26 Nov 2015 the Prime Minister’s Office announced the The Queen had approved the nomination of the Ven Karen Gorham, the Archdeacon of Buckingham, to the Suffragan See of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury in succession to the Rt Rev. Graham Kings.
The new Bishop of Sherborne, who will be consecrated in February at Westminster Abbey, has urged churches to educate their members on naturism, or nudism. “There is need for much education and openness to talk about issues of sexuality, to remove false taboos which we tend to have about our own bodies, and to define the differences between what is impure and what is godly and properly natural to us,” she wrote in “Naturism and Christianity: Are they compatible?”.
As the bishop-designate explains:
“Naturists believe that the ‘hang up’ about the body being shameful in itself, in whatever way, is both morally wrong and mentally harmful. This points to the fundamental difference of attitude between naturists, who are not frightened or ashamed of their bodies, and that of much of the world, which would seem to be so. In naturism one realizes that there are no truly private parts; all parts of the body serve their proper and honourable purpose, and in this respect we are all alike.”
I have nothing to say about this. I just wanted to say that somebody should invent a cocktail called “Naked Came The Lady Bishop.”
UPDATE: The novelist and Anglican Francis Spufford comments:
Leaving aside the misogyny and the Catholic triumphalism, what most of you here including Rod are getting wrong about the Church of England is that we’re not the English counterpart to TEC, as you know it and appear to despise it. We’re not a liberal denomination. About half of all the churchgoing in England happens in Anglican churches, and covers an enormous range from hands-in-the-air Hillsong stuff through to choristers with ruffs chanting Evensong in medieval cathedrals. You need to imagine a church that’s an amalgam of TEC with all of mainline Protestantism plus a fair slice of the evangelical and charismatic churches too. We didn’t split over women bishops, and we’re going to try very hard not to split into liberal and conservative over same-sex marriage either. Whatever silly thing the Bishop of Sherborne said about naturism in a pamphlet in 2000, she comes in fact from our evangelical wing, as does Archbishop Welby, as do almost all of the women raised to the episcopacy over the last two years. The era of unbelieving Anglican clergy is behind us. That generation is now in retirement, and we can’t afford another one. I’ve just come back from our General Synod, and I can report the shocking truth that it was a roomful of anxious Christians, trying to ensure the survival of the body of Christ in an environment, not of hostility, but of indifference you contemptuous Americans can scarcely imagine. We could use your prayers.
For the record, I am not a Catholic and I don’t believe that any Christian church, especially in the UK and Europe, has the right to feel triumphalistic about anything these days. Including my own Orthodox Church. I’ve just written this past week about how my very conservative, ancient church is struggling with its mission in my town, and may have to close down within the next year. The more liberal Protestant churches in town are doing pretty well in terms of congregation size. I don’t agree with their theology, and think they will face long-term problems with it, but only someone blinded by pride would feel triumphalistic in my circumstances. Nevertheless, elevating a nudism-enthusiast to the episcopate is just begging to be snorted at.