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Tony Grist

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Anglican Follies [Jun. 25th, 2008|10:13 am]
Tony Grist
I can't help but be sorry for the current embarrassments of the Anglican Church. I was raised in it, I used to work for it and it owns all those lovely, medieval buildings. It's a sheep-headed,  rackety, old institution but harmless- as churches go- and at its best promotes a spirituality that's reflective, tolerant and sweet-natured. It has or, rather,  had a genius for compromise. Eyebrows may have been raised over Fr Chasuble's young male lodger but nothing was ever done about it. Mischievous bishops could preach about the Death of God and no-one moved to unseat them.  Evangelicals, liberals, catholics and careerist worldlings all managed- with a little enjoyable feuding and sniping- to rub along together. Ah, well, nothing lasts forever.

And maybe this trouble is all for the best. The worldwide Anglican communion is a product of Empire. And why should the imperial church survive when the Empire itself has gone? Why should Africans conform to English norms of piety and virtue? What's happening now could be interpreted- with the church lagging behind the world by about 50 years (as usual)- as part of the process of decolonisation.

The latest news is that the conservative bishops gathered in Jerusalem are proposing to create a not quite schismatic church within a church- evangelical, fundamentalist, homophobe- and with its centre of authority somewhere other than Canterbury.  It sounds unworkable to me. Also essentially unEnglish.

Just let them go-  make a clean break of it- and take the Bishop of Rochester with them.

But nothing is ever that simple, is it? 

Messes like this take generations to clear up. Look at Zimbabwe.

England is a small country. How nice if the Anglican church could also be small again- based in England with a few Anglophile branches overseas- if it could return to being local:  unworldly-wise, slightly comic, charming.  

The sunlight sloping across vicarage lawns- as in Trollope, as in Agatha Christie, as in The Vicar of Dibley. 

Enough nostalgia!  Why should I worry?  I'm not an Anglican any more...

Or perhaps I am.  Is it possible to wash off the waters of baptism? Is it desirable?

I had a pagan friend once- he's on LJ; I tiptoe round him, hoping he won't spot me- who used to say he was going to write to the Pope asking to be excommunicated. He was a very pretentious, self-important young man. I may once have hated my religious upbringing as much as he hated his- but not any more.

[User Picture]From: ibid
2008-06-25 11:34 am (UTC)
I call myself an Anglican because I feel it is my culture and background even though I am an agnostic and don't identify as Christian.

Unfortunately the Church is a human institution masquerading as God and people seem to feel a difference in opinion (to be glib!) is something threatening heaven.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-25 12:43 pm (UTC)
A lot of people feel this way.

There's a lot that's beautiful in Anglicanism- the Authorised Version of the Bible, The Book of Common Prayer, the 18th century hymns: we all have a stake in these things.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2008-06-25 11:48 am (UTC)
I do agree with everything you said. The African churches shouldn't be allowed to spoil what the English church has, which as you say is a wonderful ability to be all things to all people and somehow hold it all together and make it work. We don't want to be dictated to by the African fundamentalists, just as they don't want to be dictated to by us.

Like you, this really shouldn't bother me. I now identify as a Zen Quaker and was brought up Methodist. But I was Christened in an Anglican church and my brother is an ordained Anglican priest and I don't want the Anglican church to destroyed.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-25 12:48 pm (UTC)
It looks like there'll be some sort of nightmarish compromise solution- with the evangelicals setting up an organisation not wholly divorced from the continuing Anglican communion headed by Canterbury. This too, I suppose, will be in the all-accomodating spirit of Anglicanism.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-25 12:53 pm (UTC)
Once a catholic, always a catholic.

It seems no-one escapes. Not even atheistical scourges of clerical hypocrisy like my hero, Luis Bunuel.
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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2008-06-25 12:58 pm (UTC)
Yet again, we homos are the End of the World as We Know It.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-25 01:09 pm (UTC)
Yes. Stupid, isn't it?

And shaming for the Church.
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From: bodhibird
2008-06-25 01:51 pm (UTC)
Akinola sez: "We want one thing and one thing only - to restore communion and fellowship. It has failed." Yes, but communion and fellowship on *their* terms--agree with us, or you are not of our fellowship.

*grinds teeth*

I wish I didn't care about the Anglican Church, but of course I do--it shaped my sensibilites and that will never go away. It is painful to think that this intolerant bastard is of the same heritage that gave us Tallis and Byrd, Donne and Herbert, Charles Williams and Dorothy Sayers.
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[User Picture]From: seraphimsigrist
2008-06-25 02:01 pm (UTC)
not intending to be provocative, and
I hope also not being so, but
a good many of those people were
Tories weren't they? Perhaps it is
their creativity which allows them
to 'get away' with it?

Edited at 2008-06-25 02:03 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: seraphimsigrist
2008-06-25 01:58 pm (UTC)

reply for Pope proposed to request to be excommunicated

Do it yourself ...
or,wait, you already have
haven't you? Are you
saying it didn't work out?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-25 03:14 pm (UTC)

Re: reply for Pope proposed to request to be excommunicated

Heh, heh, heh....
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-06-25 02:20 pm (UTC)
"Is it possible to wash off the waters of baptism?"
When I removed myself from the RC church at the age of 13, I did not believe it made me a Catholic just because a priest sprinkled some water on my head and said a few words. After all, I did not choose it for myself. At 13, I chose Protestant Christianity because of Martin Luther's tenet that it is faith that saves, not works. Years later I CHOSE to be baptized by a Protestant pastor. I believe that second baptism was an outward sign of my long-ago commitment.
Lesson: We may choose something for our babies, but at some time in their futures they will make their own choices, which are not necessarily our own.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-25 03:34 pm (UTC)
Most people find it very hard to rid themselves of early religious conditioning. Even if they lose their faith or change it, they still hear the voice of their mother church whispering away in the background.

I'm certainly finding this to be true.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-06-25 09:47 pm (UTC)
As you may remember, I have an intense reason to be interested in this Jerusalem situation--my daughter-in-law, a vocational deacon, is "staying with her bishop" and will therefore be leaving the Episcopal church, probably in October if that's when the official pull-out happens. Her bishop is in Jerusalem right now.

I wish very much--how useless, to wish others believed just like me!--that things were different. I love my daughter-in-law very much even as I strongly disagree with this stand they are making.

As for me, I am in agreement with you in that those who wish to leave because their beliefs differ should leave--this group is essentially going down A path that no longer reflects the views of the current Episcopal church (imho).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-26 09:04 am (UTC)
One thing I want to know is, who is going to own the buildings and other assets? Is the Church going to be bankrupted with law suits?

If people thought more about the nature of God- if they were a little more mystical in their outlook- I don't think these things would happen. A church that gets all het up about who sleeps with who is an unGodly church.
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