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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.
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Comments:
[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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