Catlicks and Proddy Dogs
Well those nasty Roman Catholics have been at it again I see. Sneakily offering to take on board, re-train and re-ordain, some of our nice Anglican clergy. They’re going to jump ship in their thousands, the Church of England will be brought to its knees, all our churches will return to Catholic safe hands and Christendom as we know it will cease to exist. We’ll all be genuflecting in the streets and it will all become like those awful foreign countries with their tacky plastic madonnas and disgusting relics-nice to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.
Hold on, wait a minute, no it’s not the awful ‘Latin Mission’ at all: its the fuddy duddy, trendy wendy, beardy wierdy, trying too hard, wishy washy, Church of England that’s to blame. Yes, its them: wilfully ordaining women as priests, knowing that some people just won’t like it and then compounding the problem by marching gamely towards women bishops and all the while diluting the strong meat of the Gospel, appointing athiest bishops, allowing men with silly haircuts to become vicars, colluding with the secular State that wants to get rid of Christmas, capitulating to the Muslims and just- well just not being like I want it to be.
Just a minute, its not the Catholics or the Anglicans at all, its the athiests: crudely arguing, religion hating alternative bigots who are just being really nasty to us lovely Christians and, well, haven’t got the point. They’re the ones to blame. I know what I’d do, I’d hang them and flog them and then kill them! Oh, no, that’s been tried before. No, I’d argue reasonably with them whilst smugly claiming that my truth is indeed better theirs and we’re right really, and always have been.
If I might make a plea for authentic Anglicanism over and above the caterwauling of the media and the anguished cries of those who don’t really care anyway, I would suggest that we are all adults here and that we enjoy an unprecedented and cherished religious freedom and toleration. The (highly intelligent, faithful and concerned) leaders of the Church of England, including its bishops, are confronting real and hard issues: the justice of equal rights for women , for understanding and acceptance of those whose sexuality is different from that of the majority, the problem of faithfully and creatively demonstrating a robust, credible and meaningful Gospel to a world awash with self-interest and greed and with the human outcasts these priorities create. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church also struggles with these concerns as well, but chooses the route of strong, centralised authority to address them.
And this is the real issue that faces us: that of authority. There are those in life who like things clear cut, determined and under-girded by an over-arching authoritative figure or body. For those who like their understanding of the meaning of life-their faith-enshrined in this way the Catholic Church is the natural home at this moment in history, and the Papal hand is held out to them. There are those others who feel that the whole of life is just that little bit too complex for strong answers and for clear cut directives: those who struggle to find an intelligent and sensible but real way through the difficult intellectual and spiritual mazes of life, content that most people share that sense of complexity and spiritual mystery and are happy to have companions of faith on the pilgrimage through life. The Anglican Church at the moment is the natural home of these people, but will be a difficult berth for those who crave order and security.
Along the way, there will be some switching of berths, some re-adjustments of the tiller and lots of revision and re-revision in our thinking and our attitudes as we react to the ever-changing circumstances of life. Pope Benedict has merely offered an opening to those who already find Anglicanism difficult anyway, and a compassionate way forward. Meanwhile, the hard slog and joyful encounter of the Church of England’s work in the parishes: amongst the tired, the lonely, the new-born, the soon-to-be-weds, the bereaved, the nurseries, the old people’s homes, the schools, the universities, hospitals and the ordinary homes and lives of ordinary people and much, much more will continue. It will be different and possibly diminished if some of the catholic voices and experience leave for warmer climes, but it will not cease to be and it will continue to explore the mystery which is life through the lens of Jesus Christ.
That’s why I am, and will continue to be, an Anglican.