I meant to go for a long sail today along the east coast of the Contentin from Barfleur, but the weather started looking nasty already this morning in advance of what was predicted by the forecast. There’s an old saying “When you start thinking about reefing, get those sails reefed right now!” As I saw the anvil-shaped clouds and the curtain of rain, having reefed the sails, the next thought was getting the hell out of this. I started the engine and took down the sails altogether, and then motored back to the mooring. I was safely anchored by the time I felt the teeth of the 30-knot gusts and the pelting rain.
A good seaman knows when not to go sailing. It’s as simple as that. It is also the same when thinking about human storms in both church and politics. That is the reflection that came into my mind when I discovered the article Conservative Anglicans are close to despair. Is the CofE about to split? I have been reading about splits in the Anglican Communion and schisms in the Roman Catholic Church for years. This stuff is simply rehashed banality. I frankly prefer the wind and rain that keeps my boat tied up to these futilities that drive me further and further away from the “world”.
The “liberals” come up with more and more sell-outs to modern secular systems of ethics and collective personality disorder. The conservatives, generally Evangelicals, are appealing to the “good old days” of the 1950’s, hanging or electrocuting criminals and caning unruly and disobedient children. Is that really what we want? The meme goes round saying that if we don’t get back to old-time religion and the associated social status quo, radical Islam will come and do it for us. Perhaps true, perhaps exaggerated. I do agree that our world is becoming increasingly hostile, anti-humanist and influenced by those with psychopath personalities. Would these Evangelicals bring a juster and more human world, or yet more bigotry and intolerance?
This article comes from a Roman Catholic source, and we get more comments from those promising new homes to stray Anglicans. We read all that during the Benedict XVI pontificate. They now have Pope Francis almost at the end of his de-ratzingerisation programme, and we have the old curmudgeon in western America doing down the Ordinariate. So, Anglicans have to become good corporate RC’s and knuckle up on pain of losing any claim to a principled position. At least the fellow is honest, and his diatribes are a salutary warning against any illusion someone might still entertain. Fortunately, there are alternatives for a few – those of us prepared to be marginal and not care about the “respectable” mainstream. After all, Christ’s mission was all about the human flotsam and jetsam of his era, not the Establishment in Jerusalem that got him killed by the good offices of the occupying Romans.
These stories leave us with a sense of emptiness and grief. Those of us of a certain age have memories, not of a perfect world, but something we loved and found familiar. The familiarity is gone. All that is left is to move away, cast off the moorings and seek the love of God in the most unexpected ways. That is not something the “conservatives” will give us, whether they are Anglicans or Roman Catholics in full cognitive dissonance.
The only way out of all this Scheißewetter, as the Germans call shitty weather, is transcendence. We need a more spiritual and sacramental understanding of the Church in the way Christ probably meant ἐκκλησία, a word analysed thousands of times by exegetes of all churchmanships. There plainly has to be some form of community whose members come together to pray and decide the best way to live together according to its principles. I belong to our diocesan Council of Advice, and it is always an experience of communion in Christ. But, from the little community and assembly to some big anonymous and unaccountable bureaucracy, we have at least an inkling what Christ would have approved or disapproved.
Fewer and fewer of us have any meaningful common life in the Church, and many have to go it alone, become marginal and work out a whole new philosophy of life. I ceased to care many years ago what they do in the Church of England, except empathising with the good clergy I know in Forward in Faith – doing what they can in less than ideal circumstances. The Church of England is crashing like the British Empire over the few years following World War II. The house has burned down and all is lost, which is what sent the Russian pilgrim on his way.