Comments: Christmas religious attendance

To be honest, I'm surprised that there is as much attendance at Anglican churches in general, given that there seems to be no consensus as to what Christianity, as seen by the C of E, stands for, if anything. Want to join a church whose vicar doesn't believe in the resurrection, or virgin birth, or whatever? Come on in - plenty of vicars and no doubt bishops will accommodate you! In the endeavour to seem to be all things to all men, in some Anglican churches the faith seems to be watered down so much that it will not be long before it will amount to little more than the proverbial "Do unto others"... And you are surprised when we get turned off?

The latest buzz phrase seems to be "inclusivity." Wading through blogs, it seems that this seems to be inextricably tied up with homosexuality. (Whatever turns you on...!) However, the guy who sent a message a few weeks ago, commenting about Rowan Williams, may not have concluded, from the way some of you saw him off, that you were being particularly tolerant! Nor, looking in the "about" section, may he have been entirely convinced by the statement that " has ... created ... a discussion forum, intended for “tolerant, thoughtful and understanding exploration”. Unless of course the term applies only towards those who share the prevailing view!

Perhaps it is that, browsing through ths fascinating world-wide-web, I came across this site, and found the very name "Thinking Anglicans" slightly pretentious, as if to suggest that the grey matter is the monoply of a select few. A sort of vaguely Christian MENSA perhaps? I admit that I have not gone through the extensive archives, and you all seem to be very highyl qualified academically, but I'm still a little at a loss to know what you doubtless amiable and well-intended Anglicans stand for. What IS your faith? And that's probably why reports show a decline in church attendance. Except in some churches, but by being "evangelical" they are beyond the pale, aren't they, as they are evidently not THINKING Anglicans...!

Twenty, thirty years from now this monstrosity we call "Church of England" may well be replaced by something else. Probably along the lines Jayne whatsit was predicting. But her suggestions, I see, have been dismissed as paranoid. Perhaps the slightly pompous hierarchy that presume to dole out the "truth" to non-thinking people (but in fact often seem more concerned with ritual and status) may one day wake up and realise that their churches are largely empty, and the Holy Spirit has called it a day, walked out and thrown in his lot with another less sophisticated form of Christianity.

Time for me to sit down with a cool drink.



Posted by PB at Sunday, 19 December 2004 at 10:52pm GMT

Would be interesting to see whether this was in fact the intention - to make some correlation between 'inclusivity'/'tolerance' and 'thinking'?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 23 December 2004 at 11:23am GMT

Ahhh, but of course Dr. Shell. All *right thinking* people realize there's a correlation between 'thinking" and 'exclusivity & intolerance', eh ? Sheesh...

Posted by David Huff at Friday, 24 December 2004 at 12:22am GMT

I can't see any correlations here. There are 4 possible options:

(1) Exclusive and unthinking
(2) Exclusive and thinking
(3) Inclusive and unthinking
(4) Inclusive and thinking.

The dictionary definitions of 'thinking' and 'unthinking' bear no relation to the dictionary definitions of 'exclusive' and 'inclusive'.

Happy Christmas! :o)

Posted by Christopher Shell at Sunday, 26 December 2004 at 11:32am GMT

Have your cool drink, Peter (are you in the Southern Hemisphere? In the North, a *hot* drink is more timely!)

Me, however, I'll just keep feeding on Jesus. Contrary to rumor, He's still there for the eating at your local Episcopal (by permission, _yet_ Anglican) church.

I'm sorry you seem to be wandering around in the wilderness. Maybe if you actually implanted yourself in the Body of Christ---the joys and woes of one _particular_ group of *redeemed sinners*---you'd find things a good deal less confusing?

[Oh, and the latest buzz phrase *really* is "the latest buzz phrase seems to be {straw man _du jour_}"]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Monday, 27 December 2004 at 5:05am GMT

"There are 4 possible options:

(1) Exclusive and unthinking
(2) Exclusive and thinking

Well, I'm afraid I don't see #2 as a coherent option. Tho' the reason is something I'm sure we'd disagree on. That being, to exclude someone for being GLBT is the same sort of thing as excluding someone for being female or of a different racial or ethnic group (i.e. bigotry, in so many words)

Posted by David Huff at Wednesday, 29 December 2004 at 12:43am GMT

It's in the nature of truth (and indeed in the nature of reality) to be not merely exclusive but extremely exclusive.

Example: the atomic number of helium is 2. There is one correct answer only to this question. How many incorrect answers? An infinite number.

Of course, there are many issues less straightforward than atomic numbers. But it remains the case that for every true point of view put forward, there is an infinite number of possible incorrect points of view.

I'd want to reiterate the point about dictionary definitions. There's very little connection between the concepts 'exclusive/inclusive' and 'thinking/unthinking'. We're dealing with 2 quite separate issues here.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 29 December 2004 at 1:16pm GMT

A thoughtful piece, PB, and it has elicited some interesting responses. (I think I'm the person whom you say was "seen off." Well, I'm still around, I was quite surprised by the ferocity of some of the personal emails, so this time am using a yahoo account rather than my normal one!)

Despite possible flak, as I see it, the Bible has a consistent negative stance concerning homosexuality and is explicitly condemned in Paul's writings. (I'll probably be called a bigot for daring to state this! For my part, those who think that it no longer matters seem to me to be trying to persuade others that a sin is not a sin.

A few weeks ago someone quoted with approval a comment by Gene Robinson “[The Bible] has been hijacked by the religious right. That is our Bible. It’s time we take it back.” which made my jaw drop, given that this is precisely what the evangelical wing have been saying about the approach to the Bible by liberals!)

Actually, I understand that there are some gay people within our church, though I don't know who they are, and we don't make a practice of asking people what their sexual orientation is when they enter the doors of the church! We are all, after all, sinful people! Homosexuality is a side-issue really; it seems to us to be symptomatic of a general tendency to debunk anything in the Bible that we may not like. If the liberal wing wish to portray us as "evangelicals" or "conservative" well, that's tough. (I recall that in the Acts of the Apostles the word "Christian" was originally a term of abuse!)

You seem to imply that it is the mess that deters you from being a Christian. I don't think one will ever find a perfect church! My suggestion is that you get stuck in at a church where you feel able to learn and discuss, and above all feel welcome, and forget totally the mess that the hierarchy are creating. Our church took a stand over the appointment of the Dean of St. Albans, but then proceeded to carry on with the primary mission, which is to win others for Christ. There are far more important issues to pursue!

Posted by Robert Leggat at Thursday, 30 December 2004 at 11:03pm GMT
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