There's much ado in the Church of England, lately.
(Sorry, this is going to be a very long post. I don't expect you to read it.)
Yesterday it was revealed by The Times that the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches are working toward a reconciliation that would put the Anglican church back under the authority of Rome. Wha????? Are you KIDDING?!
I have loads to say on this, but first I want to discuss the other big news in the Church of England. Anglican Bishops from around the world have been meeting in Dar es Salaam to discuss what to do about the whole gay issue. The gist is that the conservative arm of the church, namely the African contingent, is pissed off at the North American arm of the church (the Episcopalians) for ordaining a gay Bishop and giving blessings to same-sex unions. (oh the inhumanity.) Since Canterbury has, in the past, been quite liberal on the gay issue, it was assumed that The Church was headed for a schism, whereby the conservative contingent would pack up their marbles and go home. The shock development is that Canterbury told the Episopalians to toe the line and then put the most conservative Bishop in Africa in charge of the Americans. (They're gonna love that.)
You can imagine how thrilled I am with this. I'm not Anglican (hell, I'm not even Christian), but I can deal with going to church with the Pirate because the values of the Anglican Church are much more in line with my own. Since I'm more concerened with values than with orthodoxy I am comfortable in an Anglican church, whereas in a Catholic church I just sit and cringe and spend an hour becoming increasingly angry.
But this changes things. The C of E has just done a whole lot of backpeddling on an issue where previously it was a leader in compassion and understanding. I want no part of an organisation that actively discriminates against gay people. I refuse to be associated with that kind of intolerance.
But here's the question no one's asking (we finally got to it -- aren't you thrilled?): Canterbury did what he did to preserve "unity." All throughout the debate there has been a fundamental assumption that "unity" is a good thing. Here's what I want to know: Why?
Why is unity such an inherently good thing? What's wrong with a schism??? If you've got an organisation where half the members strongly feel one thing and the other half strongly feel the other -- it's an issue where no one is going to change their mind and there can be no compromise -- why force them to play nicely? Why not let them go their separate ways? Wouldn't everyone be happier then? Let them play their separate games in opposite corners of the schoolyard where each group can make its own rules. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on this. Why is unity assumed to be the best course, at any cost to people's consciences?
There's another half to this issue. It marks a growing trend in the Anglican Church towards a much more conservative organisation. Reunion with Rome? Accept the authority of the Pope, who is known to be freakishly conservative on issues of sexuality and sexual mores??? I have a hard time believing that.
It comes along with that same need for "unity" though. They all want to be one big happy. I just don't understand this mentality. Lots of the Big Bishops in the CofE seem to be for it. Canterbury is for it.
But here's the question no one's asking: What does the Queen think? Because technically the Queen is still the head of the Church. Canterbury can talk a blue streak, but unless the Queen accepts the authority of the Pope it's just a pipe dream. Both churches seem to think this reconciliation is feasible, but I want to hear Liz's thoughts on the matter. I suspect they would go something like this.
Canterbury: We want to reunite with Rome.
Big Liz: Fuck ahff.
The other big question is, of course, what do the punters on the ground think? I'll eat my hat if the majority of Anglicans would be happy to have the Pope in charge again. And that naturally begs the question of How did the Bishops become so far removed from their parishners' ideals? This whole thing is just a giant kettle of worms, but it's fucking historic. Charles doesn't want to be the Head of the Church in England. He wants the title changed to Head of the Churches. Plural. Thereby doing away with an official state religion, giving all religions equal rights, and transerfing the ecclisiastical authority of the monarchy to Canterbury, which then would give Canterbury the right to have the final say on reuniting with Rome. What a fucking circle jerk! This is making my head spin, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm watching major historical changes unfold before my eyes. It's exhilerating, in a I-can't-believe-they-just-did-that kind of way.
Questions? Comments? You know what to do!