Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Questions no one is asking

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!


ZB said...

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.

The religion of heretics! BURN!

he he he

The Church of England has always been a political institution rather than a spiritual one. The reason it was formed was a political decision (Henry needing an heir, Catherine not providing him with one, Church lands outweighing Crown lands in England at the time, Henry wanting their revenue and resources to fund foreign policy (war with France and Spain) and Henry not being able to keep his dick in his pants (a common male failing)). It was never formerly rescinded by Rome and in many ways that the head of the protestant church (the reigning monarch) has kept the title Fidor Defensor as part of their panoply the link has always been there. (Check the back of your twenty pee for the intials FD. Henry wrote a theological tract denouncing Martin Luther's Diet of Worms and was called the Defender of the Faith by the Pope for his troubles - altho Cramner might have written it (Henry also claimed to have written Greensleeves...))
So what if they're getting back together? The split was always political rather than spiritual - they still both argue about broadly the same God - it's just that because the protestant movements in various countries are fundamentally tied to the state apparatusand have been for four centuries, they're generally more socially/politically involved than the RC's.

unless the Queen accepts the authority of the Pope it's just a pipe dream...

There's no reason why she shouldn't for the same reason that the queen is still the political ruler of the country and we are still all her subjects. She's not and we're technically citizens now but it's all in the wording...If an acceptable turn of phrase can cover the Queen technically accepting The Pope's religious authority in a way that makes it clear to both sides that if he tries to enforce it he'll be told to fuck off, then it's possible.

As for the gay issue, you putting the word in pink is just as divisive? You're highlighting its difference...


ZB said...


that might be formally...

realdoc said...

Schism is a much better word than unity, and a higher score in scrabble. We've had a little local difficulty here (Northern Ireland) because of the last schism.I can't imagine how the locals would react to a re-alignment.

Homo Escapeons said...

Well zb succinctly detailed my initial reaction...I was reading about the latest wave of crime in the C of Rome which is parish pilfering..
one Priest stole $8M!!!
Others have been caught stealing out of the cookie jar to support SECRET wives and children and gay partners, buy condos and go on expensive vacations..which is not that surprising I suppose.

Let's face it organised antiquated religions are battling for their very existence..having been dismissed by reason and science over the past 200 years they need to re-establish their vice like grip on their constituents.
In America this swing to the far right (eschatologically minded/ anti Darwinian hogwash) has been very successful...Dubya would still be buying Baseball teams without their support...support for Israel is based on securing a landing spot for the Second Coming!!!
OK I need to calm down..my guess is that the C of E is so jealous of how powerful the NEO-Puritans are in the Colony that they are willing to whore themselves back to the nonsensical whimmery of Papal BULLS*#@!
Very sad...we have wasted enough time exploring this avenue of mythology and all it does is divide us into warring factions...
for GAWDSAKE give it up!

Henry would roll in his grave..
if he wasn't wedged in there so tightly that is.

First Nations said...

unity is percieved to be a good thing because sheep in a herd are easier to control.
i will now muzzle m'self.
*writhe, foam, gnash, twitch*

First Nations said...

...and, and, and religion is the way power teaches and enforces sheepdom! and, and...
*shock is applied*

frobisher said...

Well done. I am amazed as you are with it all. Do we really live in the 21st century with all this crap going on?

Listening to a radio debate about the merging of the two churches, aparently the Pope's word will be final - no hope of moderating the loathsome Catholic church.

Lorna said...

Oh, boy, religion can provoke some scary stuff...

My (Irish and practising Catholic) Young Man defiantly refers to Benedict as 'God's Rottweiler'. Now, if even a proper Catholic doesn't approve of him...

Chaucer's Bitch said...

ZB: awww! you're so cute when you laugh at your own jokes. :-) but in all seriousness, i know how/why/when the CofE was formed, but there are some genuine doctrinal differences between them and the RCs. I can't see either camp budging on the transubstantiation issue, just to name one.

RD: i like your reasoning! I don't think the Anglicans in N.I. would take kindly to being put back under the Pope's whip. Perhaps there would be terrorist attacks on the Vatican??? I might pay to see that!

Homo: "Papal BULLS#%$" very nice. also with the whole fat royal corpse mental image. you're on form today!

FN: Nail, head. Head, nail. Thank you for introducing the two.

Frobi: yeah, the Church believes in all things in moderation except for moderation. Or something.

Lorna: I prefer 'The German Shepherd.' It's subtler.

ZB said...

but there are some genuine doctrinal differences between them and the RCs. I can't see either camp budging on the transubstantiation issue, just to name one.

I thought that transubstantiation vs consubstantiation was too obvious to mention...

Da Nator said...

I don't give a fig which way it goes, but it does amuse me how very powerful we gays have become. We can explode tiny minds with our very existence!

Must go, innocent Aryan children to recruit...