Wednesday, 30 April 2008

New Dioceses? Sure?

Is it only me, but doesn't the prospect of new non-geographical dioceses in the Church of England, to provide cover for those theological dinosaurs who cannot accept the leadership of women as bishops (get on with it!), open up the likelihood that such new dioceses would become a structure by which all sorts of separatist GAFCON-like and loving parishes could organise themselves, a sort of gift of a Trojan Horse within?

I realise that the folks of GAFCON are likely to start their invasions and separatisms before this slow coach to women's consecrations gets off the ground but, come on, don't make it easy for them, leaving the gravy on the plate.


Erika Baker said...

I don't know. Now that over on TA the Catholics and Anglo Catholics have joined the GAFCON rebels in telling me what I have to believe, I'd quite like a diocese for people like me who hate to be defined by anyone and who would like to grapple with their faith without needing labels! Can we leave them all to themselves and have a label free "Christian" diocese?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Do you want me to start one? You know that I know a few who (in one sense) have (free "Christian" diocese), but what do you think of them?

Erika Baker said...

My problem is that you know "a few" of them, implying they all don't quite get on with each other either, have different emphases and beliefs.... and are thus again rather defined by what they "think" and, by extension, by what they don't "think".
It's the liberal equivalent of what we're seeing played out in the AC.
But if you can create a "diocese" where it's more important to be than to think, more important to journey towards God than to fit into human structures, where it's more important to talk To God than About him, and where people are happy not to agree with each other - sign me up!

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I don't think there is a way around that one. I mean in the Unitarians, after all, that were theoretically as wide open as you liked, there emerged tendencies and boundaries, and unofficial credos with group identities, once you knew the territory. There is no 'natural' Christian setting, of a sort of relaxed and broad kind, or religious humanist setting either. Decisions are taken over time about ritualism and lack of ritualism, about expressed beliefs, and who you are with and what you are against.

Even then, if you want say light-touch creeds or none, and make it broad, you have to ask whether you want an easy listening religion or a more radical religion with a clearer purpose.

Erika Baker said...

I suppose my defining experience was a one year Exploring Spirituality course, which focused strongly on Listening to each other and to God, and on different spiritualities and forms of prayer.

We all were extremely close at the end of it and some of us decided to continue to meet.
The first dinner took place in my house - and it was almost a let-down. People who knew each other deeply, suddenly discovering that we didn't know much about each other at all.

We didn't know each other's church backgrounds, what we believed and didn't believe.... all those things that appear so terribly important in Christian circles.

It made for an odd dinner and the recognition that, maybe, not all of us would remain friends after all.

But the closeness was real despite everything. These people are still the first I contact in a crisis, believing I know them more deeply than those I have spent hours in intellectual conversation with.

And here in my own parish, I can kneel side by side with our resident fundagelical praying, feeling close to him, when I know that in "normal" life he disapproves of me and my way of life. But in prayer, when we're both focused on God, it doesn't matter. And when my daughter went through a really tough time in her leukaemia treatment, he was one of the the staunchest supporters. (Incidentally, SHE CAME OFF TREATMENT TODAY!!!!!)

Create that kind of diocese for me and I'm with you.