Sunday, 10 July 2011

External Justification Not Needed

The problem with Rowan Williams's General Synod speech that this Christianity is not another ideology, not just a campaig:, it's news, and that, despite the evidence, God has not abandoned us, is that this all draws on the necessity that somehow we humans are not able to organise ourselves spiritualityand that somehow it has to come from outside, from elsewhere, to justify the effort.

The evidence seems to be the absence of a real God. Yet we can still generate compassion between ourselves and reflect upon it and even build a programme of spiritual development. I don't believe the resurrection accounts are anything other than myth of the time and place, but then ideas flow through language and we meet one another with our bodies and minds. There is, again, no need for outer projection for continuing to be human, so long as humanity lasts (and humanity will come to an end).

For me there is little doubt that the Roman Catholic Church is a hefty negative on the balance sheet when it comes to ethics - increasingly so - and this is the direction that that Church of England travels (as assisted by Rowan Williams himself in terms of high policy).

The question for me regarding the survival of a church is the facility to meet, to share, to explore. I don't think it needs any more than this as justification. Look, if people really have given up on this, except for the rock music entertainment spirituality approach, then we may as well realise this and call it a day. I don't think we are there yet, and even if a few uphold a tradition that now facilitates difference coming together then we may as well keep the doors open.

I think there is a strong argument for focus in a congregational presence, and it can include professional ministry, but my own model is educational and facilitating rather than selected ordination doing the delivery. to some extent Rowan Williams was saying similar points - about facilitating, but he is still heavy on the ordained Presbyter over others. People do the delivery in a much more shared sense; the community is healthier when it does the jobs. Character formation is something for the people in the community: that is the point of the availability of spiritual practice. There is no unique character formation. Training of ministers is so that they can train others, but in the creating of other 'presences' they may not be easily identified rather than have the ordained as like semi-little bishops.

At a time when the Open Episcopal Church leadership structure has entered confusion and turmoil, the importance of diversity and sharing with decentralisation cannot be emphasised more. The Church of England is involved in deep divisions too, its size and cumbersomeness (and, frankly, the inadequacy of some of the threat makers) keeps it going, but the losses each week in terms of bums no longer on seats are quite high.

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