Monday, 16 July 2012

Ethics and Church

It's interesting that the more I look into the basis of making an argument regarding the rules of the Christian Church, the more it becomes utterly obvious that I am now a complete outsider. Thinking Anglicans wants to be constructive regarding the amendment 5 that caused the General Synod to take back the process to the House of Bishops to rethink the rethink from there that led to the amendments in the first place.

I have nothing to say! Listening to a new and professional person in my life, I realise that the Church of England's position is simply offensive to women in general. The evangelicals can argue all they like for and against - the present situation is simply offensive. The Catholic traditionalists can do what they like: they are peculiar and the general impact is offensive. So bugger the clauses and amendments and stop being offensive. If you don't, then OK, but don't attempt to relate to others outside the shrinking tent.

So now the public and ritualistic statements of my past are misleading. And on those latter points, I don't care either. I made them faithfully and with intent in the past, but the fire went out thanks to distance and elongated time without prospect of reversal. What I do care about is that my position is known to the person who now matters to me, and vice versa, as we also continue to function in our own established lives. Although early days, and the door shut on others, this could be far from a conventional sense of union.

When the last piece of coal stopped glowing I don't precisely know, and I was probably over-hopeful for too long, but now that is of a previous time. Memories and a faithfulness to the past is also important, for both of us setting out. There is a sadness about the past on all sides. The person of former ritual connection knows of the change and had understood change was likely to happen.

In order to start this new relationship I did not consult a rule book of a Church or the Bible or indeed any other such spiritual-resource book. I would think that according to set texts I'm now well in amongst the immoral - and it does not worry me a bit. I do not live in a woo-woo world where people try to make other people fear for their salvation. I couldn't give a toss about that hogwash (more fool them). I have only made the most general of extractions regarding broad spiritual sources, but these are available in the secular sphere too. That there is a spiritual aspect in the relationship is important, in recognising the uniqueness and fullness of the other person. Her narrative is compelling and I can only hope about mine. I relate faith and trust, which to me was always the meaning of faith (not beliefs), and so the question is one of trust. And hope indeed. Hope failed before, but hope can come again.

By the way, all people have negatives as well as positives. What is compelling is not just a list of positives, but all of it taken (and not a list) that makes for the whole. The question for me always is: can I 'live' with myself in what I do, and can I 'live' with the other and can she 'live' with me.

And on this point, I wish to say no more personally. But I do wish to comment on how this then relates to my own pursuit of a spiritual life along with others who do the same. Because these principles that are intense in a one-to-one also can apply to friendships and then the general pursuit of life.

I arrived by a route of pressing links to the general mission of the Methodist Church, and I thought I could use this.

I do not follow in reverence one text collection nor the cult of an individual (Jesus of Nazareth), so any rewrite will avoid both, but the rewrite does relate to the position above of values, trust and hope that we might try to achieve in valuing ourselves and the other.

So a Church that tries to bring together trust and hope does this through:



The purpose of worship is to contemplate and reflect on the direction and purpose of our lives and our place in the wider cosmos. All people are important to us, whether significant others or generalised others. We worship through the use of traditional spiritual language and meaning, and through the focii that develop a sense of trust and hope on this living planet.

We might express a sense of sorrow and regret and also awe, wonder, thankfulness and praise. We can do these through words, symbols and music and in traditional or radical styles.


The Church helps people to grow and learn to value one another, through mutual support and care. It is done through small groups in discussion or for charitable activity. Some of these help others join us.

Pastors (Ministers, Lay Leaders) facilitate ministry among everyone. Sermons should inspire action.

Some drift away or leave and we should ask why and seek to alter behaviour to keep those in future who might not have left but did.


The Church exists to be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice by sharing concerns. This may relate to the local or a wider community. There should be an international angle. We can bring in charities or support others as individuals. There are the ethical issues raised by daily work.

We should share with one another our concerns about things that do not seem right, or cause trouble in our identified communities, or appear unjust.

The premises are a useful resource for income but income by helping others consistent with our beliefs and values.

The worship should refer to the identified communities and those using the premises.

Service to others should be part of the active development of the Church.


The Church exists to grow so that others have space to reflect and do it with other people also seeking faith.

Reaching out involves spiritual friendship exercised in the church, in and after the services.

The language used has to be clear and recognisable. Words used should be straightforward and meaningful to outsiders.

Each individual has their own narrative of coming to a community seeking faith. We should be confident in telling our stories. This does not have to be competitive (e.g. do this in interfaith meetings) but it should not be hidden.

Liberal religion varies in different denominations and in Unitarianism around the world, and we can learn from them.

Unitarians should be prepared to start new groups, even if it begins with twos and threes, with necessary publicity and a means to gather.

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