Sunday, 21 May 2017

Visiting an Anglican Minster

As part of my current church tourism I went to a service on Sunday at the renamed Hull Minister, Holy Trinity Church. It has been seven years since I attended an Anglican service. As I explained after this service to one of the three clergy with whom I conversed, I used to attend at Barton over the river and things faded away, as things are fading away religiously regarding the Unitarians. However, I added that I cannot regard one person as exclusive deity and indeed, I said, "I don't think transcendence is like that." She said I was "liberal" and I said, "Oh very liberal." In fact it was worse than this, because I was able to take part in as little of the service as I could at the end of Barton days.

I estimated fifty people in the place for this service, which didn't seem to be many, and didn't look to be many. On the other hand, there are several services and it lacked the choir that was performing at the evensong. I overheard one person say they are in the choir, so in 'counting up' I can't but there is always overlap as some attend more than once. In fact there seemed to be a number of officials.

The first person I chatted to was in the seating in front of me, and he asked my name then. Afterwards saying I was from the Unitarians, on and off since 1985, he said he knew the minister from the interfaith forum. He ended up describing me as "well read" having made reference to Buddhism and Baha'is, and the latter I corrected him regarding its origins (he asked if from India; no, Iran). I said its precursor came from a very violent episode in Shia history, that it spiritualised along the way, that its key change was via the son of its main founder who Westernised it, and then it became bureaucratic.

It's odd what you end up talking about. I had expected to refer to Presbyterians and Independents divided within Holy Trinity prior to toleration: I never mentioned it. Instead, I talked to the preacher who had invited comment regarding her sermon at coffee. No one took her up, as far as I could hear, but I did. Her sermon was on the Bible reading of Paul at Athens, about which he was regarded as an amateur and like just dropping birdseed around (or similar). I said to her that I don't buy it; Paul was cross-cultural. He was a strategist. She agreed. I further made the point that there were many end-time preachers like Jesus and with a Jesus ethic, and allowing for some spread in synagogues, Paul is the person who made the connection. I said we don't know about the Jewish Church. She didn't disagree with anything I said, only a translation she'd used to suggest Paul approached Athens in a way that was not in-depth.

Yet the sense was low Protestant Anglicanism, with a folksy MC clergy presiding at the Eucharist. I didn't go forward. I said to the male clergyman with whom I spoke that last week I went to the Hull Community Church and it didn't have a Bible reading as such, no Lord's Prayer and the sermon could have been given in some Unitarian churches. But the song lyrics were impossible.

How Hull Community Church can be regarded as 'more biblical' than Holy Trinity puzzles me, as Holy Trinity using the standard low Common Worship (printed for use separately) just laboured the point all along the way. Anglican liturgy can be like someone stuffing a meal down your throat and they just keep stuffing it down.

I was never going to 'return to Anglicanism' simply because the wider Church is unethical regarding social inclusion. I was disappointed to see this one uses the Alpha Course as some sort of magic bullet for recruiting and retention (usually recirculation). It is advertised as 'asking any questions' but it comes with answers and manipulation, a marketing package from Holy Trinity Brompton.

I just cannot see how anyone, with a secular upbringing, technological solutions (and problems) and the common narrative for meaning (not just intellectual but in basic assumptions) would want to switch to supernatural causality and the cultic worship of whom Paul repeatedly called a man at Athens and only the preacher clergywoman called God. Why alter such a mentality, for no reason whatsoever? I don't think the Anglicans realise just how misdirecting is all this clutter.

Oh well. I want to get up early one day to attend the only really functioning URC church within Hull. I will also go to the Quakers. In one sense Hull Community Church 'kept quiet' and even ignored the difficulties. They just did indigestible lyrics and a minority with their hands in the air. The sermon giver there said she hadn't been to "Bible College" and didn't intend to go either. All hail ignorance.

I suppose it annoys me that so often the Unitarians have chucked the baby out with the bathwater, and then gone on to crack the bath itself and dismantle the taps. I just don't like content-free unanchored so-called spirituality. But nor do I like this clutter experienced today, nor the mismatch last week between community practicality and a recognising-the-problem content but impossible banal lyrics. I was able to sing most of the hymns at Holy Trinity - I deliberately sung some word changes! - but could not previously on my tour.

So, then, so far: none of the above, with useful discoveries and reminders.


Anonymous said...

Quote: "I just don't like content-free unanchored so-called spirituality. But nor do I like this clutter experienced today, nor the mismatch last week between community practicality and a recognising-the-problem content but impossible banal lyrics."

So what DO you like?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

This is what I am trying to find out.