Thursday 20 November 2008

New Anglican Church

I've decided on a solution to my problem of being a square peg in a round hole. I'm going to start my own Anglican Church.

On 3rd December I shall announce that this Pluralist Anglican Church will begin, and in the place of cathedrals we shall convert a number of double and single garages attached to bishops' houses. You can generally get a few seats in and all the religious finery, so long as you leave the cars in the drive. The choir does have to assemble in the back garden. We've been to India and found someone related to some ancient line somewhere, with several glossy certificates that interact with an Anglican bishop in the seventeenth century, so off we go with lots of hands laying.

Now I have a rival. It is led by Bishop Bob Duncan, formerly of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and now of somewhere of the same name. He will become Archbishop of the new Province of GAFCON in North America, and many of his bishops have an African connection, but given my obscure Indian connection I can do better than him. My bishops will use the ancient title Mar, as in Mar Garine, Mar Gate and Mar Kharris. Also I shall set up a theology seminar requiring one set of bullet points per Anglican non-residential ordinand, and thus, being six foot five, I shall henceforth be known as the Most Reverend Professor Mar Mite of the Pluralist Anglican Church. Do remember to use small writing when putting that on an envelope - emails are much easier.

Now if you go to that prominent outbuilding next to Lambeth Palace you can find application forms headed: I Want to Start an Anglican Church. We believe Bishop Bob Duncan filled one in back in October. You give your name and address and among pages of pointless detail there is a box where you write a paragraph under where it says: Why do you think your Church would be Anglican? It does say that if you run out of space you can attach additional sheets. Apparently forms filled in so far have a variety of answers, and there does not seem to be a correct answer. Bishop Bob's form gave an ideological answer, which is most unusual - something about confessing they are Anglicans whereas most folk are a bit happier about their Anglicanism. I shall fill in my form ideologically too, based on my Nine Theses revision of John S. Spong's Twelve Theses. My version for the Pluralist Anglican Church is bound to be far more acceptable to the Archbishop, who took the opportunity to demonstrate his own apparent orthodoxy by spending some time putting crosses and not ticks next to each of the twelve theses. So he doesn't need to do that again.

At the end of the Lambeth form, which I'm afraid did not win the Clear and Simple English Award, it states that the Archbishop of Canterbury '...cannot promise that this form will not be read selectively and to the advantage of parties involved, on the basis that legally the Church of England cannot be directed by external agencies other than the Crown in Parliament.' This sentence has had lawyers making their various interpretations: but all agree that it does not negate into promising that the application will be read without prejudice. Indeed Anglicanism is full of prejudice, which is more than half the problem.

Once the form has been filled in by the applicant, the Archbishop of Canterbury takes it in person to the Anglican Cricket Club which decides whether its constitution makes more or less sense than playing cricket, and whether it will baffle foreigners in similar measure, as when they received Anglicanism originally. If it passes this particular test, it then goes to London Zoo, where two thirds of the Primates in residence generally tear it up and eat it.

Should there be no evidence of a form after this (all the paper fragments must be eaten), and no comment emerges from the Archbishop of Canterbury, then it is deemed that the new Anglican Church can start up as a legitimate part of Canterbury Anglicanism. Should the Primates spit out what they are chewing, or feel sick, then the Church will be outside the Canterbury Communion. However, it makes not one jot or tittle what is eaten, not eaten, spat out or rejected as the new Church gets set up anyway.

Should a new Church be successful in establishing itself then it will be invited to join the Covenant. The Covenant exists either to keep The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in, or to keep them out, or to include the new ideological Province in North America, or to try and make my Church become at least a teensy weensy bit more credal. However, the Covenant cannot direct anyone about anything, has no sanctions available, is illegal in England, is ignored elsewhere, is completely contradictory, has no relationship with the Jerusalem Declaration, is destined never to be finished, and apparently was typed up by the Primates at London Zoo and no one can make head or tail of it.

Anyway, as regards my new Pluralist Anglican Church I can confidently predict its expansion through "Entry by Troops" in its revolutionary future (Baha'is will understand what that prediction means). There will be lots of parked cars in driveways. The Church will be thoroughly Anglican and therefore will allow everyone to hold a private faith of whatever kind, which no one will have to discuss with anyone else. This is as far from a Confessing Anglicanism as you can get, and therefore nothing like Bishop Bob's application form (being torn up and thrown between London Zoo Primates as I write), as Confessing Anglicanism is a total contradiction in terms: that is, oxymoronic without the oxy (though, apparently, for good old Anglican identity, in actually needs the Oxy it lacks in order to be contradictory-moronic).


Fr Craig said...

P - brilliant! thank you

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! Covenant indeed!

I used to know a fellow who left the Anglican Church of Canada to join an organization called the Anglican Catholic Church. Or maybe it was the Catholic Anglican Church. Or the Continuing Catholic Anglican Catholic Primitive Church. Or something like that.

He invited me to attend one of their services (i.e., "Solemn High Mass") and I ended up in a garage that was papered with icons and festooned with statues. There were maybe a couple dozen congregants, most of whom seemed to be well into the centenary of their lives (the devoutly orthodox are remarkably long-lived). There was much incense, bowing, and crossing of oneself and others, and not a little Latin as well. It was all marvelous. It didn't last long, as some of the members decided it wasn't orthodox enough for them (too much sherry or not enough?), and some left to join another continuing church, whose name is even more obscure to me at this point.

So good luck with your church. And speaking of sherry: make sure you have barrels of it. Asperge conservatively, consume liberally.


Priscilla said...

Very funny.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I was thinking of using vegetable juice that you can buy at Lidl.

Erika Baker said...

Vegetable juice??

And to think I was on the verge of joining your church!