Friday 20 November 2009

Archbishop of Anglicanism at Woolworths

Archbishop of Anglicanism's address at an unused and available ex-Woolworths Store in Rome on Friday 20 November 2009

It is not lacking in pleasure that I am hearing to speak on anything but the situation in Uganda, for which I have lost my considerable probable erudite tongue, so may I suggest that I retail a tale of the Incarnation and going shopping as a matter of not inconsiderable interest to the very few?

Since the largely forgotten Second Vatican Council in that turbulent decade of the 1960s that so shocked the present Holy Father, Peace Be Upon Him, the Roman Catholic Church woke up to find that other Churches existed. They even discovered ours, in which of course I am a layman wearing funny clothes during worship.

The parallel is with the large store, the Superstore perhaps, that discovers a thriving High Street, or even a Holy High Street that perhaps struggles in the face of the Superstore but also serves the divine purpose.
That department store within the Superstore that lacks the spherical intent of the one descended from the inheritance of The Inquisition, and it must be said is rather overlooked these days, produced quite a lot of ecumenical paper with ink and signatures on these, ostensibly about progress in relationships between the Roman Catholic Shop (the Superstore) and others, including the one I inhabit at the present moment, as in agreements that the superstore is not trying to wipe out the Holy High Street Anglican Emporium. And we justly and happily concelebrate the pioneer of ecumenical dialogue, regarding the Superstore and the Holy High Street in all its variety, Cardinal Willy Wohntee, who might have been a century not out had he not played critic at Lourdes.

Right, so I've half an hour left, and so as long as I say nothing enough approaching on reproaching Uganda I am reasonably happy. Good. I suppose when younger I was a bit of a closet Roman Catholic with the desire to be a superstore manager, and if I was not then I have become so in later years. So it is a matter of enjoyment in reading documents about which one has notice to find that the Ecclesiastica selling units have near agreements regarding matters like humans made in the image of God, potentially but not necessarily excluding a few sexual minorities, who may have to shop in heterosexual lookalike pairs, and that this imagio humano is celebrated through the sacraments of Baptism when a baby first enters a shop or perhaps later and then Holy Communion in which God is busy upon his communion acting upon us to transform us in communion at the tills but not in deo communicado.

Indeed not. And it is from this that other questions arise, as some thoughtful Anglican Emporianios might say from time to time, if we have it.
The surely not underwhelming question is whether in the context of the street-lit darkness of all that we can agree about is whether indeed there can be light over what we don't agree about, in the setting of what is secondary and primary, and whether these have the same mass, being the actuality of importance whereas weight needs sufficient gravity - and I choose the word 'mass' carefully here, in this comparison between the shadowless fluorescent lights of the inside and the darkness beyond.

For example, is the Pope, Peace Be Upon Him, a Catholic? And is he primary or secondary, as I once asked of a child of a congregant in my cathedral who was about 11 years old and had lost his mummy. And what of ordaining women to run some shops? Questions such as these raise the matter of the local Shop and the universal Shop, the local Shop not being like a shop to which a school may be attached, or even a region, but lots and lots of them with many bishops that we all know and love about serving their customers. Theological questions then, that are utterly absorbing at a time of, say, the destruction of human rights in, no I won't say that. I really must stop ad-libbing.

So how exactly is it that they make an understanding to the differences regarding salivation over foodstuffs for sale and communion of them? But if they are not, why not? And if why not, why do? Why do these issues like the Pope, Peace Be Upon Him, still stand in the way of fuller and not invisible unity? Is it possible to have Unitarian single checkout models of communion that vary about the Pope standing in such a fashion that prevents this expression?

The central question, beyond one about human welfare on matters of imprisonment and the death penalty, is whether and how we can properly tell what is primary and secondary. For schooling, this is easy, but theological questions are not so easy, especially when superstore management offices can become dictatorial, like the Vatican. This is a matter of health and also something I wonder about, called integrity, at these troubling times. How may we establish what F. W. Woolworth and Howard Conder struggled for regarding a genuinely theological doctrine of the Ecclesasica plaster? Vatican twit II too took us from tooly an institutional view of Church of divine decrees with degrees of understanding, which I have adopted regarding the Covenant for worldwide Anglicanism, with all its talk of getting your prescriptions from the Lord your Chemist, and the healing of souls, and this authoritarian centralisation, with Church as Society, getting your Italian pizza from next door to the divine chemist, towards instead perhaps the nature and ground of the world that grounds the ecclesiastical community of which the Pope, Peace Be Upon Him, might be but of one aspect.

Such questions are not easy, but we are bound to tackle them. Now suppose we get a bag of apples, though such cannot be found from Woolworths, unfortunately since deceased, the chemist or indeed the Italian pizza shop. No, they come from Kasper Water, who I am assured is made in the image of God and not an image of a cartoon. It is this connection, in the deeply heterosexual plug and socket matter, about the nature of God, fishing and finistry. And they all encourage constant talking, while people might be put in prison for consensual matters, deeply rooted in the ground the way that a good building should be, logically and ecclesiologically speaking.

Such talking can also be seen in Anglican dialogues with that other ecclesiastical community, though probably Church, the Orthodox, which lacks the Filly O'Kay Irish element of the Triune horseness at the races but evident at the vetinary Spurgeon's.
How can we proceed - and I think we can, can we not? Look into the three, that eternal look: by which humans can go to the garment repair shop and be restored into how they were once made, though this should not be taken as a matter of original sin when we approach those Orthodox little shops scattered around. First, approach the Godhead of the shop and ask for the repair, then it is repaired in a human and principled manner, then take the garment away for which the Holy Spirit assists in its wearing. Yes we have the horse race Filly element here, if and only if, it must be stressed, that the original garment was for horse riding. We pray that this is so, through the repair, in the encouragement to wear it, under the auspices of the greater Holy Shop.

We do not, however, in our processes, jump the queue and have humans bump up against each other, nor come to the shop when it is shutting-up, when being served is inseparably and necessarily a gift of mutual human communicoon also.
But we can ride tandem to the shop, of a two nature, not three, depending on how many fingers you put up for a blessing, with the Father upon one seat and someone else on the other seat (and Christ seated next to the Father). And the bag of apples can be hung with sufficient stability from the handlebars and most successfully if they can be placed in two bags, one on either side. This is quite justifiable, as the Lutheran-Catholic Orchards discussion document clearly shows linking singers to the music shop.

So we see how the pattern emerges in our tripping down the Holy High Street. The former streets lead into the latter; the latter streets only make sense against the background of the former. And we meet one another, as in "Hello Farmer Lola" in the former streets and "Hello Farmer Lotta" in the latter streets. And we can see in the butchers' a very special chicken who used to live on our farm in the barn, rather as people might do before the death penalty for consenting with one another if one should be disabled and perhaps not quite in the image of day oh, day ay ay ay oh; day di come any one a go home.

So in our Holy Shops of the one yet divided Holy Shop, what enquiries, can we make, and should we, and what would an enquiring kind of shop look like? Is it more a supermarket or is it where we are served? Is it that vast Roman superstore? I shall suggest some possible lines of further enquiry for the busy housewife who, one day, might be ordained bishop. And here then I can lay down a challenge, a challenge against trends of the moment, trends such as only being told last minute that someone from a should not be rival superstore might and indeed does act to steal some of the shopkeepers when it has lost so many of its own staff. When such happens we might be depressed and lower our expectations of ethical behaviour, as we ought not to do when considering Africa and our own back yard.

But, to take the contrary view, given the apparent lack of progress towards institutional or organisational unity, as in merging Somerfield with the Co-op, but then what about Tesco and Sainsbury, we need to consider just how influential Woolworths' legacy has been in the retail tale of ecclesiology. It could lead to new, similar shops that lack identity, but are ecclesiastically broad: shops where we can harvest apples that are good for you selling among and along with heavenly sweeties.

And it is this. In riding tandem, the issue is not about the essential shape of our language concerning God and God's action in Christ, which would not be Unitarian. No, it is about the Fatherhood of God, which historically is, Unitarian, but in a tandem dual pedalling vocation under the Father that is not the Holy Father, the Pope, Peace Be Upon Him, but is the Filly, the horse, the very race by which we become more fully human and meet the heavenly vision - and Orthodox this is. And we do this in communion with other believers, offered as a sale at yet full price to the whole world as a promise and hope that the guarantee is there, a model for human life together in a cord that stretches in accord with the Father's loving purposes abroad.

As the 'Oik you!' menial statements, in varying words agree, the ongoing debate is not about these fundamentals, as we examine them, but about where abouts we find the fullest realisation of communion to be found in one shop or the other, the supermarket (including but also a smaller version of the great Holy Superstore and consistent with it) or where a shopkeeper says "Yes madam".
And here we can converge, where the shop has shelves to pick things up, but where you can ask for service.

Such sacramental forms offer the broadest possible outcomes, with links from trinitarian doctrine straight to buying one's own and the Lord's supper, whether an Italian pizza or otherwise. And thus, with Filly O'Kay, the race is on, in communion with the trying on God, especially in a clothes shop, and this before having to use the garment repair shop.
And human practices are involved here. The conventions of buying and selling are crucial, which perhaps the Pope, Peace Be Upon Him, does not understand if someone else does the shopping, whereas laymen like myself and my wife do go shopping, a pattern repeated especially if he is a Father and she is a Mother. Outside the Roman Superstore fold there is surely no ambiguity over this priority of the shops, or any separation between the act of the Father in salivation of filling the boot with the weekly shop and a purely or predominantly human activity of recalling or expressing that act through human repeated practices such as the shopping itself within the Holy High Street's varied and variable premises.

If the picture just sketched here is Accurist, at the WATCH shop, where the ordination of women is centred, what exactly are the points that still divide us? I look therein in some frustration, with the short notice I have received. Perhaps, I suggest, we look precisely into the bag of apples. Apples yes, because some can be green and tastless, and some green and tasty, but others red and full of flavour.

Pardon? Oh, I understand everyone listening has fallen asleep. What? Sorry? They wanted to hear about Uganda? No I don't want to talk about that. Look people are waking up. It must be mentioning... I'll conclude.

So, resuming then, is there a mechanism in the Shop as with the supermarket trolley by which matters can not just efficiently but effectively be brought to the... What, they are asleep again? These are very important questions, even if no one cares what I think any more. Well, I'll stop now and go and ask the Holy Father, Peace Be Upon Him, why he doesn't consult or give people much notice of what he is going to do, and whether I might join him in one of his Unitarianates as part of this theological convergence I have indicated considering the High Street and the Superstore. In other words, can we all allow ourselves to be challenged, as I am challenged, to address the outstanding issues with the same methodological assumptions and the same overall spiritual and sacramental vision that has brought us shopping thus far, so long as we do not mention Uganda?


June Butler said...

If Rowan used speechwriters, he'd definitely put you on the payroll, Adrian.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

What, and make him even more incomprehensible?