Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Be Less Mad and More Afraid

There is a lot of crap flying around at the moment, in relation to the Church of England Newspaper carrying itself a nasty little article on the so-labelled Gaystapo, likening gay activism for equality to the Nazis, the Nazis who killed many homosexuals and instituted terror and evil. There is enough being said about this to bother to add more, along with the apparent shock that this is said by someone of the Church and then published by a Church of England representing (if not representative) organ.

As someone who has a crack at Fulcrum every so often, and occasionally offers it an outside point if view, I want to turn to the viewpoint that at least Alan Craig is honest and upfront in his anti- gay activism homophobia, whereas Fulcrum is complicit in that whilst yet preaching in a more respectable language. It's the argument made by Jonathan Hagger, Mad Priest, as in this comment:

The only reason why Craig is a bad advertisement for evangelicalism is that he is not hiding his evangelical bigotry behind worthless platitudes. I respect the man for having the balls to be honest to his churchmanship and beliefs. In my opinion, Fulcrum is a bad advertisement for evangelicalism because they are a Trojan horse and when this becomes public knowledge evangelicals will be seen to be the haters that they truly are plus they will be outed as deceitful

Jonathan gets accused, by Tim Chesterton, of replacing one blanket statement by another.

I think my argument is a little different about Fulcrum. It's that if follows a primarily bureaucratic ethos. It thinks it is the centre of, and defines, Anglicanism. In its pushing a bureaucratic solution, it loses the ethic of what is the cost of that solution and I think it ignores that ethic.

As far as it is concerned, The Episcopal Church has fallen out with the bureaucratic ethos that says all Anglican institutions should refer to all other Anglican institutions before it comes to its own ethical decisions. But that's not good enough, when many an Anglican Church is part and parcel of a deep social and political homophobia of very serious consequences to those involved. The ethos of the institution is upheld by the Evangelical (Protestant) notion that this is a community of believers, and the believers are of a Bible that has no pro-gay verses within it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also promoted this bureaucratic ethos, advancing this Covenant, and he has done it on the basis of a Catholicism that allows the possibility of change but where it would be decided among the international Anglican purple. In other words, the collectivity of bishops overrides the organisation of management in each Church's synodical structures. He showed this perspective over his choice for the Bishop of Dover as a Synod timetable manager: he told the Synod rejecting his choice that members should read the Ordinal.

So there are two movements here to create a conserved Church and would be sealed up as such by the Communion Covenant.

To some extent, the issue is a so what? Robert Piggot in his recent Our World showed that in one year over 180,000 people left the Roman Catholic Church in Germany because of its unethical stances; in Finland a 1000 a week leave; and Protestantism halved in Europe in 50 years. This pattern is common across Europe. In Holland, a minority try to carve a new, different, ethical approach to theology, reflecting contemporary concerns. Also in Holland you get the conservative backlash into a smaller Church; indeed the Roman Catholic leadership wants a smaller purer Church. The reaction to Germans saying no to paying the religion element of their taxes is for the Roman Catholics to excommunicate them. Talk about closing yourself down.

The Church of England is becoming an irrelevance. It would be sad if its resources are not made available for a religious recognition of gay partnerships or marriage. But then it should be allowed to aim for its own social irrelevance. There are other providers.

For decades, Anglican people of more liberal persuasion have put up with Evangelical and Catholic moves to make their Church more conserving, partly because the liberal ethos has retained at least some spaces within. I found and indeed created a small space for liberal exploration within, but I was also falling away.

There is an increasing argument against the Covenant and it may well not succeed. The liberal element that was once mainly willing to give it a try now realises just how dire this document is, and let's be under no illusions: it will affect the ethos of every parish. Even some Evangelicals reject its bureaucracy. This is not some remote, international document. It bureacratizes and freezes everything, right down into the core. It will stop any change, any flexibility: it will turn variation into defiance. It makes more of hierarchy. It means more social irrelevance and a sclerotic Church.

In the end, the issue is not about the bureaucrats or the crazy people likening gay rights to the Nazis, but what will the liberals do should the Covenant come in and freeze things up. That's when, finally, the likes of Fulcrum will have hit above its weight and caused a Church suitable for bureaucrats and hierarchs alike. That's if it comes in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some would say the CofE has been an irrelevance for some time. Would it become any more relevant if the evangelicals left/were chucked out?

In any case, if the CofE is so irrelevant, why is noone (outside the National Secular Society) trying to have it disestablished? Yes, it's all very complicated, but is that any reason not to try?

If the CofE were on the same level as any Pentecostal denomination - or even the Methodists - would anyone still be making a fuss about their alleged tolerance of homophobia? Noone would care!