Anglo Catholicks and the Church of England


I have been an Anglo Catholic since the early 1970′s and before that I was mildly Catholic but still learning about Christianity in a village church which was more or less High Church with a slight leaning towards the Catholic approach to worship and ecclesiology.

Since then I have learn a lot about the way that the church of England came into being and it is not a pretty story.  I had grave misgivings about the nature of the Anglican Communion and sought clarification from a wise Priest.  He helped me to consider the Church of England as being part of the continuing Catholic Church which was not Roman but still Catholic.

Now I am quite confused, and in a way that is a good thing.  If I were certain of my understanding then I think I would be in serious doubt of my thinking.

For me the Church of England cannot be a separate body, for if it is then heaven will be a very restricted experience.  Many of it’s doctrines are clearly erroneous within the great scheme of things, not least the matter of divorce and the role of the Monarch.  Divorce and the Monarch are where the Church of England begins, and the late medieval machinations of powerful clerics and temporal lords played about with these ‘doctrines’ whilst the common people were governed by another standard.

How I feel today about the label ‘Catholic’ is very different from the 70′s.  I feel that it is certainly not applicable to non-conformist denominations and does imply some adherence to long held practice and belief, but what that really is, I do not know.

MrC

The cat napping on the Fence.


emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘ENCYCLICAL LETTER LUMEN FIDEI, ON FAITH’

MrC  has a bit of a funny position in the great scheme of things, balancing on the edge of Catholicism and liberalism and extremists on both sides take pot shots at the cat on the fence!

So I always try to read stuff with a mind of acceptance, and then analysis.

I read the above letter with some devotion and hopefully with a critical mind.

What is missing in this piece, imho, is an acknowledgement that the revelation of truth through ‘rational’ thought is not contradictory to faith.  Only if that faith is pickled in some preservative can the Pope(s) uphold a view that the light of reason is dimmed by the light of faith.

“that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.”

This view can be challenged by liberal thought, (liberal insofar as it accepts the light of reason as being valid in argument, theological and spiritual) because one can believe that science and reason illuminate the nature of God.

Two things come to mind.

The first affirms this belief.  That all light points to God and that these ‘lights’ cannot be contradictory because that would imply a house that is divided.  Mark 3:25 “… if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

The second is that in Christ we have the full revelation of the nature of God.  One might infer from this statement that truth reached through modern reason somehow stands in opposition to the truth revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

However one can argue that the full revelation that we have been given in the person of Jesus Christ is all that is needed for salvation.  This belief does not automatically preclude new revelations about the nature of creation or the physics of the cosmos, the workings of the human mind or the human body, and everything else that modern rational investigation has shown to us being acceptable to us as truth.

One is about salvation whilst the others are about the fruits of the tree of knowledge.  For MrC they both exist in unity and they are both part of that same light that we see in Him and through the workings of the Holy Spirit.

The real challenge for Christianity, and more specifically for the established Churches is accepting both and reworking superstitions and misconceptions that have over painted the light that is from God.  These are often fondly held moral views or modes of praxis that are rendered unworkable in the light of that reasoned light.

The trappings of how we do things and what we think of as being morally true are continually focussed by the gifts of reason and that should be embraced by Christians and traditions that are fondly held may have to be abandoned.  This should not shake our faith, for if we do believe that Jesus Christ is the full revelation of the nature of God’s relationship to humanity then we should also believe that this revelation will be in agreement with all truth; theological, spiritual and scientific.

Until we have the maturity of faith to appreciate the Light of Christ in all truth we are condemned to darkness, or at least to the dim shadows.

MrC

Historic Abuse


Four Ways to Scream Your Name

Four Ways to Scream Your Name (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still….

I am a screaming child.

I am alone and in a darkness that dismantles the summer sunshine.

I am afraid.

I am terrified; his threats form raining thunderclouds in my head

I am alone; away from my family.

I am in an unfamiliar place,

I am afraid.

I am terrified as the threats pour down inside my head.

Then again…

I am old now and still alone

I am once more in an unfamiliar place

I am afraid again.

I am a rag.

The resonance of his wickedness shook my history.

The ringing of his malevolence sounds as strongly now,

The sound of it shatters my thinking as if it were this morning.

I am still in that bed,

I am a screaming seven year old boy, standing on the landing.

Without a throat, no sound possible, I am still shouting and screeching…

The scream was punched inside, my mouth gapes.

Fear succumbs to terror.

God forgive me, absolve me.

God wipe away my tears

God, give me your grace

God make me noble.

A warm welcome… at last…


Scream Cropped

Scream Cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hooray.  I have found myself accepted in a small group run by MIND.  There is something quite wonderful in finding the oppeness and truy non-judgemental attitude in other people.  I have experienced it online, with my dear friends and now I have a ‘congregation’ that does not villify or hold over me my past.

Now I have come to understand that the actons that we do have consequences and that we have to accept those consequences without complaint, indeed I apologise over and over again for my sin.

But in this small group of people, mostly social outcasts, I find acceptance.  They are the limbs of Christ, the lips of Christ and the voice of Christ to me.  Along with my dear online friends who have been generous in loving me, these vulnerable compatriots are my peers; we come together, we talk, we paint, we drink tea, and we depart.

Some come by occasionally, some are regulars and faithful weekly participants, and some are seen once and maybe never again.  The staff and volunteers are kind, too kind for me, but that will improve over time.  They surround me with acceptance and touch me at my pace, they expect nothing and they offer much.

It may not be a wealthy place, it may not have fine robes or the dignity of procession and hierarchy nor the certitude of holding God’s Grace to administer to whom they deem fit…yet they have warmth and goodness and care.

Mrc

Whatever happened to the excrement in Jerusalem in the time of ‘Our Lord’?


Roman toilets! There were some better conditio...

Roman toilets! There were some better condition ones that looked so usable that they had to put a rope around them to stop people from using them, That would be my dream! (Photo credit: William Bereza)

 

The Romans were very advanced in their dealing with the effluence of humanity and presumably in the time of Pontius Pilate the Roman’s, at least had adequate sanitation.  But what of the excrement of the generic population?

Sure, many would have access to the pristine system advanced by the Roman’s but is it possible that most of the indigenous populace relieved themselves in a less than hygienic way?

Jesus was brought up in the Decapolis and it is probable that He was aware, and maybe familiar with, the Roman system.   But when He began His work in the more plebeian south ,including Jerusalem, then it is possible that the arrangements for the dealing of evacuation of faeces was not the ‘Rolls Royce’ of his time, and the stink may have influenced his irritation with the morals of the Jewish system in the temple.

Whatever the Historical truth of the matter it is unfortunate that the theologians of the last two hundred years have ignored this most basic of needs of every human being.

True religion must say something to us and touch every point of our lives.  The exclusion of defecation and its implications in the New Testament is a worrying concern for serious academics and until this is radically and adequately addressed then the certitude and indeed the acceptance of Christianity as a serious religion in the History of Humanity remains in question.

Mr C

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Noah, The Koala and Fundamentalist Evangelicalism


English: Noah's Ark in Iğdır

English: Noah’s Ark in Iğdır (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To what extent is evangelistic ‘Christianity’ allied to the literal interpretation of the writings of the Bible?  The abandonment of reason in favour of rejection of science in order to adhere to literal interpretation is worrying.  Koalas and Kangaroos are clearly not animals that would be occupants of the Ark, and their demise would be assured in a world wide flood.

Whilst I personally believe that God can, has, and does, intervene in this world; I do not believe that God inspires stories as stumbling blocks to true understanding in His existence, yet millions, of various faiths, and fundamentalist evangelicalists appear to belong to them, adhere fanatically to stories in the Bible that are incomprehensible in reality.

How far the Church of England is influenced by such people is deeply worrying, for such blind faith leads to strange and dysfunctional thinking about the nature of God.  It should be of serious concern to all Christians that we may be governed by and influenced by such people.  General synod, priests and Churches allied to the World Council of Churches are infiltrated by people whose beliefs reject reason and common sense.

Whilst irrational stories, recorded in the Bible may have emerged from stories based on past social memories of ancient societies, and may hold truths about humanity and God, to accept them as literal, in the face of scientific revelations that show them as wrong, is to hold on to a mindset that is unsure of itself, a mindset that is insecure in its belief in the true God and an insecurity about God’s interaction with humanity throughout history, thoughout time.

The Church of today must abandon such literal understanding and accept the revelation of reason, accept the fruits of human discovery and revel in the gift of truth that God has given us.

The right of each individual to believe what they will, might be a reasonable aspiration, but to allow irrational fundamentalism to influence the growth of the church is to allow the church to appeal to the irrational and superstitious inclination of humanity.  Such an appeal is not honest, is not sustainable and is not worthwhile.

If Christ is to live in our hearts then our hearts must also be open to the truth and reject the irrational and the superstitious.  Our Church must do the same.

MrC

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Challenge to you. Explain Christianity.


Christmas ball - Christianity

Christmas ball – Christianity (Photo credit: nabeel_yoosuf)

Why should anyone be a Christian?

What is the basic message that you would put to someone enquiring about the Christian Faith?

What are the essential pieces of information that one needs to convey the Christian faith?

Or is it something that is often socially and habitually acquired, perhaps from an early age.

Answers in comments please.a

 

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The Church needs to Change


god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

If the church is to survive as a purposeful and positive factor in people’s lives then it is going to have to change radically.  The superstition and sectarianism that it has depended upon for generations must come to an end if it is to offer modern society a Gospel that is relevant and believable in a new age.  Essential truths about the nature of God must be decided upon with a new approach and old interpretations that are harmful, and in many scholarly places discredited, must be rooted out.

It is true that the church has moved away from much that it once taught and it no longer gives credibility to blatant discrimination of Government and economic policies; slavery, serfdom, fear and arrogance have been rejected at last.  Though not in every case, not for everyone.  We still promote traditions that are anti-gay and the church remains an establishment that holds secrets and shuns openness and truthfulness in its dealings with finance and morality.  It is flawed and often behaves in a way that Christ would condemn.

More fundamentally the attempt to include within itself a range of extreme values that are mutually opposed has resulted in a deeply divided house,  It needs to define what it holds as true and make those values known.  The church needs to be freed from the ill-conceived idea of unity and position itself clearly with the values that Christ taught.  It is time to reject the individualistic theories and interpretations that  those who are at its extreme ends hold as ‘essential to salvation’.

The church needs to be honest and admit when it is unsure, be humble and admit that it has, and continues to get things wrong.  The Church needs to confess its sinfulness and seek forgiveness, for example; when it is harsh and when it obscures the nature of God   from the eyes and ears of the people it is called to serve, when it presents instead a vision of God that lacks compassion and accessibility.

To hold on to a God, indeed a Gospel that is excluding of many and irrelevant to most is foolish and cannot be sustained, nor should it be.  To believe that access to God is reserved to itself alone is against the word of God and extremists who promote such a view are heretical and wrong.

Holding on to privilege and establishment is contrary to the way that Christ taught us and rejecting that which it believes is embarrassing or it believes is damaging to its own survival is to also reject the God who scandalised His own people by hanging on a cross, rejected and despised.

Maybe it is time for all Christians to review what the Gospel tells us about the nature of God in our world.  Perhaps it is a time for all denominations to be humbled by the story of Christ and revisit their thinking and divest themselves of fondly held beliefs that are unhelpful and contradictory.

Re thinking the Gospel is not a novel idea, it has always been part of what we are as Church and history testifies to this, as do the writings of the New Testament themselves.  Change can be threatening but seeking a true understanding of the nature of God may demand change from each and every one of us.

I am tired of hearing the pomposity of fundamentalists in the church and the certitude of so many clerics, especially the most senior of our church.  There are those who twitter without thinking and I guess they live their lives in much the same way, but feel themselves right and justified by habitually adopting narrow thinking and by holding onto personal creeds that are far from what Christ taught us.

Somewhere in the Church of England there has to be a renaissance.  It is time for change and an abandonment of the shackles of tradition.  It is time for good people to  speak out and be heard, it is time to be open to new thinking and looking at Christ with new eyes.  It is time to cast off the bonds of slavery to the past and look seriously at what is relevant to God’s relationship with His people.

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Moving on……


Moving Day (film)

Moving Day (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Faithful followers of this blog know that MrC has poked fun at a lot of people and occasionally pointed out some really bad behaviour by others.  I am not without sin either and it is not a perfect blog by any means.

Still, defending those who are oppressed by others, exposing bullying by senior clerics, these are things we are all required to do, sinners or not, and each and everyone of us will, if we submit to to following Christ and walking the way of the Cross, offering ourselves for the betterment of others, we will all be redeemed, even Bishops and Archbishops.

We are all equal, we are all created by God and we will all be judged by Him.  How far we come to know Him here on earth and live according to His will, as best we can; indeed how far we are able to forgive, may be the deciding factor in how far we are able to live with Him in heaven.

MrC

 

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Planning to be bad today? Don’t be surprised if you are.


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

I had made plans recently, quite important plans in many ways, ones that would have altered the things I might expect to change most days of the week pretty radically for many years.  I had discussed the ideas around these plans with many people, friends and professional advisers and family.  I still have those plans in place and I am hopeful that something may come of them but last night something happened that has blown a hole through my plans and now they are fundamentally challenged.

A guiding principle of my life has been that discerning the will of God in all things is fundamental and should guide all that I do.  For most things this is quite insignificant really.  I mean how I trim my whiskers may not be high on the Infinite’s agenda but He may have an opinion I suppose.  Yet in the matter of what I do with my time, then that may be of great significance to Him.

There are times when we put in a good deal of effort to understand what God wants us to do.  It is a question that is as old as we are; “what should I do?”  This question, or more precisely the desperate seeking of advice that flows from it, has allowed sorcerers, astrologers, statisticians and many a religion to become wealthy.  It has given quite a few ‘agony aunts’ a living and can give rise to sects dictators and war.

This desire that we have, to want to know what we ‘should’ do, is an important desire.  The principles that we decide upon to guide us in getting the answer to the question shapes our lives greatly.  If you are immoral and find it acceptable to exploit other people, then what you should do might involve getting what you want at everyone else’s expense.  If you consider yourself to be a little bit more moral maybe you would still want to get it at another person’s others expense but desire not make it obvious.  This is the choice that I think most of us go for and it is the choice of preference in senior clergy circles, often.

Then there are those of us, psychotics perhaps, who believe that a God exists, who want us, indeed commands us, to behave according to His rules, his principles.  This is the way that I understand the God of the book, Yahweh, the God that became incarnate in Christ Jesus.

The rules that Yahweh has set out for us are there to be argued and debated about.  Nothing in religion and ethics is ever straight forward.  But for me the fundamental law is this; To love thy neighbour as thyself.  To that end any plans that I may entertain cannot involve the suffering of others, and as a very peculiar socialist I also believe that nothing I do should disadvantage my fellow human being as far as I am able to influence matters.

However that question “what should I do?” remains a thorny one, even for this Christian cat.  The plans that I make in my mind are mine and the truth is, I don’t have any way of knowing how the future will turn out.  And nor does anyone else, despite their certainty.  The evangelical nutter who is convinced that everyone else is going to hell really is a psychotic.  He does not know that for certain and those who believe him are deluded.

The truth is that we cannot know the future, we can only guess at what may come to pass.  Our plans are transient at best, constantly needing to be changed and rearranged.  What we do, when we become fixated on a plan, is to become inflexible and fixed, unavailable for change and unable to listen to the voice of God, who is going to share with you a better plan.

God reveals Himself to us in the moment, and He does this constantly.  We need to be ready to respond to his revelation and whilst plans may give us clues to prepare for tomorrows eventualities, we are fools if we worship our own ideas.

Like Abraham, we should be prepared, but God may surprise us.

It was Abraham who was prepared to sacrifice his son, he believed it was God’s will.  God changed the plan and lamb chops were on the menu that evening instead.

MrC

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