The subject of the Church of England and its sincerity is not a new one; the satirists had their wicked way with the matter long ago, as here:
Some English Nationalists perceive that the Church of England does not speak for the very people it purports to represent and provide moral and spiritual leadership for. Namely (as it is worth making this point explicit) the English.
I was initially sceptical of this perspective. It is perhaps unwise to make sweeping generalisations about any institution, let alone an institution of the like of the CofE. For a start, it is not possible for such an institution to continue to exist if all its practitioners, employees and advocates are essentially opposed to its principles or purpose. I also know a number of noble, God-fearing, wise, tolerant CofE clergymen who go about their (often extremely difficult and/or disheartening) work with immense and unflinching dedication and the utmost sincerity.
It is therefore a shame that this silent majority must be undermined by the all-too-vocal few.
Firstly, the Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, made it his business to take what looked very much like a secular position on the marriage of Prince William and Miss Kate Middleton, as reported here by Cranmer. One can only stare aghast as a leading Bishop of the English Church seeks not only to undermine his Monarch and future King, but also the very institution of marriage; herein, he takes square aim at more than he considered before he made the statements. If he considered them at all, that is.
But further still, the Church sees fit to continue to involve itself in business which surely does not have any significance to the Church’s fundamentally important business: that of saving souls.
See this statement from the Bishop of Manchester on the News Corporation/BSkyB wrangle:
“A News Corporation in full control of BSkyB would combine one of the three significant suppliers of TV news (BBC, ITN and BSkyB), one of the two suppliers of radio news (BBC, BSkyB) and the group with the biggest market share of national press in the UK. It would dominate both the television and newspaper landscape.”
“Even if the News Corporation bid is not allowed, it would be a positive commitment to media plurality if BSkyB were to take the opportunity to reassert its existing commitment to the editorial independence of Sky News and its continuing contribution to public service purposes.”
Whilst I am in no way questioning the Bishop’s motives, as I believe that he has the correct principles in making this argument, why must he use his position as Bishop to make this statement? The whole business smacks of a desperation to continue to ‘appear relevant’ to sections of society that are either waivering in their support for the Church or are firmly opposed to them. What practical business does this have in actually undertaking Christian duties?
The article that prompted me to first question these sorts of motives was this piece of populist pap from Rev. Richard Barrett. Herein, a representative of God on Earth found it somewhere in his remit to use reality TV to stress the importance of a switch to the Alternative Vote system.
Confused? Byrnsweord knows he is.
Anne Widdecombe has survived in Strictly because the public recognise a sport and that it is not strictly a dancing competition but a bit of fun. She is a popular politician, not necessarily for her views, but for her integrity. That is something that the public is looking for.
We want our votes to count. When we vote for an MP we expect them to be accountable. That is why there is such an outcry about the Lib Dems breaking their pledge on student tuition fees.
The proposed alternative vote system for elections would make MPs more accountable by requiring them to win at least 50 per cent of the vote.
The first among fallacies is here that the Reverend seeks to compare reality TV that is stripped of the majority of its ‘reality’ in order to expound the virtues of a new voting system. Does he not know that shows like The X-Factor are so processed, edited and contrived that they are essentially soap opera? And far be it from me to note this, but for every Joe McElderry there’s a Rage Against The Machine: true direct democracy, if the Reverend is interested to research this.
There is a growing movement in the churches to find ways of holding MPs accountable with regular constituency meetings on a range of issues.
Whether it is a TV show or an election, our votes should never be taken for granted. For Christians, power should be exercised responsibly, the individual’s voice heard and democracy defended.
I am still struggling to make sense of the Reverend’s logic. His faltering connection with Christianity epitomises ‘tenuous’. Besides, didn’t Christ say that:
My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Again, far be it for me to suggest this, but perhaps the Reverend should turn his focus away from wordly institutions and turn back to the heavenly institution that he purports to speak for.
The Church of England had best be wary about the alliances it makes. Those same people who they are eager to jump into bed with over a number of issues also wish to destroy them. See this Guardian article insisting that Anglicans relinquish their position of significance in English history and become ‘just another group of believers’.
Furthermore, the Church has far more significant problems to worry about. It stands on the very precipice of losing any remnant of remaining Englishness, whether it be the abolition of pews or modernisation that is testament to vandalism.
Whether you believe that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, or instead replaced parts of the city with an idol of himself, clear parallels can be established between this ancient and the Church of England.
I can only hope that the Church re-establishes precisely what gave it the authority to preside over the souls of the English, and furthermore, firmly adheres to this identity in the face of criticism and derision. As it always has done.