One of the few helpful things about this process of packing up and leaving is that I have to remove myself, in part, from the warp and weft of the Church of England Merry-go-Round. My attention to Synod was fleeting, by reading of others' blogs criminally sparse, and my view of the Church Times cursory. This removes me from a depth of knowledge, but also grants me an insight into the wider macro-perspective.
It may be a blogosphere thing, or it might just be how it is for everyone, but it seems that in the present, Anglicans can do nothing but fight among themselves. I have touched on this already.
To be be a member of the Church of England, to the passer-by, entails the following:
- Carping on about the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Carping on about people carping on about the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Carping on about people carping on about the Archbishop of Canterbury after carping on about the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Carping on about the Anglican Covenant
- Carping on about those who defend and/or condemn the Anglican Covenant
- Carping on about whether women are equal in the Church
- Carping on about those who have a view about whether women are equal in the Church
- Carping on about the place of homosexual people in the Church (or in life)
- Carping on about those who have a view about whether homosexual people have an equal place in the Church (or in life)
- Carping on about being at Synod
- Carping on about those who are at Synod
- Carping on about the decisions made
- Carping on about the lack of decisions made
- Carping on about staying in the Church or running off to form another
- Carping on about those who are running off to form another church somewhere else
...and so the list goes on. Let me be clear, though. I accept that I write this a carper, and have no illusions that I am above or outside of the carping. Yet carping seems to have well overtaken prayer as the conversation of the Church of England.
We seem not to be able to celebrate the Paschal Mystery, only become fixated on how we regard that Mystery differently. 'God is Love plc' seems not to be struggling for extreme old age, but by a basic lack of graciousness. I sense, though, that some will throw their arms up in disgust saying: No Farv, you are wrong. I just care!
I wonder if it is time to celebrate our common humanity. There is too little gratitude for the gift of faith, our place in the great family of the Church. Instead, we sound more like disaffected teenagers who are convinced that they know better and are the pioneers of all things. Yes, the Church of England is a messy gaggle of faith-holders. Yes, it often groping in the dark for a direction and its leader, Rowan, doing only what one person can to make things better. But it is our Church, our family - and just a scintilla of pride and defensiveness for this family would go a long way to healing the many hurts that are meted out almost daily in the written word.
Is it time to stop carping? I hope that time comes soon.