Friday, 11 May 2012

I am Neither a Catholic Nor a Mum

The perfect storm?
No, but I am a parent and a Christian. 

It's a funny old thing - this business of self-applied labels. 'Momhood' is prevalent in our world, indicating that Moms are either somehow very very organised as a tribe, or else genuinely the better parent in any two-parent-child combo. You will never hear "speaking as a parent ..." and even less often "speaking as a daddy...", but you will regularly hear "speaking as a mother ...". Funny isn't it. It permeates into the interweb and its life too - I am not sure I have seen or heard of DaddySnot, but MumSnot is all the rage. Politicians' entire careers and conglomerated companies' entire fiscal output is mitigated by the pleasure or displeasure of MumSnot. And good for them. Without mums there would be no need for Dads. And that. 

The same applies to church life too. If asked, I am a Christian. Speak to millions of others and they are not Christians they are, without any hesitation, Catholics. In my entire lengthening life I have never heard anyone make the statement: "I am an Anglican ...". I have certainly heard "If you are not a Catholic, what religion are you then?".

I have pondered this over years. To be a Catholic is to be a proud-and-out Catholic. To be from my clan is to be "Christian", and if asked what sort -  "Church of England" as eyes flick left to right. It doesn't effect the Methodists - they seem proud to label themselves so. I wonder sometimes if the world, including its members, regard "Anglican" as a euphemism for "mediocre", or "not really any specific type of Christian, it's just that I do to church and hope not to be spotted too often". 

It is fair to say, to paraphrase the Pub Landlord, that if you want rules where do you go? The Roman Catholic Church. If you don't want rules, it is not France you go to, but the Blessed Cee of Ee. In a world where choice seems to be the choice of choice, it is odd to me that a denomination that is so clear about its rules and limitations, teachings and edicts (and I offer no criticism at that whatsoever), is made up of members so proud to apply the name to themselves. We on this side of the Tiber, unbounded by rules (with the ones we have so easily abandoned if a pulpit and an altar really don't work with a set of speakers) and apparently so free to live as God made us, seem almost fearful of claiming membership to this august body of disciples. 

Some of you may think that it is only a name, and therefore not important. I think that name is hugely important to us - it is our badge, our "who we are", until it comes to our ecclesial badge. In this life, you are either the brick or the mortar - and I would love for a time when "Anglican" didn't still mean "just not Roman Catholic". 

I am not sure what this makes members of the OrdinaryHat - that is too much for my tiny brain


  1. Interestingly, I've noticed that it's often different outside England. Nigerian Anglicans, fo instance, (of whom there are many millions) are much readier than we to proclaim their Anglican identity. That may be because for us English, the CofE is sill the default religious setting; and that, here, we no more think of proclaiming our Anglicanism than we do our Englishness.

  2. "What's in a name? a rose by any other name" etc.,
    but, since it appears to be causing you more than usual stress - and, since the responsibility for the final steps I took in becoming a Christian are entirely yours, I will try to help.
    In future, when form-filling etc asks religion? I shall write Anglican.
    If anyone is unwise enough to follow up with, what is an Anglican, I shall refer them to you.

  3. I think rules can be verifiable facts and they can also be perceptions. I perceive quite a number of rules in the Anglican Church, and I think they're fine. I am very proud to be an Anglican and I mention it often. Having come from the Catholic Church, I have noticed that the ones who proudly state that they're Catholic are the apparently 'righteous' ones and quick to pass judgement too. But when you hear the full story of their lives... Anyway, I will always be grateful to the Church of England to have accepted me, no questions asked, and given me the opportunity to grow, learn and most importantly, to give back as an LLM. :o)

  4. I normally identify as a Christian/Anglican, if asked or am in a situation where it may be needed.

    As a former Roman Catholic, who swam the tiber the right way (to Anglicanism) I do identify as a member of the Church of God (when talking about the Church of England) because that is how we describe ourselves.

    The traditions within the Anglican brand are important, but having a label applied is unhelpful. But, challenged, I would say, perhaps Liberal-Catholic. Is that a brand, or label, I don't know, but it feels right to me.

  5. I am proud of being Anglican and have no problem with stating so but I often notice that people associate Christianity with Protestanism and look baffled at the word 'Anglican'.

  6. I'm an Anglican and proud of it. It's easier to say that across Offa's Dyke where the C of E holds no sway. :-)

  7. I'm a Roman Catholic (mum)but when asked (e.g. by kids at work) I always say I'm a Christian, because that's what I am first. I suspect that some people who label themselves "Catholic" are thinking tribe rather than faith....

    Another issue is trying to persuade some children that "Catholic" is not actually an entirely different religion to Christian!

    PS I love this blog.



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