17 July 2008

GAFCON or Not?

Finery by Lawrence OP
A fascinating consequence of the looming schism in the Church of England is the rare window it opens into my religious friends' souls.

In polite conversation one isn't supposed to do God so while I know perfectly well that my three cycling buddies all rush off to worship at three different churches after our Sunday morning rides, I've never been able to discern whether it is differences theological, ontological or even musical that draw them to their different altars.

Indeed I couldn't begin to describe what it is, actually, that they believe in - for they are all Anglicans.

For instance do they believe in the Garden of Eden? in Noah and the flood? In the water-boarding of Job? What's their opinion of the Filioque Controversy and was Jesus unbegotten? Do they believe in the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary? or in the secret marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalan with a resulting bloodline protected through the centuries by the Knights Templar?

I have simply no idea. Their religion, they will tell you, is central to their lives, and I acknowledge that, but about the details its simply not polite to ask. (I do know that they don't all of them count the Catholics as properly Christian but that hardly sheds any light)

So, when I bumped into one of my three God-fearing friends at the station last week, and he and I travelled up to town together chatting about the weather, the credit crunch and the stories in our morning newspapers, the front page schism spread gave me the a rare and unexpected opportunity to delve a little deeper.

I asked whether he was thinking of joining the GAFCON cell that's formed in Twickenham (apparently they have booked the church hall under the disguise of being of a harmless Yoga group and, having fallen out with the St Margaret's GAFCON, must communicate directly with Richmond GAFCON Command via double-blind dead letter drops)

Well, he said, smiling, no he hasn't "After all, we have a woman vicar at our church, and I'm perfectly comfortable with her"

"But this is all about women bishops isn't it?", I asked, "What about them?"
"No", he said, "I don't agree with women bishops but I wouldn't leave my church over it"
"And what about gay priests? Would you leave your church over them?"
"Well now that is different - Yes, if my church had an openly gay vicar, I think I would have to leave and go somewhere else"

A little silence, as tumbleweed drifted down the aisle.

"The lad Mark Cavendish did good on Wednesday didn't he!" and then we were at Waterloo and we separated.

My friend works at a large and very successful global firm (you will have heard of it) which firmly - and I believe sincerely - champions values of inclusion and diversity. They have plenty of women partners and an active LBGT network, and no doubt gay partners as well.

I thought back to the Ken Costa, and his campaign to bring God to the workplace; and I couldn't but help a little shudder.


Anonymous said...

An interesting article, and apparently about Anglicans, so why did you choose a photo of three Roman Catholics to illustrate it?

Botogol said...

Anonymous - I consider them all brothers in Christ.

...and because I was actually searching specifically for a picture of three religious men, wearing gorgeous colourful fabrics..and this fitted the bill perfectly :-)