Church of Clowns

Our Spiritual Advisers

When I fancy a bit of excitement, which even at my ripe age I’m pleased to say is every day, I turn to the Church of England’s official website. Of course, the C. of E. being a dynamic, thrusting and very much up with the latest outfit, this is not called anything so dreary as Official Website: no, it’s called Top News Releases from the Church of England. This is the site which always sets my pulse racing. Take this morning for example. Today’s Top News Release simmers sexily for two or three pages, but I have space for only the scintillating opening sentence:

“New research by the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) on the cement and steel sectors shows that few of the largest companies in these sectors are well prepared for the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI)? Now what does that remind me of? Why, of course, the Liverpool Care Pathway – the radical end of life treatment which denied sips of water to the dying. Happily, the LCP is now a thing of the past. One might hope a similar fate awaits the TPI

But really what most puzzles me is what the hell “the cement and steel sectors” of our industrial economy have to do with the C. of E.  – and that they should have so much to do with the C. of E. that the mention of them is first item on its website?

Think what might have appeared there instead: “Justin Welby urges people to repent of their sins.” No chance.

“Bishop blesses a bankers’ conference.” Are you kidding!”

But I do the church a disservice. The church still does think that sin and repentance are important, but in its new teaching there are only corporate sins. We don’t hear sermons on the wickedness of adultery, keeping the Sabbath day holy or the great wrong of coveting your neighbour’s new Jag.

But actually, the moral agent is the individual and acts of virtue or vice are products of the individual will. But for the modern C. of E. the individual has dropped out of its agenda altogether: it’s too reminiscent of Thatcherism and all that nastiness.

The C.of E. used to be known as the Tory party at prayer. Now it’s the Corbynistas on the picket line.

Sins are now only the politically incorrect acts of corporations – such as the corporations’ dealing in steel and cement. Good heavens – “They are not well-prepared for the transition to a low carbon economy”! That must score more on the Richter Sin Scale than sleeping with my neighbour’s wife.

The competence of the church to advise the steel and cement sectors must be in some doubt. Indeed the competence of the church in any area of management and administration is clearly in doubt. For example, the archbishops and bishops preside over an institution which has lost half its membership since the year 2000.

It is an institution whose leaders have so squandered its considerable assets that there is no money left…who sold off the old vicarages at the bottom of the property market…and its parish churches are closing almost as fast as the pubs

What to do in such a crisis? The bishops’ answer is displacement activity: think about something else. Their policy amounts to, “We can’t run our own affairs, so let us run someone else’s.”

It reminds me of when a previous Archbishop of Canterbury asked the prime minister if the church could mediate in the national coal strike. Stanley Baldwin replied, “Yes, if you’ll let the National Union of Mineworkers rewrite the Athansasian Creed.”

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8 Comments on Church of Clowns

  1. “Here in Lincolnshire, a county full of beautiful churches, I’m unable to worship God in public, because services in the village church are presided over by a priestess and I’m unable to travel further. (I can study the Epistles and Gospels on a Sunday, but anti-Christian feminism has denied me access to the Holy Sacrament.)”

    You are not denied access to the sacrament. It is open to you as it is to all those baptised into the church. You choose not to take it.

    Your president, by the way, is not a “priestess” and I find unpleasant your use of a term which, in this context, I’ve only heard used by people meaning to be insulting. She is an ordained priest in the Church of England. And I can’t understand how you can think her ordination was due to “anti-christian feminism” unless you believe anti-christian feminists had two thirds of the votes in all three houses of General Synod. I’m not an uncritical supporter of the Church of England but the ordination of women was one of the more sensible decisions it has taken, driven more by common sense and a sense of justice than by feminism of any sort.

    I’m sad you won’t take communion from a woman. My parish has been led by three impressive female priests since the decision to ordain women.

  2. I’ve recently learned that an old friend of mine, an ordained priest of the C of E, has abandoned his parish to teach theology in Singapore. Perhaps we should follow him if we want to become reacquainted with traditional Christianity.

    Here in Lincolnshire, a county full of beautiful churches, I’m unable to worship God in public, because services in the village church are presided over by a priestess and I’m unable to travel further. (I can study the Epistles and Gospels on a Sunday, but anti-Christian feminism has denied me access to the Holy Sacrament.)

    Oh well. At least I’m better off than the Christians of the Middle East, who have kept the faith during 1500 years of Mahometan rule, but are now being systematically wiped out.

    • “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor
      free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in
      Christ Jesus” ….
      or not, depending upon your personal choice.

  3. In his bestselling book “Seven habits of highly effective people” Steven Covey asserts that we all operate within two circles: the circle of concern (what we worry about) and the circle of influence (what we can affect). Effective people and groups operate almost entirely in the latter and by so doing, expand their circle of influence. Ineffective people operate in the former and their circle of influence diminishes. Concern about social issues that we cannot influence and the virtue signalling resolutions and pronouncements that go with them are the golden calves of the liberal-left churches and definitely circle of concern behaviours. They change nothing, they affect nothing. They waste energy and the church that is obsessed with them declines. This is happening in my own denomination, the URC too. No evangelism, no apologetic, no preaching of holiness, no repentance. Just an embracing of any and every cause…

  4. The community that has the cheek to call itself ‘the Church of England’ is nothing but an obscene cartoon of the real Christian Church. It manages to be breathtakingly blasphemous and insufferably sanctimonious at the same time.

  5. Agreed, Rev Mullen, the Church is not doing its job, and it seems it cannot be expected to, in these trying days.

    Now, I think that you are well-set to lead an exploration for just plain folk.


    What are the behaviours and attitudes most critical for a person who seeks to live a spiritual life?

    I’d be fully grateful to hear your views.

    Sincerely, Harry Black